The Washingto Post has published a review of the new Progeny 14CD live set by progressive rock legends Yes. It was written by David Rowell and below is an excerpt:
The rock band Yes has had a long, remarkable and often cosmically complicated career, and the box set they put out this week only underscores those truths. Almost unprecedented in the history of rock music, the progressive-rock giant is releasing “Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two,” a box set of seven full concerts from three weeks during a 1972 concert tour, with the exact same set list. More than 12 hours of performances (14 discs), but in total, only seven full songs. (Guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman each takes a solo turn.) Put another way, has Yes simply gone insane? I mean, you don’t expect modesty from a band that once released a double album with just four songs based on the Shastric scriptures. Still, there was reason to wonder if “Pathology” wasn’t a more apt name for the new set.
Even rock bands that approached their music more with the sensibility of jazz musicians, never wanting to play the same song the same way twice, like the Grateful Dead, say, or the Allman Brothers Band, hadn’t released this many seemingly identical recordings, as far as I could find. But Yes was far and away my favorite band, and I had to believe that the value of such seeming indulgence would be clear if I just gave it a chance. In fact, I was going to do more than that: I was going to listen to it all in one day. Just me and my stereo from sunup to sundown. Extreme? Okay, sure. But I have been listening to Yes since Bruce Jenner and O.J. Simpson co-hosted the “Battle of the Network Stars.” I could give the band a full day, absolutely.
Yes fans, in particular, had to wonder, though: Out of all the tours, why this one, since there was already a live album from this tour? In 1972, Yes was at their artistic zenith. They’d just finished recording their fifth album — what many believe to the shining crown of progressive rock — “Close to the Edge.” A massive tour was planned. The problem was, Bill Bruford, their exquisite drummer, announced quite suddenly that he was joining King Crimson, the darker, more brazen, improv-oriented prog rock band. For Yes fans, it was like seeing your daughter elope with the town’s juvenile offender.
Enter Alan White, who had played with George Harrison and John Lennon and had just finished a tour with Joe Cocker. He was available, but the first show, in Dallas, was in three days. And the music, with its razor-sharp shifts in tempo and mood and intricate solos, was as complex as quantum physics.
White accepted the offer and plunged into listening to the music nonstop before the first show. (After his intense listening session he would become the drummer for Yes. After my intense listening session I would . . . still be an editor.) After Yes finished the “Close to the Edge” tour, they released a concert movie from it called “Yessongs” (flowing capes, slow-motion shots and footage of Venus flytraps) and a triple-album of the same name. By high school, I knew every second of that recording. I knew when someone in the audience coughs during the bass solo, and sometimes I liked to cough right along. I knew when someone shouts “Louder!” before the relentless opening riff of “Heart of the Sunrise.” The album features harder-charging performances than the studio versions, with White driving it all home with cool fury. But hadn’t the best performances from the 1972 tour been available for decades? Couldn’t Yes have released a box set from the 1974 tour, the 1979 tour,1987?Forty-seven years in, is this massive new box set a result of Yes simply cleaning out its celestial basement? Or is my favorite band delivering one more, and possibly last,triumphant thrill?
To read the full review go here: