The Word Is Live
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2005, Volume 12, #11
Written by John Metzger
There’s little doubt that Yes is best-known for its studio work, especially considering that its music forever has been the staple of classic rock radio. Yet, almost in spite of the many permutations of its line-up, the group also has managed to exude, throughout its career, a consistently formidable stage presence. In an attempt to highlight this latter aspect of the ensemble’s pursuits, its latest effort The Word Is Live culls nearly four hours of material, most of which is previously unreleased, from concerts that were held between 1970 and 1988. However, given the array of aural anomalies that plague the package as well as Yes’ all-too-frequently off-key vocal harmonies, it quickly becomes apparent that this three-disc collection is geared primarily towards the band’s diehard fans.
That’s not to say that The Word Is Live doesn’t have its moments. Even within the bootleg-style sonic qualities of Then and For Everyone, a pair of tracks taken from a BBC broadcast in 1970, one can hear the raw intensity of Yes’ youthful ambition as it bridged the gap between The Nice and Pink Floyd. Given, too, that the ensemble was composed of virtuosic instrumentalists, it’s no surprise that the best facets of the collection — the furious, rhythmic chug that propels Siberian Khatru; the transcendent, theatrical beauty of Awaken; the extra punch that the band lends to Roundabout; the operatic dynamics of Heart of the Sunrise; and the intertwining dance of guitar and keyboards that flutters around the edges of The Big Medley — blossom from within the pretentiousness of its sprawling compositions. As such, The Word Is Live makes for an interesting, if not entirely essential, companion to Yessongs.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box