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



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Man With Hat
Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars Tales From Nineteen-Seventy-Two.

An absolute treasure for fans of 70s Progressive Rock, Progeny has all the hallmarks as a classic boxset that will go down as a must own for fans, in the not too distant future. Progeny chronicles a time when Yes were special...musically adventurous, technically showy, and physically and mentally inclined to push to the heights of the rock music scene of the time. Even though Sir Bruford had recently left, Yes were still a well oiled machine, which this box set illustrates quite well. This box set is an archive of seven complete shows of Yes' North American tour in 1972, with no studio overdubs or other postmortem procedures. It is Yes, live and raw.

For me, the highlights are unequivocally Yours Is No Disgrace, Siberian Khatru, and Heart Of The Sunrise. Each of the seven versions brims with life and vitally, and usually culminates with a stellar solo spot, that shows just how fierce and talented the band are. Howe, in particular, stands out to my ears. His deft hand and keen musical mind are fully at play when it is his turn in the spotlight. Of all the songs, Yours Is No Disgrace is probably the most exciting, as before the song proper begins, there is a little improvised 'jam' as an intro. Most are rather short (under a minute) but the Nassau Coliseum show has a nearly 5 minute excursion. This is a side of Yes that is certainly under represented and it's nice to have it shown, even if briefly.

Most of the rest of the show is quite enjoyable as well. And You And I seems the most spirited, when compared to it's studio counterpart. Roundabout also manages to feel fresh (even today when it is most definitely played to death) with a subtle fire and feel good atmosphere. For me, the only dip in quality is the Steve Howe solo spot, which while technically proficient and skillful, is a bit of a drag in the overall flow of the show, and frankly reproduced seven times is quite overkill, even for a boxset like this one. But there is easily enough excellence overall to counterbalance this hiccup.

But that does lead to the obvious drawback to this set, which is the fact that Yes did not vary their song selection from show to show. While it is nice to have seven new and wonderful versions of Yours Is No Disgrace and Heart Of The Sunrise, having seven Howe/Wakeman solo spots and seven I've Seen All Good People is a bit unnecessary and slightly disappointing, considering what else they had in their (admittedly smallish) catalog. But this is what Yes was back in those fateful days of the early 70s. So, the question must be the full boxset worth it, or will the highlights package satisfy? For me, the answer is clear: The boxset is the only way to own Progeny. Admittedly, getting a general consensus for best versions for each song would be a difficult exercise. However, for me, the highlights package misses some fairly essential stuff...the aforementioned Nassau Coliseum Yours Is No Disgrace, the Maple Leaf Garden's Close To The Edge & Excerpts From The Six Wives Of Henry VII (where Wakeman tunes into a local radio station), and absolutely anything from the University Of Georgia show, which is one of the best ones overall, for me. And perhaps I'm just picky and would like to create my own highlights package, but part of me will always be happy to have the full shows at my disposal.

All in all, this is a superb document of one of the premier Progressive Rock bands, in their prime, and striking with full force. This is absolutely essential for anyone who is a fan of this period of the band's history. The sound quality is good throughout, and definitely an improvement to Yessongs (which this, specially the highlights package, will inevitably be compared to). But like the recent release of Miles Davis' full shows the the Filmore East, I find this to be an excellent compliment to Yessongs, and I wouldn't like to have my collection missing either. On a grander scale, I can see a massive box set like this (although reasonably priced for what it is) can be a bit of excess in the overall view of things. I'll rate it a extremely strong 4.5 stars, with a corollary: If you are on the fence over the boxset or the highlights package, you want the full set. Strongly recommended.

Report this review (#1426145)
Posted Thursday, June 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars The question looming over everyone's heads when this box set was released was no doubt: Does anyone really need seven additional versions of these ten songs? The answer turns out to be an unequivocal yes. Despite the recent departure of Bill Bruford, Yes were unquestionably on a musical peak when these shows were recorded, with many of the songs exceeding the quality of the studio versions in every version here ("Yours Is No Disgrace" stands out), and the performances actually vary significantly from night to night, and in some cases, radically; for example, Howe's solo set sometimes bookends "Mood for a Day" with excerpts of "Clap", and sometimes plays one before the other. The band also delves into improvisation at times, with "Yours Is No Disgrace" almost doubling in length in the Nassau performance. Rhino also has to be commended for doing a superb job with the packaging; there are liberal doses of Roger Dean artwork and extensive essays from Syd Schwarz and Brian Kehew on the background of the recordings and the technical process behind the remastering of the material, respectively. It should finally be mentioned that the sound quality is superb. There have never been better- sounding live recordings of this material, and Rhino's engineers wisely avoided subjecting the material to any "loudness war" shenanigans. This music sounds as clear as if you were in the audience. This set is strongly recommended, and will undoubtedly be a future classic of prog music.
Report this review (#1444492)
Posted Friday, July 24, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars A must !! If you where ever in doubt about this box set, don't be, this is the best live representation of a band at their peak. But 7 shows with the same setlist? really?!? Yep! 7 shows with the same setlist. But, with not the same atmosphere each night, not the same intensity and playing in each song, also you have all the original banter between each songs. Just for the gasp from the audience when Close To The Edge start, is enough to grant a buy. And also, it sound 100% better than Yessong. If your a true Yes fan, and you don't own it, what are you waiting for?!? If you like Yes, but not enough to spend 90$ on a live box set, you can still buy the 2 disc version, a highlight from the 7 shows on the box set. Finally a box set that truly, is taylor made for the longtime Yes fan that I am. Nothing less that 5 stars, a masterpiece, live box set, of progressive rock music.
Report this review (#1445260)
Posted Sunday, July 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Major Yes fans who simply can't get enough of their live show as documented in Yessongs will love Progeny, a boxed set that contains seven full shows from the Close to the Edge tour of North America with Alan White having found his bearings on drums. An excellent job has been done of optimising the sound quality whilst accurately presenting the twists and turns of each show - including a Spinal Tap-esque incident where a local radio station starts interfering with Rick Wakeman's keyboard setup in one show.

Less hardcore fans, however, will probably find the entire set a bit excessive. Whilst there is some improv here and there, Yes shows of this period simply didn't vary as much as, say, your average mid-70s King Crimson concert. In fact, each show has essentially the same setlist played in basically the same order each evening, though there are some moments of improvisation.

For the sheer value of money it offers to the true fans, I'll give this five stars, but it really and truly isn't for anyone who isn't a major fan; Yessongs does a decent enough job of capturing this live era, even though it doesn't present a single continuous concert. For those who want to take a real deep dive into live Yes when they were at the peak of their powers, on the other hand, this boxed set will give you as much as you could possibly want.

Report this review (#1528825)
Posted Saturday, February 13, 2016 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1534051)
Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2016 | Review Permalink

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