Lee Speaks About Music… #12

Fragile (The Definitive Edition CD/Blu Ray) – Yes



With the band all set with its new style and musical direction after the release of The Yes Album. To be able to continue they decided to make another change to the band’s current line up. Their keyboard player Tony Kaye was the next member to be ousted out of the band. The fact that their new guitarist Steve Howe had brought so much more to the band and was the key element to how the band had progressed at this stage, they felt they needed to bring in another musician of equal stature.

His replacement was none other than Rick Wakeman a keyboard wizard who without doubt could measure up to Howe’s high standards of musicianship and stature. There is no doubt Wakeman added more strength to the band’s line up and the album Fragile brought the band even more success, when it was released 9 months later after The Yes Album in the same year of 1971. At this stage of the game even most of the bands members were picking up awards. Steve Howe was voted the best guitarist. Rick Wakeman got voted as the best keyboard player and even Chris Squire knocked Paul McCartney off the number one spot and picked up the best bass player award for his work on this album.

Fragile was the band’s biggest selling studio album throughout the 70’s it went Platinum twice over in the United States selling over 2 million copies. It was quite an achievement for any progressive rock band whose music hardly got any radio play back then, and still is not a widely popular genre even today. Whilst most prog rock band’s struggled Yes was that popular they had no trouble packing out the bigger stadiums and arenas with their live shows and even had no problem packing out Madison Square Garden’s in New York.

Back in those days I do not even think many of my school friends had ever heard of the band. Those who I got to play some of their music too, thought I was a complete weirdo for even liking it. They did not understand that this is music one has to grow into and not like the popular music in the charts that will hit you directly in the face making you instantly liking it. You had to give it more time to really understand their music.

This was not your typical run of the mill average verse and chorus song with how their music was structured. In many ways it was put together the same way the many classical greats put their symphonies together. It was far more sophisticated and complex, and was built up with musical extensions to create it. You had to have a good knowledge of music to create it, and you certainly had to be a skilful musician to be able to play it.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The packaging with all these definitive editions are all made the same cardboard, come with no fixed booklets, and all look like mini sized versions of the original gatefold vinyl album’s. They all present the same problems too as I described in my previous review of The Yes Album you can look at for a more full detailed description.

This one also includes the original booklet which came with the original vinyl album. To which was also not fixed inside, and was stored inside alongside the vinyl album. You could quite easily store other things such as this quite easily inside a vinyl album.

But unfortunately you have not got a cats chance in hell of storing not even one of these booklets where the CD’s are housed inside. The chances are if you tried the cardboard would end up simply falling apart at the seams. The quality of the cardboard is reasonable enough to hold the discs but thin and not even sturdy enough to even keep the thing shut, never mind store anything else in it.

The album Fragile was the first Yes album to feature Roger Dean’s artwork. There is no doubt in my mind that band’s music suited Dean’s work more than any other band, he had already done loads of covers for other artists around that time. The fact that Dean’s artwork was mainly futuristic and Yes Music was also futuristic and sounded well ahead of its time, made them a perfect match to be honest.

It was Roger Dean’s artwork that attracted my attention that much that made me buy Yessongs in the first place, which was the very first album I brought of the band back in 1973. I also felt the artwork for that album is a lot better than what we got here for the album Fragile. The band’s logo was not even properly developed at this stage either, which was much better on their next album, and was the very thing that one could easily identity the band with as well without them having to play a note.

But I do like the artwork Dean done for this particular album. Though personally I rather think the planet earth with the piece breaking of it, that was on the back of the album represented the album’s title of “Fragile” more than what it did on the front of the album.

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, and I think that is very true in most things including films and albums and not just books. I have been very disappointed at times for buying albums and hiring films just by looking at what’s on the front of them. But I have to say I was never disappointed by any of the artwork Dean done for the Yes back in the 70’s, and it was very much a perfect marriage in relation to what was on the outside and the contents on its inside.

Early Thoughts…

I actually brought the vinyl album Fragile twice back in the 70’s. I brought it originally in 1973 brand new to which as I mentioned the booklet was not fixed inside and stored in the same pocket the actual album was stored. Then in 1978 I came across the album 2nd hand in very good condition in a record shop called the Diskery in the city centre of Birmingham.

The Diskery was a record shop that sold both new and 2nd hand records. I quite often popped in there and browsed through the 2nd hand section because the owners would only buy the records off you if they was in very good condition, unlike a 2nd hand shop where they could often be seen in a right state with scratches all over them. I  brought quite a few 2nd album’s back in those days to save money and you could pick them up from £1 to £1.50.

I had no intention of buying Fragile again on that day at all cause I already had the album. But as I was browsing through the section I did happen to come across it and I quite often picked up album’s I already owned just to gaze at them and think what an album that is. But upon picking it up to have a mooch. I noticed that whoever owned it before had successfully managed to fix the booklet inside the gatefold cover.

I had no idea how he did it, but it looked as if it was meant for the album to come like that in the first place. He done a stunningly professional job of it. So I ended up buying it again, and I also ended up selling my original album I brought of it back in 1973, and it never cost me a thing to exchange it looking back at it.

Thinking back to the 70’s one of the fondest memories I have of the album Fragile was that there was an arcade of stalls inside from what looked on the outside a very small shop which was just off Bull Street in Birmingham’s main shopping centre. To be honest I am not sure when it opened up, but it’s still very much their today as far as I know of.

It went under the name of Oasis and many people would call it the Oasis market basically because it was full of stores that sold a variety of clothing, the odd little trinkets and gifts. There was also a cafe’ along with a tattoo shop and a record shop inside.

Very familiar with the InShops that got built later on in other smaller shopping centres around various parts of Birmingham. Only the Oasis was considered as the more trendy place to be, and back in the early 70’s the fact that many people used to talk about it made me want to go and see what all attraction and fuss was all about.

To be honest I used to have a walk around the Oasis most times I visited the main shopping centre, thou the only thing I can recall buying in their was perhaps a drink and a snack in the cafe’. I do not think I ever brought a record from there. But 99% of the time I walked around the place, they always had the album Fragile playing through all the speakers around its 3 floors.

The Definitive Edition Release…

The CD/Blu Ray definitive edition of Fragile got released on the 30 October 2015. Just like The Yes Album that released in the previous year it comes with many high quality audio formats and bonus tracks. Regarding it being the so called “Definitive Edition” and the best, just like I said in my review of The Yes Album there is no doubt at all. Once again Steven Wilson has done a purely terrific job on both the stereo and 5.1 mixes.

The CD comes with a lot more bonus tracks and in total you get 6 of them. The Blu also has those 6 bonus tracks and included an additional 3 more exclusively on the Blu Ray release. There is a few interesting ones too. Other exclusive material on the Blu Ray is the instrumental tracks of the album and the vinyl drop to which we seen on The Yes Album. But there is another exclusive feature this Blu Ray does have that album never had, and I will get to that further on in my review here.

The Blu Ray

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Once again the Blu Ray comes with some impressive high end audio and I am overwhelmed by the quality you do get in these new releases. It comes with 2 x 24 Bit 96K 5.1 mixes . Which are the DTS HD Master and an LPCM version of the 2015 Steve Wilson mixes. A 2015 LPCM 24/96K Stereo mix by Wilson. A LPCM 24/192K Flat Transfer of the original mix, and both the Instrumental and the Vinyl Drop mixes are also in LPCM 24/96K.

I was also quite happy to get this Fragile CD/Blu Ray at a more respectable price of £14.81p from Amazon too. You can get them slightly cheaper if you get the CD/DVD versions. But I do prefer the Blu Ray myself for its HD quality and for it’s exclusive features.

The Bonus Tracks…

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The 6 bonus tracks that come with the CD are: “Roundabout” (Rehearsal Take, Early Mix). “We Have Heaven” (Full Version, Steven Wilson Mix). “South Side Of The Sky” (Early Version, Steven Wilson Mix). “All Fighters Past” (Steven Wilson Mix). “Mood for Another Day” (Previously Unreleased Take). “We Have Heaven” (Acapella, Steven Wilson Mix)

These are also included on the Blu Ray along with the following: “Roundabout” (Early Rough Mix). “South Side Of The Sky” (Early Take). “Roundabout” (Headphones Mix, For Vox Overdubs).

This is a lot more than what we seen on the 2003 Rhino CD Release which only had 2 bonus tracks which were: “America” and “Roundabout” (Early Rough Mix). Though the Paul Simon song “America” appears to be missing with this release. I can assure you it is included on the Blu Ray in that other special feature I will discuss later on.

There is also both the US Single edits of “Roundabout” and it’s B’ Side “Long Distant Runaround” which can be found on Blu Ray in the original Vinyl Transfer of the stereo album. So there are in total you do get 12 bonus tracks with the Blu Ray.

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The bonus material is quite good and most of it is perhaps focused around early studio takes where you get to hear certain parts of the vocals either singing different words, different phrasing of the vocal lines, or completely missing in their earlier developments of the songs. These are perhaps good to have, but will not really serve a purpose in the way that one would want to play them that much really.

Apart from “America” to which I have always liked. The best of the bonus material here is the early version which is really an alternative version in reality of “South Side Of The Sky“. I do love how they play the chorus of the song first on this take and it really is great to hear it this way too. Very much a fave of mine here.

It also brings back memories of how Yes played one of their earlier songs from their 1970 Time And A Word album “Sweet Dreams” live in 1974 with Patrick Moraz on the keyboards on the The Old Grey Whistle Test. They rearranged the song by playing the chorus first, and by doing so they made it sound even more like Yes Music rather than the way they originally done it on the album.

It’s also good to see an Acapella only of “We Have Heaven” and I am sure this will appeal to many of those on Soundcloud so that they can build their own music around it. I may even have a go at that myself in the future.

Perhaps the most talked about of the bunch here will no doubt is the rare find that Steve Wilson found at the end of one of the band’s master tapes entitled “All Fighters Past“. It was unusual to find any other material on the end of those master tapes as most of the stuff Yes considered not worth keeping got erased.

Basically it’s a rocked up version of “Roundabout” but strangely Jon Anderson is singing some of the lyrics from “The Revealing Science Of God” back in 1971 that were later used for their album Tales From The Topographic Oceans that never came out until a couple of years later in 1973.

Musicians & Credits…

The original album was produced by Yes & Eddie Oddford at the Advision Studios. London. Engineered by Eddie Oddford and assisted by Gary Martin. Sleeve drawings, photographs and logo by Roger Dean. Colour photograph of Bill Bruford on the drums by David Wright.

Jon Anderson: Vocals.
Chris Squire: Bass Guitars/Vocals.
Steve Howe: Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Vocals.
Rick Wakeman: Organ/Grand Piano/Electric Piano/Harpsichord/Mellotron/Synthesizer.
Bill Bruford: Drums/Percussion.

The Album Fragile Review…

The album Fragile was the bands 4th album and 2nd album that featured the new musical direction the band was now heading in regarding what is known as Yes Music. The original album was released on the 26th November 1971. It contained 9 tracks over a playing time of 41 minutes and 16 seconds. It was the first album to feature their new keyboard player Rick Wakeman and even though Wakeman played on the album he was not officially a member of the band.

The fact that Wakeman was already signed up to A&M Records as a solo artist meant that he could not become an official member of Yes because of contractual differences between his record company and Atlantic Records. Though as far as the band and himself were concerned he was a band member.

The material on Fragile is a bit differently placed out along the album regarding it’s break points and the 4 corners in relation to my theory I pointed out in my review of The Yes Album. Though I can assure you it does have 4 corners even if only 3 of them are placed out in the corners of the both sides of the original vinyl album that had 2 sides. All 4 corners on this album are also strong pillars too, and there are no weak ones here at all.

These 4 corners are the main featured tracks done by the band and are what I class as Yes Music. The rest of the material are all individual tracks done by each of artists in the band. These are the break points. Though I also only count 4 instead of 5 of these being break points, and Chris Squire’s individual track “The Fish” one of the main songs of the band that strongly features him, rather than it being an individual track at all. You will also find on the original vinyl album that there was no separate groove for this track either, though it did have its own track number and was the 3rd track on side 2 of the album.

The corners on the album Fragile are made out of the songs “Roundabout“. “South Side Of The Sky“. “Long Distant Runaround/The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” and “Heart Of The Sunrise“. They are all very strong pillars and even the individual artist tracks that are the break points and all very strong as well.

Track 1. Roundabout.
The opening song on the album Roundabout became one of the bands most popular songs. Though the album was released in November of 1971 in the UK. It was not until January in 1972 that it was released in America. To promote the American release of the album they made an edited 3 minute 37 second version of the song, and put it out as a single prior to the album release over there, and used an edited version of “Long Distant Runaround” for the B’ side.

The song opens up with Howe playing the opening on his acoustic guitar which is backed up by one single piano note that they reversed and used for the phasing effect you can hear. For me personally I have always loved this opening where Howe uses his electric guitar instead on the opening of the live version on the Yessongs album. It tends to add that bit more excitement about it for some reason. It’s also more intensifying and electrifying. The live version is also played at a more faster pace too that seems to pump more adrenalin into the song. Though I love the both versions to be honest.

Just by listening to this song alone you can certainly see how the new keyboard player Wakeman adds more strength to the line up. Not only is he more involved with his contribution to the music with the more detailed parts he’s playing, but he also has the ability to exchange and play the same notes in unison with Howe on the guitar. There is no question they got themselves one of the best keyboard players around back then. he still happens to be my god of the keyboards even today.

Roundabout is without a doubt a great song that has the band in full unison with one another. They read and feed off each other very well. It’s got great vocal harmonies, exciting lead breaks from both the keyboard and guitar, and stands up as a pretty strong pillar for the 1st corner of the album. Without a doubt Yes are continuing to knock out material that is very strong and in every way done in their own style and genre of Yes Music.

Track 2. Cans and Brahms.
The first of the 2 breaks on the first side of album of where each artist of the band gets to shine by coming up with a short piece of their own. They decided to give the first slot on the album to their new keyboard player Rick Wakeman who adapted a short piece of music around the 3rd movement of Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 4. Played and arranged by Wakeman himself to which he gave the title of Cans and Brahms to the piece.

I actually quite like the piece though Wakeman himself thought it was dreadful mainly down to his contractual agreement with A&M Records who prevented him from composing his own music for other artists who was not on their record label. hence why he had to do an arrangement of somebody else’s instead.

Track 3. We Have Heaven.
Next up for a short ditty and another little break point on the album was the vocalist Jon Anderson. Who decided to use his voice and harmonies like an orchestra with all the many part harmonies he constructed around some of his weird lyrics as ever :))))). He also does some fine chants on the piece too. Though this is not purely unaccompanied, but he did construct the acapella on his own before presenting it to some of the other band members to throw something over it.

It really is an excellent piece of work and a superb track on the album. I also like the way the door slams shut and the running footsteps panned in stereo at the end which leads you into the next track on the album. It’s even better in 5.1 and runs all around you :))))))

Track 4. South Side Of The Sky.
The 2nd corner of the album is yet another cracking band track entitled South Side Of The Sky. Though the musical structure of this particular song is perhaps built around more of a rock riff in relation to be actually considered as Yes Music. The one particular person of the band who put the prog rock element into it was the very person who was not allowed to write any material for the band, due to his contractual agreement.

That element is the construction of the piano piece in the middle of the track by Wakeman. It’s not the only track he did contribute to writing either on the album. But in order to get away with it, he had to leave his name out of the writing credits for the piece.

The way the song opens up with its thunder and heavy wind storm and even the rocky riff played at a bit of pace from Howe’s guitar, and even the lyrical content from Anderson. Very much gives a dramatic impression that we are on some expedition in some snowy mountain regions. According to more recent research Howe’s original riff came from a song he had been working on with his earlier band Bodast.

In all honesty I have to laugh my head off at the different interpretations about this song. Even the two interpretations from Anderson himself are very contradictory, and the much later interpretation he gave about it, had me in hysterics :)))))))). Back in the day he actually wrote the lyrics he claimed the inspiration he got for the lyrics came from an article he was reading which had the words “sleep is death’s little sister”.

He expanded on the idea that death could be beautiful. In the way of one being asleep and not knowing about it. The mountain he referenced in the lyrics were some sort of goal of how humanity struggles to attain itself after which there is death. The uphill struggle that many others have with how to cope with losing their loved ones and also how eternal sleep leads to the next life span in the way of perhaps being resurrected into another life.

To be honest this is quite poetic and a very good interpretation. However according to the interpretation that was put in the 2003 remastered Rhino edition of the album we get a different story which was based around my original way of thinking about it all those years ago.  And that was that is was based around a tragic polar expedition that ends in death.

The funny thing is that if you ask Anderson today what it was about, the only real answer your gonna get is that “This is a song about climbing mountains. It’s dangerous, but we all must climb mountains every day”.  It’s the way he will laugh it off at the end that has me in hysterics but in all honesty there is some philosophy in all these interpretations.

For some sort of reason the band shunned away from playing the song “South Side Of The Sky” live and it took them over 4 decades to finally play and include the song in their live shows. I personally think it’s a song they should of played a lot more often,  its better and certainly a stronger pillar of a song than what “I’ve Seen All Goof People” is. It rounded off the first side of the vinyl album superbly.

Track 5. Five Percent For Nothing.
When it comes to short tracks and little ditty’s they do not get much shorter than the drummer Bill Bruford’s solo contribution to the band. Five Percent For Nothing is the shortest track on the album that they placed has the 1st track on side two of the vinyl album. Though it’s placed on a corner stone of the album it’s only a short break point before the next corner of the album comes into play.

Just like Anderson’s own contribution. Bruford is not unaccompanied here, and the other members of the band do a cracking little job around the 36 second shuffle supporting him. It’s a lovely little timely piece and sets up the next song of the album very well indeed.

Track 6. Long Distant Runaround.
Anderson’s lyrics do not get any weirder than the 3rd corner of the album. Long Distant Runaround. It’s a song that is credited to Anderson for writing himself. But if you listen to the music, if there was anybody I was going to credit for its writing, it certainly would have been Chris Squire. Squire’s bass line on this track and the one that follows it is incredible.

Has I mentioned earlier both tracks 6 and 7 of the album are in reality one track. You cannot play “Long Distant Runaround” as an album track on its own, and there was a reason that the vinyl album never had a groove for it has an extra track as well. Simply cause if you do you will soon notice that its ending will sound very out of place, even if you choose to do such a thing on the CD version as well. The song simply does not end here and track 7 of the album is which was Squire’s solo contribution is in reality part of this song.

Personally I do not think Anderson should of been the only one who got credit for writing this song. I know his vocal melody line is very strong and he has the ability to hum out with his voice to the other musicians what they should be playing. But in all honesty nobody could of hummed out the bass line in this song. I think Squire was being very generous by leaving himself out of the writing credits on this one I really do.

Track. 7. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus).
The Fish is the 2nd part of “Long Distant Runaround” of which when put together make up a 6 minute 9 second song. You simply cannot separate one from the other, and if you’re telling me that at this stage Yes made classics likes this which are in every way part of what Yes Music is all about, by making two 3 minute tracks out of them, at this stage in their career. It was never going to happen. There is no doubt Squire contributed heavily to both parts.

No way on this earth at this stage of the band’s career did they make 3 minute songs. Certainly not the major featured tracks that were on their album’s that were considered as the real Yes Music songs. The biggest majority of the time the band played the both parts of this song live and even could even drag it out to over the 14 minute mark. The both parts put together also make it quite a strong pillar and it was both Squire and Anderson that made it what it is.

Track 8. Mood For A Day.
The final break point on the album is Steve Howe’s solo contribution Mood For A Day. Once again the virtuoso guitarist comes up with another well written acoustic piece that starts off very much with flamenco guitar to which he then weaves a bit of his own personal magic around this Spanish style condo. Just like the solo guitar piece “Clap” we got on their previous album it adds a nice touch to the album with this beauty.

