Yes – Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two (review)

Yes – Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two (Rhino / Atlantic) review

Wow, they were THAT good

In 1972, Yes were at the peak of their powers. They were coming off the trifecta of studio albums – The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge, when they hit the road for an extensive US tour. At the end of those shows, the band released the triple-album set Yessongs. Yet, even though it went platinum, that album suffered from lousy sound quality. Over 40 years later, they’ve gone back to the original tapes and remixed everything, and the results, Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two are mind blowing.

Apparently these tapes were discovered when looking for bonus material for an upcoming Yes remastering campaign.

The real selling point here is that audio technology has improved immensely in 40 years. Where Yessongs sounded somewhat flat and shrill, these new tracks are stunning – you really do feel like you are in the front row, witnessing this fantastic band unleashed. Also, Yessongs was sweetened in the studio with overdubs (just listen to that version of “Roundabout” for proof). By contrast, this new compilation is how the band sounded in 1972, even with the occasional flub or flat note.

Each member gets a chance to shine – and Steve Howe amazes with his “Clap / “Mood For a Day” acoustic pieces, while Rick Wakeman’s solo “The Six Wives of Henry the VIII” is over the top, as you might expect from him. Jon Anderson shows that, in his prime, he was truly one of the finest rock vocalists ever – his voice is so incredibly clear on tracks like “I’ve Seen All Good People,” and the background vocals are stunning as well. Drummer Alan White was the newest addition to the band, replacing Bill Bruford just three days before the tour began. His presence can be felt especially on “Roundabout” – his pounding beat really elevates this to another level.

“Yours is No Disgrace” benefits immensely from this live setting, beginning with a lengthy Motown rave up, this concert version has a groove that just isn’t present on the studio recording. White’s drumming is ferocious and Howe peels off lightning fast leads at a dizzying rate.

For those wanting to delve deeper, there is a 14-CD version featuring every note of all seven shows. But, for the casual fan, Highlights From Seventy-Two is the best document yet of the classic lineup of Yes in concert. It proves that Yes was good on album – they were even better live. —Tony Peters