YES — Yessongs (review)

YES — Yessongs album cover Live album · 1973 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Prog Zone
Review - #6 (Yes - Yessongs)

Yessongs is widely considered to be one of the best live albums to ever be released. It features tracks from both the Fragile and Close to the Edge tours. The musicians that perform here are Steve Howe on guitar, Rick Wakeman on keyboards, Jon Anderson on vocals, Chris Squire on bass, Bill Bruford and Alan White on drums. Both Bill Bruford and Alan White interchange rolls as each track corresponds with a different show and date for the most part. Steve Howe recalled the group treated the mixing process with a lot of care and importance similar as if it were one of their studio albums while implementing careful consideration to the preparation of the various edits and the finished product. The main criticism I see with this album has to do with its sound quality. However, despite the quality of the recording being fairly mediocre when compared to modern standards, it doesn't take away from the music as a whole. One thing that I feel as if I also need to mention is the truly incredible presentation of this album on vinyl format. Roger Dean does a genuinely excellent job here!

Yessongs begins with "Opening (Excerpt from 'Firebird Suite)", which is a piece within the closing section of the orchestral work The Firebird made in 1910 by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. Since 1971, Yes has used this piece as the introductory music to most of their concerts. The track then segues into Siberian Khatru from Close to the Edge. Similar to the entire album, the band radiates a tremendous amount of energy throughout this entire track. They definitely do this track justice, containing some great guitar work from Steve Howe all the way through. Not to mention, Alan White does a great job here filling in for Bill Bruford which is no easy task. I would go as far to say that I prefer this version to the original. Fantastic rendition! The next track, Heart of the Sunrise, is yet another high energy rocker in which Chris Squire steals the show by adapting his bass parts into a more complex live interpretation. Also, I cannot forget Jon Anderson's truly breathtaking vocal performance here. Perpetual Change is up next and features Bill Bruford showing his skills by incorporating an astonishing drum solo near the end of the track. This track almost falls into epic territory by how much it is extended! There are also numerous extended solos while Rick Wakeman's keyboard work exceeds the one presented on the original studio album by miles. The fact that live renditions can support an altered performance while also featuring extended solos seems to be forgotten on a lot of live performances where they prefer to copy the original tracks note by note.

The next track is And You And I which is yet another superb live rendition of a truly classic piece. Jon Anderson demonstrates some incredibly beautiful vocals here as always. On the other hand, Steve Howe uses an electric guitar instead of the 12-string which he uses on the studio version which I tend to prefer. I do have to agree with other reviewers when saying this is probably the weakest five minute plus track on Yessongs. The middle section also doesn't pack as much of a punch as the studio version while seeming a bit clustered. Nevertheless, with this still being Yes the musicianship here is phenomenal and I'm glad they decided to add it to the track-list. Mood For A Day is a lovely acoustic piece that gives the listener a breather while warming up for the next track. Steve Howe's guitar work is as great as always and seems to be a bit more energetic when compared to the version found on Fragile. The following track is Excerpts from "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" which happens to be a highlight of Yessongs for me. Keep in mind, this is coming from a big fan of the album The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Jon Anderson introduces the track with some truly chillingly beautiful vocals which eventually leads into Rick Wakeman beginning the track by being introduced by the iconic phrase "Mr. Rick Wakeman on keyboards". This is a keyboard solo formed of a medley of excerpts from Rick Wakeman's first solo album, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, that he recorded during the Fragile and Close to the Edge tours. Magnificent track! Roundabout is yet another excellent performance found on Yessongs. Steve Howe introduces the track with a bit more urgency before the entire band commences to play. Chris Squire's bass work here is as great as ever while also featuring some terrific moments from Steve Howe on guitar. He showcases his ability to preform in different styles and approaches. Furthermore, I happen to enjoy the keyboard sounds Rick Wakeman chooses here since they complement the song superbly.

I've Seen All Good People is unfortunately missing the church organ found on the studio rendition. However, the performance here is still completely solid. I happen to appreciate Rick Wakeman's touches on this track by adding some great keyboard virtuosi which was missed on the original studio recording. In fact, the entire band perform their specific instruments superbly. Next up is Long Distance Runaround / The Fish which definitely fits the definition of extending a song. The Long Distance Runaround section is solid but the track really surpasses expectations within The Fish section. Chris Squire's bass work here is nothing less than incredible. This track truly displays why he is one of the best bassists in the world! There are energetic segments combined with spacey segments which fit the track perfectly as it flows. Close to the Edge happens to be my favorite song of all time, and they surely do it justice here. Alan White does a surprisingly good job when filling in for Bill Bruford, even at points contending to the playing on the original studio version of this track. Many moments here feel astonishingly heavy which I adore to hear, especially the section Total Mass Retain. Other sections like I Get Up I Get Down get slight alterations which fit the track great in the live setting. What a superb rendition of this masterpiece! Yours is No Disgrace also gets extended by a few extra minutes in the live setting. I'm not sure how, but this track has even more energy than the original. Throughout, Steve Howe delivers exceptional guitar work which is unquestionably his highlight of the album. Just like the rest of the tracks, Rick Wakeman fits wonderfully here. This happens to be one of the best renditions of Yours is No Disgrace I have heard, a definitive highlight of the album! Lastly, the close the album with the ever-breathtaking Starship Trooper! The entire track is done marvelously but I must give special attention to The Wurm section which features Rick Wakeman performing an incredible keyboard solo near the end. However, my all-time favorite version of this song remains to be the rendition found on Keys to Ascension 1. If you are yet to hear that version, I would highly recommend seeking it out immediately. Nevertheless, the version found here is practically just as great!

What a stunning live album featuring a track list that speaks for itself. In fact, I would consider this to be the quintessential live album by the band. This is Yes at their peak with every musician performing at their best. This is an essential live recording for any fan of progressive rock!

- π˜›π˜©π˜ͺ𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘷π˜ͺ𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘒𝘴 𝘰𝘳π˜ͺ𝘨π˜ͺ𝘯𝘒𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘳π˜ͺ𝘡𝘡𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 π˜—π˜³π˜°π˜¨ 𝘈𝘳𝘀𝘩π˜ͺ𝘷𝘦𝘴 (http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=2538205)
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