Exposé Online banner

Yes — Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two
(Rhino Records 081227956417, 1972/2015, 14CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2015-06-19

Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two Cover art

Yes has always been a bit behind the curve when it comes to exploiting their trove of live recordings, but with this set they are catching up. Big time. It started with the archival digging that resulted in The Word Is Live box set from 2005. Those efforts uncovered a stack of 16-track tape boxes deep in the Atlantic Records vaults, which the powers that be relegated for future consideration. As it turns out these tapes — produced during Yes’ summer-autumn American tour of 1972 — were the source masters for 1973’s Yessongs triple-album live set (minus the tracks Bill Bruford played on, which were taken from shows in early 1972, and the tracks that were sourced from the December gig at the Rainbow in London). As they say, timing is everything, and with bands like King Crimson and the Grateful Dead proving that “superfans” will shell out big bucks for these behemoth box sets, a green light was given to undertake the painstaking process of converting 43-year-old acetate into digital (and vinyl) merchandise.

As far as the physical package goes, the relatively compact box is lavishly decorated with Roger Dean artwork, with each concert (two disks each) presented in individually illustrated sleeves. Those who are interested in how this all came about will enjoy the companion booklet that includes producer Brian Kehew’s notes on the myriad technical challenges confronted, ranging from misaligned Dolby noise-reduction units to poorly placed audience microphones to dodgy instrument recordings. Kehew and his entire team deserve high praise for their work, having delivered remarkably clean and balanced recordings that capture the dynamics and firepower of Yes at their peak.

Yes were not an improvising outfit like King Crimson, and the set list (focusing mainly on Close to the Edge which was released as the tour was underway) was mostly the same from one night to the next. For some, hearing the same show seven times will be overkill, and for them Rhino has wisely created a two-disk Highlights version as a sort of “Best-of.” But for serious fans the full box is a must.

One might think that Progeny would make Yessongs surplus to requirements, but if anything Progeny enhances the aura and reputation of Yessongs rather than diminishing it. Listening to these songs in their unadulterated form it becomes clear how much work Eddie Offord put into culling and editing together performances, crowd noise, and even isolated moments to create what became Yessongs. But Yessongs, with its cavernous sound and studio manipulations, will never provide the sense of “you-are-there” that Progeny offers in spades. Some of this is due to the mix that positions the band across the stereo spectrum as if they were playing in front of you (i.e., Jon Anderson and Alan White in the center with Steve Howe on the left and Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman on the right). Part of it is also down to the warts-and-all nature of the recordings that — along with stage banter — includes every technical snag, cracked vocal, and missed cue. The most famous of these is from Toronto when the keyboards actively picked up the local FM radio station and a DJ’s voice could be heard as Wakeman soldiered on through his solo spot.

As tours tend to go, the later shows are the best with an almost surgical precision and attention to detail that leaves the listener drained after the last note of “Yours Is No Disgrace” has wafted into the ether. One can only imagine the effect these shows had on those who were there, but based on anecdotal stories on the Forgotten Yesterdays web site Yes were regularly leaving audiences demolished in their wake. As Progeny proves, the very fact that they were able to consistently perform these songs at such astonishingly high levels of musicianship only enhances their reputation as one of the finest live rock bands England ever produced.


Filed under: Archives, 2015 releases, 1972 recordings

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

Latest news

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Die Knodel - Panorama – Well I thought the RIO movement was going trad. on us when L'Ensmeble Raye's last CD hit the shelves, but now they really have gone and done it. Here is something you would expect to hear floating...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues