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Yes - Yessongs CD (album) cover

YESSONGS

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.32 | 882 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 48

"Yessongs" is the debut live album of Yes and was released in 1973. It especially documents the live tour of their fifth studio album "Close To The Edge". It also features two live tracks "Perpetual Change" and "Long Distance Runaround/The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)", which were recorded during the previous tour of their fourth studio album "Fragile". These two tracks were recorded with Bill Bruford on drums, before he left the group and before he was substituted by Alan White. "Perpetual Change" has an extended drum solo made by Bruford, which was so typical on almost all the live albums performed at the time.

"Yessongs" became a model for the live progressive rock albums. It was recorded on a vinyl three disks format, with over 120 minutes, and became as one of the first triple albums in rock history. The live album includes the band's entire stage repertoire, which included almost all of the best songs from their three preceding studio albums, "The Yes Album", "Fragile" and "Close To The Edge".

"Yessongs" was a very ambitious project and a huge risk for the group and for their record label, the Atlantic Records. It was presented in one of the most luxurious album packages until then. The package features artworks by Roger Dean and inside of it there are four individual panels. The artwork of Dean, which has begun with their two previous studio albums, was spread across a triple gatefold cover that continued the same concept design motifs of their two previous works. "Yessongs" was really a huge commercial success.

"Yessongs" has thirteen tracks all recorded in 1972. The "Opening (Excerpt from Firebird Suite)" is an excerpt from the classical piece "Firebird Suite" of Igor Stravinsky and was recorded at Uniondale, New York. It has been a standard opening for the majority of the Yes concerts since 1971. "Perpetual Change", "I've Seen All Good People", "Yours Is No Disgrace" and "Starship Trooper" are all tracks originally recorded on their studio album "The Yes Album" released in 1971. These live performances were recorded at New York City, New York; Athens, Georgia and London, UK, respectively with the exception of "I've Seen All Good People" where its recording place is unknown. "Heart Of The Sunrise", "Mood For A Day", "Roundabout" and "Long Distance Runaround/The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" are all tracks originally recorded on their studio album "Fragile" released in 1971. These live performances were recorded at Greensboro, North Carolina; Uniondale, New York; Ottawa, ON and New York City, New York, respectively. "Long Distance Runaround" and "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" were performed live together as only a single track. "Siberian Khatru", "And You And I" and "Close To The Edge" are all tracks originally recorded on their studio album "Close To The Edge" released in 1972. These live performances were recorded at Knoxville, Tennessee; Greensboro, North Carolina and London, UK, respectively. The "Excerpts from The Six Wives Of Henry VIII" is a medley from "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII", the debut album of Rick Wakeman released in 1973 and was recorded at Athens, Georgia.

The performances are extremely tight and energetic, and that's really impressive when you think about the complexity of the material. The versions of "Close To The Edge", "Roundabout", "Perpetual Change" and "Yours Is No Disgrace" bursts with power and energy and proved beyond any doubt that Yes was one of the strongest live acts among the progressive rock bands. The addition of Wakeman's mellotron on the tracks from "The Yes Album" is also a very pleasant feature. However, White's drumming on "Heart Of The Sunrise" proved that he was absolutely no rival to Bruford, but I guess you couldn't expect him to be that either. The medley of themes from Wakeman's solo debut "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII" mixed in with some excerpts from Handel's "Messiah" and played on mellotron is also great.

Conclusion: "Yessongs" is an extraordinary live album. What is most impressive is that after Yes just have released three studio albums containing songs very intricate, complex and long, they could make a live album with musical changes that turn it even more complex, intricate and longer. If you think Yes had a penchant of writing long and intricate epic songs only on the studio albums, you're wrong. They extended everything on "Yessongs". This is an amazing thing. "Yessongs" is a festival of progressive music that turns the Yes epic pieces, even more epic. It's true that longer and more intricate songs aren't always a sign of equal or even better songs. However, in this case, the extension of the songs really enhances the original studio versions and every song here trumps its studio counterpart. "Yessongs" is one of the best live albums ever, actually. For me, "Yessongs" is one of the two best live albums of the 70's. The other is "Playing The Fool" of Gentle Giant, which is also one of the best progressive live albums ever made.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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