In A Word
Image © Rhino Entertainment Company 2002
Yes Symphonic Live
Image © Eagle Rock Entertainment 2002

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last updated 14 August 2002

In celebration of the band's 2002 tour with the classic lineup of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White, two stunning Yes releases deserve special note. The five-CD box set In A Word (1969- ) complete with an extensive booklet chronicling the band's history is perfectly complimented by the two-DVD set Yes Symphonic Live recorded in Amsterdam during the group's 2001 tour with an orchestra but without Wakeman. Our box set and DVD reviews are presented below. A bonus review of the band's live performance at Jones Beach from the 2002 tour is also included.

In A Word Box Set Review

Now part of the huge Warner music giant, Rhino Entertainment Company has produced a five-CD box set spanning the entire 20-year history of Yes from 1969 to the present day. Another in the long heritage of Yes compilations, this set includes new remixes of the band's work and all-new artwork by Roger Dean and a 100-page booklet with an introduction by Cameron Crow, historical essays by Chris Welch and Bill Martin, a comprehensive and fully illustrated discography, tracklist and tons of exclusive photographs. Six previously unreleased tracks are also included. Not since 1991's YesYears has such an outstanding collection been issued.

The six previously unreleased tracks are "Tango," "Never Done Before," "Richard," "Crossfire" (recorded in 1979 in London by Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White), "Fist Of Fire" (alternate take from the 1989 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe sessions), and "Last Train" (outtake from the 2001 Magnification sessions). The set also includes a version of "The Revealing Science of God" which contains a short introduction of instrumental/atmospheric music.

In A Word" (1969 -) is the brand new five-CD definitive collection of Yes' best works captured in sparkling newly remastered sound in a beautifully designed box set with a 96-page booklet. The first disc includes three tracks from the bands self-titled debut released in 1969. "Every Little Thing" showcases the bands superb harmonies and musicianship and sets the stage for the work to follow. Yes' second album Time in A Word, which was recorded with a full orchestra in 1970, continues the mix of well-crafted harmonies and precise musicianship. Among the highlights are "Sweet Dreams," "Astral Traveller" and the title track which is a favorite among Yes fans. Also included is the track "Dear Father" which was recorded back then as well but not released as an album track until the 1975 album Yesterdays.

The last five tracks are from the classic 1970 The Yes Album when Steve Howe joined the band and replaced guitarist Peter Banks. The album marked the beginning of the Yes classic progressive sound with Howe helping to expand the bands sound with longer more complex pieces. Standout tracks include the radio friendly "I've Seen All Good People," "Your Is No Disgrace" as well as the classic "Starship Trooper."

1972 brought another change in the lineup as original keyboardist Tony Kaye left the band and was replaced by Rick Wakeman. Formerly of the Strawbs and a very well respected studio musician Rick's entry into the band helped forge the way for what most consider to be the classic Yes sound. Rick brought synthesizers and other keyboards into the band helping create the progressive rock sound that defined Yes.

The excellent Fragile album is very well represented here. "Roundabout," which became one of the bands biggest hits, as well as "Long Distance Runaround," another radio staple, are both included as is the classic "Heart of The Sunrise" and the fan favorite "South Side of The Sky." The new pieces were more ambitious as the band began to mix their classical influences with the progressive style they developed on The Yes Album.

Also on disc two is a rocking cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "America." Yes took the original three minute piece added some excellent instrumentation and harmonies making the piece ten minutes in length and very well executed from start to finish. 1972 also brought the progressive rock masterpiece "Close To The Edge" an 18-minute epic which many consider to be one of the bands finest moments. Also included from Close To The Edge is the rocker "Siberian Khatru."

"The Revealing Science of God" from 1973's double-LP Tales from Topographic Oceans is featured here with an extended intro that until now has never been released bringing the piece to 22 minutes in length. The band delved into spirituality and the lyrics reflect that.

The third disc finds "The Gates of Delirium" and "To Be Over" both from the 1974 Relayer album. 1977's excellent "Going For The One" album is represented here with three tracks. The title cut a most energetic piece that finds Wakeman back in the fold and the band in top-notch form. "Turn of The Century" features some of Steve Howe's best acoustic guitar work while "Wonderous Stories" is a short catchy piece that is a highlight from this period giving Yes another hit single.

"Release, Release" and "Don't Kill The Whale" both from the 1978 album Tormato are featured here and find the band leaning towards a more straight rock oriented style. "Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit" both from the 1980 Drama feature a leaner more guitar oriented Yes as both Anderson and Wakeman left the band in 1979. 1983's smash album 90125, which brought newcomer Trevor Rabin on guitar and vocals, yielded Yes' first top ten hit with "Owner of A Lonely Heart."

"It Can Happen," "Leave It" and "Hold On" are all featured on the fourth disc and represent a more pop oriented Yes with shorter 4-5 minute pieces. "Rhythm of Love" and "Love Will Find A Way" from 1987's Big Generator LP find the band staying with the 90125 formula. The fourth CD also includes 1989's "Brother of Mine" and an alternate version of "Fist of Fire" from the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe (ABWH) album as well as an alternate mix of "I Would Have Waited Forever" from the 1991 Union album where Cinema and YesWest joined forces.

