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Yes Yesyears album cover
3.32 | 131 ratings | 10 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (72:46)
1. Something's Coming (7:06)
2. Survival (6:18)
3. Every Little Thing (5:41)
4. Then (4:18)
5. Everydays (4:08)
6. Sweet Dreams (3:49)
7. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (4:48)
8. Time and a Word (4:31)
9. Starship Trooper (9:26) :
- a. Life Seeker
- b. Disillusion
- c. Würm
10. Yours Is No Disgrace (9:40)
11. I've Seen All Good People (6:53) :
- a. Your Move
- b. All Good People
12. Long Distance Runaround (3:33)
13. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) (2:35)

CD 2 (72:35)
1. Roundabout (8:31)
2. Heart of the Sunrise (10:31)
3. America (edit) (4:03)
4. Close to the Edge (18:34) :
- i. The Solid Time of Change
- ii. Total Mass Retain
- iii. I Get Up I Get Down
- iv. Seasons of Man
5. Ritual (Nous sommes du Soleil) (21:33)
6. Sound Chaser (9:23)

CD 3 (73:13)
1. Soon (4:06)
2. Amazing Grace (2:31)
3. Vevey, Part 1 (1:07)
4. Wonderous Stories (3:45)
5. Awaken (15:34)
6. Montreaux's Theme (2:26)
7. Vevey, Part 2 (0:57)
8. Going for the One (5:32)
9. Money (3:12)
10. Abilene (3:55)
11. Don't Kill the Whale (3:55)
12. On the Silent Wings of Freedom (7:45)
13. Does It Really Happen? (6:34)
14. Tempus Fugit (5:14)
15. Run with the Fox (4:09)
16. I'm Down (2:31)

CD 4 (72:36)
1. Make It Easy (6:08)
2. It Can Happen (6:01)
3. Owner of a Lonely Heart (4:27)
4. Hold On (5:15)
5. Shoot High Aim Low (7:00)
6. Rhythm of Love (4:46)
7. Love Will Find a Way (4:49)
8. Changes (7:34)
8. And You and I (10:49) :
- i. Cord of Life
- ii. Eclipse
- iii. The Preacher, the Teacher
- iv. Apocalypse
9. Heart of the Sunrise (10:50)
10. Love Conquers All (4:57)

Total Time 291:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / vocals
- Trevor Horn / vocals
- Chris Squire / bass, vocals
- Patrick Moraz / keyboards
- Geoff Downes / keyboards
- Tony Kaye / keyboards
- Rick Wakeman / keyboards
- Alan White / drums
- Bill Bruford / drums
- Peter Banks / guitars
- Trevor Rabin / guitars, vocals
- Steve Howe / guitars, vocals
- Billy Sherwood / guitars, vocals

Releases information

Atlantic records

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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YES Yesyears ratings distribution

(131 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

YES Yesyears reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Frustrating

I must admit to some disappointment with this box set.

"Yesyears" is undoubtedly lavishly produced, complete with 4 CDs and an informative booklet, but the contents leave me largely frustrated. The selection of tracks for any box set is a subjective process, but the process used here is in my opinion flawed.

For a sprawling 4 CD set, there's simply not enough of the classic Yes tracks included. The compilers seem to have been torn between selecting tracks representing "The best of" Yes, and including a host of (sometimes for good reason) unreleased tracks. This results in the inclusion a number of BBC sessions and tracks from the less appealing pre Yes album days. This gives the set an inappropriate bias towards that period.

There are a number of other interesting "Previously unreleased" songs, but no hidden gems as such. Most of these tracks have since been added to the expanded remasters of various Yes albums.

Other criticisms are: - The innovative but relatively rare version of "America" appears only in edited format. - The studio versions of "And you and I" and Siberian Khatru" are missing altogether (although a live version of AYAI appears as an afterthought.)

- "Heart of the sunrise" appears twice (one is a live version)

- "Topographic oceans" is represented only by "Ritual" (in full). "Yes years" was perhaps the perfect opportunity to include edited highlights of the best of all four sides of "Tales from Topographic Oceans" (I'm sure Rick Wakeman would have approved!).

