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Various Artists

Tales From Yesterday

Review by Gary Hill

A tribute to the music of Yes, Tales From Yesterday, features some very fine renditions of Yessongs performed by a variety of artists (including several past and present members of Yes). This is a mixed bag. Some of the tracks are quite faithful to the original, while others represent major reworkings. None of the renditions here are really bad, but some are better than others, and most really shine.

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
Roundabout-Robert Berry
I personally have been rather bored with the original version of this song for years, having heard it so many times that it has lost it`s appeal. Robert Berry (best known for his work in the Celtic rock band Tempest) breathes some wonderful new life into this piece, reworking it dramatically, while still retaining some of the best of the original. Berry uses an almost minimalistic approach, while still maintaining so much of the charm and flair of the Yes version. This song displays a very fresh approach, and is one of the best tracks on this album.

Siberian Khatru-Stanley Snail
Stanley Snail was Nick D`Virgilio (Spock`s Beard, and guest drummer on Genesis` Calling All Stations), Mike Keneally(Frank and Dweezil Zappa, Screaming Jay Hawkins), Kevin Gilbert(Toy Matinee, Sheryl Crow) and Bryan Beller(Dweezil Zappa). This is a fine rendition of one of my favorite Yessongs. The musicians here seem to want to show that they can do the song in a very authentic mode, but still manage to rework the piece. The majority of the cut is a near perfect take of the piece, yet it contains a wonderful twist in a completely original fusion based instrumental break. This is another of the best pieces on the CD.

Mood For A Day-Steve Morse
Steve Morse is best known for his work in The Dregs. Here he puts in a very faithful rendition of this Steve Howe acoustic guitar solo piece.

Don`t Kill The Whale-Magellan
Starting with an almost new-age based intro, the familiar piano section to this track eventually brings the song into the main movement. This is a fairly unique rendition, retaining much of the original performance, while incorporating some very intriguing reworking. This restructuring includes an almost hip-hop sort of break, some quite metallic guitar work in places, and an interesting acappella section. This is definitely one of the more creative renditions on this album, and contains more twists and turns than the Yes version. The personnel for Magellan are Trent Gardner and Wayne Gardner.

Turn Of The Century-Steve Howe and Annie Haslam
This track features Yes guitarist Steve Howe, singer Annie Haslam (best known for her work in Renaissance). David A. Biglin accompanies the duo on keyboards. This is interpretation is very true to the original, with Miss Haslam`s vocal stylings adding an interesting character to a fine Yessong.

Release, Release-Shadow Gallery
Shadow Gallery (Mike Baker, Carl Cadden, Brendt Allman, Gary Wehrkamp, Chris Ingles and Kevin Soffera) begins this one with a very creative introduction. The main body of this song is a good, energetic, rocking work. Although the lead vocals on this track are quite different from the original, the backing vocals are very similar to those in the Yes performance. This is a fairly faithful rendition.

Wonderous Stories-World Trade
The personnel for World Trade are Billy Sherwood (now a member of Yes) and Jay Schellen. This is another faithful version, although perhaps just a bit more straightforward than the Yes rendition. Sherwood`s vocals are quite different than Jon Anderson`s, but they are definitely capable.

South Side Of The Sky-Cairo
Cairo is Mark Robertson, Jeff Brockman, Alec Fuhrman, Bret Douglas and Rob Fordyce. Complete with the same explosion/wind intro present on the original, this is an extremely well done and true execution of a song that Yes does not perform live often (they have been quoted as saying that it is too complex to be performed well in concert). The vocals on this one sound more like Trevor Horn than like Jon Anderson.

Soon-Patrick Moraz
This is a very admirable reworking of this song, performed exclusively on acoustic piano. Patrick Moraz (the Yes keyboardist who originally did this piece) completely restructures the composition, while capturing much of the feel of the original. This is a very pleasant and passionate performance.

Changes-Enchant
Enchant is Ted Leonard, Douglas A. Ott, Paul Craddick and Ed Platt. Here they put in a fairly accurate interpretation of one of the better Rabin-era Yes tracks. The vocals do seem to leave a bit to be desired on this one, however.

Astral Traveller-Peter Banks
Peter Banks (the original guitarist for Yes) puts in an appearance with this instrumental reworking of an early Yes track. For a few moments, this one calls to mind the surf sound of the early `60`s (ala The Ventures). Featuring an intriguing arrangement, this interpretation is quite interesting and includes a nicely energetic and dramatic build up to the conclusion of the piece.

The Clap-Steve Morse
Another fine guitar track from The Dregs` guitarist, again quite true to the original performance.

Starship Trooper-Jeronimo Road
Featuring Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman`s son Adam, Jeronimo Road also included Fraser Thorneycraft-Smith, Phil Williams, Damian Wilson and Tony Fernandez (Rick Wakeman). This version of Starship Trooper is very metallic, but does contain some interesting arranging. I could do without the vocals on this number, but it does feature some excellent keyboard work, showing Adam to be a chip off the Wakeman block. The Wurm jam on this is quite effective, although a bit short in duration.

 
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