Lee Speaks About Music… #20

Sproingg – Sproingg

cover

Introduction…

I was recently approached by email by Erik Feder the drummer from the German 3 piece band Sproingg after he came across my blog site here of album reviews. His band had not long released their self titled debut album Sproingg on the 4th of July. Maybe the Americans were too busy celebrating Independence Day to notice it :)))))))))) but anyway he sent me some great words about the work I do here with my reviews and asked politely would I review their latest debut album if he sent me out a copy.

Well the first thing I did was give the album a blast on Bandcamp and I have to say I was quite blown away and most impressed by the band Sproingg to get back in touch, and tell Erik sure I would be delighted to write a review for the album.

So here goes…

The Band…

Band

Sproingg

The 3 piece outfit that make up the band Sproing are well accomplished musicians. The German Trio describe their music as being Space-Punk – Psychedelic – Polyrhythmic Prog Chaos – Dramatic. Jazz and Classically influenced Rock.

Guitar 2

Prudi Bruschgo – Guitar.

Well judging by the guitarists pants pictured above no doubt that the word Psychedelic does spring to mind.

Bass 1

Johannes Korn – Chapman Stick & Violin.

No doubt the same Psychedelic or Psychedelia reference could apply to the bass stick players top in this picture above. 

Drums 1

Erik Feder – Drums & Percussion.

Though the bands drummer appears to bring a much more relaxed casual and laid back style to the bands outfit. Though the colour Green here could be in some way trying to represent some Neo Space Frog into the Psychedelic mix. But there is no doubt that this guy is certainly helping to put in the Hop & Spring or should I say Sproingg into the very close tight nit 3 piece outfit.

However you want to describe the band’s music with whatever genre or tag you want to stamp it with, there is no doubt in my mind that perhaps the easiest way to describe it with is Progressive Rock.

Influences…

There is no doubt that the band Sproingg have been influenced by many other bands in the world of prog rock. There are a few that instantly sprang to my mind from the very moment I stuck on their debut album.

The first thing I noticed is that this is an instrumental band who love to delve with effects. Two of the of the bands that instantly sprang to my mind at first were the 70’s noise making experimental band Wire.

Although Sproingg perhaps do not go as far as that band did by getting out the odd Black & Decker Drills. Kango Hammers and Pickaxes :))))). Never the less they seem to feed off the effects they do use to create a pattern with and create the music they are playing out of it on some occasions..

Pedals

 The Pedal Board 

Here we see the array of effects housed on the stick player Johannes Korn’s pedal board. The guitar player Prudi Bruschgo also has an array of effects too, and between them both they manage to create some excellent noise and effects that work very well for all 3 of them to play around in an improvised way. It’s this way that allows them to sculpture  and carve out some great patterns, rhythmical passages, riffs and great lead lines that make up the melodies in the bands music.

The 2nd band that instantly sprang to my mind was the Ozric Tentacles. Though this particular band may be more of your Psychedelic Prog Rock sort of thing and features keyboards and sequencers that we do not have in Sproingg’s music. The fact they are an instrumental band and can create this feel of Psychedelia and Space with their array of effects does have this influence about the bands music.

To be perfectly honest even though I am a fan and fond of some of Ozric Tentacles music. I actually prefer what Sproingg are doing here by having no keyboards and sequencers involved. It’s more organic and more natural for my personal taste.

The 3rd and final band that sprang to my mind regarding Sproingg’s music is without doubt the most obvious one. They are King Crimson especially the latter part of that bands works. There is no doubt in my mind that if like myself you like King Crimson this album will certainly appeal to your taste just as it does to mine.

Band 2

If anything the band Sproingg does have it’s own style and it’s perhaps a combination of all 3 of the bands Wire. Ozric Tentacles and King Crimson fused together that it tends to lend a bit from each to make it what it is. To be perfectly honest I have not asked any of the band members who their influences were or where they came from, but this is how their music does speak and present itself to myself.

There is nothing wrong with influences and nearly every artist and band in the world certainly have them in their own music. It’s very much bands like this that keep such great music such as progressive rock still going, and this is a band that makes it’s own original music and not a copy cat or tribute band with what they are presenting you with here.

You have to have a very solid line up and force to go out and play live as a 3 piece band and make it stand up and stand out. There is no doubt that the band Sproingg have the quality of great musicians to be able to do so as well they do too.

This short amateur video clip captured by the drummers 7 year old son on his smartphone. Sees the band in action live performing the 2nd track on the album entitled “And The Mountain Rat Saw God“.

Sproingg Live

Though this is nowhere near the quality of the recording of studio track that’s on the album obviously. But never the less it certainly shows how precisely this band can play the track from the album and the audio quality is not that bad either.

The Self Titled Album Sproingg Review…

The self titled debut album Sproingg by Sproingg contains 8 instrumental tracks and has a very respectable total playing time of 44 minutes and 34 seconds. Not only is the bands music diverse and truly great, but I also quite like how they have very well given some thought to titling each individual track and piece of music.

Being a musician, songwriter and composer myself. I know just how hard it is to give a title to an instrumental piece of music in relation to a song that comes with words that can inspire a title out of the subject matter one wants to put across and write about in the first place. I rather think the titles we have on this album are very cleverly well thought out.

So now I shall take you through each track on the album and see if I can put across how the music speaks to me, and analyse it in the best way I possibly can.

Track 1. Sugarwax Nailface

The album springs or Sproingg’s off with it’s opening track entitled “Sugarwax Nailface“. Having done a bit of my own research I recently found the original improvisation of the track on the bass players cloud on Soundcloud. Apparently it’s a piece that was first worked on some 4 years ago. Back then it was more of a just under a 15 minute jam in relation to how it appears on the album here.

No doubt the band have been putting in some hard work over the past few years and getting it into the shape of more of a well worked out composition. You can also hear how a lot more has been put into it even over its now well shorter time slot of 4:42 we get on the album here.

The piece itself opens up almost in a familiar resemblance of that one short delayed striking chord that rings out the Beatles opened up “A Hard Day’s Night” with. Only here it’s followed by a couple of more strikes and a couple of chord changes before heading straight into the song as they did.

The bands drummer Erik Feder comes into the play for a nice steady beat played in a pattern style and I have say this is one purely superb drummer they have. Just the way his kit his tuned says it all for me it sounds purely fantastic. Actually the way Erik’s kit is tuned reminds me a lot of Pierre van der Linden from those early days of the band Focus. The drums really ring out. You can even notice it on the that short live video too. Even the rim shots on this guys drums would sound bliss.

Then we get another repeated burst of the striking chords and pattern play all of which last for around 32 seconds and then the band launch into a steady groove at first then it gradually builds itself up into a frenzy and drives along superbly at a blistering pace . There is some really great interplay between all 3 musicians and it’s a cracking little number and great well driven track to kick off the album.

Track 2. And The Mountain Rat Saw God.

The opening section of the 2nd track is more of the space rock or psychedelia vibe we got with bands like Gong and the Ozric Tentacles with its array off effects and strangeness played by both guitarist Prudi Bruschgo and stick bassist Johannes Korn respectively. Erik also backs them up very well on this rather long intro that goes on for all of 1 minute and 53 seconds. It’s pretty much a bit like the Clangers have come down from Button Moon and the title of the track pretty much merits the strange things going on here.

The band then find the right pocket and groove to rock and shake up the mountain here and carry it along superbly, with some well good positive energy with the bass lines, tumbling drums, and tasty guitar to carry the journey all the way home. The whole track is actually some 6 and a quarter minutes long, but it’s that enjoyable it’s as if its all over in half the time. No doubt that this is one great contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 3. Homunculous Funkulous.

The 3rd track on the album opens up with Erik’s drums followed by Johannes and Prudi who are both working around the drums in creating quite a mysterious feel to the piece with how they are interacting around the drums with the melody and counter melody they are feeding off each other.

Its a piece that does feature Erik’s drums and I would even go on to say that the music we have here was written around his drums. The drums even play just as much as a lead role in the piece as the other two guys are playing around it.

The track builds up pace very well and all 3 musicians are reading each other like a book as it develops along it builds its way into another really great frenzy.. Though there may be a slight element of funk in the piece its perhaps not got as much as the title suggests, but never the less its another cracking track on the album.

Track 4. No Place For Children.

No Place For Children” is a brilliant piece of work and very much a contender for my favourite track on the album. It’s one of the couple of pieces on the album that features Johannes on electric violin. No doubt the violin does change the mood at this point of the album, and even though it may present a folky element to the music here, it also gives it a lot more darker and evil presence.

It’s quite Black Sabbath like and even the title suggests the evil we have here I think just like “Children Of The Grave” would of done for Sabbath. “No Place For Children”  weaves it’s way along very well and casts it’s magic spells along the way is perhaps the best way I could describe the excellent piece.

Track 5. Krummfutter.

Johannes once again features on the electric violin on “Krummfutter” the 5th track on the album. The title here very much looks like it’s written in the bands native language of German though the title here is a made up word. If you split the word into two halves the word “Krumm” can translate to “Crooked” in English and “Futter” can mean “Lining” or “Feed” it can even mean “Food”.

Having done some further research I came across the track on the drummers cloud on Soundcloud and Erik translates the word in English to “OddFodder”. Well even though I am English I had to look up that word as well because I have never heard of it :))))))))))))).

I found out that the only references for”OddFodder” all refereed to food and cooking. So the best possible way I myself can translate the non meaning German word “Krummfutter” to English is to call it “Bent Banana” ;)))))))))))))).

To be honest the music the band put across on this piece is very much like some folk or medieval dance. The electric violin no doubt gives it this feel and also with the drums and guitar worked into the piece its very much a Folk Rock piece.

The darkness of the music here reminds me of the music Fairport Convention done on their 1970 album Full House. But there is also a feel that some plant or herb like creature is running havoc in a village scaring the life out of people as we got with “Return Of The Giant Hogweed” with the band Genesis. So maybe there is a Giant Vegetable or piece of Fruit on the loose here after all and this is another excellent track and piece of work.

Track 6. Mückmucke.

The 6th track on the album is another contender for the top spot on the album of my faves here. Once again we get some menacing creatures or rather insects in this case on the loose causing havoc. The German title here means “Mosquito Music” and just like Locusts these “Mosquito’s” are coming in hordes of them at you.

The music the band present you with here very much captures the whole drama, danger and fear of the situation and is superbly executed by all 3 members of the band contributing to it.

Track 7. Alligator Peak.

There is no doubt that album is getting better and better as it runs along and this is yet again another top contender for the top spot on the album. “Alligator Peak” is very much a piece that has a theme built into the music that is very well presented and portrayed by the band. It contains some superb passages and bags of diversity with its changes and chord progression along it’s path.

No doubt it captures the sense and feel of the dramatics as we seen on the previous track and it’s a brilliant piece of work that captures the band in full flight on their instruments. I would say that this particular piece is that strong it would even make a great single release to showcase the great album.

Track 8. The Aliens Have Landed, And I’m One Of Them.

The 8th and final track on the album is not only the longest track but also my personal favourite one to gain the top spot on the album. Where as we had the Clangers in the 2nd track on the album I think Sooty from the children’s TV Show makes an appearance on this one :)))))))))))))

This is very familiar to the improvisational work we seen in the late 90’s early 2000’s from the band King Crimson or one of their side projekts done with Trey Gunn on the Chapman Stick or Warr Guitar.

Both Trey Gunn and Tony Levin from that band are extremely talented Bass and Stick players. I perhaps would not put Sproingg’s Chapman Stick player Johannes Korn up with those two players but never the less he is without doubt a very accomplished player just as Erik Feder and Prudi Bruschgo are, and the band Sproingg have no doubt learnt their art to be able play music at this level.

Once again the chord progression and transitional changes on this track are superbly executed by the band, and it’s purely a fantastic track to put an end to a marvellous album.

Summary…

To sum up the bands self titled album Sproingg and the band themselves. What we have here is a collection of 8 instrumental pieces that mainly started out as improvisations and over time they have crafted the material into something that more or less is now a refined composition and piece of art.

Over the 4 odd years they have been developing the music and getting it ready for an album release with what we are getting here, plus the time they have put in so they can successfully go out there and play it live to an audience. Shows the great deal of graft and work they have put in as a band to make the music speak so well and stand out as a piece of fine art.

The fact that they are a band who can go out and play live will speak a lot more than any one man band sitting at home in a studio creating music and being creative by himself. I am not saying that those who do so cannot make great music. But if you intend to make music to sell? Playing live is the place to be. You have to be out there to make any real name for yourself and in my opinion this band deserve to be heard and get a lot of recognition cause they deserve it.

Music should not be about age or looks. It should not be about whether you are a signed or unsigned artist either. Because of the way the music industry has gone these days, even more mainstream and signed artists are making their own album’s these days and turned their back on the greedy record companies that have ripped many artists off for years. Not even having a record label should really make any difference these days either.

It should be about the capability of the musicians to be able to make great music and who can play it well and precisely enough and present it in the same way to a live audience. It’s about making it stand out enough to make a statement. And this band certainly do that in every way.

Conclusion…

There is no doubt that Sproingg have successfully managed to carve out quite a solid body of work with the material they have presented on their new debut album. There is also no doubt that the band are all very well accomplished musicians that possess a talent not only to play as well as they do, but also to be creative with the music they are presenting here.

This album speaks highly to myself and to my own personal taste in music. The biggest problem the band will have is getting their great music out there to a wider audience. Simply because progressive rock or whatever genre you want to tag their music with, is not as popular and never really has been out there in that big wide world.

The fact that hardly anyone out there today wants to buy music is a real shame. Many bands like this will most likely struggle as many others do. Many bands have given up simply because it’s hard to make a buck these days. No matter what equipment you are using to make an album with it still costs money at the end of the day. Music needs to be paid for and people should give it more support to keep it an ongoing thing.

Sproingg’s self titled debut album is available to purchase as a digital download or a physical CD that also has been very well produced to a high quality and is well worthy of the price tag. I shall be providing a link below to where it is available on Bandcamp where it gives you the option to listen to the album without having to purchase it, So you can decide for yourself if its your thing and think it’s worth buying.

Despite the band giving me a free digital download of the album to do my review here. I shall certainly buy the CD myself because I believe this band are worthy of all the support they can get right now, and if I was in Germany there is no doubt in my mind that I would pay to see them live.

They are a superb band who quite frankly deserve to be far more successful than they are now and I wish them all the success in the future. I will be certainly keeping an eye on the band for future releases too. Simply because they blew my brains out with the magic they presented on this superb album.

You can grab your own personal piece of magic right here: https://sproingg.bandcamp.com/releases

The track listing of the album is as follows:

01. Sugarwax Nailface. 4:42
02. And The Mountain Rat Saw God. 6:16
03. Homunculous Funkulous. 4:32
04. No Place For Children. 6:06
05. Krummfutter. 3:03
06. Mückmucke. 7:15
07. Alligator Peak. 4:20
08. The Aliens Have Landed, And I’m One Of Them. 8:20

Lee’s Rating Score. 10/10.

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Lee Speaks About Music… #19

Please Don’t Touch (Deluxe 2 CD/DVD Edition Box Set) – Steve Hackett

SH - PDT

Introduction…

Back on the 16th October 2015 Steve Hackett released a box set entitled Premonitions of the Charisma Recordings 1975 – 1983. Though this particular box set contained 14 Discs which comprised of 10 CD’s & 4 DVD’s the fact that I had the studio album’s that was in this release already on vinyl and CD never made it appeal to me. But there was indeed something inside here that very much caught my eye (despite the unreleased live material that also came with it I never had) it was in fact the 4 DVD’s that came with it.

These 4 DVD’s were Hackett’s first 4 albums done with 5.1 mixes by Steve Wilson. Now this did appeal to me very much which led me to investigate the box set further.

Regarding any box set the one thing I can assure you of is that I am no mug and the biggest majority of these so called box sets are put out there to rip you off, especially when they come at a ridiculous price point and put things in them to entice you to buy them, despite having most of the material in it.

OK to somebody who never had any of Hackett’s album’s in this box set, its original retail price of £114 maybe acceptable. But to somebody like myself who already had the album’s and was only really interested in the 5.1 mixes this is something that is so typical of many artists trying to make their fans buy the things all over again, and they are simply not playing the ball game by not releasing the items separate to give people a chance to get what they want.

Most box sets are done in this way to entice you to buy them for that one thing you have not got. To be honest I hate artists for doing this. Pink Floyd try to make you buy their stuff over and over again all the time by releasing such elaborate box sets at way over £300 in some cases. There is a point where one has to draw the line between being a fan or an idiot I am afraid.

This is one of the main reasons I also never brought compilation albums. No way would I throw my money at them just for the sake of the odd 1 or 2 tracks that they put on them. Fine if you do not already have any of the artists material and you want to dip your toe in the water so to speak, and in reality that is why they are made in the first place, for first time listeners. But simply not for the album’s man like myself who only ever considered original albums, and not ones made up to which I could of easily have done myself.

The fact that artists do such a thing like this really gets my goat up half the time, and personally to me they are not being fair to their fans or the people who like myself who will genuinely buy their music. The very fact that Hackett had released this box set made me go straight to his Facebook page and complain. With my comment I told him straight that I do hope that you intend to release these 5.1 mixes individually in the near future, and if he was not I will be ripping them off the internet myself.

I am not ashamed to do such a thing either and I have in the past had to in some cases. I am sorry to say that if any artist out there wants to try an rip me off by doing these things, I will simply rip them off. Because like I said earlier I am no idiot or a mug. Why should I have to pay £114 for something I already have just to get hold of what little I do not have in the damn thing.

OK there is even unreleased live material in this set, but personally I would prefer them on DVD so you could watch the thing, and not just listen to it, and I will always prefer any live concert on a DVD or Blu Ray any day of the week. I have a load of Hackett’s already, and even though some come with CD’s as well. I never bother playing the CD’s at all.

If these artists want to play games then so will I. At the end of the day my guilt measures up to their own I am afraid, and it’s not right that they should treat their fans this way. It boils down to Greed. There is enough of that in politics without them putting it into music.

Thankfully Hackett did see sense to release 3 of the 4 albums that came with the 5.1 mixes on the 27th May 2016. I noticed the album’s Please Don’t Touch. Spectral Mornings and Defector were available to pre-order on Amazon a couple of months beforehand and all were priced at £14.99 each. I came across a website at the time doing all 3 album’s for the price of £40 and I did pre-order them from there. But later on cancelled it due to lack of funds at the time.

The only album that never got released separately was his 1st album Voyage Of The Acolyte. Though to be honest both that album and Defector do not have genuine 5.1 mixes. The fact is that the multi-track master tapes had been lost for both of those album’s so they used software to do a simulated or pseudo 5.1 mix from the original stereo tracks.

For that reason alone the only 2 album’s that I was interested in was Please Don’t Touch and Spectral Mornings simply because they genuinely had a 5.1 mix. Has for the software that costs around £400 to convert a stereo mix into 5.1. In all honestly it’s not worth 40 pence, never mind £400.

Most Home Cinema amps these days have Dolby Prologic II built into them. Mine does and comes with many other simulated pseudo ideas of processing normal stereo into a surround mix. My amp even comes with 7 Channel Stereo and even that is quite amazing to play stereo album’s on too.

Though all those may sound great and to be perfectly honest this so called software they are using will not in any way at all present you with something your own AV Amp cannot already do. The whole thing is a complete farce.

A genuine 5.1 mix allows the sound engineer to place any of the instruments or vocals e.t.c. anywhere he wants to over the 6 channels. You simply cannot do this with any simulated software and if you only have a stereo mix in the first place instead of having all the stems. You have not got a cats chance in hell of doing a 5.1 mix at all.

If the truth be told you may as well stick with your original stereo Vinyl or CD and play it back on your AV amp in either Dolby Prologic II or 7 Channel Stereo. You will have exactly the same thing or even better too.

But despite all that I did actually also buy Defector even though it only comes with a pseudo 5.1 mix. The reason why I did buy it was because it also comes with a Steve Wilson stereo mix which is something this album never came with in this 14 Disc Box Set that you can still buy on Amazon now for £129.

Please Don’t Touch Deluxe Box Set Edition Review…

Having recently came across these 3 deluxe editions again on Amazon. I have to say they have come down in price remarkably very well. I picked up my copy of this cracking album for £9.99 and considering you are getting 2 CD’s plus 1 DVD with the 5.1 mix of the album on. This has to be the bargain of the year at this low price point.

Before I go in to any great detail, let’s take a look at the package and its contents.

The Packaging & Contents…

1 Package

Well as you can see by the above snapshot I took, this is another one of those folding out cardboard sleeves like we seen on my not so long review of the Barclay James Harvest album Everyone Is Everybody Else. Only here instead of it having 3 plastic disc holders we only get 2. The 3rd disc which is the DVD is stored inside the outer pocket of the sleeve. The booklet is stored inside the left hand pocket of the sleeve.

It’s perhaps not the best way to store what I would consider the most important thing which is the DVD Disc, especially has its just housed inside the cardboard pocket and has no other protection to stop it from getting scratches and finger marks all over it when you retrieve the disc from its pocket. It does not even come housed inside another cardboard sleeve has we seen with the recent Yes album’s I reviewed earlier too.

But seeing how I only paid £9.99 and not £14.99 which it was a year ago I cannot really complain, and has I already have the 1st CD way before this package came out. I just simply slotted that into the cardboard pocket and stored the DVD in the 1st plastic holder.

As well as the normal artwork on the front and back we get some various press snippets which are all readable and make an interesting read along with some words from Mr. Hackett himself. The booklet contains some interesting information around the time the album was recorded, but perhaps nowhere near enough in reality, and it’s a very well presentable quality package overall.

Back To The Review…

The original album Please Don’t Touch by Steve Hackett was released sometime in May 1978. The album contained 10 tracks over a total playing time of 38:22. It was Hackett’s 2nd solo album and 1st album he released after leaving the band Genesis.

In relation to his 1st album Voyage Of The Acolyte he did whilst still in Genesis back in 1975. This 2nd album has quite a mixture of contrasting styles from folk/pop and prog rock unlike his 1st album which was certainly more of a prog rock album, and even got dubbed as the lost Genesis album.

