A review of YES, PROGENY: SEVEN SHOWS FROM SEVENTY-TWO (Rhino, 2015).
As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I was born in the summer of love, 1967. The youngest of three boys (eight years younger than the oldest and five years younger than the older), I inherited my music tastes at a very early age. Our house always had music playing—whether classical, jazz, rock, or pop. I especially loved the first three, though I could belt out most of the words to Three Dog Night with the best of three year olds. Crazily, I was able to sneak out of the crab, crawl downstairs (duplex), and put my favorite records on the turntable at 3 in the morning. No, I’m not exaggerating. I wanted the entire house to listen!
My favorites, though, even as a little kid were the songs by Yes, the Moody Blues, and Jethro Tull. Soon, of course, bands such as Kansas and Pink Floyd would join this august company.
Sometime in 1973, one of my brothers purchased YESSONGS on LP. Three albums, complete with huge gatefold and lots of pictures (indeed, a really great book that came with it). I loved every aspect of YESSONGS. I loved the music, I loved the Roger Dean paintings, and I thought the pictures of the members of the band (including Eddie Offord) hilarious.
Not too many hippies hung out in central Kansas, so these guys looked really weird, mystical, and Tolkienesque to me.
Anyway, I spent a considerable amount of time as a small kid poring over the lyrics and the Dean images. How did those islands float? How did the deer get from one to the other. Of course, it all had been written about in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra, but I’d yet to encounter that brilliant novel.
I can state with certainty that the entire package of YESSONGS—from lyrics to music to image—shaped my own imagination fundamentally.
So, when I heard that Yes would be releasing a fourteen disk live set from 1972, PROGENY, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t want the abbreviated version (the two disk highlights), I wanted the full thing.
Two things almost stopped me. First, I’m no longer a huge Yes fan. I was as a kid. Obsessed for quite a while. And, in college (1986-1990), too. Admittedly, I’ve purchased every single album—live or studio—Yes has produced. But over the last twenty some years, I’ve purchase the music out of habit more than out of love. There’s no doubt that every Yes album has something good on it, but the goods—at least to my mind—have become increasingly sparse. I don’t’ say this to ignite a flame war. But, from my very subjective viewpoint, Yes just isn’t as good as it once was. Some bands, such as Rush, get better and better. Others simply fade, and still others merely linger.
Second, I’m generally rather skeptical about these kinds of packages. If I’m shelling out over $50 for music, it better be amazingly good—music as well as art. I have, however, spent lots and lots of money on Rush (R40) and Tears for Fears (the Steven Wilson box set of SONGS). So why not for the work that really immersed me into prog.
“Dear God,” I thought as I hit the purchase button on amazon, “let PROGENY be worth the money.”
And, it is. This is the mother lode. This is the touchstone, the very source material, for YESSONGS. It’s pure, it’s raw, it’s flawed, it’s genius. At one point, during the beginning of a Wakeman solo, a local radio station playing Chuck Mangione, comes across the loudspeakers. Oh, Spinal Tap, how wise you are. Anderson makes a joke about it. Anderson and Howe even get along, making jokes from time to time.
I mentioned on facebook that PROGENY is an “outrageous Yes overkill live package.” It is. And, I love it. Pure over-the-top prog. Seven concerts, fourteen disks, seven sleeves, a glorious booklet, a firm and tasteful box, and, of course, 10 hours/31 minutes/32 seconds of music. Phew.
Despite a similar playlist for each concert, each performance is unique. For those of us who have listened to YESSONGS so very much it’s been grafted onto our very DNA, PROGENY is a brilliant revelation. Mistakes as well as fascinating solos (long, short, punctuated) predominate. While at this point in my listening, I couldn’t state the guitar solo on Roundabout is better at the Toronto show than it is at the Knoxville show, but I certainly hear every difference. This is a young, confident, happy Yes. This is a Yes that wants to change the world and do so through love, not through corporate dominance and lawsuits and bitter relations.
This is the Yes that taught me to love prog.
This is prog. This is love. This is Yes.
[Corrected two things: It’s Eddie Offord not Eddie Jobson (thanks, Duane Day); and I was off on time.]
[Old Progger’s review taken from amazon.com; which I hope is kosher!–BB]
By Old Progger
My copy of the full 14 CD version of Progeny arrived three days before the official release date, so I’ve had time for a really thorough listen to these gigs in their entirety. There are, as you know, seven full length gigs here, but is there too much music to trawl through? Of course not. You’re a prog fan so you have an attention span, right? Right! The music on offer here is great stuff. There’s real zing on display here. The band play as a tight, well-disciplined unit and they’re coming at you with real committment and energy.
