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Yes - Yesyears CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.30 | 124 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars There are two primary audiences that a boxed set from a band usually aims for. The first is the group of casual fans, who like some of the band's music, but don't want to get all of the individual albums, with all of the tracks they don't know. This audience wants the hits. The second are the hard core fans looking for the rarities, the unreleased songs or live tracks that give some extra value to the collection.

For the casual fans, this collection does a good job. Of course, there are always going to be complaints about which songs were chosen, and which were not, but trying to pare down a quarter century or so of music onto four CDs is always going to leave out something, especially when the band in question specialized in long pieces.

As for the rarities, this collection shows that Yes usually made good decisions as to what to leave off of their albums. But that it was we, the hard core Yes fans should be looking at.

Disk 1 starts with Something's Coming, from "West Side Story". This was originally a b-side to a single, and is very good, possibly the best of the rare tracks. It's one of the few tracks from the original lineup where Chris Squire plays in the complex style he was known for in the classic years of the band. There are also two live BBC tracks, Then and Everydays. Live recordings of the Banks/Kaye lineup are too rare, so these are a plus.

Disk 2 covers the best period of Yes, from "Fragile" through "Relayer". This was when the band created their best epic pieces, and the producers had the good sense to use the complete version of Close To The Edge. Ritual was chosen from "TFTO" - not my favorite ttrack, but with only four to choose from, it was a tossup. The only rarity on this side is the single edit of America. I'm not a fan of these castrated versions of the songs, and would rather have the full track.

Disk 3 has the most unreleased material. Chris Squire's Amazing Grace solo piece has been featured on other albums, but this version is not bad. The two part Vevey, a duet between Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson (on harp), is nice, but not great. Montreux's Theme, another b-side, recorded during the "Tormato" sessions, shows why it was left off of the album. Money a goofy song, is made fun by Rick Wakeman speaking a Monty Python-like monologue throuout the song. Run With The Fox, a Christmas single by Squire and Alan White, is tame, but I supposed needed a place here. And I'm Down, the Beatles' song, played for a few tours in the seventies, here sounds like a throwaway studio mix.

Disk 4 features the Rabin band, and makes it apparent that this was a lesser version of Yes. Make It Easy and Love Conquers All, the first recorded before Anderson joined the band, the second after he left for ABWH, are not good. Make It Easy at least tries to be prog, but has such a lame chorus it falls flat. There are some live tracks of this group at the end. Both are muddy recordings, that sound like bootlegs. Changes fares the best of these, as it was one of their songs. And You And I shows the need for Steve Howe. Rabin's generic guitar sound doesn't fare well in this track. He fares better on Heart Of The Sunrise, but he also has to cover for Tony Kaye's inability to play many of Wakeman's keyboard parts.

So this collection has enough to give a decent value to both audiences mentioned above.

Three stars.

Evolver | 3/5 |


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