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Thread: Yessongs

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    I dunno, I think it's probably always been static. Certainly in the context of pop or rock music, there's always been a certain amount of "Let's play it like it is on the record". Witness Rush, for instance. I know their first live album diverges from the studio cuts quite a bit, but by the time you get to Exit...Stage Left, they were pretty much playing stuff just exactly the way it was on the studio cuts (with only a handful of variations). And then later, when they started with the sequencers and all that, well, then you can't improvise, because the damn sequencer doesn't know when it's supposed to give the guitarist another chorus or whatever.

    I remember Alex Lifeson saying he was disappointed when he saw Cream, and they started jamming and so forth, he wanted to hear the songs the way they were on the record (whether he understood at the time that three musicians couldn't recreate something like White Room without tapes or extra musicians is anybody's guess). So I guess he made up his mind his band wasn't going to do that. I also remember he said something like, "Besides, nobody's expecting us to launch to an extended jam in the middle of Manhattan Project".

    And they carry that to the point that Peart played the exact same drum solo every night on a given tour. ANd remember that video they did for that live version of Closer To The Heart, where they took all the different videos, the original video for the studio version, and the versions from each of their 80's era concert videos, and cut them together to one single live version, and all the footage matched up perfectly?!

    And there were quite a few other bands during the 70's and 80's who pretty much "stuck to the script" onstage. There wasn't a whole lot of improvisation in the music of bands like Genesis, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston, Queen (who were gonna sound different from the records onstage anyway, because they couldn't bring a choir and a dozen guitarists on tour with them), Quiet Riot, or any number of other bands. ELO had to the point where they were able to put out a concert video where some idiot thought it was a good idea to dub the studio versions over the live recordings, which led to them being accused of out and out lip syncing.

    Happy The Man was another band that basically didn't improvise once they got the arrangements nailed down of their compositions (though if I remember correctly, they did change up the arrangements sometimes). I seem to recall that was one of the reasons why the HTM reunion came to an end the way it did, because Stan Whitaker made up his mind he did want to improvise and found the HTM approach to now be too constricting.

    The thing that got me was Dire Straits. They beefed up the arrangements of a lot of the songs live, adding extended instrumental bits and such. The live arrangement of Sultans Of Swing is something like 10 minutes long. But the crazy thing is, I've heard several bootlegs, and the thing is, Mark Knopfler played the exact same 4 minute ride out solo every night. And he'd recreate all those extended solos on that are on songs like Telegraph Road and Skateaway too.

    Particularly when you get into the big stage production thing like a band like Pink Floyd built their way up to, there's a point where you kinda have to have everything choreographed out, so that the guys working the lights, lasers, pyro, film projectionist, etc can do their things, and have it not looking like Spinal Tap or something. Actually, I guess you could sort of conduct that kind of stuff, ya know, like the way a conductor would cue the orchestra to end the fermata or whatever. But I read once there are some bands (and this again goes back to the 80's) that were running the light show off an sequencer. They had one master MIDI clock that was sending signals not only to sequencers running the synths, but also the lights, pyro, etc. I even read about one guitarist who got the idea to then extend the sequencer thing so that it also ran his effects, even to the point of programming a MIDI controlled wah wah that way, so that all he had to was go onstage and play guitar. His feet didn't have to do anything during the show.

    So yeah, the lack of improvisation isn't a new thing. And I imagine there's still improvisation going on out there someplace. I'm sure there's still some of those horrendous jam bands out there, who try and fail miserably at carrying on the legacy of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band. I mean Phish and Moe are still around, aren't they?


    I remember I think it was David Gans who wrote a book about the Grateful Dead, and there was a point where he was contrasting the Dead against The Eagles, who had seen back in the 70's at same point. He said The Eagles songs sounded exactly like the record, every single guitar lick in every song was recreated live. He said he went back the second night just to see if they could pull it off two nights in a row. Years later, he was interviewing Don Henley, I think it was, for some magazine, and he mentioned this to him. Henley's response was "We didn't want people to get upset that they didn't get to hear their favorite guitar lick during Hotel California".

    And I can relate to that logic, because there are instances where I miss my favorite bits in certain songs, such as that thing Bill Bruford does on his snare during the first section of Starship Trooper, and the descending chromatic thing Wakeman does at the end of his solo on Wondrous Stories, just as the vocals come bak in. I've never heard either of those bits live, despite seeing Yes I don't know how many times (and most occasions they did Starship Trooper). Come to think of it, I never get to hear that two handed tapping thing that Rabin does on the 9012Live version of Starship Trooper, either, which I also like, but that's because Rabin was never in teh band when I saw them, so...