Before I splashed my cash I was a tad concerned that the restoration processes might detract from the ethereality and mystique which made Yessongs such a wonderful album. I needn’t have worried. The fog which obscured much of the detail has been lifted to reveal layers that we couldn’t have known were there. In particular, Wakeman’s keys have real atmospheric breadth and depth, and Anderson’s young voice is every bit as angelic as you always imagined.
The full contents of the booklet are posted on Yes’ website. This will help your decision to buy or not and they’ll also give a good indication of the level of attention to detail which has gone into the restoration of the original analogue tapes. They’re worth your attention, certainly convincing me that instead of sitting on the splinter-inducing fence marked ‘compromise’ and far from plunging lemming-like over the precipice marked ‘cynical cash-grab’ the producers have clung gecko-like to the sparsely populated and narrow ledge marked ‘integrity’. The tale of how Chris Squire’s bass sound was rescued is worth reading more than once!
Yes fans will immediately spot even subtle differences between the performances because, like me, they will know all the studio and live versions of everything like the backs of their hands. The more significant departures will jump out at them. For example, the Yessongs version of Yours Is No Disgrace is included here without the edits and you’ll easily spot where they were! The differences over 14 CDs are are otherwise too numerous to list. Importantly, this valuable material has not been robbed of it’s character by lazily pushing the whole thing through software to smooth out the wrinkles. All the buzzes, pops and crackles are there to be heard. We hear the band tuning up and even occasionally fluffing cues. Jon Anderson’s spoken introductions are all kept and all the instruments and voices exist in their own clear sense of space, instead of the muddines we’ve all complained about on Yessongs. If you buy this, what you will hold in your hand might be easily described as the best quality bootleg you ever owned!
Packaging is nice and sensible, not ‘shouty’ like some of rock’s gaudier boxsets which fit nowhere except on your coffee table, yelling “Look at me!” This robust little box will fit nicely, and with some class, in your regular collection. There is a distinct lack of the usual pointless and lazy montage of old photographs in the booklet. What you will find are genuinely useful and interesting sleevenotes and some very nice new Roger Dean artwork.
Sure, it costs money, but considering what you’re getting I really don’t think anyone’s being excessively greedy here. I will be returning to this collection again and again. It’s one of the best boxsets I own.
One by one, the songs that Muse has released from their new album, Drones, are getting better and better. “Mercy” is a short song, at just under 4 minutes, but it has some prog elements, particularly with the keyboards, which are a very nice touch. The song sort of has a U2 vibe to it, in a good way, with Bellamy’s vocals on point. The lyrics are a lot better than on the previous songs, with nothing offensive in them. Hopefully the rest of the album will follow suit.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
KATATONIA LAUNCHES “DAY” VIDEO CLIP FROM UPCOMING “SANCTITUDE” CONCERT FILM “Sanctitude” available on Blu-ray, CD+DVD, 2LP & digital download March 31 via Kscope
SWEDEN – Swedish master of melancholy, Katatonia, has launched a live video of the track “Day” from its upcoming concert film, Sanctitude, to be released in North America on March 31, 2015 (March 30 U.K. & RoW, April 3 Germany) via Kscope. The live video for “Day” is the first taste of what fans can expect from Sanctitude; it can be
Katatonia’s Anders Nystrom comments on the release: “Day… something you wake up to, or at least have to pull through, over and over. Most of them you forget about, but a couple you maybe look back upon and wish to relive again.
“Unfortunately in reality, I’m afraid that’s not possible, at least not until Apple buys NASA and releases a new version of their Time Capsule backup machine and send people into the cloud and back into history to fetch an older version of their lives, but luckily for us, there’s a current control of our music that doesn’t need time travel.
“We have always felt that if there’s a need, we’re entitled to the freedom to give our old songs a makeover in the now rather than the never. So, in the making of ‘Sanctitude’ there was one song in particular that meant a great deal to us. In fact, it was our first song ever to feature entirely clean vocals accompanied by clean guitars and it was written and released right in the peak of our death metal years.
“The song stood out, but isolated itself into oblivion in the climate of heavier music. Therefore we wanted this song to get a second chance, to be re-discovered. Even 20 years later when performing it live for the first time, it appears the parks are still grey and look the same…”
Sanctitude will be released in four formats:
- Blu-ray DVD in 5.1 surround sound plus ‘Beyond The Chapel’ documentary including brand new interviews with Anders Nystrom & Jonas Renkse.
- CD/DVD package – audio / visual set including ‘Beyond the Chapel’ documentary.
