Yes - The Word Is Live

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Rhino
Catalog Number: 8122 78234-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 229:44:00

Over the years Yes fans have been treated to a fair amount of live recordings by their favourite band. Especially the triple Yessongs album was a real feast. Even if the sound quality was rather poor, the fabulous packaging made it one of the most impressive releases ever. When the lavish 4CD box Yesyears was released in 1991, many Yes fans expected some interesting live recordings such as a John Peel session or some live material from the lineup which included Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, better known as The Buggles. However, Yesyears mainly included the kind of material fans already had by the dozens. It's amazing to see that more than fourteen years after Yesyears, both band and record company have clearly listened to the fans when they started compiling material for this new release called The Word Is Live. Mainly focusing on the seventies, the material on these discs is nicely placed in a chronological order.

It is mainly Steve Howe who delved into the many hours of live recordings he has stored in his attic. What better way to start this sumptuous collection than with two cuts from John Peel's Sunday show? Recorded live before an audience on 12th march 1970 and transmitted three days later, both "Then" and "For Everyone" were already issued on the Beyond And Before, The BBC Recordings 1969-1970 album as released in 1998. Nevertheless I feel a John Peel session always remains both interesting and vital, as Peel only picked those bands that had a great future ahead of them, as if Peel was igniting the fuse. Recorded in Göthenburg, Sweden ten months later, both "Astral Traveller" and "Everydays" let us hear a much more fluent way of playing. Not sure whether the departure of Peter Banks and the replacement by Steve Howe is the main factor here. When introducing "Everydays," Jon Anderson tells the audience that this was one of the very first songs Yes ever performed on stage. Bearing in mind that 35 years ago, recording facilities were not the same quality as today, we should nevertheless count our lucky stars that these "older" Yes recordings still exist. So don't expect fantastic sounding 5.1, although every detail of the often complex arrangements can clearly be heard. Disc one ends with four tracks recorded at Crystal Palace Bowl on Saturday 31st July 1971 when Yes was part of a festival that also included Tir Na Nog, Hookfoot, Rory Gallagher, Fairport Convention and, as top of the bill, Elton John! For sure interesting is the extra long (16:21!) version of Paul Simon's "America," which starts with a short drum solo by Bill Bruford. Contrary to Yes with Rick Wakeman, the early Yes sees Tony Kaye mainly playing the organ. In "America" the amount of improvisation is enormous and might be just the thing which is sometimes lacking from the band's later live output. It's mainly Steve Howe who stretches "America," which is quite rare, bearing in mind he's the last one to join the band at that time. Jon Anderson even has to quickly sneak his singing back in otherwise Howe would probably still be playing! As a "short" encore the band delivers yet another one of their "early" songs, namely "It's Love" by the Young Rascals. Yes' version gives plenty of space for a young Chris Squire to shine, as he gets the possibility to deliver one hell of a bass solo.

Strangely enough, disc two opens with the line-up featuring Alan White but also Patrick Moraz. So from Wakeman's first incarnation with the band there's no material here. Moraz sits in during live takes from "Siberian Khatru" and "Sound Chaser." What strikes me is the enormous difference in sound quality between these and the previous recordings, which in fact only span a period of five years! In that same period Yes has also grown immensely where composing and arranging is concerned, having delivered The Yes Album, Fragile and Close To The Edge, three milestones in the history of the band! Listening to "Sound Chaser," it is clear that this kind of composition could never have taken place during the band's early days. It's nifty, full of rhythm changes, completely different synth sounds by Moraz than the ones Rick would use, tremendous guitar playing, etc? The quality of the recordings gets even better when we are treated to some live takes from the Tormato tour in 1978. Sometimes it's as if you're sitting next to Alan White banging the drums yourself. Wakeman's second stay with the band also delivers some new synth sounds next to having "The Big Medley" in the set. Combining six well-known Yes highlights into one giant medley isn't an easy task, yet in October 1978 the band did a remarkable job. Recorded in June 1979, the band even performed a little special tour song which they dedicated to the city they were playing in that specific night. As the recording on this set was recorded in Chicago, the song is aptly entitled "Hello Chicago." Disc two ends with a 1979 recording of the classic "Roundabout."