    But I think a big part of just comes down to people who are just so chained to the studio version, that's what they want to hear. Or it's what the band wants to play. It's what certain sectors of the audience wants. And in the dance music world, they'll even put up with blatant lip syncing onstage, because they don't really care that the singer isn't singing live.
    What a great post! Thanks so much.

    As far as Happy the Man, Rick Kennell has said a number of times that his goal was to play the songs as close to the studio version as possible. They felt that was the thing to do. But to what extent the various members felt—really felt—about that is unknown to me.

    And thank you, happytheman for your details on what Stan felt later on. That doesn't surprise me. He is more of a free spirit the last 10 or so years.

  2. #27
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    I love the performances on Yessongs but that production is just nails on a chalkboard. I've grown used to it but I'd love to hear someone rework it with more muscle.

    I love listening to live Rush, there's an intensity to their performances that I love. But I love it when a band takes chances, even if there's a chance they'll fall on their face.
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  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by happytheman View Post
    I saw HTM twice in their early days and I think their live album will back me up on this but Carousel had an extended intro as I recall... and I seem to remember that bit that came out of the long piece Deaths Crown (Open Book) had an interesting intro as well.. I'm sure there were others..
    Yeah, you're right about Carousel originally being part of Death's Crown. The weird thing is, as much as I like HTM, I just haven't spent enough time with those records that I can actually spot the arrangement differences on the live album. But I've heard it said there's a few different things on that record where they sort of altered the arrangement a bit.

    In a sense, live albums used to work as a de facto best-of.
    There's an interview with, I think, Roger Glover, where he's talking about why Deep Purple were initially resistant to doing what ended up being Made In Japan, which I think he puts down to them being viewed as "budget" and "a rip off", because you were usually just stringing together a bunch of the most popular songs, to squeeze a few more dollars out of record buyers. Of course, in the case of Purple, they improvised and changed things up so much from night to night, that they actually made hearing the live arrangements worth it. And a lesser known fact about that album is, it was the live version of Smoke On The Water that became the big hit. So if they had put their foot down with the Japanese record company and said "Deep Purple doesn't do live albums! Period! Not even for the Japanese market!", Smoke On The Water might be just an obscure album track.
    I do think Yes took less chances live in later years. I think by the time you get to the Rabin era, they started to have a much more 'produced' sound which IMHO was best heard on the records.
    Yeah, well, it's probably difficult to conduct a jam onstage, when one of the musicians is hidden under the stage. I mean, you have to be able to give a cue to the rest of the band for when you want another chorus or when the solo is to end, and that's not the easiest thing to do when one of the other musicians literally can't see you. Of course, "the cue" could have been just a predetermined guitar lick...ya know, "OK, when I play this lick, that'll be the cue for us to go into the coda. I remember Elliott Easton saying that's what he'd do sometimes with The Cars, they'd give him a ride out solo where he could take an extra chorus or two, and when he was done wailing, he'd play the lick that would cue the rest of the band to end the song.

    With a band like Genesis, I wouldn't say that looong solos were ever a big thing with them on the studio albums anyway. (There were exceptions like 'The Cinema Show' and 'Apocalypse In 9/8'.)
    Also, there's As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs, Firth Of Fifth, The Musical Box, Return Of The Giant Hogweed, Supernatural Anaesthetist, etc.

    But a solo doesn't necessarily have to be "long" on the studio record for it to be a jumping off point onstage. You could have a single 12bar chorus on the record, but onstage it could go on for whatever.

    Look at Dark Star and The Other One, from the Grateful Dead. In their studio incarnations, they're kept relatively brief. I think Dark Star is something like 2:40 on the single, and on Anthem Of The Sun, The Other One is a similar length, maybe a little longer. But onstage, each would grow to run some nights 30 or even 40 minutes in length. If you listen to early live versions of the songs, they're still relatively brief, but as time went on, each started to get stretched longer, as their ambitions and confidence grew.
    Not so long ago, Classical audiences wanted to hear new pieces, and refused to listen to anything more than 20 years old. Now they only want to hear Beethoven and Brahms. What changed the audience was the progressively improving sound quality, and proliferation of recorded music.
    Also, as "contemporary music" became weirder and weirder, for want of a better way of describing what happened in a post war era, I think that may have resulted in a certain degree of reactionary conservatism among some elements of the audience. Back in the late 90's, I saw the Cleveland Orchestra perform Ligeti's violin concerto. It was the last piece of the first set, and as the intermission began, I overheard a lady sitting in front of me saying, "On that last one, they could have thrown out the sheet music and it would have sounded exactly the same". And don't even get me started on that John Cage business. If one thinks an intricately scored piece would have "sounded exactly the same without the sheet music", just imagine what the reaction to some of Cage's horsing around might be!

    And of course, classical music radio is as conservative as any other commercial radio station. You're certainly not going to hear something like Penderecki's Threnody For The Victims Of Hiroshima on the same radio station that's playing Pachelbel, Beethoven and Copland. There used to be a classical music show on one of the college radio stations here called Anything But Pachelbel, which was presumably titled due to the ubiquity of the Canon (something that even inspired a hilarious PDQ Bach parody, where it's suggested that the Canon wasn't written by Johann Pachelbel but in fact, the Marquis De Sade!).

    So if you're sitting around listening to commercial classical radio, you're not gonna hear the "weird shit" and when you go to see whichever concert, you're probably not gonna want to hear it there either.

    One of the interesting things about classical music is, at one time, it was common place for their to be some degree of improvisation in what we now commonly call "classical music". Concerto cadenzas, for instance were intended ot be improvised, and the written cadenzas the composer would put forth were only meant for practicing/rehearsal purposes. But then, I think it was Beethoven, who came along and said "No, you're gonna play exactly what I tell you tell you to play, no futzing around with improvisation". And that sort of became the common practice. Now, some musicians would write their own cadenzas, but there again, it's still a preconceived thing, with no improvisation.

  4. #29
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    it was the live version of Smoke On The Water that became the big hit.
    My first version of that song was on the same record that contained my first Yes song.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    My first version of that song was on the same record that contained my first Yes song.
    Still have my vinyl copy - one of the best compilations of the early 70s.
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  6. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    My first version of that song was on the same record that contained my first Yes song.
    Yeah, that's the Made In Japan version, I believe.

  7. #32
    I remember owning this after buying the studio albums that provided all the tracks and don't think I listened to it much. Yes is one of those bands where I'd prefer to listen to the studio versions if all I'm doing is listening. But SEEING them live is another thing.
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  8. #33
    I owned Yessongs years before I had copies of either The Yes Album or Close to the Edge. Obviously, I had heard the radio cuts on TYA, but I was rather shocked at how 'stodgy' those albums are compared to the corresponding live versions on Yessongs.

    For me, this is the one Yes album I think you absolutely need to own. As a mega-fan I own them all, but this is the one I'd recommend to a newcomer.

    I even like the sound. It sounds like a concert, not a studio album with crowd noise added. I appreciate the "standing in the middle of the stage" perspective on Progeny, but the deeper audience perspective on Yesssongs makes it my regular go-to choice. You can't hear the little details as well, but the mix coheres better and has more punch.

    Honestly, a moderate Yes fan could probably get away with just owning Yessongs and Yesshows.

  9. #34
    It was my first Yes album, but mine didn't come with a booklet.

  10. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    It was my first Yes album, but mine didn't come with a booklet.
    Neither did mine, but that's because it bought it out of the cutout bin at a used record store. Every time I saw that damn record, it was goin for like 8 bucks, just because it was a triple LP, but this time it was only 3 dollars so I jumped on it. I didn't know until later that it was supposed to have a photo booklet.

  11. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by progcd54 View Post
    A little history lesson...

    I grew up in the 70's (born in 1956) in Lynn, Massachusetts. So I was 17 when the LP was released. I would take a bus to the Peabody Shopping Center (they weren't called "malls" back then) and continue on to a new center being built close by. The new center was in the next city, Danvers. It later became the Liberty Tree Mall, IIRC.

    Anyway, there were only 2 stores at first with a wide open space between them that later became the rest of the shopping center. These stores were "Lechmere Sales" and "Ann and Hope". I remember buying Yessongs at Ann and Hope when it was released on sale for $4.88. I sat on the bus, opened it and was amazed at the triple gatefold cover. What a sight to behold. However, when I got home and played it I was extremely pissed to discover it was a live LP....I thought I was buying a greatest hits collection. I was not all that thrilled with the sound. But it grew on me for sure.

    I think it's held up well through the years as it's a great documentary of the band at that time. I wished I had kept the original LP.
    I'm going to hyjack this thread and share this story. I use to work with an older black gentleman-probably about fifteen years older, but he didn't look like it. Found out his elderly aunt and uncle's backyard was on one side of our family's back yard so we had sonething in common more than work and music. There weren't that many malls when he was young except for one which was a couple of long bus rides away, probably well over an hour away. As a young boy he took the buses with his older sister far and further than anywhere he had been, to buy a prized possession of The Beatles I Want to Hold Your Hand when it came out. Great story. YES were more like The Beatles to me.