Track 9. Heart Of The Sunrise.
No doubt in my mind they saved the best for the last track on the album. Heart Of The Sunrise says everything about Yes Music and is my personal favourite track on the album. This 11 minute 39 second track is the longest track on the album and the 4th and final corner of the album and a solid pillar of strength.

The song kicks off with one massive build up and is purely a power of strength with how it builds up. Both Squire and Bruford play a massive contribution to the song. When you listen to its opening it’s as if it was created by those two alone, and they arrived at the studio that bit earlier than the others and knocked it out. It’s no wonder Squire picked up the best bass player award when they did this album his work on this track is purely phenomenal and throughout the album.

Wakeman also contributed to writing with some of themes he played on his keyboards. His classical training made very good use on this track. Though once again he was omitted from the writing credits on the track and the writing credits for this Yes classic went to Anderson. Squire and Bruford. Atlantic did say they would see that Wakeman got paid some more money for his writing contributions, though he has never received a penny still till this day.

The massive build up intro of the song not only features Squire and Bruford doing the business, but also Wakeman and Howe doing just as much as an impressive job with not only Howe playing the odd counter melodies on his electric guitar and Wakeman supporting it with its orchestration with his mellotron. But both of them also play along to the same speedy notes coming from Squire’s bass perfectly in this section. Absolutely mind blowing musicianship from the highly skilled musicians of the band.

It takes some 3 minutes and 23 seconds before it finally comes down to some more melodic lines from the musicians for Anderson to come in on the vocals, and at the 3 minute 41 second mark Anderson’s voice does come on and on this song its instant bliss, because he gets to use a bit more of his sweet ballad voice on certain parts, especially on his entry here.

The first verse is supported by Howe’s guitar. most of the other verses from then on are superbly supported just by Squire and Bruford and Howe and Wakeman only really contributing a bit of extras to the end of the verses and in the chorus sections.

The interplay in the lead sections between Anderson’s odd bit of vocal parts by Howe and Wakeman right up to the 7:48 mark is purely superb and even both Squire and Bruford are not just laid back either, and join in on some of the parts.

Bruford even sounds like he’s playing lead on the drums in parts with his superb pattern play. He’s such a great drummer, and this band in all honesty are so perfectly matched to be able to play around each other, and know each other that well. They seem to know exactly when it’s time for each individual member to grab a spot and take a piece of the action whilst the others lay off and take it down a peg or two.

Then at 7:48 Mark it all comes down at first with Wakeman’s hammond organ which is then followed by Howe’s electric guitar leading into what I call the lead guitar effect which appears some 5 seconds later at the 7:53 mark. I call this an effect because on the live version on Yessongs this part played on Howe’s guitar is perhaps 10 times more effective than how it’s done here on the studio version.

The Studio Process.

At this point I think it might be appropriate to talk a bit more about the process of how Yes Music gets made in the studio and can project itself even more so when they go out and play it live.

There is no doubt that on the stage Yes are one truly terrific live band. I’ve seen them a few times in my lifetime and in all honesty they are one of the most impressive live acts going, especially back in their heyday. To be able to be as successful as they are on the stage, you very much have to put a bit less into the original songs that were made in the studio, to allow yourself more room to fit something that bit more special into it when performing it on the stage live.

In reality it’s all part of how they construct, piece and glue all the music together in the process of making each song in the first place in the studio. Yes are not the type of band who construct music and their songs in the way most do by using a basic verse and chorus structure.

Their songs cannot be easily written this way and it takes several parts to make just one song. They do not even know themselves how the final song will sound until they have all the parts by playing various riffs and lines that are going to get stuck together to make the final product of what’s known as Yes Music.

The very fact that all the parts were sometimes improvised or composed and stuck together in this way. means that they have never played the song all the way through before, after it’s all done. They very much have to learn how to play it all the way through.

When the band Yes finally get together to play their finished product that they made in the studio and rehearse to play the material for a live gig. They can quite often spot certain parts that are either missing, or they could of been projected better. To be perfectly honest some of the music that Yes produce in the studio is not what some of the players in the band would consider as the finished product. But they only ever finish it when they perform the song live on the stage.

A perfect example of my theory here is the 18 minute 41 second song that appeared on the band’s next album and was self titled track “Close To The Edge”  One particular member of the band never considered the song as the final product when you listen to what he does every time he plays it live. That member of the band is the bass player  Chris Squire.

Despite the fact that Squire would have no problem playing every note that was on that studio version of the song, he never once played it live where he did not add a few more notes he thought was missing in the first place. To be perfectly honest those extra notes he does add to the song, also makes it a lot better than the studio version.

I am sure most Yes fans would of spotted them a mile off by now. They would of spotted them on their first live album Yessongs too, and they appear the same on every other live recording and live show he ever played. The notes I am referring to are even more than notes, it’s a complete new bass line he created in the middle section of the song to support Wakeman’s pipe organ. It does not appear on the studio album at all.

There is also many songs Steve Howe will add certain effects and other notes to some of the songs too. Though I will confess he was only really successful at doing this in his heyday, and as the years rolled on, he can at times can go over the top with some of his additions to the song, and can even ruin the song for doing so as well in my opinion.

Rick Wakeman adds a few more additives as well to the music on stage. It’s these clever little additions back in their heyday and even later on at some stage that makes many of the Yes songs that much better live than the studio tracks. The very fact that they do take chances and risks on the stage quite often pays off and makes their live shows that much more exiting.

Back To The Album Review.
After the so called Howe effect Wakeman’s piano brings Anderson’s voice back into play over another fine short section then at the 9:09 mark the song lifts back up with its fast bass lines and drums from its repeating opening theme opening section by Squire and Bruford once again injecting the pace, followed by a lovely bit of mellotron once again from Wakeman at the 9 and half minute mark.

Anderson comes back in for a final powerful couple of chorus sections to which the song finally gets ended off with a short burst of its main power driven theme and comes to an halt at 10 minutes 35 seconds, and not the 11 minutes and 39 seconds that the tracks allocated time slot is for at all. This because album ends off with a short reprise of Anderson’sWe Have Heaven” to completely put an end to yet another truly great album.

The 5.1 Mix…

Once again Steven Wilson’s done another superb job on the 5.1 mix that once again completely revives the album and brings it back to life. One of the main advantages a 6 channel system is going to give you over any 2 channel stereo is that you can place certain elements of the instrumentation and vocals and harmonies in certain speakers to allow that much more room regarding the separation and clarity of any mix.

One of the things I love in particular about what Wilson’s done here is separate the harmonies of Howe and Squire very well by placing them in the rear speakers on some of the songs. 1 speaker for Howe and another for Squire. This results in giving you a way better chance of not only hearing what they are saying more clearly, but you also hear the individual characteristics of their voices without taking anything away from the how the original  recording. It works very well especially on “Roundabout“. “South Side Of The Sky” and a few others though their voices are not always panned in the rear speakers.

The instrumentation also gets the same treatment and has been very cleverly placed throughout the 6 channels. It’s not only well effective but once again does not take anything away from the original album and is way more detailed breathing a breath of fresh air and new life to the album in every way. He really has done a stunning job on the mixes once again.

The other Blu Ray exclusive feature that I was on about earlier is that it also contains the original 5.1 mix of 2002 DVD Audio Rhino release. I have took a snap of my copy of it I brought in the same year of its release. Pretty sure I paid £20 for this originally from HMV.

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From the time I brought this from HMV on High Street in Birmingham’s main shopping centre and stuck it on. I can honestly say it was like I threw my £20 down the drain. The 5.1 mix was done by Tim Weidner and he completely sucked the life out of the album. It was totally washed in reverb, sounded dull for most of its parts, and by the way he had placed all the instruments over the 6 channels in all honesty he never had any idea what he was doing in the first place.

I have actually read some good reviews for this 5.1 mix and all I can say is that I would love to know what systems were these people playing it on, or was there an actual better release of the disc out there or something. It seems to me that when he actually done the mix, he never gave any thought at all in regards to what instruments to place in the rear speakers.

Most of the instruments he did take and place in the rear speakers were all major parts of the stereo field that held the front speakers up in the first place. He would of been better using reflections of some of these instruments rather than taking a few of the major ones from the front end. By doing it the way he did, he very much made a gap in the stereo field, causing the mix to sound mismatched and disjointed in certain parts.

Honestly it’s so unprofessional and it was like he just having fun placing a guitar here, a bass there, and the drums all over the place and sometimes the Bruford’s drums completely fell apart :)))))). I am sure he just placed things willy nilly over all the 6 channels. It was just totally dreadful and made the album Fragile sound totally lifeless.

I am so glad that Steve Wilson had the sense to include Weidner’s mix here so you can make comparisons and get to hear it for yourself. I even stuck it on to have another listen. I got about as far as half way through the opening song “Roundabout” and had to turn the thing off :))))))))) Wilson’s mix leaves it standing in the dust by a mile.

Weidner’s mix also includes Paul Simon’sAmerica” which was the only bones track on the original DVD Audio. Though I am pretty sure that track only has a stereo mix. But I was pleased to find out that Wilson as also remixed it and even done a 5.1 mix of the song, and it’s included on the new mix of their 1972 album Close To The Edge to which I will be reviewing next.

Summary Of The Fragile Album…

There is no doubt that the album Fragile is another pivotal point of the band’s career by adding more strength to it with the introduction of Rick Wakeman adding to the band’s line up. This particular line up of the band is by far the best line up Yes ever had. They was a driving force to be reckoned with in the world of progressive rock and Yes Music was now stronger than ever.

It was Jon Anderson’s vision and decisions that made both the changes in the band’s line up and he was the one who certainly did the firing. Anderson very much orchestrated the band and seen the many possibilities and the more potential the band could have by bringing in stronger musician’s. It was something that had to be done to be able to maintain the new musical direction the band was going in. They was decisions that truly paid off and made the band that more stronger and gave them more success.


There can be no doubt Steve Wilson has breathed new life back into Yes Music and the album Fragile sounds way better for the new treatment he has given it. There is also no doubt that these recordings are well worth buying again and they do in every way represent the finest quality and sound these album’s have ever had. He has very much breathed more life into these recordings and brought the 70’s band Yes back to life.

The material on Fragile is without doubt another strong body of work that matched up in every way to the material that was on The Yes Album. The written material was of equal strength in my opinion regarding what Yes Music is all about, and the band added another 4 songs to the existing 4 we got from that 1st album. They was in every way doing it all in their own way, and with the new addition of Wakeman doing it even better.

Long time waiting to feel the sound!.

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Roundabout. 8:33.
02. Cans and Brahms. 1:40.
03. We Have Heaven. 1:39.
04. South Side Of The Sky. 8:00.
05. Five Percent For Nothing. 0:36.
06. Long Distant Runaround. 3:31.
07. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus). 2:38.
08. Mood For A Day. 2:58.
09. Heart Of The Sunrise. 11:39.
10. Roundabout (Rehearsal Take/Early Mix). 8:08.
11. We Have Heaven (Full Version/Steven Wilson Mix). 2:21.
12. South Side Of The Sky (Early Version/Steven Wilson Mix). 5:12.
13. All Fighters Past ([Steven Wilson Mix). 2:31.
14. Mood for Another Day (Unreleased Take). 3:31.
15. We Have Heaven (Acapella/Steven Wilson Mix). 2:00.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Bonus Tracks Rating Score. 7/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 10/10.

The Original Album Rating Score. 10/10

Lee Speaks About Music… #11

The Yes Album (The Definitive Edition CD/Blu Ray) – Yes



The band known as Yes have always been one of my personal favourite bands of all time for the material they made and released in the early 70’s. There is something very special about their music which speaks to me so differently, and no doubt their music is completely different to anything anybody had ever done before the release of this 1971 album they themselves entitled The Yes Album.

The fact that the band had already made 2 albums prior to this release, and down to changing their musical style and direction into something completely different reflects the reason why this 3rd album was indeed entitled The Yes Album. It was a statement that merely suggested that this is their 1st album, and both of the other albums that came before it never existed, and this was the new musical direction the band was going in.

There is no doubt in my mind that this album was the start of something musically that had never existed on this entire planet, and it was a completely new genre of music that never existed either. The only way you could ever really describe it, was with what the band later went on to call it themselves. Which was simply Yes Music.

At this stage of the game regarding the bands earlier music and has to where they was going. They made one change to their current line up of the band which consisted of Jon Anderson. (Vocals). Chris Squire. (Bass) Peter Banks. (Guitar) Tony Kaye. (Keyboards) and Bill Bruford. (Drums) That change was to fire their guitar player Peter Banks and bring in a virtuoso guitar player known as Steve Howe. That change was the most important decision the band ever made and set them off on the road to international success.

There is no doubt what so ever that Steve Howe brought that extra something to the table, and was the very important ingredient to changing the bands musical style and adding to the bands success. I personally think that there is no way on this earth the band could of written the material for The Yes Album without him.

Even to this day he is still very much my number one favourite guitarist for what he brought to this band. In the world of Progressive Rock quite frankly there is not a guitar player who could touch him. He is without doubt the most outstanding guitar player in this genre of music, and I do not think anybody is capable of achieving what he brought to its genre either.

So Many Different Releases…

I myself have had the 1971 album The Yes Album on vinyl since about a couple years after it’s release back in 1973. Over the decades it’s been released in many other media formats such as CD and bogus SACD’s. But regarding DVD and Blu Ray this is the first time they have been used for this particular album, and this 2014 release of the album that includes a 5.1 mix of the album done by Steven Wilson was the first time the album officially had a 5.1 mix to which was released on both of those media formats in the same year.

Since 2004 there has been quite a few SACD’s circulated from the Japanese market of some of the Yes’s back catalogue of music including this album. All claiming to have 5.1 mixes of the album’s. But none of them are official releases and no way did they also have the master tapes to be able to do a 5.1 mix of the albums in the first place.

In 2013 a complete box set containing 16 of the bands albums all on Hybrid SACD’s with so called 5.1 mixes also came out of Japan. But once again these were not official releases or was they authorised by the band. Every release of any Yes album on a an SACD is a completely dodgy one, and all have very disappointing sound quality and have only a simulated 5.1 mix done by software and are a complete rip off.

Before the year of 2014. The only Yes album from this decade that ever had a genuine official 5.1 release was their 2nd 1971 album Fragile to which was released in 2002 on DVD Audio. I brought it myself back then and still have it. The 5.1 mix was done by Tim Weidner and I can honestly tell you that it was dreadful, and you was better off sticking with the original vinyl album. In my honest opinion this guy never had a clue how to do a 5.1 mix and should of never been given the job in the first place.

In 2003 Rhino released some very impressive stereo recordings of the band’s album’s on CD. All of which came with an array of bonus material on them. I think personally these were the best recordings that ever surfaced on a CD up until now.

What’s So Special About The Definitive Release…

Though The Yes Album was released back in 2014 with what they call the so called “Definitive Edition” it never tempted me to buy it back then, even down to the fact that I am a surround freak and never had this album with a 5.1 mix. The reason for my delay was really down to its expensive price tag.

These things are far from cheap especially when I have picked up many other artists 5.1 mixes that come with even 2 CD’s and 2 DVD’s for a third of the price cheaper than this album is priced at. £18 is a lot of money and even though it comes with a Blu Ray and a CD at the most it should be priced at is around £14 and in some stores you should be able to get it for about £12. Even though the price of £15 may appear to be more attractive on Steve Wilson’s own website. The fact that he will charge you another £3 to deliver the thing to you means that it’s no cheaper at all.

So for the past few years I have been waiting for it to come down to a more respectable honest price point of what its really worth. But unfortunately for me the price has not shifted down at all, and it’s still the same price of when it was released a few years ago. So I ended up paying £17.54p for it from Amazon. It was something I knew I had to get eventually and felt it best to move now and buy it before it goes out of print, and I ended up paying something ridiculously stupid for it.

The band members themselves claim that this version is the definitive and best version of the album. Well it’s the 4th time I have brought the album and now you can find out if it lives up to those expectations in my honest review that’s coming up here. But first let’s see what you get for your money with how it’s been packaged.

The Packaging & Artwork…

The Yes Album

The packaging for this definitive edition looks pretty much like the vinyl gatefold album release only on a much smaller scale. However upon taking it out of the cellophane that the package comes with brand new, the first thing you will notice is that the booklet that’s inside it will drop out of it easily and end up on the floor 😊😊😊. Why they could not have fixed the booklet inside so it works just like a book is beyond me, and for the money your spending here it should have been, and it would of made it much more of an attractive package and better presentation by doing so.

The other thing you will notice that once you have removed the album from its cellophane wrapper, is that the album will not stay closed. This is most likely down to the cardboard that they have used to make it with. This is also something that should of been looked at more when designing and constructing the packaging to house it’s contents. Especially if you’re putting a product out at this price point.

One thing I thought I should mention regarding the cellophane wrapper it comes in. Is to be careful how you open it. Because in reality it’s quite easy to open without having to tear it apart, because on the back it’s got a sticky substance on the cellophane that you can easily enough peel back to open it. The sticky substance they also used is very durable so you will have no problem putting it back in the cellophane wrapper and resealing it.

This is quite a good thing to be honest cause with this sort of cellophane wrapper you can use it to protect the cardboard cover from dust and dirt. To be honest I wished they made those PVC covers you could buy to protect your vinyl albums years ago. I always brought them to protect my album’s years ago and it was well worth spending that bit extra to do so.

The fact that these days most CD’s are now being released in cardboard packages instead of plastic jewel cases, you would of thought by now that some company would of come up with the idea to make those PVC protective covers for CD’s. I have checked everywhere and nobody is. You can however buy the same cellophane wrappers this disc comes with though. But personally it’s perhaps not as practical as those PVC covers that they made for vinyl album’s and they do not fit as snug.

I like the way that both the discs are housed in cardboard sleeves and are just the way one would retrieve a vinyl record from the outer sides of the gatefold case. But it would of been better if like the vinyl album they had a polyurethane protective sleeve inside the cardboard for better protection just as I have mentioned in some of my other reviews.

The booklet contains some useful information about all audio formats and the exclusive Blu Ray extra features. Regarding the extra features I do certainly suggest you have a good look at it. This is because basically the back of both the booklet and the gatefold slipcase only display the 6 tracks that was on the original album, and does not even mention anything about the bonus material at all.

The Artwork is in every detail the same as the original vinyl album and I have always quite liked it, especially the floating head above the empty chair on the back cover. It sort of gives you this impression that this album will blow your head off. In many ways it’s done that several times to mine 😊😊😊.

The biggest majority of the photographs on the album’s cover was done by Phil Franks who was at their 1971 live gig at the Lyceum in Basingstoke London taking photos. Even the back cover photography with the polystyrene manikin head was all his own idea and the photos were taken in his own flat. It perhaps was never going to be as impressive when compared with Roger Dean’s artwork on the album’s that was to follow, but never the less I thought Franks done a good job on the photography.

There is also a short description about when the album was made, but it does not go into great detail like you would get with the latest Jethro Tull book editions for example. But overall it’s quite a nice package even if a bit more thought could of been given to it.

Early Thoughts…

Both The Yes Album and Fragile take me back as to how I first got into the band Yes. It was my oldest brother who is some 7 years older than me that introduced me to them, and it would of been in 1972 that I first heard this strange sound coming from my brothers bedroom.

I was around 12 years old at the time and my older brother used to work on the building and a work mate of his used to lend him a couple of album’s of certain bands to him to play over the weekend, and take them back to him at work on a Monday. So every weekend I got to hear a different artist or band coming from his bedroom. I got to hear Black Sabbath. Uriah Heep. Hawkwind and all sorts of music, none of which my brother had in his own record collection back then. To be honest I do not think even my brother brought any of the albums he lent off his mate either.