- Relayer is only represented by what is for me the poorest (and it appears generally least liked) track on the album, "Sound chaser", and a single version of "Soon".

- The great "Parallels" (from "Going for the one") is omitted

- CD 3 has too many doctored and unreleased tracks.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Many of the greats are here, but they are surrounded by mediocrity.

In all, a collection which falls between two stools. It is neither a collection of the finest Yes tracks, nor is it an indispensable treasure chest of Yes rarities. Probably best avoided The more recent "In a word" box set is much better.

By the way, don't confuse this CD box set with the DVD of the same name. The DVD is an excellent documentary of the band from their early days, up to the time of the "Union" tour.

Review by Guillermo
3 stars I didn`t buy this 4 CD Boxed Set. It was expensive! I don`t know if it is still available for buying. But I was lucky that a FM Radio station in my country (now defunct and missed!) in 1992 broadcasted a series of programmes about YES and their discography, excluding compilations, with the exception of the songs "America" (full lenght version) and "Dear Father" from the album "Yesterdays" and the previously unreleased songs from this Box Set, which I recorded in a cassette. So, I first comment about these previously unreleased tracks:1. "Something`s Coming": a song from Leonard Bernstein`s musical "West Side Story", which has a very good arrangement by YES, and it was released as the "B" side of the single "Sweetness" in 1969. This is the Stereo version; 2. "Then" and 3. "Everydays": previously unreleased BBC sessions, recorded in 1969-1970. This same version of "Then" was also released in the albums "Beyond and Before-The BBC sessions 1969-70" (U.S.) and "Something`s Coming" (U.K.). Both songs show the original line-up of the band in their early days, still playing with some mistakes; 4. The single edits of "America" (1972) and 5. "Soon" (1974): "America" doesn`t sound good in this edit, but the edit of "Soon" is good; 5. "Amazing Grace": a solo bass piece by Chris Squire (1977), not very interesting for me; 7. "Abilene":the B- side of the "Don`t Kill the Whale" single (1978), a song composed by Steve Howe played with the band, not too bad; 8. "Vevey part I" and 9. "Vevey Part II": church organ and harp duets by Wakeman and Anderson recorded during the "Going for the one" album sessions (1977), very brief and not very interesting for me; 10. "Montreaux Theme": a good instrumental song recorded during the "Going for the one" album sessions (1977); 11. "Money": a previously unreleased song from the "Tormato" sessions (1978), a good rocker song, with very good bass by Squire and an humorous speech by Wakeman in the background; 12. "I`m Down": a cover of The Beatles`s song recorded live in 1976 with Patrick Moraz on keyboards, and Howe playing a guitar solo similar to George Harrison`s solo in the original version; 13. "Run with the Fox":a Christmas single released by Chris Squire and Alan White in 1981 (with lyrics written by Peter Sinfield), with a good orchestral and choral arrangement for a Christmas-style song ; 14. "It Can Happen": a Demo version of this song from the "90125" album, recorded by Chris Squire/Alan White/Tony Kaye/Trevor Rabin (the "Cinema" band, before Jon Anderson`s arrival), with Squire on lead vocals, with different lyrics and an different arrangement; 15. "Make It Easy": another Demo recorded by the "Cinema" band of a very good song which wasn`t released in the "90125" album, with lead vocals by Rabin. YES played the introduction of this song as the introduction of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" in several tours with Rabin and Kaye, and even in the "Union" tour ; 16. "And You and I",17. "Heart of the Sunrise" and 18. "Changes": live recordings from the "Big Generator" tour (1988). "And You and I" is played in a different style by Rabin in the electric guitar, with a good lead guitar replacing Howe`s pedal steel guitar, and good keyboards by Kaye. "Heart of the Sunrise" is a "lazy" live version as the band (mainly Alan White and Chris Squire) sounds "tired of touring".Why they didn`t include a live version with the Anderson/Bruford/Howe/Squire/Wakeman 1971 line-up instead of this 1988 version? It could have been more interesting than this 1988 version. "Changes" is a good live version, but not better than the live version released in the "9012Live-The Solos" album. These 1988 live versions were recorded in the same concert (Houston, 19-February-1988), and I also recorded parts of this concert in a cassette as it was broadcasted partially in early 1989 in another FM Radio station in my country . 19. "Love Conquers All": a Demo of a song composed by Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood with Trevor Rabin singing lead vocals and without Jon Anderson (who left YES in 1988 to form ABWH). It is a good Pop song. About the rest of the songs: compilations are not always "perfect" , but they included several "Classic" YES songs. About other previously unreleased tracks: it could have been very interesting to listen to the unreleased songs played by the "Drama" line-up in the "Drama" tour ("Go Through This" and "We can fly from here") and other live versions of songs not released in previous live albums and videos ("Hearts", "Our Song", "South Side of the Sky", "To Be over", etc.).
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I didn't think the idea of putting the best repertoires of this legendary band was a good idea at all. The reason was simple: Yes repertoires are almost all excellent and their duration are typically long. But, with recent technology development in audio storage where we know that a CD can store a maximum of 80 minute long music, this has made "The Best of Yes" is viable - especially with 4 discs set; it's good enough, I would say. It's recommended. I bought this box set in 1992 when the price of this box (4 CDs) equals to current price of one CD as of today. It's really a worthy investment. Let me tell you why ..

