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Yes - Yesyears CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.28 | 117 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Yes conquers all, or from Peter Banks to Billy Sherwood in four discs

Like I said in my review of the Yesyears documentary film, the Union period was a perfect time to look back and document the history of the band thus far. Released in 1991, this four disc box set covers the history of the band from the beginning in the late 1960's to the early 90's when the set was put together. It mainly contains familiar album tracks but the real interest lies in the few previously unreleased songs, a few of which remain unavailable elsewhere.

The first disc focuses on the early days and no less than the eight first tracks document the time with Peter Banks as the band's guitarist. Two tracks are taken from the self-titled 1969 debut album and three from the follow-up Time And A Word from 1970. A further two tracks are previously unreleased recordings from BBC sessions of songs that also were included on Time And A Word. Perhaps the most interesting track on disc one of Yesyears is the opening track Something's Coming which originally was a single b-side to the UK single Sweetness from 1969. It made its debut on CD here and it is presented in a stereo mix that first appeared as a single a-side in Holland in 1970 and I don't think that this particular version is available on CD outside of this box set.

The rest of disc one is occupied with three tracks from The Yes Album and two from Fragile. These songs, like most of the songs on disc two - which opens with two further tracks from Fragile and also holds one track each from the albums Close To The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, and Relayer - are already present in every respectable Yes fan's collection and are of course best heard on the original albums. The only mildly interesting track on the second disc is America which is here presented in an edited single version. However, this single edit has since been included as a bonus track on the 2003 CD reissue of the Close To The Edge album and if you have that version, as well as the other classic Yes albums, there is nothing at all on disc two of Yesyears that you don't already have in your collection.

Discs three and four are clearly more interesting for the Yes fan with more previously unreleased material. The third disc covers primarily the 1977 to 1980 period though it opens with the single edit of Soon (part of Gates Of Delirium from the Relayer album) originally released as a single in 1975. Amazing Grace, Vevey (Part One), Montreux's Theme, Vevey (Part Two), and Money were all previously unreleased at the time. Amazing Grace and Montreux's Theme were later included as bonus tracks on the 2003 CD reissue of Going For The One and the same goes for Vevey, though the latter is on Yesyears shorter and split into two separate parts while the Going For The One CD bonus track is one slightly longer track and retitled Vevey (Revisited). Money was included on the 2004 CD reissue of Tormato.

Also on disc three we find Abilene which originally was released as the b-side to the Don't Kill The Whale single but appeared here for the first time on CD. This one too later appeared as a bonus track on the Tormato CD. The most interesting track on disc three is however Run With The Fox, originally released as a single in 1981 credited not to Yes but to Chris Squire and Alan White and which appeared here for the first time on CD. (The song was later re-recorded by Squire for his Christmas album Swiss Choir in 2007). The b-side of that single is however not included here and has never to my knowledge been released on CD (and I have never heard it; I'm still looking for that one). The third disc of this box set concludes with yet another previously unreleased track in I'm Down, a Beatles cover recorded live in 1976.

The fourth and final disc of the set covers the 80's period when Trevor Rabin was part of the band. About half of the songs are taken from the 90125 and Big Generator albums but there are a few previously unreleased songs as well. The disc opens with Make It Easy, in my opinion one of Rabin's finest songs ever. Even though this song was recorded during the 90125 sessions it was not originally included on that album and it wasn't previously released in any form before it appeared on Yesyears. The song was also released as a single in 1991 to promote this box set. It has since been included as a bonus track on the 2004 CD reissue of 90125. In my opinion this song is stronger than most songs that actually were selected for that album! Rabin often played the intro of Make It Easy live as an introduction to Owner Of A Lonely Heart.

It Can Happen is not the album version but an earlier version recorded before Jon Anderson joined the sessions when the band was called Cinema. In my opinion, this version is better than the album version. Changes, And You And I, and Heart Of The Sunrise are live recordings from Houston, Texan in 1988.

Closing the whole set is Love Conquers All, a song penned by Billy Sherwood and Chris Squire around the time of Union but was never included on that album. It was later re-recorded by Sherwood and Squire for their Conspiracy project but this original version appears exclusively on Yesyears and is not available anywhere else. Sherwood's association with the band began on around Union but he would go on to play a more prominent role on later Yes albums and tours, ending with this song thus fittingly points towards the future.

This box set is clearly one for the fans of the band though as such it is frustrating as it includes lots of material that every fan already has. Still, there are enough of interesting rarities here and there not available elsewhere to make this collection a worthwhile addition.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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