Never the less the album Please Don’t Touch is still very much a strong body of work and an excellent bit of output from Hackett who wrote all the material on it. Once again he roped in some fine musicians and singers to help him make the album as strong as it was, and it still holds up very well today 39 years after its release.

CD 1. (Original Mix & Bonus Material)

This latest Deluxe 2 CD/ 1 DVD edition was released on the 27th May 2016 and contains the original album that was remastered in 2015 along with 3 bonus tracks on the 1st CD giving you a playing time of 50 minutes over its 13 tracks. To be honest one of the bonus tracks has been changed here in comparison to the 2005 remastered CD release. Instead of it having “Land Of A Thousand Autumns/Please Don’t Touch (Live)” we get an instrumental piece entitled “Seven Cups” that was originally recorded at the same time he made the album back in 1978. I have to say it’s very good as well and for the life of me I cannot see why it was never put out on the album in the first place.

Out of the 3 bonus tracks there is no doubt that the addition of “Seven Cups” is the winner here by far. The 1st bonus track “Narnia (John Perry Vocal Version)” I have to say sorry Mr. Perry your voice is just not suited at all to the song :))))))))) and even though the 3rd bonus track is an alternative version of “Narnia” it’s perhaps not that much different to make a real big enough impact here.

CD 2. (The New Mix)

The 2nd CD contains the new stereo mixes done by Steve Wilson of the original 10 tracks from the album. It also has a slightly longer 9 seconds playing time than the original 10 tracks and comes with a total time of 38:31. Though one thing that is for sure, is that unlike that idiot who done such a poor job with the Barclay James Harvest album I reviewed earlier. Wilson’s new mixes do not contain additives and additions, and by keeping his mix close to the original album, I have to say that these new mixes are a real pleasure to hear.

Wilson’s mix presents you with a different way of hearing the original album with what he has done on this 2nd disc in the set here. He has rearranged some of the instruments and the backing vocals in the placement of the mix to give it this new way of hearing the album. It feels to be more forward and even though it’s never gonna beat the original mix of the album, it is damn well effective enough for you to want to hear it this way as well. I quite often find myself playing both the 1st and 2nd disc back to back, simply because it’s that enjoyable hearing both the mixes.

The DVD & 5.1 Mix.

The DVD contains the original recordings of the 10 tracks on the album Please Don’t Touch and opens up the quality side of things. To be honest even though this DVD is mainly used for audio purposes alone and we get no additional extra material in the way of bonus tracks, or video footage. I have no cause to complain here. For those with an AV Home Cinema Setup I can honestly say they will enjoy this 5.1 mix by Wilson.

SS 1

The DVD offers you 3 choices of audio and as we can see from the above snapshot I have selected my favourite DTS 96K 24 bit 5.1 Surround Sound. It also offers an LPCM 96K 24 bit Stereo mix and a lesser quality 5.1 Surround Dolby Digital mix.

Though the DVD does not have any real video footage, it does come with some visual images of photographs whilst the music is playing in the way of a sideshow. Let’s take a look at the menu’s here.

SS 2

Though I have only posted a couple of the screen shots here you can plainly see it displays different photographs whilst the music is playing.

SS 3

Once again Wilson has paid careful consideration to the 5.1 mix by only taking certain elements of the instrumentation away from the front speakers and stereo field to place in the rear speakers and made some fine use of panning them too. Personally I do not feel that the 5.1 mixes are up to the standards he did with the Yes albums but never the less the album sounds very well detailed and better results can be heard over the conventional stereo mix.

Musicians & Credits…

The album was recorded between November 1977 to February 1978 at 4 different studios. Cherokee Studios Hollywood & Record Plant California in USA. Kingsway Recorders and De Lane Lea studios both in London England. Produced & Engineered by John Acock Co-Produced by Steve Hackett. Artwork by Kim Poor.

Steve Hackett: Electric & Acoustic Guitars – Roland GR-500 Guitar Synthesizer – Vocals (Track 2) – Backing Vocals (Tracks 1, 3, 9, 10) – Keyboards – Percussion.
John Hackett: Flute – Piccolo – Bass Pedals – Keyboards.
Dave Lebolt & John Acock: Keyboards.
Tom Fowler: Bass.
Chester Thompson & Phil Eart: Drums & Percussion.
Hugh Malloy: Cello.
Graham Smith: Violin.
James Bradley: Percussion.
Steve Walsh: Vocals (Tracks 1,3)
Richie Havens: Vocals & Percussion (Tracks 5, 10)
Randy Crawford: Vocals (Track 6)

With guests appearances from Maria Bonvino female soprano (Track 6). Feydor vocals (Track 9). Dan Owen & Dale Newman additional vocals on (track 10)

The Original Album Tracks…

Track 1 Narnia.

Steve Hackett’s 2nd album Please Don’t Touch kicks off very with it’s opening track entitled Narnia. It’s a wonderful song that features Steve Walsh on vocals and Phil Eart on Drums both from the band Kansas. Hackett was impressed by Walsh’s voice having heard the band’s latest single release “Carry On Wayward Son” whilst writing his second album. he has also heard that they was influenced by English bands and Genesis. So he invited them over to play on a few tracks on his album, to which they obliged.

The song is very much a contender for the top spot on the album and starts with some beautiful swirling 12 and 6 stringed acoustic guitars and also contains some lovely lead lines from Hackett’s electric guitar. l quite like the combination of piano and harpsichord from the keyboards on this track too.

The songs lyrical content is based on one of the main and my favourite chronicles of Narnia hence The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe written by C. S. Lewis. It’s always personally been one of my favourite TV Series as a child and I was much more into this kind of adventure than I ever was into things like Dr. Who as child, and still am if I am honest.

The record company Chrysalis also seen this particular opening track of the album a good thing to make as a single release from the album, especially has it had received quite a bit if air play in America on America FM. But the fact that Steve Walsh had sang the vocals on the song and was signed to Epic Records stopped it from happening due to contractual agreements with the company.

This was also how the version with Steve Perry’s vocals came about in the first place, because they originally tired to make the single release still happen by having another vocalist on the song. Having recorded the take with Perry’s vocals they was not happy with the result which is why it got shelved in the first place. Understandable too I personally really think because he really does sound dreadful on the song. I am sure Perry is a good singer though and it’s just that this song never really suited his voice at all I think.

Track 2. Carry On Up The Vicarage.

For me personally this is my favourite track on the album and does grab the top spot. Carry On Up The Vicarage is without a doubt as prog rock as you could get and is a fantastic piece of work and track. It oozes with superb pipe organ excellent phased guitar and has such a brilliant haunting intro that sounds like an Ice Cream Van from hell has just arrived :))))))))))))

Hackett calls it his tribute to Agatha Christie and though it’s lyrical content is certainly based around the character of Miss Marples and her murder investigations musically it’s perhaps more of a tribute to Alice Cooper (LOL) Hackett done all the voices himself on the track. He is not mainly a singer though he has improved on his vocals since this early stage of his solo career, but never the less he knows how to use a great deal of effects for his voice to work so well on this song.

The original Robert Morton Pipe Organ used on this track was also destroyed in a fire that broke out at the Record Plant in the same year before the album was released. It also was featured on the self titled track of the album too.

Track 3. Racing In A.

This is the 2nd song on the album that features Steve Walsh on vocals and it’s perhaps more of a racy pop song  and for most of the song Hackett plays his electric guitar on the track. Lyrically it’s perhaps pertaining to getting off your backside and doing something more with your life. It’s also perhaps an anti racing song in the way that it’s telling one to get away from the fast life on the highway and take in the country air.

If anything though the song is pretty much OK it’s perhaps less familiar with Hackett’s style apart from the last minute or so of the song where it comes down and Hackett gets on his nylon string guitar, personally for me this is the best part of the song. The last section even though it’s not played at any great pace in relation to the first section of the song is certainly the fire here.

Track 4. Kim.

This beautiful instrumental piece is much more familiar to Hackett’s excellent catalogue of music. Here he does acoustically what he’s best at along with his brother John on the flute. Kim is a gorgeous track and certainly one of my top tracks on the album and was inspired by Erik Satie’sGymnopédie No 1“.

Track 5. How Can I?

The 5th track and final track on side 1 of the original vinyl album features Richie Havens on vocals. Hackett had met Havens in the previous year when he was finishing off his last tour with Genesis. Most of the band had been fans of Havens for years and they invited Havens to play as their opening support act on that tour.

Although the Genesis fans never took too kindly to Havens in their opening shows, it was Hackett who reassured him by saying to him back stage “you know that the quality of your performance was by no means paralleled by the enthusiasm of the audience”.

From that moment Havens stood up and shook Hackett’s hand. Hackett felt like he had found a friend and invited Havens to his house for dinner and it was at that dinner that Hackett had decided there and then that Havens would be a great choice of a singer to appear on his next album.

I have to admit I have always admired Havens voice myself and it reflects and works very well on How Can I?. It’s a wonderful folk song that’s lyrical content is in reality based around how love is stronger than money when it comes to try get through the many struggles life can confront us with at times. In some ways they could even pertain to Haven’s struggles in his music career to gain back the popularity he once had and reach out to his audience.

Musically the song works very well for the use of the reversed phasing effects heavily used here. In many ways its like a substitute for an harmonium and accordion both instruments no doubt would of suited here  But if you can successfully produce more or less the same thing yourself without those instruments, its less cost effective in both hiring and paying for somebody to play them. Though I am pretty sure Hackett was not being any cheapskate here, and merely loves to experiment with other sounds.

Track 6. Hoping Love Will Last.

Hoping Love Will Last is a beautiful love song that starts off with some lovely classical textures played by Hackett on his nylon guitar and also has a most wonderful orchestrated section in the middle of it. It’s also the only song on the album to feature the beautiful soulful voice of Randy Crawford. It was in fact the first English song that Crawford had ever had released in the UK.

She was very much an unknown artist at the time Hackett had stumbled upon her singing in a bar in Chicago. Even before her breakthrough success with the Crusaders and before her smash hit “One Day I’ll Fly Away“. Parts of the recording were done in Los Angeles and others in London.

The song also features Chester Thompson on drums and even though it also features the female soprano voice of Maria Bonvino according to the linear notes. I have to say I am at a loss as to where her voice actually comes into the equation on this song, unless she is backing up some of Crawford’s high notes in the chorus. It’s also very strange that the only information I can find out about Maria is related to this album only.

All the tracks on this 2nd side of the vinyl album are in the form of a none stop suite and continuously run into each other. I also have to say that it only ever worked successfully on the vinyl release until this CD release. Every CD release before does appear to have a short gap in between the individual changing on some of the tracks, especially on the self titled track of the album and I used to find it annoying that it did so too.

Track 7. Land of a Thousand Autumns.

The first of 3 instrumental tracks that in reality all relate to the album’s self titled track that follows this one. In some ways it was not really necessary to give them individual titles and they all could be very much considered as 1 track instead of 3. The music here sets up the scene and theme for the next track to follow suit perfectly and is more of a soothing build up to it and the power that was to be unleashed.

Track 8. Please Don’t Touch.

The album’s self titled track Please Don’t Touch is without a doubt the most powerful track on the album and for many it would easily be their favourite track on the album. Hackett originally wrote this piece and offered it to Genesis for their 1977 album Wind and Wuthering to which got turned down.

I have to say at this point it was no wonder that Hackett seen the sense to leave Genesis a band who continuously went on to say afterwards that Hackett never contributed a lot of his music to the band. Trust me it was pure bullshit. To even think how Mike Rutherford’s self penned pop song “Your Own Special Way” made it onto Wind and Wuthering and this never. I have to say was a complete mistake on their part.

The day Hackett left Genesis so did I simply because he was the only one member of the band out of all 5 of them that was still making music like Genesis. He still is today and I admire him 100% for sticking to his guns.

Please Don’t Touch is without doubt a very strong written piece of work. That much that even Hackett himself featured it and reworked it into more of his later albums under a different title. It features his Roland GR-500 Guitar Synthesizer and is a mind blowing track and another top contender on the album for the top spot.

Track 9. The Voice of Necam.

This particular final part of the 3 instrumental pieces contains the tail end of the previous track with the barrel pipe organ and steam projecting the noise from its valves. I can still remember him playing the track live in the same year at the Odeon New Street in Birmingham and him winding it up with its handle. The track then goes into something completely different with more of Hackett’s lovely nylon stringed guitar playing a beautiful melody to make the transition into the last track on the album run smoothly.

Necam itself was one of the first automated console systems made. It was developed by a British company called AMS Neve. Rupert Neve who was born in Newton Abbot in Devonshire England in 1926 was an electronics pioneer who in the 60’s had started to make a name for himself for his high quality work in mixing consoles. His consoles were highly sort after by all the top recording studios worldwide.

Necam Fader 1Necam

It was in the mid 70’s that the company invented the first computer-controlled moving fader automation console they called Necam. It was a machine that had a Computer Assisted Mixdown in it and enabled Hackett to use it for singing different notes from his voice onto a multi-track tape and mixing them into a loop. It was a very similar technique the band 10 CC had used on their hit single “I’m Not In Love” to produce all those thousands of voices.

Besides Hackett himself using his voice to get the end result he wanted it does also mention in the linear notes that somebody by the name of Feydor contributed vocal to this track. Once again I am at a complete loss here as to who this person was or if it was a real person at all, and at a guess I would say it was Hackett playing a practical joke here. The fact that console had automatic faders may have inspired him to use the name Feydor contributing vocals to the track.

Track 10. Icarus Ascending.

The final track on the album is the longest too at some 6 minutes 22 seconds. Once again it features the great voice of Richie Havens who does wonders for the song. No doubt this is another contender for the top spot on the album and ends the album off superbly. It’s a shame he was not present when I seen Hackett live back in 1978 at the Birmingham Odeon. But he did manage to put on a great show regardless.

Summary…

I very much think that despite that one could perhaps say that Steve Hackett’s 2nd album Please Don’t Touch may have been a mixed bag with all the contrasting many styles and flavours it has over it’s 10 tracks. There is no doubt that even today this album has stood the test of time and stands up very well. It’s very much an album one can still get a great deal of pleasure from playing even today.

To be perfectly honest the fact that it can achieve these results makes it a damn site better than any album Genesis made after Hackett left to which in reality they did manage to churn out instantly likeable album’s, but no sooner they had released them, a month later they soon wore off.

I think a lot of the material Genesis did write in the 80’s was very much like what a lot of artists done back in that decade, and their music just completely outdated itself. That much that I honestly cannot even listen to it any more.

For some the album Please Don’t Touch may not be considered as prog rock enough for some of the fans. But in all honesty the material is very well written and so is the music very well constructed even if you are listening to a 4 minute pop song like “Hoping Love Will Last” You simply cannot write off the superb job Randy Crawford did for the song, or Richie Havens work on the album. They are quality singers with unique voices that make it work so well.

However I personally do not believe the album Please Don’t Touch is on the par with what we got on Hackett’s previous album or the one that was to follow. But never the less there is no doubt it’s still a strong enough body of work and an album that one will quite often find them self returning to the pleasure it can provide on numerous occasions. I would even go as far as to putting it in my top 5 of Hackett album’s.

Conclusion…

I am going to conclude my review by summing up this particular 2016 Deluxe Edition of the 1978 album and to take onboard if it was worth buying again something one may have had already decades again like myself.

The first thing I would say is that if you can get it for the bargain price I paid of £9.99 for it. I would certainly snap it up whilst it’s still available. I think the new 2015 remastered version of the album on the 1st CD will give you just as much pleasure as your old 1978 vinyl album does, because they have done a quality job of it. The bonus track “Seven Cups” out of the 3 on the same disc is a quality bonus track well worthy of having.

The 2nd CD with the new Steve Wilson mixes I would also very much consider a bonus as well. Personally his mix is not as good as the original mix on the 1st CD. But it is without doubt a pleasure to listen to the album this way and I guarantee it’s not something you’re gonna say I do not like and will not want to be playing it again. I honestly get pleasure out hearing them both. I would even go as far as to say that I treat it like a double album and always end up playing them both back to back.

Last of all the DVD which contains the 5.1 mix of the album. This is by far the biggest winner personally for myself and gives me as the listener the best possible way one would ever get to hear the album. Once again Wilson has done a very satisfying job on the 5.1 minx and it does not disappoint.

The track listing of the 1st CD is as follows:

01. Narnia. 4:07
02. Carry On Up The Vicarage. 3:10
03. Racing In A. 5:06
04. Kim. 2:13
05. How Can I?. 4:37
06. Hoping Love Will Last. 4:11
07. Land of a Thousand Autumns. 1:48
08. Please Don’t Touch. 3:38
09. The Voice of Necam. 3:10
10. Icarus Ascending. 6:22
11. Narnia [*][John Perry Vocal Version]. 3:35
12. Seven Cups [*][Unreleased Track]. 3:33
13. Narnia [*][Alternate Version][Version]. 4:30

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus Tracks Rating Score. 5/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 8/10.

The Original Album Rating Score. 8/10

Lee Speaks About Music… #18

Infinite (5 Track EP) – Ghostly Beard

1. Infinite

Introduction…

Well it’s time for another review of another unsigned artist. I say artist because even though the name Ghostly Beard suggests that it’s a band, it is indeed the work of one man who is behind it all. He is none other than Patrick Talbot from Montreal in Canada.

I first bumped into Patrick a good couple of years back on Soundcloud and oddly enough the first piece I heard of him was an instrumental piece entitled “Winter Dance” which happens to appear on this latest EP of his Infinite. I also got to hear one of his vocal tracks entitled “The Love In Your Eyes” back then too and I have to say I was quite impressed by the both pieces.

Since back then and until very recently I very much lost track of Patrick’s work. But I have noticed that all 5 tracks that feature on this Infinite EP were in fact pieces of work he had done between 2014 – 2016.  Just recently he has very much remastered and had mastered 5 pieces he chose to put out for an official release. The EP Infinite is very much the first piece of his work he has put up for sale so to speak, and is very much his mini debut album.

Patrick is a very much a multitalented musician who has been playing for decades now, so he knows quite a bit about both song writing and mixing production. I recently came across his path again after noticing a little add or post he posted in the Prog Rock Group on Facebook where he was looking for some people to review his latest 5 track EP. In return for a review he was offering either a free download or physical CD.

To be honest even though these days the fact that I do enjoy writing reviews led me to further investigate. It was the fact that he also had posted a video with one of the songs from the EP on there too that led me to give it a play, and I quite liked what I was hearing. Had I have not I can assure I would not have responded to post at all.

I decided to message Patrick privately on Facebook simply because my own personal blog site here on WordPress carries little weight and I may not of been the right person to take onboard such a job. Especially if he was looking for a review to draw attention to add any sales to his music.

I very much consider myself as an unknown in relation to the many other more known and popular review sites, who could perhaps in some way help promote it enough to bring in the odd sale here and there.

Patrick assured me it was merely about getting his music out there, and having read a few of my reviews here he told me he would be delighted and more than happy if I was to review his debut EP.

So he sent me out a physical copy, and it arrived this Tuesday on the 18th July having took near enough a couple of weeks to get here from Canada. Patrick did also tell me to be honest with my review and not to hold anything back.

Well I can honestly say that when Lee speaks about music there is no doubt he will get a very honest review based on how the music speaks to me. So let’s look now and see if Patrick is really Ghostly or Ghastly :)))))))))))

What’s Behind The Ghost…

GB

Well judging by short Bio on the sheet of paper that came along with CD. I have to say that there is no doubt that Patrick has put a lot of thought and a great deal of attention into his music. He has also shed out a bit of his own money into making the finished product we have here of high quality, and has gone about things in a very professional way.

Let’s take a look at some of the production credits:

Patrick Talbot: All Music & Lyrics – All Instruments/Vocals/Recording & Mixing @ The GB Studio Montreal Canada. Except for track 4 “Limitless” mixed by Andrew Coldroom Studio Brisbane. Australia. Mastered by Adrian Jenkinson @ Hairy Monster Studio. Hull. UK. Cover photography courtesy of Jacob W. Frank. Cover design by Stephanie Delisle Plutot Design.

Mysteriously Spooky:

According to legend the Ghostly Beard is an enigmatic bigfoot-like character who came out of the woods after being lost for some 15 years. Well no doubt there is certainly something spooky going on here judging by this sheet of paper he did send me. So let’s take a closer look.

Front side view….

GB 1

Take a look at the watermark in the front view above and see how you are able to easily read the words.

Reverse side view…

GB 2

Now take a look at the watermark on reverse side of the paper, and instead of it reading back to front, it’s still easily readable from left to right. We have not even got to the music yet and we are already seeing art in itself :)))))))))))))

The Infinite EP Review…

The 5 track EP Infinite by Ghostly Beard was released on the 14th July 2017. Over its 5 tracks we get a total playing time of 24 minutes and 25 seconds. It’s currently available to buy on Bandcamp for around the 4 dollar 50 cents US mark I shall be providing a link at the end of my review.

So just what does one get for the few bucks here one might ask? Well before I take you through the 5 tracks here, the one thing that I can honestly tell you, is that this product is pristine top notch quality with how the tracks have been recorded, mixed and mastered. It’s as good as the high quality you would buy from a record store of any mainstream artist.

All being good so far, but all this pristine quality is not going to make an eighth of a difference unless the material is going to appeal to you. To be perfectly honest Patrick’s music is very much a mixture of many styles, that have all been very well carefully crafted, woven and blended into each other for it to work as well as it does.

Personally I think that just as much as Patrick’s music very much has the elements of progressive rock, jazz, fusion, soft rock and classic rock about it. There is also quite a modern pop style that also lends to it. I also feel a lot of that popular style he does have about it tends to come from his voice.

Because he has all these elements woven and blended into his material, I certainly feel that this will appeal to a lot more people than the first 3 genres I mentioned in that list, it also has very much an alternative rock or pop vibe about it too.

To put  it into more of a nutshell. I personally feel it has a lot more lighter relaxing chilled out laid back atmospheric calmness feel about it, just like Pink Floyd has in some ways, though there are other elements and it does have the capability of raising up the power when needed to as well.  I would also throw in a bit of Porcupine Tree and even the Dutch band Focus into the pot as well, along with some pop singer from the late 80’s early 90’s too.