The box set's fifth disc features the radio friendly "Lift Me Up" also from Union as well as "The Calling" and "I Am Waiting" from 1994's Talk. Keys To Ascension 2 (1997) is represented by the 18-minute "Mind Drive" which finds the band going back to the progressive leanings that they pioneered in the 70s. "Homeworld" from the 1999 album The Ladder and "In The Presence Of" from 2001's Magnification are two excellent pieces that find Yes returning to form.

The packaging for the box set is nothing short of spectacular as the book in box packaging features a beautiful new Roger Dean cover as well as a 96-page book detailing the history of the band with ton's of great pictures and comments from Cameron Crowe among others. Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch handled the remastering chores and have done a brilliant job bringing more shine and clarity to Yes' music than ever before. Crisp highs and dynamic bass bring a new level of listening enjoyment to these classics. I found myself hearing things in the music I have never heard before. Detail and imaging are stunning giving the music extra sparkle and sure to please even the most stubborn of audiophiles.

Whether you're a newcomer or a die-hard fan this set is sure to be one that will be treasured as it represents one of the best progressive rock bands in the history of recorded music. Will Yes fans want to buy another box set? In A Word—Yes!--Scott Bassin

Clearly a compilation that will please long time enthusiasts and newcomers alike, the box set is an extremely good value. For those that have a vast collection and those that do not, this is the definitive compilation to own. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the five-CD set from here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, these CDs are a must listen!

Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson, Alan White, Steve Howe, Chris Squire
Image © 2002 Hipgnosis / courtesy of Left Bank Management

Yes Symphonic Live DVD Review

Drama, excitement and sheer musical satisfaction are unleased on this exhilirating performance by rock giants Yes. Original members Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White are teamed with a superb orchestra for such classic Yes songs as "Close To The Edge," "Starship Trooper" and "Roundabout."

They are among the highlights of an outstanding concert, part of the unique Yes Symphonic tour of 2001. It was a long held dream that Yes would one day tour with an orchestra. Their carefully crafted arrangements and melodic themes lend themselves to the full glory of a sympnonic treatment. Crashing finales and wild extemporisation are all part of the 30-year Yes musical story--typified by such epics as "Gates Of Delirium."

The rich variety of Yes music is complimented by the young and dynamic European Festival Orchestra, conducted by Wilhelm Keitel. They play with all the enthusiasm of rock musicians during a two and a half hour show, recorded live in Amsterdam. The program includes some of the band's most memorable themes, notably "Long Distance Runaround," "And You And I" and "I've Seen All Good People." There are solo spots for guitar virtuoso Steve how and stirring versions of the band's greatest hits--"Roundabout" and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart." Watch for a shattering version of "Starship Trooper" in which group and orchestra lock into a mind-boggling groove.

The Yes Symphonic Live DVD (Eagle Rock Entertainment (USA) EE19009, 2002) captures the band in all their glory accompanied by the Royal Festival Orchestra recorded live in Amsterdam on November 22, 2001.

The show opens up with "Listen To Your Heart" (extract from "Give Love Each Day") with some excellent on screen visuals that Bob Cesca has created. After the intro the band comes out and starts the show with "Close To The Edge." The orchestral parts are beautifully mixed in with the bands parts and the result is a version of "Close To The Edge" that is simply stunning. It's bold and beautiful as well as a great showcase for the combination of Yes with an orchestra. Steve Howe's intricate guitar parts combined with Chris' thundering bass work perfectly with the gorgeous orchestral strings. Jon's voice is in excellent form throughout and Alan holds the rhythm section together while at the same time almost co-conduting the orchestra from behind the drum kit. Keyboard chores are handled most reassuringly by Tom Brislin (formerly with Meatloaf's touring band) and all of 23 years old.

Next up is "Long Distance Runaround" with a beautiful orchestral intro. The strings and horn sections really lend themselves perfectly to the song. Now we get treated with two new songs from the new CD Magnification. First up is "Don't Go" which harks back to the poppy 90125 days of Yes. What I consider to be the masterpiece from the new CD "In The Presence of " follows next. Alan White plays the intro piano parts from center stage getting him out from behind the drum kit for a few minutes. This song having been on the new CD and recorded with an orchestra works perfectly live allowing the orchestral parts to shine. Particularly the middle part "I get amazed like a true beginner."

What comes next is one of the highlights of the show. From the Relayer album we are treated to a full blown version of "Gates of Delirium". Steve pulls out the classic Telecaster for this one to perfectly recreate his guitar parts and Jon is in very fine voice powerfully delivering the lyrics "The fist will run grasp metal to gun." The powerful war part of the song allows Brislin to really show off his skills at the keyboards while allowing the orchestra to really sparkle. The combination of Yes with the orchestra is at its best during this part of the song and flows perfectly into the "Soon" part of the song and ends in a sea of tranquility.

Steve Howe then follows with two solo acoustic pieces "Lute Concerto in D Major (2nd Movement)" and "Mood For a Day". The band is then back without the orchestra for "Starship Trooper." The Orchestra returns for the title track of Magnifcation which is only played for the second time live and played perfectly onstage--a highlight from the new CD.