This set contains historical value of the band in terms of music and member changes. Music-wise, we can observe the transformation of this band from its debut album to a mature album "The Yes Album" onwards with well acclaimed "Close To The Edge" and it later change to pop bandwagon through a "90125" album and followed-up with "Big Generator". The "90125" had disappointed most of the band fans base but it also had a positive impact that the band was widely known by non prog listeners through the hit "Owner of A Lonely Heart". And of course, the commercial success that followed.

In terms of member change it also featured the departure of Peter Banks - replaced by Steve Howe in Yes album; the replacement of Tony Kaye to Rick Wakeman in "Fragile", the replacement of Bill Bruford with Alan White in "Tales ."; replacement of Rick Wakeman with Patrick Moraz in "Relayer" and the return of Rick in "Going For The One". Jon Anderson that had insofar characterized Yes music in its own identity left the band and replaced by Trevor Horn in "Drama". In this album also Rick Wakeman left the band again and replaced by Geoff Downes. The major shift was really when Steve Howe left and replaced by Trevor Rabin and the return of Tony Kaye and Jon Anderson with "90125". All tracks from that albums are well presented here in this set. New explorer of Yes music may see the stream of Yes music through this box set.

Not all tracks are those that you really want to listen as it contains debut album tracks. But at least you can see how the band's music looked like in its beginning. Seminal tracks are featured in this set including: "Starship Trooper", "Yours is no Disgrace", "I've Seen All Good People", "Long Distance Runaround - The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)", "Roundabout", "Heart of the Sunrise", "Close to the Edge", "Ritual", "Sound Chaser", "Wonderous Stories", "Awaken", "Don't Kill the Whale", and "Tempus Fugit".

The other important thing that really drove me to purchase this box set was the excellent booklet (LP size) that features the full story of the band. This is very important information for me as album-wise I have collected all CDs of each album. But there is no such comprehensive and essential information as this booklet has. I like the family tree map as part of this booklet. Because the box set is packaged in LP size, it's another plus point for me as I can put the box (empty) pasted on the wall (altogether with King Crimson "Frame By Frame" and Marillion Laser Disc - all the progheads) and the CDs stored separately in my CD shelf.

It's an excellent addition to your prog collection. Keep on Progging! GW, Indonesia.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A comprehensive boxed set with four CD's and a big booklet, which works as a great introduction to the classic material of this band, and could also be a nice gift for the YES fans who have the albums as vinyl for example. There's also lot's of previously unreleased material here, so the collectors should be interested of this. Disc three from the late 70's and early 80's has the biggest amount of that kind of special stuff. I'm not sure if these have been now released with the new re-masters of the albums though.
Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This is the start of a very prolific compilation period for Yes : studio boxsets, live CD's, live DVD's. They will produce more than thirty in fifteen years (thirty eight to date to be precise). Quite an expensive YesStory for the fan ! This one is a four CD boxset. What we get here is a chronological representation of their career (which is a quite logical approch). What is less logical is the tracklist, though. I know it is not easy to set it up while realizing such an effort. Apparently, Chris Squire supervised the whole project (maybe because he is the only one to have been a permanent and founding member of the band) with little to none contribution from his colleagues.

