Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two

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YES was firing on all cylinders in the fall of 1972. The prog-rock pioneers’ fifth studio album Close To The Edge was a smash success as audiences around the world packed arenas to see the legendary group perform. The band captured the magic of that tour on its first live album, Yessongs. Released in 1973, the triple-LP sold over a million copies and blew minds with Roger Dean’s iconic artwork.

The band discovered recordings of seven complete concerts from the weeks leading up to the shows heard on Yessongs. The latest audio technology was used to restore the reel-to-reel recordings and bring out incredible sonic detail, creating an open, immediate sound that drops listeners right into the front row.

Rhino assembled three new releases featuring previously unreleased music included on these newly discovered tapes.

Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two is a 14-disc set that holds every note from all seven shows, recorded in the fall of 1972 as the band’s tour jumped from Canada to North Carolina, and then from Georgia to Tennessee, before their last stop in New York at the Nassau Coliseum on November 20th. This comprehensive set comes in a cigarette-style flip top box with new artwork by Roger Dean.

Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two includes 90 minutes of live recordings selected from various shows. Available on two CDs or three LPs, the music flows like a typical setlist from the tour as it spotlights standout performances from different cities.

This was YES’ first tour with drummer Alan White, who’s been with the band ever since. He replaced Bill Bruford, who recorded Close To The Edge before leaving to join King Crimson. White only had three days to learn the band’s live show before his first night on stage with Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass) and Rick Wakeman (keyboards).

Recorded three months into the tour, these powerful performances attest to how quickly the new line-up came together musically as they navigate hits like “Roundabout,” and complex pieces like “And You and I.” Even though the setlist didn’t vary much from night to night, the individual performances are strikingly different.

Personnel

Jon Anderson
Vocals

Steve Howe
Guitars, Vocals

Chris Squire
Bass, Vocals

Rick Wakeman
Keyboards

Alan White
Percussion

Recommended Versions

Progeny
Progeny is available as:
14 CD Boxset of all seven shows at Amazon
2 CD ‘Highlights‘ set at Amazon
3 Vinyl LP ‘Highlights‘ set at Amazon
MP3 Downloads of all shows at iTunes, Google Play, 7 Digital, Microsoft Store
MP3 Downloads of the ‘Highlights‘ set at iTunes, Google Play, 7 Digital, Microsoft Store
Streaming at Apple Music, Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, Tidal

Progeny Previews


Review From Prog Magazine

YES – PROGENY – LIVE FROM SEVENTY-TWO

by Sid Smith, REVIEWS, PROG Magazine, 16 May 2015.

Recently unearthed live recordings show the band getting close to the edge of greatness. Did somebody say ‘holy grail’?

The search for the holy grail is a quest that has long occupied the imaginations of seekers of truth and enlightenment for countless generations.

Of course, what might actually constitute such an exalted artefact depends very much on who’s doing the searching; one person’s grail is another’s useless trinket. For most YES fans the discovery, restoration and release of the bulk of the source tapes from which 1973’s sonically marred triple concert album Yessongs was assembled must surely count as a cause for celebration, right?

Well, proving the old adage that you can please some of the people some of the time, a glance at the online messages boards reveals that this momentous discovery hasn’t been met with universal acclaim (“Where are the concerts with Bruford?”). And then there’s the carping about the 14-disc box set lacking variety. Clearly, some people it seems, can have too much of a good thing. But make no mistake: this thing, housed in its specially commissioned Roger Dean covers and radiating sheer indulgence, is a very good thing indeed. It is perhaps worth noting that for those who find the prospect of seven concerts a bit too much, the two-disc compilation does give you a taste of what’s going on.

There’s a hungry assertiveness about the performances hailing from a band that are not merely well-drilled after several weeks on the road, but utterly and single mindedly committed to this music as though their very lives depended on it. They may be playing the same set on a nightly basis but there’s no complacency or coasting in evidence on any of the seven nights gathered here.

“We’re going to carry on with a new song called Close To The Edge, which is also the title of our new album…” explains a helpful Jon Anderson to one crowd of roaring punters. From today’s vantage point it feels like YES’ fifth album has been around forever. Its status as a foundation and permanent fixture of progressive rock is so ingrained that it’s vaguely novel to remember that many in these restless crowds were hearing the piece perhaps for the first time. Certainly, it’s hard to suppress a smile when you hear them gasping as one when the mirror ball lighting effect is cued at the beginning of the number.

With all the veneer of a sonically sweetened, slightly sanitised live album scraped away, Progeny offers a vivid and intimate portrait of the band in its natural habitat, whose air of wildness contains a frisson of danger. Presented with so many concerts in close succession, the necessarily repetitive nature of the contents might be considered a drawback. Instead, it very much becomes part of the draw – an essential ingredient enabling the listener to delve deep into how this group of men still in their twenties operated as a unit.

Listening to each night in sequence becomes an immersive experience akin to being absorbed into the inner workings of the machine. Already familiar with the shape and direction of the material, the avid listener instead keenly inspects and follows the abundance of detail that’s been brought out with the restoration of the reels, and thus discovers the nuances and subtleties within the circuitry, and the way it all connects.

Certain unforced moments located within the concerts become magnified and inadvertently dramatic. Wakeman doubles on organ during the fast-moving lines of Heart Of The Sunrise prior to the first verse, with the effect of pushing the band into fifth gear. A bedeviled Steve Howe motif produces an unexpected but welcome syncopation, and Squire’s predatory attitude to melody and rhythm has him snatch passing notes at will. Anderson’s pitching wavers in the teeth of illness and the vagaries of the monitor mix, but still he clings heroically to the mast of the good ship YES. Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of this treasure trove is Alan White. His drumming is consistently authoritative on every night; you’re hard pressed to remember the guy he replaced.