- Double LP (incl. download code)
- Digital download (audio)
Sanctitude can be pre-ordered in physical formats via the Kscope web-store at:
A Sanctitude teaser trailer can be seen on YouTube at:
Sanctitude was filmed and recorded in the stunning, candle-lit setting of London’s Union Chapel during Katatonia’s May 2014 ‘Unplugged & Reworked’ tour – an intimate acoustic evening performing tracks from the Dethroned & Uncrowned album alongside atmospheric classics from the band’s entire career, stripped and reworked. The 80 minute set features 17 songs across the albums The Great Cold Distance, Viva Emptiness, Brave Murder Day, Last Fair Deal Gone Down, Dead End Kings and Dethroned & Uncrowned, including fan favorite, “Teargas.” The show closes with the sublime “The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here” and a special guest appearance by Norwegian vocalist Silje Wergeland of Dutch legend, The Gathering. The band was also joined on guitar and vocals by The Pineapple Thief frontman and songwriter, Bruce Soord.
All audio on Sanctitude has been mixed and mastered by Bruce Soord, with artwork once more supplied by long-time visual collaborator Travis Smith.
1. In The White
5. A Darkness Coming
6. One Year From Now
7. The Racing Heart
8. Tonight`s Music
10. Undo You
13. Idle Blood
17. The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here
Concert Film (80 mins) Documentary `Beyond The Chapel` (66 mins)
Katatonia was formed in 1991 by Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse. Its debut album, Dance of December Souls, was released in 1993, gaining the band recognition for its eclectic brand of gothic doom/death metal and joining acts such as Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride as one of the genre’s defining bands. On future albums, a newer, sleeker Katatonia sound came to the fore, starting with a streamlined and structured collection of melodic dark rock songs that became third album, Discouraged Ones, which is widely regarded as the main evolution point for modern day Katatonia.
In September 2013, Kscope released Dethroned & Uncrowned, a reworking of the band’s 2012 epic Dead End Kings (originally released on Kscope’s sister label Peaceville). Dethroned & Uncrowned allowed Katatonia the opportunity to explore a more progressive sound, creating new moods and textures while still staying truthful to the core of the original songs.
Stay tuned for more information on Katatonia and Sanctitude, out this month on Peaceville.
Today is the day.
No, it is not true that Yes lyrics are being added to the New Testament…
“Let us rejoice in this momentous occasion,” said Pope John Paul II in a special service at St. Peter’s. “And let no man be unmoved, remembering the words of Jesus: ‘In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky, and they stand there.’ Amen.”
…but we do get the epic release of Progeny today. Which is still pretty darn great!
There’s a nice 2-disc set of highlights if you can’t imagine yourself like me, listening to all 14 compact discs.
1. Opening (Excerpt From Firebird Suite) / Siberian Khatru (Live at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New Yor
2. I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People (Live at Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville,
3. Heart of the Sunrise (Live at Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, Tennessee November 15, 1972)
4. Clap/Mood For A Day (Live at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina November 12, 1972)
5. And You And I [I. Cord Of Life, II. Eclipse, III. The Preacher The Teacher, IV. Apocalypse] (Live at
1. Close To The Edge (I. The Solid Time Of Change, II. Total Mass Retain, III. I Get Up I Get Down, IV.
2. Excerpts From “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” (Live at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, North Carolina)
3. Roundabout (Live at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario October 31, 1972)
4. Yours is No Disgrace (Live at Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina November 12, 1972)
But wouldn’t you want to buy the whole thing, just for the packaging and the new art?!
Can’t wait for my 14 CDs to arrive in the mail…
Over the past week Progzilla Radio has been broadcasting the choice of its listeners of the top 100 Modern Prog Classics – that is, songs released in the past 25 years (since 1990). The full list can be found at www.progzilla.com, but the top Ten, as voted by the listeners, were:
10: Pink Floyd – High Hopes
9: Porcupine Tree – Anaesthetize
8: Transatlantic – The Whirlwind
7: Big Big Train – Victorian Brickwork
6: Marillion – Neverland
5: The Flower Kings – The Truth Will Set You Free
4: Frost* – Black Light Machine
3: Big Big Train – The Underfall Yard
2: Frost* – Milliontown
1: Big Big Train – East Coast Racer
Proggers are usually bibliophiles… so don’t we need a prog version of this?
This morning I had the chance to read through Stephen Humphries website: http://stephenhumphries.blogspot.com
What a treat. Yet another reason to love the weekend.
If you don’t follow him, you should. Humphries is not only a great writer, but he’s also a great thinker. Not surprisingly, Rush turned to him recently to write the text for the new Hugh Syme book, The Art of Rush.
Humphries seemingly has connections to every one in the prog world. Anyway, check out his website. His interviews are especially good.
Sweet guitar arrangement of a beautiful song (also available as an MP3, MP3 320, or FLAC file):
I began making videos of myself playing classical guitar on YouTube in 2006. Those eventually grew into multi-instrumental music videos that became quite popular around the world, especially among progressive rock fans. In 2007, after seeing the movie The Fountain, I was moved by the song composed by Clint Mansell and played on piano during the closing credits, ‘Together We Will Live Forever’. I decided right away to make an arrangement of the song for classical guitar and record it for YouTube. I had no idea at the time that it would become my most-watched video for many years.