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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Yes, Solo Family Album CD (album) cover


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3 stars Released several years before the "friends and relatives" package, this is a better chance to start exploring solo material from Yes members. This album contains tracks from each solo record that was released in the gap after "Relayer" in the mid seventies. If you don't know those albums you'll find a fine selection of highlights here. There's also tracks included from other era's. At least one track is included from each member or former member of the band. Moreover the tracks have been sorted out carefully and may be considered as one of the finest examples of what these artist have to offer on their solo outings. But there's more. The sound of the tracks is more or less related to the sound of the band.

"Hold out your hand" from Chris Squire is a track no Yes fan should miss. This may well be one of the best compositions he's ever written. With the organ sound on the front and some splendid melodies, this could have been easily included on "Going for the one" even Chris' characteristic vocals are fitting to the Yes sound.

This release includes two tracks of Rick Wakeman. "The six wives of Henry VII" may be a flawless album, "Catherine Howard" is one of the best tracks and Wakeman use to perform this live at Yes gigs. The credits include some other Yes members as well. "Merlin" may be a more controversial choice but I always considered this instrumental as one of the highlights of the King Arthur album. This very melodic theme is interrupted many times by rhythmical passages. Especially the moog solo at the end is stunning.

I was never to keen on the first Anderson record. As always the vocals are magical but the instrumental side is just too less exciting. The opening section that appears here is definitely the highlight of "Olias". In the majestic opening tones from "ocean sounds" Vangelis' presence is obvious. "The meeting" and "Sound out the Galleon" have inspired melodies and an astral atmosphere. In 1979 Anderson had his first chart success with Vangelis and this moving romantic song is also included on this record. "All in a matter of time" is another accessible Anderson song that appeared on Animation ; an album that has never been released on cd till now.

"Wind of Change" from Badger could temp you to explore the albums of this band which consisted of two former Yes men : Tony Kaye and Peter Banks. Sounds like vintage Yes from the first two band albums especially concerning the vocal harmonies.

The two tracks from "Beginnings" that appear here are quite enjoyable instrumental songs and provide a resting point for the listener. This was never my favourite Steve Howe album, he did better things on later efforts but fortunately these songs don't contain any vocals.

"Spring" from Alan White features Jon Anderson on vocals, this would fit in quite nicely on "Relayer" although it never reaches the quality level of that album, still worthwhile of checking out.

"Cachaca" from Patrick Moraz may be the most nervous thing you hear on this album but whoever did compile this album, did a good thing to list "Feels good to me" from Bill Bruford right after that. I don't know the rest of Moraz first solo outing but I'm getting curious after hearing this. You can spot some Refugee influences here. There's also some Japanese elements which give the music a multicultural feel. Surely interesting. The instrumental title track of Bruford's first solo album has a light feel, an accessible tune and most beautiful guitar lines of Allan Holdsworth. This interesting piece of complex music is a promising introduction to his solo works. "Dominating factor" from the first Yes guitarist Peter Banks sounds in the same vein. To my opinion this is the best from his solo album "Instinct" from 1992. On this track you can spot some familiar sounding guitar riffs which are referring to "astral traveller", one of the highlights of "Time and a word".

The tracks from Trevor Rabin are sounding misplaced on this seventies affair. The slick arena sound of "Eyes of love" is offering some decent melodies but especially the mechanical rhythm section suffers from commercial AOR sounds. A compilation of this kind may be very uneven as various recording sessions with different line-ups are combined. Listening to the Yes family album from start to finish works out fine because of the order of the tracks and the balance between accessible songs and complicated compositions, quiet tracks and more vivid ones and of course the Yes influence on the sound is the dominant factor. The problem with this album is that every Yes fan owns at least two of the albums that are appearing here. In 1993 when this compilation was released, a lot of these solo efforts hadn't been released in the cd format but now most of them are available. It's been a while since I spotted this album in any record shop, so it could be unavailable nowadays.

Conclusion This is a must have for fans of Yes who're not familiar to the solo works.

Report this review (#60519)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars This is really the first of the ‘friends and family’ solo compilations from Yes, although it doesn’t bear that title. Or maybe the second if you count Union, which wouldn’t really be a stretch. The sleeve title of this album is “Affirmative”, which is kind of clever I suppose. Of all the solo “family” albums the band has released, this is my favorite and I think has the best broad representation of the compositional and performance skills of the various past and present members of the band.

It probably also has the most recognizable works, beginning with “Catherine Howard” from Rick Wakeman’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII. This is a majestic work with graceful tempo changes and incessant keyboard riffs, and yet another example of a Wakeman tune that sounds far better in isolation than it does buried inside one of his ostentatious solo recordings. This one has a short instrumental lead-in that sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t quite place it. For some reason Wakeman’s piano-heavy works always remind me of an old-fashioned Lutheran church service, which is a little bit funny but really has nothing to do with this review. Sorry.

“Wind of Change” is one of the small handful of tracks Tony Kaye recorded with Badger in the early 1970s. For those not familiar with that band, Badger favored more of a blues sound with the occasional religious overtone, although Kaye did play mellotron and the band had a couple of Roger Dean album covers so they get nods for that. This track is kind of a self-indulgence for those of us who fondly recall the days of the fat mellotron with a blues guitar dancing atop it in a lazy, carefree kind of way. I believe this recording was from the Jon Anderson-produced One Live Badger release. For me this is one of the hidden gems on the album.

The next two are from Steve Howe’s solo debut and are quite well known to his fans. “Nature of the Sea” and “Ram” are both obviously guitar-heavy numbers, plus Howe plays dobra and banjo on “Ram” which is kind of cool. I believe “Nature of the Sea” features a couple then-members of Gryphon, and Howe plays both acoustic and electric guitars as he would so often in later solo works. These are especially strong because Howe spares the listener his vocals.

Chris Squire is up next with “Hold Out Your Hand” from what I believe was his only true solo album, 1975’s Fish Out of Water. A short keyboard-laden track with Squire once again proving the electric bass can in fact be a lead instrument.

Wakeman gets portentous again with “Merlin the Magician” from his 1975 King Arthur album. I’m not a big fan of that album, or really even of Wakeman’s solo career in general, but this is a good representation of his solo style with plenty of keyboard magic and pompous scaled arrangements. I suppose this was a logical choice for inclusion given the purpose of this album.

The instrumentation on “Ocean Song” sounds suspiciously similar to the “Soon” stanza from “Gates of Delirium”, but the vocals are much less dramatic. This song is from Anderson’s Olias of Sunhillow album, although I’m not sure where this particular rendition came from. This is typical melodramatic Anderson solo stuff, with some great harmonic vocals and swelling percussion bits. Nothing that would make a Greatest Hits album, but a decent track nonetheless.

Alan White only had one solo album as well, 1976’s Ramshackled, and “Spring – Song of Innocence” is taken from it. This is also the only track on that album where Anderson and Howe appeared, so in some ways it sounds like a mellow version of an early Yes recording. A peaceful and easy ballad of sorts, kind of like what you might expect a Ray Thomas (Moody Blues) song to sound like if Yes performed it.

Patrick Moraz makes an appearance with “Chachaca” from his 1976 debut The Story of I. This is a slightly brassy number with decent keyboards and a catchy rhythm, but otherwise seems a bit out of place amid the more symphonic Yes tracks.

And speaking of out of place, Bill Bruford’s “Feels Good to Me” is from his 1978 solo debut by the same name, and is a light jazz/fusion number with keyboards that sound like the Wurlitzer demo tracks that played in the organ music stores in shopping malls back in the 1970s.

“I Hear You Now” is a Jon and Vangelis from their first collaboration, Short Stories. Vangelis lays down a lovely synthetic sound garden for Anderson to chant a little love song in. I’ve never been strong on that particular partnership since they’ve largely produced nothing more than synthetic bubbly tripe in my opinion but again, if the point of this collection is to showcase the various side projects of band members, well – this is one of those projects. Que sera.

“All in a Matter of Time” comes from Anderson’s underrated 1983 solo Animation. As I said before I’m not a fan of his solo work for the most part, but this particular album came in the middle of the early 1980s draught when Yes and just about every other progressive band were donning parachute pants and learning how to dance. Anderson quietly put out this album of his typically schmaltzy ‘touchie-feelie’ lyrics (about being born or something, if I recall), but with a nice accompanying cast of old-time rockers and a solid if slightly commercial sound. This one is a bit nostalgic for old-time Yes fans.

Trevor Rabin manges to make it on to the album with “Ette Noire (Eyes of Love)”, a bombastic 80s dance-rocker that will shock you out of a nice groove when it comes up on the album. I’ve gone on record before saying I actually really like Rabin’s live performances, and it’s possible Yes would not have survived the 1980s without his contributions to the band. But he just doesn’t ‘get’ the Yes sound. This is a case of a very good musician who was also a decent composer and had strong business acumen, but was just not the right kind of artist for this band. I’m not sure where this song came from and don’t really have enough interest to find out. This was included as a ticket- punch since Rabin had been in the band, and probably no other reason.

Peter Banks closes the album out with an instrumental jazz/funk/fusion number that sounds like something Giorgio Moroder would have composed for a hip 1980s movie soundtrack. This is okay if you like that sort of thing, but again only included here because he’d been in the band. From his 1995 Instinct CD.

So a bit of a mixed-bag as far as styles, but a very nice overview of the various members of the band to that point. There would be four more ‘official’ friends and family albums after this one, but for me this is the first and probably the most interesting of the lot. 3.5 stars, plus .5 more for the Badger tune = 4 stars.


Report this review (#92820)
Posted Sunday, October 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Fish out of water

This was one of the earliest of the Yes family albums. It differs from the "Friends and relatives" pair in several ways, the most obvious being that the selections are from older albums, and there are no songs at all by the band. The tracks here are mainly from around the time when the Yes members all made solo albums with varying degrees of success.

Rick Wakeman's tracks are therefore from his most creative period, with "Catherine Howard" from "Six wives." and "Merlin" from "Arthur" both appearing. Thankfully both are the original versions. Jon Anderson contributes several tracks, the best being the extract from his first album "Olias of Sunhillow". For many, including myself, he hit an early peak in his solo career with that album, which he has never since managed to repeat. Anderson's collaboration with Vangelis is represented by the creditable single "I hear you now".

Steve Howe's section is occupied by a couple of tracks from his technically fine but ultimately dull "Beginnings", while "Hold out your hand", the first track on Chris Squire's "Fish out of Water, gives a good indication of why for many his was the best Yes solo album of the lot. Patrick Moraz and Alan White's albums from around the same time also contribute one track each. In the case of Moraz, "Cachaša (Baiao)" is certainly not the strongest track on the story of !". Alan White's "Ramshackled" album was not great, as is evidenced by "Spring" here.

Other former Yes members for whom space is found are Tony Kaye (Badger), Bill Bruford, Trevor Rabin, and Peter Banks.

The main purpose of this album would appear to be to act as a taster for the numerous side projects of Yes members past and present. To that extent, it works well, generally giving a pretty accurate picture of what to expect. The diverse nature of the tracks however makes this an rather disjointed affair which is unlikely to appeal to many in its entirety.

Report this review (#149014)
Posted Monday, November 5, 2007 | Review Permalink


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