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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


The Music Roots of Yes

Review by Gary Hill

Let me say that I'm a Yes fanatic. I collect everything from the band, and in various formats. If the cover has a different line of text than the version I have, I want that one, too. I collect the music of each person who has ever been in the band the same way. So, this kind of thing is precisely made for people like me. It collects a number of songs from earlier acts that included Yes members. Now, other than that Yes connection, I wouldn't land this under progressive rock. It includes music that falls in genres from 50s rock and roll to psychedelia and 60s pop rock.

There are a number of things here I've never heard before. There are some others that I've reviewed. Generally, the things that fall in that category, I've used or adapted my earlier track review for use here to lend some consistency. For a hardcore collector like me, this is well worth having.

This isn't without its issues, though. The package seems to be thrown together. One of the songs has its title misspelled. It's a two CD set, but with just under 70 minutes of music, it could have fit on a single disc. Additionally, some of this is confusing to me. The track from the Warriors for instance, the vocals don't sound anything like Jon Anderson. I think I can hear him on backing vocals, but I'd bet his brother Tony is singing lead on that track. The Hans Christian Anderson tunes, which I hadn't heard before, sound more like him, but still not completely. That said, I remember reading that he was basically a solo artist on those, so they must be him. Again, from a historical point of view, and a collectible one, this is well worth owning. It's definitely an oddity and one that has both charms and warts on display.

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Track by Track Review
CD 1
Happy Magazine (w. Alan White)

Percussion gets things going here. Then some happy, almost joyful tribal sounds enter. Yet, there are definitely some bits of psychedelic weirdness in the mix. This is like muzak meets jazz meets trippy zones.

On A Persian Market
Again, drums get this going. The organ is all over the track. It's not far removed from the first one, but seems a bit less strange. It also comes across almost like surf guitar music, but with a primary focus on organ music. This has a lounge music thing going on, too. There are some non-lyrical vocals, and the drums really shine at times.
The Climb
More of a 1960s pop rocker, this rocks out pretty well for the time. I'm not enthused about the vocals, but the retro instrumental groove is classy.
Dance With A Dolly
This is a fun rock and roller that is so classy. It's nothing Earth shattering, but just a solid energetic rocker.
Boot Hill
More like the first couple tunes here, this has a  lot of spaghetti Western edges to it. It's another strong tune.
Keep On Dancin’ With Me
Bouncy and playful, this is very much typical 1960s pop rock. It has some definite jazz elements in the mix.
This is more of a 50s rock and roller. I dig the jazz parts of it quite a bit, but it's mostly a by-the-numbers kind of thing.
Please Believe Me
Another with a lot of 1950s angles to it, this is closer to a ballad. I definitely prefer the previous tune to this one.
Twilight Time
Here we get another 1950s groove. The horn arrangement adds something to it, but overall this is just what I would call competent. That said, there are some weird timing changes.
Lost And Alone
This is more of a doo wop 50s tune. It's nothing Earth shattering, but this balladic piece works pretty well.
Bucketful Of Love
A bouncy retro rocker, this is a lot of fun. It might be my favorite of the stuff on this first CD.
Here we get more of a retro ballad. The drumming on the tune really does stand out, as does the organ. The vocals sound a bit like Elvis Presley.
CD 2
The In Crowd (W/ Steve Howe)
Why Must They Criticize

A bit like The Byrds, this is a classy 1960s rock and roller. It should be noted that I've spelled the title on this correctly, but it's listed on the cover as "Why Must They Critize."

I Don't Mind
It’s a slow grind with a lot of character. The vocal performance is very much in keeping with something from the Animals, but this has such a powerful texture that it works better than most. Howe gets in some extremely tasty (if not overly trademark) guitar soloing.
Keith West (W/ Steve Howe)
Engel Fallen Nicht Vom Himmel

There is a bouncy, light-hearted groove to this. The vocals are in German, but you probably gathered that from the title. This is has a cool almost jazzy rocking arrangement. It's very much a product of the 1960s, but it's also very tasty.

Shy Boy
Playful, most of the lyrics on this one are also in German. This has a great shuffling groove. It's a tasty 1960s jam.
The Warriors (W/ Jon Anderson)
You Came Along

I dig this rock and roller quite a bit. Don't expect Jon Anderson to be doing the lead vocals. I can hear him in the background, though.

Hans Christian (Jon Anderson)
Sonata Of Love

This doesn't quite sound like the Jon Anderson we've come to expect, either. The vocals are deeper in register than I expect. The cut is a classy, Beatles-like number. It has some intriguing bursts of symphonic power.

Mississippi Hobo
This is a trippy sounding piece. It has a lot of psychedelia in the mix. Anderson is a little more recognizable here, but still sounds lower than what I expect from him. This is solid and intriguing in its arrangement.
Tomorrow (W/ Steve Howe)

The opening on this is pretty weird, but the chorus is quite catchy and the track definitely has its moments. There’s some trademark Howe guitar work on this.

Three Jolly Little Dwarfs
The intro on this really feels like something from early Yes. They fire out from there into a bouncy little piece of psychedelia. Howe puts a lot of his flair into it.
Winston’s Fumbs (W/ Tony Kaye)
Real Crazy Apartment

I really dig the guitar riff that opens this. The tune drives out into a meaty psychedelic rocking jam. This is one of my favorites of the whole set. It has some cool twists and turns and a lot of classy style. Tony Kaye;s organ really shines, too.

Snow White
A rhythm like a ticking clock starts this. The cut works out from there to some psychedelia that has some hints of early Yes in the mix. This has some intriguing twists and turns along the way.
Syndicats (W/ Steve Howe

This is a classic 1960s sounding interpretation of a Chuck Berry standard. The harmonica lends a cool texture to this. There is nothing Earth-shattering about this, but it's a fun rocker.

True To Me
A mellower old school rock and roll song, this one doesn’t do a lot for me. It’s never really been my kind of music and there’s no guitar solo or anything like that to save it.
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