Cynics will inevitably moan and argue that this is yet another big box scam. Some will decry it as an overly ornate but redundant trinket. But really, don’t listen to them. The search for the holy grail is finally over, and here it is.

by Sid Smith, REVIEWS, PROG Magazine, 16 May 2015.

Were You There in '72?

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31 Oct 1972: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
01 Nov 1972: Ottawa Civic Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 Nov 1972: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
14 Nov 1972: University Of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
15 Nov 1972: Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
20 Nov 1972: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, USA

Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two - 14CD Box Set

The Seven Shows are:

31 Oct 1972: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
01 Nov 1972: Ottawa Civic Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
11 Nov 1972: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA
14 Nov 1972: University Of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
15 Nov 1972: Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
20 Nov 1972: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, USA

sevencovers

Track Listing for every show/double disc

This was the setlist, as is, for the tour, on some nights the order of “Heart Of The Sunrise“, “Clap” and “Mood for A Day” are sometimes swapped.

01: Opening (Excerpt From Firebird Suite)/Siberian Khatru

02: I’ve Seen All Good People
i. Your Move
ii. All Good People

03: Heart Of The Sunrise

04: Clap/Mood For A Day

05: And You And I
i. Cord Of Life
ii. Eclipse
iii. The Preacher The Teacher
iv. Apocalypse

06: Close To The Edge
i. The Solid Time Of Change
ii. Total Mass Retain
iii. I Get Up I Get Down
iv. Seasons Of Man

07: Excerpts From “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII”

08: Roundabout

09: Yours Is No Disgrace

Progeny: Highlights from Seventy-Two - 2CD/3LP

2xCD

3xLP

Tracklisting

LP One Side One
01: Opening (Excerpt From Firebird Suite)/Siberian Khatru
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, November 20, 1972

02: I’ve Seen All Good People
i. Your Move
ii. All Good People
20 Nov 1972: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, USA

LP One Side Two
03: Heart Of The Sunrise
15 Nov 1972: Knoxville Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

04: Clap/Mood For A Day
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

LP Two Side One
05: And You And I
i. Cord Of Life
ii. Eclipse
iii. The Preacher The Teacher
iv. Apocalypse
11 Nov 1972: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

LP Two Side Two
06: Close To The Edge
i. The Solid Time Of Change
ii. Total Mass Retain
iii. I Get Up I Get Down
iv. Seasons Of Man
11 Nov 1972: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

LP Three Side One
07: Excerpts From “The Six Wives Of Henry VIII”
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

08: Roundabout
31 Oct 1972: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

LP Three Side Two
09 Yours Is No Disgrace
12 Nov 1972: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA

YES: Progeny - by Syd Schwartz

As a high school freshman, my shining beacon of sanity in an otherwise hellish world of sadistic jocks, unapproachable girls, and malevolent gym coaches was rock music. When I heard Yessongs for the first time, I was thunderstruck. The energy, the power, the musicianship… it was magical. Listening to these recordings 30-plus years later, it still is.

YES in 1972: The Solid Time of Change

The story of these recordings begins in 1972, a year of explosive growth for YES. The Fragile album—propelled by the international smash “Roundabout”—had topped sales and airplay charts around the globe. A heavy touring schedule with new keyboardist Rick Wakeman gave YES and Rick an opportunity to learn each others’ strengths and sharpen their skills as a band. YES were well-rehearsed and brimming with new ideas as they headed to Advision Studios that spring with producer Eddie Offord to record Close To The Edge.

Close To The Edge was a bold statement in music making and for many, the definitive prog rock album. For over 40 years, in bedrooms, dorms and basements all over the world, Close To The Edge has been absorbed, adored, argued-over and analyzed. It continually tops online polls of prog fans the world over. It has somehow avoided the cliched criticisms of the genre, and earned the grudging respect of those who otherwise scoff at “the P word.” The music on Close To The Edge sounds as fresh and adventurous as ever, despite being written and recorded over 40 years ago.

Close To The Edge would also cement Roger Dean’s visual accompaniments to the band, including the now-iconic YES logo into the overall YES aesthetic—a marriage of music and imagery rarely exceeded in the history of rock. Everything was positioned perfectly for YES to hit the road and take the world by storm until…

Drummer Bill Bruford quit YES to join King Crimson.

The stories, saga, drama, and hard feelings would have been worse in today’s social media era of course, but they were bad enough at the time. A detailed history is easily discoverable elsewhere, but the short version is: Bruford left and a friend of YES producer Eddie Offord — Alan White — joined YES just before the start of their U.S. tour. Alan White faced a multitude of challenges in his new role. He had sizable shoes to fill, and only three days to learn the complexities of the music. Furthermore, it would be up to Alan White to bring Close To The Edge to the stage for the first time. In the studio, it was a pastiche of amazing playing, writing, arranging, and tape edits. Bringing it to life in concert would be no small task.

Alan White debuted with YES in Dallas on July 30, 1972. The performance that day was allegedly flawless. This would not always be the case for the next couple of weeks, when YES audiences saw a bit more of Chris Squire’s back than usual as he turned to help White master the intricacies of rather imposing compositions. Those summer shows were the first taste audiences had of the new songs from Close To The Edge, with the addition of “And You and I” and “Siberian Khatru” to the setlist. The new album’s centerpiece title song made its debut on September 2 at the U.K. Garden Party, where YES shared a bill with the Mahavishnu Orchestra — a pairing that would have an impact on YES for years to come.

The Close To The Edge album was unleashed on the American public on September 13, 1972, two days before the start of their fall U.S. tour. It was a critical and commercial success, peaking at #3 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200.

The enthusiasm for YES was spreading as fall continued. Word of mouth on college campuses, album reviews, radio support, and strong sales were propelling YES to bigger venues and larger audiences. The band continued to up their game in both musicianship and visuals.
Rick Wakeman had been in the band just over a year, and his playing, arranging skills, and showmanship were now well-integrated. Alan White had 46 gigs under his belt and was beyond the early awkwardness of learning the material. He was confidently putting his own spin on things, and the dawn of the Squire/White rhythm section was well underway.

Close To The Edge was receiving worldwide critical acclaim and selling well. Money was beginning to come in, but the extravagances and trappings of rock stardom hadn’t yet found YES. There were no solo albums ruffling feathers, management shakeups, or other gigantic problems looming on the horizon outside of the usual music business insanity. Everyone was healthy. Everyone’s vices could still be leveraged as virtues. Prog rock was in vogue. The music industry was healthy.

YES had arrived at the point to which all artists aspire: when it all comes together. When the planets align, the gears all mesh, and the opportunity for the best music experiences happen. And when you unleash a band this skilled in that mindset, with material this powerful, onto a stage, the results are striking. Studio YES was boundary-pushing progressive rock. Live, it was boundary-pushing progressive rock with an extra helping of ROCK.
The decision to document the live YES experience more formally had already been made, with tape rolling towards the end of the Fragile tour and at least three known dates—February 19 and February 23 at the Academy of Music in New York, and February 25 at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Further recordings were scheduled for the Close To The Edge tour. The Hartford show on February 25 (the debut of Rick Wakeman’s famous cape) was recorded but flawed and unusable. At least seven additional shows were recorded on the second leg of the fall tour. YES and producer Eddie Offord edited, fixed, and sonically sweetened selected song performances that were then compiled into an elaborate three-LP set, Yessongs. This set, with the most striking Roger Dean artwork to date, was released in May 1973.
Yessongs sold extremely well, and remains the go-to live album for many YES fans—and for good reason. Yessongs is the raw, authentic sound of a group whose individual talents had combined to create profoundly powerful live concerts. The intensity of the performances comes through loud and clear, even though it lacks the fidelity of a modern digital recording. Furthermore, Yessongs was the sole official document of the early-’70s Anderson/Squire/Howe/White/Wakeman era, and showcases an edge-of-your-seat interpretation of their studio work.

These fall ’72 recordings—the “source code” for Yessongs — miraculously survived, but went missing for decades. Then via a series of happy accidents, relentlessly obsessional fans, clever restoration techniques, and the dedication of the team at Warner Music, the journey from rediscovery to release began…

Tales From Tape-ographic Oceans

I first became aware of these recordings’ existence in 2005, while exchanging some expertise with the folks at Rhino compiling The Word is Live box set. Here’s the tale of the tape:

The Internet community of YES fans had forever speculated that there must be something else in the vaults representing the band in their ’70s prime. Yessongs and its later ’70s companion, Yesshows, were the officially released live albums documenting what ’70s-era YES were capable of onstage. Recordings from the latter-day incarnations of the band were sonically superior, of course, but they lacked that visceral, primal fire-in-the-belly passion of a younger YES that came through loud and clear, particularly on Yessongs.

To scratch that itch among the hardcore YES collectors, numerous bootleg recordings circulated. Initially, these bootlegs were passed around via Grateful Dead-style tape trading in the ’80s and early’ 90s, then, as technology improved, through digital files and BitTorrents. YES fans with some expertise in sonics began to clean up and “remaster” these recordings to bring the best out of them. Several became as widely known as the official releases, and indeed received nearly as much attention, airplay, and shelf space. New Haven 1971. Wembley Arena 1978. Roosevelt Stadium 1976. Boston Garden 1974. These are all familiar YES concert recordings taken from the soundboard or radio broadcasts, and in many cases with audio quality equaling or besting Yessongs. Still, insatiable YES fans wanted more.
Rhino began their YES catalog reissue program in 2003, and an effort was made to review material for a triple-disc live retrospective while trying to avoid too much repetition from Yessongs and Yesshows. The Word is Live made good on that promise, pulling together (mostly) previously unreleased recordings from a multitude of tours. YES fans were particularly excited to hear unreleased live material from the Fragile tour, as well as the 1976 and 1978 tours.

But YES fans are not only insatiable, they’re also curious, so The Word is Live also raised a lot of questions about exactly what was in the vault.

Sadly, record label tape archives aren’t exactly how you might picture them. Immaculately organized, climate controlled, underground chambers guarded by dudes who look like extras in the Rambo movies don’t exist. This became clear during those conversations about usable material for The Word is Live. Much of The Word is Live was sourced from Steve Howe’s private collection (the best and most likely source of any further archive projects, so be nice to Steve), radio shows, and what precious little was usable from the Atlantic Records vaults.

