Yes The Word Is Live

Pioneering prog rockers Yes have always gone well beyond their studio efforts in concert —after all, that’s the crux of progressive rock. But when it comes to sheer sound quality, this three-disc box set flattens all previous sets: 1980’s Yesshows, 2000’s House of Yes, and even 1973’s pivotal Yessongs — one of the greatest double-live albums of that decade. Spanning their 1970-1988 tours, The Word is Live is truly a godsend of previously unreleased soundboard recordings, mostly from guitarist Steve Howe’s personal tapes. As is customary, their genuine magic lies in the improvisation: Howe’s tangential soloing in "I’ve Seen All Good People,” "Awaken,” "Go Through This,” and "Sound Chaser”; Chris Squire’s jazzy bass runs in "Circus of Heaven,” "Tempus Fugit,” "Hold On,” and his magnum opus "Heart of the Sunrise”; Jon Anderson’s inimitable timbre in "Then,” "Yours Is No Disgrace,” "Rhythm of Love,” and "Sweet Dreams.” Yes’s 1978 classic line-up (with Rick Wakeman on keyboards) shines resplendently on the 26-minute "Big Medley” of "Time and a Word,” "Long Distance Runaround,” Survival,” "The Fish,” "Perpetual Change,” and "Soon.” They ably handle the Young Rascals chestnut "It’s Love,” the Buffalo Springfield staple "Everydays,” and their most famous cover: Simon & Garfunkel’s "America.” Even their late-’80s MTV material with guitarist Trevor Rabin leaps out of the speakers with the blazing one-two punch of "Make It Easy/Owner of a Lonely Heart” and "Shoot High, Aim Low.” Diehards will find "Apocalypse” and "Future Times/Rejoice” particularly enticing, as is the non-album track "For Everyone” with Peter Banks on guitar and Bill Bruford on drums. The lush, 58-page booklet features the requisite quotes from superstars (Greg Lake, Geddy Lee et al.) but most poignantly — and the first of its kind — essays from long-time fans of different ages and disciplines. All of them, however, agree that the Yes live experience continues to change their lives for the better, as this box set offers a slice of immortality to the enlightened. (Rhino)