I myself was into pop artists like Gilbert O’ Sullivan and Elton John and so on, but the fact that I heard this most unusual strange sound coming from my brothers bedroom led me to further investigate what it was, and me knocking on his bedroom door and asking him if I could come in and listen to it.

That weekend he had lent both The Yes Album and Fragile and quite frankly I had never heard anything like it before in my life. It was totally weird but there must of been something about that weirdness that somehow clicked into my brain to actually like it. Both “Yours Is No Disgrace” and “Starship Trooper” were perhaps something a bit special and were the tracks that stuck in my mind over that weekend of hearing them.

A year later in 1973 I was in this small record shop. I am pretty sure I went in there to buy Gilbert O’ Sullivan’s latest single he had in the charts at the time. It may have been “Get Down” but whilst I was in there I noticed this most wonderful artwork on this album cover, that drew my immediate attention to it.

Upon further investigation I noticed it was by the band Yes and it was a triple live album of theirs entitled Yesssongs. I glanced at the tracks on the album and both “Yours Is No Disgrace” and “Starship Trooper” stood out to me very well, and flashed my mind back to that weekend hearing them in my brothers bedroom. I glanced at the price tag of the album to which it was £3.75p and put a deposit on it for him to hold it for me, so I could buy it over so many weeks with my pocket money.

It took 5 to 6 weeks for me to get that album home after I had finally finished off paying for it, and that album got me addicted to the band Yes. From then on I was a massive fan, and not only did I back track on their studio album’s and ended up buying them, but so did my brother having heard Yesssongs.

The Definitive Yes Album Review…

The 2014 release of The Yes Album was released on the 21st April of the same year and comes with 1 CD & 1 Blu Ray disc. Unless you have the DVD version. To be perfectly honest it does not make any difference which of these two versions you have regarding what’s known as its definitive side of things. Simply because both the Blu Ray and DVD have the capacity to hold a 24 bit 96K lossless recordings which is far greater than the quality you are going to find on any CD or Vinyl record.

This is what I have always loved about both of these media formats and the SACD regardless of if they are in stereo or have a 5.1 mix. The quality that comes on them is much higher, resulting in having the best recordings of them as they would of had in the studio themselves when making the album. It simply cannot be beaten for quality and you are getting the genuine real product too.

Because not only do these discs come with the new mixes by whoever was doing them at the time (in this case Steven Wilson) but they also come with the original mix that was done when the album was made all those years back. So as to regarding to the answer of is it the definitive edition or version. There can only be one answer, and that is also the name of the band, and is YES.

The CD
As I have said in my previous reviews regarding these sort of packages that come with both a CD and a DVD or Blu Ray. The only thing that really interests me is the DVD or Blu Ray and are my real incentive to buying such albums all over again. The CD’s that come with these things only ever gets to be ripped onto my computer into an MP3 320 kbps where I can listen to them occasionally with headphones on there, and also some I put onto my mobile phone so I can listen to them when I am out and about, or in bed. I never play the CD’s on my HiFi.

But as this is the so called “Definitive Edition” and I know that this does not really apply to the CD itself as I have already explained. I did however feel the need to play the CD a few times on my HiFi simply because there has already been some good mixes of this album already put onto CD before. The 2003 Rhino release in particular, and I wanted to compare Steve Wilson’s mix and the way the album projects itself and comes across in relation to those earlier mixes for this review.

The original vinyl version of The Yes Album had an original playing time of around 42 minutes. Both the Rhino and Definitive CD’s came with bonus tracks. The 2003 Rhino release came with 3. “Your Move” (Single Version). “Life Seeker” (Single Version) and “Clap” (Studio Version) The 2014 Definitive release comes with 2.“Clap” (Studio Version) and “A Venture” (Extended Mix).

To some people they may feel they are being short changed here with the bonus material, and only getting 2 tracks on the 2014 version. But in reality 2 of the bonus tracks on the 2003 Rhino release are totally pointless. They are merely edited versions of the album tracks “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Starship Trooper” and just how many times is somebody gonna play those in relation to the whole tracks that are on the album. Anybody with half a brain could simply make their own edited version for god’s sake 😊😊😊.

Both the “Clap” and “A Venture” are the only real interesting bonus tracks that are worth having in reality. The “Clap” is the studio version to which was never included on the original album as it was played live. It’s also the same version that was on the 2003 Rhino release as well. The fact that “A Venture” is longer and not shorter like those other stupid edits are, make it a lot more worth the while.

Regarding the sound quality of the actual album tracks I thought the 2003 Rhino CD release of the album was pretty damn close to the vinyl album myself. There is no doubt it was a well worthy CD to spend your money on and a big improvement over the 1994 Atlantic release on CD.

It was down to the fact that they was very much getting closer to the sound of the vinyl album with what they put onto these newer remasters, and spending more time and consideration and attenuation to the quality, rather than mass producing them as fast as possible to get them out on the market as they did with many of the CD’s years before, that a year later I decided to put my old turntable in the loft. It’s been there ever since along with my vinyl albums, and I am not going to be dragging it back out just to do this review either.

To be perfectly honest I do not need to get the old turntable out of the loft, simply because this album as been planted in my brain ever since I brought it back in 1973 and I know exactly what I am listening to and what needs to project in the mix. If something’s missing, or as been added it will instantly stand out and I will know what is working and what is not.

There are many certain effects that were used in making The Yes Album along many of it’s tracks. For example the wah pedal on “Yours Is No Disgrace” played by Steve Howe. In all honesty this is the best album to hear it on because of the use of the way they panned it in stereo from left to right. Howe never once got it that effective on any live recording. The same can be said for high pitch flute synth sound that Tony Kaye used on the come down section of “Perpetual Change” Not even Rick Wakeman managed to project that sound either on stage, never mind Kaye. They are all part of the studio process and to be honest they are the very thing I love the most about this studio album.

Just as I mentioned that back in 2003 they was getting closer to the sound of the vinyl album and even back then and just before then. some album’s I had on CD in all honesty were in every way were exactly the same quality of the vinyl album.

A perfect example is Mike Oldfield’s 1979 album Platinum. The HDCD remaster of that album done in the year 2000 by Simon Heyworth in all honesty was in every way as good as the vinyl record. It had everything about it that the vinyl album had including all its punchy bass frequencies. Back then I did do A to B comparisons and I honestly would defy anybody who stated that the vinyl was still better.

I did however buy the Mike Oldfield 2012 Deluxe Edition remaster on CD of the album, and I have to say in comparison to Heyworth’s 2000 mix it’s absolutely dreadful. No doubt Oldfield’s mix does have some great clarity about its detail, but as for all the lovely punchy bass frequencies that were on the vinyl album and the 2000 HDCD. He completely threw them out of the window. Honestly he has done a very poor job of it.

But regarding of any new mix of an album you do honestly have to be careful. Basically because even today a lot of people still never get these things right, and just because an album has been remastered or has a new mix done by somebody else, it certainly does not by any means or standards make them the best, and I would say that 70% at least of the time, you can end up buying something that is not better at all, and can end up with something even worse.

Even by having the same person doing all the mixes of an artists entire back catalogue, does not mean he is gonna get that mix right for every album. Some albums have different characteristics to deal with and can present a problem for many sound engineers when mixing. I found that out with the many SACD releases of Elton John’s back catalogue all done by Greg Penny.

To be honest he did do a really good job on the biggest majority of those older album’s of Elton’s he did, both with the new stereo and 5.1 mixes. But as for Elton’s 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. What I found out was that he only really done half a good job on it. He simply could not handle the more heavier rock tracks on the album, and that left me wanting to go back to my vinyl album to be honest. Amazingly though all the lovely ballad tracks on the album are purely “Fantastic” and an 100 times better than the vinyl album too.

When it comes to new mixes Steve Wilson seems to be the guy to call upon these days, and I have to admit he does a pretty damn good job too. I think the fact that he is working on so many different artists albums its very much giving him more experience in how to handle the certain individual characteristics that most album’s are going to always present you with.

The thing I also like about the guy is the way he handles the mix and that he never tends to go overboard, and he tries his utmost to make sure he is not adding something to the recording that is going to be taking something away from the mix. He’s very delicate in his approach to the closet detail of the original album. Having heard this 2014 release 3 times over by playing the actual CD in my HiFi I honestly think it’s bloody amazing.

No doubt this CD is in every way as good as the vinyl album. I would even say with today’s technology that he has even improved the overall quality of the vinyl album. For my ears there is not a shred of a doubt that the “Definitive Edition” is genuinely what it is.

I do however feel that they should of released it also as a CD only release at a cheaper price. Especially for those who do not have surround systems. Because if you have not got one I honestly think you are paying well over the odds for this package and it would be shame for the other disc to be standing there doing nothing.

I also think because the biggest majority of the bonus tracks are on the Blu Ray or DVD that they could of done a double CD Deluxe Edition for about £10 – £12. Being a surround freak myself will always make me personally buy this kind of CD + Blu Ray package. But there is no doubt in my mind even just the CD alone that comes in this package is well worthy of upgrading your old CD’s with and even your vinyl album.

The Blu Ray

1 Yes Screen

The Blu Ray that comes with this package contains a ton of things on it. That much that you simply do not need the CD at all, unless you want it for your car, or you have not got a Blu Ray Player of course. Not only does it include the 2 bonus tracks that are on the CD but in total it has 11 bonus tracks a few of which have never seen the light of the day before. So I will deal with the bonus tracks first to give you an idea of just what you’re getting extra in relation to them. The 11 bonus tracks are as follows:

Yours is No Disgrace” (Live in London 1971). “Clap” (Studio Version). “Starship Trooper (a) Life Seeker” (Single Edit). “I’ve Seen All Good People” (Live in London 1971). “A Venture” (Extended Mix). “Perpetual Change” (Live in New Haven 1971)

These first 6 bonus tracks are found under the heading of “Alternative Album” I guess what they tried to do is make the same track list of the original album with the bonus material here. Both the “Clap” (Studio Version) and “Starship Trooper (a) Life Seeker” (Single Edit) were featured as bonus tracks on the 2003 Rhino release. The live tracks are perhaps the more interesting out of the bunch and are perhaps a bit more on the nostalgic side regarding the sound quality of these early recordings, but the best of the bunch of these live tracks which does have a lot more quality about it is “Perpetual Change” (Live in New Haven 1971). I do like this and I do not think it has ever been released before either.

Has with all the tracks on the Blu Ray they come with very high quality recordings. and the 6 tracks in this “Alternative Album” section are in 24Bit 96K LPCM Stereo. To be honest as some of the live recordings had a much less quality about their recording in the first place putting them out in 24 Bit 96K may bring out far to much of the clarity resulting in them sounding a bit more on the tinny side of things and may not really of  needed to be in this high quality audio format in the first place.

Regarding the sound quality, they have used exactly the same audio quality for the 5 exclusive extra bonus tracks that come with the Blu Ray only. These tracks come under the heading of “Single Versions. Edits & Live”. They are as follows:

Your Move” (Single Version. Stereo ). “Clap” (Stereo Single Version). “America” (Live in London 1971). “Its Love” (Live in London 1971). “Your Move” (Single Version. Mono).

The both live in London tracks are the best of the bunch here and I do not think they have been released before either. They also sound very good and both are very interesting I have to say. For example. I have heard Yes play the Simon & Garfunkel song “America” many times live before, they even done a studio version that came with the compilation album Yesterday’s back in 1975. But this version is really early and the first time I have heard it played with Tony kaye on the keyboards as well. In many ways you can hear that at this stage how undeveloped the song was in relation to later version done with Rick Wakeman on the keyboards.

The live recording of The Young Rascal’s song “Its Love” is certainly a rare find. To be honest it also sounds as if they had another singer as well as Jon Anderson on the stage because his voice does go really deep and more low registered in certain parts of the song. They tend to treat the song as a jam and really drag it out over some distance.

But the interesting thing here is very much the bass guitar lines and tones coming from Chris Squire. A lot of it reminds me of his bass solo on the Yessongs album playing his solo piece “The Fish” which follows “Long Distance Runaround“. It’s not exactly bang on to the bass lines he used but the tone is more or less exactly the same. It’s quite a find I have to say and great to hear.

2 Yes Screen

The other exclusive features that come with the Blu Ray only are the 2014 Stereo Instrumental Mixes of the whole 6 tracks on the album so you can sing along to the songs yourself, if you can reach that high with your voice without murdering them 😊😊😊. You also get what’s called the Needle-Drop. This is where they drop the needle on the original 1971 UK vinyl album, so you can hear it as if you was at your mates house. These all come in the same high end audio quality of 24 Bits 96K LPCM.

The main feature on the Blu Ray is the new 2014 Steven Wilson 5.1 mixes of the 6 original tracks that was on the album. Which comes with 2 x 24 Bit 96K high end audio mixes. They are the DTS HD Mix and the MLP Lossless Mix. There is even a 24 Bit 96K MLP Lossless Stereo mix of Wilson’s new mix and it also comes with an LPCM 24 Bit 192K Stereo mix of the original Flat Transferred album.

There is no doubt that word “Definitive” is really what you’re getting here in every sense of the word with the outstanding quality of high end audio that comes on this Blu Ray disc, you maybe be able to see why you are paying this bit more for it. But then again the question maybe begging to ask. Do we really need all these audio formats of the same thing, and how many times is anybody going to really listen to them all?.

Well no doubt one is spoilt for choice and for me personally the 5.1 mixes are always going to be my preferred choice. The that fact it also offers high end quality for the stereo mixes as well is also a good bonus and also the original album mix as well as the new Steve Wilson mix for making comparisons.

3 Yes Screen

There a couple of things I would of liked to have seen included on the Blu Ray though, especially as this is a disc is capable of handling HD picture quality as well as audio. For example they could of included either some animation or even pictures of the band and various stuff to watch whilst the music is playing.

Also even if for the sake of nostalgic reasons alone. They could of included some of those live lost broadcasts you can see plastered all over YouTube that have some great quality about them with how they have been touched up. They would of been fitting to put on this particular album as it’s the same line up of the band who were on this album.

The Yes Album Review…

To be honest I was not going to do a review for the 6 album tracks that was on the original 1971 album of The Yes Album. Most people will know it like the back of their hand by now. But as it only contains 6 tracks over 42 minutes. I thought it best to give my interpretation in my own words how this music speaks to me.

For me The Yes Album. Fragile and Close To The Edge have always been my favourite side of the band’s music. This is basically because all the tracks on these 3 albums have the same feel and style of their music about them. It’s almost as if they used all the same chords to play all the songs that are on all 3 albums. There is no doubt that even if these 3 album’s were originally released as a triple studio album it would of worked 100% as well.

There is also another special thing I have always seen about all 3 of these album’s in the way of how the material is placed on these particular 3 album’s. For example both the album’s The Yes Album and  Fragile have the their strongest songs that are really known as Yes Music placed in the 4 corners of the album.

For example the little tracks like the “Clap” and “A Venture” are placed on the 1st album as little breaks in between the main music. The same as the individual artist tracks were placed in between the main tracks on the Fragile album. In reality both album’s have 4 major tracks that I would really call Yes Music they are by far the main features on the album, and stand out the most by being placed in the 4 corners of each album. As for the album Close To The Edge that has no corners or break points, and it’s very much what I would call a Triangle of an album.

You may think I have gone totally nuts and am off my head with my observations here. But my observations about these album’s have been buried deep in me ever since the day I brought these album’s back in the 70’s. There is no doubt that Yes Music had a massive effect on me back in those days more so than today, and their music literally fried my brain 😊😊😊.

Back in the 70’s this band said more to me than any other band or artist ever did. They was without doubt my number one band, and I was so adolescent in my youth and that mad on them, that I would even smash somebody’s face in if they said a bad word about them 😊😊😊. Honestly I was possessed by their music and even one of my best mates nearly got a smack in the face just for calling Jon Anderson a fairy 😊😊😊. This is not no cock and bull story I can assure you. I was nuts back in those days.

The Yes Album is perhaps the only album of theirs that presents me with the problem of naming my favourite track on the album. That’s basically because 3 of its 4 corners can easily match each other, in the way those tracks come across and present themselves to me. Those 3 tracks are “Yours Is No Disgrace” “Starship Trooper” and “Perpetual Change“. For me personally the way these 3 tracks are musically structured is very strong, and they all have their equal value, strength and merits about them. It’s just impossible for me to choose one of them as the best. They are pillars of strength.

Track 1. Yours Is No Disgrace.
From the moment you put the album on and hear the opening intro of its 1st track “Yours Is No Disgrace” you instantly get the feel of excitement. It’s got this big punctuated sound bashing out on Bill Bruford’s drum kit backed up by Steve Howe’s guitar riff joined by Chris Squire’s heavy bass thudding along. I have heard Bruford himself describe this intro many times in interviews of how its lifted from the TV Western Theme to the Big Country or Big Valley. It’s very much a TV series I used to watch myself as a child, and to be honest before he came out with his description of it I never quite seen it quite like this at all. But when you listen to it after the way he described it I think he was spot on.

There is no doubt in my mind that Yes Music is very much constructed in many ways like how classical music is structured. If anything its perhaps more of a modern version of it. Jazz also came out of the structure of classical music only it had a few extensions of its own, just as Yes Music does. There is no doubt this is music that had never been created before as I said earlier, and back in those early 70’s when I first heard it. It did sound like something that was not on this planet and came from somewhere in space. Even the lyrics are the most bizarre thing I have ever heard in my life, never mind the music 😊😊😊.

Back in those days I honestly thought Jon Anderson was God regarding the lyrics he wrote for this song and the many others. It was as if he wrote some sort of symbolism or symbolic language for his audience to try and decipher them. In many ways it was a good thing, simply because I always think it’s best for the listener to give their own interpretation of what they mean to them, and it always good if somebody can come up with other meanings from any set of lyrics (no matter what genre of music they come from) rather than have the guy tell you himself what they mean.

Honestly I was scratching my head for hours upon hours and years throughout the 70’s trying to work them out. I knew there was some sort of war going on here, but I still could not fathom it all out. It was like some mad sort of riddle from another time, or from another planet, and you had to be an alien to work out WTF was going on here 😊😊😊. Myself and many others no doubt would of seen him as some sort of genius.

Back in those days Anderson very rarely gave an interview but I did happen to catch one he gave in the Melody Maker back in the late 70’s. Where he was asked the question of what the lyrics were about for the song “Yours Is No Disgrace“. The only answer he gave was that they was about World War 2. He never went into great detail at all and the only really thing he came out with was about the words “Battleships confide in me and tell me where you are, Shining, flying, purple wolfhound, show me where you are” Which is why I myself thought there was some sort of war going on in the first place.

These days I have a completely different perception regarding Anderson being a genius with how he wrote those lyrics. It most likely comes down to how I myself go about writing lyrics to my own songs. The music always will come first with me, and when I have done that I always throw over a vocal line singing anything that appears in my head to the music, rather than write anything down. When you playback the tape and listen to all the mumbo jumbo you just sang. I often find that mostly they are just words that seem to rhyme with one another. A lot of it does not make any sense at all. until afterwards you actually sit down and write the lyrics, but you may get something out of the mumbo jumbo that you could also use.

I very much think Anderson just wrote down the words he was singing from the top of his head to the music that were on the tape when he played it back, rather than sit down and write any lyrics after it, and if he did sit down and write any, they were most likely additional lyrics to match up with most of what he already sang from the top of his head in the first place.

For example I could quite easily come out with “I’ve got sherbet lemons in my teacup and I’m going to use them on this sunny afternoon”. Now WTF is that all about?. I don’t know myself, but I am pretty sure it will work and somebody is gonna get a kick out of it. It does not matter if it makes any sense as long as it works, and people will be left for decades trying to fathom it out and make their own interpretation of it. Job done as far as I am concerned 😊😊😊.