What follows has to be one of the most beautiful versions of the classic "And You And I." The middle part of the song builds up to a rousing climax with the orchestra and band soaring to new heights on this gem. Now we're in for the highlight of the night and what is sure to be the definitive version of "Ritual" from the double LP Tales From Topographic Oceans. The song's sheer beauty is highlighted by the gorgeous orchestral accompaniment. The drum part in the middle of the song features Anderson, Squire, White and Brislin all on various drum/percussion kits and is full of energy similar to that of a tribal dance. This flows perfectly into the end of the song the beautiful "Nous Sommes du Soleil."

The classic "All Good People" is next allowing the audience to get on it's feet followed by "Owner of A Lonely Heart" two rock classics back to back. "Roundabout" finishes out the show and finds the young orchestral members up on the stage waving and dancing adding even more energy to this timeless classic.

All in all this is a wonderful DVD and a must have for any fan of progressive or classic rock music. Beautifully directed by Aubrey Powell (ex-Hipgnosis) who focuses on the performance and always has the camera where it should be which is not always the case with live videos. Powell understands the need to ensure that visual and musical events are in synch. Audio quality is outstanding with the band and orchestra being perfectly mixed. Zound is clear and full of dyanamics in all three options which include Dolby Digital Stereo, 5.1 and DTS.

Gorgeous cover art and CG visuals are handled by Bob Cesca who also did all the artwork for Magnification. Visuals can be turned on and off which is a nice option the viewer should have. A bonus second DVD contains the video for "Don't Go" as well as the excellent documentary "Dreamtime." Over the end credits of "Dreamtime" is a new remix of "Long Distance Runaround" by Tim Panella (of Camp Chaos). A must have? Yes indeed.--Scott Bassin

Be warned. This is no dry 'rock plays the classics' affair! For those that will see Yes on tour this year as well as those that will not be so fortunate, this is the definitive DVD set to own. Read further reviews and order the two-DVD set from here. Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this one is a must see!

Image © 2002 YesWorld

Yes Live at Jones Beach Review

(03 August 2002) They were amazing--hands down the best Yes concert I have ever been too and I have seen them every year since 1977. First of all the sound and mix were better than any previous Yes show. Steve's guitar parts were front and center when they needed to be and Rick was unreal. His keys were mixed good and loud and his minimoog cut through everything.

They opened with "Firebird Suite" into "Siberian Khatru." Then they did a great version of "America." Then came "In The Presence of" which was even better than last year with the orchestra. Rick added some great keyboard parts to the song.

Now came one of the big surprises of the night. The did "We Have Heaven" into "South Side of The Sky" and it rocked. Keep in mind the only played SSOTS for a few dates when Fragile was first released and they played an abriged version without the whole middle part (piano and vocal part) so this was the first tour they played it in it's entirety and during the end bit Steve and Rick traded solos which was truly amazing.

Then came "The Revealing Science of God" and this was truly amazing. It's such an intricate piece to play and they pulled it off bigtime. Then came "Magnification" which was great and Rick did a fantastic job playing all the string and woodwind parts on his keys. Steve Howe finished the first half with his acoustic guitar part from "The Ancient" which was stunning into another piece called "The Little Galliard."

They took a 15-minute break and Jon came on by himself with this very cool acoustic/midi guitar and played a piece from a new solo CD he's working on called "Show Me" Then Jon introduced the keyboard wizard and Rick did some of 6 wives into a wicked solo bit that's similar to his very fast solo spots on the "Evening of Yes Music Plus" show but different.

Rick then played "And You and I" on his keys and Jon came back out to sing the first two verses just Jon and Rick and it was beautiful. Then came probably the hands down best version of "Heart of The Sunrise" I have ever heard and Chris took center stage for this one. Now another surprise and one of the best tracks of the night was a newly reworked rocking version of "Don't Kill The Whale." The audience went absolutely nuts over this piece and rick's solo in the middle was awesome.

Chris then said "That song was about a whale and this one is about a fish" and Steve, Rick and Alan played the fish which went into Chris' solo which only Alan accompanied. His solo was "The Fish," "Tempus Fugit," "On The Silent Wings of Freedom," "Sound Chaser" and then back with the full band to end "The Fish." Needless to say he got a huge round of applause. "Awaken" was next and it was truly mind boggling. Rick's parts were so great and the percussion/harp section in the middle was perfect. Another hands down best version.

The guys seemed very very happy much more so this in previous tours. Steve was actually smiling and was very very animated and Chris and Rick are the hot couple on the tour! After "Awaken" Rick went over to Chris and took off his triple neck and then they gave each other a huge hug.

They left the stage and came back and played "Roundabout"--which, even though I've heard it a zillion times, was better than ever, especially with Rick back in the fold--and then Played "Yours is No Disgrace" and it was great as they really had the mix nailed down. During Steve's solo wah-wah parts it sounded just like The Yes Album with that great left-to-right panning effect and his really outdid himself during the solo middle part. All in all a magical experience one that words can't even begin to describe.--Scott Bassin

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