Exposé Online banner

By now most of you in the progressive rock community have heard about the reunion of the classic Yes line-up. In an attempt to revitalize interest in the band, three live shows were played and recorded in San Luis Obispo in early March to a combination of die-hard fans, band family, and associates. You may ask yourself what this event has to do with the state of progressive rock in 1996. In my opinion: plenty! They came, they saw, they played complex music and it was damn good.

by Jeff Melton, Published 1996-08-01

One of Yes' objectives was to rediscover the classic 70s band identity by playing only older tracks created between 1970-1978. They dug deep into the treasure trove of their catalog and even presented a few new arrangements of older tunes. The real jewel of the shows was from Tales from Topographic Oceans: "The Revealing Science of God." The pinnacle of pretentiousness? Nope: just an elaborate piece of the progressive puzzle which was a controversial accomplishment for this line-up. Another startling choice was a rendition of their rocking cover of Paul Simon's "America." Here Steve Howe got his chance to show he still has the chops for an extended guitar workout. The complete Close to the Edge album, one of the all-time progressive masterworks, was also given special treatment – not perfectly played, but well performed and reasonable proof they could still pull it off. Also there was heavy emphasis given to Going for the One. Half of this album was presented including the classic track, "Turn of the Century."

The rhythm section was clearly enjoying themselves; the overall band energy level was high. Howe and Wakeman appeared to be slightly subdued during portions of the show, but kicked it into gear later on. Negatives in the shows were few. They were clearly under-rehearsed and not quite in sync with playing these older pieces according to the standards they had once set for themselves. There were also the typical recording bungles: Anderson coming in too early on a couple of songs, plus he forgot lyrics as well.

Summary: Was this a prelude to revisiting a renaissance age by digging up the weary bones of the Jurassic period? Unclear... yet since we will have to wait and see when the live album comes out with the four new studio tracks. There’s nearly no industry support from major labels right now (except possibly the Atlantic label), but sales of a new album could regenerate interest. The band is also planning to go back into the studio to complete another new album before commencing a tour. This will be the one sure-fire indicator of some water left in the creative well, since challenging arrangements were Yes' strength. So don't cross your fingers or hope for a sudden resurgence of a bygone era. Instead, patiently wait and see.

Filed under: Concerts, Issue 10

Related artist(s): Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Yes, Rick Wakeman, Alan White

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Strawbs - The Broken Hearted Bride – Over the last ten years or so, Strawbs have toured and recorded in various configurations, from a three-piece acoustic trio to a fully amplified five-piece electric band. The Broken Hearted Bride...  (2008) » Read more

Anthony Phillips - Anthology – The problem with any collection by an artist as diverse as one-time Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips is that, depending on the selection of material, the listener may come away with only a partial...  (1996) » Read more

Ring of Myth - Weeds – Ring of Myth is not the only band charting a course that combines old-school progressive with elements of metal and fusion, but their take on it is interesting enough to catch my attention. The...  (2006) » Read more

Mellow Candle - The Virgin Prophet – As the CD liner notes state, Mellow Candle's Swaddling Songs is the holy grail of folk rock. There really is no other album that even compares in this specific genre (Fairport Convention,...  (1996) » Read more

Garlic - L'Enigma della Trottola – Italian three-piece Garlic recorded this album live in the studio over three days with no overdubs. The songs are all instrumental guitar, bass, and drums with interesting electronic processing adding...  (2002) » Read more