No matter how I think Anderson came out with lyrics that will baffle your brains out for many decades. I honestly think they do not make a lot of, or any real sense. Anderson has even admitted it himself these days in his more recent interviews, that the words were meaningless. But one thing I will say is that they work 100% for the music Yes made back in this decade. These songs probably would of never said the same thing without them. Everything about Yes was new, even down to its lyrical content. It’s the very thing that set them apart from everybody else.

Getting back to track and after the massive short intro. The song settles down into a short groove and Tony Kaye’s chords on the hammond come into play, then the song takes off at a very fast pace with Bruford upping the tempo on the drums and Chris Squire’s speedy melodic bass line is a real joy to hear.

There is no doubt that Chris Squire is one hell of a bass player who can construct some of the finest melodies on the instrument. There is no doubt that his bass melodies played a massive contribution to constructing the music for this song. A lot of people go on about his work on the Fragile album, but in all honesty even if you listen his bass playing on the 2 album’s that came before this one, and this one, the guy stands out a mile in the crowd.

Then in comes the majestic lead lines from Steve Howe’s electric guitar. Absolutely mind blowing counter melodies that defy all belief. The very fact that Howe can play these lines live on stage bang on to the studio record shows there is no trickery here. He could play them in is sleep that’s how perfect they are.

The counter melodies Howe plays on this track I honestly do not think there was a guitarists on the planet back in those days who would have the knowhow, of how to construct them. In many ways they do play a part to the writing of this song to which he was thankfully given some of the credit for. His work on this track is purely fantastic. For that alone I should of perhaps nominated this track as the best track on the album. But those other 2 songs can speak exactly the same language when it comes down to their musical structures. Which is why I simply cannot separate them.

After this amazing spell of mind blowing music and the theme that is developed from it comes into play that carries the song along. It’s seems quite longer than it is in reality and I guess that’s down to the fast pace of it all. But a minute and half later in comes Anderson with a voice that has a lot of sweet characteristics about it. This is not the voice of a rock singer, but in the world of Progressive Rock it serves very high standards and suits the music right down to a tee.

Jon’s voice works very well as a ballad singer more than anything, and it’s always had that more sweetness to it on those type of songs. Even on the 2 album’s that came before this one, it works superbly on the ballad songs that are on those album’s. With songs like “Sweetness” “Then” and “Time and a Word” to name a few. Pretty much most were ballads to be honest on those album’s.

I am also amazed how he never had more success as a pop singer with all that sweetness his voice can project, and that those first 2 album’s gave them hardly any success at all. I still think they are great albums. For the type of songs on The Yes Album his voice is a bit more hard cut, but it still works very well. There is some incredible high notes though I will say, and he can handle them with ease, were as many would be left struggling to reach them. He reaches them with perfection and everything about his voice will always remind you of Yes no matter who he sings with in some ways. He is indeed the voice of Yes.

I love the way the tempo changes throughout his singing parts, and how the musicians in particular work their way around the vocal section with the odd fills here and there. It comes down and raises back up in all the right parts, right up till the lead section really comes in after the superb wah effect from Howe’s guitar around the 4:45 part of the song. Has I mentioned earlier I have always loved the effect on that wah break and interestingly enough how Steve Wilson has managed to have it coming out 4 channels in the 5,1 mix without losing an ounce of it, it’s purely amazing.

I am not saying that Howe’s wah playing is anything like Jimi Hendrix with how he plays the wah on the cover he did of Bob Dylan’sAll Along The Watchtower” Christ that thing blows my brains out and is one of the best wah pedal jobs I have ever heard in my life. There is just something about the stereo effect of it and you only get it on this studio version. It never sounded the same on any Howe live recording.

Howe’s guitar work in the lead section is purely fantastic, it’s got that many contrasting styles with the use of electric and acoustic guitars. Then the song comes out of it and back into the chorus with the sound of Kaye’s hammond organ which brings it down very well and lets Anderson come back in nicely on the vocals. I actually like the way Anderson comes back into this section on the live version. It’s super chilled out how he uses his voice on that version especially on the Yessongs album. Though this song is really rushed on that version I will say, and perhaps is not as good as how many of the other live songs came out on that album.

The song then goes back into its main theme for another verse and chorus twice and breaks off with another bit of wah from Howe and into the final verse and is rounded off nicely with a run down on the keyboards by Kaye. It’s the longest track on the album and the first pillar of its 4 corners. I think I have just written a book on it (LOL) and better get on with the rest of the album 😊😊😊.

Track 2. Clap.
The 2nd track on the album entitled “Clap” is what I call the first break point. It’s the only live track on the album which was recorded at the Lyceum in Basingstoke London in the same year they made this album. It’s a short 3 and a quarter minute acoustic guitar solo written and played by Steve Howe. There is no doubt that Howe was influenced by many guitar greats who came out of the 50’s and perhaps this particular piece was inspired by his love for the great guitarist Chet Atkins.

No doubt Howe learnt a lot from these country picking players and this is far from anything easy to play on the guitar. You certainly have to know a thing or two to get your fingers around it. To be honest I have heard quite a few people play it during my lifetime, but nowhere near as precise how he plays it that’s for sure. It really shows how versatile he is on the guitar and it’s a most wonderful piece.

Track 3. Starship Trooper. (a. Life Seeker. b. Disillusion. c. Wurm.)
The 3rd track on the album is the 2nd corner and pillar of strength. Its another pure Yes classic entitled “Starship Trooper“. It kicks off with some swirling rhythm playing from Howe’s electric guitar followed by a punctuating melodic bass lines from Squire. The piece also comes in 3 parts to which they have given sub heading names to each part which are as follows: Life Seeker/Disillusion and the Wurm. According to what I much later learned, is that the latter part was a piece Howe was working on when he was with the band Bodast before he joined Yes.

To be honest the way they worked all 3 of the parts it sounds very much like one complete song, to which it certainly is how they have constructed all 3 parts into each other to fit perfectly. Believe it or not this song is the 2nd longest track on the album at 9 and half minutes, and on this studio version it sounds as if it’s all over after 5 minutes. When they play this song live they can actually drag it out much longer at around the 14 and half minute mark, and it’s purely great how they can do it like that as well.

Though it perhaps does not have as many changes along its path in relation to the opening track “Yours Is No Disgrace” it does have at least 3 good changes to how they have constructed it out of the 3 parts. Its got such a great verse and chorus structure over the first part, and it has a most wonderful acoustic section on the 2nd part that works wonders for Anderson’s voice. The final part has such a great build up about it and really ends it all off superbly.

The whole band put their heart into this song and it’s got some fine parts from every member in it, with what they all contribute to it. I know a lot of people may of thought at this stage that Tony Kaye was a weaker link in the band, but I honestly could not fault his contribution to this song. It even took Rick Wakeman near enough 3 decades to add a superb lead moog solo at the end of it, to which he first done live on the Keys To Ascension Tour in 1996 so you certainly cannot knock the poor guy at all. But I also cannot blame the band for bringing in Wakeman for the album that was to follow.

Track 4. I’ve Seen All Good People. (a. Your Move. b. All Good people.)
It’s perhaps at this point of the album I should explain my theory regarding the albums 4 corners and pillars of strength. Otherwise as this next track is not a break point and in fact another corner you maybe rather confused. I am of course referring to the original vinyl album that comes with 2 sides, each of them having 3 tracks on each side with a break point in the middle of them.

However popular the 4th track on the album is for being played at the bands live shows I have always seen “I’ve Seen All Good People” a corner of the album. But the weakest pillar of the 4. My basis and theory for this is really down to the songs structure. This particular song that comes in two parts is not 100% what I would class as Yes Music. This is really down to the 2nd part of the song “All Good People” being constructed from music that already existed. It’s very much lends its musical structures from the Blues.

The fact that this part is also very repetitive or should I say repeats itself over and over, does not really help it even if you do want to be at their live shows shouting the words out like an anthem 😊😊😊. For me personally the first part of the song “Your Move” is the best part of it, and they maybe should of took more time in constructing something more better to go along with it. Interestingly enough Colin Goldring from another early British prog rock band called Gnidrolog played the recorders on this part of the song too. It’s still a great song but it’s also one that you can easily get tired of listening to it too many times.

Track 5. A Venture.
The 5th track “A Venture” or Adventure is what in reality it really is. Is the 2nd break point on the album. It’s a really great song and one instantly can feel that this particular song is something more like what we seen on the bands first 2 album’s. I certainly think it may have been written before Howe actually joined the band and they used it more or less as a gap filler.

To be honest I have no knowledge or know any history how the song came about, and my theory is merely based on what I am hearing here from not only the songs musical structure, but also the set of lyrics we have here. In all honesty they are the only lyrics on the album that make any sense at all, quite unlike the rest of the tracks that I would call Yes Music and relation to the bands new musical style and direction I would not call this song Yes Music either.

There is no doubt the song sounds like Yes but an earlier period of their career and in all honesty that’s really down to Anderson’s voice and Howe’s input into it with his guitar to which he has even made some of the other earlier songs sound this way with his input to them. Though Anderson is the only person credited as the only writer of this song. I would even stick my neck out and say his old band mate from The Warriors, David Foster helped him out with the lyrics, because these lyrics are excellent. It does add a nice touch to the album I will say and works better than any gap filler as well.

Track 6. Perpetual Change.
The final track on the album is yet another utter classic from the band. No doubt about “Perpetual Change” being Yes Music in every sense of the word with its musical structure and lyrics. It’s all so a strong pillar and the 4th corner of this magic album that was the starting point of something completely new and different. If anything just the name “Perpetual Change” itself sums up this bands music perfectly, simply because it has many changes, diversities and goes in many directions with its superb chord progression.

Once again there is no doubt Tony Kaye shows his worth on this song and does a superb job on it to be honest. It even kicks off with the him on the keyboard. The electric piano he uses also works very well in the songs verses and works very well for Anderson to sing along too.

He also contributes a lot to the lead break too which works by using a Polyrhythmic cross sections that use two different time signatures which are playing simultaneously, and that whistling high pitch flute synth noise he uses at the end of the solo to bring the song back into play is quite something. A lot of this particular song features perhaps more of him than the rest of the guys. But no doubt along with the two mentioned here Bruford, Squire and Howe do the business with them on the song.

According to form Anderson wrote the lyrics for this by his inspiration from the view of the countryside cottage in Devon were the band were staying and writing the material for the album. No doubt they were rearranged inside out and outside in (LOL) Honestly the times I have heard Rick Wakeman say this guy is on, or from another planet. I am beginning to wonder 😊😊😊. I should not really criticise him to be honest because in all honesty they work, and this song put an end to pivotal point of the bands first step into a new direction, which went on to make them one of the most dominant and successful bands in the world of Progressive Rock.

Musicians & Credits…

The original album was produced by Yes & Eddie Oddford at the Advision Studios. London. Engineered by Eddie Oddford and co-ordinated by the bands manager Brian Lane with thanks to Tom Dowd. Photography by Phil Franks & Barry Wentzell. Design by Jon Goodchild.

Jon Anderson: Vocals/Percussion.
Chris Squire: Bass/Guitar/Vocals.
Steve Howe: Electric & Acoustic guitars/Vachalia/Vocals.
Tony Kaye: Piano/Organ/Moog.
Bill Bruford: Drums/Percussion.

Additional instruments Colin Goldring. Recorders on “Your Move”.

The 5.1 Mix…

Not only do I take my hat off to Steven Wilson for the 5.1 mix but also the stereo mix of this album. There is no doubt he has done good in presenting The Yes Album over all its 6 channels. There is also no doubt that the 5.1 mix will in many ways re-sparkle and rekindle the life back into revitalising the album all over again, giving you tremendous joy and pleasure in hearing not only this album, but also the other Yes album’s he has done in these “Definitive Editions”.

For me personally I am overwhelmed to finally have these albums with a 5.1 mix, that much that they have literally brought tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. To be perfectly honest even though personally for me the Yes were no doubt my favourite band back in the 70’s. Over the past decade I have certainly played more of the band Genesis a lot more than Yes and in some ways I have not played any Yes album for long periods of time.

There is no doubt the reason for this is simply because all the early Genesis album’s got the 5.1 treatment a decade ago now. These Yes album’s have been long overdue regarding getting the 5.1 treatment, and now that they have. I can assure I will go on to enjoy the band all over again as I did back in their heyday with the result of these mixes. Thank you Steve Wilson. You have literally brought the best decade of this bands music back to life.

Summary Of The Yes Album…

There is no doubt in my mind that the band Yes back in that magical decade of the 70’s and in their heyday of the earlier part of that decade made music that was entirely their own. In the world of progressive rock they simply outclassed any other band in its genre. They carved and sculptured music like no other band had ever done, and had the biggest name in the world of Prog Rock. Without a shred of a doubt they are the number one Prog Rock band of all time in the world. They easily claimed that title and made history in the world of its genre. They made music back then that not even they could produce again or any other band for that matter.

The 70’s for me was the magical decade of all time, especially for Prog Rock. Did the Punk Rocker’s who never had a clue how to play instruments really kill this magical genre of music?. No way on this earth did they, and many bands are still continuing to make it even today. They are also heavily inspired by all the greats in this genre of music we had back in the 70’s. There is no doubt Yes Music will live well long after I have gone.


The Yes Album is one solid fine body of work. The written material upon it is without a doubt just as strong as the material that was on the 2 album’s that followed it, and the musical structures on all 3 of those album’s is exactly carved and shaped out in the same way. There is no doubt that Rick Wakeman added a further element of strength to the line up on the 2 albums that followed. But all 3 of the album’s have the same blood and veins of how strong the material is upon them and how they stand up.

My theory regarding these 3 album’s having 4 corners on the 2 of the album’s and a solid triangle on the other one. I think stands out very well. Because there is no doubt in my mind you could of crammed all the material that’s on all 3 album’s together and made a triple album out of them and it would of worked.

From the time they made The Yes Album in 1971 the only real significant change Yes ever made regarding the written material on all 3 of the album’s they made from 1971-1972 was the day Bill Bruford left the band and I honestly believe that.

For me personally The Yes Album was the start of something that had never been heard before. It was entirely fresh and stands up very well in every way to represent what real Yes Music was all about. It was a remarkable piece of work and one big achievement that was all sparked off by the changing of one man in the bands line up. I honestly think that without Steve Howe. Yes Music would of never existed. For me personally there was no such thing has Yes Music without him in the band either. You simply cannot replace a guitarist of his stature with a rock guitarist and call it progressive rock. What Yes did with Trevor Rabin was a mile away from the genre of Prog Rock I am afraid to say.

Yesterday a smile really did come across my face!.

The CD track listing is as follows:

1. Yours Is No Disgrace. 9:42.
2. Clap. 3:16.
3. Starship Trooper (a. Life Seeker. b. Disillusion. c. Wurm.) . 9:30.
4. I’ve Seen All Good People. (a. Your Move. b. All Good People.). 6:59.
5. A Venture. 3:32.
6. Perpetual Change. 9:01.
7. Clap (Studio Version). 4:04.
8. A Venture (Extended Version) 4:45.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Bonus Tracks Rating Score. 6/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 10/10.

The Original Album Rating Score. 10/10

Lee Speaks About Music… #10

Sanctuary Live – Robert Reed



Another pre-ordered release that surprisingly arrived though my letter box 3 days earlier than it’s official release date of the 12th June, and as always with all Rob’s solo and Magenta album’s I always order directly from his own website to which you are guaranteed to get it at the best price. This tasty package comes with a CD and DVD and is a bargain for its price tag of £12.

Rob started his own solo career back in 2014 with the release of his debut album Sanctuary and in early 2016 he followed it up with the release of Sanctuary II. Both of which are stunning albums and perhaps musically, both album’s say more about the great artist Mike Oldfield rather than Robert Reed himself, and he’s very much paid an homage to the great classic music Oldfield was churning out in the 70’s and even made it sound as if the material came out of that decade and was done by Oldfield himself.

I have to say myself that its perhaps the most extraordinary thing I have heard from anybody starting a solo career (even as a side line as Rob has done) to do. It’s as if Robert Reed is Mike Oldfield with what he has done and presented to his many fans. Many people have criticised him for doing such a thing, but if like myself you was into his work he does with his band Magenta beforehand and paid more attention to the material he was writing for that, this is hardly that surprising in the least.

The fact is that Rob has been writing material around existing melody lines from all those years back all his life. Every Magenta album contains melody lines to which Rob has so skilfully reworked, sculptured, shaped and carved out to fit into his music. The fact that he can do this so skilfully is the work of a pure genius, simply because those melody lines he has worked around, he has very much made them his own and you are not hearing exactly the same piece of music that was on all those many greats that came out of the 70;s. Such as Yes. Genesis. King Crimson and many others including Mike Oldfield all of which can be heard on Magenta album’s.

Both of his Sanctuary album’s contain many melody lines from many Oldfield albums. Mostly from the 70’s but even go as far as 1992 with melody lines from Oldfield’s Tubular Bells 2. But not one of those melody lines are played exactly the same as they was on the records by Oldfield and Rob as merely done what Oldfield did himself when he restructured the melody lines for Tubular Bells 2. So for the many who see this has plagiarism I rather think this is not the case at all, and both artists are pure geniuses with what they have both done.

The Packaging & Artwork…

1 Santuary Live

The slip case that contains the both discs is very much the same as the packaging that the latest Magenta album We Are Legend came in last month. Only this one does not come with a booklet. I rather like this design because both discs are easy to retrieve from the pockets, and because it has a glossy coating, you are not going to be getting any scratch marks on the discs surface when removing them.

The unusual thing I did find is that Disc 1 is actually the DVD and 2nd disc is the CD. Normally it’s the other way around, but I am not complaining especially has I always see the DVD as the most important thing and not the CD. I always prefer to watch a live concert and not just listen to it.

I do however always rip the CD onto my computer so I can listen it on their occasionally, but that’s about the only thing I do with the disc and it never gets played on my HiFi and has I do not drive and have a car, the CD’s in all these type of packages are very much redundant. But do not ask me for them, cause I love to keep the package and all its contents in tact.

The cardboard slipcase contains all the information regarding what’s on album such as the tracks and the musicians, but does not contain any information about the 5.1 mix that is on the DVD. I have to admit I was a bit worried when I originally ordered it, because even the website never gave any information regarding a 5.1 mix or even there actually being the whole concert on the DVD. It even made out that the DVD only contained excerpts from the concert on there.

It was very confusing I have to say, but knowing how Rob always provides 5.1 mixes with everything he has done recently I ordered it all the same, and I would of even if the album was just a live audio concert anyway as I love Sanctuary that much. But my mind was soon put at ease when I played the DVD and it does contain the whole concert and a quality 5.1 mix too.

It really is a great package for the money, and once again you are getting really more than your money’s worth. The artwork as expected displays a photo shot from the concert. Some photos are also on the inside and on the back of slipcase and they are placed onto a black background. Giving the package a very nice presentation.

Early Thoughts…

I remember very well when Rob Reed announced he was going to playing the music from both of his Sanctuary album’s in August last year. It was very much a concert I was planning to go and see. I even got in touch with my brother who does have transport and drives and offered to buy his ticket as we both love Robs music and I so desperately wanted to go. But being as the venue was in Bath there was no way of us getting there and back on the same day, and my brother had other work on that weekend.

Had it of been years ago I would of went there by myself on the train, and even roughed it for the night and gone home the next day. But these days my health is not the best at the best of times, and I could not really afford the money for an hotel to stay overnight. So I had to put an end to all my dreams and miss the show.

But I did know he was filming the show for a live DVD release, and this very concert I have been eagerly awaiting for ever since, and now the waiting is over and I am over the moon that I have managed to get to see the show now.