Disc one covers the early days : their three first albums and partially the fourth one. "Time & A Word" is over represented IMO in comparision to their first "Yes" album. From "The Yes Album" I can't understand why they left out "Perpetual Change" and include "I've Seen All Good People". "The Fish" does not belong either to their best repertoire (IMO) but since Chris choose the tracklist ...

Disc two covers one of their more interesting period (partially from "Fragile" to "Relayer"). We get the short version of "America (on a quad CD compilation) ! One of their forgotten jewel on this album is "South Side of the Sky" : it will remain forgotten alas ! Worse is to come : no sign of "And You & I" ! "Tales" is represented with "Ritual". I believe "The Remembering" or "The Revealing Science Of God" would have been a better choice since those tracks are really superior. Then "Relayer" : out of the three tracks, "Sound Chaser" is not the best one : but that's the one we get here. No "To Be Over". "Gates Of Delirium" is only represented with the excerpts "Soon" ! (available on disc three - they could at least have put it accordingly on disc two to make a logical break between albums.

Disc three covers the period from GFTO to "Drama". From "Going For The One" we get four unreleased tracks (at that time). They will be issued on the remastered version of GFTO which means that they are just fillers (specially those ones). "Amazing Grace", " Vevey 1 & 2", and "Montreux's Theme" are totally useless. "Parallels" is of course missing. The same is achieved with "Tormato" : two leftovers from the album sessions (which was already quite poor) : although "Abilene" is a good track that would have deserved to be released on the original album (and will only be a B-side for "Don't Kill The Whale", "Money" is just rubbish (both were bonus tracks on the remastered edition). Exit "Future Times - Rejoice" one of the (few) good tracks from "Tormato". "Drama" which was not bad an effort is almost completely forgotten : no "Machine Messiah", by far the best song and no "Into Lens - I Am A Camera", the second best. This CD ends with "Run With The Fox" (absolutely dreadful) which was released as a single (Squire/White) and "I'm Down" a cover song from "The Beatles" and a pure rock'n'roll number. Can you ever imagine Jon Anderson singing a 100 % rock'n'roll song ? Well, I can tell you it is pretty bad. This track is recorded live in 1976 in New Jersey (how lucky they were) ! On top of that, the sound is really poor.

Disc four covers "90125". Four songs of which one bonus track from the remastered CD version and quite good actually : "Make It Easy". "It Can Happen" is a version recorded by the Cinema project before Anderson will join them. This version is nothing from the other world. Three songs come from "Big Generator" (one of their poorest effort ever). Three live tracks : "Changes", "And You And I" and "Heart Of The sunrise". All live tracks were recorded during the "Big Generator" tour. Each of them is a good rendition (but the sound is awful during the intro of &Y&I but gets better afterwards). Very last song on disc four is the rather dull : "Love Conquers All". It is an outake (gosh !) from "Union".

If you are interested in the "unreleased" material from this boxset, I would rather recommend the expanded & remastered versions of the albums (they really sell for cheap : from five to seven ?) and avoid this rather dull and poorly balanced boxset. Two stars.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I had just bought the excellent "The Return of the Manticore", being that I rarely listen other ELP albums than Trilogy, BSS and Welcome Back My friends, I found it worth the US$ 70.00 that had to pay, so I said why not go with "Yesyears" if it's only 10 bucks more expensive and I'm more a Yes fan?

When you are a fan of a band, probably you have their best material, so you expect rare versions or BBC sessions, not just the same great songs you have heard over and over for decades, and except for Disk III the rest is very uneven and with an incoherent selection o songs, sometimes leaving the essential ones to privilege some that are pretty forgettable, still I don't regret buying it..

One thing I must say is that the set is in perfect order, so it's easy to comment it chronologically, but I will focus in the rare themes rather than in the well known ones that we all know and have been reviewed "ad nauseam".