  12. #37
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    I've noticed that, at least to my ears, the tracks that Bruford plays on sound better than the ones White plays on. It's mainly the way the drums sound, crisp and clear instead of muddy and "banging". I don't know if it's the drummer or the way the drums were recorded (I've always preferred Bruford), but I'd like to hear other folks' take on that...

  13. #38
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    I think Alan White's drum sounds, in general, sound like he's pounding on cardboard boxes. Not just on Yessongs, but on every Yes recording with the exception of maybe Drama.

  14. #39
    ^ Even on 90125?

  15. #40
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    I'll have to listen. Haven't heard that one in while.

  16. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    I think Alan White's drum sounds, in general, sound like he's pounding on cardboard boxes. Not just on Yessongs, but on every Yes recording with the exception of maybe Drama.
    I agree with you about Drama, his drums sound is mighty on that record. I think Relayer is OK too. I'm not sure I'd go as far as "cardboard boxes," but his sound is often a bit flat. Tales is probably the worst offender, to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    ^ Even on 90125?
    Definitely. I think he actually played the cardboard boxes his Simmons drums came in on that album.

    Just kidding. I've always found the drum sound on 90125 very thin, but in some sense I think that meshed well with the synth-pop sound of the record. Compared to Drama, the 90125 drums sound like crap to me, but I think the Drama drums sound wouldn't have meshed with 90215. So from an overall production standpoint, I think the 90125 drums are effective. But I'm not a fan of that style of production (or music), so it biases me.

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  17. #42
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    I blame Offord on the lousy drum sound - he was great at steering the band in the studio but soundwise he did not do them justice.
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  18. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarplyrjvb View Post
    I think Alan White's drum sounds, in general, sound like he's pounding on cardboard boxes. Not just on Yessongs, but on every Yes recording with the exception of maybe Drama.
    Hugh Padgham said that's what he hated about 70's records, that the drums always sounded like "cardboard boxes, or cardboard boxes, with carpeting on the inside", and apparently the gated reverb "Phil Collins" drum sound was his "solution" to that "problem". I'd rather have the "cardboard box" drum sounds.

  19. #44
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundsweird View Post
    I've noticed that, at least to my ears, the tracks that Bruford plays on sound better than the ones White plays on. It's mainly the way the drums sound, crisp and clear instead of muddy and "banging". I don't know if it's the drummer or the way the drums were recorded (I've always preferred Bruford), but I'd like to hear other folks' take on that...
    On the Union tour, Bill's electronic kit sounded gawd awful. Every snare roll produced a very nice machine gun effect.
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  20. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    On the Union tour, Bill's electronic kit sounded gawd awful. Every snare roll produced a very nice machine gun effect.
    He actually always used an acoustic snare, even when the rest of his kit was all Simmons (apart from the cymbals).

  21. #46
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    It may have been in his kit, but its either it triggered a snare sound or he had a simmons snare pad as well.

    It was fucking awful - especially for someone with a legendary snare sound to start with.

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  22. #47
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    It's actually 16/44.1 digitization of 70s recordings which makes drums sound like cardboard boxes. Drums sound quite natural on the original vinyl, or more recent Hi-Res versions. More natural in fact than most any digital era recording. Drums on CD quality digital recordings require(d) heavy processing and coloring to remove most, but not all the cardboard quality. Older recordings would require a complete remix to achieve the same effect. The long line of remasterings doesn't quite cut it.

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    He actually always used an acoustic snare, even when the rest of his kit was all Simmons (apart from the cymbals).
    On the Union tour, Bill did in fact use a digital snare sound. And rolls did in fact sound like a machine gun.
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  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    It's actually 16/44.1 digitization of 70s recordings which makes drums sound like cardboard boxes.
    Nope - many albums in the 70's had crap drum sound. That was part of the reason for the change to big splashy drum sounds in the 80's - look ma the drummer isn't playing cardboard boxes!

  24. #49
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taliesin View Post
    Nope - many albums in the 70's had crap drum sound. That was part of the reason for the change to big splashy drum sounds in the 80's - look ma the drummer isn't playing cardboard boxes!
    In my own experience digitizing old records, recording them in 16/44.1 does in fact "cardboardify" the drums. When playing them directly, or more recently recording them in 24/96, they sound substantially different.
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  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    I dunno, I think it's probably always been static. Certainly in the context of pop or rock music, there's always been a certain amount of "Let's play it like it is on the record". Witness Rush, for instance. I know their first live album diverges from the studio cuts quite a bit, but by the time you get to Exit...Stage Left, they were pretty much playing stuff just exactly the way it was on the studio cuts (with only a handful of variations). And then later, when they started with the sequencers and all that, well, then you can't improvise, because the damn sequencer doesn't know when it's supposed to give the guitarist another chorus or whatever.

