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Yes - Yessongs CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.35 | 990 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Nice performance. Shame about the sound.

'Yessongs' would be as energetically perfect as ELP's live triple LP if it wasn't for the sub-par recording quality. The set list is a dream, and we have the ultimate classic line-up (with both drummers, just in case you prefered one to the other). The chops are as brilliant as they were in the studio, with added "wazow"(!), and pretty much the whole of 'Close to the Edge', 'Fragile', and 'The Yes Album' are represented. But whilst the sound quality isn't BAD bad, it's still kind of bad. Yes, I do need a thesaurus.

Stravinsky's magical finale from the 'Firebird Suite' opens, an Anderson favourite, and then we have two fairly studio-loyal versions of the 'Fragile' and 'CTTE' closers. Although 'Siberian Khatru' and 'Heart of the Sunrise' are great songs that have a lot of energy here, these renditions aren't really that essential when they are almost note-for-note copies of their original versions (with worse sound). 'Perpetual Change' on the other hand, is the most explosive and dyanmic reworking of a song that was only "good" on 'The Yes Album'. It's extended to include more interesting Wakeman parts than Kaye's half-hearted studio attempts, plus a guitar-led happy jam, PLUS a wonderful Bruford drum solo that, unlike Carl Palmer, doesn't go on for twenty years... This song is easily the highlight of Yessongs. In fact, the other two 'Yes Album' epics come second and third for similar reasons. 'Yours is no Disgrace' features an uncharacteristically crazy Steve Howe deliver a series of mind-boggling guitar freak-outs, and 'Starship Trooper' has some new lyrics and a brief synth solo. 'The Yes Album' is my least favourite of the three albums that are represented here, but its songs really come to life on stage.

Unfortunately 'And You And I' and 'Roundabout' are mediocre at best, suffering from the lack of an acoustic guitar which is essential in these two songs, especially the former. 'Roundabout' always sounds rushed on stage anyway. 'I've Seen All Good People' picks up in the second half, as it should, and 'Long Distance Runaround' is another non- essential studio copy. But Squire's extended 'Fish' is a Rickenbacker-tinged delight; I don't know why it isn't included as a separate track. Finally, 'Close to the Edge' which is potentially the best Yes song, is performed with no less than 100% effort. Again though, we might as well listen to the album version because of the sound issues.

All in all, I was slightly dissapointed by this mega package; I really liked it but I thought I would love it. Being in the audience would probably garuntee a 5 star experience, but the transfer from air to vinyl seems to have taken away some of the magic. However, even with countless live albums from future eras offering much better sound quality, I think Yessongs makes up for it by being perfect in almost every other way.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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