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Yes - Classic Yes CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.78 | 178 ratings

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3 stars Yes probably best exemplify the impact of the 80s on the rock-god dinosaurs of the generation that preceded the 80s vidiot phase of music. The members of the band changed partners like dancers in a square dance in the wake of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman’s departures during the recording of 1980’s Drama release. Steve Howe and Geoff Downes took their newly-acquired collaboration skills off to form Asia; Alan White and Rick Wakeman hooked up with Jimmy Page to kick off the latest supergroup flop XYZ; Jon Anderson put out his family-and-friends collection Song of Seven; and Trevor Horn returned to his MTV ‘roots’ as a songwriter and producer for such forgettable acts as Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Art of Noise. You pretty much needed a scorecard to keep track of who ended up where.

Atlantic Records managed to recoup a pound of flesh through all these changes by patching together various concert tracks for the Yesshows live album, and shortly after released Classic Yes with the help of Chris Squire.

The first thing to note about this album is the name: these is not necessarily the ‘Best of’ Yes, nor is it really an anthology, but considering the selection of songs included here ‘Classic’ is an apt title. Clearly the label had a challenge on its hands in selecting the playlist – with Yesshows still on record store shelves, it was unlikely fans would stomach another double album, so including many of the epics like “Gates of Delirium”, “Close to the Edge”, or anything from Tales From Topographic Oceans was probably out of the question. Despite the modest commercial success of Tormato and, to a lesser extent Drama, nothing from those albums could really be considered ‘classic’. And the Yesterdays compilation from the band’s early work was still available, so none of those songs made much sense either. Actually, in that light, the songs that ended up here were probably about the only ones that could have logically been included.

I have the original vinyl version, which shipped with a plainly-labeled 7” single containing the live versions of “Roundabout” and “I’ve Seen All Good People”. I’m not sure exactly which tour these came from, but both are pretty faithful renditions, although the band actually seems to have been in a hurry to play “Roundabout”, as it’s execution borders on perfunctory.

The rest of the album is made up of original studio recordings, so the quality is quite good. These songs are all from The Yes Album and Fragile, except for “And You And I” from Close To The Edge and “Wonderous Stories”, which was still in light rotation on many FM radio stations coming off the Going For The One release a couple years prior. I really can’t think of too many other songs that would have made any more sense than these, with the possible exception of the single edit of “Soon” from “Gates of Delirium” that was added to the re-mastered release of Relayer several years later. That would have sounded nice here.

This is a decent collection of the band’s more accessible and better known works, and in that respect is a very good entry point for those wanting to get into Yes. Combine this with Yesterdays and you have a very decent sampling of the band. If those both appeal to you, then you can start walking through the back catalog and relive the Yes story yourself. If not, at least you’ll have mostly experienced the magic of Yes without having to break the bank or work too hard to find all those other albums. Three stars only because compilations are rarely essential.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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