    I remember Alex Lifeson saying he was disappointed when he saw Cream, and they started jamming and so forth, he wanted to hear the songs the way they were on the record (whether he understood at the time that three musicians couldn't recreate something like White Room without tapes or extra musicians is anybody's guess). So I guess he made up his mind his band wasn't going to do that. I also remember he said something like, "Besides, nobody's expecting us to launch to an extended jam in the middle of Manhattan Project".

    And they carry that to the point that Peart played the exact same drum solo every night on a given tour. ANd remember that video they did for that live version of Closer To The Heart, where they took all the different videos, the original video for the studio version, and the versions from each of their 80's era concert videos, and cut them together to one single live version, and all the footage matched up perfectly?!

    And there were quite a few other bands during the 70's and 80's who pretty much "stuck to the script" onstage. There wasn't a whole lot of improvisation in the music of bands like Genesis, Kiss, Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston, Queen (who were gonna sound different from the records onstage anyway, because they couldn't bring a choir and a dozen guitarists on tour with them), Quiet Riot, or any number of other bands. ELO had to the point where they were able to put out a concert video where some idiot thought it was a good idea to dub the studio versions over the live recordings, which led to them being accused of out and out lip syncing.

    Happy The Man was another band that basically didn't improvise once they got the arrangements nailed down of their compositions (though if I remember correctly, they did change up the arrangements sometimes). I seem to recall that was one of the reasons why the HTM reunion came to an end the way it did, because Stan Whitaker made up his mind he did want to improvise and found the HTM approach to now be too constricting.

    The thing that got me was Dire Straits. They beefed up the arrangements of a lot of the songs live, adding extended instrumental bits and such. The live arrangement of Sultans Of Swing is something like 10 minutes long. But the crazy thing is, I've heard several bootlegs, and the thing is, Mark Knopfler played the exact same 4 minute ride out solo every night. And he'd recreate all those extended solos on that are on songs like Telegraph Road and Skateaway too.

    Particularly when you get into the big stage production thing like a band like Pink Floyd built their way up to, there's a point where you kinda have to have everything choreographed out, so that the guys working the lights, lasers, pyro, film projectionist, etc can do their things, and have it not looking like Spinal Tap or something. Actually, I guess you could sort of conduct that kind of stuff, ya know, like the way a conductor would cue the orchestra to end the fermata or whatever. But I read once there are some bands (and this again goes back to the 80's) that were running the light show off an sequencer. They had one master MIDI clock that was sending signals not only to sequencers running the synths, but also the lights, pyro, etc. I even read about one guitarist who got the idea to then extend the sequencer thing so that it also ran his effects, even to the point of programming a MIDI controlled wah wah that way, so that all he had to was go onstage and play guitar. His feet didn't have to do anything during the show.

    So yeah, the lack of improvisation isn't a new thing. And I imagine there's still improvisation going on out there someplace. I'm sure there's still some of those horrendous jam bands out there, who try and fail miserably at carrying on the legacy of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band. I mean Phish and Moe are still around, aren't they?


    I remember I think it was David Gans who wrote a book about the Grateful Dead, and there was a point where he was contrasting the Dead against The Eagles, who had seen back in the 70's at same point. He said The Eagles songs sounded exactly like the record, every single guitar lick in every song was recreated live. He said he went back the second night just to see if they could pull it off two nights in a row. Years later, he was interviewing Don Henley, I think it was, for some magazine, and he mentioned this to him. Henley's response was "We didn't want people to get upset that they didn't get to hear their favorite guitar lick during Hotel California".

    And I can relate to that logic, because there are instances where I miss my favorite bits in certain songs, such as that thing Bill Bruford does on his snare during the first section of Starship Trooper, and the descending chromatic thing Wakeman does at the end of his solo on Wondrous Stories, just as the vocals come bak in. I've never heard either of those bits live, despite seeing Yes I don't know how many times (and most occasions they did Starship Trooper). Come to think of it, I never get to hear that two handed tapping thing that Rabin does on the 9012Live version of Starship Trooper, either, which I also like, but that's because Rabin was never in teh band when I saw them, so...

    But I think a big part of just comes down to people who are just so chained to the studio version, that's what they want to hear. Or it's what the band wants to play. It's what certain sectors of the audience wants. And in the dance music world, they'll even put up with blatant lip syncing onstage, because they don't really care that the singer isn't singing live.
    Just another excellent post, GG. Thanks.
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