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Yes

House of Yes-Live From The House of Blues

Review by Gary Hill

This two-disc set is the companion soundtrack to the new DVD of this live show recorded on Yes' The Ladder tour. There are a lot of really good performances here, but also a few complaints. The first thing that seems out of place here is that the album really has much more of a studio feel than live. It would have been nice for the production to have been left feeling more live. Another complaint is that a few of these tracks are definitely over-represented in the Yes catalog. The upside to that, is that by leaving those tracks in, this represents a truer capturing of a full show from the tour.

The lineup here is the same as that of the Ladder album - Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Billy Sherwood, Chris Squire, Alan White and Igor Khoroshev. Since much has already been written at this site describing the various tracks as delivered on other albums, the track by track review here will instead focus on this particular performance of the songs.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Yours Is No Disgrace
Beginning with the modulation coming out of "Firebird Suite", the staccato rhythms of the early moments of this number begin, and we're off on a Yes adventure once again. This early prog classic is delivered here quite faithfully. The extended jam mid-song seems extraordinarily potent in this performance, taking on new textures with this lineup. Howe really smokes on this one.
Time and a Word
This is an extremely brief (less than a minute) rendition of this number. It is basically an Anderson solo with accompaniment from Khoroshev as delivered here.
Homeworld (The Ladder)
A very solid rendition of this powerful cut, this is a new live treasure. At over 9 minutes of great Yes music, what could there be to complain about? In the monologue between this track and the next, Jon dubs the venue "The House of Yes".
Perpetual Change
With a straightforward and faithful intro, the verse section seems to take on a more playful texture and Igor's fills really add a lot to the piece. The jam at the end is especially strong in this arrangement.
Lightning Strikes
Another song from the Ladder disc, this rendition is quite true to the studio version. The bridge segment comes across particularly well here with White's drumming and Squire's bass work really shining.
The Messenger
Anderson introduces this with a story of how this song came to be written and that the inspiration is Bob Marley. It is another that is done quite true to the original. The instrumental break here really works well and the "one voice" section is also very strong.
Ritual-Nous Sommes Du Soleil
This is a brief, nearly acappella section of Topographic's Ritual.
And You and I
This one also is quite faithful to the studio work in many ways, but still features some nice freshness. Firstly, I for one have always loved the live arrangement that features Squire's harmonica work. Also, the latter parts of the song are extremely strong.
Disc 2
It Will Be a Good Day (The River)
Jon introduces this song as being for his wife, Jane. It is a solid rendition, but really sounds quite a bit over produced and not very "live".
Face to Face
This is another overly produced rendition, but it is still nice to have a live version of this fine cut.
Awaken
Starting with a brief piano solo that is different than the studio version, it then moves into that rendition. The standout points of this cut are some very strong guitar work from Howe and some wondrous keyboard performances. If anyone is still skeptical as to how solid of a fit Igor's playing is in this band, they really ought to give this track a listen.
Your Move/All Good People
A very faithful version, the section with the mini solos really rocks, as always.
Cinema
This is a very faithful and quite strong performance of one of my favorite songs from the Rabin era.
Owner of a Lonely Heart
Going from one of my favorite YesWest cuts to one of my least favorite, this is a solid rendition, though. The cut does see Sherwood doing a good Rabin and the jam at the end serves to help redeem the number.
Roundabout
This is a good performance of a number that, although a classic, is certainly over-performed. The arrangement here is the shortened version that has been done on quite a few Yes tours. At the end, the band breaks into a blues jam with the lyrics, "Have you heard the news? Yes is in the House of Blues." This charming little diversion is one of the highlights of the album.
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