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Thread: Yessongs

  1. #1
    Member Staun's Avatar
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    Yessongs

    Needed something I had not heard in a while. All the live Yes albums. Well, there it was needing a listen. Does it still hold up for you?
    The older I get, the better I was.

  2. #2
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    It's hard for me to look at this record critically. I love it and always will. I heard it when it came out at the tender age of 15 and it totally blew me away. I had previously thought that Yes was a weird folk band with a girl singer. The revelation that was this album totally changed my outlook on music in general and guitar playing in particular. I could have done without the Wakeman solo pieces, but otherwise find little fault with this record. Hearing the concerts from which this record was sourced, it's clear that there was a lot of editing, but very few, if any overdubs. The guitar solo in "Yours is No Disgrace" is one of the best I've ever heard by anyone.

  3. #3
    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.
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  4. #4
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    ^^ To all intents and purposes it was the greatest hits! I too remember the lavish packaging; the Roger Dean paintings and the booklet with pictures of the various members. Until then all the albums I had bought had come in single sleeves, occasionally a gatefold, but the extravagance of Yessongs was just amazing. I also thought the music was good, although I now consider some of the performances a little too close to the originals to be outstanding.
    Last edited by Munster; 4 Weeks Ago at 01:26 PM.
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  5. #5
    It's one of those albums that I played so much as a teen, that I probably never really need to revisit. However, I bought the Progeny set and have really enjoyed listening to the source gigs over recent years. I would love a similar set covering the tour that had the couple of Bruford tracks, not sure enough shows exist though.

    As mentioned above, the guitar solo in YIND is pretty much perfection for me, and I also love everything about the version of Perpetual Change.

    I remember seeing the movie at the cinema back in my schooldays, and being quite upset that it didn't feature the full collection.

  6. #6
    I love it. Always will, despite the fidelity lacking for an official release. But, being a long-time bootleg collector, it doesn't really phase me.

    I would love to see an official release of the New Haven show from '71.
    "A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words."

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  7. #7
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    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 don't remember the price but if I remember correctly, I picked this one up after the Blizzard of '78 at Popcorn Records in Dedham, which was about 1/4 mile north of the Lechmere which was another one of my usual record-buying haunts.
    I'd have to check, but I think the only Yes records I bought before CDs came out were this, Yesshows and Tormato, and even then it was quite a while before I picked up any others. I figured that the two live sets gave me pretty good coverage.

  8. #8
    I rarely play this anymore. I think a lot of the performances are very good, Perpetual Change, Yours is No Disgrace, CttE. But I think there are better live versions of many of the other tracks, I never need to hear those solo spots again. I enjoyed this a lot back in the day, though.

    Bill

  9. #9
    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    I rarely play this anymore. I think a lot of the performances are very good, Perpetual Change, Yours is No Disgrace, CttE. But I think there are better live versions of many of the other tracks, I never need to hear those solo spots again. I enjoyed this a lot back in the day, though.

    Bill
    What Bill said!!!

    But seriously...I agree with you.

  10. #10
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    It was my introduction to Yes and I still love it. I think I posted this before, but back in the day I had a shitty little stereo system, so had no clue that the recording was not the greatest. I still love this album.

  11. #11
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    One thing true of pretty much any older live album: there's much more improvisation. Today's audience don't want to hear improvisation of any kind. They want to hear songs played and sung exactly the way they were on the album.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    One thing true of pretty much any older live album: there's much more improvisation. Today's audience don't want to hear improvisation of any kind. They want to hear songs played and sung exactly the way they were on the album.
    Why do they go to Yes shows, then?

    (ducks)

  13. #13
    Member Gizmotron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    One thing true of pretty much any older live album: there's much more improvisation. Today's audience don't want to hear improvisation of any kind. They want to hear songs played and sung exactly the way they were on the album.
    I often wonder if this issue is the oldest issue in live music...as in, a certain percentage of people will always want faithful, improv-free versions of songs at concerts and a certain percentage absolutely wants improv and chance-taking. I assumed it was a fairly static ratio.

    I have never really considered that the ratio has changed through time. Do you think it has? If so, is it a certain genre or set of genres that has fans that dislike improv? For instance...could it b country or rap or other genres that seem to encourage fans to want a by the-book live show?

    I apologize if this is a derail. Perhaps it needs its own thread?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotron View Post
    a certain percentage of people will always want faithful, improv-free versions of songs at concerts

    Well, like I always say....







































    Fuck them.
    "A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words."

    - Dr. Winston O'Boogie

  15. #15
    Member Staun's Avatar
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    I think the people who don't want to hear improv wants to feel certain that their favorite band can really perform what they have heard. They hear a studio album, they like it and that's what they come to hear. Their favorite band playing songs in some strange way would have to be a let down.
    The older I get, the better I was.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotron View Post
    I often wonder if this issue is the oldest issue in live music...as in, a certain percentage of people will always want faithful, improv-free versions of songs at concerts and a certain percentage absolutely wants improv and chance-taking. I assumed it was a fairly static ratio.

    I have never really considered that the ratio has changed through time. Do you think it has? If so, is it a certain genre or set of genres that has fans that dislike improv? For instance...could it b country or rap or other genres that seem to encourage fans to want a by the-book live show?
    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 think the people who don't want to hear improv wants to feel certain that their favorite band can really perform what they have heard. They hear a studio album, they like it and that's what they come to hear. Their favorite band playing songs in some strange way would have to be a let down.
    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.

  17. #17
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    I rarely play this anymore. I think a lot of the performances are very good, Perpetual Change, Yours is No Disgrace, CttE. But I think there are better live versions of many of the other tracks, I never need to hear those solo spots again. I enjoyed this a lot back in the day, though.

    Bill
    This is basically me. When I crave this period of live yes I go for Prognegy.
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  18. #18
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotron View Post
    I often wonder if this issue is the oldest issue in live music...as in, a certain percentage of people will always want faithful, improv-free versions of songs at concerts and a certain percentage absolutely wants improv and chance-taking. I assumed it was a fairly static ratio.

    I have never really considered that the ratio has changed through time. Do you think it has? If so, is it a certain genre or set of genres that has fans that dislike improv? For instance...could it b country or rap or other genres that seem to encourage fans to want a by the-book live show?

    I apologize if this is a derail. Perhaps it needs its own thread?
    For me, this really depends on the band. If improv, chance taking, and musical detours are part of the band's DNA, then that's what I expect at live concerts. If they are much more 'normalized' style of band, I expect to hear things as they are on record. I would imagine there is some correlation with how popular the band is to how much things replicate the studio experience live.

    As for the ratio question...my gut would say its stayed roughly the same, as there are always of bands that fit both sides of the coin I mentioned above.
    No humor please, we're skittish.

    Never let good music get in the way of making a profit.

  19. #19
    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.
    Wow.. great price.. I bought Yessongs my senior year in high school ('76) and it was a stretch for me to fork out $8.99. Santana's Lotus was the other big purchase for me as it was only available via Import.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    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. .
    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..

  21. #21
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    I don't have a big problem with the sound of Yessongs. At least it actually sounds live! In a sense, live albums used to work as a de facto best-of. So it's pretty much a definitive summary of their 1971-2 period. I agree it would be nice to hear more from that show with Bruford, should it still exist.

    The Yessongs film was only from the Rainbow theatre, whereas some of the album was from shows in the US. The set had changed; based on Progeny (which I don't own), 'Starship Trooper' wasn't even in the set on the US leg of the tour. I think the Old Grey Whistle Test showed some of the film on TV at the time.

    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. Just because of the quality of material and line-up, I like that early-mid 2000s period of the band live. I have no interest whatsoever in any of their post-Anderson live releases.

    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'.) So it doesn't bother me that they weren't really improvisational live. But sometimes they would make changes to arrangements which would be improvements over what was heard on the studio versions. That can be as important as improvisation, for me.
    Last edited by JJ88; 4 Weeks Ago at 10:25 AM.

  22. #22
    I think the bigger issue with the sound of Yessongs is not the production shortcomings as much as it's just not what they sounded like. That was the gripe I remember hearing from those who saw them back then. FWIW, I was not one of them, as I was only ten years old. But, my older brother concurred that sentiment.
    "A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words."

    - Dr. Winston O'Boogie

  23. #23
    This and Relayer are all the Yes I need, honestly.
    Maka ki ecela tehani yanke lo!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sturgeon's Lawyer View Post
    This and Relayer are all the Yes I need, honestly.
    Absolutely

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  25. #25
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotron View Post
    I often wonder if this issue is the oldest issue in live music...as in, a certain percentage of people will always want faithful, improv-free versions of songs at concerts and a certain percentage absolutely wants improv and chance-taking. I assumed it was a fairly static ratio.

    I have never really considered that the ratio has changed through time. Do you think it has? If so, is it a certain genre or set of genres that has fans that dislike improv? For instance...could it b country or rap or other genres that seem to encourage fans to want a by the-book live show?

    I apologize if this is a derail. Perhaps it needs its own thread?
    There's a definite change in the audience. 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.

    I'm speaking generally of course. Not literally "everyone" hates improvisation, and not literally "everyone" hates new Classical pieces.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

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