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Various Artists (Tributes) - Symphonic Music of Yes CD (album) cover


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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Classical Yes

This is not a Yes album as such, and should not be mistaken for the more recent "YesSymphonic" DVD release. "The Symphonic music of Yes" appeared some nine years before "YesSymphonic" but is similar in orientation. The ten tracks included here will all be familiar to Yes fans, being taken from their early albums up to "90125". A few have been significantly edited, "Close to the edge" loses a full 10 minutes, "Heart of the sunrise" a couple, and only the closing "Soon" section of "Gates of delirium" is used.

While the album is basically a vehicle for the London Philharmonic Orchestra to render orchestral versions of Yes songs, it is afforded greater credibility through the presence of Steve Howe, Jon Anderson and Bill Bruford.

Anderson sings on only two tracks, the opening "Roundabout", and "I've seen all good people". "Roundabout" is a pretty faithful rendition, with Howe repeating his guitar sections with little deviation. The keyboards parts are replaced by the orchestra in true "YesSymphonic" style. "Your move" is completely absent from "All good people", with only the repetitive second section being used. Anderson is joined by the London Community Gospel Choir for this gospel tinged version. Unfortunately, Anderson tends to rather dominate the mix, to the exclusion of the choir.

All the sections of "Close to the edge" are used, but each is pared down significantly. For such a familiar piece, this can initially be quite disconcerting. The version here is entirely instrumental, with the orchestra taking the vocal melody in true orchestral rock fashion. "Owner of a lonely heart", "Heart Of The Sunrise", "Soon", and "Starship Trooper" are all presented in a similar way. "Owner of a lonely heart" is interesting, as the guitar is the dominant instrument, Steve Howe offering his own interpretation of Trevor Rabin's composition. On "Soon", Howe speaks briefly at the start of the track, reciting a line from elsewhere in "Gates of Delirium".

Two tracks feature The English Chamber Orchestra in place of The London Philharmonic Orchestra. "Mood for a day" features Howe's (the only Yes man to appear on all the tracks) familiar guitar recital, but his piece is transformed by some highly effective orchestration. "Survival" is for me the most successful track. The melody of the verses is played by solo violin or flute, with the chorus section being sung by the London Community Gospel Choir, this time without Anderson. The result is a truly moving rendition of this early Yes classic.

In all, some very pleasant and imaginative interpretations of familiar pieces. Some are more successful than others, but as a package, worthy of investigation by those who enjoy the music of Yes.

Footnote, Alan Parsons engineered and produced the orchestral sections.

Report this review (#31454)
Posted Saturday, February 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is not an essential CD in any means, but I think it's a better individual of their poor repertoire done after 1980. Not all of the orchestral versions work very well, but the shortened "Close To The Edge" for example is an interesting one. Also Dean's covers are suberb, I wish I could find an art book of his post 90's paintings in vein of "Views".
Report this review (#31455)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think that this album should win a 3 stars, but after earing the track "Close to the Edge" on it... I cannot say that this album is only Good. Ok, this new "Close to the Edge" is not as excellent that the real one, but this one Kick A*S too! they put some different things in it and that create new emotions which are very greatful!

And the new "Owner of a Lonely Heart" is very nice! More then the real, to me, well.

Report this review (#35222)
Posted Saturday, June 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars I'm always a bit sceptic about Orchestra arrangements of Rock , but I found this one in a sales bin.So, what do we got here on the menu: David Palmer did the arrangements and the production together with Steve Howe, Alan Parsons did the engineering. Bill Bruford, Steve Howe on all tracks and Jon Anderson on 2 tracks. The LSO,a chamber orchestra and a Gospel Choir. The only thing missing is the Red Army Choir!You mix everything, cook it for 2 days and serve it ..lukewarm. It is embarassing! Strings tend to soften things up and DP did just too much 'softening'. The only track with an interesting dynamic is 'Heart of the sunrise' all the rest sounds like Mantovani.
Report this review (#37907)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is not a Yes album. This is a collection of orchestral versions of famous Yes songs with guest appearances by the band. The good news is that it is not as God-awful as that sounds. All of the tracks (except maybe for Owner) are interesting and will capture the attention of Yes fans who are familiar with the originals. But at the end of the day you will go back to the original tracks. The possible exception to this is Survival, in which the process of orchestration somehow has removed my occasional desire to retch when I hear that particular song.
Report this review (#40669)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First off, this not a live album, it's another version of YES classic tracks rearranged, performed and recoded with an orchestra with London Philharmonic Orchestra and The English Chamber Orchestra. Some members of YES are also involved in this project: Steve Howe, Bill Bruford, and Jon Anderson. Plus additional musicians: Tim Harries (bass), Julian Colbeck (Hammond organ) who used to assis Steve Hackett, and David Palmer (synthesizer, piano, Hammond organ). It's a very good album especially when it was released because there was nothing on Yes symphony until we had Yessymphonic live album. "Roundabout" is not performed differently from the original studio version because Howe, Anderson and Bruford dominantly characterize the song. The additional orchestra does not seem to differentiate a lot from the original. The edited version of "Close To The Edge" is performed with The LPO without Jon's vocal. "Wonderous Stories" is also performed similarly. "I've Seen All Good People" is sung together by Jon Anderson and The London Community Gospel Choirs.

It's rewarding experience when I first listen to "Mood For A Day" performed by Howe with orchestration by The English Chamber Orchestra. It does not change a lot in terms of composition but it's interesting to enjoy the orchestra. It's also good to see Steve Howe playing Trevor Rabin's "Owner of A Lonely Heard" where he adjusts his style to suit the music, arranged with the orchestra. Another track with great orchestra arrangement is "Heart of The Sunrise". Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#44546)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A totally enjoyable interpretation of some Yes's best music, wonderfully performed, with the natural acoustics of a live performance without the whistling morons who ruin Yesshows, House of Blues etc.

I was disappointed, and rather surprised, that nothing from Tales appeared on this album as this was one of their most symphonic works.

My main criticism, however is the boring fade out ending on Wurm, which isn't one of Howe's most inspired compositions anyway.

Report this review (#52699)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I am very reluctant to this mix of genre. When rock meets classic. Really not my cup of tea. I have suffered already with such albums : Tull, Purple, Camel and now Yes. While I can cope when a rock band is playing with a classic orchestra as a background partner, I can hardly listen to an album in which the orchestra is taking over the command. In this YesSymphonic, we get a bit of both. Some words beforehand : it is not really a combined YesEffort. The whole stuff is produced by Steve Howe and David Palmer (from the London Philarmonic Orchestra). Chris Squire does noy play in here. There is also no trace of Wakeman nor Kaye. The keys are hold by Julian Colbeck. Another surprise : Bill Bruford (a founding member of Yes) is back on the drums ! Jon Anderson is only featured on three tracks (the vocal ones).

There are quite good tracks here : some pure intrumentals, some with vocals.

The opener "Roundabout" is slighty shorter than the original (this will be most of the times always the case on this album) and is one of the best track of the album. Quite rocking version, the orchestra is there but discreet. That's how I like it. Very good debut.

The next track is a complete disaster. "Close To The Edge" which could have been great (like in "Symphonic Live") is totally massacred. The orchestra has the lead and sounds rather pompous and boring. When you hear this, it is quite difficult to go on with this record. But since it is so weak, things can only get better, right ?

In their immense repertoire "Wonderous Stories" is probably a song that can be associated with this excercise. It has, by essence, already a classic symphonic mood. A good track (although it is fully orchestra oriented). Another track with vocals is "I've Seen" : it is also very pleasant to listen to; the orchestra being a partner only.

"Mood For A Day" is one of the track that works best here : the subtle guitar play from Steve is marvelous and the orchestra surrounds him quite beautifully. Very good (although this number has never been a favourite of mine) and also one of my preferred one on this album. I would say that this is the best version I know of this song (original included).

With the next one "Owner" one of the bottoms of this CD is reached. This FM oriented original does not work at all in this format. Just awful. "Survival" is the worse vocal track of the whole (probably the worst of all here). Mellow orchestral intro and, bizarrely very weak vocals. It is rather strange because it was one of my fave on their first album (back to 1969); vocals being a strong part of it !

I was quite sceptic before I heard "Heart Of The Sunrise" : this violent track should not survive such an experiment. Quite frankly it is one of the number I prefer here (it is also one of my all time fave) even if it is shortened by almost four minutes. Great acoustic guitar work from Steve and good job from the orchestra.

As "Wonderous Stories", "Soon" was also meant for this type of experience. It is another very good moment of this album. There is a short narrated part in the intro and then both the band (extremely emotional keys) and the orchestra come into a fantastic symbiosis. A highlight.

It is one of very few (if not the only one) track to be extended in comparison with the original (by two minutes or so). The closing number "Starship Trooper" is not so well rendered and leaves the listener a bit unsatisfied. If you're not into classic music (like I am) I would recommend to stay away from this record (even if there are some good numbers). Two stars.

