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Yes - From a Page / In the Present - Live from Lyon CD (album) cover




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3.25 | 61 ratings

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2 stars There's good news about From a Page, the Yes product released in late 2019: it's way better than the group's last studio album, Heaven and Earth, from 2014. Way better. But there's also bad news: the four From a Page songs (totaling about 26 minutes) were recorded in 2010, several years before the eight songs comprising the 52-minute Heaven and Earth. So the quality trend doesn't bode well for future releases from Yes, whose membership is very different from the 2010 line-up.

A bit more on that: From a Page was sung by lead vocalist Benoît David, and three of the four tracks were written by keyboardist Oliver Wakeman, who also produced the album. The fourth track is credited to the whole band: Wakeman, David, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, and guitarist Steve Howe. Wakeman was dismissed in 2011 and David in 2010, and Squire died in 2015. So as part of the Yes catalog, these songs are anomalous, especially insofar as they were released out of chronological order.

Some fans have complained that the impetus for the release was profit. I can certainly see this viewpoint; I paid US$29.10 (£22.60) for a three-CD set,* which is as of this writing the only way to procure a digital copy of the four songs. Another view is that this is an Oliver Wakeman solo EP (or maybe a Wakeman/David release) whose steep price is justified by rebranding it as 'Yes.' The impetus for releasing it in 2019 might then be a lull in new Yes product (exacerbated, ironically, by this release, insofar as these four tunes can't be used on a new album) and concern that competing product might be forthcoming from the rouge offshoot 'Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin, and Wakeman.' Indeed, if Squire's Fish Out of Water or Rick Wakeman's** Six Wives of Henry VIII are correctly considered solo albums with substantial help from the rest of Yes, From a Page is probably a solo (or duo) recording as well. However, it probably couldn't be marketed for $29.

Enough backstory. As Wakeman discusses in the helpful liner notes, From a Page was assembled from session takes using Pro Tools - - although its cut-and-paste nature would be evident anyway; the first hint is the pitch-shifting of David's vocals. But this isn't really a detriment to my ears; I'm very impressed with Wakeman's ability to put together a plausible 26-minute EP out of what must have been potshards. The exception seems to be 'To the Moment,' the first song, which might have been relatively intact. 'To the Moment' is also the outlier in terms of quality. It's a far cry from the band's best work, but it's the only solid track among the four. In retrospect, perhaps it should've been a 2010 non-album single.***

The remaining From a Page songs have a half-baked feel. I suspect that the group writing credit on 'Gift of Love' was a business formality (or necessity). Take that away, and not only does this EP not seem to be a Yes album, it appears to be a handful of Wakeman demos waiting to be fleshed out by the rest of the band. Nonetheless, they're promising demos, which is, I'm sad to report, more than I can say about Heaven and Earth.

I'd only recommend From a Page to serious Yes fans and/or collectors. Someday 'To the Moment' will probably be available as a digital download, and well-adjusted Yes fans might want to download that. ====

*This set also includes the previously released 2-CD Live from Lyon, which I'd already paid for. A single vinyl disc, including just the new songs (plus a 'Single Mix' of 'To the Moment') can be had for the same price.

**Father of Oliver.

***I know, I know: (a) Yes has never done such things, and (b) a 2010 non-album single by a rock dinosaur without an upcoming album would've made no commercial sense.

patrickq | 2/5 |


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