March 19, 2009


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Yes, Symphonic Live
Eagle Records, March 24

There have always been only four standard reactions to Yes: (1) “I don’t get this, so I hate it”; (2) “I think I get this, and I hate/love it”; (3) “I don’t care if I get this, I love it”; and of course (4) “I prefer Debussy, so I hate this noise, please pass the Polaner All-Fruit.” Unfortunately for you, I’m a (3), so all the Yes-haters can go read the masthead or something. Many’s the time, when I was 22 or so and didn’t know diddly about anything, that I’d sip brandy in the bath while listening to ALL FOUR SIDES of Tales From Topographic Oceans, hands-down the most self-indulgent rock release in history, then polish it off with at least half of Relayer. Stout of heart when faced with challenge, my rubber ducky and me, but for the sake of your gastric process I’ll dispense with background and recite the FAQ:

1. “Great, they used a symphony orchestra. So it’s stupid, like when other old farts like Moody Blues do junk like that?” Answer: only 2 percent of the time. It’s good.

2. “Bet they didn’t do the 20-minute song ‘Close to the Edge,’ being as how their old snobby drummer, Bill Bruford, said they’d never do anything better.” Answer: It leads off side one. Some Chambourd? A Eric W. Saeger