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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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3 stars Another of the seemingly endless Magna Carta series of tributes to legendary prog bands, this album is quite an agreeable listen, though far from being the near-masterpiece the ELP tribute, "Encores, Legends and Paradox", was. Some of the songs are so close to the original as to be virtually undistinguishable, others offer interesting reinterpretations, others still are somewhat superfluous. Anyway, at least to my mind, it is always worth hearing covers of the great classics of prog done by musically proficient artists (no, I wouldn't really like to hear The Sex Pistols cover Yes...), even though one may not always agree with the end result.

All the usual Magna Carta mainstays are featured there, as it is to be expected - starting with the ubiquitous Robert Berry, who opens the proceedings with his own version of "Roundabout". This is a much harder version than the original, with Berry's more than adequate, though distinctly prog-metalish, vocals sounding extremely different from Anderson's angelic tones. He plays all the instruments here, with a little help from Yes man Steve Howe himself. One of my all-time favourite Yes tracks follows, the powerful "Siberian Khatru", performed by Stanley Snail (a band featuring the talents of the late Kevin Gilbert and Spock's Beard drummer and vocalist Nick D'Virgilio). The intro is uncannily similar to the original, but then some variation kicks in in the instrumental section. The vocal harmonies, so vital to the song, are spot on - this is definitely one of the standouts of the collection. The two best-known Howe acoustic showcases, "Mood for a Day" and "The Clap", are performed by guitar virtuoso Steve Morse - excellent performances as usual from the man who stepped into the shoes of the Man in Black, though almost identical to the original versions.

There are two songs from the generally poorly-regarded "Tormato" album here, though I don't find their covers are so bad as others instead do. Magellan's take on "Don't Kill the Whale" is quite rousing, though uneven in parts; while Shadow Gallery's metalised version of "Release Release" may even be seen as an improvement on the original. However, I'm not overly keen on Mike Baker's vocals, being in general no great fan of the LaBrie and friends school of prog-metal singing. Cairo's and World Trade's versions of, respectively, "South Side of the Sky" and "Wonderous Stories" are pretty good too, and faithful to the originals without trying to hard to imitate them.

In my opinion (though others differ in that respect), one of the real highlights of this album is the cover of "Turn of the Century" (a song I've always had a soft spot for), performed by Steve Howe on acoustic guitar and the incomparable Annie Haslam on vocals. This song was probably born to be sung by a female voice rather than a male one (though of course Anderson was the only one who could pull it off). If there is a flaw to be found in this particular instance, it could be said that the song goes on a bit, and that can make it boring for listeners - and of course the magnificent, melancholy Wakeman piano solo is missing. But you can't have it all ... And, for piano fans, the real treat is provided by a version of "Soon" performed by Patrick Moraz himself. The man sure can play!

The least successful tracks of the album (bar the excellent instrumental version of "Astral Traveller", performed by Peter Banks with the help of Robert Berry) are tucked away at the end. Enchant's cover of "Changes" (easily the best song on the controversial "90125" album) does the original no favours, with Ted Leonard's LaBrie-ish vocals not a patch on Trevor Rabin's much more restrained tones; while Jeronimo Road's "Starship Trooper" (featuring Rick's son Adam Wakeman on keys) is a much-compressed version of the glorious original. Not awful, but nothing so brilliant either.

As I said at the beginning, a pleasant listen indeed, and an interesting one - but far too uneven to be awarded more than three stars.

Raff | 3/5 |


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