Yes
Yessongs


5.0
classic

Review

by temporary USER (14 Reviews)
March 18th, 2006 | 67 replies | 10,038 views


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist


3 of 3 thought this review was well written

If you were to look up the word pretentious in any dictionary, there should be a picture of Jon Anderson and Co. smiling back at you. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course. The whole genre of Progressive music has proved that pretentious doesn't always mean bad, and what better a band to prove this than Yes. To many, Yes are the Prog band of the seventies. Their massive compositions, highlighting virtuoso performances that most bands couldn't dream of doing, held together by beautiful harmonies with Jon Anderson rambling on in ways that would make Cedric Bixler seem cohesive.

At the time Yessongs was releases, Yes were arguably at the hight of their career. They'd released their finest albums The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close To the Edge to massive critical and commercial success. They'd toured extensively, building up a reputation as a fierce live act. Thus, Yessongs, a compilation of live Yes material, came into being. This album, at least in my eyes, may be the single greatest live album to emerge from the Seventies Prog scene.

For one, the players are at their finest. Steve Howe's masterful classically trained guitar playing is awe inspiring. Chris Squire, always kept as loud in the mix as Howe and Wakeman, plays some truly phenomenal bass over the course of this album. Of course, Rick Wakeman's synthesizers are just as flamboyant as in the studio. Anderson's voice never falls bellow par, and his harmonies with Howe and Squire are note perfect. I was also surprised when I realized that Bill Bruford wasn't drumming for the majority of the album, Alan White was. Needless to say, his playing is top notch.

Take a look at the setlist. To Yes fans, there couldn't be a finer one. All the brilliant songs from their past three albums are present. And then if one were to look at the running times, they'd see that many of the songs are heavily expanded, with incinerary jams.

The album opens with an excerpt Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, which raises the audience's excitement to the breaking point, before Steve Howe plays the opening chords of Siberian Khatru. Wakeman and Howe instantly make their presence known with White, and their harmonies are at their finest. It soon becomes clear that this performance far surpasses the studio version. This is something true of almost every song on this album.

Once the hectic Khatru has run its course, the band doesn't give the listener a moment to breath before How and Squire chug out the massive opening riff to Heart of the Sunrise, one of my personal favorite Yes songs. Squire takes the front seat soon enough, with a wonderfully catchy bassline. Alan White should also be commended for pulling off Bruford drumming on this song, which was easily one of his best performances.
The next song, Perpetual Change actually does feature Bruford on the drums. Its also the first song to be majorly jammed out, clocking in at fourteen minutes in length. All the players really shine, and Bruford takes a solo at the end. And You and I follows, giving off another strong performance.

Next its time for Howe's solo spot, the wonderful classical guitar solo that is Mood For a Day. Wakeman also takes his solo spot next, with Excerpts From "The Six Wives of Henry the Fifth" which was Wakeman's recently released solo debut album. Needless to say, its one hell of an over the top keyboard solo.

The band then launch's into their best known tune, Roundabout, which loses a bit during its intro with Howe opting for a heavily distorted electric guitar, instead of his original acoustic. But the song soon gets back on track, with Squire's insanely catchy bassline and Wakeman's hectic synths. The harmonies are also just as nice as in the studio. Once Roundabout runs its course, its time to change disks.

Disk two opens with Yes' first hit single Your Move/All Good People. Your Move begins the song on a soothing note with some very nice Harmony singing, before Howe's rocking licks and Anderson's joyful vocals smash into All Good People.

Next up is one of the albums highlights, Long Distance Runaround. It opens in top form, but the real highlight comes around six minutes in, when Squire embarks on a massive bass solo, based loosely around his instrumental, The Fish. Howe also plays some pretty slick spacey guitar on it, too.

Next is possibly the greatest song Yes has ever written, the very definition of a Prog rock epic Close to the Edge. Everything is perfectly played on this song: Squire's crunchy basslines, Howe's quirky guitar solos, Wakeman's massive Synth solos, and Anderson's wonderful harmonies with Howe and Squire.