This was a frustrating mystery — what about the tapes used for Yessongs? Where were the “hundreds of hours” (according to YES biographer Dan Hedges) of tapes that Chris Squire reviewed and used to compile Yesshows? The short answer: gone. Lost, misplaced, mislabeled, accidentally erased, destroyed, thrown away, immolated in the 1978 Atlantic Records vault fire… no one really knows. Keep in mind that in the 1970s all of this chronology and documentation was done by hand — there wasn’t an app for that! Regardless of how this came to be or why, the end result was the same… The Word is Live was limited by usable source material.
Still, as I reviewed the spreadsheets, my eye was drawn to a handful of reel-to-reel tapes from 1972… could these be the missing Yessongs source reels? When I inquired about these tapes in the context of The Word is Live, I was informed that these reels were off limits for the purposes of the project. It was unclear what was on them, whether they were complete, and of what quality, and whether the tapes themselves were even playable. The cost of repairing/restoring them and then transferring them to a workable digital medium was huge and time consuming. Plus, for all anyone knew, the boxes were labeled “YES” but the tapes were Donna Summer. Or time and money would be spent only to find out that the recordings sounded horrible, or that the middle eight minutes of Close To The Edge were missing. Any number of hurdles prevented forward motion, and so the tapes were left on the shelf.
Fast forward eight years, and a rejuvenated YES—touring three of their classic albums, including Close To The Edge — is out there wowing audiences old and new. At the same time, the YES catalog is receiving its first true remix program, helmed by esteemed prog rock visionary Steven Wilson. This remix effort sent our Rhino heroes back into the vaults spelunking for original multi-tracks and bonus content. Lurking in the shadows was this collection of open reel tapes, and closer examination revealed eight complete multi-track shows from the fall 1972 Close To The Edge tour — the “source code” of Yessongs. The collection you hold in your hand is something of a holy grail.

Each night is its own journey. You can hear the band progressing, taking different chances, and experimenting with different sounds. There are moments unique to each show — solos, banter, and improv change each night. Even cooler is something that happens at every show — you hear it clearly before each performance of “Close To The Edge” — an audible gasp from the audience as the spotlight hits a large mirrored disc just as the song begins. That moment where sound and vision mesh and the musical journey begins is a hallmark of the live YES experience, and these recordings put you right in the front row. Despite identical set-lists, every song from every show is worthy of repeat listens and scrutiny. There’s something notable in each and every one.

Audio technology has come a long way since the release of Yessongs, and the studio engineers were able to apply it to bring out incredible detail in the music; far beyond what was possible in the early 1970s. The intensity of the Yessongs era gets an extra sonic palette, with nuances, subtleties and even entire parts buried in a “big arena” mix coming through loud and clear. The soundstage replicates the 1972 stage setup with Steve Howe far left, Rick Wakeman far right, and Jon Anderson’s vocals soaring above the proceedings from the center.
Jon Anderson’s vocals are passionate and on point, even with the flu, or when technical gremlins knock him out of the mix and he believes he’s singing only to himself. Chris Squire’s signature sound is omnipresent, worthy of a speeding ticket one minute and threatening to leave the arena in a heap of smoldering rubble the next. Throughout every show, Rick Wakeman is all swagger and bravado, with incendiary Hammond organ playing that cooks. Not to be outdone, Steve Howe’s stylistic versatility, speed, and uncanny sense of timing puts him a notch (or several) above the guitar heroes of his day. All of this is both anchored and driven by newcomer Alan White, whose playing brings a potent rock sensibility to the stage.
The jocks are all out-of-shape and bald. The mean girls peaked in high school. The gym coaches are retired, dead, or doing time. Fashion and music trends have come and gone. Remarkably, YES endures and the magic is as strong as ever. This is a snapshot of a time when YES were playing circles around every other rock band on the planet, and this collection captures lightning in a bottle. The live performance—the power, grandeur, and virtuosity—that blew minds from coast to coast is fully revealed in all its sonic glory. It’s the closest you can get to being there.

Enjoy the trip.

Producer’s Technical Notes by Brian Kehew

Needless to say, it was extremely promising to hear there were unreleased 1972 YES shows in the vaults. These tapes documented the band’s North American tour for Close To The Edge, when the audience was hearing this new material live for the first time. A few of the recordings had already been used as sources for the legendary Yessongs triple-album. So the tapes held staggering potential – 12 hours of unheard YES concerts – if they proved to be good enough to use.

Ideally, a single live show recording can capture enough material for a live album, but that rarely happens. Most live albums are made from a series of concerts, and the “best of” selections are chosen and combined to create a simulated single show. The same was true for Yessongs. YES had recorded a concert weeks earlier in Hartford, but the tape revealed too much feedback, a rough crowd, and a lackluster performance. Consequently, the recording was completely unusable.

Recognizing the need for better tape, the band recorded seven full concerts in Toronto, Ottawa, Durham, Greensboro, Knoxville, Athens, and Uniondale, and these are the shows we present here. (In the short period these performances were taped, the band actually played 16 dates in a row, followed by only one day off, and then seven more on — it was an intense and brutal schedule.)

When we played these tapes for the first time, the quality was poor, muddy and strange, yet they did sound like the famous Yessongs album. Producer/engineer Eddie Offord has said the original recordings were of compromised quality, but he did a stellar job mixing the original Yessongs. (Offord was mixing the live concert sound for the audience during these shows; he did not record them.)

After a day or so of trying to mix from poor sound, it became clear to us that the Dolby units (used to reduce tape hiss) had been misaligned during the original recordings, and this had resulted in a murkiness. By calibrating each track’s Dolby setting (for guitar, snare drum, vocal etc.) by ear, it was possible to clarify every recorded part. And each show needed a different setting since they had all been done incorrectly. With this adjustment, we were able to restore the tracks to their original clarity and power, something that had been lost even during the original Yessongs mixing. As a result, these recordings now sound open and immediate, giving us some of the best-sounding performances of the band during their heyday.

Still, there were other problems — besides the Dolby issues (which also caused the thin sound on the Tormato album) – that had to be resolved before we could use these shows as sources.