I even remember having a good chat with Rob at the Robin 2 about his planned concert for Sanctuary when I seen him with Kiama supporting the band Frost* earlier in that year. I particularly wanted to know how he could afford to put on such a show in such a small venue, especially how I thought the ticket prices were amazingly quite cheap at £25 each, and it was a lot more smaller venue than what the Robin 2 was in Bilston. Wolverhampton.

He did put on 2 shows that day of the concert, one in the afternoon and an evening show. You could watch the both shows for £35. But even that still seemed remarkably cheap. Also the fact that just like Oldfield he would have to hire an array of musicians to be able to perform the music live. I thought it was quite a gamble to be even able to get his money back.

Rob told me it was one of those things he had to do and he may even be able to recuperate some of the money back from the sales of the DVD. Getting out there and performing it live was more important to him than the money side of things. So he really does give his fans great entertainment and value with what he does.

The Musicians…

Well as all those know who have the Sanctuary album’s the biggest majority of the music is played by Rob himself, with the exception of the drums on the 2nd album to which Simon Phillips played. The odd flutes by Les Penning and the only other thing Rob never did was all the female voices.

A thirteen piece band was assembled to play the music and 5 of them are the latest line up of the band Magenta who appear on their latest album We Are Legend. The list of musicians is as follows:

Rob Reed: Guitar/Keyboard/Vocoder/Marimba/Vibraphone/Tubular Bells.
Chris Fry: Acoustic/Classical & Electric Guitars.
Martin Shellard: Electric/Classical & Acoustic Guitars.
Dan Nelson: Bass.
Jonathan “Jiffy” Griffiths: Drums & African Percussion.
Tim Lewis: Keyboards & Vocoder.
Nigel Hopkins: Piano/Fender Rhodes.
Simon Brittlebank: Timpani/Marimba/Vibraphone/Glockenspiel/Tubular Bells.
Angharad Brinn: Lead Vocal.
Christina Booth. Fran Murphy. Lorraine King. Ffion Wilkins: Chant Vocals.

Handling the sound and PA System were Matthew Richards & Buzz Acoustics. The camera crew in charge of filming the live show were Andrew Lawson. Rhys Davies and Richard Sheldon. The recording engineer was Oli Jacobs.

Sanctuary Live Review…

Both the DVD and CD contain the whole concert in its entirety and has a playing time of 72 minutes and 38 seconds. The DVD also contains an extra feature with a short documentary. The concert was performed live on the 8th August 2016 at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Bath. England.

I have to say the musicians are all extremely talented and capable of handling Robs solo material with ease. Throughout most of the show Rob is playing electric guitar, and only in certain parts will you see him pop over to one of the other instruments and give them a tinkle so to speak. It’s good to see him do so especially playing the tubular bells, marimba and vibraphone.

Rob tends to take a more laid back approach and does not like in particular being the centre stage or in the limelight. He’s quite shy in that way and always likes to focus the attention to the other musicians in the band. He is the same with Magenta and will often focus more of the attention on the vocalist Christina and other members of the band, he’s very generous in that way, and most of his real skills and talent is seen in his studio where he is working on creating the music rather than on the stage.

But there are a few spots here he does shine in this concert, in particular on some of the lead solos on the guitar. But mostly his attention his more focused on the rhythm guitar side of things, leaving most of the lead work to Chris and Martin. Interestingly enough Chris even looks to be happy letting Martin cope with most of the more complex lead work, and he really does a great job of it too.

To be honest I have no idea who Martin Shellard is, and there seems to be very little information about him on the internet too. It’s the first time I have ever come across him, but he does seem to handle all his guitar parts with ease and is a really great player.

The keyboard player Tim Lewis is another musician I have never heard of. Though it’s not hard to find out information about him and the many other artists and bands he has played in. Apparently his career goes back to 1993 when he first started collaborating with Julian Cope. He has also played in at least 5 or 6 other bands and has quite a back catalogue of music with everything he has been involved in. All of which I have never heard of any of them.

But the one thing I got out of watching him play from this concert. Is that the man is a pure workhorse, and along with Simon Brittlebank on the percussion who is another completely unknown to me. There is no doubt that these two musicians are entirely working their butts off and have the hardest stints in the entire gig.

Both are extremely talented musicians who can not only handle their parts with ease, but also play them to perfection. The way Tim plays even Les Penning’s flute parts on the keyboard is a delight to watch and is far from anything easy at all to hit all those notes in the way he his hitting them. Its quite breathtaking to watch and in many ways he reminds me with his work rate in particular of Richard Tandy of ELO. Another workhorse who works his butt off at a gig I can assure you.

Both Dan on the bass and Jonathan on the drums provide a very strong backline holding it all up very well, and Christina perhaps seems a little out of place taking on a more of a back seat role along with the other backing singers joining in on the chants, but she seems to be having fun. Has for Angharad Brinn on the lead vocals, she is simply outstanding and does a perfect job in all her parts including on the Willow Song.

The set list of the concert covers Rob Reed’s entire catalogue of his solo career almost over the 1 hour and near enough 13 minute show. It kicks off with Sanctuary 1 Part 1 to which is played all the way through in its entirety. This is followed by a short 4 minute excerpt of the 2nd part of the original 18 minute track.

The whole of the 2 parts of his Sanctuary II album is played in its entirety, and to finish the show they play a 6 minute version of Willow Song to which was originally written for his first Sanctuary album, but has he could not fit it in to work with the original album, he released it on an EP in the same year back in 2014. The EP contained the original 4 minute and 37 seconds song and also included an extended 5 minute and 50 seconds version along with many other promotional snippets of the album and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair.

The DVD extra of what is supposed to be a documentary is nothing of the sort and in reality is quite disappointing. I would of much sooner of seen Rob talking about the concert over the 12 or 13 minutes we got here, rather than somebody just pointing a camera at the musicians and other people walking around Peter Gabriel’s home studio.

It’s very unprofessional of Rob to do such a thing to be honest, and even the studio itself is not as well captured in relation to how we seen it back in 2010 when Magenta played their acoustic concert there, to which can be seen on their Live At Real World DVD. It’s not the sort of thing you will want to watch again either, unless you was actually one of the people captured on film on that day of course.

The 5.1 Mix…

The live show also contains a very good well detailed 5.1 mix that not only captures the audience and the atmosphere very well, but also contains some of the instrumentation very well placed over its 6 channels making the show even more enjoyable to watch and listen too. Though I would of preferred a DTS 24 bit 96K mix I cannot really complain with how well Rob has done the mix in DTS 24 bit 48K instead.

Has with any live show it’s bound to sound different to the way the studio album’s present themselves in 5.1 and even though the live mix is very good, sound wise it feels a bit lighter and personally for myself it does not give me the same outstanding quality and satisfaction that both studio albums give me when listening to those.

I really get a buzz from both of those studio album’s in 5.1. But never the less without a doubt the concert is well worth playing in 5.1 and can be very well enjoyed and give you the presence of actually being there to some extent.

Summary Of Sanctuary Live…

Sanctuary Live is a very satisfying concert where all the musicians can be seen enjoying themselves on stage and having fun including Rob himself in presenting the great music from his solo career to its audience. Apart from only playing a small snippet of the 2nd part of his debut album, it covers his entire solo work to a very small close nit audience who I am sure thoroughly enjoyed the whole performance.

No doubt the band must of practised really hard to be able to perform it live as well as they did, and it takes some pretty outstanding musicians to be able to perform at this level in the way it was put across. If there are any mistakes in the performance, I certainly cannot spot any and it makes a very entertaining show that one can watch over and over.

In many ways watching them perform the material live takes the edge away from even thinking of Mike Oldfield and it being more of Rob’s own material in relation to the way it was originally constructed from Oldfield’s melody lines.


Overall for the price of the package of £12 Sanctuary Live provides you with a very well entertaining live concert skilfully performed by everyone on the stage. Regarding of whether you was actually there to see it or not.

For those who were I am sure they will enjoy it all again with how it has been captured on film and comes with great audio quality too. For those like myself who was not. It gives you the chance to see it for yourself and even makes you wish you was there. It’s peanuts to pay for the admission price of owning it on DVD and is a genuine bargain that comes with a CD thrown into boot.

The so called documentary that comes as an extra feature on the DVD is perhaps disappointing. But I certainly could not knock off any points off my overall score rating for that.

If you have Magenta’s Live At Real World DVD which is an acoustic concert which was played at the same venue and enjoyed that like myself. Sanctuary Live certainly provides you with a more electrifying experience and does not disappoint one bit. No doubt it’s perhaps a must for all Magenta and Robert Reed fans alike and if your into good music and great musicians this will certainly appeal to many others as well, and comes highly recommended from myself.

The track listing for both the DVD & CD is as follows:

1. Sanctuary 1 Part 1. 21:35.
2. Sanctuary 1 Part 2 (Excerpt) 4:12.
3. Sanctuary II Part 1. 19:53.
4. Sanctuary II Part 2. 20:57.

5. Willow Song. 6:01.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

Lee’s Package Rating 7/10.

Lee’s 5.1 Mix Score Rating 8/10.

Lee’s Concert rating 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #9

Hail To The Sun – Loftcover.jpg


It’s been a couple of years since the head banging heavy rock metal band Loft released their stunning debut album Empires, and whilst the band have been busy gigging plenty of live shows promoting that album, mainly around their home town of Cornwall. I myself have been twiddling my thumbs waiting in great anticipation to see what they was gonna come up with next.

Well the wait is finally over and on the 3rd of June they released a 5 track EP entitled Hail To The Sun on Bandcamp as a digital download only. The 5 track EP has a playing time of 23 minutes 15 seconds and just like their previous album Empires the material is very strong, well written and purely rocks, and the wait was well worth it.

The band Loft consists of 5 young very talented musicians, and it’s good to see that over the 2 years they have been together the bands line up has not changed and that their songwriting and style is still very much consistent. Each band member is a unit of equal strength and all 5 of them add to the power, strength and drive that the band is pushing out and producing within the great music they are very much making.

Musicians & Credits…

The band Loft consists of the following line up:


Rob Summers – Vocals
Denn Leavy – Guitar.
Bob Barnes – Guitar.
Phil Rollason – Bass.
Tats McGee – Drums.

The 5 tracks on the EP were recorded and engineered by Bob Barnes & Josh Rowland. It was also mixed by Bob Barnes and mastered by Josh Rowland. The very tasty artwork was done by Jim Doe and is based around the first track on the EP. More about that in my detailed review which is up next.

The EP Review…

The EP gets off to a flying start with its power house heavy rocking opening track Icarus. The song starts off with a great guitar riff from both guitarists Denn & Bob, and is quickly followed by Tats drums and Phil’s bass giving it more strength. Then in comes Rob on the vocals adding even more power to the song with his great rock voice and he belts out the great words with ease.

Lyrically the song puts across a story that comes from ancient Greek Mythology about Icarus, who was the son of a craftsman known as Daedalus who made 2 sets of wings so he could teach his son how to fly. To glue the wings together he used wax and told his son not to fly too high or too low because the sun could melt the wax and the sea would dampen the feathers. Unfortunately Icarus forgot his father’s wise words and flew to high and closer to the sun, that resulting in the wings melting and he fell into the sea and drown.

Its a superb well written song that has plenty of adrenalin and raw power about it. Both the artwork and the album’s title “Hail to the sun” relate to this opening song and it really is a scorcher of a song.

More pace and power is injected into the next song on the EP entitled Black River. The song features very powerful hard hitting drums from Tats drum kit and he really sets the ultra fast pace of the song, especially on the verse sections. High power is coming from all the guitars and Robs voice and it has a great come down section around the 2:11 mark just past the half way point of the song, that features a lovely tone coming from Phil’s bass line and gets accompanied by some tasty lead guitar all bringing it back up to its boiling point, and this song really does kick ass.

The song’s lyrics pertain perhaps more to the dark and evil feel of it all, more than have any real meaning. If they do I cannot certainly make any head or tail out of them, but whatever it’s all about is well apt to the music and its another great rocking song.

Kraken is a superb piece of work and song that’s lyrical content is based around some giant sized mythical sea monster that is said to dwell off the coast of Norway and Greenland. The song opens up with some roaring howls and screams from the amplified feedback from the guitars FX and then unleashes its monster driven power. The song uses some great chord progression and shows some great diversity with its changes and has a really great lead solo break too.

It was a very hard decision for me to make in not giving this particular song the best track on the album award. It really is a superb song and a monster of one at that. It also leads directly into the next song which is the 4th track Revolutions which in many ways is like Kraken with its monster drive and is like all hell as broken loose in this war. This one does happen to be my personal fave on the album and it’s another song that features a great lead solo from the guitars and the bass also works superbly in the song too.

The EP is brought to an end with a brilliant song entitled Liar. Its very much one of those songs that has all the right elements about it, to make it an excellent song to use as a single release. It’s a very well put together song with it’s heavy riff to which the both guitars even double it up as it builds its way along. It also contains a great short burst of a lead solo too, and as with every song on this EP the band are giving it all. It ends it all off superbly.

Summary Of The EP…

There is no doubt in my mind that the band Loft have come up with another 5 superb well written songs for the EP Hail To The Sun. The material upon it is just as strong as what was on their previous album Empires to which the band even called that an EP rather than an album, as I would call it.

The fact is when I was their age, back in my day all albums were around the 40 minutes or less time slot, and has Empires contains 7 tracks over a playing time of just under 37 minutes, very much makes it an album and not an EP. Many of today’s bands have also switched back to the 40 minute album time slot which I personally prefer myself.

If you have not got the bands album Empires I would highly recommend you get it, because it really is a superb album and is a strong body of work just like this EP and comes with an excellent quality sound production. I also think the band show a lot more diversity on the album Empires with the material that’s upon it too.


To sum up my review for the EP Hail To The Sun and the band Loft. I would say that there is no doubt what so ever, that the band have once again come up with the goods, and produced another solid body of work that does not in any way disappoint.

Regarding the band itself and the fact that they are an unsigned band in the way that they do not have a reputable record label or major contract record deal. It’s damn shame, because if this band would of came out in the 70’s there is no doubt in my mind that they would of been snapped up, just like the likes of Black Sabbath and Quartz who were from my home town of Birmingham.

In many ways the band Loft are very much like both of them bands I mentioned and many more too with their approach and style to heavy rock music. But they do have their own personal style and touch to it all. They are a fine talented bunch of guys that say everything about really great music with the songs they write and produce.

The standard of the high quality production that comes on these albums is even more greater than the quality of production both Black Sabbath and Quartz had on their albums back in the 70’s. Though to be fair recording technology has come on in leaps and bounds since those days. But never the less you are getting genuine high quality for as little or nothing here, and it’s well worthy of giving the guys a drink, even if it’s the price of one beer, for the hard work and sweat they have put into it all.

If your into rock or heavy rock music like myself, then there is no doubt this will appeal to you and it’s well worthy of adding to your record collection. Has a band personally for me, the band Loft speak highly and appeal to my taste 100%. In my own personal opinion they are as good as anybody out there who work in this genre of music and make great records.

My advice is get it…

Lee’s overall EP Score Rating 10/10.

Both Empires and Hail To The Sun are available @ Bandcamp and can be obtained on the following link: https://lofttheband.bandcamp.com/music

Lee Speaks About Music… #8

Shangri-La – Mark KnopflerKnopfler_Mark_-_Shangri-La_-_SACD_edited-1_grande


I have always been a fan of Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler as a solo artist. He’s such a great songwriter and a brilliant guitarist who’s style and touch on the instrument stands out a mile and is instantly recognisable. It’s what makes him so unique. Since leaving Dire Straits back in 1992 to which he had also scored many film soundtracks and collaborated with many other artists during his time with the band. Mark made his first studio album in 1996 entitled Golden Heart and since then he has not looked back.

There is no doubt that Mark as matured and mellowed out very well over the years and so too has his songwriting. His work with lyrics in particular has vastly improved and he’s even been dubbed as Britain’s answer to Bob Dylan. He as even collaborated with the man himself and produced an album for him because Bob loves the sound quality on Mark’s albums and wanted to improve on the sound he has on his own.

There is no doubt Mark’s music also changed to a more country and folk style in relation to all those massive hits he had with Dire Straits which had more of a raunchy rock edge about the songs he did back in those days with the band. But the one thing that has never changed is his touch on the guitar and his voice.

Mark has made and produced 8 solo studio albums to date and this particular album Shangri-La is his 4th album that was released back in 2004. It’s an album of his I brought more or less back then on CD and I have all of his albums. It’s a really great album just as many of his albums are and I have just recently brought it again. Not because I had damaged or lost my original CD, or that the album’s that good it’s worth buying again :))))))). But whilst browsing Amazon’s website a few weeks ago I stumbled upon an SACD with a 5.1 surround sound version of it.

According to form having recently done some research the album was released in 5 formats back in 2004. Vinyl. CD. HDCD SACD & DVD Audio. Had I of known originally I would of brought it on SACD all those years back. Thankfully the SACD is still widely available and still in circulation, keeping the cost down, and I picked this up brand new from Amazon for £9.43p.

Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD)…

The SACD as always been my favoured media format to put music onto. The major difference between the super audio CD in relation to the normal conventional CD audio is down to its capacity in size. Its the same capacity of 4.7 Gigs you get with a DVD which means you can get a lot more information on the disc itself. Such as a lossless 24 or even higher bit recordings. Just like the DVD they can even come in the form of dual layered discs which can double the size of its capacity. Giving the listener a much higher quality recording that you could ever store on a CD that comes with a capacity of less than 1 Gig.

Dual layered discs are used for Hybrid SACD’s. The reason they use 2 layers on these particular discs is because they not only come with a multi channel surround track for the use of 5.1 mixes. But they also come with a conventional stereo mix as well, so you can play them on normal CD Players as well.

Though both SACD and DVD have the same in size of their capacity that can store information on them. The SACD is a disc that is used for audio only, where as the DVD is mainly dedicated to cater for video. When it comes down to the audio quality between the both discs the SACD can handle twice the sampling rate of a DVD and can handle a sampled rate of 192K. Whereas the DVD can only handle up to 96K.

Both media formats can produce extremely high quality audio much greater over any conventional CD, and the fact that they use frequencies that are way beyond any human ear from being capable of hearing, has caused many arguments regarding it’s audio quality being any better at all, and it being pointless using such higher frequencies if one is unable to hear them.

Even though these higher frequencies may seem pointless, they are in fact used to push the boundaries and can create nuisances, clarity and increase the dynamic range and when doing a side by side A & B comparison they can make a lot of difference especially with the use of multi channel mixes. I myself was brought up on HiFi as a child and have been an avid music listener and collector all my life, and I can tell you that sonically there is a massive difference, and it’s instantly noticeable.

The fact that the SACD uses (DSD) Direct Stream Digital instead of the conventional  (PCM) Pulse Code Modulation that CD’s and DVD’s use, is the reason it can handle these much higher frequencies and brings out the nuisances, clarity and dynamics even more so. Since the release of the Blu Ray Player and its 1.4 HDMI Cable which was made to transmit both HD pictures as well as audio. It is now possible to stream DSD more cheaply than it ever was before, and some Blu Ray Players can even play SACD’s as well as many other media formats.

Even some DVD Players from years ago could play SACD’s but they could not transmit DSD and converted it to PCM so you was never getting the real quality the disc could actually produce. The same can be said of many mid and low end SACD Players. You could even spend as much as £800 on an SACD Player and it still could not transmit DSD. Only the high end dedicated SACD Players that run into thousands of pounds could transmit DSD back then.

