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Various Artists (Tributes) - Tales From Yesterday: A View From The South Side Of The Sky (Yes tribute) CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Tributes)


Various Genres

3.11 | 48 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Magna Carta began coming out with a series of tribute albums to the great progressive rock bands of the 1970's in 1995. This included a tribute to Genesis, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and this one, a tribute to Yes called Tales from Yesterday featuring the artwork of Roger Dean. Their tribute albums tended to primarily feature bands and artists signed to the Magna Carta label, but they were also able to get some outside contributors. Of all the Magna Carta tribute albums, this is the best one I've heard, although there is a little room for improvement.

Tales from Yesterday starts off with Robert Berry's version of Roundabout. Robert Berry has contributed a lot of work to the Magna Carta projects and usually I've found what he has done to be very good. No exception here. It has a nice intro, is much harder sounding than the original with a stronger guitar presence and sounds a little "machine-like." It's probably the best cover song Berry has ever made.

The second track is a cover of Siberian Khatru done by Stanley Snail, featuring Kevin Gilbert on keys, Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard) on drums, and Mike Keneally on guitars. All three contribute to the vocals. No reinterpretation here. It's almost note for note, except for the first instrumental section which is very different from the original and nicely done. Overall, it's a stellar performance which one would expect from these three talented artists. One of the highlights of this collection.

The third track is Steve Morse on acoustic guitar performing Howe's Mood for a Day. A fair interpretation, but there is nothing really special about it. This is followed by Magellan's cover of Don't Kill the Whale, a strange song to select from the vast catalog of Yes. It's awkward sounding with the different sections sounding like they were taped together with duct tape with parts of Magellan's Impending Ascension. The vocal part at about the 5:30 mark is absolutely dreadful. Definitely not one of the best Yes songs to cover, with this being the worst Yes cover I've ever heard. Not too good.

Surely, the next track can't be as bad as Magellan's cover, and if you guessed this, then you've won a cookie! The fifth track is a cover of Turn of the Century featuring Annie Haslam and Steve Howe (Gee, how would you like to perform on your own tribute album?). I really like Haslam's voice, and she does a terrific job in her performance here, maybe even better than Jon Anderson did on the original. Steve Howe performs as well as he himself did on the original. The only downside to this song is that it is somewhat boring. Certainly, with such a large number of songs to pick from they could've chosen something more interesting. Oh well, in any case, it's not bad.

Covering a another song from Tormato (two songs from Tormato?!?!) isn't always the brightest idea, but Release, Release is one of the better choices. And to my surprise, Shadow Gallery pulls off a stunning performance. They give it even more energy than the original. I really enjoyed this, especially the slight prog-metal feel they gave to it. The only downside is that Mike Baker's vocals just don't compare to Jon Anderson's, but it's still a great listen.

The seventh track is a cover of Wonderous Stories by World Trade, Billy Sherwood's band before he later joined Yes. I was kind of expecting Sherwood to completely screw this one up as I wasn't really impressed with his later contributions to Yes, but to my surprise, he does a well covered version of this popular Yes song. One thing to note is that Sherwood plays all the instruments on this except for the drums. Apparently World Trade lost two members prior to 1995.

The eighth track is a cover of South Side of the Sky by Cairo. This is a great song to include in the collection and Cairo performs it wonderfully. The middle piano section is exceptionally well performed. Although this is almost note for note, the sound and energy is pleasantly refreshing. A very good performance and the best performed track of this tribute.

I admire what Patrick Moraz did on the Relayer album back in 1974, but the ninth track, a piano-only version of Soon (the last section of Gates of Delirium) feels completely out of place in this collection and all I wanted to do was skip to the next track after listening to the first minute of this. This is great if you want to sleep, but it really ruins the momentum of the previous tracks. Truly a sleeper in the negative sense. Tsk, tsk, tsk, Mr. Moraz.

For the tenth track, you have to wonder if their brains were somewhere between the sofa cushions. Gee whiz, covering a song off of 90125? When Yes has a discography that's a million miles long full of wonderful music, and they dig down to the bottom of the barrel to find this! Admittedly, Changes is the best song off of 90125, if you could think of there being one. Unfortunately, for Enchant, their performance is worse than the original. My goodness. What an eye-roller!

The eleventh track features another member (well, former member) of Yes, the one and only Peter Banks. Having not heard the original, which wasn't an instrumental (and this version is), I can't really make any comparisons. Even so, I enjoyed Banks' performance (with Robert Berry). Nicely done and definitely a major improvement over the preceding two tracks.

Onto the twelfth track, another acoustic guitar cover by Steve Morse. This time it's Howe's The Clap. The performance is done accurately, but it's nothing to get your pants in a tangle. And finally, the last track is a cover of Starship Trooper. When I saw the time of this at 5:34, I had to wonder why they shortened it so much. Presumably it wouldn't fit in the remaining space of the CD if it were longer. Anyway, Jeronimo Road features Adam Wakeman on keys and Damian Wilson on vocals, so I thought this might be interesting anyway. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. It's mediocre and sorely lacks the power of the original, not to mention the shortness. The solos at the end make me think of spaghetti in a blender. Blah.

In conclusion, even though there are some stinkers (4 out of 13 tracks), there are some really great cover versions on here. I think one of the problems with the CD was its limit to being only one disc. To do a truly great tribute to Yes should involve 2-3 discs with covers of their more important epics (Close to the Edge, And You And I, etc.). But most likely, marketing and the final cost of the disc probably played roles in Magna Carta's decision, plus it wouldn't be fair to the other tribute discs they released which were single-disc issues. Still, I think this would make an excellent addition to someone's prog collection because there are some wonderful, energetic performances done by modern acts performing the classics of one of the greatest progressive rock bands in history. If it weren't for the four stinkers, and maybe a few better selections, I would have given it five stars. Instead, it gets four (I'd prefer 3.85). It's also an essential item in any Yes fan's collection.

progaeopteryx | 4/5 |


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