(All Album Reviews by Sean)
This and it's companion volume two marked the reunion of the 'classic' lineup from the 70's. The same cast of characters that brought you the Yessongs, Tales, Going and Tormato albums were back together once again. For fans of classic Yes this was a reason to be quite excited, a moment many had awaited for years. Unfortunately this reunion was short lived. Yet another falling out between the band and keyboardist Rick Wakeman hastened it's demise.
Musically, this CD is a mixed bag. 3 shows were played in San Luis Opisbo, CA and they are partially documented on disc 1 of volume one, the rest on volume 2 (see it's review). At first listen these 'live' tracks are pretty stunning in their accuracy. Further investigation (beyond the CDs booklet) revealed that many of these tracks were overdubbed and cleaned up in the studio after the fact. That is somewhat of a disappointment (to me anyway), but I guess they did not have time to practice the set as much as they needed, so they 'cleaned' up the performance after the fact. This is especially true with the vocal tracks. What's left is quite nice sounding, though. The best live cuts are easily on volume one, standouts being "Siberian Khatru", "America", "The Revealing Science of God" and "Awaken". No doubt the high points of the set and all nearly flawlessy rendered.
The other disc has new material, done in the studio (this is true of volume two as well). Recently all the studio tracks have been put on one cd called Keys To The Studio. Really they should have done that from the onset, but being Yes, they often go about things the long way. It would stand as their best 90's album if they had done this. A return to their more grandiose style, the studio tracks finally gave classic listeners another dose of the progressive side of Yes. Yes it is retro, nothing new here, but for fans of mid 70's Yes it was nice to finally hear the band get back to something in that vein.
I prefer the new material on volume two over what's on one. But there are fans of both it seems. The epic "That That Is" has some nice bits to it, especially Howe's acoustic work, but seems a bit forced. Like several unrelated musical bits were strung together. Add to that Anderson's lyrical imagery, which seems to be taken from the headlines rather than his usual quasi spiritual rants and you get a combo that does not sit that well for this listener.
The other track, "Be The One" has some nice vocal harmonies, very big sounding. For a 10 minute track though I think it's long winded and not varied enough. A step in the right direction, but not quite enough.
See volume two's review.......