To be honest there is way too many other artists I could mention here, it would take me a lifetime to fit them all in :)))))))).

Track 1 Close Your Eyes.

There is no doubt that Patrick has spared no expense in trying to promote his music, and gone about doing it so in a very professional way. To be perfectly honest when songs come as good as this song here, you can see why. I think if anybody had made a song of this quality there is no doubt they would want it out there to be heard. It really is an excellent piece of work and very well written song.

There is no doubt that this opening song Close Your Eyes has quite a Pink Floyd feel about it. Even the video has imagery visuals that would be familiar with Floyd too. The one thing that does set it aside more than anything from Pink Floyd is Patrick’s voice.

There is no doubt that Patrick’s voice is very familiar with some pop star from the late 80’s and early 90’s and for the life of me I cannot think who it reminds me of. To be honest I was never one for pop music from those decades, especially the 80’s. There is also no doubt that it’s Patrick’s voice that very much gives this song more of a pop feel about it, rather than prog rock even though the music does have those elements no doubt.

If you listen to where the break comes into play at the 2:17 mark there is no doubt that the music is very familiar with Pink Floyd. In many ways it’s like a cross between the come down section of “Dogs” the dragged down by the stone part from the Animals album, combined with the lead solo from “One Of These Days” from the Meddle album.

Though it’s not exactly the same as those two Floyd songs, but you can certainly see that Patrick was very well influenced by Pink Floyd and it’s such a superb lead solo he plays on the guitar in this section. The other elements of the strings and the bass guitar lines work superbly in this song too.

There is no doubt that even though I have mentioned all these references about Pink Floyd that Patrick’s music very much do also have their own elements that does make it that much different and puts its own stamp on it.

There are 2 artists that spring to mind who no doubt who do sound like Pink Floyd more so than Ghostly Beard. The first one is the mainstream band Mostly Autumn and the 2nd one is an unsigned 2 man project that go by the name of Shards Of Reason. There is no doubt that the material Phil Lawton wrote for the first 2 Shards Of Reason album’s Swept Away & Isolation was like listening to 2 lost albums from the 70’s that even Pink Floyd themselves would of been pleased and proud to have wrote.

The song Close Your Eyes does not have to speak the same language as Pink Floyd to make it what it is. The fact that there is a fresh mixture of other elements in it, gives it a more fresh and more modern approach and feel about it, that make it work so well. It’s so damn hard for me not to pick this as my favourite track of the bunch here, because it really is superbly well done and for Ghostly Beard there is no doubt that this is a classic song.

Track 2. Frozen In Time.

Frozen In Time is more of a laid back pop song in relation to the opening track on the EP. It contains a beautiful lead break on the guitar that has a fine sprinkling of refined Jazz feel about it. The bass played on this track stands out superbly and for me personally adds to the lush sound and feel of the track. Patrick’s voice puts over the words very well and he expresses them very well in his sweet way too.

Patrick has quite a unique way with his lyrics and even though the lyrical content here is very much based around a love song, it gives one the feel and sense that he wants to be drifting off to another beautiful place. In some ways it’s like a good story from one of those wonderful cryogenic movies where one is deeply in love with somebody and waiting for them to wake up. It’s a different contrast in relation to the opening song where the lyrical content was based around the struggles of living life.

If anything Frozen In Time is a great chillout song one can simply sit back and feel relaxed with and at home with. I do not think it will set the world on fire, but one may be well seated in front of a coal fire sipping a glass of wine with what we have here.

Track 3. No Return.

The 3rd track on the EP No Return has more of an atmospheric feel about it. But in some ways it’s like an indie song too with what little of a song you get in this piece. Mostly it’s more instrumental with its long intro and outro. It certainly is more like your modern approach to pop music even though there are perhaps some other influences here.

Judging by the lyrical content here it also puts me in the frame of mind that perhaps Patrick has purposely chosen these 5 songs to work in the way of some sort of a concept. I would also say that his lyrics perhaps reflect the name of Ghostly Beard more so than the music being in any way haunting so to speak.

For me personally this is my least favourite out of the 5 tracks on the EP. It’s not in any way that bad and does have some nice guitar work in it, but its mainly to keyboard orientated for my own personal taste. No doubt that it will most likely appeal to many more people than myself on that score.

Track 4. Limitless.

Well just as sure as the last track may not have been that appealing to my own personal taste, the 4th track Limitless certainly does appeal to me a lot more. In fact enough for me to even make it my personal favourite track on the EP. No doubt the instrumentation pours out like sweet wine on this track, with some well tasty jazz touches on the guitar along its path.

Limitless if anything is another well super cool chillout track. There is no doubt that the 1st track “Close Your Eyes” may have had more of an approach to prog rock and is more perhaps the most appealing and lively track on this mini album, and has I stated it was hard for me not to give that track the top spot on the EP either.

But this track has such a divine quality with the instrumentation and the way Patrick’s voice works so well in the song. it’s got such a precise very well executed guitar solo, very Santana and many other likes in that jazz field. It’s such a gorgeous song and even thou it’s not so much rock music, it certainly rocks my boat, and is stunningly so well played and hits the spot for me.

Track 5. Winter Dance.

The final track on the EP is a beautiful instrumental piece entitled Winter Dance. Now I do love the keyboards in this track and they are much more to my preferred taste. This lovely piece once again has some fine elements of jazz fused with prog rock. I would even go as far as saying that even this track could easily be another contender for the top spot on the EP. It’s superb.

In many ways it reminds me of the Dutch prog rock band Focus who are another great band that know how to deliver well chilled out music without the use of ambient keyboard sounds. That is why the keyboards on this track are much more to my taste. It rounds off the EP in a very tasty way and is another piece that appeals to my personal taste buds a lot.

Summary…

Overall the one man musician Patrick Talbot behind the Ghostly Beard has managed to carve out a very fine set of 5 songs for the EP Infinite. There is no doubt this guy has got great talent and knows a lot about song writing to be able to craft out the fine material we have here.

Even the lyrical content is very well thought out in the way that one could get something else out of them and interpret them in many different ways which is a good thing.

Has a musician who has been playing for 40 years it very much reflects his skilful way of playing the instruments he does play here, and he has executed them in a very precise way that is far from anything remotely easy to be able to play at this level.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of the EP Infinite by Ghostly Beard. There is no doubt that Patrick as managed to work some modern textures into his music that give it a more modern and fresher feel about it all. It’s these very elements that I personally feel will make it that more appealing to a wider audience. Though whether it will appeal to today’s younger generation is another thing.

3 of the 5 tracks “Close Your Eyes“. “Limitless” and “Winter Dance” on the EP are very strong and stand out very well here, and personally are worthy of the price of the EP alone. It’s down to a matter of personal taste regarding “No Return” to which personally was not my thing. Though no doubt that track does have more of a pop feel about it, and may appeal to a lot more than myself for sure.

There is nothing here that is remotely bad at all about it and to be honest I can still easily sit through the whole 5 tracks on the EP and enjoy it without having to skip any of the tracks, as I have already done so on several occasions to make my review here.

The one thing you are guaranteed to get for your money here is not just the great music, but the fact that this does have a very highly well produced and polished production. It’s that good that it will even sound superb as an mp3 at 320 kbps quality to which I have been listening to this mostly whilst writing out my review.

There is no doubt in my mind that Patrick has put in the work, the time, effort and the money to make this product. I have always seen music as a product myself and just like all products they get put up for sale. I have never personally ever believed that music should be free.

One has to ask themselves the next time they are out and they find themselves in a coffee shop paying the same price as this product for a cup of coffee. Should not that be free? Especially when the thing is gonna last you all of 5 minutes in relation to music that is still capable of giving one so much great pleasure and will last you a lifetime.

Even though I got this EP for nothing for writing my review here. I shall in fact buy this EP as a present for somebody else. Simply because I believe in the artist and his music enough to support it, and this 5 track EP is fine enough body of work that pleases my ears, and very well merits its price tag.

You Better Open Your Eyes Now….

You can purchase the digital download of the 5 track EP Infinite from Bandcamp here : https://ghostlybeard.bandcamp.com/releases

The 5 track EP track listing is as follows:

1. Close Your Eyes. 5:58

2. Frozen In Time. 4:08

3. No Return. 5:18

4. Limitless. 5:16

5. Winter Dance. 3:45

Lee’s Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #17

Pros & Cons Of New York – Roger Waters

RW-PCH LIve 85

Introduction…

The Pros & Cons Of New York is a 2 CD Set that was released on the 14th July 2017. To be honest this is not an official Roger Waters release and was released by a company called Gossip Records. However I did pre-order it from Amazon a couple of months before hand and it arrived through my letterbox on Friday 14th the day of its release.

You can find this particular live concert of Waters on many bootlegs over the years since Waters embarked on his first tour as a solo artist back in 1985 having left Pink Floyd. Though what I will say, is that the quality is nowhere near what we have on this latest 2 CD Set and for the price of £9.99 you are genuinely getting a piece of quality here for your money, and it’s great value too especially when you are getting the whole 2 hour and 14 minute live show.

The major reason I wanted this more than anything, is really down to the fact that Waters himself mainly ignores his own solo material. He still very much thinks he is with Pink Floyd when you look at all the live material he has officially released himself. It’s a real shame really because since he left Floyd he has now made 4 great albums and yet he still devotes over 90% of his live shows to the material he did with Pink Floyd all those years back, and you very rarely get to hear him do any of his solo material at all.

To be honest I have never been to any of Roger Waters live shows, and I am sorry to say I would not either. I’ve seen Pink Floyd live and I honestly do not believe in paying to see an artist who’s not playing what he supposed to be playing, and that is the music from his solo material and stop living in the past all the time. He really needs to take a leaf out of Peter Gabriel’s book I am afraid.

Do not get me wrong I have nothing against Waters playing some of his past he did with Floyd and to be perfectly honest from what live shows I have of his on DVD he’s very good, and capable of putting over the Floyd material very well. His live In The Flesh DVD is excellent, though once again he’s obsessed by his older material he did with Floyd and you get very little of his solo material.

So what’s so special about this unofficial release one might ask? Find out in my detailed review coming up now.

The Double Live Album Review…

The Pros & Cons Of New York is a live concert by Roger Waters that took place on the 28th March 1985 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York America. The whole show was broadcast live across America and the difference between this recording in relation to any bootleg is that it comes from the original radio broadcast, and not some idiot recording the show from the audience with whatever he used to record the concert with.

CD 1.

Roger Waters played 2 live sets that day. The 1st set on the 1st CD is of him performing a just over an hour and 14 minute set of Pink Floyd material and some classics. In whole there are 15 tracks and Waters and the band play quite a variety of the Floyd songs here and I am so glad to see it’s not just mainly the material from The Wall for a change. He does however manage to squeeze in 5 tracks from that album and has devoted a 3rd of the tracks and 19 minutes and 34 seconds of the 74:09 we have here.

He kicks off the show with “Welcome To The Machine” from the Wish You Were Here album, and I quite like how they have arranged many of the older Floyd songs to suit Waters voice more. Though he does not sing all the songs in the set, but he does take on the biggest majority here. There are some really good arrangements which really do make this concert very enjoyable to hear. He also does “Wish You Were Here” and “Have A Cigar” from the same album too.

It’s also nice to see 3 tracks from the last album he did with Floyd. The Final Cut featured with the oldies here too. “Money” from the bands prolific album Dark Side Of The Moon is the only song we get from that album strangely enough. Though he does end off his 2nd set with a couple of more songs from it. The intro from the Animals album “Pigs On The Wing (Part I)” is the only song from that album that gets an airing, but it’s quite funny hearing Roger calling for his “Pig”.

One thing that is a joy to hear is “If” from the Atom Heart Mother album and the even more earlier song “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” from the bands 1968 2nd album A Saucerful of Secrets. I love how they have arranged this one and it’s certainly my favourite out of the bunch here. In some ways it’s even better than how they did the original studio and the Live At Pompeii versions, though I dare say somebody will shoot me down in flames for saying that :))))))))))))

Considering I never brought this release for the 1 CD here. I have to say I quite like it a lot more than what I would thought. The 2nd CD was why I did buy it originally for. Though no doubt this a great concert over the both sets you have here, and it is recorded very well, and you are getting excellent quality all the way here.

CD 2.

The 2nd CD and the 2nd half of the concert contains the whole of Roger Waters 1st studio solo album The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking played in its entirety from start to finish live. You get another 15 tracks over a playing time of 58 minutes 38 seconds. I have to say this is really something well worth having even though I will say it’s missing Eric Clapton and the keyboards are used to play some of his parts, and some are just completely missing in comparison to what was on the original studio album.

Eric Clapton did originally accompany Roger Waters at the start of this tour but unfortunately after 3 months on the road with Waters he had to pull out, and he was not present when they played here in New York.

Do not get me wrong I think the musicians who are present here did remarkably well especially has some other really great session players had also pulled out of the tour by the time this concert came around. The great percussionist Ray Cooper and guitarist Tim Remwick left with Clapton to start on his live tour at the time. All 3 extremely highly talented musicians in my own personal opinion that in reality could of made this set much more better too.

It was perhaps a very hard tour for Waters. Not just with the lack of musicians pulling out from it, but also down to the fact that most of the venues he had booked for his shows got cancelled, due to lack of interest due to low ticket sales. I think Waters found out for the first time that he was not “Pink” and much less popular than the band was who will still enjoying tremendous success without him.

To be perfectly honest the way that The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking is performed live is something that will grow on you the more times you play it. It’s also a great way to hear the album performed like this and it’s still very professional with the musicians they do have, and how it’s been arranged for the live show. It still works very well and certainly is by far a great addition to have, especially has Waters really has very little to offer with his own solo back catalogue of material, and for the life of me I cannot really see why Waters himself never thought about releasing this himself.

At the end of completing the live album. Roger announces the band to the audience and they come back for an encore with both “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse” from the Dark Side Of The Moon album to end off the show in great style.

The Musicians:

Roger Waters: bass and lead vocals
Michael Kamen: Keyboards
Jay Stapley: lead guitar
Andy Fayerweather Low: guitar
Mel Collins: sax
Andy Newmark: drums
Katie Kissoon: backing vocals
Doreen Chanter: backing vocals

Summary…

Overall this 2 CD Set is a well worthy purchase and takes onboard a very enjoyable concert just under the 2 and a quarter hour mark over the 2 live sets you are getting here. No doubt Roger Waters and the band done the business in putting over a really great live show.

Both the CD’s are housed in a Jewel case with a hinged holder inside that opens up to revel the 2nd CD on the reverse side. I have quite a few of these from the past, and even though these Jewel cases are not seen as much these days and more often is the case they come in cardboard slipcases, the case is well constructed for its purpose and does the job very well.

Conclusion…

The Pros & Cons Of New York by Roger Waters may not be an official release by the man himself. Never the less even if he was to release it, I personally do not believe it would be of any greater quality with what you’re getting here. This Radio Broadcast is far from anything remotely disappointing in comparison to the bootlegs this concert has had over all these years. I would even highly recommend replacing them with this. Simply because this is the real genuine quality that came from the radio station itself who broadcast it.

The arrangements throughout both the sets of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters solo material are very well done making this live concert most satisfying to hear these songs done in this way. No doubt that Michael Kamen would of played a big part in these arrangements too.

1985 was perhaps a pivotal part of Waters career especially for testing the water of how popular he would still be with Floyd fans. Though many may of deserted him back then, he has certainly maintained to build himself a far more successful career and get back the support over the years from those many who deserted him.

Has I stated in the introduction of my review here. Coming across live material of Waters solo output is not a common thing. Still till this day he still very much draws his attention back to the earlier side of his career with Pink Floyd. Having the complete album of The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking played live has to be one massive bonus in my eyes.

No doubt this release gets a big thumbs up from myself and is very welcoming to see for a change. At its price point of £9.99 for 2 CD’s of live material its very much a winner and will certainly please both Waters and Floyd fans alike, and that fact that is not an official I would personally recommend it as if it was. Simply because it’s quality.

The track listing over the 2 CD’s are as follows:

Disc: 1

 01. Welcome To The Machine 8:30
 02. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun 9:55
 03. Money 8:10
 04. If 4:01
 05. Wish You Were Here 6:44
 06. Pigs On The Wing (Part I) 1:38
 07. Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert 0:46
 08. Southampton Dock 2:13
 09. The Gunner’s Dream 6:57
 10. In The Flesh 5:03
 11. Nobody Home 4:47
 12. Have A Cigar 5:46
 13. Another Brick In The Wall (Part I) 2:44
 14. The Happiest Days Of Our Lives 1:55
 15. Another Brick In The Wall (Part II) 5:06

 

Disc: 2

 01. 4:30 AM (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad) 3:15
 02. 4:33 AM (Running Shoes) 4:21
 03. 4:37 AM (Arabs With Knives And West German Skies) 3:24
 04. 4:39 AM (For The First Time Today, Part 2) 3:17
 05. 4:41 AM (Sexual Revolution) 5:57
 06. 4:47 AM (The Remains Of Our Love) 3:44
 07. 4:50 AM (Go Fishing) 7:18
 08. 4:56 AM (For The First Time Today, Part 1) 1:33
 09. 4:58 AM (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin) 3:04
 10. 5:01 AM (The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, Part 10) 5:55
 11. 5:06 AM (Every Stranger’s Eyes) 5:29
 12. 5:11 AM (The Moment Of Clarity) 1:38
 13. Band Introduction 3:06
 14. Brain Damage 3:46
 15. Eclipse 3:00

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.

 

Lee Speaks About Music… #16

Everyone Is Everybody Else [Deluxe Expanded Edition] – Barclay James Harvest

BJH - EIEE

Introduction…

Everyone Is Everybody Else by Barclay James Harvest was the bands 5th album and the first of their albums to feature on their new record label Polydor Records and was released on the 14th June 1974. The album contained 9 songs and had a total playing time of around 39 and a half minutes. The band formed under the name of Barclay James Harvest in 1969 and the radio DJ John Peel took quite an interest in them and got them signed to EMI Records and in 1970 they released their self titled album Barclay James Harvest.

The 1974 album Everyone Is Everybody Else was recorded at the Olympic Studios in London. The album was produced by Roger Bain who was known for producing Black Sabbath’s first 3 albums. The band was never really happy with the producer Bain from the offset. Basically because Barclay James Harvest’s music was a far cry from heavy metal.

There is no doubt that Barclay James Harvest’s music can be beautifully meek at times, and seeing how the band never did what most band’s done back in those days (Wishbone Ash for example) is to simply sack the producer and either get somebody else or produce it themselves. This might have reflected that the members of the band were to meek, mild and too soft to have the guts to sack Bain. So they just went along with him and at the end of it all, it resulted in them having to remix the first track on the album “Child Of The Universe” themselves.

Musicians:

The 4 members of the band that make up Barclay James Harvest are as follows:

John Lees: Acoustic & Electric Guitars/Vocals & Backing Vocals.
Les Holroyd: Acoustic & Electric Rhythm Guitars/Bass/Vocals & Backing Vocals.
Stewart “Wooly” Wolstenholm: Keyboards/Vocals.
Mel Pritchard: Drums/Percussion.

The bands line up was very consistent throughout the 70’s and it was only in 1979 that their keyboard player Wolstenholm left due to musical differences in the band’s music changing its style a bit more. Even with his departure the band continued as a 3 piece outfit and kept the band more or less in tact throughout the 80’s and 90’s picking up a few spasms of commercial success along the way.

Early Thoughts…

The first time I took any notice of the band Barclay James Harvest was when I heard their 5th album Everyone Is Everybody Else a couple of years after its release in 1976. I absolutely adored the album and no doubt all of its 9 tracks were very well written strong material, it was very much a solid body of work and superb album. If I remember rightly a week after buying this album I went out and brought the bands double live album that was released in the same year of 1974 entitled Barclay James Harvest Live.

The reason why I brought it was because it had quite a few of the tracks off Everyone Is Everybody Else and I wanted to get a feel for their earlier material that came before it. It was another really great album and I liked it a lot even their earlier material that I had never heard before. To be honest I was going to back track on the bands earlier albums there and then, and I noticed they had just released a new album entitled Octoberon. So I brought that first and that was without doubt another really great album I enjoyed a lot.

With a lot of my other favourite artists releasing new albums I got sidetracked from buying the bands earlier material and even after I brought their next new album Gone To Earth in the following year of 1977 which was another superb album I got even more sidetracked and never brought another album by them till the 80’s.

In 1984 my oldest brother brought their latest album at the time entitled Victims Of Circumstance. I also remember hearing them on the radio myself at work around that time. My brother lent me the album and I ended up buying it myself. My brother also had brought the 3 albums I had of them having heard them as well. We would quite often talk about our record collections when we met up, and would end up borrowing each other’s albums.

By the late 90’s I was getting a bit bored with latest music that was coming out and I always found myself back tracking to the 70’s. There is no doubt that it depends on when you was born and one was old enough to take notice of music to go out and buy it, that will reflect on you always wanting to go back to that decade, that period when music came into your life and you enjoyed it.

I was born in the last month of the 50’s so the 70’s was always going to be my favourite decade has I was approaching my teens then, and music would have been having more of an effect on me to go out and buy it. I still live in that decade to be honest. Had I have been born a decade later I dare say the 80’s would of been my favourite decade for music. But in all honestly I hated that decade the most out of them all.

The very fact that I was fed up with music in the late 90’s made me buy all the 4 albums that came before the album Everyone Is Everybody Else all at once, and boy was I shocked. I can honestly say that if it was not for John Peel in the first place. I honestly do not think the band would of even been signed up by a any record label.

Do not get me wrong here because the band Barclay James Harvest are without doubt excellent musicians. But as for the material they was writing back then. It was just never in the same league as what we got on their 5th album. To be honest what little tracks they did play live on their 1974 Barclay James Harvest Live album I had sounded a lot better live than they ever did on the studio albums.

