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Adam Wakeman Band -– The Revealing Songs of YES

Let us see if we have similar thoughts.  Not yet though.  First, I should lay my cards on the table.  I like the Wakemans, though I confess to not liking everything they have put to CD; I like YES, mainly the early stuff, and even was persuaded to see them on their last two UK tours which though grossly expensive was an enlivening experience; I like the artwork of this CD package – Roger Dean?  Nope.  Non other than ex Hairless Heart editor, Chris White who naturally had to create a design in keeping with the Yes tradition style.

Now to the CD itself. The selection of tracks is, perhaps obvious; a good chronological spread and by and large favourite of most YES fans, to a point. The guitarist and drummer are excellent, I'll be watching out for them. Keeping up with Steve Howe, a sound borne of many instruments and techniques is no mean feat indeed. The bassist must have been good too or it would have shown but he didn't catch my ear the way Chris Squire always did.   Keyboards are Adam with ‘special guest’ Rick Wakeman, so no complaints there!  The vocals courtesy of amongst others, Judy Tzuke, Damian Wilson and Chrissy Hammond, sound weak to me but that was almost a foregone conclusion. Jon Anderson is so much a part of the sound that his shoes are bound to be difficult to fill. Okay, the band (to do them credit) says that they are not trying to do a slavish copy, but a reinterpretation.  And therein the trouble lies. Is the music of YES open to reinterpretation? It was always complex and the sheer hard work of construction always showed in the performance. Individually the members' music wasn't always what we might have expected but collectively there was a rare alchemy which made the finished article greater, so much greater, than the sum of it's parts.  In order to successfully even reinterpret a Yes composition, it could be argued that you need an equally unique alchemy if not a reproduction of the original in order to pull it off. This goes some way to justifying my criticism of the vocals. Damian Wilson (whose voice I have always admired) has the range (in a rock kind of way), though without surgery he couldn't hope to get the same 'flavour' as Jon Anderson, but what disappointed me was an almost (but not quite) total disregard for the vocal contributions from guitar and bass. The harmonies and punctuations from messrs. Howe and Squire were significant in the make up of the music. How much so can be appreciated from this album as it shows the difference made when those components are absent. Maybe this band underestimated this factor but in the final mix they must surely have noticed how the songs suffered without those additional vocals.   Track listing is as follows:

Revealing Science of God

Long Distance Runaround

America

Roundabout

Going for the One

Owner of a Lonely Heart

And You and I

Wondrous stories

Awaken

The track, America, is more famously performed by Keith Emerson in his Nice and ELP days in this rock context so seems a little out of place here. 

So, what are those thoughts of mine I referred to at the beginning of this review?  I cannot fathom the need for yet another YES tribute album, especially when YES still tour and churn out these tracks for the faithful.  If Yes were no longer performing or playing these tracks I could maybe understand it, though, of course, there can be no substitute for the original albums on which these tracks appear.  If there must be a tribute album, why not approach it in a different manner?  Giant Tracks is a double CD album tribute to the band Gentle Giant.  All the tracks were composed and performed in the style of Gentle Giant but were not actually gentle Giant songs.  Other tribute bands exist to perform music no longer performed by the original band for one reason or another.  ReGenesis, for example, provides live shows re enacting classic Genesis albums such as Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb.  It is clear that they do it for the fun of it and meet a need rather than jumping on the bandwagon and making a quick buck.  That is my gripe;  I cannot see what purpose The Revealing Songs of YES fulfils other than provide YES fanatics (the fans who have to have everything and anything YES) with a reason to dig into their pockets.

Nice album. Not different enough and not as good as the originals.  Now, Supper’s Ready performed in the style of YES would be interesting!

Jem Jedrzejewski

 

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