Yessongs – Yes (1973)

Here we are folks, another bearded, record collector with a fucking music blog. I’d roll my eyes at myself but I don’t even know how to roll them that hard. Here we are though.

This is going to be an outlet for me and an interesting read for you. Each week I’ll be using the Android app created by Discogs (http://www.discogs.com) to randomly choose an item from my collection to listen to and write about. These won’t be straight forward reviews all the time and will mostly be anecdotes about the records themselves, where I got them (if I can remember) where I was at in life and what they mean to me. For other, less familiar titles, it will be my reactions after an honest, solid listen. They may be long or short and they might go off the rails. There are no grails, idols or sacred ground here. If you are reading this, I thank you for your time and welcome feedback, suggestions and whatever else.

Now onto business….

Back before the internet (yawn) if you wanted bootlegs of live music, you found a record store that sold them. You could get VHS and cassette audio recordings of any somewhat major band that was playing live shows. Occasionally a band would release a live record but they were heavily edited and while there were exceptions, their tracks were usually pulled from multiple shows. I’d love going to the local store that carried them and browsing for hours. Enter Luke’s Record exchange.

My friend’s father, Mr. V used to go to Luke’s for their CD sales and that’s how I first heard about them. In fact, the first person who let me play their records beside my mother (more of a case of asking for forgiveness rather than permission) was Mr. V. He would let me borrow Sabbath, DIO and Kansas records from his collection. It was pretty great as a young kid. Aside from that, I’d goto the Cumberland Public Library and borrow out titles like Anthrax’s – State of Euphoria as well as the Star Wars trilogy soundtracks.

Soon after that, I got the itch to start looking for records to buy myself. So, it only made sense that Luke’s would be the spot I went to. I had already been purchasing CDs and live bootlegs and they had a HUGE record inventory. They had a huge basement where they had stacks of records that was absolute chaos. Find what you were looking for in the chaos though, and it was never more than 2 or 3 bucks. This is where I found the subject of this first article. Yessongs by the Prog Gods themselves, Yes. Who, at the start of my planning this blog, had recently been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I was never a huge fan of Prog Rock in general but over time have grown to enjoy some albums and tracks here and there mainly by Yes, Rush and King Crimson. At this point though, I was really only familiar with Yes and specifically Fragile (which I had found on a separate trip to Luke’s of course) because I liked Roundabout from hearing it on classic rock radio at the time.

Yes were a force live and this 3LP monster works it’s best to display it. My biggest issues after listening to this again recently is the sound quality as well as the fact that each song is taken from different shows/tours. For me personally, a live record is better as a cohesive show and while there are exceptions, this is not one but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a listen. Not being a huge Yes fanatic this isn’t a record I spin a whole bunch.

Heart of the Sunrise, Roundabout, Long Distant Runaround and Mood for a Day were songs I was familiar with whether it was radio or a Fragile CD I had. Listening to the live version of Heart of the Sunrise puts a smile on my face and it is probably my favorite Yes song. Especially, after seeing it features in Buffalo 66 as a high schooler. Just hearing “SHARP! DISTANCE!” gives me goosebumps and it is a song I’ve played a million times in general when I’m feeling a general malaise or unsureness about life. Who can’t relate at some point or another to feeling so overwhelmed and “lost in the city?”

After my most recent listen, in addition to tracks I was familiar with, I came away enjoying the rest than I thought. Perpetual Change was a track I otherwise wasn’t familiar with really made me wish I was able to see them live back at this time (not surprising it had Bill Bruford on drums who went on to join King Crimson, twice!) The rest of Yessongs holds up with Yes’ incredible talent and even though the recording’s sound quality is steps above bootleg quality, their raw talent and the song writing talents of specifically, Chris Squire (RIP) and Jon Anderson really shine and give the listener a taste of their live show. Thanks for hanging with me here. For the vinyl nerds I’ve included a link to this release below and for the unfamiliar, a link to my favorite track from this album. See you again next week!

Discogs Link: https://www.discogs.com/Yes-Yessongs/release/4621717

Heart of the Sunrise (Live): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar_ObQIssRM

 

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