Progressive pioneers YES have just released their latest project, a box set entitled “From a Page -Studio tracks plus – In The Present: Live from Lyon”. The welcome addition to their catalog includes all the prerequisites including new artwork from Roger Dean. The package consists of two parts, their live album “Live from Lyon” was previously available however this edition includes the song “Second Initial“. Prior to this it was only on the Japanese version as a bonus track when it was released in 2010.
The more newsworthy part of the set is the addition of four new studio tracks. The lineup consists of the late Chris Squire, plus Steve Howe, Benoit David, Alan White, and Oliver Wakeman. Wakeman oversaw the preparation of these previously unreleased recordings. The keyboardist/composer states “Following Chris Squire’s passing, I felt that the new music we’d created but never released, should be heard and not sit unfinished on a shelf”. Indeed!
The first of the new songs is “To the Moment“. Penned by Oliver Wakeman it is remarkable that this wasn’t immediately tagged for release. A solid effort, his keyboard solo on the outro of this number is instantly transcendent to this listener. It’s the kind of sound, texture, and melody that grabs me from the first note. Despite having a lot of music to listen to, I had to go back and listen to this multiple times! The backing vocals on the choruses add an element of accessibility not always present in Yes’ material.
“Words on a Page” shows Steve Howe at the top of his game. His expressive and flowing lead guitars are juxtaposed so nicely with the earthy acoustics they soar over. At times they brought me back to his superb solo effort “Turbulence” , from 1991.
“From the Turn of a Card” starts off with a fairly intricate piano melody from Wakeman. Benoit David comes in at a lower register than he often sings. This adds a nice contrast to the usual high alto/soprano atmosphere of YES.
The last up, “The Gift of Love” is a collaborative effort by the band. It’s always interesting to hear Benoit David singing original material with the band. He does such a good job covering John Anderson’s previous territory that it’s intriguing to hear him making his own melodic choices. He has some extremely pleasing phrasing that lilts over the arrangement effortlessly. At the 6:30 mark Howe and Squire kick in a little higher in the mix, and its good to hear the late legend’s thick tone anchoring the chord changes. Alan White has tasteful fills throughout, and his woody snare tone takes me back to when I first heard him come in a few seconds into “Tales from Topographic Oceans”.
As for the live material from Lyon, any YES completist will want to own this. From the moment Chris Squire’s unmistakable bass kicks in on “Siberian Khatru” you will be happy to have this last documentation of his playing (although he did perform on other projects after this such as Steve Hackett’s “Wolflight“.
So in summary, the new material consists of fully realized songs that are excellent and fully deserving of inclusion in the vast YES catalog. If you were hesitant that these would be vaguely hashed-out demos, fear not. This is music that deserves to be heard!