(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: progressive rock, British
Label: United States of Distributors
Members: Jon Anderson ~ vocals
Ronnie Leahy, Christopher Rainbow, Barry De Souza, John Giblin, joe Patridge, Morris Pert, Lee Davidson, Dick Morrisey ~ misc instruments
I ran into somebody today who just saw vocalist Jon Anderson in concert, so it seems fitting to post this review of a 1980 concert. I remember the first time I heard Yes. I was in high school and listening to lots of jazz/blues. I picked up the cassette of their incarnation as Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe at Kmart because I liked the cover art, the strange name ... and it was in the discount pile. I loved everything I heard. I'd never heard anything like this & loved every minute of it. I still can sing every lyric and just recently bought it again on CD. I fell in love with Anderson's soaring tenor. When I discovered they were Yes I starting hunting them up. I now own every studio album they've done and numerous albums from the 14 plus members solo careers. Need I say more? But, the solo work of Anderson has remained a favorite, lyrically and musically. His career has bounced from acoustic world rhythms to proggy electronic, but always full of nearly impossible to sing to melodies over complicated arrangments - just like Yes - but largely barren of flashy Howe/Wakeman-esque solos. This 2 CD album is a live recording from his 1980 solo tour which is part of a plan to release all his past work including live, demos, outtakes, etc in the world's first on-going subscription based boxset now planned at 20 volumes. I'll confess, it's a bit too much. Even for me. But, Anderson fans have now been given a key to Heaven. The recording quality here is potentially a soundboard recording, which means Anderson's voice is completely up front all the time. The solos, including lots of sax and piano, fall back into the mix making the band sound like one large creature not a bunch of individuals with little moments in the spotlight. Sadly, I believe this organic sound was not actually how the band sounded from the audience but from the poor balance on the recording. Not skipping any corners for his fans, these 40 songs mix solo pieces and Yes classics. The solo pieces are the real highlights of the album and just as strong as any Yes song (i.e. "Some Are Born" & "Don't Forget"). The Yes songs, what many people will probably buy this ablum for, are largely pushed together in medley format with each song rarely lasting beyond 2 minutes, which everyone can easily guess means Anderson has pretty much removed everything except for his vocal part. Some people might even say he removes the pretentiousness of Yes. Others might say he removes what makes the songs great. But, by cutting the songs down into fragments he is putting extra emphasis on his solo work which is what this is really all about & remains greatly underlooked. The band does a good job at reinterpretting the complicated Yes, but the funky bassist and guitarist are not Squire or Howe & luckily don't embarressingly trying to be. But, with 2 minute songs they don't have to try much either. Anderson's albums are worth checking out. But, his career has gone through so many musical turns that each album is its own little world. At the time of this recording he had two solo albums that both sounded like overstuffed Yes, though the keyboard textures are gone from the live arena here, while the 1980's would have some weak keyboard based electronic albums including a stint with Vangelis before the 90's saw him venturing into some self-indulgent world music albums. Live In Sheffield 1980 actually is a good introduction to pre-electronic phase. It's not too overindulgent musically, it shows Anderson's ability to reinterpret his own Yes songs, he has a strong band, there's the Yes progressive sound and hits we all know with touches of funk and the acoustic forays he would go into decades later & it has all his early solo hits. Albeit, if you don't like Anderson's voice you're really not going to be able to sit through 2 CDs. Personally, I'd recommend his studio albums over this. This is for fans. Proof is that disc 2 features many of the songs repeated during a rehearsal which has such low production values that it sounds more like a demo. Of the 15 rehearsal songs all but 2 ("For You For Me" & "Everybody Loves You") appear in the concert. "For You For Me" a great song in the studio but not here. Though, this is not a stop and start rehearsal with discussion, it's just a full concert with a poor recording.