Saturday, 27 June 2015

"The Yes Album: Definitive Edition CD + DVD-A" by YES (2014 Steve Wilson CD/DVD Remaster On Panegyric) - A Review By Mark Barry...

“…Speak To Me Of Summer...”

After the incredible tape transfer and audio restoration work STEVE WILSON of PORCUPINE TREE did on the remasters of KING CRIMSON and JETHRO TULL’s early catalogue – the other big Proggy Monster was always going to be YES. And with their 3rd breakthrough record “The Yes Album” from 1971 - man has our Stevie stepped up to the Topographic plate. This 2014 CD and DVD-A reissue is awesome stuff and worthy of the praise so far heaped on it. No harm then in a little more - here are the details that are no disgrace…

UK released April 2014 – "The Yes Album: Definitive Edition CD + DVD-A" by YES on Panegyric GYRSP40106 (Barcode 633367900326) breaks down as follows:

Disc 1, Definitive Edition CD, 2014 Stereo Mixes, 50:55 minutes:
1. Yours Is No Disgrace
2. Clap
3. Starship Trooper (a) Life Seeker (b) Disillusion (c) Wurm
4. I’ve Seen All Good People (a) Your Move (b) All Good People
5. A Venture
6. Perpetual Change
Tracks 1 to 6 are the vinyl LP “The Yes Album” – released March 1971 in the UK on Atlantic 2400 101 and Atlantic SD 8283 in the USA

7. Clap (Studio Version) – the version on the album is a Steve Howe ‘live’ acoustic instrumental recorded at the Lyceum in London, 17 July 1970. This is the rare unused ‘Studio Version’
8. A Venture (Extended Mix) – the album track runs to 3:19 minutes – this longer version extends towards the end to 4:46 minutes

Disc 2 is the Definitive Edition DVD-A. It’s a NTSC Region 0 Hybrid DVD-A compatible with all DVD Players and DVD-ROM Drives. From the visual/audio menu on your television or computer - it allows you to choose from 4 variants of the album as follows:
1. 2014 Stereo Mixes: 24/96 MLP Lossless (tracks 1 to 6 above)

2. 2014 5.1 Surround Mixes: 24/96 MLP Lossless/dts 96/24 (tracks 1 to 6 above)

3. Original Stereo Mix: Flat Transfer From Original Master LPCM Stereo 24/96 (tracks 1 to 6 above)

4. Alternate Album:
1. Yours Is No Disgrace (Live, London 1971)
2. Clap (Studio Version)
3. Starship Trooper (a) Life Seeker (Single Edit)
4. I’ve Seen All Good People (Live, London 1971)
5. A Venture (Extended Mix)
6. Perpetual Change (Live, New Haven 1971)

With a gatefold digipak within an outer card wrap - the reissue feels classy right from the off. CD to the left, DVD-A to the right and booklet loose between them – each disc pictures different parts of the albums original artwork while the photo on the albums inner gatefold is beneath the see-through trays. The well-stocked 20-page booklet offers photos of rare 7” picture sleeves from Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Japan dotted through the text - as well as the original UK LP on the Atlantic Records plum label beloved by collectors (US originals pictured too). There are British and American trade adverts, reel-to-reel boxes and tape files, a white label promo of the LP – even the lyrics to the songs for the first time. SID SMITH gives us superb liner notes on the creation of the album while STEVE WILSON explains about the master tapes and the new Stereo/5.1 Surround Mixes. It’s exemplary stuff…

Yet all of that presentation icing on the cake is not what fans are really after – it’s the audio. And having listening to “The Yes Album” for 40 years of my life – I’m amazed at the clarity on offer here compared to previous Rhino versions. Some of the tracks are so clean it’s almost disconcerting - they’re not supressed nor trebled for effect – just treated with care and attention to transfer detail.

As the opener “Yours Is No Disgrace” goes into that Chris Squire Bass break – it’s so good – and that Howe solo still amazes. Listening to the rather dry and somehow uninspired ‘studio’ cut of “Clap” – it’s easy to see now why they chose the live version – there’s just something extra in the playing that lifts it up into the realm of special. There’s real muscle now in the swirl of “Starship Trooper” and “Wurm” kicks in – Wilson captures the build up and spread across the speakers perfectly. As opposed to the album version – I have to say that I’m loving the ‘Extended Mix’ of “A Venture” with its loose and funky King Crimson finish – Yes tripping out. But if I was to single out just one track where the audio improvement is magnificent – it’s the Side 2 opener “I’ve Seen All Good People”. It’s layers and beautiful arrangements are even more magical now – and those fantastic vocals by Jon Anderson – genius. I have a friend who has his stereo rigged to his television’s surround kit – and I can’t tell you how utterly brilliant the 5.1 version sounds – wow! I’m going to have to bleeding invest-damn! I thought the ‘Alternate’ version of the album was interesting if not a tad gimmicky – but I don’t if it’s just that I’m too used to the original (relistens methinks)…

I can imagine that nowadays there’s probably a queue of Prog band’s sat outside Steve Wilson’s front porch clutching bags of master tapes – hoping to catch his eye as he exits for a latte. And on the strength of this groovy reissue – I can totally understand why…

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