Report this review (#107055)
Posted Wednesday, January 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I can't really say that this is worth spending money on unless you are a diehard Yes fan.

This album just takes a few of Yes' best songs and adds an orchestra behind it. Rather than improve the quality of the songs, the orchestra takes away from the songs. Only 2 of the tracks have vocals, and Jon Anderson didn't seem to work well with the choir on "I've Seen all Good people".

I was excited to hear this album because I love most albums that a band works with an orchestra. This just doesn't work though. The songs didn't blend well with an orchestral sound. If you really want to hear Yes with orchestral accompaniment, listen to the album Magnification. The album has new songs that were written with the intention of having an orchestra. It sounds alot better than when an orchestra has a part written later that seems like it was thrown in as an afterthought.

If you are a diehard fan of Yes, then go right ahead and get this album. If not, stand clear.

Report this review (#124796)
Posted Tuesday, June 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars A great idea executed so very poorly. It is common for classic rock bands to have or, at least, let their music arranged for a symphony. Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, among others, have done the same. But, there's a big problem with Yes' symphonic album...they are playing on it. Bruford, Anderson, and Howe play their rock instruments along with the symphony and it makes for an awkward sound. There are at least two other ways it could have been better. The symphony either should have played by itself or performed new parts written specifically for the occasion. Too often, they are sharing parts or being relegated to the keyboard parts (not that they're bad, but hardly enough to split between an entire orchestra). Although there are exceptions (Close to the Edge, Wonderous Stories), the sound is extremely weak and unbalanced. Mood for a Day is also good but doesn't really count as it was originally only a guitar piece and the symphony parts were written in the way the whole album should have been. It's a shame because it would have been very interesting to hear Bruford and other Yes members playing in an orchestral setting or at least in a developed way as heard on "Magnification"

Rating:1 star

Report this review (#137296)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars This gets off to a good start with a lively version of Roundabout sung by Anderson himself. Rock instruments are mixed with the orchestra to good effect. We feel this might be a valuable addition to the Yes canon. Doubts creep in with the severely truncated CTTE (7minutes) and Wondrous Stories, both vocal-less and given what are to my ears rather 70-ish tv orchestral arrangements. All good people features a choir. They are content to sing the chorus over and over and again I am reminded of the 70s (not in a good way). Mood for a day features Steve Howe with some orchestral additions. TBH it adds little. A purely instrumental version of Owner of a lonely heart follows. The by now standard rock background has mainly high strings over the top. The less familiar "survival" has another easy listening arrangement. A choir sings the chorus. Heart of the sunrise is better, but only I suspect because the song itself is so good. Again no vocals. "Soon" begins with an embarrassing spoken word version of lines from the gates of delirium, but develops into one of the better tracks with genuine emotional kick. Starship trooper returns us to the ordinary orchestral arrangements.

In summary. Only three tracks feature vocals and only the first features Jon Anderson. The arrangements are workmanlike but uninspired. There is at least one better symphonic version of Yes out there.

Report this review (#302762)
Posted Friday, October 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars The early nineties brought a small flurry of these orchestral recordings of prog rock bands. Genesis, Jethro Tull and even Pink Floyd were also honored by this treatment. But they were not necessarily a good thing.

This one was graced with the appearance of three of the Yes band members playing throughout the album. Jon Anderson, Steve Howe and Bill Bruford do give the recordings some credibility. Bassist Tim Harries, a session bass player who has played with Bruford's Earthworks, among others, does a decent but stiff imitation of Chris Squire. David Palmer, a former member of Jethro Tull, plays keyboards and orchestrated the arrangements. And Alan Parsons produced and mixed the album.

With those credits the album couldn't miss. Right?


First of all, David Palmer's orchestrations mostly do to Yes' music what the surgeons did to him when he became Dee Palmer. The majority of the songs sound more suitable for shopping malls than concert halls.

And I love Bill Bruford's drumming, but here he sounds like he was just going through the motions. I understand that at this point in his career he was using appearances with Yes and King Crimson to finance his solo ventures. But he didn't have to make it so obvious.

The only songs that come off well are Mood For A Day where a string section makes the piece into some fine chamber music, and Heart Of The Sunrise, which allows the rock band to take charge, and the orchestra mostly add embellishments.

If you really love Yes, you might find some value in this album. But otherwise, meh.

Report this review (#391816)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | Review Permalink

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