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Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe

An Evening of Yes Music Plus

Review by Gary Hill

Before the Union album, Jon Anderson, frustrated with the musical direction of the Rabin era Yes, left the group and reunited with former classic Yes-mates Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford. Although, they were four fifths of the same lineup that brought such albums as Fragile and Close To The Edge to life, Chris Squire owned the rights to the name "Yes", and wasn't interested in letting them use it. So, they released an album under the long, but simple name "Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe". None other than Bill Bruford's King Crimson rhythm section partner Tony Levin joined them on that studio disc. They embarked on a tour after the release of their self-titled disc. Although Levin accompanied them on that tour, he was not present for the show presented here, having fallen ill. In any event, this disc represents live presentations of a number of songs from the ABWH album, along with both drastically reworked and also incredibly faithful versions of several Yes classics. It is truly a magical album, and a very good live effort.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Benjamin Britain's Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra
This is an orchestral recorded introduction to the show.
Time and a Word/Teakbois/Owner of A Lonely Heart
The version of "Time and A Word" here is just Jon Anderson singing over top Steve Howe's guitar picking. It segues straight into an acoustic take on "Owner of A Lonely Heart", again just Anderson and Howe. This, then cuts to the melody of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" with the lyrics of "Time And A Word". They intersperse straight into a Howe/Anderson arrangement of "Teakbois", the reggaeish number from the ABWH studio album, then it moves back to a full (its own lyrics) "Owner of a Lonely Heart" Chorus. They wind it up with a final chorus of "Owner…" with Wakeman joining in with textural keyboards.
The Clap/Mood For a Day
The next cut finds the maestro, Mr. Steve Howe, performing a medley of solo material from Yes discs. They range from intricate to bouncy and fun. Contrary to the title on the disc there are segments here that are not part of either of these two solos.
Gone But Not Forgotten/Catherine Parr/Merlin The Magician
This is Rick Wakeman's solo segment consisting of various movements from his solo career. It starts off pretty and mellow; then begins building from there. He starts at first on just piano, and shows unbelievable skill at tickling the ivory. Eventually Wakeman brings in the more electronic instruments and picks up the pace and intensity. This is arguably one of the finest keyboard solos ever recorded, capturing a lot of moods and themes. It is truly powerful and inspiring.
Long Distance Runaround
Beginning on piano, this is the first true ensemble piece on the disc. They play it more true to the studio rendition than on most other live recordings of this Yes classic.
Birthright
Coming off the ABWH disc, a keyboard wash heralds in Steve Howe's haunting and dramatic acoustic guitar intro. Then a lively rhythm section emerges, and Howe solos over top. After this Anderson presents the first verse. The cut switches to electric guitar and more rocking tones as it carries on. It is a poignant and powerful cut that, had it been recorded under the moniker of "Yes" would have found its place alongside the classics.
And You And I
Starting this with the original, seldom performed live, acoustic intro, the band put in one of the more faithful renditions they have ever recorded in concert. It is powerful and beautiful.
Disc 2
Close to the Edge
Once again this is one of the more faithful renditions of this awesome epic that is legend in the Yes catalog.
Themes
With its three movements, this one is a strong one from the ABWH album. It features a fast paced, islands-rhythm inspired main segment and lots of great Rick Wakeman soloing. The central guitar riff and much of the cut is also a strong one, and Howe finds plenty of opportunity to show his fret board prowess. The final movement is based on a killer staccato pattern and includes a musical duel between Howe and Wakeman. The band keep reworking this theme for quite some time, soloing over top of it.
Brother of Mine
The single from the ABWH album, the band put in their live performance of this powerful piece, thankful opting for the album, rather than the single version. This one is dynamic, powerful, and at times, mysterious.
Heart of the Sunrise
Another classic Yes song, this one is driven by the bass. As such, it seems like it might feeling lacking without Chris Squire's presence. Rest assured, Jeff Berlin proves quite capable of handling the duty and the rendition is a strong one that feels much like other versions of the piece. It's a great addition to the set and a strong piece of music.
Order of the Universe
This ABWH track is performed well here, and really shows both a lot of Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman's writing style. Both get quite a few opportunities to solo on it. Bruford manages to find the time for a very unique electronic drum solo in the course of this one, too.
Roundabout
The band does the full-length version, again, playing it quite faithfully.
 
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