For example, Chris Squire’s bass tone: It has always been unique and defining, and in some ways the key component to the band’s sound. But this was not captured on tape, probably because the recording equipment had been improperly set up at almost every show. At times, the bass track sounds too distorted, with no low end (the critical feature for his instrument!). It was also recorded with a single microphone that might have been poorly placed, with no “direct” sound, which is a separate channel used to give fullness and presence. Sadly, on the treble/top, the bass was also missing the distinctive stringy snap and sizzle of the famous Squire Rickenbacker. And at one show, the bass was mixed accidentally with the piano track, making it very difficult to place in the mix.

Clearly, if there was one thing on these tracks that needed improvement, it was the bass recording. So many “tricks” were used to make the bass sound fuller and stronger — sometimes with excellent results. In addition to special EQ and compression, the bass channel was rerecorded through an old 1970s bass amplifier and speaker to get a true low end. This now-deep tone was added to the rather thinly recorded bass sound to create a full and sharp tone. The technique worked so well that it was also used on the thin kick drum track, which the bass amp filled out nicely.

Rick’s keyboard rig was a continuous source of problems, not surprising given its extensive (and cutting-edge) collection of technologies. As Jon says during one concert, the rig had broken down almost every show that week, most notably in Toronto. On that tape Jon announces Rick’s keyboard solo as “a duet with the local radio station” since the infamous Mellotron keyboard had been intercepting a local broadcast all night. In a classic Spinal Tap moment, the disc jockey can be heard clearly saying, “It’s half-past 10 on CJRT 91.1, I’ve got music for you . . . Les McCann . . .” and Chuck Mangione can be heard playing along with the band in their mix! We managed to remove almost all the radio leakage from the performance, although a bit of it can be detected during the Toronto keyboard solo.

Rick’s ample collection of organs, Mellotrons, Minimoogs and two pianos was augmented by a custom set of sound-effects boxes, built by another soon-to-be-famous keyboardist, Larry Fast (Peter Gabriel, Synergy, Nektar). With the exception of Toronto’s late-night jazz radio show, Rick’s nightly solo usually ends with the sonic fireworks of Larry’s custom-made synthesized bombs, sirens, and (sometimes) Mellotron church bells.

Most concert recordings reserve a track or two for ambient sound—the clapping, cheering, and music in the room. For the first show in Toronto, the sound engineer placed the audience microphones too close to the crowd, so instead of registering a useful pair of ambient tracks, he got individual voices yelling and talking throughout the show. Most of this was removed except for the between-song clapping and ambiance. The crowd noises during the music were not only distracting, but also revealed some bizarre and insulting comments. Thankfully, after Toronto, someone set the audience mics more carefully, and the remaining shows have a more general and distant audience sounds.

You’ll note at the opening of each night’s performance of “Close To The Edge,” the audience gasps. They are reacting to a simple lighting effect: a spinning disc was mounted to a ladder erected behind the band, and when put in the spotlight, it cast hundreds of pinpoints of light around the room. Not that different from the mirror-balls of dancehall days, but unexpected in a 1972 rock show. This was combined with the incredible film visuals later seen in the “Close To The Edge” performance on the Yessongs concert film. It’s hard to imagine a time when “Close To The Edge” and “And You And I” were not yet fully appreciated, but the audience response on these tapes shows us that these newly released songs were as impressive as the previous YES concert classics.

The snare drum is a critical aspect of any drummer’s kit, but the recording of it from the Nassau Coliseum date was horribly distorted. Normally, losing such a pivotal track would have made the show unusable in its entirety. But luckily there was enough audible snare on the other drum microphones to make it workable, even functionally good. This was wonderful news, as the Uniondale show held some stellar performances, especially from Alan.

The crowd grows excited as the lights dim and the traditional Stravinsky/Ozawa “Firebird Suite” opens the show. We’ve let you hear the group tuning and preparing for their musical entrance, a small “overture” of sounds from the coming show.

Jon’s voice is rock-solid and dependable throughout, even when fighting the flu, as he admits on one show. In Uniondale, the microphone cuts out momentarily, and Jon struggles to be heard. His longer song introductions here—full of details (and sometimes the eating habits of the band before the show!) — are a perfect reminder of YES shows’ pacing back in the day.

For those of you imagining the performances visually, Rick did not yet have his spectacular silver cape, but Chris was certainly a wiry winged creature, leaping and twisting to accent the music. Steve Howe, as was often the case, is the busiest and most wide-ranging of the musicians. Meanwhile, this was Alan White’s first tour with the band. He also plays some early electronic drum bits, audible as percussion during the Roundabout breakdown section. Alan’s command of the newly learned music is spectacular; at times he drives the music as forcefully as we’ve ever heard.

Our approach was to give a realistic and historically accurate portrayal of each show, including the talking, tuning, and other stage moments whenever possible. Mixing enabled us to give a realistic “front-row seat” perspective. Steve Howe is far to the left, Alan White is center, Rick Wakeman is far to the right, and Chris Squire is between the drums and keyboard. With this in mind, you’ll no doubt hear the difference as the players are positioned distinctly apart, allowing you to hear each more clearly. Rick Wakeman certainly benefits most from this—his dexterous parts on “Heart Of The Sunrise” and “Close To The Edge” are prominent for the first time, and they are brilliant! When each musician solos, it comes from their natural side of the stage, as opposed to the centered positions given on Yessongs. Eddie Offord had added some phasing sounds to the drum fills during the live shows, but this was not recorded to tape. Here, the drums are heard as recorded, to present a more natural representation of Alan’s playing.

Fans will appreciate how this package represents the evenings as they really happened, and shows an objective view of the group’s many strengths. Modern technology makes it possible to fix buzzes and hums. However, this box set avoids many modern concepts of “fixing,” allowing the true shows to be heard.

While some of these very tracks were used for the Yessongs album, they often had minutes of music taken out to shorten the track time; here they are presented in their full-length. Although there are flaws here and there, the truths revealed in this more-literal approach show the band in incredible form. The original Yessongs tracks had even been repaired in the studio with newly recorded and doubled parts, but we made only two brief edits to repair these performances.

Unlike most modern recordings, the full range of volume changes was left intact. From stunning loudness to gentle quietness, one of the hallmarks of progressive music is the extreme use of volume, and it is rare to hear that range on records today.

In the fall of 1972, the musicianship, writing and singing of YES were inarguably strong and exciting — as you’ll hear in these seven full concerts.

—Brian Kehew

Brian Kehew is an American, Los Angeles-based, musician and record producer. He is a member of The Moog Cookbook and co-author of the Recording The Beatles book, an in-depth look at the Beatles’ studio approach. Find out more at Wikipedia.


Photos of YES © 1973 Roger Dean. From the Progeny 14CD Booklet.
Grateful thanks to Glen Gottleib for use of the YES 1972 Memorabilia.

Producer’s Facebook Q&A by Brian Kehew

On 10 March 2015, you put your questions on Facebook to Progeny ’72 producer, Brian Kehew.

Here are his answers:

Steven Sullivan
Where were the Progeny tapes found?

The tapes were in the WMG vault.

Dan Trotta 
Who came up with the name Progeny and why? I do like the name – just asking – thank you!!!

The band came up with the title. Actually, they couldn’t decide between “Progeny” or “Seven Shows From Seventy-Two” so both were used!

Mirko Bernard 
Why seven shows?

It seems today most people want more (see the other questions for shows people want released even beyond this). We figured that this was a peak period for YES in some ways, and if we’d cut it down to 2 shows, people would ask to have the rest. No show was clearly the winner, and all had some great moments and instances of brilliance. Hence, there is also the 2-disc option for those who don’t like YES as intensely.

We’ve issued seven shows: There were actually eight recorded for the live album project in 1972. The first was in Hartford, a poor recording, plagued by equipment problems, a non-responsive crowd, and the weakest performance of the set. We cut that one and seven ought to be enough for anyone.

Monte Montemayor 
What kind of sound can we expect Brian? Were these Soundboard tapes mixed on this set of shows?? As much as we all love Yessongs, it’s definitely not the best live recording ever captured. Hopefully Progeny helps address that.

As you likely know, soundboard tapes are quick rough mixes of a live show, done on the fly during the event – better than audience bootlegs but far from a proper recording. These boxset tapes are true professional multi-track remote-truck recordings, done for an intended YES live album (which became Yessongs.)

After quick checking, we agreed that these were indeed source tapes for some of the tracks on Yessongs. For example, they’d picked the best Roundabout of the bunch and used it. We knew we had many unheard versions performed on different nights, six alternates for a given song (and in a case like Close To The Edge, all of these versions had never been heard.) Likely though, these might all be inferior to the chosen master take we know from Yessongs; so would any of it be worthy of release?

Mixing the first show, I tried to (at least) beat the sound of the muddy Yessongs record. No – these were those same tapes, strange and odd-sounding. I was afraid we’d have only lesser-performances (we had not heard them all yet!) and still be stuck with the rough sound – so it could produce only a subset of Yessongs outtakes…

However, I remembered the Dolby issues I found with the Tormato studio tapes (see another question below) and decided on the second day to try and re-set the Dolby racks: Dolby is a noise-reduction system you apply when recording to tape, and when it’s decoded carefully, it makes the noise disappear without affecting the sound of the music. However, when it’s mis-calibrated, it sounds muddy and dull, very much like the Yessongs tracks.

I suspected the original alignment (not done by Eddie Offord, btw!) was done incorrectly at the time of recording, so when Eddie set up the tapes later when mixing, they would sound… odd. They do, when aligned as I found it. (In retrospect, having heard the raw tapes, I think Eddie did a rather brilliant job with the difficult tapes; it’s amazing he made it sound as incredible as it does!)

So – taking a guess – I reset each Dolby channel (16 of them), setting each by ear to sound “best” (clarity, reality, fullness, etc). This is not hard to do – it’s just not “by the book.” After this, the tracks sounded much more “real”, as if a blanket had been lifted off the sound. It still wasn’t an amazing live recording, but it sounded much better than the released Yessongs. And so – we felt these “other” versions of performances were now worth hearing, as they sound great and they bring forth new parts, great clarity and energy that even the selected highlights used before never had. Although some of these versions you may have heard before on Yessongs, they will have new clarity, new mixes and perspective, as we tried to make this something distinct from Yessongs.

Mike Smith 
What is the sound like, does it retain the warm analog sound and what were some of the challenges mixing the music.

It is ALL from analog tapes, mixed without ProTools or computers of any kind, on a vintage 1970s mixing desk – by hand. This is my preferred way to work, and it tends to sound appropriate for classic music of the era. The hardest parts were dealing with errors of the original sessions; poor audience microphone placements, a poorly-recorded bass, people moving off-microphone while singing, etc. We did not attempt the usual modern “fixing” that could be done by computer; we left this very much as a document of each night’s show. You will hear the full-length talking between songs, we leave in moments when the band tunes up, etc. I would say it’s generally more raw and wild than the versions on Yessongs.

Luis Carlos Diaz Sananes 
So many shows with the same playlist. What can we expect from each one?

