Yes: The Yes Album
Stereo/Multichannel Single Layer
"The Yes Album"
With a series of songs now regarded as band classics & frequently performed in concert, it takes some imagination to think of The Yes Album as a ‘difficult third album’. Yet, as the interviews conducted for the sleeve-notes for this edition make clear, the recording took place against a backdrop that was far from ideal. Despite a fine live reputation & two well-received albums, Yes had not made the commercial breakthrough to a wider audience that some of the band’s British label mates on Atlantic had achieved.
However, with the arrival of Steve Howe as guitarist, a better concept of what the band was trying to achieve in the studio with engineer/co-producer Eddie Offord & a focus on material that could be played live with the same punch as the studio recordings, The Yes Album proved to be that vital step to a much wider audience in Europe & America.
From the opening notes of “Yours is No Disgrace” to the final fade of “Perpetual Change”, the sound is of a band that is brimming with musical confidence. As Bill Bruford recalls “You gave it your best but it was a fast-moving world and you had to give more than your best.” The band may have been down to its last few pounds, the management may have been changing, the record label concerned, but there was no compromise in the studio as Yes produced the band’s first classic album, in a year where there was plenty of healthy competition for that much over-used term.
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Review by Rick Kosmick - May 17, 2014
"The Yes Album" represents a major personnel change as Steve Howe joins Yes as lead guitarist replacing Peter Banks. Howe brought in a more varied electric guitar style with country and jazz leanings along with his exceptional skills on acoustic guitar. Howe also introduced his excellent songwriting skills. Yes would immediately reap the benefits as recording artists. This Blu-ray version of "The Yes Album" takes on particular significance based on the remixes of the original master tapes by Steven Wilson.
The review is of the 2014 multi-channel mix played on format DTS HD MA 5.1 24-Bit 96K.
The instrumental "Clap", on the second track, is an insightful indicator as to the impact of Steve Howe on Yes. It is a solo effort recorded live at the Lyceum in London with a superb acoustic guitar presentation. It is here that I took notice of the engineering skills of Steven Wilson on the 5.1 remix. Wilson captures the tonality of Howe's guitar work including excellent ambience in the rear channels. He manages to surpass the limitations of this live recording by upmixing the original master tapes creating an impressive surround venue in the absence of some discreet elements.
The band members of Yes are all exceptional musicians. The original album was well recorded with the key component falling to the production and engineering skills of Eddie Offerd and his uncanny ability for the placement of vocals. As Jon Anderson references in the liner notes, Eddie Offerd role was like a sixth member of the band. With these components in the multi-tracks, the Steven Wilson remixes for 5.1 are faithful to the intent in the original Stereo recordings bringing forward the best characteristics. The result is an astonishing 5.1 mix with instruments that seem effortlessly layered over each other but emulating clear separation. The vocals are sharp, clean and well balanced in the sound field.
In the song "I've Seen All Good People", Offerd's original production perfectly captures the three part harmonies of Jon Anderson. Chris Squire and Steve Howe. It is particularly striking on the repeated a cappella line "I'v seen all good people turn their head away". Jon Anderson distinctive lead vocals are notably underscored by the booming bass drum from Bill Bruford and the majestic church-like organ played by Tony Kaye. Steven Wilson procures the very essence of the studio-like quality of this song in highly immersive surround sound.
The rear channels are so well utilized that they are a seemless transition yet intricate to the overall 5.1 mix. I cannot give enough superlatives to the expansive and enveloping properties of the surround field. I cannot personally imagine listening to "The Yes Album" in stereo except out of curiosity.
Another masterful job by Steven Wilson. He really does have the touch.
One word summation for the 5.1 mix..... Stunning!
Oh yeah. A reference disc indeed.
Review updated October, 2015.
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