There is no doubt that when it comes to high end audio quality the Blu Ray Player is capable of handling it. But from my own experience it can only match the audio quality of the SACD and in reality is not any better. It’s the same. I actually prefer SACD;s in relation to the Blu Ray. Simply because just like a CD it’s a lot easier to store and does not come in flimsy oversize cases.

Speaking of cases most SACD’s come in the same form of packaging as a CD. They either come in a plastic jewel case or a cardboard flip sleeve. The only way you can distinguish an SACD from a CD is generally down to the fact that they put a sticker on the front cover as in the picture above. The only other difference is generally spotted inside and looking at the artwork on the actual disc All they do is make the artwork a slightly different colour, and this particular SACD disc is a more lighter shade of blue than the actual CD.

The companies Sony and Phillips invented the SACD player and Sony even went on to invent the Blu Ray Player. The fact that Sony have the rights regarding what material can be released, and is allowed to be put on to an SACD is really unfair. Because since they invented the Blu Ray Player they have put a block on many SACD’s being released by many major artists in this world, and practically have put a block on every genre of music except for classical music which is still being released on an SACD these days.

To give you an example the artist Elton John decided to give all his old back catalogue of music a new lease of life, by having every album from his debut 1969 album Empty Sky up to his double 1976 album Blue Moves put onto SACD with 5.1 mixes of them. That’s 12 studio album’s in total, and all 12 of them were mixed, done and mastered onto SACD’s by Greg Penny who started work on the mixes back in 2004.

But Sony only allowed 6 of those album’s to be released, and held back the other 6 album’s because the company wanted to put more support into its newer product the  Blu Ray. Still to this day those 6 albums have never been released even despite the fact that Elton John as sold more album’s on SACD than any other artist, and for years there as been an ongoing dispute of complaints to the company from many of his fans and surround freaks such as myself. The company did however let Elton release his much more later album Peach Tree Road he did in that same year of 2004 on SACD. But in all honesty Sony are being totally unreasonable towards Elton and his fans and to the many like myself who love and support the SACD media format.

Shangri-La is the only one of Mark’s solo album’s that got released in all these formats and to have a 5.1 mix. In the following year of 2005 the Dire Straits album Brothers In Arms got re-released in multi formats for its 20th Anniversary and also was given the 5.1 treatment and released on SACD. That is also the only Dire Straits album to have a 5.1 mix too. It is also still widely available and easy to obtain at a bargain price, unlike many SACD’s that got released all those years back.

I myself got that SACD for nothing off my brother Martin. Who himself got it free as it came free with a Creative Labs Soundcard he had purchased for his computer at the time to which I installed for him. Back then he never had an Home Cinema Surround System like myself, so the 5.1 mix was pointless for him to have. Also like myself he already had the album anyway, so he gave the SACD to me.

I originally brought the album Brothers In Arms on vinyl on it’s release back in 1985. I also brought the CD which was later released in the same year. There is a major difference on some of the tracks between the both media formats they were released on. Some of the tracks on the CD are longer and have been extended, especially “Why Worry” which is a good 3 minutes longer. The biggest difference of all is the 4th track on the album “Your Latest Trick” it has a completely different mix on the CD and is more slower and sounds more like a Jazz track than it ever was on the vinyl album.

The album also made history by being the first album to be recorded purely digitally. It was also the first ever compact disc to contain a DDD recording as well instead of AAD to which most albums released on CD contained analog recordings converted to digital back then.

The Musicians & Credits…

All the musicians that feature on Mark’s Studio album’s have been with him since he started his solo career in 1996 and have featured on all of the 4 album’s he had made at this point of his career. Most of them are still with him even today. Though this was the last studio album that the drummer Chad Cromwell played on. Besides playing for Mark Chad is also known for playing drums for both Neil Young and Joe Walsh too.

The keyboard player Guy Fletcher as been with Mark for a long time and in 1984 Mark made him an official member of Dire Straits to play additional keyboards alongside Alan Clark the bands main keyboard player. Mark first worked with Guy when he was scoring the music for the film Cal a year earlier in 1983 and enjoyed his friendship with him, hence the reason why he got to become a member of Dire Straits.

All songs are written by Mark Knopfler and the album was produced by Mark Knopfler & Chuck Ainlay. The list of musicians are as follows:

Mark Knopfler: Vocals – Guitars.
Richard Bennett: Guitars.
Jim Cox: Piano – Organ – Harmonica.
Guy Fletcher: Piano – Organ.
Glenn Worf: Bass.
Chad Cromwell: Drums.
Paul Franklin : Pedal Steel Guitar. 

The Album Review…

The album Shangri-La Mark started recording on in February 2004 and was later released in the autumn of the same year in October. It was the first work Mark had done since having his motorcycle accident in the previous year to which he had to cancel his tour for his previous album Rag Pickers Dream. Mark had spent 7 months recovering from the accident and had not picked up a guitar during that time of recovery either.

The album received many great reviews, many of which dubbed it as his best album and more likened to the material he done when he was with Dire Straits. There is no doubt in my mind it’s a really great album and some of the material upon it does resemble some of his earlier work he done with Dire Straits.

The album comes with 14 tracks over a playing time of 66 minutes and 19 seconds which is quite a good bit over my preferred album time slot of around the 40 minute mark. Never the less the material is very strong and holds up very well over this longer distance.

Many of its tracks could also be considered as classics when it comes down to quality songwriting, and there are many times I myself can find myself saying that what Mark is doing as a solo artist, is in fact better than what he did with Dire Straits and I have to pinch myself every now and then cause I for one loved Dire Straits. Especially their self titled debut album Dire StraitsCommuniqué and Love Over Gold. Which are my personal favourite 3 out of the 6 album’s the band made.

The opening track on the album 5:15 Am is my personal favourite track of the album. It’s a song about a true story about a one armed bandit murder that took place in Newcastle in the north-east of England back in 1967. It was dubbed with that particular name as it was part of a gangland murder over the control of gaming machines known as slot machines these days, rather than one arm bandits.

The two men who was arrested for the killing were given life sentences and came from  London to run a gambling racket up north. Both men claimed they were innocent and the Kray’s were responsible for the killing. They was also both released after serving 12 years in jail. Mark’s voice and words delivers the song in very fine chilled out laid back ballad style and it’s got some lovely touches from his Stratocaster even though the song does not have solo break at all, but it works superbly.

Even though this song is not the album’s self titled track, it must of had a lot of inspiration for Mark when choosing the album’s artwork cover. Hence there being a one armed bandit on the front of it. It’s also the longest track on the album.

Boom Like That has much more of a swing and up tempo feel about it, and is very much more like the type of song that could easily be more familiar and associated with the material he did with Dire Straits. This one does contain a couple of lead solos from his guitar and lifts up the album with great style.

The songs lyrical content is based around the autobiography of Ray Kroc who was a successful business man who was responsible for expanding the fast food giant McDonald’s to which he joined back in 1965 and gave them the success they have today. The song was also released as a single.

The 3rd track Sucker Row has more of a country blues ballad style feel about it. it’s another song about business and keeping it afloat by not being lacksey daisy and being on the ball to keep the money rolling in. I think no matter what subject matter Mark writes about he’s a very clever man with words and knows how to make great songs with them.

The Trawlermans Song was released as an EP in the following year of 2005. The EP contained the original album version of the song along with 5 other tracks from the album that had a live one take recording done at his own studio he had built in Malibu, California. It’s even called the Shangri-la Studios after the name of the album, and its where the album was conceived.

The song itself is based around his childhood days at the docks in his home town of Newcastle watching the fishermen bringing home the fish they used to catch. Mark had a lot of time during his 7 month spell of recuperating to visit many other places and reflect back on his past. It’s very much a folk based song that has a country swing about it, and is another fine song.

The next song Back To Tupelo is a class bit of songwriting and a song Mark wrote about Elvis Presley. It’s very much based around his acting career in the many films he made, rather than his life has a pop star and being the king of rock n’ roll. It’s a lovely acoustic ballad of a song with some fine touches once again from his Strat.

Following that we have the albums self titled track Our Shangri-La. Mark hits the spot on this song it’s simply delicious and a classic track on the album. No doubt a contender for the top song on the album and even though I gave the opening track 5:15 Am my personal fave on the album, it was a very difficult choice for me to make, and to many others this may very well be their favourite track of the album.

The song has a much older feel about it and could of even of been a hit back in the 50’s and 60’s. It really is a classic that as all the right elements in excellent songwriting about it. Maybe I am getting old fashioned in my age, but I just love it.

Speaking of classics. The 7th track on the album is very much a country classic song entitled Everybody Pays To Play. The song is that catchy that I can even today for no particular reason suddenly burst out singing it’s chorus.

It’s perhaps the most addictive song on the album. I have even found myself using its title as a sentence in many conversations I have had with people in many different situations. For example even for conversations about paying to watch cable TV or even a TV Licence. Even in senses of humour where somebody has just lost their money in a one arm bandit or slot machine in a pub :)))))

In one of Mark’s documentary’s I seen awhile ago he got the influence for the song by thinking back to when he was in his teens, and he seen all these people paying money to see many of their heroes play at a concert. He even thought back then that is what he would love to do, and in the end his childhood dream came true.

There is no doubt that country music suits Mark’s style, and he cannot only play it well but also is very good at arranging it. The quality musicians he has around him even make it sound so pure and class. This is another one of my personal top songs on the album.

Song For Sonny Listen is another great song to which is quite plain to see by its title that it was inspired by the life of the late great boxer from his career in the 50’s and early 60’s. The song musically as an early Dire Straits feel about it, or rather a J. J. Cale feel about it, to which many of the songs on the that first album by Dire Straits were no doubt inspired by Cale.

This is followed by another fine ballad of song that also very much as a Dire Straits feel about it, entitled Whoop De Doo. Its very much a love song that also has quite an old fashioned style and laid back very warm feel about it. Great for those cold winter late nights sitting around the fire all cosy and warm with a glass of wine.

Postcards From Paraguay is the 10th track on the album it’s one of those songs that has a calypso and happy holiday feel about it, even if the words do pertain that somebody had a very bad experience and time there. The instrumentation is very well arranged and played. Mark even yodels the word “Paraguay” at the end too.

This is followed by a lovely acoustic love ballad entitled All That Matters. Its’ very much a love song with a beautiful acoustic arrangement that features some lovely slide guitar in the break section of the song.

Stand Up Guy is a great folk song that basically tells the story of how alcohol was used as a medicine to cure the sick many moons ago. Lyrically its got a bit of a sense of humour about it and is beautifully played with some fine picking on the guitar. Mark’s voice works superbly to put it all over and its another fine ballad of a song.

Donegan’s Gone is a song that pays tribute to the late Scottish singer songwriter and skiffle player Lonnie Donegan who died a couple of years earlier in 2002. It’s the shortest track on the album that has a great pace and bluesy feel about it, and done in great shuffle style rather than skiffle.

The album ends of with Don’t Crash The Ambulance which is a really great song that has some great humour about it, and is surely another contender for the top spot on the album. In some ways it reminds me a bit like the Dire Straits song “Planet Of New Orleans” from the bands final studio album On Every Street.

Mark even uses some foul language to put this one over, and to be honest it is very rare that he uses it in any part of his songwriting throughout all his career. But he uses it in a comical sense, and it’s far from anything disturbing for those who prefer not to hear such bad language and is all part of the fun really. It’s a grand way to put an end to a really great album.

The 5.1 Mix…

There is no doubt in my mind that a good quality 5.1 mix can bring an entirely new leash of life to even old album’s such as this one, and make them once again sound new and fresh. Because of its high quality and clarity it can produce and deliver through more channels, its separation is far greater than stereo resulting in hearing things that you could of never heard before.

Chuck Ainlay is no stranger to the world of 5.1 mixes and as a producer and sound engineer, his work for many artists is very vast. He is also no stranger to Mark Knopfler either and as worked with Mark for many years.

Mark recognised his skills and the reputation he had when he was still in Dire Straits and called upon him to produce their final album On Every Street. Since then he has worked on all Mark’s solo albums, and he was also the man who done the 5.1 mix for 20th Anniversary SACD release of the Dire Straits album Brothers In Arms back in 2005. To which he won a Grammy Award for the best surround album mix.

He also done the 5.1 mix for the Blu Ray release of the live 1983 concert Dire Straits played at the Hammersmith Odeon in London that was originally put out as a double live album entitled Alchemy back in 1984. Chuck is without doubt one of the top 5.1 mixing engineers in the business. His work in the field is pure class.

The 5.1 mix he has done here on the album Shangri-La is sheer class and as given the album a refreshing new life and has really brought it back to life with its outstanding quality. I only wished that all Mark’s album’s were given this treatment and there is no doubt I would if I could replace my entire record collection with 5.1 mixes, simply because they leave conventional stereo in the dust for its breathtaking quality.

Summary Of The Album…

The album Shangri-La contains a fine set of well written material over the 14 tracks that’s upon it. The material Mark has written for it in many ways reflects that golden decade of the 60’s. Most of the inspiration he got when writing the songs for the album came out of that decade.

In many ways some of the songs have the feeling of 60’s classics even if they do not have that tin pan alley sound about how the songs were recorded back in that decade. I do not think Mark had any intentions of making the songs sound like they came from that decade either, and wanted a more refined sound quality for his songs, to which he has very much given them that.

I personally think if you was to remix some of the tracks on the album and give them that 60’s sound and feel, there would be no doubt they would sound like true classics that came out of that golden era of music, and even sound like they was written back then. Especially the album’s title track Our Shangri-La.


There is no doubt the album Shangri-La is a fine body of work of very well written material. Back in 2004 when it was released many people would of put it as his best album to date back then. Personally for myself if I was to take this album and his previous album Rag Pickers Dream I honestly could not tell you which album was the best. They are both solid body pieces of work, and when it comes down to really good solid songwriting Mark has always had that ability about him even when he started out with Dire Straits.

I think personally because the album Shangri-La does have some songs on it that are more familiar with what he did with Dire Straits is perhaps why most people rated it so highly in the first place. But for me personally I have always loved Mark Knopfler as a solo artist and for his work with Dire Straits. He’s such a prolific songwriter who has not only written songs for himself, but also hits for many other artists including Tina Turner’s smash hit “Private Dancer”.

There are a very few unique artists in that massive world of music out there, and Mark Knopfler is in every way one of them. He stands out from the massive crowd of artists, not only for his guitar playing, but for his songwriting. He is without doubt a very special and unique artist that has graced my ears with truly superb songs throughout his entire career.

The album Shangri-La is a testament to how Mark’s great songwriting continues to improve as he has grown older, wiser and matures like a fine vintage wine with age. It’s a superb album that one can simply stick on, chillout and feel at home with the music it presents to the listener.

I do not personally think it will appeal to a younger audience as much as the material would of he done with Dire Straits all those years back. But if like myself you have stuck with him since those days. You will get to appreciate him more for what he brings to the table with his great music and even see that he has in fact improved a lot more since those days.

Has for the SACD 5.1 version. It was money very well spent and has made the CD version I originally brought redundant :)))))))))) For anybody with a surround system I would highly recommend getting this album on SACD it’s purely staggering.

01. 5:15 Am 5:54.
02. Boom Like That 5:49.
03. Sucker Row 4:56.
04. The Trawlermans Song 5:02.

05. Back To Tupelo 4:32.
06. Our Shangri-La 5:41.
07. Everybody Pays To Play 5:24.
08. Song For Sonny Listen 5:06.

09. Whoop De Doo 3:53.
10. Postcards From Paraguay 4:07.
11. All That Matters 3:09.
12. Stand Up Guy 4:33.

13. Donegan’s Gone 3:04.

14. Don’t Crash The Ambulance 5:09.

Lee’s 5.1 Mix Score Rating 10/10.

Lee’s overall Album score rating 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #7

Is This The Life We Really Want? – Roger Waters



Released on the 2nd of June this year Is This The Life We Really Want? is the first rock album release we have seen from Roger Waters since he released the album Amused To Death back in 1992. That’s some 25 years and in between that the only other thing he has put out are mainly live albums that tend to have more material from the band he was previously with many moons ago Pink Floyd rather than focus on his own solo material from his three previous rock albums.

The only other thing he was involved in was a collaborative piece of work to which produced a double album back in 2005 of a classical opera entitled Ça Ira and that was 12 years ago. This is not a lot of output from a guy who is known as a prolific songwriter and a man of great words who has been a solo artist since he departed from Pink Floyd back in 1985.

There is no doubt regarding the musical side of things that Roger’s heart is still more into the material he wrote when he was with Pink Floyd rather doing anything else. This new album has Floyd influences from years back written all over it. His first solo album The Pro’s and Cons of Hitch Hiking musically has the Floyd album The Wall written all over it. I am beginning to think that when he wrote the words “and the worms ate into his brain” from The Wall back in 1979. It could of easily have been his own brain they ate into 😁😁😁.

It’s a shame really because when I look back on both of his other solo albums Radio K.A.O.S. and Amused To Death you get to see another side of Roger’s writing which is really excellent and more fresh regarding the original material he wrote for them. No doubt the latter of those two albums more or less embark on the same subject matter lyrically as both The Wall and The Final Cut. However, musically it does not contain any influences from any Floyd album, and the first of those two albums is completely fresh material with a more modern approach to it. That I personally thought suited him and was the way to go.

I know from reviews I have read in the past that a lot of people did not really rate the album Radio K.A.O.S.  But I think it’s excellent and for me personally along with Amused To Death both of them albums are without doubt his best output from his solo career and really show that he does not need Pink Floyd around him to be able to shine and write great music.

So how does the latest album compare and can it compete with both of those great albums? Well before we go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The CD of the album comes in a gatefold cardboard slip case (as you can see from the photo I took of the inside) it houses the booklet and the CD that can be retrieved from the inside of its die cut pockets. The cardboard is made out of a reasonable thickness to hold its contents and as a matt finish.

The 16-page booklet contains the usual linear credit notes plus the lyrics and no informal information. However, the information and the lyrics is not that visibly clear to read and they have red marker lines running across them, but you can actually read those with good glasses or a magnifying glass 😁😁😁.


The artwork design was done by Dan Ichimoto and it looks well apt with its black marker lines hiding the conspiracy that’s within its lyrical content and looks pretty OK and suitable. In some ways it reminds of the album cover for his 2nd album Radio K.A.O.S. only here it’s in black and off white instead of green and black.

The Album Review…

Is This The Life We Really Want? by Roger Waters was released on the 2nd June 2017. It comes with 12 tracks over a playing time of 54 minutes 9 seconds. Material wise it has all the basic ingredients one would expect from a Roger Waters album even after all this time. For example, the explicit bad language, the usual subject matter with politics, religion, war, and a concept album.

The material for this new album was written over a period of the last 7 years. Some of its tracks even appeared under different titles to which he played at many of his live shows which is something he tends to do more often rather than bring out new albums. Personally, I think that the fact that Donald Trump got in power and became the new president of the America may have spurred him on to get this new album out this year, and even use some of those older tracks he wrote and retitled them to get it done quicker.

Although the album Is This The Life We Really Want? gives the impression it’s a concept album, its perhaps only one with its lyrical content which is aimed at those in power and perhaps a personal stab at Donald Trump. There is no real story here even though each track runs along continuously into one another for most of the album. They are all references to the situations of all the evil that’s in this world. Hence the album’s title and the question it presents us with.

The material for the album is also a bit misleading, especially with the latter part of the tracks on the album, tracks 8 to 12 for example feel a bit different and it’s almost as if he was working on another album and included them to get the album done more quickly. They also embark around the subject matter of love as well.

Production & Musicians…

The album was produced and mixed by Nigel Godrich who also contributes keyboards and guitar and arranged the songs on the album. To be honest just like him and all the musicians Roger has with him on the album. I have never heard of any of them. Which is most unusual especially when I look at some of the greats, he has had with him on his previous albums. Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton to name a couple. Nigel is also known for producing the albums for the band Radiohead who I have heard of but do not know a great deal about them and their music.

