Yes: The Steven Wilson Remixes Rhino Review
26 June 2018 Recommends
Yes: The Steven Wilson Remixes
It seems wholly appropriate that Rhino release this boxed set of five albums in the year that Yes celebrate their 50th Anniversary.
The albums, however, are not just straight reissues of The Yes Album, Fragile, Close To The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans and Relayer. The albums were remixed by Prog remixer Steven Wilson who has done a sterling job on many great albums from the classic Prog Rock era of the seventies. They were originally part of releases from Panegyric Records which also included many extras usually contained on a separate Blu-ray disc
These albums feature the remix that Steven Wilson did as the main work on these cherished and classic albums, now released on vinyl and in two cases contained in new Roger Dean artwork.
Let me make this very clear however that if you are a casual Yes fan then maybe these remixes are not for you in the vinyl format. However, if you are a rampant Yes fan and believe me there really are millions out there then this box will be a complete delight. The fact that vinyl does seem to be making a comeback really makes these albums so special for many Yes fans who had the original albums
The albums come in a beautifully designed slipcase box which features new Roger Dean artwork which of course is exactly how it should have been.
Going through the albums individually. The sound of the vinyl is inviting and warm but also incredibly full. The Yes Album was the album that broke Yes in 1970 and it still sounds almost like a Greatest Hits album bearing in mind that almost all the songs contained on this album feature regularly in the current yes live set. Steven Wilson has remixed this album with a great attention to detail and brought it out of the seventies into the new century. That does not mean he has rewritten history. Rather brought it into sharp focus and the track on this album that brings that spectacularly to the fore is Starship Trooper which still can almost bring you to your knees. Yours Is No Disgrace is also an absolute delight but do crank the volume here making sure of course that children and animals are safely out of listening distance. Once cranked to the max it feels like Chris Squire and Bill Bruford are in the room with you leaving Tony Kaye’s organ to underpin the song while Steve Howe really goes to town playing really rocking guitar lines and yet tasteful arpeggios. Finally, Jon Anderson’s vocals are revelatory. The guy really can do no wrong in the context of Yes and his vocals throughout are heavenly. You can see why this album broke the band in the UK and why it still commands great respect not only with the fan base but many musicians.
Following on in order, the next album in the box is of course Fragile. Fragile saw the entrance of Rick Wakeman and the album also served the band very well in America. The packaging is interesting as it includes an alternative sleeve designed by Roger Dean and whilst I love the old original sleeve artwork I do have to admit that this release finds favour with this long time Yesfan. I love it and of course still, love the album. The showcases for each member are still incredible and now clearer than ever before particularly Chris Squire’s solo signature piece, The Fish. The clarity here is incredible, particularly on headphones. The album includes the first Yes “Hit Single” in America the full version of Roundabout and I love this song but like many Heart Of The Sunrise is something else. A key song in the career of Yes and still played today by both versions of the band; this is another great track for cranking the volume to the max. My favourite track however from Fragile remains South Side Of The Sky and it is here that Steven Wilson’s remix really does pay dividends. The nuances and dynamics on this track are unbelievable Elsewhere in the pack we have the reproduction of the Dean designed booklet which is just the icing on the cake for collectors and even though I know this booklet off by heart I still loved leafing through it and it took me back to another time when I was still a teenager and getting into Yes.
Next in the box we have what many would say defines Yes and is probably the album most would say is definitive. Close To The Edge whilst only having three tracks really did lay out the future for Yes. Every song track on this album is known to virtually every Yesfan and for me And You And I was the first Yes song I heard, and it pulled me into the band’s orbit literally within seconds of hearing it. Steven Wilson’s remix benefits all the tracks on the album from the rocking Siberian Khatru to the side long title track but And You And I remains one of the most uplifting Yessongs of all time for me and IU imagine many others. Just perfection.
The s is the second sleeve in this box to feature alternative Roger Dean artwork and again, as far as I am concerned… Bravo. It looks lush and just captures your eye in the way any artwork should.
The next Yes album in the box is possibly one of the most contentious albums of the band’s career and still to this day will arouse either love and positivity or downright hostility. Tales From Topographic Oceans as Rick Wakeman once said does perhaps have the odd moment you want to skip but really in my humble opinion you should grab the album and give it the attention it really deserves because the playing throughout is as you would imagine, incredible and some of the melodies are among the best the band ever committed to vinyl. The album saw the arrival of Alan White directly from the Joe Cocker band and prior to that he had played with Terry Reid and was a founder member of The Plastic Ono Band alongside John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Eric Clapton and Klaus Voorman. Certainly, no slouch behind the kit this remix proved that yes made the right decision in hiring Alan and he remains with the band to this day.
The final album in this boxed set is of course Relayer. I will own up here and admit that it took me a long time to come to terms with this album on its release in late 1974, however, once I did get into it I loved it. Relayer saw the band moving into jazzier territory no doubt encouraged by new keyboard player Patrick Moraz who replaced Rick Wakeman in the summer of 1974. I imagine of all the remixes that Relayer was the most difficult for Steven Wilson. Not for any other reason than there is so much going on throughout this album. Once again there are just three tracks, Sound Chaser, To Be Over and Gates Of Delirium. The latter is one of the all-time great yes epics and I really wish the band would tackle this someday soon. This really for me was where I finally got to love this album. The sound throughout as with all the Steven Wilson remixes takes nothing away from the originals but merely brings the songs into sharp focus and it is a real joy to listen to this album in its new remixed form. As I have said, however, it is The Gates Of Delirium that is my favourite on Relayer and remains so here
So, there it is a beautifully packaged boxed set of the key albums from Yes during the seventies. Beautifully presented in the artwork and even better in a musical sense. I am hoping that at some point the next five albums will receive the same treatment because they are more than worthy. For those of us old enough to remember the vinyl editions of these albums, this set will if I am honest prove to be definitive. For those who want to delve further and check out the Panegyric reissues with all the extras, I cannot rate them highly enough, but this package really is beautiful and a must for any serious Yes fan