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Various Artists: Yesterday And Today (A 50th Anniversary Tribute To Yes)

There’s no denying that guitar player and singer Fernando Perdomo is a busy chap. Three solo albums and now this Yes Tribute effort all being released during 2018 - although this celebration of the UK Prog giant’s half century comes in conjunction with solo artist and ex-Sound Of Contact man Dave Kerzner. Covering the ground between Yes’s 1969 debut and 1987’s Big Generator outing, what’s possibly most striking here is the inclusion of actual Yes members past and present, with keyboard player Geoff Downes, bassist Billy Sherwood and singer Jon Davison all taking a break from the current line-up to reprise their roles here, while Sherwood also sings on occasion. Added to that number is keyboard players Tony Kaye and Tom Brislin, the latter of which has toured with the band, something which can also be said for drummer Jay Schellen, who also appears. That brings the list of Yes alumni to six, which undoubtedly adds an air of authenticity into an area that can often feel like a quick cash in, but with Nick D’Virgilio, Steve Hackett, Curved Air, Robert Berry, Marco Minnemann and Francis Dunnery all adding their talents to the mix, stunning levels of musicianship are hardly in short supply.

Kerzner and Perdomo, as you’d expect, also appear throughout, adding their considerable skill to the pot and spicing up what is, in honesty, a collection of pretty straight up reinterpretations. Things are undoubtedly modernised, with an excellent production and up to date recording techniques polishing but hardly reinventing the likes of “Machine Messiah” (featuring D’Virgilio and Downes). However, hearing the wonderful vocals from Sally Minnear on “Turn Of The Century” really is an absolute joy, as she holds the frailty of Jon Anderson while adding even more clarity to proceedings. Pat Sansone does an equally intriguing vocal job on “Sweetness”, which is a surprise and welcome addition to a selection of songs that straddles obvious and less expected choices quite well.

The expert vocals from Sonja Kristina adorn “Soon” but then she is also joined by the rest of Curved Air for what is an interesting take on the Yes sound, and maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising that this track is one that feels least like a straight reworking, what with it coming from a band - albeit with Kerzner and Perdomo on board - rather than a collaboration.

Steve Hackett takes on “Cinema”, adding his unmistakable edge to the guitar work of his ex-GTR partner Steve Howe in quite triumphant fashion. While the acoustic medley of “Your Move”, “And You And I” and “Wondrous Stories” is the perfect setting for current Yes frontman (depending of course on which version of Yes we’re talking about!) Jon Davison to illustrate why he currently holds that mantle. Fan favourite “Long Distance Runaround” finds Leslie Hunt absolutely revelling in her surrounds, the District 97 singer impressing by sounding exactly like Jon Anderson while still being something else entirely. Although “The Fish”, where it’s current Yes bassist Billy Sherwood who is the main guest, isn’t quite so revelatory. Leaving the excellent version of “Starship Trooper” with Francis Dunnery at the guitar and vocal helm to close things out in fine style.

I’m not always sure I see the point in tribute albums. If I want to listen to a band’s music, then I listen to that band playing their own music. And yet, as tribute albums go, Yesterday And Today is undoubtedly one of the better ones I’ve heard. Will its wares replace the original Yes versions as any of my favourites? In truth I very much doubt it, but the vocal selections are pretty much all excellent and while there could only ever be one Jon Anderson, there’s always more than one way to sing a song, or indeed portray its guitar, drums, bass or keyboards.

Track Listing
1. MACHINE MESSIAH (Featuring Nick D’Virgilio & Geoff Downes)
2. YOURS IS NO DISGRACE (Featuring Marisol Koss & Tony Kaye)
3. TURN OF THE CENTURY (Featuring Sally Minnear)
4. SWEETNESS (Featuring Pat Sansone)
5. SOON (Featuring Curved Air)
6. CINEMA (Featuring Steve Hackett)
7. CHANGES (Featuring Robert Berry)
8. I’M RUNNING (Featuring Robin Schell & Marco Minnemann)
9. ACOUSTIC MEDLEY: (Featuring Jon Davison)
10.YESTERDAY AND TODAY (Featuring Dr. Danny)
11.LONG DISTANCE RUNAROUND (Featuring Leslie Hunt)
12.THE FISH (Featuring Billy Sherwood)
13.STARSHIP TROOPER (Featuring Francis Dunnery)

Added: January 5th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Yesterday And Today @ Cherry Red
Hits: 241
Language: english

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