YES was not a jazz group, but anyone who hears Yours Is No Disgrace live will realize they are NOT playing the same notes every night, starting right from the intro. For some reason, people think YES did not improvise much and that the same setlist means the same show. This is not Britney Spears, people, it’s a live performance with moments changing each and every night. Listen to Steve’s incredible spontaneous (read: NOT the same every night) licks thrown in throughout the songs. The sound of the room is different in each space, the tempos change, the middle of one song is just ok one night and amazing the next, but the endings will also be different. There are even mistakes and noises – weird happenings on certain shows, and Jon’s great chats between. If you like YES, this box provides a lot of what you like. If you want just a new version of the classic songs, there is the 2-disc so you can have just a little YES.

Håvard Lunde
Were any other tracks considered, or was it decided that the same tracks would be used from every show?

As far as I can recall, we used every song recorded for these shows. As the shows were similar in intent and time frame, it made sense to put them together, rather than pick just a few good ones, leaving out great moments on others. To include music from other periods weakens the concept of this box set. It does not preclude anything else coming out at other times.

Paul Maguire 
Didn’t you get bored editing the same setlist seven times?

Never, not for even one minute. More like our hairs were standing up over and over. I don’t know what other people do for a living, but listening to unheard 1972 live YES (and making it sound like you’re sitting at the front of the stage) is not a bad day at the office. This is such a strong era for them, and it sure beats a bootleg. Wait ’til you hear it!

Enrique García 
Which yessong was the hardest to produce?

Actually, the hardest things are done before it’s ready to mix; fighting agains odd sounds, hums, leakage, crazy levels. Once that’s solved, the tracks combine a lot easier. Obviously, the song Close To The Edge has an extreme range of sonics and styles, there’s a lot to do. For that song, we went back to the original master tapes of the studio album to get the sound effects in high quality; originally they had been played back off-tape at each show, but the extant stage recording of those effects tapes was quite poor and distorted. Now the effects will be clearer and more present, not dirty and rough as was recorded back then.

Paul Watson 
Hi Brian. Did you have any input from any of the YES lineup for these 7 shows recordings? Bringing certain instruments or vocals up or down in the mix, that kind of thing? Thanks.

No – this was done as most reissue projects are done; we mixed and then presented to the artists and management for their approval. We find it solves more problems to do work to a high standard and then submit for approval. Imagine the current (and former) members coming in to compete for placement in the mix – tricky! Note with instrument levels – there are many times when we want something louder in a mix ourselves, but it changes a balance or somehow sticks out too much in an odd way. Sometimes a vocal could be too low; we hear it, too, but they happened to have wandered away from the microphone or are singing softly – nothing can be done. You just can’t turn it up, all you’d hear would be stage leakage. So, some things that sound less than perfect may not be easily adjusted.

Note that these shows will have some flaws – and many brilliant moments. It’s live music, a document of each night. We left long sections of talk, odd noises here and there. There are even some technical issues, like Jon’s microphone cutting out right in the middle of a tune. But it’s reality – it’s what happened, and he deals with it on the moment and talks about it later. If you were there that night, this is indeed the show you heard.

The good news is, YES is stunning live, as you know. They play to the edge nightly, trying things, incredible musicianship. It’s not difficult to clean things up and make each moment sound strong with computer editing and manipulation. It’s MUCH harder to be a great band onstage, exploring the music and trying things out – even with mistakes. When you can hear that these are the real shows, no trickery, it points out how great the band was, night after night.

The original Yessongs release had studio manipulation and overdubs: Listen to Roundabout – it’s nearly a studio-recorded sound. There are doubled vocals etc. It sounds great, but it’s not truly real. We think the unvarnished YES from this Progeny box will show that true live music really holds up; it’s about the moment, the changes from night to night, rolling from section to section and listening to each other. It really holds up to hear these amazing people working alongside each other onstage, their caliber of performance is rarely seen today.

Steven Sullivan 
Any plans to remix any of these Progeny performances to 5.1?

Not yet. 5.1 is a great format, but with a very limited reach, at present. The costs of mixing go up as well, making it harder to justify given the much-smaller audience. But it’s great for film use, etc. so we’d never rule it out. It can really relaunch a song or catalog item.

Joshua Kennedy 
Brian, was there any consideration of including selected shows in high resolution PCM on a BluRay or DVD?

Not yet, we’re hoping Progeny meets with strong acceptance, but keep in mind vintage live shows may never have the sonic qualities that Hi-Res and BluRay are designed to bring out.  The sonics of these projects may not justify it until one product gains momentum with the public… or if the source material was just stunningly good.

Conner Hammett 
First, Brian, thank you so much for your hard work on this set. I think I speak for many Yesfans when I say this is the most excited I have been for a new YES release in many years. Do you know if Atlantic still has any of the tapes from Feb. 1972 featuring Bill Bruford (the ones used for Yessongs)? I think that would make a great follow-up box. Also, what about the tapes for the Dec. ’72 show at the Rainbow (the one used for the 1975 concert film)? That’s where the legendary Yessongs versions of CTTE and Starship Trooper came from but it doesn’t appear to be featured on Progeny. Are the tapes being saved for another project, or are they presumed lost? Thanks again Brian!

I have not seen them, if so… bear in mind tapes don’t live on one shelf or in any artists’ section; nor are they filed chronologically. YES must have recorded many things beyond 1972, hopefully tapes survive and will turn up in good shape. I have mixed some of their live stuff before, but it was considered (I agreed) too poor to release, with sound issues, keyboard tunings, etc. In particular a 1976 show we found with Patrick could have been amazing (JFK Stadium in Philadelphia maybe?), but the tapes made it clear it was a very sour night.