To be honest the bands first 2 studio albums reminded me a lot of the so called English Prog Rock band Van der Graaf Generator who I thought was absolutely dreadful. I still do till this day. They was more like Avant Garde than Prog Rock and used a lot of orchestral woodwind and brass in their music. Honest to god the local Salvation Army made more sense than these idiots and I am not joking, and I would of sooner have brought what they had done :)))))))))). I absolutely love Prog Rock and whoever said what both of these bands were doing back then was Prog Rock wanted locking up in a loony bin :)))))))))))))).

To be honest both Barclay James Harvest’s 3rd and 4th albums Barclay James Harvest and Other Short Stories and Baby James Harvest fared better, but I still think has songwriters at this stage they was very weak, and very little material stuck out at all on them album’s apart from a couple of songs. It was no wonder EMI let them go.

I even lent all 4 albums to my oldest brother, and even he thought exactly the same as me, and said just like me that they never really said a thing until they made Everyone Is Everybody Else, and when they did make that album, it was a real album.

Being an albums man and an avid music listener. I can assure you that I have played those first 4 albums of Barclay James Harvest at least 10 times over and even listening to any one of them today, I would still say exactly the same thing about them. They was just dreadful and never spoke to me at all.

The Deluxe Expanded Edition Review…

The Deluxe Expanded Edition of Everyone Is Everybody Else was released on the 10th June 2016. It comes with 2 CD’s and a DVD with a 5.1 surround mix of the album. Before I get my teeth into the review of this particular more recent release of the great album. Let’s take a look at the packaging and its contents.

The Packaging & Contents…

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The packaging that holds all the discs is very neatly made. Its built of good sturdy cardboard and opens up to reveal all 3 discs that are mounted in the same plastic holders they use in plastic jewel cases. I have quite a few 3, 4 and 5 disc sets of other artists that come in the same packaging.

The 2013 Collectors Set of the 1970 album Benefit by Jethro Tull is a perfect example and comes with exactly the same amount of discs and also comes with a 5.1 mix of the album on the DVD. Though I must say that regarding the quality that we got on the Jethro Tull 3 disc set, and the fact that it only cost £14. It absolutely wipes the floor with this release.

You can buy The Deluxe Expanded Edition of Everyone Is Everybody Else from the bands website for £20 and no doubt they will charge you another few quid to deliver it to you. Unfortunately Amazon never had this in stock otherwise I would of got it for £17.99 which is still expensive. I ended up paying £20 for it including postage & packing from an online shop in London called Cherry Red Records.

Also with the discs both the end pockets contain a booklet in one side and a poster of the band with all the lyrics printed on the reverse side in the other side. The booklet is missing some major information regarding what you are really getting here for your money. So let’s now see exactly what you do get for the money in the continuation of my honest fully detailed review.

The Deluxe Expanded Edition Review (Continued)…

The 1st CD contains the original remastered mix of the 9 track album that was done in 2003. It also includes all the bonus tracks that was on that release spread over the 2 CD’s we get with this edition.

The 2nd CD contains the new stereo mixes of 8 tracks of the album and also contains 3 bonus tracks. Notice how there is only 8 and not 9 tracks of the original tracks that was on the original album. One of the best tracks on the album which was the 9th track “For No One” is missing.

The other thing that is missing as I mentioned earlier about booklet missing some vital information. Is down to the fact that nowhere in the booklet does it give any explanation as to why this track is missing. To find that out you are going to have to do some research on Google or visit the bands website.

If like myself you know this album off by art and like the back of your hand. I am pretty sure you are going to be missing that last track on the album. Every time you play this 2nd CD. The simple reason why! Is that the 9th track “For No One” not only contains the title of the album in its lyrics, but it also came in straight away at the end of track 8 “Mill Boys” without even a pause or a stop mark.

Regarding the new mixes of only 8 of the original tracks. Some of them are without a doubt well done. Craig Fletcher is the guy they brought in to do the new mixes and to be honest I have never heard of him, but I quite like how he has used the stereo field so very well to place and pan all the instrumentation out to bring out the clarity on some of the instruments.

You can also hear that he has in fact moved some of the instrumentation around to allow him to be able to inject a bit more bass to the tracks. But unfortunately you can also hear that he had indeed added a few more things to the original recording to make what we have here, and for purists they are not going to be liking what Fletcher has done at all by adding other elements into the pot here.

To be honest I think it works wonders for the 1st track “Child Of The Universe” and a few other tracks. However it’s not that hard to actually see and hear what he has done here to get the end result.

For example to get “Child Of The Universe” to sound like it does on this new mix. The first thing you are going to notice is that right from the start of the track he has very much moved the synth that was panned on the far right on the original mix, and placed it in the centre so it projects from the both speakers at the same time just like a mono source would.

At the 9 second mark you will notice very clearly the sound of a drumstick hitting a cymbal. This is very much an addition and was not on the original track or mix at all. Just listening to the synth at the 2:44 mark you can plainly here that this is not the original synth at all, and has in fact been replayed. It’s done very effectively too. So these new mixes do have other elements to get them to sound like they are today, rather than all those years ago when you brought them and cherished and loved them for what they were.

To be perfectly honest I do feel how “Child Of The Universe” sounds with Fletcher’s new mix is better than both the original and remastered mixes. But unfortunately it does not work that way for all of the 8 tracks of the album we have here at all. For example the other tracks that do work well are “See Me, See You“. “Poor Boys Blues” and “Mill Boys“.

As for the other tracks I just feel that he has added to many additions and the processing he’s even used on some of the original instruments is over the top and we are not hearing what the original album said in the first place. Especially if like myself you have had this album for over 40 years.

To be perfectly honest what we have here is something like what they did with the 1972 album Argus by Wishbone Ash. I know that band have split into 2 camps out of its original line up just as Barclay James Harvest have as well. BJH have a Lees camp and an Holroyd camp. Martin Turner’s side of the camp of Wishbone Ash decided to record the whole album Argus again in the studio with his new line up of the band. To be honest I went out and brought the album and even that he done the thing in 2008 with what may be considered as newer technology. I am sorry to say he wasted his time. It’s not a patch on the original album.

Now Andy Powell who is the other side of the camp of the band Wishbone Ash. Decided to do a new mix of the classic album instead of completely redoing the whole thing again. I went out and brought that too, and once again it was a waste of my time and my money. I cannot even play the bloody thing.

Honestly sometimes I even have to laugh at myself for buying these things, because in reality I am sorry to say you just are never gonna beat the real thing. To be perfectly honest none of these bands and artists are even capable of producing something they done in the 70’s today regarding the music they now make and even trying to put something new into an older product like this is not going to give you the best result by any means, especially if they are adding things to it.

Even Andy Latimer of Camel remade their classic 1975 album The Snow Goose all over again by completely recording it in the Studio again in 2013. What on earth was he trying to achieve by doing such a thing I will never know. The guy had been ill for a decade and the one thing I would of liked to have seen (and I am sure many Camel fans would agree) was a new album.

Poor old Peter Bardens one of the major writers of the band and keyboard player had been dead over a decade. Was he trying to say that his contribution to the album in the first place was not good enough. Sorry to say Mr Latimer but you done a piss poor job remaking the thing and it will never sound like the original album did in million years.

Getting back to the missing 9th track “For No One” and as to why it did not get a new mix, was because they could not find and had lost the original multitrack tape. So instead of just sticking the same remastered version of the stereo track we got on the 1st disc, they completely left it off because there was no way of making it match up with the new mixes, and it did not sound right.

Honestly listening to this album without one of it’s main tracks that put an end to the album so perfectly simply does not work. I would not of minded if they just let track 8 “Mill Boys” end has it did and then have “For No One” fade its way in afterwards. I am sorry to say that what they have done by doing it like this it’s rendered the 2nd disc totally useless and not worth sticking on at all.

Now let’s take a look at what we get with the DVD and to be perfectly honest it’s really all a complete shambles and pure waste of time.

The DVD & 5.1 Mix…

I have to say that this has got to be the most disappointing package I have ever brought with what these idiots have done and here is why?. First up considering the amount of material one can stick on a DVD with its capacity of 4.7 Gigs and can even double that capacity with a Dual Layered DVD. Just what they have stuck on here in all honesty is an utter complete joke.

OK! we all know they have not got the original master tape of “For No One” so the chances are it was never going to be getting a 5.1 surround mix. But to put as little as they did on this disc defies all belief with how better this whole album could of still have been done if they used their brains in the first place.

The DVD contains the original 8 of the 9 tracks from the album and 1 bonus track. The both CD’s have 3 bonus tracks on each of them, and all the 9 tracks including the bonus track that are on the DVD are all the original mixes and not the new mixes.

Now given that there is so little on here and once again we are missing the major last track of the album. It beats me how they could not even be arsed to do 5.1 mixes of the new mixes Craig Fletcher done on the 2nd CD. Not that it’s all that good, but at least it would of been something. They could of even threw in some old live videos from the 70’s. OK they may not of been of great quality but still they would of made great viewing for even nostalgic purposes for the band’s fans.

The fact that they never included just a stereo version of “For No One” is also another bad point. Honestly the amount of 5.1 DVD’s and Blu Rays I have that come with stereo bonus tracks on them still make the package work 100 time better than what they have done here.

The 5.1 Mix.

My biggest incentive in buying all these old album’s all over again from what I had many moons ago is down to the fact that they come with a 5.1 surround mix. A good 5.1 mix will bring out much more clarity, improve dynamics and having 6 channels to work with instead of 2 provides you with a lot better separation so that you are going to be able to hear things you simply never heard before in any stereo recording or mix.

5.1 mixes also if done right can breathe a complete new leash of life back into any old recording and basically bring it back to life and give the listener a much more enjoyable experience of hearing their favourite music with it’s processing technology that is built into an Home Cinema Amplifier or Receiver.

I myself have been a surround freak since the mid 90’s. Over the years since I brought my first surround system in 1994. I have changed my Home Cinema system 4 times to cater for today’s new HD technology and Blu Ray. I can honestly tell you that my experience over the past 2 decades with recordings that have been given 5.1 mixes has ranged from Mind blowing awesomeness, excellent, very good, good, bad and piss poor.

The 5.1 mix that comes on this DVD is what I would very much define as the same sort of mix many 5.1 sound engineers were doing back in the year 2002 or before then. To be honest not a lot of people know how to do a really good 5.1 mix and there are many people who literally give 5.1 a bad name when you listen to some of the piss poor mixes they have done. These days people are getting a bit more experience in the field and you can get some really great 5.1 mixes that will blow you away.

Personally I have never heard of Craig Fletcher before has I mentioned earlier, and to be perfectly honest having heard the half of a decent job he done on some of the tracks on the 2nd disc in this package, and read that he also was the guy who done the 5.1 mixes on the DVD. I knew not to have any great expectations about this 5.1 mix and I was entirely right.

Has I have already mentioned the mix sounds like it come from the year 2002 and no doubt about it in my mind that Craig Fletcher does not have any great experience in mixing a 5.1 mix. The way he has placed certain instruments over the 6 channels is really bad and in reality he has no attention to detail with what he has done here and even the levels are all over the shop. It’s like listening to an album that has not been mastered.

It sounds very much like he tried to do different things with every track he mixed in 5.1 and it results in one having to adjust their Home Cinema Amp settings more or less for every track you are hearing to get the best benefit out of them. If there is anything left to try and get something of real quality out of the thing. Trust me even though this thing comes with a DTS 24/96K audio track this is not what I call quality at all in what he has so dreadfully done with the thing.

Out of the 9 tracks that he’s mixed in 5.1 on this DVD the only 2 tracks he has managed to do any sort of a decent job on, are “Poor Boy Blues” and “Mill Boys” The 1st track on the album which is my favourite track of the album “Child Of The Universe” sounds absolutely dreadful and so do all the other tracks with how he has so foolishly moved a lot of the instrumentation from stereo field and placed in the rear speakers.

To put the whole thing into context. The 5.1 mix is not as a good as the original stereo mix. You are not going to benefit anything extra from how the original album sounded in the first place apart from those 2 tracks I mentioned maybe. It’s just totally disappointing with everything they have done in this package.It has entirely broken my heart that they could not of took a lot more time and consideration in presenting something a lot better and more for this truly remarkable album I absolutely love to bits.

Whereas the Steve Wilson 5.1 mixes of the 5 Yes albums I reviewed before this album had literally brought tears of joy to my eyes with how well they was mixed. This 5.1 mix brought to me nothing but tears of sadness with the bad treatment it got. Yet the original stereo album can also bring me those tears of joy.

Original Album Review…

The original 1974 album Everyone Is Everybody Else by Barclay James Harvest is one truly magnificent album from start to finish. It’s one truly beautiful album that does not contain one bad track and album truly worth its weight in gold with the material that’s upon it.

For me personally it’s the best album that they ever made. It not only captures their own great style, but also with some of its tracks they will perhaps remind you of bands like the Moody Blues. Eagles. Creedence Clearwater Revival and Crosby Stills & Nash. Barclay James Harvest have never really been a rock band, but do have the power to raise the tempo when they want too, and they do so perfectly on this album.

They are not really a prog rock band either, though some of their songs may have some great chord progression along its path. Their material is perhaps more of a soft or pop rock style but still powerful enough to deliver the hard edge when they have too. Whatever it is, the one thing they do have is quite unique style in the way they are instantly recognisable.

The band originated from their own town of Oldham in Lancashire England and unlike the many other bands who all ended up in London to get more well known. They decided to stay put where they was. This is why the band had very little success and were hardly noticed. But that is also how many of them preferred to be, and it was never about being rich and famous and the glory and success of being a popular band.

The album Everyone Is Everybody Else has always been considered as the bands artistic high point of success and it was welcomed on its release and got plenty of airplay on Radio Caroline. It even got voted by its listeners number 13 in top 100 best album’s of all time. There was no doubt the band broke the mould when they made this album it’s purely magnificent.

Track 1. Child Of The Universe.

The album kicks off with my favourite track on it “Child Of The Universe. I say favourite and in reality both “For No One” and “The Great 1974 Mining Disaster” could easily be contenders for the top spot too. Oddly enough all 3 tracks are also written by John Lees.

Lees wrote “Child Of The Universe” in 1972 and it was originally intended for his solo album A Major Fancy but back then he could not get the album released and it was not released until 3 years after this album in 1977. To be honest I have never heard the album, but it sure as hell sounds great on this album with its collection of other songs that’s on it.

He was also never happy with how the song was recorded and felt it was best done live rather than any of the studio mixes the song got. In many ways it reminds of how I myself was never happy with my own songs and recordings, but I also know from experience that it should be left to other people to make that judgement and not the person himself, and I just totally love the Studio version has it is.

The song “Child Of The UniverseStewart “Wooly” Wolstenholm starts on the piano vamping it’s opening main melody and then gets accompanied by heavy synths played on the lower region of the keyboard. It’s a melody line that will is also very familiar with another track on the album only it’s played at a slower tempo (I will point out when we get to it). During the short intro Les Holroyd comes in on the bass and is followed by Mel Pritchard on the drums all which lasts for 15 seconds, and then in comes John Lees with his great voice putting over the superb well written lyrics.

There as always been something special to me about this set of lyrics Lees wrote. They are far from straight forward and you have to delve a bit into the lyrical content of the song to get the gist of it all. In many ways it’s songs like this that can bring out many interpretations of what this song is all really all about. Especially if you take in the lyrical content of the song that follows it, and combine the word “Universe” with it. In many ways it’s a bit deceiving and it’s very much like the album’s material is written around some sort of concept with the subject matter that is contained in many of the song’s lyrics on the first side of the album.

To be perfectly honest I have never heard anybody else’s interpretation before of the song, and my own is that the subject matter of the lyrics are talking about a soldier fighting meaningless wars has in the 3 countries it mentions in the song. My favourite lyrics of the song are in the chorus and are as follows: “You can see me on the TV every day. I’m the child next door three thousand miles away”. The song ends off with a beautiful lead guitar solo played by Lees and it really is one truly superb song that is very lifting and exciting.

Track 2. Negative Earth.

Negative Earth” was a collaborative piece of work written by Holroyd & Pritchard. Holroyd based the song around the traumatic events the crew of Apollo 13 had returning back to earth safely. The crew were left floating in a tin can in space not knowing if they was going to make it back home alive. Pritchard  helped out with the lyrics for the song

It’s another really great song and one that Holroyd sings with his sweet voice. The great thing about the band, is that not only was they really great musicians but between them all they had great voices for harmonising too.

Being that this song is based around space and the 1st song had the word “Universe” in its title gives one the impression that this is some sort of concept album. But in reality they are both telling you different stories. Though they are both based on tragic events and the fear of survival. Just in different situations really.

Track 3. Paper Wings.

Another collaborative piece of work by Holroyd & Pritchard is the 3rd track “Paper Wings“. Once again Pritchard helped out with the lyrics and once again it’s based upon a tragic event. The song was inspired from their trip to Paris in France when they both took up a trip up the Eiffel Tower and noticed a plaque in memory of someone who had fallen to their death from the tower.

Once again it’s another superb song and once again we are getting the whole feeling that this album is based entirely around the concept of tragic events and tragedy, and if that does not convince you enough, just take a look at the title of the next song that’s following it. “Paper Wings” is another really great song and one that has a great build up, and ends off with a powerful instrumental section. Nothing but good songs run along one after each other on this album and it’s prolific in every way.

Track 4. The Great 1974 Mining Disaster.

This track on the album is another classic song written by Lees entitled “The Great 1974 Mining Disaster“. It’s the song that opens up with that familiar piano melody we got on the 1st track “Child Of The Universe” only the tempo is slower. It’s not entirely bang on to it but never the less I could quite easily sing the opening verse from “Child Of The Universe” to it and it would work with it up till the point it changes and Lees voice comes in after 24 seconds.

Regarding the songs title and the event Lees basically deconstructed a 1967 song by The Bee Gees entitled the “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and reconstructed his own version to suit the situation we had here in England over the miners strike in 1974.

The President of the minors union at the time was Joe Gormley who was the man who supported the miners strongly over the poor wages for putting their life’s in danger. He was the one responsible for bringing down the Conservative government and in the song is referred to as “Mr Groan“. The Conservative Party was led by the British Prime Minster Ted Heath. The words “a sailor oh so gay” in the song refer to Heath and him always sailing around the world on his yacht.

To make the song up as well as Lees did, he decided to mix politics with music and used a couple of lines from a couple of songs written by David Bowie. For example the words about “a major out in space” from “Space Oddity” and “The Man Who Sold The World” from the same titled song of Bowie’s. No doubt in my mind that Lees carved out another classic song with what he done here and it’s always been another one of my firm favourites on the album. It also ended off side 1 of the vinyl album in style.

Track 5. Crazy City.

Side 2 of the original vinyl album or track 5 of the CD if you like is a song penned by Les Holroyd entitled “Crazy City“. The lyrical content and subject matter for the song was based around the town or the city of London. In context and contrast to the 4 song’s that were on the first side of the album, it’s at this point that the album is no longer based in any form of a concept, and there are no disasters here at all and perhaps it’s content is more based around one getting an headache more than anything else.

Having been and worked in London myself there is no doubt that is one hell of a busy city and things run a hell of lot faster than my own city of Birmingham. Just stopping in an underground station and watching the people in the rush hours of going to work and returning home later literally is the most craziest thing I have ever seen.

For example the tube trains that run in the underground arrive at a rate of 1 every minute during the rush hours. The people are literally running that fast up and down the escalators as if their life depended on it to catch the train, and it’s as if the next one does not arrive till about half an hour later. They even squash themselves up like sardines in a tin to get on the train :))))))))))))).

Crazy City! you bet your ass it is (LOL) and no way on this earth would I want to live there either. But I do enjoy going there to watch live concerts and I think most of the artists I have seen play live were in that city too.

There is no doubt that Holroyd depicted the hustles and bustles about London very well in the song, even to the fact that he wanted to be out of its madness and be in the country. It’s a really great rocking song that has some wonderful melancholy about its come down sections and has really great 3 part harmonies that one would hear from the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young back in those days too.

Track 6. See Me, See You.

Another beautiful song written by Lees is “See Me, See You“. There is no doubt that Lees was influenced a lot by the Beatles as were many bands and artists. You will also see more of the Beatles influence come out of Barclay James Harvest on the album’s that came after this one. Especially on the album’s Octoberon and Gone To Earth.

Personally I was never a Beatles fan but I do have a lot more respect for them these days than back in the 70’s that’s for sure, and quite like some of their songs. But I honestly do not think they ever wrote an album with a collection of songs on it like you are getting here on this album. I certainly do not think they had better musicians either than what you have here too. But each to their own as they say.

See Me, See You” is very much a love song that does not have to mention the 4 letter word “Love” to put the great song over The way all good love songs are written unlike the Beatles. Though Lees was inspired enough to use the line “Hey Jude” in the song and in many ways its another classic song on the album.

Track 7. Poor Boys Blues.

“Poor Boys Blues” is another of Holroyd’s penned songs. It’s at this stage of the album we get more of a country feel and in many ways this is perhaps very much a song that would be more familiar with the style of the Eagles. Interestingly enough besides the Eagles Holroyd’s bass on this song reminds me of Rod Clements the bass player of the band Lindisfarne. It’s also at this point of the album that the remaining 2 tracks run into one another and are tailed off to work that way.

Track 8. Mill Boys.

The way “Mill Boys” follows the previous song, you would think you was listening to the same song that Holroyd penned. But it was written by Lees. I have to say Lees did an incredible job of giving it the same country style the previous track had about it. He based the lyrics around his own town of Oldham and it gives it more of a country folk feel about it by doing so to with history of his own town he put into it with the lyrics.

To be honest it’s quite strange hearing how this song ends off on that 2nd CD with the new mixes, because you are left waiting with eager anticipation for the next song to come in at the end as it does so perfectly on the original album here.

Track 9. For No One.

Just as the album started off on an high point it sincerely ends with one too, and raises the game and its climax to pure perfection with “For No One“. Once again the lyrics are based around the subject matter of war we got on the opening track, and once again it’s another superb piece of song writing by John Lees.

The song “For No One” is very much the album’s self titled track simply because it contains the name of the album in the song itself. To be perfectly frank, it’s near enough impossible for me not to give this song the title of the best track on the album and not give it too “Child Of The Universe“. It’s just as good in every way.

