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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Yes, Friends And Relatives - Volume Two CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

2.93 | 10 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Relatively good

The second Yes "Family and friends" compilation largely follows the model of the first, except that here the tracks are all studio recordings. This time we have five tracks by the band, all taken from relatively the recent albums "The ladder" and "Open your eyes". The tracks from "The ladder" will actually please most Yes fans, especially the 10 minute "Homeworld" which represented a pleasing return to form by the band. "From the balcony", an Anderson/Howe acoustic duet from "Open your eyes" will also find favour, leaving "New state of mind", which unfortunately leads off this collection, as the only disappointing Yes number.

It is though, perhaps surprisingly, two of the Steve Howe songs which I find the most enjoyable here. His 12 minute cover of Bob Dylan's "Sad eyed lady of the lowlands", featuring Jon Anderson on vocals, is quite simply magnificent. Anderson is at his best on a song which suits his style perfectly. From the same source album ("Portraits of Bob Dylan") comes Howe's collaboration with Annie Haslam of Renaissance on "It's all over now baby blue". Haslam's perfect voice makes for a fine counterpoint for Howe's unobtrusive guitar work. The third track credited to Howe is a previously unreleased number called "Night trade", which reveals itself to be an admirably emotional workout by him on lead guitar.

One of the main faults with the first collection was the amount of space, almost half the album, given over to Rick Wakeman (and son) projects. The balance is much better here, despite the fact that the two classic Wakeman tracks ("Merlin" and "Catherine Howard") are not the originals, but inferior re-recorded versions. Astonishingly, the version of "Merlin" here actually has vocals, which for me completely destroys it. Indeed, reference to Wakeman's official website reveals that he actually despises the album "Classic tracks" from which these tracks are taken. He says on the site "The master tapes of the back tracks were taken to America and appalling vocals put on them without my approval. The final result was also then sold without my approval and without my receiving a penny. The master tapes were never even returned to me. the album is a disgrace."

Wakeman's son Adam adds one solo track, plus a collaboration with his father. The solo track "Madman blues" is surprising, as it is a brass led jazz piece more akin to Bruford's style than the keyboard wizardry we might have expected.

Jon Anderson is afforded space for two tracks from his "The more you know" album, while Bill Bruford's Earthworks also contribute two tracks from their "A part and yet apart" album. Anderson's songs are rather prosaic simple numbers, while Bruford's straight jazz does nothing to float my boat.

Finally, Chris Squire has two songs from his work with Billy Sherwood on their "Conspiracy" project plus a further two from his wife Nikki's band Esquire. The Esquire tracks are rather interesting, both being taken from the band's second album "Coming home". Chris is not actually part of the band, although he did have some involvement in the project which is primarily a collaboration between Nikki and multi-instrumentalist Nigel McLaren. Denny Laine (Moody Blues, Wings) and Chris Slade (Manfred Mann's Earth band, Uriah Heep) complete the line up.

In all, a much more satisfying and balanced collection than the first "Friends and relatives". While the classic Yes numbers are missing, the friends and relatives contributions are much stronger here. Recommended for those who are interested in the many projects which can claim a relationship with the band, but not for those who are simply looking for the music of Yes.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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