'Yessongs: 40th Anniversary Edition' [Blu-ray]
(YES / Blu-ray / NR / 2018 / MVD Visual)
Overview: During the late 1960's YES were renowned for their live performances culminating in their seminal album and film of the same name, 'YESSONGS'.
Filmed in 1972 at London's Rainbow theatre, this feature film was released theatrically in the UK the following year with a quadraphonic soundtrack.
The film features their new line-up of the time Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Alan White.
Blu-ray Verdict: YES has always been regarded as a unique rock group and progressive rock legends.
Never afraid to innovate or draw their inspiration from music that traversed the spectrum from symphonic to rock, YES has been at the forefront of progressive rock and became a major force in popular music selling over 30 million albums and reaching platinum status multiple times worldwide.
To set the scene, YES was on tour to promote the recent release of Close to the Edge when this energetic performance was captured on 16-millimeter film in London's Rainbow Theatre in December 1972.
Having fallen off the radar for nearly forty years and only being available previously in poor quality bootlegs, this official Blu-ray release from MVD Visual has been restored by Pinewood Studios Post Production into a stunning HD picture and 5.1 Surround Sound restoration to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the live Yessongs concert.
So, what we get is a beautiful and sweeping 75-minute performance that finds the band at the height of their "early years" popularity. The brilliant line-up is the same as that of the 1979 performance in Philadelphia (the aforementioned Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, Rick Wakeman), but this concert is by a much younger, much more ambitious band that was still forging its formidable prog-rock identity.
Featuring a tighter, sharper, more satisfying look at the band at the peak of their creativity it's also worth noting that they allowed room for solo improvisations (such as Howe's playful rendition of "The Clap" and Wakeman's excerpts from "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"), but as a group they remained intimately faithful to their studio recordings.
In reminiscing about the past when all this was available as was a bootleg, I can recall even die-hard fans grumbling about the film's "murky" quality, how the camera access was only just adequate for the show, and that each member of the band is given barely adequate screen time to demonstrate his instrumental virtuosity.
And as much as the latter half of all that cannot be changed, the quality sure has, that's for darn sure! As for the latter half of observations, well, sure, and particularly with Howe, that rings true. His guitar work here is nothing short of amazing so, to my mind, he fully deserves a small chunk more of the limelight.
In fact, the entire band plays here with fire and energy. During the performances, they give each other nods and winks, aware of the major creation they have just unleashed on the world.
Alan is just so enthusiastic. He is nearly knocking his drums over, for goodness sake! If you look close, you can even see some amber-colored beer on Rick's organ.
Sure, it would have been nice to see more of Rick's "fingering", but we pretty much get the wizard at work in his cape instead. That said, just watch them tear through "Close to the Edge" - over and over and over - as it will make your day complete, each and every time, my friends.
My goodness, if you're a fan of YES than this exquisite 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is definitely worth owning. I mean, if you've ever wanted to see the giants of '70s prog-rock at the top of their game, well, here ya go!
"Your Move/All Good People", "The Clap", "And You and I", "Close to the Edge", Rick's Solo (excerpts from The Six Wives of Henry VIII), "Roundabout", "Yours Is No Disgrace", "Wurm" (excerpt from Starship Trooper).
This great new Blu-ray also includes four limited edition, full-color, 5.7 x 4.6 postcards specially created by renowned artist Roger Dean, limited to the first 3000 Blu-Ray's.
These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16:9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
4 New YESSONGS Artwork Cards
Beginnings (1975) - HD Restoration of Steve Howe's Guitar Short (12 mins)
YESSONGS 40 Years On - A New 2012 HD Documentary featuring Steve Howe, Roger Dean and Chris Squire (60 mins)
Newly Created DTS HD MA 5.1 Remix
Original Restored Mono Track
Restored HD Digital Transfer from 16mm Original Negatives in 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio