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Yes - Progeny - Seven Shows from Seventy-Two CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.52 | 124 ratings

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4 stars Seven concerts taken from the 1972 Canadian and US tour. Same set list each time; very similar performances and presented in a warts and all set of soundboards - not multi-track recordings. These are the "source code" for most of Yessongs. So if you're familiar with Yessongs and hear the Knoxville show you will recognise Six Wives, and I'm pretty sure, Yours Is No Disgrace at least in parts. There are lots of bits edited for the Yessongs version. I think Eddie Offord did a magnificent job editing the tapes for that album; everything had to conform to the limited format of vinyl unlike here where the extended Steve Howe soloing improvises away - on this show he is outstanding here. He is excellent always, the outstanding parts are when the inspiration his and the intensity and improvisation goes up into the skies.

For the most part the perfomances are unvaried. Roundabout, Heart Of The Sunrise are excellent but leave me thinking that the highlights might be a better choice for some who might feel they could be treading through the same old ground at times. These were never intended to be consumed as a long album - this is definitely archive stuff.

The things is that the soundboards are not perfect and from the liner notes in the booklet even these, resurrected from the tombs had to undergo considerable work before they made it here. The sound is consistently very good but not the greatest but then neither was Yessongs despite all the good work to make that into one of the quintessential live albums of all time.

Some might immerse themselves in the shows - all roughly the same length at once - up to the individual. If you are a Yessongs fan you should really have this for some of the unedited material. Close To The Edge is always intact and most on Yessongs don't have much missing but the Yours Is No Disgrace original is really quite something. Actually this is an example of just why we listen to Yes. My other favourite piece is the opening number - Siberian Khatru which on the first release Toronto, is Yes with all guns blazing and gain Steve Howe's guitar intensity proving how he became five times World Champion in the Guitar Player magazine stakes.

There are funny moments - the keyboard managing to pick up a radio station - if only it had been playing Yes at the same time...

There are slightly dodgy moments - one moment when the guitar is briefly overly prominent and sounds out of tune - which is unusual - but this set is warts and all despite the polishing too get to excellent bootleg soundboard level. Now some enthusiasts may consider this recording to be slightly better than Yessongs. No, it's not. Sometimes it's very close but to me sounds a slight stage away from Offord's final decision. But it's hair splitting at times. Most Yes live albums are not the greatest recordings ever and this is seven more that are not. But all quite listenable and no editing for limited format.

The reason to get this are the stellar band performances and for me, the exemplary work by Mr Howe. Everyone is on fine form and each concert well captured.

So the pros - some unedited original source material for Yessongs. Fine performances, pretty good recordings, new Roger Dean art work, interestingly the covers just have his art, no Yes logo or notes, they're all inside the book. The cons - same set list with minor improvisations usually before the number begins or during Yours Is No Disgrace. Hmm, doesn't sound like much of a con...

Well I can't see a 14 LP set of this ever seeing the light of day even in the old days of vinyl. Nice box set overall. Probably for collectors only. I can't really envisage an average Yes fan - I've known some really oddball Yes fans (someone who said he'd walk out on Yes if they played Starship Trooper - why I didn't want to know it was just odd...) This is the sort of thing a Yessongs nut would have to have sitting on the shelf and have fun picking the bits that were used to make up Yessongs. Probably not for someone who just knows Owner Of A Lonely Heart.

Verdict - for Yes fans / collectors. But 2 stars is a bit harsh as there is not only nothing really wrong and at times it's sublime. Yet five stars makes it a life changing game changing mind altering experience. Well, at times admittedly, so it is... Three stars.. well, not essential under the PA guide lines. It IS excellent and in parts essential to a Yes collection. So 3.5 is my final offer given the same set list seven times and the likelihood it is most going to appeal to 1972 era fans (Yessongs) mainly. Therefore it is rounded up to four as it is a set of fine Yes performances - if it were say the Knoxville, Tn show (a favourite of mine) it might get a higher rating on its own. And Roger Dean's fine art work in miniature.

Oh yes... so to speak -- the "replica" LP covers are card sleeves, gate fold of course, quite nice but could be a bit nicer with a more LP like sleeve and inner bags to protect the CDs - these are a really good idea given how cheap it is to produce CDs. In a way it's lucky most record companies put out cheap and nasty releases with scant regard for the consumer as an appreciative audience rather than a target demographic to be systematically manipulated and abused... oops sorry, improvisation on a favourite theme... as I was trying to say I would be even more broke than usual getting everything. Thankfully Progeny this is not none of those, it's just that it could be slightly better - like a Japanese version).

So by all means go ahead and pick this up take a while to enjoy each in the busy time of your everyday life and let it take it's full effect. If you can get it inexpensively then go ahead, make your mood for the day. Otherwise go for Yessongs (which is not yet replaced by this source code) or get the Highlights.

uduwudu | 4/5 |


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