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Yes - From A Page CD (album) cover

FROM A PAGE

Yes

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars From a Page is an unexpected gift from Oliver Wakeman who decided after the death of Chris Squire to re-work on some lost recordings from the 2008-2010 Yes period. These four tracks shows what Fly from Here could have included if Oliver Wakeman had not been replaced by Geoff Downes to recreate the Drama formation. I will not says these tracks would have increase the quality of Fly From Here as I already consider Fly From Here as one of the best Yes album ever, no less. But it would not have decreased it either.

To The Moment is the hit single. Let's say, in other times, with another band, on another planet, it could have been a hit. Nice song with great vocals from Benoit David and really good instrumental section. Wakeman's keyboard shines all over the song.

Words On A Page is a delicate piece with great vocals and harmonies and an instrumental section in the middle starting with Wakeman's beautiful piano and followed by a perfect slide guitar section from Steve Howe. If you think Sad Night At The Airfield is a great track, this one should also do the trick. Probably the best track of this mini album.

From The Turn Of A Card is probably the least Yes style of the lot. It is a new version of a track initially recorded by Oliver Wakeman, Benoit David and Gordon Giltrap in 2013. Wakeman took the vocal part and re-recorded a softer piano-only arrangement. This is a great track nevertheless and it is very interesting to hear Benoit David's "real" voice (a lower pitch), once he had not to mime Jon Anderson anymore.

Finally, The Gift of Love is a combination of two different compositions. One from Oliver Wakeman and the other from Chris Squire which will resurface later in a very different version as The Game on the beloved Heaven & Earth album. Very interesting to see how you can create such different songs and atmosphere with the same basis.

In the end, the only default of this mini album is its length: only 26 minutes long. Wakeman states that they were also working on Into the Storm, The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be and Don't Take No For An Answer during these sessions. It would have been interesting to see Wakeman's versions of these tracks (specially Into The Storm that he co-wrote) and it would have give us a full album, the third version of Fly From Here that we could have called "Fly from Here - Final Boarding Call For Passengers.

Report this review (#2278204)
Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2019 | Review Permalink
patrickq
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars There's good news about From a Page, the Yes product released in late 2019: it's way better than the group's last studio album, Heaven and Earth, from 2014. Way better. But there's also bad news: the four From a Page songs (totaling about 26 minutes) were recorded in 2010, several years before the eight songs comprising the 52-minute Heaven and Earth. So the quality trend doesn't bode well for future releases from Yes, whose membership is very different from the 2010 line-up.

A bit more on that: From a Page was sung by lead vocalist Benoīt David, and three of the four tracks were written by keyboardist Oliver Wakeman, who also produced the album. The fourth track is credited to the whole band: Wakeman, David, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, and guitarist Steve Howe. Wakeman was dismissed in 2011 and David in 2010, and Squire died in 2015. So as part of the Yes catalog, these songs are anomalous, especially insofar as they were released out of chronological order.

Some fans have complained that the impetus for the release was profit. I can certainly see this viewpoint; I paid US$29.10 (£22.60) for a three-CD set,* which is as of this writing the only way to procure a digital copy of the four songs. Another view is that this is an Oliver Wakeman solo EP (or maybe a Wakeman/David release) whose steep price is justified by rebranding it as 'Yes.' The impetus for releasing it in 2019 might then be a lull in new Yes product (exacerbated, ironically, by this release, insofar as these four tunes can't be used on a new album) and concern that competing product might be forthcoming from the rouge offshoot 'Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin, and Wakeman.' Indeed, if Squire's Fish Out of Water or Rick Wakeman's** Six Wives of Henry VIII are correctly considered solo albums with substantial help from the rest of Yes, From a Page is probably a solo (or duo) recording as well. However, it probably couldn't be marketed for $29.

Enough backstory. As Wakeman discusses in the helpful liner notes, From a Page was assembled from session takes using Pro Tools - - although its cut-and-paste nature would be evident anyway; the first hint is the pitch-shifting of David's vocals. But this isn't really a detriment to my ears; I'm very impressed with Wakeman's ability to put together a plausible 26-minute EP out of what must have been potshards. The exception seems to be 'To the Moment,' the first song, which might have been relatively intact. 'To the Moment' is also the outlier in terms of quality. It's a far cry from the band's best work, but it's the only solid track among the four. In retrospect, perhaps it should've been a 2010 non-album single.***

The remaining From a Page songs have a half-baked feel. I suspect that the group writing credit on 'Gift of Love' was a business formality (or necessity). Take that away, and not only does this EP not seem to be a Yes album, it appears to be a handful of Wakeman demos waiting to be fleshed out by the rest of the band. Nonetheless, they're promising demos, which is, I'm sad to report, more than I can say about Heaven and Earth.

I'd only recommend From a Page to serious Yes fans and/or collectors. Someday 'To the Moment' will probably be available as a digital download, and well-adjusted Yes fans might want to download that. ====

*This set also includes the previously released 2-CD Live from Lyon, which I'd already paid for. A single vinyl disc, including just the new songs (plus a 'Single Mix' of 'To the Moment') can be had for the same price.

**Father of Oliver.

***I know, I know: (a) Yes has never done such things, and (b) a 2010 non-album single by a rock dinosaur without an upcoming album would've made no commercial sense.

Report this review (#2278457)
Posted Wednesday, November 6, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars With From a Page we finally get the opportunity of hearing what could have made Fly From Here a great album and not a mediocre one (IMHO, of course). In this review I will focus on the four 'new' tracks composed back in 2011:

To the moment (8.5/10). One of the best songs Yes has composed in the past 25 years. Really. Flows perfectly and ends with a gorgeous keyboard solo by O. Wakeman.

From a page (7/10) - gentle song that develops slowly, driven by the piano of O. Wakeman. At the middle Steve Howe joins in with a wonderful acoustic and electric guitar solo. The song is good, nothing amazing but better than anything showed on Heaven and Earth.

From the turn of a card (5/10) - Benoit David sings along with the piano of Wakeman. The weakest song here.

The gift of love (6/10). A mini-epic than shows what that line-up could do. Unfortunately, the overall sound and tempo reminds more of H&E than FFH, nice and mellow without being challenging. That said, Howe's contributions are amazing.

Overall, I'm glad with this release, it holds one great song, one good, a curiosity and a weak one. Recommended for all Yes fans.

Report this review (#2306981)
Posted Tuesday, January 14, 2020 | Review Permalink

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