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Yes - America CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.87 | 48 ratings

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Symphonic Team
1 stars Retain the total mass!

Even though it was released in 1972 - the same year as the otherworldly Close To The Edge album - Yes' version of Simon & Garfunkel's America really sounds as if it came out of an earlier age. Recording covers of other people's songs was something that Yes did several times in their early days with Peter Banks as the band's guitarist. Both the self-titled 1969 debut album and the 1970 follow-up Time And A Word included a couple of covers each, including songs originally done by The Beatles and Ritchie Havens among others. Of course, Yes did their own thing with these songs and they often ended up quite different from the originals. By the time of The Yes Album in 1971, however, Yes had moved beyond this phase of their career and now focused exclusively on their own material. The evolution of the band continued on Fragile and Close To The Edge, taking them further away from their roots and towards ever greater heights of originality and musical progression. In this context, the release of another cover song was a bit of a throwback.

Yes' version of America was first released on a multi-artist, label sampler compilation album called The New Age Of Atlantic in 1972 and had a running time of ten and a half minutes. This single, by contrast, holds only an edit of the song which runs for just over four minutes. The full version of the song is clearly more interesting than the edited version and develops the song further from the Simon & Garfunkel original. The superior, full-length version of the song later re- appeared on the Yesterdays compilation in 1975 together with songs taken from the band's first two albums. As noted above, I think the song fits well with those earlier songs. The single edit has since been made available on the Yesyears box set in 1991 and then again as a bonus track to the 2003 remastered CD version of Close To The Edge.

The latter CD reissue also has among its bonus tracks the b-side of the America single, Total Mass Retain. This is a snippet of the brilliant Close To The Edge. While the album version of this epic song is one of the greatest pieces of music ever created, this heavily edited version does not work so well taken out of its context. My advice is to stick with the album where you get the total mass of the song retained.

In conclusion, even though the music here is absolutely excellent, as a single considered, this is not successful. Both sides of this single feel truncated and are somewhat awkward choices for the single format.

SouthSideoftheSky | 1/5 |


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