Keep in mind so many people think of Yessongs as a representative YES show. However, it was a creation, not an actual document of one tour or show. It has polish, fixes and some edits. Our project differed; we wanted to see a more realistic version, without fixes or changes, to a whole YES concert from 1972. We also wanted to see what else the band did on other nights during these sessions. While I also love Bill’s unique playing, every single person who has heard the box set says the same thing; Alan White is stronger than we’ve ever heard on this, and his playing is on fire most nights. He is clearly driving the band, even more so than you’ve heard on previous recordings. With our new mix perspective, Alan White is now balanced more forward and his work can be heard clearly. While the best recorded parts are usually the guitar and Jon’s voice, the bass and drums could have been better-recorded. Alan was an incredible choice for the drum throne, and this may be the best playing you’ve ever heard from him. His work here is truly astounding.

Christopher Muller 
Can you identify which dates were used for the Yessongs release? It would be interesting to compare.

I could, but my notes are not here at the moment. So let’s leave it until you get the box and have fun searching this out – the answer is (finally) there, without question. Nicely, those same tracks will have a new perspective with this mix, while we don’t feel it’s any “better” than an Eddie Offord mix, it will let you hear certain things in a new way.

When we chose tracks for the new 2-disc package, we deliberately avoided using performances that had been heard on the original Yessongs LP. We wanted purely alternate versions as ample proof that there were great performances on other nights.

Sergio Mallorga 
Hi, Brian. I’m a YES fan from Chile and I want to thank you for making this project a reality; I regard it as a restored mega-yessongs and I’m looking forward to buy it (as well as your Recording The Beatles book!). After reading with amazement the technical info about Progeny, I’ve got two questions for you: 1) Would it be possible to make this same restoration treatment to the whole of Yessongs?; and 2) I read your comment on the Dolby NR issue on Tormato. Do you know if Steven Wilson is aware of it in case he remixes that album? Best regards.

1) We think Yessongs stands on its own, it’s still one of the great live records of all time. It is very likely that some of the songs have no Dolby issues as they were recorded on different tours. So they could not be easily “improved” as we did here. However, you can hear a newer version of some of those Yessongs tracks – they’ve just been done for you in this box! And many more to hear…

2) I don’t know if Steven knows of the Tormato issue – it’s rarely been discussed anywhere. That’s certainly an album that would benefit from a remix with corrected Dolby issues. Too bad they didn’t catch it back in the day!

Fs. Weller 
Brian! I loved your comments about the process of restoring these “lost” tracks. Perhaps another book is in order?  All the best……

Hmm… well, there are so many projects all the time, some about as interesting as this one, but maybe not enough yet for a book on any single project (Woodstock maybe, the giant all-in set that never was released.) I do think the reissue market is some of the most active and high-quality music marketing and buying out there. Compared to the rest of the traditional industry, reissue/catalog items are cool, they sell well without costing too much, and they promote artists’ publishing, catalog, and current touring. I find the people doing reissues tend to be the biggest music fans, and they know what the fans would like, as they are among them!

Paul Hailes 
Any chance of you writing a book like Lewisohn’s Abbey Road book, only focusing on YES‘ studio recordings?

Great concept, Marks’ work is incredible! However, the reality is that The Beatles recorded for only a few short years (less than a decade!) and stayed in one studio 90% of the time. Not a lot to cover. Consider the YES catalogue with tons of records, zillions of tracks and takes, dozens of musicians and technicians, many studios used on a single album, etc. Such a book would be thousands and thousands of pages just to get basic details right…

Wheat Williams
Brian, you are a collector of and an authority on Mellotrons, and you know Larry Fast, who custom-built electronics for Rick Wakeman. You also did later-day instrument design work for Moog. Did restoring these YES tracks give you any new insights into the keyboard instruments of the day, and how Rick Wakeman used them?

Hello Wheat! It was great to talk to Larry about the equipment he built for the tour – which is audible nearly every night at the end of Rick’s famous solo. It was tough to be a keyboard roadie in those days; at one show Jon informs the audience the keyboards break down nearly every night of the week. That being said, I think people will find that Rick excels during these concerts. We discovered they’d turned him way down in the mix quite often (studio and live recordings) even though he’s playing such brilliant stuff. Now he’s finally IN the mix all the time. Our perspective was to have a constant matched balance of each member so their own dynamics mix the balances, much as they were doing live onstage.

Speaking of dynamics, those who are tired of the recent Volume Wars (google it) may be well-pleased at the almost total lack of limiting done to these mixes. I chose Dean Phelps, a very skilled and sensitive mastering engineer for this project, as he feels as I do. YES played with huge dynamics, it’s one of the greatest features of progressive music. We realized these tracks are not likely to be on Shuffle Play next to Katy Perry, and therefore no need to compete for volume; we wanted wider dynamics to rival the best of classical recordings. Live YES is perfect for that. When you do hear this music in full range, please let us know if you like it – we think you will. It could be the beginning of a movement back to full range audio.

Daniel Krohn 
Would you want to produce the current lineup either for a live release or the next studio album?

Interesting idea. Maybe if they didn’t want to use computers and “fix” everything. I like polish and creativity, but I prefer rawness and humanity. It’s exciting. I suspect most bands don’t today – they want perfection, or as close as they can make it.

Frank Edgar 
It’s quite a coincidence and a surprise, I’ve been hearing The Moog Cookbook (a must to any keyboard freak!) just recently thru Spotify and now I found out that Brian remixed the old live shows from my favorite band: YES. It’s mind-blowing! Thanks a lot Brian.

Thank you. Roger Joseph Manning and I were certainly inspired by ALL the keyboard players of YES, in virtually every era. It’s too bad there are few inspiring keyboard musicians today; it’s not just the cool old gear – it’s the way they played, so full of character and stylistic exploration. But we like also the cool old gear, it has real power when you lean into that Mellotron…



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