You simply cannot take this track away from the album as they did on the 2nd CD and the DVD. The album simply does not work that way and it never will. It’s got to be the biggest cock up I have ever heard of any band doing, and it’s complete sacrilege that they could do such a thing.

It’s the most powerful song on the album and puts an end to one magical album one could simply never tire of hearing. It’s an album that will contentiously live forever in my book and even the original album still stands up today as it did all those years ago.

The Bonus Material…

The one thing the original vinyl album never included was bonus tracks as many of us will know. Though the 1st CD in this box set is the original 2003 Remastered CD. It only contains 3 of the bonus tracks on it. Unlike that 2003 release which had 5. The other 2 bonus tracks they have placed on the 2nd CD. The only other bonus track that is on that 2nd CD is a new mix of one of the bonus tracks done by Craig Fletcher.

So here I am only going to be taking 1 the 5 bonus tracks that was on the original 2003 Remastered CD. The bonus tracks are as follows:

1. Child of the Universe (USA single version). 2. The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (Original Mix). 3. Maestoso (A Hymn in the Roof of the World). 4. Negative Earth (Original Mix). 5. Child Of The Universe” (Remake for planned USA single).

As you can see from the list here, that 4 of the 5 bonus tracks are just other mixes of the tracks that were on the album. The only major track that is different is the one and only song that was written by the keyboard player Stewart “Wooly” Wolstenholm entitled “Maestoso (A Hymn in the Roof of the World) “.

The song was written for the 1974 album but the record company omitted it from the final release of the album. To be honest this is a very well good song and well worthy bonus track to have. Though I can plainly see why it was not included with the original 9 tracks and it has nothing to do with the restricted time of fitting it onto the vinyl record either.

It’s down to the actual song itself not being in line with the rest of the material. It sounds way different to the other tracks on the album and in fact sounds something more like Emerson Lake and Palmer would of done. Even with Wolstenholm’s voice singing on the track reminds me a bit like Greg Lake. To be honest had they have included it on the original album. it would of sounded more out of place than sticking “For No One” on that 2nd CD with the new mixes.

The “Child of the Universe (USA single version)” has a different intro done by playing lead lines on the electric guitar instead of if just starting off with the piano. Though it’s a lot shorter than the original album track it still makes a worthy addition with what they have injected into it with the guitars and keyboards. It’s a different take in some ways.

The 2nd version of the song “Child Of The Universe” (Remake for planned USA single)“. is another slightly different version in that instead of using the guitars on the intro as they did with the other bonus track. They used a gliding synth on the intro. I also think the drums were redone for this version too as they have more of a harder hitting edge and more fills. The song also ends off differently too with the keyboards and how the Lees voice echoes out at the end.

The 2 original mixes of “Negative Earth” and “The Great 1974 Mining Disaster” you will hear a slight difference in the vocals more than anything else in comparison to the 2003 remastered versions and the original vinyl album too. So all in all the bonus tracks do represent great additions and worthy of having.

Summary Of The Original Album…

There is no doubt the original album is worth it’s weight in gold regardless of if you have it on vinyl or the 2003 Remastered CD. Both are excellent quality and represent the 1974 album Everyone Is Everybody Else in every detail.

I would also highly recommend the 2003 Remastered CD over the vinyl album too, just for the extra bonus material that comes with it, and is a good quality recording and not like the earlier CD’s that got released off this album, which would of never got anywhere near the sound of the vinyl record.

The one thing I would never recommend is wasting your money on this so called Extended Deluxe 3 Disc Box Set as I have. I can honestly say with all my heart the only thing inside it is on the 1st CD and if you want to throw £20 away on that then like me your a mug and a glutton for punishment :)))))))))))). Though I will confess that had I of heard this box set before hand. No way on this earth would I have brought it.

Conclusion…

Everyone Is Everybody Else by Barclay James Harvest is one truly magnificent album that will forever stand tall and proud in my record collection. It has done since 1976 in mine. I believe the album would suit the biggest majority of peoples tastes. Even if you’re a fan of Simon & Garfunkel. The Bee Gees. The Eagles. Supertramp. The Moody Blues. The Beatles. Elton John or just about anybody this is music that was written to be enjoyed and give many listeners great pleasure in hearing it. For me personally it’s the best album ever Barclay James Harvest made and I could not recommend it enough. But if you’re interested in buying it, get the 2003 remastered version for as little as £5 or a bit more here from Amazon. Here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Everyone-Everybody-Barclay-James-Harvest/dp/B00009029L/ref=ntt_mus_dp_dpt_7

The 2003 Remastered CD track listing is as follows:

01. Child Of The Universe. 5:06.
02. Negative Earth. 5:33.
03. Paper Wings. 4:18.
04. The Great 1974 Mining Disaster. 4:45.
05. Crazy City. 4:07.
06. See Me, See You. 4:36.
07. Poor Boy Blues. 3:35.
08. Mill Boys. 2:47.
09. For No One. 5:11.
10. Child of the Universe (USA single version). 2:54.
11. The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (Original Mix). 4:50.
12. Maestoso (A Hymn in the Roof of the World). 5:29.
13. Negative Earth (Original Mix). 3:53.
14. Child Of The Universe” (Remake for planned USA single). 3:35.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 8/10

The Bonus Tracks Rating Score. 8/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 3/10.

The Original Album Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #15

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

Y - R

Introduction…

With the departure of Rick Wakeman which was officially announced in June 1974 the remaining 4 members started to work on some new material for their next album at Chris Squire’s home to which he had converted his garage into a recording studio. Once they had some new material and ideas worked out they also auditioned for a new keyboard player to replace Wakeman.

The band had around 8 keyboard players in mind including the likes of Jean Roussel who had played for Cat Stevens on a regular basis. Nick Glennie-Smith of the English prog rock band Wally and as Jon Anderson was a fan of Vangelis they roped him in for an audition too. Though his keyboard style never really gelled with the band’s music and the fact that he was afraid of flying never really sat in well with bands schedule of world touring.

It was Chris Welch who was the band’s biographer and reporter of the Melody Maker who put them on to the Swiss keyboard player Patrick Moraz. In the same year Moraz had formed his own prog rock band Refugee with bass player Keith Lee Jackson and drummer Brian Davison who both played previously for Nice which Keith Emerson had left to form ELP. Anderson listened to the album and was most impressed by his keyboard work.

Refugee only ever got to make one studio album and I have to say if you have not got or heard the album, its highly worth sorting after. Moraz wrote all the music for the album and Jackson wrote all the lyrics and sang them on the album. In many ways listening to their one and only self titled album Moraz reminds me a lot of Keith Emerson on it. It’s perhaps the only album he ever played on where he did sound entirely like Emerson. It’s a brilliant album and one I can still get tremendous pleasure out of playing it still today.

It was in the first week of August 1974 that Patrick Moraz turned up at Chris Squire’s house for an audition. None of the band members where there at first and he was let in to the studio to wait for them. Moraz had been a fan of Yes since the band started back in 1969 and he was well aware it was going to be really hard and difficult for their fans to accept him as a replacement for Wakeman. The keyboards in the studio were still set up with the sounds Vangelis had previously set them up with and he had to set and tune them up more to his liking to be able impress the band.

In the booklet that comes with this definitive edition of Relayer I like how he describes band members pulling up one by one has they arrived in their flashy cars. Squire rolled up in his Silver Ghost Rolls Royce. Both Howe and White had flashy sports cars and Anderson arrived in an old Bentley. It was quite a different contrast in life to how he was living at the time and he remembered how he used to have to walk 3 miles to the studio to record with Refugee.

It did not take long for Moraz to impress the other band members with his skills because he could already play some of the band’s music. Though he did have to put a lot more work in to be able to learn to play a complete live set of their songs for their live shows they had planned.

The first piece of music the band presented him with was a demo of the song “Sound Chaser” they had been working on for the new album. Moraz was flabbergasted how fast it was and how so easily the band could play it. It did not take him long though to work out an intro for the song and the band gave him the job as soon as they heard it.

Moraz soon spent more time at Anderson’s house and was amazed at his ideas and how quickly he could work things out on his mind. Though Anderson could play a few notes on the keyboard and would quite often show Moraz what he intended the music to be like for the “Gates Of Delirium” it did not take Moraz long to quite easily further develop them.

With the bands new keyboard player now settled in place, it did not take the band that long to put together and construct the 3 tracks for the band’s 7th album Relayer. The album’s 3 tracks were more like how they structured the album Close To The Edge with one song taking up the whole of side 1 of the album and the 2 shorter songs placed on side 2. What took them 6 months to do Close To The Edge was done now in half the time.

Though the album was far from anything plain sailing during it’s making, and once again Yes were to lose another member of its family by the time it was completed.

Their decision to record the album at Chris Squire’s house was one that their long time co-producer and sound engineer Eddie Oddford (who had been with the band since 1970 and contributed his work to all of those album’s made known as Yes Music) was to be the next to leave.

Squire’s studio never had all the right facilities to record the album and Oddford was forever chasing back to the studio to bring in his own gear to make it work better, including his 24 track recording machine and mixing desk. He simply got fed up and bored of it all and even at the end of the recording they had to use Advision Studios to mix it. But once again Yes had produced another solid body of work and another superb album.

The Packaging & Artwork…

Relayer ART

Once again we get the impressive mini version of the original gatefold vinyl album and once again the material used for the packaging is on the thin side and contains all the same little faults that they all do with these definitive editions. I am not going to go into any more details regarding the packaging and you can find more details about its good and bad points in my previous reviews of these Yes album’s.

The only thing I will mention though is that the booklet does contain some useful information even if it does not go into great detail. It’s also a much lighter shade of colour in relation the album cover which perhaps does not suit it as much.

The Artwork.

No mistaking Roger Dean’s work and once again he had great vision in matching his artwork to the music. The artwork he done for the band’s 1974 album Relayer was his personal favourite, so was the band’s album too.

relayer-wide

I have always loved Roger Dean’s artwork and the cover art he did for Relayer is my personal favourite of them all. Has I have said before in my previous reviews Dean’s artwork and Yes Music was a perfect marriage and Dean’s futuristic design here was a bang on match to the magical futuristic music Yes carved out for this album. Honestly I could play this album and make my own world out of it just by staring at the album’s cover whilst doing so.

In the following year after the album’s release in 1975. Roger Dean won an award from (NME) New Musical Express for the best dressed LP. Without a doubt it’s a stunning piece of work and an award well deserved.

Early Thoughts…

I remember 1974 very well and buying this album. It was the year I finally turned myself over to the authorities after avoiding them for 3 years for playing truant from school. I missed near enough 4 years of school by refusing to go and at the end of 1969 I was put in a remand home for 6 months for doing so. They moved me out of there into a normal children’s home in 1970 not far from where I am living now.

I ran away from the place and though they did catch me in the same year and put me in another children’s home much further away. I was only there over the weekend. The Friday I arrived they took me around the school I was going to be starting on Monday.

Monday soon came around and they sent me with the other children to the school and even give me my dinner to money to give to the teacher. Has I started walking along the streets to school with the others I noticed a number 11 bus, I knew that would get me back home to my mother’s house. I simply waved the other kids goodbye and jumped on the bus.

That was the last time they ever caught me and I avoided all the first 3 years of my senior school apart from 21 days. I gave myself up to authorities in July 1974 simply because all my family was getting into religion and I felt it the right thing to do. In a way it was a good thing that I did otherwise I would of ended up being a right dunce.

I got to make some good friends in the new home I was put in, and even though I was now living a good 8 miles away from my mom’s house back then. It’s only a stone’s throw away from where I am living now. Though it ceased being an home in the 80’s and was boarded up until 6 years ago when they finally knocked it down and built something else on the land instead.

Living in the new home had some good advantages. For example if I was still living at my mom’s house back in 1974 I would only get 30p pocket money a week from her. She was very poor. In the children’s home I used to get £1.50p a week much more than I could actually spend. So I only ever took out about 30p a week and saved the rest. This gave me the money to buy album’s every time I had enough money for them.

They also used to let me go home for the weekend to stay at my mom’s house with my 3 other brother’s. I also joined the record library in Birmingham’s main city centre and used it to lend vinyl album’s from there. Though back then they only ever had classical music and the odd BBC Comedy like the Goon Shows to which I lent from there the most.

I also used to use it a lot to play the album’s I brought from the record shops in the city centre because it had a superb HiFi you could hear them on. You was not supposed to play your own records in there, but I sneaked them in all the time.

I never once took any of the album’s I brought back to the children’s home. I always kept them at my mom’s house. Basically because I seen how the other kids in there treated their records and they only had a record player in there rather than an HiFi back at my home that my oldest brother had brought.

When the album Relayer came out in October 1974. To be honest I never knew it had been released and it was only down to the fact that I agreed to meet my best mate from the home on the Saturday in the city centre that it caught my eye in a very small record shop in the Bullring Indoor Market called Sundown Records. That weekend I did have intentions of buying an album and I had drawn £5 out of my savings from my pocket money. The album was priced up at £2.75 so I immediately brought it there and then on the spot.

My best mate in the home who was with me Martin Lawrence noticed the album cover and said to me “who the hell are these?” :)))))))))))))))). Martin was a 13 year old half cast kid a year younger than myself but at 6ft 6 inches he towered way above me :)))). He was into reggae music mainly and was a fan of Bob Marley. Despite his poor taste in music (LOL) I told him the library was only down the road do you want to hear it. He was undecided at the time, but after telling him about the wicked HiFi it’s got in there to listen to it on, he went along with it.

I honestly will never forget the day I first heard the album Relayer sitting in a seat opposite my mate with us both having headphones on hearing it being played back through the Library’s HiFi. It blew my head off instantly. Even at the end of playing the whole album my mate said to me how on earth did that bass player do that on the 1st track of the album. With Martin being into reggae it was understandable even to me at the age of 14 that the bass lines would very much appeal to him, and even he thought they was amazing.

The Definitive Edition Release…

The “Definitive Edition” of Relayer was released in November 2014. 40 years after the original album was released in the UK. It was the 3rd album out of the 5 album’s that Steve Wilson had worked on and I rather find it a bit strange how he never worked on them in order such as start from The Yes Album and end off with Relayer.

I never brought any of these new editions myself till this year, I was put off by the price when they released them and was biding my time for them to come down to something a bit more respectable. But I did buy them each week starting from the beginning in the proper order the original album’s came out, and have reviewed each one of them in that order too.

Has I have said regarding all 4 of the new mixes Steven Wilson has done so far in my reviews of the first 4 album’s. I love how he has managed to dynamically and sonically bring these album’s back to life and present them in a way they have never been heard before without adding or subtracting anything to the original album. The album’s sound in every detail how they have always sounded to me, only they now sound better than they have been before by quite a large margin.

Relayer is the only album in this entire “Definitive Edition” series of the album’s that will present you with something that is different to how the album originally sounded. It’s instantly noticeable on the beginning of the 1st track “The Gates Of Delirium“. There is no doubt this is not how the original album sounded and certain elements are missing here and I think it’s mainly down to the bass frequencies more than anything else.

To be honest it’s only through the opening couple of minutes of the 1st track you will notice it. It tends to sound a bit more on the thin side in relation to the original recording, but it is way more cleaner and clearer and in some ways it may have also brought out some other elements you could never hear before, or that the higher frequency is in some way changing the whole tone of how some of the parts are now projected at you.

I have to admit I can be very fussy at times, especially if something is sounding different to how I have heard it over the past 40 years, and to be honest at first I was not liking what I was hearing here in this mix, simply because it was no longer speaking the language it originally did.

Everything else about the album is perfect, even down to that the original battle effects are missing due to fact that that they could not locate the multi-track tapes of that section and it was most likely done by another source. It’s something you are only going to notice for about the first 2 spins of the album, and after that you will not notice it all and it will even have yourself convinced that this is best god darn recording of the album you’ve ever heard before in your life. No doubt it is too.

The CD.

The CD comes with 1 less bonus track that the 2003 Rhino Remaster CD came with which had 3 bonus tracks. I shall cover them in more detail later on in the bonus section of my review.

The Blu Ray.

Once again the Blu Ray offers an abundance of extra material in relation to the DVD version and the CD in these series. It comes with many other features exclusive to Blu Ray only.

SS 1

The main menu on Relayer (above) gives you 4 options. Play/Audio Setup/Original Mix and Extras. By clicking on the “Audio Setup” it will open up the following screen.

SS 2

From here you can make your desired choice of audio and how you want to listen to the album. By default its set to the DTS HD Master 5.1 Surround Mix which happens to be my preferred choice 99% of the time and best way you could possibly get to hear the album too.

Though DTS HD Master 5.1 Surround Mix appears to be set as the default. I thought I should point out that on this disc they have made a mistake on the menu. By clicking on the DTS HD Master 5.1 Surround Mix it will actually play back the LPCM 5.1 Surround Mix instead. So you will have to adjust the audio via the Blu Ray remote. To be honest I have not tried clicking on the LPCM 5.1 Surround to see if it plays back the DTS HD Master 5.1 Surround. But the chances are it may very well do so.

All the audio is very high end on this disc and offers you 24 bit 96K throughout all the stereo and 5.1 surround mixes. For the original Flat Transfer Stereo Master Mix it gives you that in superb high quality 24 Bit 192K and as always without any compression and is purely excellent quality.

Has I have stated many times in my reviews for these releases that they really are the “Definitive Editions” in every sense of the word. By going back to the main menu and selecting “Extras” will present you with the next screen.

SS 3

This menu presents you with quite a few options to choose from relating to all the extra bonus material that’s on the Blu Ray. Most notably on this disc in relation to all the other 4 albums, is that they have more or less worded all the options here the same way as they are in the booklet that comes with the album. For example on the other albums even though in the booklet it was titled as “Alternative Album”. On the discs themselves it was very much titled as “Alternative Takes”.

The “Alternative Album” is made up of out of 3 of the bonus tracks of each of the 3 songs that was originally on the album. Only here they are all demos or run trough’s. These are also included on the DVD version too, along with the “Additional Material” but as for all the other options and features here. They are exclusive to Blu Ray only.

The “Instrumental Mixes” gives you the chance to hear the music only, or use them for backing tracks and sing along to them yourself.

The so called “Archive Master” is a feature that was not on any of the other 4 albums done in this series. To be honest I had to do some research on this simply because I could not see the point of having two original master mixes of the album and the only difference they appeared to have between the both of them is that one was a Flat Transfer in 24/192 and the other was in 24/96k instead.

Apparently the “Archive Master” is more of a vintage master and in some cases it can be a flat transfer with minimal mastering applied to it. Both sound extremely good to be honest, though I do prefer the one done at 24/192 for overall better sound quality.

The last 2 features we see in the menu here are the both “Vinyl Drops” and once again just as we got with the Tales From The Topographic Oceans this one comes with both the UK and US versions. But only on Relayer do they both come with 24/96 quality rather than the 24/48 we got on that album.

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As we can see from this last screenshot the album Relayer comes with the same handy way from the play screen to get to all the features on the disc. Close To The Edge was the only album out of the 5 not to have this option.

The Bonus Tracks…

The bonus material that comes with the CD on Relayer is very minimal with its 2 tracks which are “Soon (Single Edit)” and “Sound Chaser (Single Edit)” Both these appeared on the 2003 Rhino CD release and that also had a 21:17 version of “The Gates of Delirium (Studio Run-Through).

All 3 of these tracks are included on the Blu Ray and along with a 21:17 version of “The Gates of Delirium (Studio Run-Through). It also includes a 22:31 version of the same track as well. They have also included both the Sound Chaser (Studio Run-Through) and the To Be Over (Studio Run-Through) to which they have used to make up the “Alternative Album”.

Other bonus material includes an 11:17 version of “Sound Chaser” (Live from Cobo Hall on 17 August 1976)” and an 8:05 “Sound Chaser (Demo Version)“. All of which are great additions apart from the 2 short studio edits of “Soon” and “Sound Chaser” to which I have always considered these things as silly putting on the discs in the first place. Sorry but I am just not into snippets I am afraid.

Musicians & Credits…

The original album was produced by Yes & Eddie Oddford at New Pipers Studio (Chris Squire’s Garage) Surrey England. Engineered & Recorded by Eddie Oddford. Mixed at Advision Studios. Tapes Gennaro Rippo. Plates Mansell Litho. Co-ordinator/Band Manager Brian Lane. Cover design and drawing by Roger Dean. Original Group Photographs. Jean Ristori. Paste up Mike Allison. 2016 Definitive Edition mixes by Steven Wilson.

Jon Anderson: Lead Vocals.
Chris Squire: Bass Guitar/Vocals.
Steve Howe: Acoistic & Electric Guitars/Vocals.
Patrick Moraz: Keyboards.
Alan White: Drums/Percussion.

Relayer Album Review…

The album Relayer was released on the 28th November 1974. The album contained 3 tracks and had a total playing time of 40 minutes 31 seconds. The album got released in America on the 5th December 2014. It reached number 4 in the UK and 5 in the US charts. 2 weeks after its US release it sold over 500,000 copies and was certified Gold.

In the same month of the album’s UK release. The band went on an American and UK tour and both critics and the fans gave a good reception to the bands new keyboard player Patrick Moraz. In that month they once again packed out Madison Square Gardens and as with most of the bands even earlier shows they was supported by another one of my favourite prog rock bands Gryphon. The tour ended in England were the band headlined the Reading Festival in August 1975.

Back in 1974 when I brought the album Relayer. I actually thought it was the best album they ever made, it totally blew my mind and sounded like something that was light years ahead of its time. Patrick Moraz done a superb job of replacing Rick Wakeman and along with Keith Emerson. Tony Banks and Jordan Rudess. They have always been my top favourite keyboard players and still very much are.

There was no doubt that the band Yes were heading even more so into a new direction but still maintaining to keep their style 100% and were still producing excellent music that was 100% still Yes Music. Once again the band had carved out a masterpiece of work sculptured from the same triangular shape as Close To The Edge. Only this time around they seemed to have put themselves a zillion miles into the future.

The album’s title of Relayer was chosen from the song “The Remembering (High The Memory)” from their previous album Tales from Topographic Oceans.