Disk I

"Something's Coming" is an adaptation of a Leonard Bernstein's track from West Side story originally released in UK as a B side of "Sweetness" in 1969, not a great track but decent enough for a band that's starting.

Then we jump to track N° 4 "Then" from a BBC session previously unreleased, we all know the song from "Time and a Word" and "Yesterdays" but it's good to have some rare material, the same goes for the following song "Everydays" from the same session and album, never liked this track too much, a bit like bland Jazz with Jon's voice more annoying than ever..

The other tracks of the disk are classics like "Starship Trooper" and "Yours is no Disgrace" and lesser known ones like "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Required" but all can be found in the studio albums released and owned by most of us.

Good selection for the first Disk, but some classics as "Dear Father" are missing, still pretty good for a listen once in a while.

Disk II

Now, this disk is a complete disappointment, I honestly haven't paid US$ 80.00 to listen the studio versions of "Roundabout", "Close to the Edge", "Heart of the Sunrise", "Ritual" and Sound Chaser, I already have the albums. Don't they have previously unreleased sessions or rare versions?

Not even the selection is perfect because Gates of Delirium is far superior IMHO, so they didn't went for the best selection but for what the space allowed..

Well, at least "America" is always refreshing, the tracks are good but not for a Box Set in which we ask something more for the cost.

Disk III

Starts with the most boring track in all Yes history, the weak ballad soon, I don't understand what's all the fuzz made with this track, I find it not only depressing bbut tedious.

Despite the weak beginning, the album is probably the strongest one of the box.

"Amazing Grace" previously unreleased Squire's arrangement is like a breeze of fresh air, something never heard before, that's what I pay for.

"Vevey Parts I & II" are simply brilliant, Wakeman and Anderson collaboration is very proficient, the choice for the organ is perfect, another high point, but I believe they should had placed one after the other.

"Montreux's Theme" also previously unreleased is too simple and mainstream oriented for what I expect from Yes, despite this, it's relaxing and new.

"Money" is an unusual song for Yes, sounds more like a Rabin era theme than as an Anderson, Squire, Wakeman & White collaboration, makes me remember some weak Queen themes.

Abilane is Howe song previously unreleased, not great but good enough and with some great guitar moments, to end with the rare tracks, we jump to "I'm Down" which sounds strange in the voice of Jon trying to Rock, but can be listened, again the guitar is simply brilliant.

It was a great idea to add songs from Drama (Why in hell don't they include Machine Messiah?), usually left behind because Jon is not in the vocals, a very solid disk, is the one I listen more.

Disk IV

Now, this would be a forgettable album if it wasn't for the last three tracks, "And You And I" Live, a previously unreleased live version of "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Love Conquers All" also unreleased previously by Squire and Billy Sherwood, not the strongest material, but is an example of what they can do, and the arrangements are very strong.

The rest is Rabin era material for which I wouldn't had paid a dime.

Summarizing, "Yesyears" is a very uneven Box Set with some strong moments and others pretty forgettable, the first and probably last Yes Box Set I ever bought, because I need no more of this, the really essential Yes material is in their first albums.

The presentation deserves an special paragraph, the Box is extremely beautiful, and the LP size booklet is simply amazing. with excellent photos and good information about Yes history and discography, gives more value to your investment.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars There are two primary audiences that a boxed set from a band usually aims for. The first is the group of casual fans, who like some of the band's music, but don't want to get all of the individual albums, with all of the tracks they don't know. This audience wants the hits. The second are the hard core fans looking for the rarities, the unreleased songs or live tracks that give some extra value to the collection.

For the casual fans, this collection does a good job. Of course, there are always going to be complaints about which songs were chosen, and which were not, but trying to pare down a quarter century or so of music onto four CDs is always going to leave out something, especially when the band in question specialized in long pieces.

As for the rarities, this collection shows that Yes usually made good decisions as to what to leave off of their albums. But that it was we, the hard core Yes fans should be looking at.

