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Yes

Classic Yes

Review by Gary Hill

This compilation of Yes material came out at the same time as Yesshows, shortly after the break up of the band following the Drama tour. This truly does feature some classic Yes material and would represent a great first look at the band. The inclusion of two previously unreleased live tracks (included as a single with the original vinyl) gives completists like myself a rationale for purchasing another Yes compilation. Since I have already reviewed the vast majority of these tracks in previous reviews, the track by tracks of those will be simply copied from those reviews. Since this is a compilation, there are several a couple different lineups of the band. Those musicians represented on some (or all the tracks) are Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe, Tony Kaye, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Heart of the Sunrise
Chris Squire once was quoted as saying that this track is the definitive Yes song, capturing all of what the band does well. Truly it is another masterpiece, and is full of emotion. The virtuosity is all over this, but as part of making a stronger song rather than "showing off". Squire's bass line drives much of the cut. It showcases the group's contrasting soft and hard-edged sides quite well. In fact, Mr. Squire might well be right on the money with his assessment of this piece.
Wonderous Stories
Mellow, but quite complex prog wonderment is used to create a composition that is both other worldly and accessible. This was a bit of a hit for the band in some parts of the world. Sections of this one have sounds that were destined to show up on the band's next release Tormato.
Yours Is No Disgrace
A staccato pattern starts this, quickly joined by Tony Kaye's organ playing melody over top. After this segment, the band bursts into a fast paced jam, Steve Howe soloing all over it. They move this one forward in this way for a time, then drop back to just keys. The first verse is sung with just those organ chords as backing, then Howe screams out on his strings, and the band push the jam back to where it was earlier. This mode is the order of the day for a time; instruments laid over top at different points, 'til they drop it back to a walking bass line for the next verse. Squire holds the piece with Howe providing ornamentation for a time until the band returns to the staccato section. They create a new instrumental segment from this until Howe solos again, this time punctuated at points by the entire group. They then move this into a soaring instrumental segment, moving the track to new heights. This extended jam shows elements of the sound that come to fruition on Fragile. Howe cuts loose with some his most tasty riffing ever on this cut. After a long time working through this, they drop it back to just organ, then a new mellow melody takes over, providing both the transition and resolution to the earlier frenzy. They build this new melody line forward recreating it for a time until Howe takes over again, then the band rejoin for a reprise of the earlier quick modes. This one really is a showcase for Steve Howe's guitar work and a real smoker.
Starship Trooper
A mid-paced jam starts this one, the band working through it and basing the first verse on it. It drops back in an almost stuttering break, then moves back up the pervious segment to carry forward. The main melody is both straightforward and quirky, and the musicians go forth on various short musical excursions from time to time as they work through the discovery of it. Eventually it drops to a fast paced acoustic guitar line that serves as a bridge into the next section as well as the backdrop for the next set of vocal elements. An airy jam ensues with an almost jazzy texture, seeming to stream skyward. This new melody carries the cut for a time. As this resolves out a new guitar strumming pattern takes the piece. The band eventually works this up to be the backdrop for a fairly frenzied prog excursion that serves as the extended outro. This segment is a trademark Yes musical exploration.
Long Distance Runaround
Another that is truly a Yes classic, this one features an especially strong vocal arrangement and intriguing rhythmic pattern. It is quirky, dramatic and smart. It leads here straight into Chris Squire's solo piece.
Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Bass man and Pisces (the fish) Chris Squire's trademark solo, this is like no other bass solo you have heard. It is more of a true composition with Squire's bass runs set over top of a backdrop of percussion and harmonics. This has a great groove to it.
And You And I
This one begins tentatively with Howe on acoustic guitar. As the piece begins to take on a bit of melody, it rather quickly turns a corner as the rest of the band begins to join the maestro. This takes the form of a rather folky sort of acoustic guitar laden ballad, but the arrangement adds a fairly quirky progressive rock element. Eventually it moves out to a new melody, driven heavily by Chris Squire's bass. This is short lived, though, then a brief chord moves it to a slow moving, but highly expansive segment that feels very joyous and spiritual. After a time this moves to a crescendo, then Howe takes over on the acoustic guitar again, eventually heralding another folky segment. Eventually this moves to another groove oriented section that moves quite well. This is probably one of the most organic prog rock tunes of all time, each segment feeling like it flows naturally from the one before. It is a very powerful and uplifting number. It ends with a brief and airy chorus based on acoustic guitar, vocals and gentle keys.
Roundabout (Live)
This is a slightly shortened live rendition of the band's most famous cut before the Rabin era. It is not as truncated as the version they frequently did on tours. It is a fiery take on the piece, and very well recorded.
I've Seen All Good People Live
This is a strong live rendition of the classic The Yes Album track. The crowd participation and brief solo sections make it a wonderful addition.
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