Track 1. The Gates Of Delirium

The bands opening track The Gates Of Delirium is perhaps one of the most diverse pieces of music that band ever made. The way the music is structured it perhaps has more changes along its path than any other piece of Yes music. There is that many different things going on it all, that the mind boggles as to how it all came about in the first place.

Its one massive powerful track that appears to have been unleashed from hell, and yet has one of the most comforting soothing endings, that quite frankly has the power to literally reduce you to tears of joy. It’s always been my favourite track on the album and quite personally I do not believe that progressive rock never went any further than this track.

The songs lyrical content is supposedly based around Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace according to Jon Anderson. Personally I believe his idea was more bible based and more around the subject matter of Armageddon and not inspired by Tolstoy at all.

In many ways I think Anderson is perhaps a sun worshipper and he sees it as a source of light and energy and it may even be his god to some extent.

Just by delving at the lyrics that were wrote for the album Tales from Topographic Oceans you will find a lot of references relating to the sun, even down to the point of him putting them in French with the words “Nous Somme Du Soliel” meaning “We Are The Sun, We Can See”. In many ways the words contained in this song is an extension from that previous album. That’s my theory of it all.

The opening of the song is mainly built around Howe’s electric guitar and the rest of the band work their way around swirling guitar lines and various spasms of lead notes that fly along every now and then. Squire’s thumping bass and White’s drums pound out some various break points and around the 1:25 mark the bands voices add to the build up we get using their voices chanting away and adding to the build up to the 2:12 mark where it all simmers down and in comes Anderson on the vocals.

The song continues with Anderson singing along with its verses sections and changes into a semi chorus at the 3 minute mark whilst the musicians are playing intervals in between some of the vocal sections right up to the 4:45 mark when Howe unleashes a short 1 minute 2 second solo section before Anderson comes back in with his voice and simmers it down for a short section.

The song then builds it way along with even more power and rage adding to it right up to the 8 minute mark where it enters in to the first section of the battle scene. It’s a terrific section with Moraz and Howe interchanging lead lines but for me personally Squire is the main man and his bass work on this section is phenomenal.

The 2nd part of the battle comes into play at the 10:22 mark and Squire’s bass is still doing the business it’s always been my favourite section to show off what a truly great bass player he is. Throughout this whole section it’s like things are being thrown across the room here there and everywhere.

To be honest you will not hear just how much percussion and effects are actually in this section unless you are playing the 5.1 version of it. Not even Wilson’s stereo mix even as good as it is, will bring out the detail of this section. There’s an absolute ton of stuff in it and far too much for 2 channels to handle to be able to hear everything in it properly. The same can also be said for the next track “Sound Chaser“.

Most of the effects in this section came from a car scrap yard. Both Alan White and Jon Anderson used to travel together on their way to Chris Squire’s house were they was recording the album. On their way to Squire’s house they had to pass the junkyard and would stop by and pick up various car parts to use for percussion.

They brought back all sorts from brake, and clutch plates to metal parts and springs. Then they made a rack in the studio and hung all the parts on it, to which all the band would get an hammer and bash away at them, shake them around and record it all. At the one stage Alan White pushed the whole rack over whilst they was recording, and that’s the loud crashing noise you can hear in the battle section.

The 2nd part comes to a grinding halt with White’s drums superbly bringing it all all down only to come back in again for 3rd and final section of the battle at the 12:54 mark. I have to say the whole band are amazing throughout this whole battle section which all sizzles down to its calm ambient section around the 15 minute mark.

At the 16:13 mark in comes Howe on his steel slide guitar for the last part of the song more later to be known as “Soon” due to the band just playing this section of the song more than the whole song at its live shows. It’s a superb way to put an end of a song that I can only describe best, is that it’s perhaps like going through Armageddon and being one of the lucky ones to survive God’s wrath and get to live for eternity in paradise.

Track 2. Sound Chaser

The 2nd track on the album is a very fast and powerful song entitled Sound Chaser. It’s quite a mind blowing piece of work and was very popular with the Yes Fans. Though personally I do not believe the band ever played it live like the studio version we have here, and it was never in the same league performed live.

Speaking of the same league. The bands biographer Dan Hedges compared the song to the same sort of fusion and style the band Return To Forever had. I do know that that band did at some stage go into progressive rock especially with their album Romantic Warrior which was personally my favourite album by that band. However personally I think Hedges was well off the mark and the band Return To Forever were never in the same league, class or field as Yes were when it came to progressive rock :))))))))))).

Sound Chaser is a very exiting track that features some superb keyboard work from Moraz and blistering work from Howe on the guitars. White’s drums play a massive part on the track and its built up with all the members of the band contributing to the percussion, especially in the powerful middle section. Squire’s bass work is as impeccable as ever and its perhaps the most powerful Yes song that Anderson has ever had to sing, and though he sounds great here on the studio track, he does not feel that comfortable on stage performing the song.

Track 3. To Be Over

The final track on the album To Be Over is the more subtle side of the material on the album. It’s actually Steve Howe’s favourite song on the album and of all Yes songs. It’s a piece of music that Howe played originally on his acoustic guitar and the piece was inspired by a boat ride he took on the Serpentine lake in Hyde park London. Jon Anderson helped him develop it more and wrote the biggest majority of the lyrics for it.

The album track features Howe more dominantly on his slide steel guitar, rather than his acoustic guitar, though he does play it at his own live shows. To be honest I personally do not even feel acoustically this piece measures up to the acoustic work he put into 2nd part of The Ancient on Tales from Topographic Oceans and that as always been my preferred favourite out of all his acoustic work rather than solo work he did with Yes.

In some ways you could call it the ballad track of the album just like “And You And I” was on the Close To The Edge album. Only it’s placed at the end of the album on Relayer perhaps to calm down the hectic pace we got from the first 2 tracks on the album. It’s a lovely song and nice way to put an end to such a great album. Though I personally do not feel it’s as good as “And You And I” which to me is more of a Yes classic song.

The 5.1 Mix…

Once again Steven Wilson has worked wonders on the 5.1 mix and there is no doubt that the album Relayer works really better for it. Not even Wilson’s own great stereo mix of the album will really do the album this sort of justice.

In a recent interview I seen of Jon Anderson on YouTube he explained that the album Relayer never really worked the way he wanted it to when we made it all those years ago, and I was never happy with the mix because a lot of things could never be heard with what we had to play music on back then.

We simply did not have the technology we have now regarding how music can be listened to. In many ways it was an album made for surround sound to bring out everything we put into it, especially the whole battle scene. With today’s technology and 5.1 its now possible to hear the album has it was intended to be heard all those years back, and it does it a lot more justice.

There is no doubt Anderson was speaking the truth because there is a ton of things on this album I have never heard before, and it’s only the 5.1 mix that will bring them out of the woodwork. The stereo mix is very good but no way can it touch the 5.1 mix simply because you will be missing out on at least 30% of the things that was originally put into the album. Especially on “The Gates Of Delirium” and “Sound Chaser“.

The battle section on the “The Gates Of Delirium” is totally awesome in 5.1 and Wilson has even worked that section out like they do in the movies with films. You will hear things flying all over the room and the shattering parts will even whack you on the back of head with how he’s placed some of the effects in mono in the rear speakers, so it hits the centre point of your head. It’s a totally awesome experience and much more realistic way of listening to the album.

Listening to “Sound Chaser” is also awesome in 5.1 and I have never heard it like this before in my life till this 5.1 version. Even all the sounds coming from Moraz’s keyboards is quite phenomenal and he must of overdubbed loads of sounds in the piece because there was no such thing as multi timbrel keyboards back in those days. There is also tons of percussion from them all in it as well, and it’s no wonder they never played this track live very well.

No doubt for my ears I just love everything Wilson had done with the 5.1 mix on this album and all their album’s in this definitive series. He has literally breathed new life into them and made them even more exiting to listen to now than they ever was before. Many thanks once again Steven Wilson.

Summary Of Relayer…

To sum up the 1974 album Relayer by Yes. I personally think it was the last solid body of work and solid album Yes ever made that was still what I would call Yes Music. At the time I brought it back in that decade I believe that they had gone that far into the future with their music, that they left themselves nowhere else to go with their music.

There was no doubt that no matter how hard they tried, they was never going to be able to top what they had done here on this album. There simply was no way forward which is why they took a 3 year break from writing Yes Music and returned with doing something that was perhaps more familiar with their past before The Yes Album.

Yes had simply burnt themselves out, and for me personally it was only the odd track we got here and there over the next 3 albums they made I would consider as Yes Music. They are “Awakening“. “The Silent Wings Of Freedom” and “Machine Messiah“.

Conclusion…

The album Relayer as always been quite a strange album for me. It’s perhaps the only album that has had some up and downs over the decades I have listened to it. For example when I brought it back in 1974 I honestly felt it was the best album they had ever made. It spoke to me highly.

Then as the decades went by for some reason it started to have an empty feel about it, and never really appealed to me as it did back in the 70’s. It was as if it was a bit more minimalistic than the previous albums and never had a lot going for it at all. It never really sounded that sophisticated either.

Personally I do not know why this one album of theirs had that effect on me. It even put me off playing the album for a long period of time.

I can honestly say with all my heart that what Steve Wilson has done with this album has completely restored my faith back in the album. To be honest he’s restored all 5 of these Yes albums with these “Definitive Editions” in the best possible way they could ever be heard, and I could not recommend these editions enough because they are purely FANTASTIC.

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These 5 album’s of Yes I have always regarded as the best of the band’s output throughout their entire career. Everything about all these 5 album’s were 100% solid which is why I have given everyone of them a rating of 10 out of 10. Personally I do not believe there is any other studio album Yes made that could measure up to these ratings either.

Soon, oh soon the light!

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. The Gates Of Delirium. 21:58.
02. Sound Chaser. 9:29.
03. To Be Over. 9:16.
04. Soon (Single Edit). 4:13.
05. Sound Chaser (Single Edit). 3:14.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 8/10

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… #14

Tales From Topographic Oceans (The Definitive Edition CD/Blu Ray) – Yes

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Introduction…

On the back of a successful tour that ended in the spring of 1973 along with their new drummer Alan White. It was during some of those tours especially in Japan that Jon Anderson had been reading about Yogi. Not the bear but some Indian guru by the name of Paramahansa Yogananda who wrote his autobiography in 1946.

Basically Yogi was into Hinduism and taught people the art of meditation. He was also a member of the Self Realization Group another religious cult. It was percussionist Jamie Muir of King Crimson who got Anderson into it whilst he was at Bill Bruford’s wedding, and he was interested in the prospect of putting mediation into music.

There was no doubt Anderson always seemed to be fascinated by the bible and religion. I sometimes often think he was trying to even preach it with the words he used for “And You And I“. Though that was perhaps more about Christianity, he was always looking for other avenues regarding religious subject matter, that it may of even fried his brain to some degree.

Though Anderson never read all of Yogi’s autobiography something did catch his eye on one of the pages, and he found an interest in four bodies of Hindu text based on the Shastra’s. Yogi described them has comprehensive treatises that had every aspect about religion and convey profound truths under a veil of detailed symbolism. Though Anderson never really understood it, he did seek further help from Vera Stanley Alder who wrote books about spirituality to help decipher some of the scriptures.

The shastera’s was mainly based around science, religion, architecture and rituals and  scientifically looking into things. The fact it was in 4 bodies of work as well most likely influenced Anderson to work on the idea of a 4 part concept story for the next Yes album.

He pitched the idea to Steve Howe because he was the main arranger of the band and the one who would quite often listen to him. Whilst on tour they would meet up in each of their hotel rooms and work on developing the idea more. Anderson had read quite a few critical reviews regarding that he was trying to recite the bible in his lyrics especially upon their previous album Close To The Edge. It was something that stirred him up a bit in a way and his reply was “if that’s what you want I will show how to put the bible into music”.

Between Anderson and Howe they had very much decided that the next album should be a double album with 4 long tracks to put over the 4 parts of the concept story. The only problem they had now was convincing the rest of the members of the band to go along with it.

There was no doubt the song “Close To The Edge” was a very hard song to make being that it was very long and took up the 1 side of the album. Making 4 tracks of that length for a double album would of certainly have appeared to be ludicrous, and it would of been very hard to convince the other members.

Rick Wakeman was right off the idea from the start. He knew that Anderson and Howe had been secretly being working on something. His main idea for not liking it at the time, was down to that he feared he would be left without anything to do and would not be on any of the writing credits. Both Chris Squire and Alan White was not too happy either just thinking of the amount of work it would involve.

To persuade them to go along with the idea Anderson promised that they all would have their own individual parts in it to write and feature them playing on those sections of the music. In some ways just how they all had their own individual pieces on the album Fragile. Only the idea here was to incorporate their parts as a feature into certain parts of the long pieces of music.

Though they all went along with it Wakeman never really liked anything about it, and he even thought the slight change in the bands style of music was not to his liking at all. Anderson also has some mad ideas of how he wanted to record the album outside in the country on a camping trip using generators to power all the equipment to which Wakeman and the rest of the band were against that idea and in the end it was recorded in London.

Tales From The Topographic Oceans amazingly took 1 month less to make than their previous album Close The The Edge and was done in 5 months. The band finally settled on recording it in Morgan Studios rather than their previous 3 album’s which were all done at Advision Studios. The reason they chose to do so was because Morgan Studios had just had the first 24 track tape machine made by Ampex hit the country.

To make Anderson feel more at home the band’s sound engineer and producer Eddie Offered had a word with their manager Brian Lane to decorate the studio and turn it into a farm yard as a practical joke. They brought in cut-out sheep. cows, ricket fences and even mounted Wakeman’s keyboards on bales of hay and even threw in a barn to try and capture the atmosphere.

The same time they was there making the album, the band Black Sabbath was recording their album Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in the next room and even Ozzy Osbourne stuck his head in from time to time and noticed they even installed a model cow with electronic udders.

Once again Wakeman spent most of his time in the studio bar playing darts and getting wrecked out of his skull. It was during this time that he even contributed his synthesiser to the Black Sabbath song “Sabbra Cadabra” and even though he refused to take any money for it, the band paid him back in beer.

Though Wakeman was credited along with the rest of the band for writing the music. To be honest I am not sure if he never a wrote a thing for it, because throughout most of the making of the album he was hardly ever present.

The very fact that he was not present at most times the bands new drummer Alan White could also play keyboards and it was he who wrote some of the main melody lines on “The Remembering (High the Memory)” which was the track Wakeman was supposed to be mainly featured on. No doubt that Wakeman contributed to the keyboard arrangements though.

There was no doubt that most of the musical material was written by Anderson & Howe and they also wrote all the lyrics between them as well. But Chris Squire would of also contributed to it as well and he was the grafter in the studio and even though he never turned up until the afternoon to start work, he did put in more or less 16 hours a day into making the album, and his bass work on this album shows it as well, it’s purely stunning.

After the album’s release the band went back on tour playing mainly 2 hours shows playing the album in its entirety at some of them including playing the bands last epic long track Close The Edge. Eventually they dropped some of the songs from the set and they even played two sell out shows at Madison Square Gardens in New York in 1974.

The whole thing was becoming to boring for Wakeman and he did not like how Anderson kept pressuring him to get his solos right on the stage. No doubt Wakeman was still heavily drinking at this stage and had basically had enough with Yes and announced to the band he was leaving at the end of the tour. 

On his 25th birthday on the 18th May 1974 he quit the band and on the same day his own solo album Journey to the Centre of the Earth which was released earlier in the year had reached number 1 in the UK charts. The band did get back in touch with him when they decided to go back into the studio and start work on their next album Relayer. But Wakeman declined and told them he had nothing more he could contribute to writing with the way the band had changed its musical direction.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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The definitive edition of Tales From The Topographic Oceans comes in a box to which contains 2 gatefold double sleeve cases. The 1st sleeve case contains 2 CD’s and the 2nd containing CD3 and the Blu Ray disc and is a lighter colour. It also comes with a booklet which can be stored in any one of the sleeve cases and both the sleeve cases are made from the same material as the other album’s in the definitive editions.

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The good thing about the box is that at least you can store the both sleeve cases in it and they will stay shut as pictured here above. I am not sure how far Steve Wilson or Yes intend to go regarding their back catalogue of music that will be done with these definitive editions, but it would be a great idea when they have finished if they made a box they could all be stored in.

The Artwork.

Once again Roger Dean as managed to capture the whole atmosphere of the music Yes wrote for their album Tales From The Topographic Oceans and it’s another stunning piece of artwork.

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Prior to Dean doing the artwork for the album he had a conversation with Jon Anderson over the phone whilst Anderson was aboard a plane flying to Tokyo has the band was on their Japanese leg of the Close To The Edge tour. The temple right at the back with the sun behind it was Anderson’s idea. He had seen pictures of the A Mayan temple at Chichen Itza and he requested to have it on the album’s sleeve.

Early Thoughts…

Once again this was an album that took me a good few weeks to get home with me paying so much a week on it with my pocket money at my local record shop. To be honest I cannot remember if this album was £4.75 or £5.25 but I do know it took me 4 to 5 weeks to pay for it.

I will also never forget the moment I got home with the vinyl album either. It would of been in mid January 1974 and before I even had chance to put it on the turntable, I was that exited I held the album with both hands and raised them up to lift the album above my head shouting “fantastic I have finally got it” in front of my oldest brother Paul.

Everything would of been fine had I have been holding the album the right way before even attempting to do such a thing, but instead this is the way up I had the album facing (in the picture below) as I swung both of my arms up very quickly in the air with some force.

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Has both my arms raised up the 2nd album flew out of the sleeve, bounced off the ceiling and landed on the floor. On its way down it caught the corner of the record cabinet and broke off a very small piece of plastic to which luckily was only the size of the opening empty groove where you placed your needle onto. My brother could not stop laughing, and from then on I had to be very careful when placing the needle onto the groove to be able to play the 2nd album out of the 2 that came with it.

About a couple of years later which would of been around when I left school in 1976. By chance I came across the 2nd album being sold in just it’s white paper protective sleeve on its own for £1 in my favourite record shop in Birmingham’s city centre The Diskery. Not a mark on it. So I brought it to replace my broken one.

Another fond memory I have of this album is that at the time I got the album, my oldest brother had not long just brought two 6ft Tropical Fish Tanks that stood on a stand. The album was perfect to listen to in the dark with both the tanks lit up and watch the fish.

The Definitive Edition Release…

The definitive edition with the new Steve Wilson mixes of Tales From The Topographic Oceans was released on the 7th November 2016. So far along with the 3 album’s in this series I have reviewed already, I can honestly say that Wilson has done a superb job on the new mixes of the album’s, and presented them in every detail of how they originally sounded, by not adding or subtracting anything and sonically improved them for the CD to match and in many ways even better the original vinyl album.

Like I mentioned before about how good the 2003 Rhino releases were on CD. But no doubt as good as they were, these I have to say are way better, even just the mixes on the CD we have here, never mind all the superb extra quality there is on the Blu Ray or DVD that come with them. I simply cannot fault anything on them so far, and I really do take my hat off to the guy for what he has done.

The CD’s

Well one would not think they would be short on extra bonus material of this release, especially has it comes with 3 CD’s. The 2003 Rhino release came with 2 extra tracks, and here we get a total of 10 bonus tracks. More about these later on in my bonus section of the review.

The Blu Ray

The Blu Ray features all the material on the CD’s along with much more as ever and once again all the features can be accessed from the main menu.

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The main menu features 3 options “2016 Mixes”. “Original Mix” and “Audio Extras”. Clicking on the top one of the 3 which is highlighted here will present you with the following screen.

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Once here the first track will automatically start playing. It appears that the way that they compiled all 4 of the Blu Ray screens differently to what they did with Close To The Edge which was the first to be done in this definitive series back in 2013.

With the way they compiled the screen you are seeing in this shot above. Just like The Yes Album. Fragile and Relayer you can access the other features that are on the disc from here. This is actually quite an handy way of doing it, simply because you do not have to go back to the main menu to access all the other features at all.

But there is one thing they have done just by looking at this screen of Tales From The Topographic Oceans that they never did on all the other 4 discs. That was to include any of the bonus tracks as they have included 1 of them here.

Has I mentioned in my review of Close To The Edge that I did love how they never included the bonus tracks and put them on another part of the disc. But thankfully least it’s only one of them. But as a rule I do prefer to have the original tracks that was on any album left intact, and the bonus material put elsewhere, and they was indeed ticking all my personal favourite boxes on the other 4 discs in this series.

All the tracks in this section offer 3 alternative high end audio formats. 1 x LPCM Stereo Mix on 24/96K. 1 X LPCM 5.1 24/96K Mix and best of all is the DTS HD Master 5.1 Mix that is also in 24/96K.

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On this 3rd screen which is the “Alternative Takes” section we can see how they have constructed an alternative album out of the bonus material.

I should also point out as well at this point (especially has I never on my other 3 reviews of these album’s) that they have slightly worded the biggest majority of the extra features on the Blu Ray a bit different in relation to the booklet that comes with these things. But you do not have to be a rocket scientist to work things out. For example “Alternative Takes” here on the disc display is worded as “Alternative Album” in the booklet.

The “Alternative Takes” or “Alternative Album” to which ever you prefer interestingly enough come with a LPCM Stereo 24/48K Mix rather than the 24/96K we did get on some of the other bonus tracks on the other album’s.

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The “Single Edits” screen that contains the bonus tracks in this section also only come with an audio  LPCM Stereo 24/48K Mix. So do the both Vinyl Album Drops of the album’s, and you do actually get two of them on this disc. The UK version and the US Branded Promo Release.

Has with all these Blu Ray discs they do have more menu sections than what I have displayed on all my reviews for these album’s, and I just took the odd snapshots of some of them to display in my reviews here as I was listening to them several times.

The Blu Ray also contains the 2016 Stereo Instrumental Mixes which come with an audio format of LPCM 24/96K and also the Original Stereo Mixes in ultra high end audio of 24/192K Mix. Have to say I love these and they are awesome quality.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Blu Ray versions do come with exclusive features. For example if you have the DVD version of this album you will not have any of the “Alternative Takes”. “Single Edits”. “2016 Stereo Instrumental Mixes” and both the “Vinyl Album Drop” album’s. It also only comes with 2 CD’s and not 3.

