“Drama” is the perfect word to describe the 50-year history of Yes. They’ve had more personnel changes and internal strife than just about any band around. Yet as this live CD proves, they remain a strong live act, featuring Steve Howe and bassist Billy Sherwood, who was handpicked by the late Chris Squire. It’s hard to argue with the results here: this Yes lineup sounds tight and professional.
The new CD opens with the entire Drama album, Yes’ 1980 reaction to the burgeoning New Wave movement, and it’s cool to hear fresh versions of “Machine Messiah,” “Into The Lens,” and the guitar-intensive “Tempus Fugit.” At 70 years old, Howe is still a force to be reckoned with, playing electric, acoustic, and overdriven steel guitar with effortless expertise.
The dense rock of 1973’s Topographic is represented by “The Revealing Science Of God” and “Ritual,” which still sound potent almost 45 years later. Sherwood deserves special commendation for not only his bass work (check out the solo on “Does It Really Happen?”), but also covering Squire’s backing vocals – a critical piece of the Yes fabric.
Weave in Yes chestnuts like “Roundabout,” “And You & I,” and “Heart Of The Sunrise,” and this becomes a joyous ride into our prog-rock past.
This article originally appeared in VG April 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.