This three-disc boxed set spotlights some of Yes' most memorable shows, capturing their stylistic evolutions and highlighting several of their legendary lineups. Spanning 1970-1988, the collection was co-produced by Yes and features many tracks from guitarist Steve Howe's personal archives. All but two tracks are previously unreleased. Packaging includes new artwork by Roger Dean, a massive 56-page book with scores of rare photos, commentary by prog-rock legend Greg Lake, essays by Yes experts Mike Tiano, Bill Martin, and Brian Ives, as well as fan reminiscences and testimonials by such fellow artists as John Frusciante, Geddy Lee, and others. Rhino. 2005.
has come and gone (twice), while Genesis
is but a fading memory. Yet Yes improbably soldiers on, as much enduring artistic/philosophical state of mind as stubborn prog rock holdout. This three disc, multiple band lineup spanning collection of (mostly) previously unreleased live performances pays apt tribute to that proud, expansive mindset. While it skips almost entirely over the band's mid-70s prime (a period already amply chronicled on the double-disc Yessongs), the band's formative era and first line-ups get showcased on raw 70-'71 performances from the BBC and Swedish Radio (the latter pair capturing some of guitarist Steve Howe's first performances with the band) on disc one, a chapter highlighted by their sprawling, if still evolving version of Paul Simon's "America"and a rare, nearly as grandiose cover of The Rascals' obscure "It's Love,"both from London '71.
Disc two focuses on arena performances from the late 70s, featuring an ambitious "Sound Chaser"from the Patrick Moraz line-up, as well as a "Big Medley"of reworked versions of some of their defining songs, with Rick Wakeman back behind the keys. The final chapter is the set's most varied, chronicling not one, but two band revampings via a trio of live tracks from the short-lived tenure of former Buggles Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes and a quartet of performances from the band's surprisingly successful, Trevor Rabin -sparked 80s pop reincarnation, including the rarities "Rhythm of Love" and "Shoot High, Aim Low." If the overall sound quality varies considerably, spanning mono radio recordings of indeterminate generation to soundboard cassettes from Howe's collection and professional multi-track (most of disc 2), it's the ever-forceful, often ambitiously reinventive performances they capture that's more the point. The set's ample booklet reinforces the notion that it's a collection aimed squarely a longtime fans, more than a few of whom contribute their insightful reminisces within. -- Jerry McCulley