Disk two really doesn't let up at all, with the band playing a little jam before Howe breaks into Yours Is No Disgrace. Although everyone shines, its really Howe's song through and through with some extended, jaw dropping guitar solos, which really show off how underrated Howe can be.
The album finally draws to a close with the three part Starship Trooper, which is yet another highlight of the album. When they move into the third part of the song, the crowd claps along, Wakeman adds in an excellent solo for good measure, and Howe embarks on his blazing solo there's really some magic expressed.

To any Prog fan, this is a must. Every member is at the hight of their respective instrument, and each share the spotlight beautifully. Not only is this one of the greatest live albums issued by a Prog band, its simply one of the best live albums issued by any band. I may sound a bit too over-praising, but this album is really a masterpiece. My highest recommendations.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
robo2448
March 18th 2006



132 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review:thumb:

I love this album. Definitely Yes at their peak. Amazing setlist, amazing playing... I should change my rating from 4.5 to a 5 now that I'm thinking about it. Yours Is No Disgrace completely owns on here.

Zebra
Moderator
March 18th 2006



2647 Comments


I'd love to hear some Yes live, so I think I'll download a few tracks.
Your review was good but some descriptions were quite vague. Paragraphs would also help.

LF96
March 20th 2006



97 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is indeed a great live album. I love the jamming in the older tracks from The Yes Album, especially in Perpetual Change. This album shows Yes at their creative peak imo.
My only remark is Rick Wakeman's excerpt from his solo album. I don't know why, but I just can't get into it, much like most of his solo stuff. I really don't like Wakeman without Yes backing him up...

hard_rocker89
February 4th 2007



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G piece of music...I love it.

TheImpervious
September 12th 2008



61 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Their studio versions of these songs sound flat and lifeless after hearing their Yessongs doppelgangers (even Roundabout, contrary to your review). I know you rated this a 5, but you get a bit redundant calling half the album's songs highlights.

Mendigo
September 12th 2008



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

but he's right. This album's full of highlights. and actually I do think that Roundabout is the only song here that doesn't exceed its original studio version.
the best live album I've listened to yet, the technical abilities are just immense, and yet the musical qualities outclass them by far. makes you wanna live in the 70s, just to hear them live...

shindip
April 12th 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great live album. hopefully ill be seeing them live soon

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
July 21st 2011



16134 Comments


Yeah, pretty much the ultimate setlist.

Jethro42
July 21st 2011



12381 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You have a good point there, Angel. A minimum of 30 years are gone since I've heard this in its entirety. For the most part, I enjoy the original songs the most and while White is a good drummer, its a shame that Bruford appears in a very short number of tracks. Production was average at best on vinyl. Album is probably available remastered though.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
July 21st 2011



16134 Comments


I've seen this on vinyl before but passed it up since I already have pretty much every album these songs come from.

Jethro42
July 21st 2011



12381 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

K, there's indeed a remastered version for this. Does it make a big difference in the balance? hmmm Well I sure will give it a try. I remember when I saw Yessongs the movie in late 70s. That's weird because the sound/visual quality was rather acceptable when compared to the album. Oh wait, I probably was high.

Jethro42
July 21st 2011



12381 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's actually an essential live album in Yes/prog history and a real testament of their virtuosity. If only the sound wasn't that average...

Jethro42
November 13th 2011



12381 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's what I think.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
November 13th 2011



20260 Comments


I need to see it.

lifeson60
November 19th 2011



27 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album but doesn't begin to show the magic of actually being there.

I saw Yes 6 times in the 70's, I guess I'm a lucky man.

Jethro42
November 19th 2011



12381 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lifeson is the new elder of sputnik. Phew I can take a break.

lifeson60
November 19th 2011



27 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks brother.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 1st 2012



15852 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

immense

Digging: Disconnect - Planned Obsolescence

MeatSalad
May 29th 2013



14378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Alan white simplifies the fuck out of heart of the sunrise but other than that this rules

Digging: Mr. Bungle - California

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
July 9th 2013



15852 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and you and i on here is epic



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