Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Review: Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe - An Evening of Yes Music Plus

Label: MVD Entertainment Group

Released: February 19, 2008

After a brief introductory piece, this live recording from the 1989 ABWH tour moves into solo medleys by Anderson, Howe and Wakeman. While these clearly demonstrate things we already know (Wakeman and Howe are top notch technicians and Anderson is likely the not-so-distant descendant of an elf), there is little of real interest aside from a version of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" that feels quite different without Trevor Rabin. Things pick up with the group material, running through both Yes classics as well as new ABWH material. The album does lack the pristine sounds they created in the studio which would be a happy trade-off to capture the electricity of a live show. Instead, it's a trade-off for some alternate arrangements and a bunch of noodling, some of which are more interesting than others, but none of which is particularly compelling. Essentially, this is yet another live Yes recording, because ABWH is the first line-up since Tormato to even approach that of the classic Yes. The problem is really two-fold: First, Yes was a studio band that never offered much in the way of live energy on their live recordings even if they often reproduced the quality of their studio work and augmented that with alternate arrangements. Second, they were way past their prime. If a live Yes album is what you really want, stick to 1973's superior Yessongs or even 1980's Yesshows, because they capture the the band (along with their old friend Chris Squire) at a better time. The ABWH material on An Evening of Yes Music Plus is fine, but a step down from the studio versions as well as previous live recordings. This is essential (or even enjoyable really) for serious Yes fans only.

Satriani: 8/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 7/10
Aretha: 3/10
Overall: 5/10

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Blogger rock_of_ages said...

Now I wouldn't call myself a serious Yes fan but this album is a keeper for me. I agree with a fair bit of what you've written however. I guess the reason I like this one so much comes from actually getting into the ABWH studio album quite a bit and actually seeing the live show when it came to Birmingham. For me then the album has the bonus of some, albeit fading, memories of the accompanying live show. I do seem to remember that the "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" version was special though switching back and forth with "Time And A Word". I can still recall being impressed with that one live!

1:18 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

I bet seeing the show would make this one different. My wife saw ABWH in 1989, so I'll have to get her reaction to see if it's similar to yours. I actually do like Yes a good bit (perhaps not quite a serious fan) and I enjoyed the ABWH studio album, but even the live albums from their prime are a bit lost on me.

1:50 PM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

How in the world did ABWH score an 8/10 on the Satriani scale?

10:43 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I was crying at Anderson being a distant relative of an elf... and if you've seen Wakeman these days, I'd say he's now kindred spirit to "Doc" in the Back to the Future films

8:32 AM  

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