Saturday, September 16, 2017

Yes - 2015 "Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two"

Yes was firing on all cylinders in the fall of 1972. The prog-rock pioneers’ fifth studio album Close To The Edge was a smash success as audiences around the world packed arenas to see the legendary group perform. The band captured the magic of that tour on its first live album, Yessongs. Released in 1973, the triple-LP sold over a million copies and blew minds with Roger Dean’s iconic artwork.

The band recently discovered recordings of seven complete concerts from the weeks leading up to the shows heard on Yessongs. The latest audio technology was used to restore the reel-to-reel recordings and bring out incredible sonic detail, creating an open, immediate sound that drops listeners right into the front row.

Progeny: Highlights From Seventy Two consists of ninety minutes of live recordings exhumed from Yes' 1972 tour, some of which were released as Yessongs (Atlantic, 1973). Culled from seven previously unreleased recordings of complete concerts, and sequenced to approximate a setlist of the time, this two package comes adorned in vintage Roger Dean artwork that, vivid as it is, cannot compare to the vibrancy of the music inside.

Cognoscenti may or may not agree this material constitutes Yes' holy grail as the group became ever-so-slightly more structured with the departure of original drummer Bill Bruford (to join King Crimson)and the subsequent enlistment of Alan White to fulfill that role. But the somewhat rigidified presentations of these shows belies how the vocal and instrumental expertise is catalyzed by the extraordinary self-discipline evident on "I've Seen All Good People."

There's no denying the enthralling and uplifting sensation of the latter and that force is even greater later in the show during the greater complexity of "Roundabout;" the intricacy of Steve Howe's electric guitar as it interweaves with Rick Wakeman's keyboards and Chris Squire's bass mirror the shifting textures even more graphically, all the while maintaining, and even elevating the visceral impact of the musicianship. White's comparatively simpler approach to his kit actually keeps Yes from sound too busy for the own good. In contrast, while some of the lyrics of "Siberian Khatru, " for instance, sound esoteric to a fault, the pastoral images can lend to the rapture Yes aims to create.

Still, workouts like "Heart of the Sunrise" (and even more Howe's solo "Clap"/Mood for a Day" and Wakeman's spotlight "Excerpts from The Six Wives of Henry VIII") lend themselves to the criticism of technical braggadocio, unless they're taken as pure sonic expression, but the latter the acoustic-based number adds markedly to the dynamic flow of the concert , particularly as it sets up "And You and I" where the deceptively frail sound of Jon Anderson's voice comes to the for as a major asset of the Yes sound even more so as part of the billowing group harmonies when Howe and Squire join in.

Further such nuance below the surface of the most prominent components of the arrangements is worthy of selective scrutiny here, all the more remarkable given the age of the recordings (notwithstanding Yes long-standing devotion to audio quality). The unadorned mix reveals the exertion expended by the group as they play, the antithesis of antiseptic, especially played at high-volume (headphone listening doesn't offer the same insight). "Close to the Edge, " for instance, moves at a breathless pace.

A highly-distinctive 'greatest hits' set for the novice, Highlights From Seventy-Two is also available for nostalgists in the form of a of a three-LP set of vinyl, while for the completists, there's a fourteen-disc box titled Seven Shows From Seventy- Two comprising the fruits of this archiving project in their entirety. All these various configurations are but a further reflection of the multi-colored density of this music.

Progeny: Highlights, It's like Yessongs, but with each instrument in crisp, well-separated detail. Wakeman's keyboard wizardry (Mellotron!!), White's frantic drumming, Howe's speed-riffing, Anderson's free-associating, and of course Squire's Rickenbacker bass (the heartbeat of Yes, always and forever) - they're all here, and are all easy to pick out individually in the mix. Or, listen to it a few more times and just enjoy how they blend.

I didn't bother with the 7-CD set - seems overkill to me. But this one? Just right. And after almost 45 years, this material sounds like it was recorded yesterday. Best restoration job from original tapes that I've ever heard, period.

It's hard to be objective when I'm a hardcore die-hard almost-lifelong Yes freak, but I give this album six stars. At least.

Tracks Listing:

CD 1
1. Opening (Excerpt From Firebird Suite) - Siberian Khatru
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, November 20, 1972

2. I've Seen All Good People
    a. Your Move
    b. All Good People
20 Nov 1972: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, USA

3. Heart Of The Sunrise
15 Nov 1972: Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

4. Clap/Mood For A Day
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

5. And You And I
    i. Cord Of Life
    ii. Eclipse
    iii. The Preacher The Teacher
    iv. Apocalypse
11 Nov 1972: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

CD 2
1. Close To The Edge
    i. The Solid Time Of Change
    ii. Total Mass Retain
    iii. I Get Up I Get Down
    iv. Seasons Of Man
11 Nov 1972: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

2. Excerpts From "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII"
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

3. Roundabout
31 Oct 1972: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4. Yours Is No Disgrace
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

Personnel:

Bass, Vocals – Chris Squire
Drums – Alan White
Guitar, Vocals – Steve Howe
Keyboards – Rick Wakeman
Vocals, Percussion – Jon Anderson

Painting, Artwork By – Roger Dean

9 comments:

  1. http://www63.zippyshare.com/v/pNeXkGx0/file.html
    http://www63.zippyshare.com/v/Pyu8lYFT/file.html
    http://www63.zippyshare.com/v/zFpIEx0h/file.html
    http://www63.zippyshare.com/v/wukEwJXa/file.html

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  2. Dang, I was hoping they'd toss in some shows with Bruford, but it's hard to complain. I have no doubt this will be a killer! Many thanks.

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  3. Yes, some shows with Bruford would have been nice.

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  4. Thanks C420
    I first saw Yes at The Goodbye Cream concert at the RAH...Didn't register with me (a Blues freak) But Taste feat Rory G did ! But I got to love TYA - F and CTTE (all albums) and appreciate your post
    Cheers

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  5. FYI. I don't write these reviews. I copy them from the web.

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  6. Details of the 14CD set featuring 7 concerts can be found here:
    http://yesworld.com/2015/03/yes-progeny-live-from-seventy-two/

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  7. I don't know if it's true or not, but I've read that the masters from the professional recorded Bruford shows were lost in a warehouse fire years ago. Such a loss--it makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

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  8. I don't know if it's true or not, but I've read that the masters from the professional recorded Bruford shows were lost in a warehouse fire years ago. Such a loss--it makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

    ReplyDelete