YesYears: Twenty-Five Years Later

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
YesYears–a Nice Fiction that Every Member of Yes Loved One Another, Beginning to Present

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.

Yes+Yes+Years+350639bAnd 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.

8 thoughts on “YesYears: Twenty-Five Years Later

  1. Kevin Williams

    As a cut-my-teeth-on-YesWest type, it was cool to hear “Make It Easy,” some live tracks from YesWest and the final track on YesYears – “Love Conquers All,” which for me seemed to point the way towards Yes continuing with Rabin. The video for this set was, for the time, a solid telling of the Yes story.

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  2. Thanks for this post, Brad. YesYears is “a thing of beauty” indeed. It’s been sitting on my shelf for more than twenty years, and I have not really listened to it with the interest it deserves. Your post encouraged me to pull it out and enjoy it for the excellent compilation it is.

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  4. Randy Hammill

    The Tull box set had come out earlier and set the standard for box sets to follow. So the relatively low amount of new material on YesYears was disappointing, unfortunately.

    That’s not to say that it didn’t have some interesting material. “Something’s Coming” was not easily acquired back then, and is an essential track from that era. The material from the “Going for the One” period was interesting. I like it, but wasn’t really that compelling for pulling it out for repeated listens. It was, perhaps oddly, the final disc that stood out, and I think the one that stood out the most was the alternate version of “It Can Happen.” I did think that the live versions of classics from ’88 was a nice touch, although always bound to be controversial since it was the 90125 lineup. But we had live versions of those tracks from the classic era in the catalog already, so I was happy with those.

    Overall, it’s not a bad box set, just didn’t live up to the amazing amount of fresh material that Ian Anderson could pull from the vaults. And as unfair a comparison that might be (considering how much more material Ian has released since that first Tull box set), it set an expectation at the time that Yes didn’t quite live up to.

    As Kevin points out above, the video was quite interesting (and better, if I recall, than later attempts), although it also makes one wonder how much additional footage didn’t make the cut.

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  5. Craig

    I actually got it the day before it was officially released. I went into a record store and asked if they had it. The guy behind the counter went into the back room and pulled out a copy for me and let me buy it.

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