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Yes - Yessongs CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.35 | 998 ratings

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5 stars Is this the ultimate quintessential live symphonic rock album?

In the mid-Seventies I became I Yes fan after watching the movie Yessongs, in a YMCA center in my former hometown The Hague. I was blown away by the virtuosity, the exciting interplay, the jaw dropping solo performances, the vintage instrumentation and, last but not least, the visuals, especially 'caped crusader' Rick Wakeman and his solo spot on the Hammond, Mellotron and Minimoog. For me this is unsurpassed symphonic rock, and I still love this live album, once a mindblowing triple fold out cover, you could be carried away by not only the music but also the magical Roger Dean art. After almost 50 years being a symphomaniac I wonder or Yessongs is the ultimate quintessential symphonic rock album?

Cascades of distinctive elements. The opening Firebird Suite (Stravinsky) is a perfect choice to bring you in the mood for Yes, with its bombastic classical sound, the orchestrated music swells and swells, erupts and then there is Yes, applause! The 6 LP sides are loaded with captivating, varied and dynamic epic compositions, derived from the classical symphonies, the main source for the genre. The extreme example is of course Close To The Edge, culminating in a grand finale featuring legendary work on a churchy sounding Hammond organ and super fat Minimoog synthesizer flights. Another great element is the use of a wide range instruments that colours the music in a way that is so typical for the variety of symphonic rock: majestic Mellotron in Siberian Khatru, steel-guitar in And You And I, Spanish guitar in Mood For A Day, Vintage Keyboard Extravaganza in Rick Wakeman his solo spot Excerpts from The Six Wives of Henry VIII, swirling Hammond organ in Roundabout, the Portuguese 12-string guitar in I've Seen All Good People, Chris Squire his mighty Rickenbacker bass sound in his solo performance The Fish, guitar player Steve Howe goes heavy in Yours Is No Disgrace and the legendary duel between Howe his electric guitar and Wakeman his Minimoog in the final part of Starship Trooper. The final element is an iconic cover, well, just take a look a the Roger Dean front painting: once he was asked by Yes he started to think about the best way to express the Yes music, what a genius!

The cynical music press often nailed this Yes music as too ambitious and too self-indulgent, but for me Yessongs delivers a perfect setlist with excellent songs that incorporate rock, classical, jazz and folky in a very fascinating way. Despite the long tracks and running time of more than an hour the music never bores. Incontrary, so many times the music builds and builds, surprises with interesting breaks, slows down, erupts and culminates in legendary symphonic rock eargasms. Of course you cannot compare Yes with Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Gentle Giant or Jethro Tull, that is the great thing in symphonic rock, all bands have their own identity and own sound. What I only miss in Yessongs is the element emotion (like the way Peter Gabriel puts emotion in Live with his lyrics and vocal outbursts) and the compelling psychedelic element by Pink Floyd on Pompeii. But that is why Yes is Yes, based upon a more 'conservatory symphonic rock' sound, like Gentle Giant and King Crimson, while Genesis and Jethro Tull had more folky elements and Pink Floyd blues and psychedelia.

So my personal conclusion is that indeed Yessongs is The Ultimate Quintessential Live Symphonic Rock Album, made in the magical and unsurpassed Seventies.

TenYearsAfter | 5/5 |


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