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Yes - Keystudio CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.55 | 466 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Lovers of the 'classic prog' era of the 70s, when YES ruled the world for a short while, ought to get this album. For you, the essential YES purchases are 'The Yes Album', 'Fragile', 'Close to the Edge', 'Tales from Topographic Oceans', 'Relayer', 'Drama' - and this.

The reason this album evokes that classic period are three-fold: first, the songs are compositionally unrestricted. There's no attempt to fit the increasingly narrow radio-rock formula that YES pursued mindlessly - with few exceptions - after 1987. And second, and even more importantly, the mix separates out the musicians rather than fusing them into an overproduced whole: for the first time SQUIRE gets room to breathe, and he can play that bass like a a lead instrument. HOWE gets to use his guitar to colour the song rather than as a traditional rock axeman. WAKEMAN is a little lower in the mix than one would expect, but he's definitely audible. WHITE's drumming is actually far more assured than his muted efforts in 1974-5, and ANDERSON shuts up long enough to let us hear the band. And third, look at the lineup I just listed.

That said, this album teeters on the edge of mediocrity in places. And even the best of the music here is not on a par with their vintage years. Poor YES, forever cursed with comparisons to that era: of course, with this album, they invite such comparisons. This is a solid four-star album, no more. 'Foot Prints' is a competent opener, but there's much less here in nine minutes than anthems such as 'Yours is no Disgrace' or 'Roundabout' offered. We get even less in 'Be The One'. 'Mind Drive' is the album's standout track, full of drama, beauty and proggy as a very proggy thing. A delightful tune, serious instrumental workouts, a slow build and a satisfying conclusion. It ought to be on any YES fan's playlist, but at eighteen minutes, guess what it gets compared to, and guess how it fares. 'Bring Me To The Power' rocks out in a way YES has seldom equalled since 'Siberian Khatru'. Welcome back, jazz-funk YES, I've missed you. It's great to see the band all making a contribution (though WAKEMAN's is belated and less significant than I'd like, but still fantastic). 'That, That Is' is an odd beast, hastily-assembled amalgam of a dozen ideas that wouldn't have made an album in their glory years (except 'Tales', maybe, where it would give 'The Remembering' and 'The Ancient' a run for their money). The last track is a naive rant set to a musical backing and is rather an unfortunate way to end the album. I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiments expressed here, but I'd rather have them presented to me than force-fed them.

The weird thing is, this isn't really an album at all. It's a compilation. YES took the ludicrous decision to release two live/studio composite albums, and some years later produced this compilation of the studio tracks from those mixed efforts. The release date is 2001, but this is music from 1996-97, and came out after the dreadful 'Open Your Eyes'. Such a shame. After their unexpected 1983 success, YES really didn't get much right. Despite that, this is a surprisingly good listen.

The aliens from planet Proggadocia visit us again, briefly, and we are blessed. Make the most of it, fellow worshippers.

russellk | 4/5 |


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