Yes - Progeny: Highlights of Seven From Seventy-Two
Our starship trooper, Anthony Firmin, goes close to the edge and sees the heart of the sunrise whilst reviewing the “new” Yes live release, Progeny…
Released in May 1973, Yessongs was a master stroke of a triple live album. Other than Deep Purple's Made In Japan, live albums up to this point had not really been up to much.
Yessongs captured the absolute best of Yes’s performances in ‘72, primarily from their two previous US tours plus a couple of tracks from the UK - and these performances really are good, the best of the best. The only problem is that the mix has always been a little less than stellar - generally regarded as rather muddy sounding - which is a shame as this is often regarded as their finest creative period. (Incidentally the performances of Close To The Edgeand Würm that it appeared in the film Yessongs are the same as on the LPs).
Fast forward 30 years and a stack of tapes were found in a corner of a warehouse containing every single note from seven complete Yes shows from their autumn 1972 US tour. The tapes were found to be suffering sound problems due to misaligned Dolby settings so each of the tapes had to be painstakingly restored by ear so full credit goes to Brian Kehew because the result is nothing less than spectacular.
The performances on Progeny… may not be as perfect as they are on Yessongs, with the odd enforced error here and there, but that adds to the magic. Yes were at the top of their game putting in stunning performances on this Close To The Edge tour and on these highlights discs they really come alive. It really is like being there because the way it is presented aurally is just like being in front of the band, each instrument in its correct place in the mix.
What is also interesting is that this is a band that gained a new drummer, Alan White, only 4 months earlier after master sticksman Bill Bruford jumped ship to join King Crimson. White only had three days to learn the set before their first US Arena tour kicked off and these performances show how easily he settled in and gelled with the rest of the band.
Yes’s instrumentation can now be clearly heard, especially Rick Wakeman’s keyboards – his low end organ sound often lost in the muddy mix onYessongs. The intricacies of performing pieces like Heart Of The Sunrise and Close To The Edge can now be fully appreciated; Steve Howe’s solo is an interesting mix of Clap and Mood For A Day; the encore, Yours Is No Disgrace, motors along with the intensity of a band knowing they have delivered the goods in the main set – the middle guitar solo showing distinct differences to the one we are used to on Yessongs.
For the absolute diehard collector, all seven performances (which have an identical setlist) have been “processed and tweaked” and are available as a 14 CD box set entitled Progeny: Seven From Seventy-Two for £64.
Finally, the question now needs to be asked: where are the tapes from the New York Academy of Arts performances in January ’72 (as used for Perpetual Change and Long Distance Runaround/Fish for Yessongs) featuring Bill Bruford? I digress…
This Progeny: Highlights… double CD really is the business, it is the album Yessongs should have been. If you are a Yes fan you have to own this album, it is that good!
Words: Anthony Firmin
1. Opening (Excerpt from Firebird Suite) / Siberian Khatru
2. I’ve Seen All Good People
3. Heart Of The Sunrise
4. Clap / Mood For A Day (Steve Howe solo)
5. And You And I
1. Close To The Edge
2. Excerpts from “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” (Rick Wakeman solo)
4. Yours Is No Disgrace