The Bonus Tracks…

Well no doubt there is a couple of really great things about bonus material that comes with Blu Ray version of Tales From The Topographic Oceans. Though I have to say the first thing I did notice straight away is that there is no “Demo Run-Through” version of the “Dance of the Dawn” which is supposed to be the 3rd track on the 2nd CD. Instead both tracks 2 & 3 are exactly the same on the 2nd disc and are the extended mixes of the “Dance of the Dawn“.

The “Dance of the Dawn (Demo Version][Studio Run-Through)” was originally released on the 2003 Rhino CD which I also thankfully still have and I know that what Wilson has put on here is certainly not it at all. It appears that even after spending 3 years working on the mix he has indeed made a mistake, and one that will not be rectified either.

It’s also worth noting that Steve Howe claimed the original “The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)” was 28 minutes long and was cut down to fit the restrictions of the vinyl record. The extended version which comes with it’s original intro is only is only 22:35 and no longer versions have ever been released.

So having said all that, you may be wondering what other cock ups have been made and is it worth still getting this definitive version. Well to be honest I can tell you now 100% YES. One single mix is not gonna spoil what he has done regarding remixing this superb album I can assure you, and as far as I know of there are no other cock ups.

Hell this album kicks ass with what he has done with it, and is by far the best mix of the album. Though one thing I will say is that Tales From The Topographic Oceans does not really come with a great deal of bonus material if you are going to be counting up the tracks we have left. For example the “Single Edits” which are also on the CD I would consider pointless, has stated with those sort of tracks on my previous reviews. But thankfully we still have 3 big long tracks left to which I am sure will make up for it.

The first one of those I would like to get out of the way is “Giants Under the Sun (Demo Version][Studio Run-Through)“. Which is the 2nd track on CD 3. This was also featured on the 2003 Rhino release but both of the others were not. I have to say this is a very interesting version to listen too, especially as at this point the 2nd part was not played with Howe’s nylon guitar and he used an electric one and was very early in the development of the song.

Speaking of Steve Howe the next bonus track I would like to mention is the 3rd track on CD 3 which is the “Ritual (Live][Live, Zurich, April 1974)”. This particular recording Howe pulled out of his own archives to which he recorded himself whilst on stage and this was from one of the final concerts they ended their tour of the album too featuring the original line up of all the band that played on the album.

Howe’s recording was in mono only unfortunately but Wilson has managed to enhance it and even though he has done so it’s perhaps still not the best of recordings and is a bit muddy with distortion in some of the earlier parts in particular, but it does manage to improve later on. In some way even though this was taken from the end of their tour it sounds a bit loose in parts and having seen and heard this line up playing it live myself in the 70”s it’s nowhere near on par with that :))))))))))

Now the 1st bonus track on CD 3 I absolutely love and I wish that Wilson would of done a 5.1 mix of it as well. This is one studio run through that has never been released before and is “High the Memory (Demo Version][Studio Run-Through)”. The recording of this is purely outstanding and in my own personal opinion some of the things they did in this version I actually think are a lot better than the final recording they used for track 2 on the original album. Personally this is best out of the bonus material for me, and makes a super addition in this release.

Musicians & Credits…

The original album was produced by Yes & Eddie Oddford at Morgan Studios. London. Engineered by Eddie Oddford. Sound Production Bill Inglot. Tapes Guy Bidmead. Plates Mansell Litho. Co-ordinator Brian Lane. Cover design and illustrations, band logo by Roger Dean. 2016 Definitive Edition mixes by Steven Wilson.

Jon Anderson: Lead Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Percussion.
Chris Squire: Bass Guitars/Backing Vocals.
Steve Howe: Guitars/Electric Sitar/Backing Vocals.
Rick Wakeman: Keyboards.
Alan White: Drums/Percussion/Backing Vocals.

Tales From The Topographic Oceans Album Review…

The album Tales From The Topographic Oceans was released on the 7th December 1973. The album contained 4 tracks that run with a total running time of 81 minutes 15 seconds, it was the first album that attracted more attention from their own country in the UK and it was their 1st album to the hit the number 1 spot in the UK Album Charts.

It sold more than 75,000 copies from pre-orders before its release. It also got released in America on the 9th January 1974 and a month later in February it had been certified Gold with it’s sales. The album went Gold in the UK with its sales on the 1st March 1974. There was no doubt that the bands previous album Close To The Edge and it’s successful tour had sparked off more attention from it’s home fans.

For me personally the album Tales From The Topographic Oceans if anything was more of an expansion rather than a change of musical direction that Wakeman thought the band were heading in at this stage of their career. There was no doubt in my mind that the material they wrote was still what I would call Yes Music in every sense of the word. It was still complex full of great chord progression and went through many changes and directions with how the music flowed.

Track 1. The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)

The album kicks off with The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn). It’s very much my favourite out of the 4 tracks. The song opens up with Anderson singing the songs opening lyrics to a wonderful saturated piece of ambient music. Regarding the song’s lyrics they are very well written around the subject matter of love, peace, and how we all came into existence, how the planet as evolved and been provoked by meaningless countless wars and hate.

No doubt both Anderson and Howe worked them out very well in a very poetic way  These are far from what we got from the bands previous 3 album’s were mostly the words more far out and were meaningless.

The opening builds its way gradually up for a minute and 33 seconds then in comes White’s drums and a lovely theme coming from Wakeman’s keyboards. Both Wakeman and Howe exchange some lovely touches right up to the 3:03 mark when Anderson comes back in with the vocals for a few verse and chorus sections, and the band are all adding their own little touches along the way.

Around the 6:53 to the 7:44 mark it breaks off into a little spasm of a slight frenzy raising up the power a bit and Howe getting into the swing of things on the lead guitar, then it comes down to a lovely little melodic section with some fine rhythm guitar and a nice touch of piano, and at the 9 minute mark Wakeman blends in some lovely mellotron to which Howe plays some lovely fine touches on the guitar and all is well supported throughout by Squire and White.

At 9:44 we get another lovely change to accompany Anderson’s fine voice has he comes back in with the band, and the whole thing is flowing along wonderfully with all its changes and how it all falls back into place. Both the vocals and the instrumentation continue go along with some nice lead notes from Waekman’s moog as he goes along a bit more there is also some fine piano work from him that comes into play and it builds up very well right up to the 11:48 mark.

Howe comes into play building his way for his main lead solo of a frenzy at around the 12:13 mark and it all comes down to a simmering pace with the use of his rhythm playing that comes into play at 13 minutes into the song. This is another fine melodic section and Anderson comes back in 55 seconds later with his beautiful ballad voice. This continues along wonderfully with some more flowing mellotron from Wakeman and leads right up to his moog solo which comes into play around the 16:35 mark.

Wakeman flies along in this section for all of around a minute with his moog panning from left to right, its always been one of my favourite sections of the song and the one of the highlights of the album. He does such a great job of it. The song then comes back down for Anderson to come back in, and builds its way for it’s final ending that rounds it all off superbly.

Track 2. The Remembering (High the Memory)

The 2nd track on the album The Remembering (High the Memory) is perhaps the most subtle and calming song of them all on the album. The songs lyrical content is more or less based around a sea or journey across the ocean to other places, and takes in the memories of them all. Anderson wanted the band to play like the sea and put the sea into the music. He even wrote some of keyboard parts he wanted Wakeman to play and so did White.

The song mainly features Rick Wakeman and his keyboards on this particular song to create the whole atmosphere of the ocean. It certainly has that feel to it as well. Squire used his Fretless Guild Bass and thought it was one of the nicest pieces he had ever played on. Though not mentioned in the linear notes of Howe’s instrumentation. He did also play a Lute on this song as well.

Whenever I listen to this song it always seems like it’s the shortest track on the album. Though it’s slightly longer than the first track.

Track 3. The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun)

The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun) is the shortest track on the album and along with the 2nd track both of these tracks only got played live on their first tour more or less and the band dropped them. It’s a song that very much features Steve Howe in 2 sections. The first being on electric guitar and the 2nd on his nylon acoustic. There is no doubt the 2nd part is the best part of it, and is what I would call the most beautiful piece on the album. Howe’s influence came from listening to a lot of Julian Bream to be able to construct the piece.

The song’s lyrics are focused around the energy of the sun, and how since it’s ancient times has provided the source of light that reflects all the beauty that is around us and the food it provides and how one should cherish it with love.

Track 4. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil)

The 4th and final track the Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) is the longest track on the album. Its a song that features Chris Squire and Alan White with superb bass lines and crashing percussion and heavey pounding drums. Its my 2nd favourite track on the album and is a very powerful song that has a very strong theme that holds it up very well. The lyrical content is based around the struggles of fighting for peace.

The song is also known for its come down section around the 14 and half minute market. It features most of the band banging away on the percussion and with White’s drums and Wakeman’s keyboard effects it produced the sound of a train starting and running along the tracks at speed and then grinding its way to an halt. There was no doubt that Wakeman must of enjoyed this section as later on in 1975 he used the same keyboard effects for the track “Laxx” on his White Rock album.

After all the commotion of the train effect, the song settles down beautifully to a gorgeous ballad feel that allows Anderson to express his voice beautifully on the track before it final builds back up with power and ends off the album very well.

The 5.1 Mix…

Tales From The Topographic Oceans is a wonderful album to listen to with its well detailed surround mix that Steven Wilson has provided. Its perhaps more vitalising and refreshing. To be honest it also sounds superb in stereo because it’s an album that as always had a certain atmospheric feel about it and provides a great deal of depth in its recording. Even on the original album never really disappointed. But there is no doubt that Wilson has once again come up trumps with his new mixes of the album both in stereo and 5.1 surround.

Personally I do not feel the 5.1 mix will blow you away with what he did with the album Close The Edge but never the less it is quite exiting and no doubt the album does have some exciting moments about it he could project out very well. I do love how he has panned out the train section on The Ritual and no doubt the 6 channels being utilised superbly for that effect too. There is also no doubt that the 5.1 mix is much more of a satisfying way to hear the album and it will always bring out more dynamics and clarity over 6 channels and once again I praise Steve Wilson for the excellent job he has done with the album.

Summary Of Tales From The Topographic Oceans…

Tales From The Topographic Oceans was without doubt yet another extraordinary amount of hard work for the band Yes to take on. Once again they managed to produce themselves a product that worked out very well for them, and the material was well strong enough to hold itself up even over the course of all these years.

But once again for some it was too much, and the end result of all their hard work delivered them another setback with Rick Wakeman’s exit from the band. Yes was finding it very difficult to keep a stable line up, and personally for myself this was the best line up the band ever had.

Although from the offset the Tales From The Topographic Oceans was meant to be a concept album. Personally the only way I see it as being such a thing is perhaps through the whole atmosphere of the music that flows throughout it, to which is really only down to its production more than anything else.

I certainly do not believe its lyrical content is story based at all, and even though the lyrics are based around in some way how the earth and oceans were evolved and takes in the beauty of love and hate and the source of energy from the sun. Jon Anderson certainly never needed no bible, religious beliefs and text from any scriptures to really create what he did here with how the words have been interpreted.

His idea of putting the bible to music was certainly more evident on the band’s previous album Close To The Edge than what he ever was here, and in many ways I am glad.

I was also glad that Anderson never did see the sense of making music to suit the record companies, and for him it was never about success, it was always about the music he believed in making and put first. Back in those days the chances of even getting a record company to listen to your music would of been practically impossible if you walked into one with a double album with only 4 tracks on the thing.

Luckily Yes were given the licence by their own record company to make music the way they wanted too, and the record company believed in them enough to still make a profit from it. Most of the money the band made back then, they ploughed into their live elaborate stage shows they put on for their fans. It was never about being rich and famous, and it was always about the music.

Conclusion…

The Tales From The Topographic Oceans was the first step the band made in a new musical direction. Though the album certainly had a different feel and atmosphere about it, there was no mistaking the band at all. They was still making the music exiting and even threw in some beauty along the way.

I still even to this day regard it has a good move and a good way to progress forward without deviating to far from the music that came before it. The band had still managed to keep their unique style and continued to make excellent Yes Music. It was in many ways a new wave that still fitted in with the band’s catalogue of music in every way.

The material was still solid and to make it all in the space of 5 months was quite an achievement. Once again the band churned out another solid body of work that even brought them closer to their own home for a change. Yes were making music their own way, the future was in their hands and it was if they could see a million miles into it when they released the album Relayer that was to follow it.

You can find all about that album in my next detailed review which rounds up this definitive series.

We Love When We Play!.

The CD track listing is as follows:

CD 1.
01. The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn). 20:18.
02. The Remembering (High the Memory). 20:31.
03. The Ancient (Giants Under the Sun). 18:40.

CD 2.
01. Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil). 21:44.
02. Dance of the Dawn (2015 Mix). 22:35.
03. Dance of the Dawn (Extended version). 22:22.

CD 3.
01. High the Memory (Studio Run-Through). 20:35.
02. Giants Under the Sun (Studio Run-Through). 17:17.
03. Ritual (Nous sommes du soleil)” (Live in Zurich, 21 April 1974)). 23:10.
04. The Revealing Science of God (Single Edit). 3:53.
05. The Remembering (Single Edit). 2:50.
06. The Ancient (Single Edit). 3:25.
07. Ritual (Single Edit I). 4:19.
08. Ritual (Single Edit II). 3:46.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 8/10

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… #13

Close To The Edge (The Definitive Edition CD/Blu Ray) – Yes

Y - CTTE

Introduction…

After a successful tour of their previous album Fragile which ended in February 1972 the band had a short break and went back into the Advision studios in London to record their 5th album that was to be Close To The Edge. Though the band at this stage was very stable with its line up, the fact that the band went into the studios with hardly any solid written material or any genuine ideas of what they was going to be doing, did not help the situation at all.

Close To The Edge for many of the band members became a very frustrating album to make. The drummer Bill Bruford much later went on to say the title of the album reflected the state of the band at the time of making it. It’s very true that most of the material for the album was written by Anderson and Howe. It’s also true that most of the material got lost and thrown in the bin during the process of making it.

The very fact that they was working on longer pieces meant that it had to be made in many more parts, the self titled track was pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle and whilst Anderson and Howe were writing and constructing the parts in little stages, meant that the other members of the band were twiddling their thumbs for most of time waiting for them to get the parts ready for them to play something along to them.

Rick Wakeman spent more time in the studio bar getting wrecked out of his head. Because of the complexity of the material it meant that many arrangements had to be worked on to get each part right, it was very hard work and that stressful for Bill Bruford perhaps the most, that as soon as the album was finished a good 6 months later, on the 19th of July he quit the band to join King Crimson before the album was even released. He did however offer his services to play the material live on some the bands live shows when they was ready to put on another live tour.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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Has previously mentioned regarding the packaging on both of my reviews for The Yes Album and Fragile it has some good points and bad points. What I like about it is how it very much looks like a miniature version of the original gatefold vinyl album cover. The fact that they made it just like the vinyl album out of cardboard instead of sticking it in a plastic jewel case makes it that more appealing.

However the fact that they used a thinner cardboard is not that practical at all, and rather suggests that they cut a few corners and made it on the cheap side. The major faults are that the cardboard is too thin to be able to store the booklet inside the compartments that hold both the discs, and the cover does not close properly because they used a thinner piece of cardboard to construct the packaging in the first place.

If they had spent that little more money on the material as Arjen Lucassen did with his latest Ayreon album The Source he released earlier this year (to which I have also reviewed) none of these problems would of occurred in the first place. It also would of been nice if they actually could of fixed the booklet to the inside of the gatefold sleeve rather than having it loose to fall out. The booklet does give some background information of the time the album was made. But does not go into great detail.

Had they spent that little extra and put more thought into making it in the first place, they would not be losing points and I am pretty sure the customers would of been far more satisfied with the end result for doing so too.

The Artwork.

Once again the Roger Dean was chosen to do the artwork for Yes and most notably here is how he had shaped the Logo for the band’s name. The 1972 album Close To The Edge was the first Yes album to feature it.

Yes Logo 1

The Bubble Logo

Dean’s bubble design of the band’s logo was used for the biggest majority of the band’s album’s and was the very thing you could identify the band with. The band loved it and so did it’s fans it was a stunning piece of work I felt. Interestingly though much later on in the 70’s Jon Anderson had a fall out with Roger Dean and used Hypnosis to design the cover for their 1977 Going For The One album. But he still wanted Dean’s bubble logo on the cover, to which it very much was put on it as well.

Steve Howe hated Anderson’s decision of dropping Roger Dean from doing artwork for that album and they had many rows over it as well. In my opinion Anderson should of listened to Howe in the first place.

There is no doubt that Roger Dean loved working on the band’s album’s because he could draw a lot from their music and even the titles they gave to their songs.

Close To The Edge

Roger Dean’s Inspiration Of Close To The Edge

His artwork that was placed on the inside of the gatefold sleeve of the album is a marvellous piece of work that was all inspired by the name of the band’s album and self titled track. The music and the picture here are both very imaginative pieces of fine art and are a perfect match. There was no doubt in my mind that Dean was the right man for the job. The relationship between the Yes Music and Dean’s artwork was a perfect marriage.

Besides the artwork Roger Dean also wrote out all the lyrics and most of the linear notes by hand for this album too.

Early Thoughts…

Most of my early thoughts I have already mentioned in my previous reviews of both The Yes Album and Fragile. This is very much down to the fact that I never started buying the band’s music till 1973 and after purchasing Yessongs first which took me a good while to pay for with my pocket money each week. It also took some time back then to save up and buy their back catalogue as well in the same year.

Though if I remember rightly, besides buying Yessongs in 1973 I did also manage to buy The Yes Album. Fragile and Close To The Edge all in the same year. I am pretty sure I got Close To The Edge at the end of 1973 being has my birthday was in that last month of the year, and the money my dad used to send to me for my birthday would of helped me buy it in that month too. I also remember Tales from Topographic Oceans came out whilst I was still finishing off paying for the album, and I even put a deposit on that too.

Having two older brother’s one 5 years older and the other 7 years older was very useful, especially when it came around to earning a bit more extra pennies for various errands I used to run for them. I was barely in my teens and I honestly do not think I would of been able to buy these album’s with my pocket money alone.

My 2nd oldest brother Martin brought me most of my Gilbert O’ Sullivan and Elton John album’s just for going to town with him so he could get stuff for his guitars at the music shop. My oldest brother Paul would always give me 50p for just going down to the chippy for him. Most times I saved the money and on other occasions I brought myself pie and chips with it.

There are a couple of things though I could mention in this part of the review. The first being that when I backtracked on the band’s back catalogue of music. I actually thought The Yes Album was their first album. I had no idea they had made two albums that came before it, and I never brought those until the very late 70’s.

The other thing is regarding the live album Yessongs back in those days was that  I very much played my albums on my oldest brother’s HiFi to which my brother used to let me do so. To be honest we kept our record collections that we brought together at my mom’s house, and we both played each other’s album’s on many occasions from our both collections. I would say that around 70% of the music we both brought back then, we had the same taste for with what we personally both liked.

The very thing I noticed about Yessongs back in those days is that the vinyl album sounded purely fantastic played on any HiFi in the 70’s. Has the years and decades went past, and has one went out and changed their HiFi for something one considered better due to changing of new technology. The album lost every inch of the quality it originally had. There is no doubt that the new technology had improved the HiFi and the fact that it did, really shows how poor the live album was recorded in the first place.

With the arrival of the CD in the mid 80’s I went out and brought Yessongs on CD hoping that it would put some life back into it, that it had back in the 70’s on my brothers old HiFi. What a massive mistake that was. It sounded purely dreadful. It was at this stage I was wishing I still had my brothers old HiFi so I could play my vinyl album on the thing, to which I did originally end up with when I left home.

It was not until the 2003 remastered Rhino release of it, that it started to sound any better, but I have to say still not as good as the vinyl album sounded back played on an HiFi from the 70’s. I think the fact that the live album was poorly recorded in the first place, was the reason that Steven Wilson did not want to go anywhere near it when he chose to the work on the new mixes of the band’s earlier back catalogue of music.

The Definitive Edition Release…

The first thing I noticed about the Definitive Edition release of Close To The Edge is the fact that Steve Wilson for some reason decided to do this album first. It may have been that he only intended to work on one of the band’s album’s in the first place, and this one was his personal favourite.

Maybe after the band heard the purely outstanding job he done on it, they persuaded him to do the rest. But one thing I can tell you, and I am not kidding you. Out of the 4 of the 5 albums I have so far in this series he has remixed. There is no doubt in my mind that he done the best work on this album. It’s purely amazingly stunning in every detail and leaves the vinyl record standing in the dust. The 5.1 mix is a master class piece of work.

The “Definitive Edition” of Close To The Edge was released on the 11th of November 2013 on the Panegyric label just as all of the definitive editions were released on the same label. I got mine for £16.56p from Amazon. Since the release of all these new Steven Wilson mixes the Japanese market and even some other countries have once again flooded the market once again with SACD versions.

No doubt they have just copied Wilson’s mixes and are trying to make a quick buck. They are far from authorised and have the rights that Wilson had to do such a thing with, and no way have they been done from the original master tapes that Wilson was given permission to use either.

Since the year 2004 Sony put a massive blow to what music could be released on SACD and mainly used the media format for Classical music only these days. To be quite honest if Wilson would have had the rights from Sony to release his new editions on SACD he most likely would of done so.

The band Genesis were very lucky to be given the permission in 2007 to be able to release their new mixes on the media format, and it was only down to the fact that they were a more successful band than Yes were in their later years after both Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett had left that they were given the permission to do so.

The CD

I have to say the CD has very much gained its “Total Mass Retain” on this mix and is mind blowingly staggering. Even when ripped down to a 320 kbps MP3 it still sounds quite amazing. But not on the same par as playing the CD. There is no doubt that even the CD is a winner over the original vinyl album here. The CD also comes with 2 bonus tracks in relation to the 4 bonus tracks you got with 2003 Rhino CD. I shall go into more detail about those in the bonus section of my review here.