Roger Waters: Vocals – Guitar – Bass.
Jonathan Wilson: Guitars – Keyboards.
Gus Seyffert: Bass – Guitar – Keyboards.
Joey Waronker: Drums.
Roger Manning: Keyboards.
Lee Pardini: Keyboards.
Backing Vocals: Lucius. Jess Wolfe. Holly Laessig.
Recorded Voices:  Rachel Agnew. Jane Barbe. Emma Clarke. Celia Drummond. Kathy Somers. Ingrid Schram.  

Analysing The Tracks…

The opening track When We Were Young is nothing more than a load of mumbling over foul mouthed words explicitly and repeatedly about adolescence childhood days, and the antics many people got up to in their younger years. It’s nothing more than an introduction, and in reality, there was perhaps no need to make it an album track or even give it a title.

It runs directly into the 2nd track entitled Deja Vu to which lyrically Roger is saying that if he had of been God, he could have done a better job, in relation to all the bad there is in this world. To be honest I think almost anybody could have done a better job than God, and just like Roger I am an atheist myself and his words make a lot of sense too. It’s one of the songs that was debuted live back in 2014 under the title of “Lay Down Jerusalem (If I Had Been God)“.

It’s a really great song with its acoustic arrangement and the instrumentation of acoustic guitar, piano and orchestral strings played on keyboards is widely used throughout most of the tracks on the album. If you’re looking for some tasty lead lines played on an electric guitar, you are not gonna find many at all on the whole of this album and the biggest majority of the material has been written around the piano. But it does have some fine moments and does not disappoint at all and is still very well structured musically.

Speaking of its musical structure. There is no doubt that this particular song was constructed around some of the melody lines of the Pink Floyd song “Fearless” from their 1971 album Meddle.

The Last Refugee is up next and its title is perhaps very familiar territory with Roger’s works. Its one of those songs that would have even worked with his previous album Amused To Death and Pink Floyd’s album The Final Cut. The opening verses contain some great poetry in his lyrics and in some ways is quite melancholic.

The song opens up with an intro on the radio and in many ways this album actually flows and feels very much like his Radio K.A.O.S. album. I do not think there are any melody lines he has borrowed from any of his many other songs he has written, and it’s another fine song done in his own familiar style.

The 4th track on the album Picture That without any doubt borrows melody lines from “Dogs” that was on Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals. It’s very much a protest song that’s aimed directly at Donald Trump especially with the sentence “picture a leader with no fucking brains” and personally I think Roger is 100% right in making that statement too.

It’s a very powerful song and unlike most of the tracks on the album, this one does feature more rocked up electric guitars. keyboards and heavy hitting drums. I suppose in some ways it could be Rogers new anthem to belt out at his live shows to which he is doing right now. It’s a really great song that lifts the pace of the album up and raises the game a little more and very well placed on the album too.

Next up is my personal favourite track on the album Broken Bones which borrows very slight melody lines from two Pink Floyd albums. “Breathe” from Dark Side Of The Moon and “Mother” from The Wall. It’s also another song that was debuted live in 2015 under the title of “Safe and Sound” The song starts off acoustically on the acoustic guitar with some fine touches of electric guitar accompanied by some lovely orchestration, and builds its way up very well adding more power to its build.

It’s one of those songs where Roger gets to use his more powerful expressive voice as he does on many of his earlier albums, and first started to use those kinds of screams of powerful expression on The Wall. Though due to the fact that he is now getting on a bit he has lost some of the power in his range, which is to be expected. Lyrically the words are pertaining to our liberty been taken away, suggesting that we do not have to pay any attention and listen to those world leaders with their bullshit and lies.

The self-titled album track Is This The Life We Really Want? opens up with the words of Donald Trump harking on about CNN News and their stories of what was to become fake news, and him telling his people not to trust the media. Basically, the song is about the insecurity and fear that’s spread worldwide of having an idiot (or nincompoop as Roger calls him) in power of a very powerful country never knowing what he could do next. Begging the question in its title.

It’s a very powerful song with a strong build up to it and could have been a contender for the top spot on the album. But the fact that it grinds to a halt rather too quickly and goes straight into the next track leaves it rather short of the margin. Personally, I think he could have developed it a lot more, but there is no doubt he gets his point across even over this short distance.

Bird In The Gale is the most powerful track on the album. Musically it’s like a cross between three Pink Floyd songs. “Dogs” from Animals. “Not Now John” from The Final Cut and “Another brick In The Wall (Part 2)” from The Wall. It’s like all hell as broken loose from where the previous track ended and as flung us right into the action of a very explosive war. It also ends off with an explosion and with the pilot cheering himself along as his mission is accomplished. It’s also the first track that does not lead into another one, and the first stop point on the album.

The fact that it does this and the rest of the material that follows seems to be a tad bit different, personally has me thinking that if this is a concept album in the way of a story, this would be the last track of it. It’s like I pointed out earlier it’s very misleading. It’s also very hard to work it all out and say what Roger’s intentions really were and only he would have the real answer.

The 8th track on the album The Most Beautiful Girl is a really great song with a melancholy feel about and its title suggests that it’s a love song. Though its lyrical content is very much more aimed at a tear jerker of a song about a woman who was killed in some war or a terrorist attack. I have no idea if the lyrics are aimed at a true story and to who and what incident they are referring too. But these are very powerful words and very cleverly constructed.

There is no doubt the musical structure of the song is very strongly based around the melody lines of “What God Wants” from his Amused To Death album. He has practically rearranged the music to that song to make this one. Roger also sings with great conviction in his voice and though there are quite a few contenders for the best track on the album, this one for me hits the spot and is very close to my favourite track on the album.

Smell The Roses is another great song and it borrows its melody lines from “Have A Cigar” from the Wish You Were Here album more than anything else. It was also released as a single earlier this year on the 20th of April. Once again, the lyrical content is very strong and very hard to really grasp.

I am sure Roger is writing his words in riddles because I myself could probably think of a thousand other ways to write around the subject of this song title, and no way would I have arrived with this set of lyrics that’s for sure. My own interpretation of Roger’s lyrics is that these terrorists are being paid to do what they are doing by a higher power.

The last three tracks on the album Wait For Her, Oceans Apart and Part Of Me Died are in reality one song, and just like he gave those mumbled up words on the opening track a title to which was really not necessary. I really do not see the reasoning behind making this into three tracks instead of one either. Because the music is exactly the same all the way through and so too is the vocal melody. It’s only the words that have changed regarding the final track here. It’s another fine song though and the mumbled-up words we had on the intro, also close the album after too.

Summary Of The Album…

To sum up my own personal view and opinion of how the album Is This The Life We Really Want? speaks to me. I can honestly say that the album has everything one would expect to hear from a Roger Waters album. The material upon it is a very strong body of work even if musically it may appear that he has in some way been a bit lazy by constructing it out of older existing melody lines.

For some people, the fact that he has used existing melody lines to work around, may have an effect of them knocking off a few stars or points when coming to rate the album. Especially on first hearing the album. It’s perhaps something I would have done myself if I was to review the album after just 1 or 2 spins without giving it more time and attention.

I think one should also remember, that those melody lines he has chosen to work around, are his own and it’s not as if he has ripped off somebody else’s material. Some people may even like album better for him doing such a thing in the first place.

For me personally the fact that Roger has only touched slightly on some of those older melodies and he’s created other songs with them that are not exactly saying the same thing with the music. Works a damn site better than the way the music was constructed for his first album The Pro’s and Cons of Hitch Hiking Which for me was well over the top in that it was way to close to The Wall. I still like that album though, but I think this new album is better than it.

When it comes to the lyrical content upon Is This The Life We Really Want? there is no doubt that Roger is on the ball and it’s always been one of his stronger points. He is without doubt a genius and his lyrics were always the voice behind Pink Floyd. He is a man with many words and knows exactly how to put across and let out his anger and frustrations on the subject matter he is writing about. He speaks a lot of truth as well though many will argue about that and either love or hate him for it.


Is This The Life We Really Want? is a really great album that as been a long time in its making and regarding his more rock based albums it as took a quarter of a century to hit the record shelves. I do wish that Roger would of made more albums like the 4 he has done in this genre of music instead of putting more time into his live shows that mainly features Pink Floyd songs from his past history.

This could very well be his final album and I know people like to hear the old songs once in a while from the previous bands they was in. But I think as a solo artist he should of took a leaf out of Peter Gabriel’s book and devote more of his time to his solo career. Simply because the 4 solo albums he has made are really good pieces of work and there is no doubt that the music upon them is made to last, and will stand out over many years to come. It’s not music that will be left on the shelves gathering dust after so many spins and I think it’s a shame that he has not done more of it.

This latest album of his is very stripped back regarding its instrumentation, but still manages to work very well and will have you coming back for more and more. It’s also one of those albums that will perhaps shed more light in years to come regarding its lyrical content, because it is without a doubt very hard to decipher some of his words and hard to get into his way of thinking. But it’s very clever I will say, and I am pretty sure there are some conspiracies within the written material too.

Regarding its production and the overall sound quality of the album. It’s not the best quality, and can be very muddy in parts with the over use of bass in the recording. But that does not get in the way or hamper so much with the great material that’s on it.

It’s also not one of those albums that contains great solos from the guitars or the keyboards and even judging by the musicians and the packaging of the album, it appears to be had been made in the cheapest possible way. I would have liked to have seen a deluxe edition with a 5.1 mix of the album.

But despite all of that it’s a very worthy album of buying and says everything that Roger Waters is as a solo artist, and it does not disappoint. My copy arrived through the door on the same day of its release, and because I had it pre-ordered on Amazon for £9.99, I also got the digital download of the album free to which was activated and released at 1-minute past midnight to which I put on my phone and listened to it immediately in bed.

It’s certainly a must for his fans and personally I think Roger’s albums are a lot better than David Gilmour’s solo albums and so is this one.

01. When We Were Young 1:39.
02. Deja Vu 4:27.
03. The Last Refugee 4:12.
04. Picture That 6:47.

05. Broken Bones 4:57.
06. Is This The Life We Really Want? 5:55.
07. Bird In The Gale 5:31.
08. The Most Beautiful Girl 6:09.

09. Smell The Roses 5:15.
10. Wait For Her 4:56.
11. Oceans Apart 1:07.
12. Part Of Me Died 3:14.

Lee’s overall score rating 9/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #6

Songs From The Wood – 40th Anniversary Edition – The Country Set – Jethro Tull



It’s that time of the year again and time for another superb re-release of another classic Jethro Tull album. This one being the bands 10th studio album “Songs From The Wood” originally released back in 1977. This is actually the 8th album to be released in the form of an hardbound book and is one very tasty package worth its weight in gold.

These particular 40th Anniversary Hardbound Book Edition packages started back in 2012 when the 1972 album “Thick As A Brick” was given the 5.1 treatment. Although  Ian Anderson has been releasing the albums that followed it each year in this 40th anniversary hardbound book series and he subsequently re-released the 4 albums that came before it in 5.1. He has also been re-releasing those in the hardbound book series as well, and so far only the albums “This Was” from 1968 and “Benefit” from 1970  have not been given this new packaging treatment, and I am hoping he does do them both in the near future.

I pre-ordered this super package on Amazon about 2 months before its release date, and it arrived through my letterbox on the day of its release on the 19th of May. It’s always best to pre-order these releases especially as the price varies a lot between each of the 8 albums that have been released so far in this hardbound book series. This one I got for £19.15 and the longer you leave it, the chances are you will end up paying a lot more money for them. The previous one that was released was the 1969 album “Stand Up” which I never had on pre-order and ended up paying £27 for it. Some of the earlier ones I got for as little as £14.

Packaging & Contents…

The packaging is supremely done and the hardbound book is of real high quality with it’s thick cardboard and plastic mounts to hold the discs. Inside there is a 96 page book telling you about the time period the album was made and produced. It’s very informative and all the band members as well as many of the other crew who were involved with it’s recording have their say about it all, and not just Ian Anderson.

Having read it myself I found it well interesting that the opening harmonies for the title track were all done by Anderson himself on the studio album. But what was even more interesting was the fact that every time they performed the song live, even though it appeared that the rest of the band members were joining in on the harmonies, it was a tape recording being played in the background with Ian’s original harmonies on it and they was only miming.

Inside the book you will find 5 discs. 3 CD’s & 2 DVD’s.  The 1st CD contains the original albums 9 tracks plus 8 bonus tracks all remixed by Steven Wilson and has a playing time of 76 minutes. 47 seconds. The other 2 CD’s contain a just under 2 hour live concert they did back on the 21st of November 1977 at the Capital Centre in Landover. Maryland Washington USA mixed by Jakko Jakszyk. Disc 2 has a playing time of 52:02 and Disc 3 a playing time of 59:44. The audio quality is superb especially from a concert done back in 1977 and the quality is just as good as the double live album Bursting Out which was released back in 1978.

The 1st DVD is the audio disc that contains the album plus some of the bonus tracks mixed in 5.1 by Steven Wilson. It also contains a lossless stereo mix of the original album and some of the tracks done with a Quadraphonic mix. It also displays high resolution pictures from the book on your TV screen as it plays along.

The 2nd DVD contains the full concert at the Capital Centre in Landover on the 21st of November 1977. The actual concert was filmed on Video Tape so the picture quality is never gonna be as good with today’s HD technology, but never the less Jakko Jakszyk as done a great job in restoring the picture in the best way he could, and I have to say regarding the sound quality which he as also mixed in 5.1 its really superb and nothing like these old concerts you get from this decade of the 70’s where they state it’s DTS 5.1 sound quality, and it’s nothing more than a piss poor job been done on them that its not even worth switching on the Hi-Fi to play the damn things.

I have noticed many reviews on Amazon already stating that the picture quality is bootleg quality. But its nothing of the sort and is better than any bootleg. It’s just old footage and I think too many people have forgotten already what an old TV looks like :)))))))). Though what I will say is that whoever the cameraman was who shot the film at the time, was not very good and mainly focuses on Ian Anderson, and can be all over the place at times. There also as been a load of video FX applied to some of the footage too.

The concert was originally filmed by a TV Crew and was streamed live in America at the same time it was being played, and the original video managed to find its way to Ian Anderson and had been left stored for decades. It gives you a more detailed description of it in the book.

Also included on the 2nd DVD are two videos. One of which is rare footage of the band doing Beethoven’s Ninth and the promotional video of The Whistler which was made for the single release. It’s pretty hard for me to take pictures of this package to be able to show you what the package is really like being as its in the form of an hardbound book. So I have shot a short video of myself showing it to you here:

Fond Memories…

Songs From The Wood is an album I brought on vinyl on it’s release back in 1977. it was actually the very first brand new album I brought of Jethro Tull and would of cost around £3 back in those days. Though I did have the albums Benefit and the double compilation album Living In the Past a year before, to which I brought 2nd hand off a mate who was hard up for cash at the time. I can even remember losing a fiver to my brother around his house at the time too. It was over the Lute contribution by Martin Barre to which I said there was not one on the album. Silly me especially as at the time the album was back at my house and I had no way of checking it out before hand :)))))))))))) He used to get a lot of his information from reading guitar magazines back then.

I was also into a lot of folk rock around this time too with bands like Fairport Convention. Pentangle and Steeleye Span to name a few, and upon hearing this album for the first time it instantly spoke very heavily to me. There is no doubt the album Songs From The Wood is in every way a solid folk rock album which also contains the elements of progressive rock along its path which makes it stand out so well.

I also knew at the time that prior to the release of this album Ian Anderson had not long produced the album Now We Are Six for Steeleye Span which may have influenced him more to go down this road with the album Songs From The Wood. Plus the fact that he had just moved out into the country and brought himself a farm at the time I had also read myself in magazines such as the Melody Maker I used to buy back in those days.

It was this very album of Jethro Tull that made me from then on backtrack the bands back catalogue and buy them all, and have been buying their albums ever since and became a big fan of everything they did, even though some of their later material never spoke to me as well as the albums they done back in the 70’s.

I can even remember an interview with Dave Pegg the bass player of Fairport Convention from when he joined the band for the 1980 album A. Stating that he thought both the albums Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses were much more better folk rock albums than what Fairport Convention was doing at the time. Though I took pity on him that when he joined them cause they was no longer doing folk rock at all to which would of suited him more as well I think.

The Main Album Review…

For the 1977 album Songs From The Wood the band recruited a 6th member to its already strong line up of Ian Anderson. Martin Barre. John Evan. John Glascock and Barriemore Barlow. Though David Palmer had been working for years alongside Ian Anderson helping him out with all the orchestral arrangements, and contributed to the band by playing additional instruments on certain album tracks. Ian decided to make him an official band member to play additional keyboards for them.

It was also the first album that other members of the band got writing credits other than Ian Anderson who as a rule solely wrote all the bands material. Both Martin Barre and   David Palmer received songwriting royalties for their contributions to the writing. It was also the first of 3 intended albums Ian Anderson had planned to do in this more folk rock style.

The album kicks off with the self titled album track Songs From The Wood. Ian’s vocal line of him chanting the words of the songs title and chorus, are backed up with very clever well constructed harmonies all done by Ian himself, sprinkled with a touch of glockenspiel here and there from Barrimore and Ian’s flute and acoustic guitar certainly make am enchanting entrance before the rest of the band come into play in raising the game and power to the song.

It’s an absolute classic well written song that could quite easily grab the top favourite spot of the album, it certainly has all the right elements with its catchy melody lines and hook that grabs you instantly, but this is far from your average album and very much one solid one when it comes down to the material that’s upon it over its 9 original tracks.

The 2nd song on the album Jack In the Green is another classic song that features solely Ian Anderson on his own singing and playing an array of  instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, flute, bass as well as percussion. All so skilfully done too and its a beautiful fine folk ballad of a song about a mysterious elf in the woods.

Cup Of Wonder without a doubt could easily take the top fave spot on the album for its lyrical content alone, but not only is its lyrical content strong, the music is also very cleverly well constructed. Ian’s lyrics have always been strong  The lyrics to this one are based around Christianity and Paganism and in many ways the album is almost like a concept album in that it’s based around religious beliefs and myths.

The instrumentation to the song is very well arranged and its quite a complex song to play. The keyboards are blended in superbly along with the acoustic guitars and John Glascock’s bass line is very dominant and stands out very well. Funny enough he even reminds of Dave Pegg on this one and both are extremely great bass players. it really is a terrific song and certainly a contender for my personal fave on the album.

Next up we have the more heavier and more rock based track of the album Hunting Girl which is a song that more or less fuses rock with medieval elements, particularly with the melody lines from the keyboards and flute. Martin’s electric guitar is very much the rock element here and it’s perhaps in many ways been the most popular song on the album that seems to get played at the bands live shows more times than any other of the songs from it.

The lyrics are very traditional folk based in the way that there is a bit of hanky panky going on :))))))))))))))  with its storyline. Very much the same kind of thing lyrically you would get with songs like “Bonny Black Hare” by Fairport Convention and “The Astrologer” by Gryphon to name a couple of old traditional folk songs, only they are set to more fitting acoustic music and this one maybe overstepping the mark with it’s genre of folk rock and using those elements to try and make it work. Never the less it’s another really great song.

Ring Out, Solstice Bells is more of a traditional folk Christmas song. Though the winter solstice can be on the 21st and 22nd of December it’s not exactly intended to be perceived as Christmas but with all the Christian festivities going on around this time make it very well fitting for the occasion. Bells are always used for many Christmas songs and there is no shortage of them here too.

The song itself was released back in December 1976 in the form of a Christmas EP single which included 3 other older written songs of Ian’s and once again got him back on Top Of The Pops. The fact that the song had a traditional folk feel about it, was the reason why it got included on the album. It’s another very well written song and great track that works very well for being on the album.

The 6th track on the album Velvet Green is a pure classic that shows the sheer brilliance of just what this band is capable of playing and writing. The way the song is constructed and it’s arrangement with the instrumentation is a fine piece of art. For many this classic may very well be the best track on the album and for me personally its also mine now though it was not years ago.

The song itself as a great medieval feel about it and starts off with David Palmer playing a portative pipe organ the he had built by Mander in London. It’s design was based around a pipe organ that was built in 1684 by Georg Haas of Bautzen in Eastern Germany. Here is a picture of the portative pipe organ Dave had built:

Portative Pipe Organ                              Mander Portative Pipe Organ

It’s housed in solid oak, with the pipes inside a glass cabinet the keys are made of ivory. It looks more of an antique and is hardly the instrument that is built to be taken on the road for gigging, though Dave did cart it around to many of the bands shows back in the 70’s. He even carted it to the 1978 show they put on at Madison Square Garden’s in New York to which somebody suggested that they should paint it black to match the stage setting. David’s reply to that idea was “over my dead body” :))))))))))))

The very fact that the instrument does have ivory keys means that these days it’s not even permitted to take to America not even to play a live show as they did back in those days.

Not only did the melody line Dave played on it give the song its medieval feel, but the instrument itself is well apt for such music too. Accompany that with harpsichord, mandolin, lute and whistles and you have the perfect ensemble to create such music with and the other instrumentation gives it that more progressive approach to which no doubt this fine song has all those magical elements and it’s a superbly well crafted piece of work.

The Whistler is the 2nd of the 2 songs that was written well before the album and was included on the album. The song was released as a single earlier in the same year on the 11th February 1977. Only 7 of the albums tracks were really new material written for the album Songs From The Wood.

Once again the song is very well apt to be included on the album and fits in like a glove. It’s another one of those songs that features very impressive harmonies from Ian Anderson and some very complex whistle playing done on two of them in different keys making it even harder to switch from one to the other for a live performance.

The song as a very fast tempo and the acoustic guitar also features heavily in the song  and is superbly recorded capturing the instrument with every great detail. Some excellent touches on the lead lines on the electric guitar by Martin Barre and a very tight close nit back line from John’s bass and Barrimore’s drums and percussion and even the glockenspiel from him rings out very well and it really is another superb song.

The 8th track on the album Pilbroch (Cap In Hand) features Martin Barre very heavily on the electric guitar, even to the extent of him making it sound like bagpipes by reversing some of the parts in it for effect. Its the longest track on the album weighing in at some 8 minutes and 45 seconds. The song itself is very well structured with some lovely chord progression and transitional changes which also has a superb keyboard section in it.

It’s very much got a Scottish traditional feel about it, but is perhaps more accustomed to progressive rock with it’s diversity and directional changes. It’s another superb song that contributes to making the album so good, and is one of those songs that seem to be over in no time at all, leaving you wanting more. Funny enough when I first heard this album all those years back, this used to be my favourite track on the album and over the years I have had and enjoyed the album, my opinion has since then changed.

The albums ends off superbly with a lovely ballad of a song entitled Fire At Midnight it’s also the shortest track on the album, and perhaps the picture depicts the albums front cover with Ian sitting around the open fire. It’s very much a love song about writing a love song with great lyrics, done in great traditional folk tradition with it’s fine instrumentation throughout. Making one superb folk rock album throughout its entirety.

Summary Of The Original Album…

The original album Songs From The Wood contains 9 tracks over a playing time of 41 minutes 21 seconds. It’s the first of a trilogy of albums Ian Anderson decided to do in the style of progressive folk rock and it an outstanding body of work with all material written for it. Every track upon it is without a shred of a doubt, is sheer class and in it’s genre of music, there is no doubt this album is legendary and stands up amongst the best in its field.

It’s an album that stands its test of time and can still be immensely enjoyed just as many of the Jethro Tull albums still can be as well from this decade. In many ways both the albums Songs from The Wood and Heavy Horses could quite of easily worked as a double album with the class material that was written for both of them, and them both being in the same genre of progressive rock folk. For me personally the 3rd album in the trilogy of albums Stormwatch was never in the same league or field as it’s predecessors and lets the trilogy down a bit too.

01. Sngs From The Wood. 4:55.
02. Jack In The Green. 2:31.
03. Cup Of Wonder. 4:34.
04. Hunting Girl. 5:10.
05. Ring Out, Solstice Bells. 3:48.
06. Velvet Green. 6:05.
07. The Whistler. 3:31.
08. Pibroch (Cap In hand). 8:35.
09. Fire At Midnight. 2:27.

Lee’s Overall Score rating 10/10.


The Bonus Tracks Review…

Almost every new re-release of an album comes with bonus tracks these days and regarding whether it’s a really good thing and them thinking you are getting more material crammed on it for your money, it’s not always the case. Especially if I was to make my review of this album (or any album for that matter) including the bonus material in the same review as the original album tracks. It would be bound to be losing some very important points for its overall score.

I am not saying I do not like bonus tracks, but I do prefer the old album time slot of around the 40 minute mark rather than a CD with an hour or more of material on it. I would much sooner they would put them on another disc and leave the original album as it was made in the first place in tact on the one disc.

The first of the 8 bonus tracks is something of a rare find and I certainly do not think it as ever seen the light of day as many of the bonus tracks would find their way on various other compilation box sets and other Jethro Tull albums.

According to Ian he found it in a box labelled with the title of “Dark Ages” he also mentions that it had a smidgen of some lyrical content of “Living In These Hard Times” which was a bonus track for the album Heavy Horses he put out awhile ago. Seeing as there was already a song entitled “Dark Ages” on the 1979 album Stormwatch he had to give it another title.

it was around the time that Lemmy of Motorhead had died last year when he was sorting out the bonus material for this new release, and he thought of his biggest hit which was the “Ace Of Spades” so he decided to call it Old Aces Die Hard.

Old Aces Die Hard as it is now called is some 8 minutes and 41 seconds long. its quite a well constructed song, it also appears to be complete and far from any demo track. My personal opinion is that it sounds like something that was done a couple of years later for the album Stormwatch and it could quite of easily been an early version of the song “Dark Ages” it certainly does not sound like it was made when they did the Songs From The Wood album and although it’s a great bonus track to have, but personally it’s not in the same class or league as the material that was written for this album.

The next bonus track up is and early version of Working John, Working Joe to which eventually found its way on the 1980 album A. The reason why it’s on this release is that Ian claims that he may have wrote and recorded it for a “B” Side of a single around the same time he was working on this album in 1977. I dare say it will find its way on the future re-release of the A album if he decides to go as far as that with these new Hardbound Book Editions.

The 3rd bonus track of the 8 is another version of “Ring Out, Solstice Bells” which was produced by Mike Batt of The Wombles fame. This is another bonus track that has never seen the light of day before either, and how it all came about was the record company thought it would be a good idea to release it as a single, but he wanted the band to redo it in 4/4 time rather than the original 7/4 time score it was done in.

The band wanted nothing to do with it at first, but Ian persuaded them to go along with it for the fun. After they had finished redoing the song again, it was decided that to suit it as more of a Christmas song it would be better to change the title to “Magic Bells” and even the words to the chorus for it as well. In the end the band got their own way and the original record got released instead. So now after 4 decades Magic Bells as finally materialised and been released with this box set.

Next up is the unedited version of Songs From The Wood which was previously released on the 1993 25th Anniversary Box Set. Not that much of a difference at all if the truth be told, but however if you never noticed originally that Ian sings the 2nd verse twice (to which I never to be honest) that is only real difference. Then we get another unedited version of Fire At Midnight which is a lot more of a noticeable difference with the intro on the drums which sort of raises the tempo of the song before it’s actually started. It was actually the original version of the song to which Ian edited out the intro for the album release.

Following that we have the early version of One Brown Mouse which was also previously released, and originally wrote back in 1976. it was also included in the previous hardbound book package of Too Old To Rock “n” Roll Too Young To Die and the fact that Ian had only just found the multi track tape of it whilst sorting out the material for this package is why it’s on here as well. So now we have the Steven Wilson’s mix of it.

The same goes for the 7th bonus track Strip Cartoon which has found it’s way on many compilations of Jethro Tull albums and was also put on the “B” Side of The Whistler to which is the 8th and final bonus track on the album and the US single version of it.

I have always liked Strip Cartoon and it’s one of those songs you can instantly tell came from that time period of 1976 when they done the album Too Old To Rock “n” Roll Too Young To Die and in my personal opinion it should of been included on the original album instead of being left out. It really is a class well written song.

Summary Of The Bonus Tracks…

As with many bonus tracks that are put onto albums there can be some good and bad points about them. Many could be even seen as gap fillers especially in the case of them already being released on previous albums. But you can also find some real gems which is a real good thing.

For me personally the most worthy addition out of the 8 bonus tracks we have here would have to be the “Old Aces Die Hard” not that the other tracks are not interesting enough, but the biggest majority have been previously released. But I can see the point in them being placed in a package such as this, as they very much relate to around the time this particular album was made.

To be honest I myself will very rarely play the bonus tracks and only really do when I first get the album and the odd few times afterwards. But 90% of the time I will always stop the album after the last track of the original album is finished, and as I pointed out earlier. I would much better prefer them on a separate album or CD.

They also would get more of a listen too, as I would treat them as another album. A perfect example would be how the band Marillion put all their “B” Sides onto an album and that really makes a superb album well worthy of buying.

10. Old Aces Die Hard (Previously Unreleased). 8:41.
11. Working John, Working Joe (Previously Unreleased). 5:11.
12. Magic Bells (Ring Out, Solstice Bells). 3:25.
13. Songs From The Wood (Unedited Master). 4:53.
14. Fire At Midnight (Unedited Master). 2:35.
15. One Brown Mouse (Early Version – New Mix). 3:35.
16. Strip Cartoon. 3:19.
17. The Whistler (Original 1977 USA Stereo Mix). 3:32.

Lee’s Overall Bonus Tracks Score Rating 5/10


The Bonus CD’s 2 & 3 & DVD 2 Review…

CD’s 2 & 3.

The other 2 CD’s in the package contain the almost 2 hour audio of the live concert they did on the 21st of November 1977 at the Capital Centre in Landover Maryland Washington USA. of their Songs From The Wood Tour.

The set list of songs is very strong and contains 4 out of the 9 songs from their latest album Songs From The Wood which had only just been released earlier on in the same month on the 3rd November.

I do not think there would of been a doubt that the self titled track of the album would be 1 of the 4 they played and it’s great that they did the whole of song too, instead of the mini version that was on the bands first ever live album Bursting Out which was released back in 1978..

Jack In The Green is another great song that is featured too and is actually a better live recording I think than what it was on the Bursting Out album. Hunting Girl is another of the 4 and, that was bound to be featured I guess, simply because it gets played live more than any song from the album. But its a massive bonus that they also done my favourite of the album Velvet Green and they play it superbly live too..

There are 22 tracks over the 2 CD’s and as well as those already mentioned from the new album at the time, there is an array of classics and the show even kicks off with one with Wondering Aloud. it’s also great to see To Cry You A Song  from the Benefit album here, and that they also play the whole of Minstrel In The Gallery too.

The 22 tracks over the 2 discs are as follows:

Disc 1. 1. Wond’ring Aloud. 2. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day. 3. Jack-In-The-Green. 4. Thick As A Brick. 5. Songs From The Wood. 6.Instrumental. 7. Drum Solo Improvisation. 8. To Cry You A Song. 9. A New Day Yesterday. 10. Flute Solo Improvisation interpolating – God Rest Ye Gentlemen/Bourée. 11. Living In The Past/ A New Day Yesterday (reprise).

Disc 2. 1. Velvet Green. 2. Hunting Girl. 3.Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young To Die. 4. Minstrel In The Gallery. 5. Cross-Eyed Mary. 6.Aqualung. 7.Instrumental Improvisation. 8.Wind-Up. 9.Back Door Angels / Guitar Improvisation /Wind Up (reprise). 10. Locomotive Breath. 11. Land Of Hope And Glory / Improvisation / Back Door Angels (reprise).


The 2nd DVD in the package contains the same live set list as what’s on CD’s 2 & 3 but also comes with the actual film footage which back then was filmed by a television crew with a video camera as it was being broadcast live and shown on TV live at the time the band was playing.

The picture quality is pretty much OK especially as this was filmed onto video tape and not proper film, so I amazed it has survived all these years. The only real bad thing about the film footage is that the cameramen who filmed the show where not very good at capturing all the angles of the band live on stage and half the time most of the other band members apart from Ian Anderson are out of the shot.

No doubt it’s perhaps more of a nostalgic piece of footage. But is completely watchable and nowhere near as nostalgic or as bad as the footage of the 2 extra videos that are included in the other bonus features on the 2nd DVD.

The sound quality of both the CD’s and the DVD Video is very good and although the picture quality is not as good as the Live at Madison Square Garden 1978 DVD that was released in 2009 (which is only really down to them having better cameramen at that concert) the sound quality on this 1977 concert wipes the floor with it, and it even has a proper well good 5.1 mix of it as well to which that 1978 concert states it’s got a 5.1 mix but is totally dreadful and a piss poor quality job was done with that mix.

But there as been a lot of hard work and a bit of magic that has been put into restoring this concert footage so well, and not everything you are hearing is from the same concert shot on video tape at the Capital Centre in Landover on the 21st November 1977.

Luckily enough around the time of doing the Songs From The Wood Tour. Ian Anderson took with him a Tascam 80-8 Track Reel To Reel Multi Recorder for doing some test recordings for a possible live album. The audio from the video cameras recording the live show were never gonna be good enough quality to release in the first place, as all the audio was in mono and was very poor.

But the first reel of tape from Ian’s recording of that concert at the Capital Centre in Landover went missing and could not be located. It contained the audio for the songs “Wond’ring Aloud”. “Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day”. “Jack-In-The-Green” and “Thick As A Brick” so they had to use the audio from a later show of the same tour which was played at Boston Gardens on the 6th December 1977.

But this is why this concert sounds so good in relation to a lot of old shows from back then, and it was left to Jakko Jakszyk who had the painstaking job of syncing it all together. Though he never did it on his own and called upon an old friend, childhood hero, and master musician Ray Shulman of the prog rock band Gentle Giant who works a lot in this field these days and gave up playing many moons ago now.

The video footage also has some glitches which is something that could not be fixed unfortunately. But it is still very watchable and really great to see that something has been done with it for all us to see after all these years.

Other Bonus Features

The 2nd DVD also comes with 2 extra videos. Beethoven’s Ninth which was from the same concert at the Capital Centre and also contains the audio from the original video tape, because the reels on Ian’s reel to reel were being changed over at the time, and was not able to capture the audio. Hence the reason why the sound quality is poor and only in mono. The other video is the promo they made for the single release of The Whistler. Once again the audio is not that good on quality, but both videos are more of a nostalgic piece of the bands history and worthy to see here as extras.

Summary Of CD’s 2 & 3 & DVD 2…

Both the CD’s and the 2nd DVD that come with this marvellous package are outstanding bonus material to have, making the whole package really great value for the buck. The fact that material such as this still exists certainly make it a must for all Tull fans to own.

For me personally when it comes down to live concerts having the actual film footage of the concert is a must for me, and I prefer all live concerts done like this rather than just having an audio recording on a CD or vinyl album.

As a rule when I buy concerts on Blu Ray and DVD I will even buy the ones that come without the CD’s at a cheaper price to which some do offer you that option. But for the price of this package the CD’s are more or less free when you weigh up just what your getting for the money here.

Being a surround sound freak myself 5.1 mixes will play a big part in what I spend my money on these days, and for me there is a lot more quality and value in its media than any conventional stereo recording. The fact that even this concert as a quality 5.1 mix done on it by Jakko Jakszyk is a massive bonus personally for me and adds to making this package amazing value for the money.

Lee’s Overall Of CD’s 2 & 3 & DVD 2 Rating 8/10


The 5.1 Mix Of Songs From The Wood Review…


The 1st DVD contains the 5.1 new mix of the album done by Steven Wilson. The albums 9 tracks have an high quality DTS 96K 24 Bit recording of them. 5 of the associated bonus tracks come with an AC3 standard 5.1 mix. They are “Old Aces Die Hard”. “Working John, Working Joe”. “Magic Bells (Ring Out The Solstice Bells)”. “One Brown Mouse” and “Strip Cartoon”. Both of the unedited versions of “Songs From The Wood” and “Fire At Midnight” are in stereo only.

There is also a 96K 24 Bit Lossless Stereo Mix of the original 9 tracks of the album as well as 4 of the original tracks that come with a 96K 24 Bit Quadraphonic Mix which are “Songs From The Wood”. “Jack In The Green”. “Velvet Green” and “The Whistler”.

Steve is no stranger to the world of 5.1 mixes, and not only has he done many of the other 5.1 mixes in this new book edition series of the Jethro Tull albums, but as done so for many other classic bands too.

Although I am not a fan of Steve’s own music, I sincerely take my hat off to the guy for his work he does on 5.1 mixes, and the mix he has done for the album Songs From The Wood is purely breathtaking and fantastic in every detail, and the album sounds stunning for it, leaving the stereo mix with no way of competing with it for sound quality.

The fact they are also including a DTS 96k 24 Bit audio tracks on all these new Jethro Tull box sets certainly raises the game for such a media as DVD. Bringing you near enough the same high quality that you will find on SACD’s and Blu Ray audio discs. Its something all artists should consider doing especially when using DVD media to put there music onto.

Summary Of The 5.1 Mix Of Songs From The Wood…

Being a surround freak myself there is no doubt that Steve Wilson has done a purely fantastic job with the 5.1 mixes. When it comes down to careful consideration of doing such a mix without going overboard and how he’s managed to bring out every fine detail of the music he has been presented with. He has managed to pay careful consideration to all the instrumentation and placement of them in the field, giving you a well balanced and very well detailed mix in stunning high quality.

Over the years my personal experience of listening to 5.1 mixes is that there is no doubt this format when mixed right simply leaves stereo behind, giving you a much more satisfying quality experience of listening to music. Because of it’s separation factor it gives you a lot more detail regarding everything that has been put into the mix, and brings it out a lot more for you to be able to hear everything.

There are quite a few great sound engineers and producers who can produce some outstanding 5.1 mixes, and although Steve is perhaps not the greatest who works in this field, he does have a great reputation to be able to take on such a task on in the first place, and I would very much put him up there with the many greats who are capable of doing such tremendous work in this magical world of 5.1, and the mix he has done on this album definitely ticks all the right boxes.

Lee’s Overall 5.1 Mix Rating 10/10.



Overall the so called Country Set 40th Anniversary Hardbound Book Edition box set is outstanding value for the money and surely a must for every Jethro Tull fan out there I would of thought. For me personally, even the fact that I have had this album for 40 years, this is by far the best thing I have seen released this year. For the price of 20 bucks you could not ask for anything more with what your getting here. The very fact that your getting a 96 page book. 3 CD’s and 2 DVD’s is like your getting it for the price you would of paid back in 1977.

The presentation and the quality of this package is very hard to beat at this low price point, and trust me, it will not be as low as this for long either, with how I have seen the prices soar way above it and even into silly ridiculous prices on some of the older packages in this remarkable book edition series of re-releases of classic Jethro Tull albums.

The album Songs From The Wood as always been an outstanding Jethro Tull album for me personally and one of the bands finest without a doubt, and on a final note I would just like to say that now it’s even more outstanding for it’s 5.1 treatment and this is without a doubt the best mix of the album by far.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Album: 10/10

The Bonus Tracks: 5/10

The 5.1 Mix: 10/10

The DVD’s & Other Features: 8/10

The Packaging: 10/10