From a certain perspective, the final disc in this package might be seen by Yes fans as the most interesting, as it finally includes some live recordings from the band's short period with Trevor Horn filling in for Jon Anderson, and Geoff Downes taking Rick Wakeman's seat. First on the cards, however, are splendid renditions of "Heart Of The Sunrise" and "Awaken" from '78 and '79 respectively. Especially the church organ and harp playing in "Awaken" is magic! Then it's time for three tracks that were recorded during the band's successful stay at Madison Square Gardens during the Drama tour in September 1980. First one on the cards is a little rocker called "Go Through This," which was never recorded so it's appearance on this box set is unique (apart from the many unofficial bootlegs which exist, of course). This is followed by what is the first track this line-up ever played together when they met up for the very first time in May of that very same year! So surely these guys must have worked fast. Sadly "We Can Fly From Here" suffers from some disturbance in the beginning. When introducing "Tempus Fugit" Trevor Horn refers to Chris Squire as "fishy" who plays on a rather unusual bass guitar! If ever there could be a track from Drama to still feature in Yes' setlist then "Tempus Fugit" could well be the one. The final four tracks are the "youngest." Having been recorded in Houston on 19th February 1988, they feature the line-up with Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye, when Yes was suddenly featured on MTV and their "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" became their biggest hit ever. As a true Yes fan from the early days onwards, it is and will always remain difficult to embrace this music with the same love as their previous work. Their "Rhythm Of Love" is danceable whilst "Hold On" is preceded by a short but loud drum solo from Alan White. Although Trevor Horn only stayed for a while, the impact on the American market was and still is huge, as Yes got tons of airplay thanks to their combination of radio friendly hooks and progressive AOR. Pulled from the band's Big Generator album, "Shoot High, Aim Low" is another example of the craftmanship of Rabin. Mixed by Trevor Rabin, this package ends with a mix of "Make It Easy" and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart,' the first having surfaced on the Yesyears box and later on added to the expanded release of 90125. We all remember how important and unique Phil Collins' drum sound was before it got sampled and was made available to the entire world. A similar unique nature certainly is that extremely powerful chord on synths that simply is the spine on which "Owner of A Lonely Heart" is based. Great stuff but not really the 'real" Yes in my opinion!

So that's the three discs for you, which leaves me with the expanded book inside the hard cover package. Great photographs, great stories and views from Yesfans around the globe (as a Yes fan for thirty years, why didn't they ask for Bobo's view?) complete this impressive release. The thing which I like most is the fanlike adoration written down by John Frusciante from Red Hot Chili Peppers fame. I love it when people from a different musical style admit being in love with "our" music, having been influenced by prog. He even goes as far as saying that Tales From Topographic Oceans stands up as some of the band's best work. Sadly no material from this superb double album set in this package, but maybe as I write down this review, Steve Howe is back on his attic sifting through another stack of live tapes which can then be the basics for The Word Is Live Again!

Disc One: Then - BBC 1970 (5:25) / For Everyone - BBC 1970 (4:44) / Astral Traveller - Gothenburg 1971 (7:24) / Everydays - Gothenburg 1971 (11:01) / Yours Is No Disgrace - London 1971 (11:45) / I've Seen All Good People - London 1971 (7:52) / America - London 1971 (16:21) / It's Love - London 1971 (11:07)

Disc Two: Apocalypse - Detroit 1976 (3:08) / Siberian Khatru - Detroit 1976 (10:10) / Sound Chaser - Detroit 1976 (11:17) / Sweet Dreams - London 1975 (6:22) / Future Times/Rejoice - Oakland 1978 (6:59) / Circus Of Heaven - Oakland 1978 (4:52) / The Big Medley - Inglewood 1978 (25:53) A) Time And A Word B) Long Distance Runaround C) Survival D) The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) E) Perpetual Change F) Soon / Hello Chicago - Chicago 1979 (2:11) / Roundabout - Chicago 1979 (8:42)

Disc Three: Heart Of The Sunrise - Oakland 1978 (10:56) / Awaken - Chicago 1979 (17:53) / Go Through This - New York 1980 (4:21) / We Can Fly From Here - New York 1980 (6:46) / Tempus Fugit - New York 1980 (5:53) / Rhythm Of Love - Houston 1988 (6:42) / Hold On - Houston 1988 (7:24) / Shoot High, Aim Low - Houston 1988 (8:27) / Make It Easy/Owner Of A Lonely Heart - Houston 1988 (6:09)

Jon Anderson - lead vocals
Peter Banks - guitars
Bill Bruford - drums
Geoff Downes - keyboards
Trevor Horn - vocals
Steve Howe - guitars, vocals
Tony Kaye - keyboards
Patrick Moraz - keyboards
Trevor Rabin - guitars & vocals
Chris Squire - bass, vocals
Rick Wakeman - keyboards
Alan White - drums

Yes (1969)
Time And A Word (1970)
The Yes Album (1971)
Fragile (1972)
Close To The Edge (1972)
Yessongs (1973)
Tales From Topographic Oceans (1974)
Relayer (1975)
Yesterdays (1975)
Going For The One (1977)
Tormato (1978)
Yesshows (1980)
Drama (1980)
Keys To The Studio (1980)
Classic Yes (1982)
90125 (1983/2004)
90125 Live - The Solos (1985)
Big Generator (1987)
Union (1989)
Yesyears (1991)
Yesstory (1991)
Greatest Hits (1993)
Highlights: The Very Best Of Yes (1993)
Talk (1994)
Affirmative: The Yes Solo Family Album (1994)
Keys To Ascension I (1996)
Keys To Ascension II (1997)
Open Your Eyes (1997)
Yes, Friends And Relatives (1998)
Beyond And Before: BBC Recordings 1969-1970 (1998)
Something's Coming (1998)
Friends & Relatives (1998)
The Ladder (1999)
Millennium Collection (1999)
House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (2000)
Yes, Friends and Relatives - Volume Two (2001)
YesSymphonic (ep) (2001)
Magnification (2001)
Keystudio (ep) (2001)
3 For 1 Box Set (2001)
Original Members Of Yes (2001)
Extended Versions (2002)
Friends And Relatives: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1 (2002)
Yestoday (2002)
In A Word (2002)
Yes Remixes (2003)
Friends And Relatives: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2 (2003)
Roundabout: Best Of Yes Live (2003)
The Yes Story Gold (2003)
The Ultimate Yes - 35th Anniverary Collection (2004)
(Re)Union (2004)
Topography: The Yes Anthology (2004)
Inside Yes 1968-1973: A Critical Review (2004)
The Word Is Live (2005)
Live And Solo: The Collection (2006)
Greatest Hits Live (2006)
An Evening Of Yes (2006)
Yesstories: Group & Solo Tales (2006)
Essentially Yes (2006)
The Definitive Rock Collection (2007)
Roundabout & Other Hits (2006)
Live At Montreux 2003 (2007)
Works (2007)
The Best Of Yes: 1970-1987 (2007)
Symphonic Live (2009)
The BBC Recordings 1969-1970 (2009)
Introducing Yes (2009)
Wonderous Stories: The Best Of Yes (2009)
Union Live (2011)
Fly From Here (2011)
In The Present - Live From Lyon (2011)
Heaven & Earth (2014)
Songs From Tsongas (2014)
Like It Is: Yes At The Bristol Hippodrome (2014)
Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two (boxset) (2015)
Like It Is: Yes At The Mesa Arts Center (2015)

9012LIve (VHS/DVD) (1985/2005)
Greatest Hits Video (VHS/DVD) (1991/2001)
Yesyears: A Retrospective (VHS/DVD) (1991/2003)
Yes: Live - 1975 At Q.P.R. (VHS) (1993)
Live In Philadelphia 1979 (VHS/DVD) (1996/2003)
Keys To Ascension (VHS/DVD) (1997/2001/2009)
The Union Tour Live (DVD) (1999)
House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (VHS/DVD) (2000)
The Best Of MusikLaden Live (VHS/DVD) (2000/2003)
Live In Amsterdam (VHS/DVD) (2002)
Symphonic Live (DVD+CD) (2003)
Yes: Special Edition EP (DVD) (2003)
YesSpeak (DVD) (2003)
YesAcoustic (DVD) (2004/2006)
35th Anniversary Concert: Songs From Tsongas (DVD) (2004)
YesSpeak - YesAcoustic - 35th Anniversary Edition (DVD) (2005)
Critical Review 1968-1973 (DVD) (2005)
Greatest Video Hits (DVD) (2005)
Inside Yes Plus Friends And Family (DVD) (2006)
Acoustic Live (DVD) (2006)
Total Rock Review (DVD) (2006)
Close To The Edge: Rock Milestones (DVD) (2007)
Live At Montreux (DVD/BR) (2007)
The Lost Broadcasts (DVD) (2009)
Rock Of The 70s (DVD) (2009)
Union Live (2011)
Live Hemel Hempstead Pavilion October 3rd 1971 (2014)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin UK

Added: October 30th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 989
Language: english


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