The Blu Ray

SS 1

The main menu on the Blu Ray may seem on the short side regarding it only having 3 options to choose from here. But as you click on each option a new window opens up giving you more options to choose from. By clicking on the 1st option “2013 Mixes” it will present you with the following screen.

SS 2

Everything about the first 4 options here are all related to the new Steve Wilson mixes of the album.  The top 2 you see here are the both 5.1 Mixes. The 1st being in LPCM 24/96K and the 2nd is the DTS HD Master Mix. Surprisingly this HD Master Mix is only in 24/48K and not the 24/96K we got with the rest of the album’s that came after it. Never the less the DTS HD Master Mix at 24/48K still sounds way better than LPCM 24/96K Mix by a very large margin too.

Though there is no option for a Stereo Mix here apart from the Instrumental Mixes which are also in LPCM 24/96K. You can quite easily access the Stereo Mix from the 5.1 Mixes simply by pressing the Audio Button on the remote control of your Blu Ray Player whilst playing the music.

Once you have made your audio choice from here you will be presented with the next screen.

SS 3

From this screen you can simply press on the 1st track to play the whole album, or select to play one of the other tracks on the album. Notice that the only tracks you can play here were the 3 tracks that was on the original album, and not any of the bonus tracks.

This is how I prefer albums to be, and I have always felt they should put the bonus tracks on a separate CD or in this case on another part of the disc to which they have done. No doubt they are ticking all my personal boxes with how the tracks have been complied on the Blu Ray.

By pressing on any of the tracks you will be presented with the next screen.

SS 4

Unfortunately you get this picture of the album’s inside artwork by Roger Dean displayed for all of the 3 tracks on the album. It would of been nicer if it displayed perhaps a different picture for every track. But it’s a lovely picture and not just the front cover that’s displayed with The Yes Album on all of its tracks.

When the music is finished it will return to the previous menu and from there you can go back to the main menu.

SS 6

The 2nd of the 3 options on the main menu will bring you to this section of the disc which is the “Original Mixes”. In this section is the original Master Mix of the 1972 album that was recorded in the Advision Studios in London. This is really a good thing to have so you can make comparisons with Wilson’s new mixes of the album.

Although there are no audio options here by default it comes with an audio quality of LPCM 24/192K. Though once again you can use your Blu Ray Player Remote to play it in a LPCM 24/94K audio format instead of the 24/192K.

Though 192K is the much higher quality of the audio options here, the fact that it’s in LPCM is not quite the same quality that one would get with a 24/192K SACD. Simply because neither DVD or Blu Ray support DSD like the SACD disc does.

In my own personal opinion the way the SACD processes the sound using DSD it can bring out all the higher frequencies that are inaudible to the human ear and make better use of them than LPCM could ever do. This is why my preferred and favourite media as always been the SACD and why I support it so much.

But I cannot complain because even these audio formats are staggering high end audio and will make all audiophiles like myself very happy indeed :))))))))))))))))))).

By going back to the main menu and clicking on the final option of the 3 there, you will be presented with the following screen.

SS 5

This brings you to the “Additional Material” section that covers all the bonus tracks that are on the Blu Ray disc and also you can get to the “Vinyl Drop” of the original UK album.

Once again these come in high end audio formats of 24/96K and I will discuss just what you get here in my next part of the review which features all the bonus material.

On a special note. Please excuse my wonky pictures I took on my mobile phone. It was very hard to stand up straight to get a good straight shot of the menus on the TV as I have a bad leg. Well that’s my excuse anyway :)))))))))))))).

The Bonus Tracks…

The 2 bonus tracks on the CD are the 2013 Steve Wilson mix of the 10 minute 31 second Paul Simon song “America” and “Close To The Edge (Early Assembly/Rough Mix)” to which is some 17 minutes and 42 seconds. None of these featured on the 2003 Rhino CD release but it did have “America” but only the single edit version. The Blu Ray also includes all these tracks, plus the other 3 tracks that featured on the 2003 Rhino CD release and more besides.

The Blue Ray features an “Alternative Album” version of the album made up of the following tracks:

Close To The Edge (Early Assembly/Rough Mix) 17:42.
And You And I (Alternative Version) 10:18.
Siberia (Studio run-through of Siberian Khatru) 9:20.

Both And You And I (Alternative Version) and Siberia (Studio run-through of Siberian Khatru) featured on the 2003 Rhino CD release only here they also come in 24/96K Audio.

Next up is the “America Versions” Basically this is the same 10 minute 31 second song 3 times over with different mixes and audio formats.

My favourite here is Wilson’s 5.1 Mix of the song. It’s very rare any bonus track comes with a 5.1 mix and he’s actually done two of them here which are exactly the same as he done with the album tracks. An LPCM 24/96K and a DTS HD Master audio track at 24/48K. So he must of been like myself and really loved this version of Yes doing the Paul Simon song. It also sounds purely amazing too.

The other 2 versions are the Stereo version of the 2013 Wilson mix at 24/96K LPCM and a Flat Transfer of the original version that comes in the form of an LPCM 24/192K mix. He really has gone to town on these mixes I must say. So far all the bonus tracks here are super additions including the other versions of the original album tracks.

Has I have already mentioned that the “Vinyl Drop” of the album is in this section all is left is the “The Single Edits” section. Though these also come with an high quality LPCM 24/192K mix. This I have to say is perhaps the boring section. Actually when I read what was in here that comes with this high end quality I totally laughed my head off (LOL)

OK here we go and I am saving the best till last for a good laugh :))))))))

Basically in this section are 4 single edits. The 1st of them is “Total Mass Retain” which is a 3:21 edited version from “Close To The Edge“. The 4th track in here is the single 4:13 version of “America“. Both of these tracks also featured on the 2003 Rhino CD release. Track 2 is a 3:29 edited promo stereo version of “And You And I (Part 1)”. Last of all and track 3 in this section is exactly the same 3:29 edited promo version of “And You And I (Part 1)”. Only it’s in Mono (LOL) Honestly here’s myself a complete converted “Surround Freak” and they’re chucking Mono at me in this day and age (LOL)

Like I have said before in my previous reviews that these short edited versions of the original songs are all really pointless. To be honest I myself will not even bother playing them simply because I prefer the whole thing not a snippet of it. They was very much done for the purpose of radio play, and if any radio station played them in all honesty I would be pretty well  disappointed and most likely switched the damn thing off :)))))))).

Musicians & Credits…

The original album was produced by Yes & Eddie Oddford at the Advision Studios. London. Engineered by Eddie Oddford. Tapes Mike Dunn. Co-ordinator Brian Lane. Sleeve drawings, photographs, linear motes and logo by Roger Dean. Additional photography by Martin Adelman.

Jon Anderson: Lead Vocals.
Chris Squire: Bass Guitars/Backing Vocals.
Steve Howe: Guitars/Backing Vocals.
Rick Wakeman: Keyboards.
Bill Bruford: Drums/Percussion.

The Album Close To The Edge Review…

The album Close To The Edge took a good 6 months to make and was recorded between February to July and was released in the UK a couple of months later on the 13th September 1972. During the tour of the album between 1972 and 1973 the album gained more commercial success reaching No.3 in the United States and No4. in the UK’s album charts. It reached No.1 in the Netherlands selling over 450,000 copies. It sold more than 500.000 copies in America and went Gold. The album also continued to sell very well and by 1998 it had sold over 1 million copies and was certified Platinum.

Despite all the tension bickering, loggerheads and stress that was built up in the studios at the time with the band members, the 3 tracks that made up the album Close To The Edge were as solid as they could of been. The very fact that this album never had any break points and consisted of 3 pieces of Yes Music without a doubt made it the band’s strongest album to date at this stage of their career. The album never had no corners either but it had 3 very strong pillars that I considered as more of a triangle of strength.

Personally even though the material still has exactly the same style has their 2 previous albums. I think the album benefited more for not having any break points and they solely concentrated on the band tracks only. It was certainly one of their most complexed album’s to make, and I would even today call it the best album Yes ever made.

Track 1. Close To The Edge (I.The Solid Time of Change/II. Total Mass Retain/III. I Get Up, I Get Down/IV. Seasons of Man)

Yes Music was getting bigger and expanding into symphonies built around futuristic realms and scriptures from the bible. For the band Yes music simply had no rules and they broke all of its boundaries and barriers and carved and sculptured out an 18 minute 41 second masterpiece. The work rate that Steve Howe put into writing this song with Jon Anderson is purely phenomenal. Howe’s work rate on the stage playing the song is purely phenomenal as well. I do not think there is a place on the whole of the guitars fret board his fingers are not flying across, or was not touched.

The very first time I ever seen Yes live they opened a 2 hour show with this song. By the time they got to the end of the song I thought I had my money’s worth of the price of ticket there and then. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life. I can still to this day picture all the little bird and leaf like shapes they projected all over the arenas ceiling as it opened up with the birds chirping away.

The opening of Close To The Edge is very much and environmental recording on a looped tape they use for the intro, middle and end sections of the song. The sounds of nature with the birds, a river of rushing water and water droplets were captured out on location and they mixed in a bit of keyboards to add to the build up of it all especially in the intro for the song. Anderson claimed that he was inspired by the Wendy Carlos album Sonic Seasonings which was released in the same year.

The intro lasts for all of 55 seconds then in comes the band at quite a speedy pace with the bass, drums, guitars followed by flying keys across the keyboard. The whole thing is one mad frenzy and 1st subheading of the song entitled “The Solid Time of Change” with Howe churning out notes from his guitar along short spasms of melody lines played at a blistering pace. Then 1 minute and 4 seconds later you get to hear the first note coming from Anderson’s voice as he oozes out one single “ah”.

The frenzy continues and we get another “single “ah” followed by a longer “aaaah” and Howe’s guitar gets faster and faster, and I am sure his fingers are going to catch fire and his strings will melt playing at this blistering pace, even Squire’s bass and Wakeman’s keyboard are approaching the 100 mph mark and Bruford’s rolls and fills are hotter than the ones cooking in an oven at a bakery. He’s doing a purely fantastic job playing in this section and I honestly do not know how his mind works to be able to even think out how on earth to play to the frenzy that’s going on here. No wonder he said it was hard work and he’s not joking either.

Though most of this opening section was as jam, the fact that Anderson picked up some advice about time signatures from the Mahavishnu Orchestra who they had previously been on tour with, led Howe to listening and liking  to his ideas. There was no doubt that even at this stage Anderson was very much an amateur musician, but he really had some great ideas. Most of the band laughed them off half the time, but Howe always listened and tried to make what Anderson wanted in the first place out of the music.   .

Then around the 2:50 mark one roll from Bruford’s kit brings the frenzy to a short millisecond of an halt and a few seconds later Anderson comes out with “dah, da, dah” and at the 2:58 mark all of 8 seconds later Howe brings in the main theme played from the notes on his guitar and it really is a joy to hear. A change of guitar to his Choral Sitar at 3:55 for the rhythm section allowing Anderson to come in nicely with the first verse of the song and all very well supported by the whole band. This section is the “Total Mass Retain” and was one of Howe’s original ideas he had written for another song from some years back and threw his idea over to Anderson who felt it fitted in perfectly with what he wanted.

The song develops along very well with its verse and chorus sections. Though Anderson was inspired to write the lyrics around Siddhartha a 1922 novel by Hermann Hesse Howe also helped out with a lot of the lyrics to the song. This then runs up to the 8:29 mark and runs into the 3rd subheading “I Get Up, I Get Down” This is another section of the song Howe mainly wrote both the music and the lyrics too.

Regarding the songs title “Close To The Edge” and it’s words “Close to the edge, down by a river”  it came from an inspiration Howe had got from living at his home in Battersea next to the River Thames. He also wrote all the music in this section originally on his guitar. He decided that it never sounded right on the guitar on the latter parts of this section, so he threw it over to Rick Wakeman to play his music on the pipe organ. Wakeman decided to use the church in St Giles-without-Cripplegate in the Barbican complex in London to record the piece on the pipe organ there.

Wakeman does a stunning job in this section on the pipe organ and it gets tailed off with the pipe organ at the 14:14 mark and leads into the final and 4th subheading entitled ” Seasons of Man” most likely another inspiration that Anderson got from the Wendy Carlos album judging by the title here. Once again Wakeman is involved in the action to which involves more work on his keyboards and some excellent solo’s on the hammond organ before the songs falls back into its verse and final chorus section. It really is a powerful section and it all ends off where it all started with the sound of the birds chirping away wonderfully.

Close To The Edge was a massive piece of work to take on, in many ways I find it quite hard how any drummer could really play along to it. It changes time signatures like nobody’s business and is my personal favourite track of the album. The track maybe just under the 19 minute mark but it’s that exciting and such a pleasure to listen to that it all seems to be over in under 10 minutes. It’s musical structure is purely breathing with all the changes it goes through and no doubt is one of the band’s epic masterpieces.

Track 2. And You And I (I. Cord of Life/II. Eclipse/III.  The Preacher, the Teacher/IV. The Apocalypse)

Jon Anderson was always trying to encourage the other band members to get involved with the writing, it’s very much a thing that even Bill Bruford was grateful for later on long after he left Yes. The fact that Steve Howe listened the most to Anderson’s ideas and did not mind Anderson picking up a guitar now and then, is very much how this particular song came together.

It was down to Anderson strumming along on his acoustic guitar a folksy tune and singing along to it that caught Howe’s attention to use it and develop it more. Basically what Anderson was playing was one of the themes in the opening section of the song, and has Howe further developed it both Squire and Bruford showed more interest and contributed a few ideas of their own to the writing of the song too.

And You And I is more of the album’s ballad side where Anderson’s voice really gets the chance to shine in the song. It’s got a lot of great chord progression and changes along its path as it goes through the 4 movements to which once again they have given 4 subheadings to. Though Wakeman never contributed to the writing, his keyboard work on the song is really superb with the choice of sounds in particular he chose to use for it. Anderson wrote the lyrics and there is no doubt that the lyrical content is based around the bible to which he drew most of his ideas from for it.

Track 3. Siberian Khatru

Siberian Katru was the only partial song that was brought into the studio. Once again it was a piece that Anderson had played on his acoustic guitar and recorded it at his home. Though the song was far from complete or really structured properly both Howe and Wakeman took it on to help Anderson out to develop it into what it ended up as.

They basically sat down and discussed the riffs for various sections throughout the song, and the funny thing is that it was actually Wakeman who wrote the more raunchier rocky riffs and not Howe. In a way Wakeman paid Howe back for the “I Get Up, I Get Down” section of Close To The Edge that Howe wrote and threw over for Wakeman to play on the pipe organ.

Once again Anderson took on the lyrics for the song and there is no doubt the subject matter has no real meaning at all. At the time he was looking into Yemen and found the word Khatru interesting. He never had any idea what it actually meant at the time, and only later found out that it translated to “as you wish”. I have to say even though this set of lyrics are totally meaningless, they are well fascinating and work superbly in the song.

It’s a very powerful way to end of one magical album. It was also a very powerful song played live too and even worked very well as the first song to kick off the Yessongs album with, to which they played it at a blistering pace and a lot faster than this studio version of the song.

Lee’s Triangle Theory.

Because the album had no corners and only 3 tracks. I have always seen the number 3 as a triangular number and as a triangle has 3 points they are the 3 pillars of strength that make up the tower of strength that fluctuates it’s energy.  The album’s self titled track was without doubt its strongest point that stood on the top of a triangle directing it’s energy into the other 2 tracks giving them in many ways equal strength. There was no doubt that this one solid album and none of its points are weak.

Yes Triangle 1

A Tower Of Strength.

The strongest point at the top needs some heavy support especially as this is the biggest and longest track on the album. The other 2 tracks half its size are strong enough to support it, and the whole tower of strength is one solid mass of energy. It’s total mass is retained throughout its entirety.

The 5.1 Mix…

Has I said earlier there is no doubt Steven Wilson has gone to town on this release in the definitive series and done a superb job with the 5,1 mix placing instruments in places throughout the 6 channels without taking anything away from how the original album sounded. It’s not always an easy task to do what he has done without using reflections of the instruments to back up the stereo field and keep it intact.

The very fact that instruments can be placed in certain places will result not only in the clarity of mix, but also how the instrument projects more lifelike with what you are hearing. For example I have even noticed in some parts he has placed Chris Squire’s bass in the centre speaker. The centre speaker is often used for dialogue in films and the main singers vocals in music.

In some cases especially down to the mix in many films the dialogue cannot be heard properly and the centre speaker can often be defined as the weakest speaker. To get around this problem many surround amps have a special EQ button you can simply hit, or you can simply adjust the volume level of the centre speaker. Both are good remedies in these situations.

For music it always pays to have a good quality centre speaker especially because most of them do no house the same drive speakers you are going to find in your normal loudspeakers for the front and rear. They are also good to have so that the bass management of how the subwoofer will drive all the bass speakers throughout your entire system can project bass.

To be able to project the bass into the centre speaker and make it sound as good as it can project out of any of the other loudspeakers takes quite a bit of sonically modifying the frequency by EQ in the mix and I have to say Wilson has done a bang on job of it, and Squire’s bass even sounds so realistic in the centre speaker too.

I love what he has done with the come down section of Close To The Edge. The atmosphere is very 3D or even 4D like it’s just purely fantastic being totally surrounded by it all. Hearing those little droplets of water and all that. I know you can hear them in conventional stereo, but trust me you will never hear them like this unless you have at least a 6 channel surround system.

Also in the section I love how he has placed Wakeman’s pipe organ in the rear speakers. The sound of the organ and even the bass it projects from the thing is literally like sitting next to him in the church whilst he playing the thing. He’s done a totally stunning staggering job of it. Honestly I could not stop the tears coming from my eyes throughout the whole section. It’s the most amazing experience I have ever had of hearing this album in my life.

To be perfectly honest regarding this 5.1 mix here. I have plenty of other albums and live concerts in 5.1 that will no doubt blow your mind this away if you want to hear how effectively everything can project by being panned around the 6 channels.

But I give 100% to Wilson here simply because he has managed to keep all the original album’s characteristics intact. Somehow with what he has done here, is that he has managed to bring out all the dynamics that you could never hear before in the first place, and totally enhanced the album sonically without losing an ounce of the album’s detail.

Summary Of The Close To The Edge Album…

There is no doubt that Yes broke the mould when they made this album. The original album contained 3 tracks and had a playing time of just under 38 minutes. The fact that they made this album in the way they did with just 3 tracks on it brought in many more fans with the successful tour that followed it. The idea of making longer songs seemed to make the fans want a lot more of them, and no doubt the band was not going to disappoint them by continuing to do so.

Yes Music was on the rise just as their drummer had departed at one of the most successful highs of their career in the 70’s. Though Bill Bruford did promise he would play at the live shows until the end of the year. Steve Howe wished him to leave sooner due to his lack of commitment, a decision even Howe regretted  later has he would of loved to have heard him play the songs from the album in that year.

His replacement was drummer Alan White who had been playing on and off for John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band since 1969 when he was invited by Lennon to play on his Live Peace in Toronto tour  in the same year in Canada which also featured Eric Clapton on guitar. White even played the drums on Lennon’s biggest hit “Imagine” in 1971. He played mainly as a session player before joining Yes in 1972 and even played for George Harrison and many more during his time and after joining Yes.

Alan White joined Yes in the latter part of the July 1972. He only had 3 days to learn all the material and only had one full rehearsal with the band when they embarked on a 95 show tour that started in America on the 30th July 1972. They also toured Canada.UK. Japan and the tour ended in Australia in April 1973. In the same year the triple live album Yessongs was compiled out of the shows between February to December of 1972. Only 2 of the tracks on the album featured Bruford on drums from those earlier shows in February, the rest of the tracks were all played by White.

Yessongs was released on the 18th May 1973. It was originally meant to be released in the February of the same year whilst the band was on tour in North America. But the printers had a problem with printing out the album which led to the delay. It went Gold in the United States in the same year and in 1998 was certified Platinum in the same country. By 1976 it went Gold in Canada and Gold in Germany in 1979. Has for their English fans I must of been the only one (LOL)

It was not until 1989 when Bruford joined back up with his old colleagues Anderson. Wakeman and Howe to play an Evening Of Yes Music under their own names as they were not allowed to use the band’s name at the time, that Bruford got to play 2 of the tracks live from the album.

Conclusion…

There is no doubt that Steve Wilson has done an outstanding job of presenting the album Close To The Edge to you in the best way it’s ever been heard. The fact that he so successfully done it in the way that it neither adds or takes nothing away from the original album and has purely enhanced the sound there is no doubt that sonically it’s the best recording ever been done of it.

Amazingly even all the 24/192K Original Stereo Transfers of the album in these editions sound way better than the vinyl album as well, and as for the 5.1 mix well that’s another story and one that will literally blow your mind.

For me personally all the music Yes made between 1971 and 1972 is my favourite era of the band’s output of Yes Music. There is no doubt that if I was to choose 4 of my all time favourite albums by 4 different artists to place 1 on each of the 4 corners of the universe. Yes would occupy one of those corners. But my biggest problem is choosing one single album out of the 3 they made between those years. It would have to have all the band tracks without the break points that I call Yes Music from all 3 of those albums to make it up. I simply could not choose the album Close To The Edge alone, even if it his most likely my favourite album. Simply because they made some truly amazing songs on all 3 of those album’s.

There is no doubt that after they made Close To The Edge. Yes continued to progress forward and experiment even more so, and continued to make great Yes Music over the next 2 albums that was to follow. But for some, the pressures, stress and tension got to them as well. Next up for a full detailed review will be “Definitive Edition” of Tales From The Topographic Oceans where Yes enter into new realms with their music, that was very much inspired by the making of Close To The Edge.

The Total Mass Has Been Retained!.

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Close To The Edge (I.The Solid Time of Change/II. Total Mass Retain/III. I Get Up, I Get Down/IV. Seasons of Man). 18:41.

02. And You And I (I. Cord of Life/II. Eclipse/III.  The Preacher, the Teacher/IV. The Apocalypse). 10:11.

03. Siberian Khatru. 9:11.
04. America. 10:43.
05. Close to the Edge (Early Assembly/Rough Mix). 17:42.

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.