09/08/2003 6:20p PT
Matt Rowe - Reviewer
Yes has become the reference point for art rock almost from the beginning of rock's teen years. Their mix of classical with rock moved music in another direction that is still explored today by countless bands. And so it's no wonder our fascination.
Rhino, in it's second phase of a current remastering process that includes some additional tracks from the various sessions during which the original albums were recorded, is determined to update the Yes catalog with definitive issues.
Beginning with what is arguably Yes' most important and perhaps greatest recording in their catalog, Close to the Edge comes to define the Yes bridge. From this recording moving on through their next 2 studios, Yes increasingly blended rock with a deeper foray into classicism. Ironically, their move back to shorter, pop-oriented rock began with the last of this batch of remasters, Going For The One.
Close to the Edge was pressured from the beginning to match the success of Fragile yet Yes refused to compromise what they were hearing in their heads in order to produce a "Roundabout" styled hit. Instead, the label extracted their potential single from a longer song, "Close to the Edge" - second movement, "Total Mass Retain". While the original entirety of "Close to the Edge" with all movements intact, was sonically spectacular for the album oriented crowd, the extraction proved to be not enough for Top 40. The album as a whole, with its lengthy 3 songs, worked on levels beyond that of Fragile and therefore couldn't yield a single. It didn't need one. Yes was already solidified as the band for the more depth craving crowd. Whether that included drugs to fully enjoy the crafted textures or a propensity for the heady philosophy of the band's lyrics, Yes was here and we loved them.
For this re-work, Rhino have unearthed 4 bonus tracks bringing the package to a remarkably packed 7songs. From my perspective, the addition of "America" is out of place here. But, of course, I have no idea where it may have been placed except perhaps Fragile. Regardless, its placement is as awkward here as it may have been on Going For The One. The single extraction from "Close to the Edge", "Total Mass Retain" is a brave attempt to force a workable Top 40 from a mass of interwoven ideas and it just doesn't work. When it ends, you can sense it going somewhere else...you just don't get to find out where. For posterity, its inclusion on this set is essential as it provides a snapshot at what the label wished to do with Yes during this time.
An alternate version of "And You and I", gracefully reveals the evolution of what is the album's most glorious track. It's more bare and doesn't push Anderson's vocal range to its lofty heights as does the original but belongs here to highlight that reality. There is also a studio run through of Siberian Khatru, named here, "Siberia".
The end result is a magnificent sounding remaster from the folks at Rhino. The packaging is in a sturdy digipak with spectaular tri-fold effect that opens to the art work of the original inside of the LP. The booklet, 16 pages, contains lyrics, essay from Mike Tiano, and photos to round out what is easily the hands down 'must have' of this 2nd batch. A slip cover protects the digipak for long term enjoyment. The disc itself is stamped with the original label design adding a high level of authenticity and nostalgia.
Yes, pushed the envelope much further with the release of the incredibly ambitious Tales of Topographic Oceans, a 2LP set that followed a bit over a year later and challenged fans. With the loss of the talented Bill Bruford and the addition of Alan White, Yes began to move toward change in more ways than one. Inspired by religious thought, Anderson and Howe decided to drastically up the stakes and take the rest of the generally apprehensive band to new levels. Intricately layered and somewhat difficult to casually absorb, Tales brought Yes to a brink that took several years to resolve. It cost the band fans as well as Rick Wakeman, a potentially devastating blow given his talent and seamless attachment to the rest of Yes.
Remastering has enhanced the deeply textured music thus providing a classic document that stands tall even if it tries the patience of any Yes fan. The music is spread over 2 CDs and adds the bonuses of a studio run through of "Dance of the Dawn" from the extraordinary (for those who can take it), "The Revealing Science of God". Additionally, there is also a run through of "Giants Under The Sun". Again, these run throughs show the band preparing to undertake a colossal project and refine it as is evident on the original recording. Of the four releases in this batch of remasters from Rhino, this is one that appeals to true fans only as its tediousness can be trying to the casual Yes fan.