Disk 1 starts with Something's Coming, from "West Side Story". This was originally a b-side to a single, and is very good, possibly the best of the rare tracks. It's one of the few tracks from the original lineup where Chris Squire plays in the complex style he was known for in the classic years of the band. There are also two live BBC tracks, Then and Everydays. Live recordings of the Banks/Kaye lineup are too rare, so these are a plus.

Disk 2 covers the best period of Yes, from "Fragile" through "Relayer". This was when the band created their best epic pieces, and the producers had the good sense to use the complete version of Close To The Edge. Ritual was chosen from "TFTO" - not my favorite ttrack, but with only four to choose from, it was a tossup. The only rarity on this side is the single edit of America. I'm not a fan of these castrated versions of the songs, and would rather have the full track.

Disk 3 has the most unreleased material. Chris Squire's Amazing Grace solo piece has been featured on other albums, but this version is not bad. The two part Vevey, a duet between Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson (on harp), is nice, but not great. Montreux's Theme, another b-side, recorded during the "Tormato" sessions, shows why it was left off of the album. Money a goofy song, is made fun by Rick Wakeman speaking a Monty Python-like monologue throuout the song. Run With The Fox, a Christmas single by Squire and Alan White, is tame, but I supposed needed a place here. And I'm Down, the Beatles' song, played for a few tours in the seventies, here sounds like a throwaway studio mix.

Disk 4 features the Rabin band, and makes it apparent that this was a lesser version of Yes. Make It Easy and Love Conquers All, the first recorded before Anderson joined the band, the second after he left for ABWH, are not good. Make It Easy at least tries to be prog, but has such a lame chorus it falls flat. There are some live tracks of this group at the end. Both are muddy recordings, that sound like bootlegs. Changes fares the best of these, as it was one of their songs. And You And I shows the need for Steve Howe. Rabin's generic guitar sound doesn't fare well in this track. He fares better on Heart Of The Sunrise, but he also has to cover for Tony Kaye's inability to play many of Wakeman's keyboard parts.

So this collection has enough to give a decent value to both audiences mentioned above.

Three stars.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Released in advance of the Union tour, this compilation began a long and uncomfortable decline into the world of over proliferation of compilations, live recordings, remixes, b-sides, videos, re-masters and just about any other method of amassing royalties the band and labels could come up with. The amount of money someone would have to spend to acquire every non-studio release of this type following Yesyears is staggering. I recall Yesyears costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 U.S. at its release.

The 4 disk set is not without interesting tidbits, but fails to offer anything to the seasoned Yes fan. Not even an introduction to Yes is merited with this compilation. The band is well known for their lengthy compositions. Thus most studio albums are viewed as complete works rather than a series of songs. When listening to a compilation that includes all of the album Close to the Edge, except for 1 of the 3 songs on the album, Siberian Khatru, much of the value of the album as a flowing piece is destroyed. The discs do tend to flow in chronological order. Various live performances, cover tunes and heretofore unreleased materials are inserted in between songs from different albums at their appropriate time periods. The highlight of these is perhaps the promising opener, a cover of Leonard Bernstein's West Side story classic, Something's Coming. But, alas, so many of the other's are poorly recorded, or just flat painful songs to listen to. The Beatles are even butchered with I'm Down. But the most obnoxious moment is the Trevor Horn era horror Run with the Fox. It would take a much stronger man than me to get beyond Awaken, which appears early on disc 3, in one sitting. One profound saving grace is the enclosed booklet which contains old photos, stories and a family tree.

I cannot in good conscience recommend Yesyears to anybody but the completist. The cost of classic rock discs/mp3's these days makes it far more valuable to buy the studio albums in their entirety. Perhaps the completionists would require this compilation, amongst all the others. As stated before, that's a lot of mullah. 2 stars, not as an indictment of Yes' music - as a matter of fact, the appearance of Yes classics keeps its head above water - but a warning against spending more time and money than necessary on something that can be obtained in more complete fashion.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
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.

Latest members reviews

3 stars BALANCE is the major problem of doing a box set. New fans would see a box as an opportunity as grabbing as much "classic" material and greatest hits as they can, long time fans would seek it as a treasure of rarities and unreleased tracks. This "Yesyears" offers neither of it - a lot of great ... (read more)

Report this review (#44079) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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