Remember YesYears? It was one of the first really nice box sets to come out, back in the day when the only nice box set was that Bruce Springsteen one that had come out in the late 1980s?
YesYears came out on August 6, 1991. Union had come out at the very end of April that same year. Unless you were really connected to the internet (not that easy in 1991), Yes fans just had to guess as to what was going on that summer with the band. Was Yes really an eight-person band? And, how long would that last? YesYears seemed to present the eight as living in harmony with one another. After all, while the four discs did not include anything from Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe, it did list them as a part of the really nice fold-out sleeve, tracing every aspect of Yes history from “The Warriors” to Yes incarnation #9.
Whether real or not, the packaging of YesYears certainly makes a coherent narrative of the band and everyone of its members from Alpha to. . . well, certainly not Omega! Yes was alive! Or, so it seemed.
At the time that YesYears came out, I was very poor (a second-year graduate student) and still listening to cassette tapes. Despite the expense of the YesYears box set, I purchased the four-cassette package. And, yes, it made a deep cut in my savings account. Those were years when I would skimp on lunch (usually not even eating one) to spend the money on music or books.
And as far as I remember, I never regretted having bought that box set. Sadly, though, the cassettes that came with it were not of the best quality, and I wore my copies out rather quickly.
Jump forward two decades. Today, in the mail, all the way from an Ebay seller in New Jersey, arrived a mint condition 4-cd box set of YesYears.
Wow, it is a thing of beauty.
I know that many of the songs that had not been readily available in 1991–such as Abilene, Vevey, Run with the Fox–are now very easily available. Still, the 1991 box set is really, really gorgeous. I actually paid less for this mint condition version (including postage) than I did for the cassette version 25 years ago.
Just as in 1991, I have no regrets. The sun is out, my kids are laughing somewhere in the house, and I’m listening to disk three of YesYears.
Still amazingly beautiful. . . even a full quarter century later.