This comes in a trifold digipak with a protective slipcover. Again, the stamp of the discs retain the original artwork. The included 20 page booklet insert offers an essay, again by YesWorld webmaster, Mike Tiano, which provides an insight to the recording and problems that occurred along with other anecdotes. There are also photos from the period, lyrics, and credits.
In order to continue on, Yes needed to acquire a replacement for Rick Wakeman who left after Tales of Topographic Oceans. They were ready to go back to the studios with another ambitious project that leaned back to Close to the Edge in style and substance. They found and merged Patrick Moraz into the band and produced a worthy set that showcased their evolutionary ability to move away from the intricacies and confinement of Tales and move forward seemingly from Close to the Edge. Relayer was the result. It excelled at story-telling in an epic musical landscape. It allowed Yes as a collective band to expand their talent within the rock arena without losing themselves in excessiveness.
Relayer became a fantasy that originated from Jon Anderson's affinity for the mystical and fantastical. Allowed to guide the sessions, Anderson went on to produce an enduring set that is clearly underrated. By now, fair weather fans had abandoned the band thus leaving a masterpiece for true Yes fans. Their loss. The album shined in its scope and music.
This 3 song album is bolstered by 3 additional bonus tracks. Howe's guitars sound quite good here as do Jon's soaring vocals. Moraz's keyboard work along with the rhythm section of White and Squire are clear and reveal some depth that this remaster accentuates.
The bonus of the single edit of "Soon", extracted from "The Gates of Delirium" is majestic and beautiful yet leaves you wondering just where it came from. This is a problem with attempting to form a selling point by reducing an epic that results in a feeling of incompleteness. Atlantic was lucky that "Roundabout" allowed itself to yield a successful and stand-alone edit. To my knowledge, it was never repeated. "Soundchaser', another edit from the longer "Soundchaser" on the album was a better attempt but again, a feeling of more haunts it. As in the other expanded issues, these edits belong in this set if only to reveal the process of the entire album over its time. The studio run though of "The Gates of Delirium" is also included and is pretty good.
Relayer is issued in the same trifold digipak. The accompanying 12 page booklet includes lyrics, photos, an essay by Doug and Glenn Gottlieb, and liner notes/credits. the disc is stamped with the original art although red where the original LP label was grey toned. Slip cover is provided to reduce wear.
Eventually, an older, wiser Yes with reacquired Rick Wakeman decided to produce a more accessable album with their 8th studio effort, Going For the One. Again utilizing religious thought and ideals to create a strong album of much shorter songs, some of them not needing edits to extract radio friendly singles as the album had several easy candidates. The softness of "Wonderous Stories" do not betray the band's penchant for great Anderson vocals, which are well produced here thanks to the remastering effort. The rest of the band's instruments are depth defining as well. This is evident in the other songs as you go past them.
The bonuses on this set offer 3 rehearsal tracks for "Going For The One"; "Parallels"; "Turn of the Century" while providing an unissued early version of "Awaken" in the song,"Eastern Number". Others include "Montreaux's Theme"; "Vevey (Revisited)"; and "Amazing Grace". All the bonuses, once again, reveal a progression to the completed album of Going For The One. Oddly, this set is not provided in a digipak but rather a CD jewel case. The insert is a 22 page booklet that includes a foldout that shows the original LP inside photo work. Look for the misspell of Century in the Bonus Track listing on the back of the CD for a potential collectible.
Rhino has created a timeless set of Yes albums with all the extras to give the fan an in-depth look at how the end results were achieved. With great sounding music, bonus tracks, extra essays, and lyrics along with credits, Yes fans get what will complete a library. These are must acquisitions that present Yes at their finest.
Copyright © 2002-2003 Matthew Rowe. All rights reserved.
Expanded and Remastered
Released: August 26, 2003
Close to the Edge
Going For The One
* Bonus Track