The PopCult Music Review

An Evening of YES Music Plus: Super Deluxe Edition
Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe
Takeaway Records
6 Discs (4 CD/2 DVD)
Limited Edition

As with most “Super Deluxe” boxed sets, An Evening of YES Music Plus is a real treat for die-hard fans of the music within, but it may be considered extravagant or pricey for the casual fan.

Luckily for me, I am a huge fan of the band YES. They were the first major band I saw perform live in concert, and their music is among the favorite I’ve ever encountered. To make a very convoluted story short, YES has had several line-up changes in their five-plus decades, and at one point, in the late 1980s, there were so many prominent former members, including founding members John Anderson and Bill Bruford, that they formed their own group: Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe.

ABW&H included four of the five members of YES who recorded their classic albums, Fragile and Close To The Edge, and to be honest, they sounded more like Classic YES than the mid-1980s line up (which also included Anderson) did.

The legacy of ABW&H is a short one. They recorded one studio album and embarked on a worldwide tour before they actually merged with YES, for a successful tour and a truly wretched studio album. For much of the 1990s the band condensed down to the same five-man line up- Anderson, Wakeman, Howe plus Chris Squire and Alan White- that I saw in Huntington in 1979.

So for the fan of YES, this boxed set is a must-have item, with the caveat that there isn’t much new here. This boxed set includes the videos from ABW&H’s lone studio album, plus the 2-CD  live set An Evening of YES Music Plus, which had been released in 1993, after the band had been absorbed back into YES. Also included is the DVD of the same concert (and same name), which had been a Pay Per View broadcast in 1989. We also get a CD of the King Biscuit Hour radio show which used edited highlights of that show. The set also includes replica tour programs (English and Japanese), a replica tour laminate and press pack/folder, an album cover poster, a replica cue sheet for the radio show, replica press photos and a numbered certificate. And there’s a CD of radio interviews with the band.

In my case, my copies of the live album is 29 years old, and I never had the concert DVD or the videos from the studio album, so this set, while expensive, was worth it to me. It’s very possible that a longtime fan might have all the music contained in this box, so they have to decide if all the extras are worth it to them. You basically get a killer line-up of songs by YES and ABW&H, with a couple of solo turns, performed by a line-up that features four highly-recognizable members of YES.

The live performances are amazing. Recorded at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on September 9, 1989, this show features Jeff Berlin on bass, and he does a remarkable job bringing his own style to Chris Squire and Tony Levin’s original basslines. Bill Bruford uses electronic drums here, and it’s quite an evolution from his original stint in the band.

Jon Anderson’s voice, as usual, is perfect. Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman are both at their peak virtuosity. Check out the band taking on a YES classic below…

The extra goodies are very well thought-out and wondefully produced. Even the box is impressive.

My only criticism is that it would have been nice if they could’ve provided a bigger sample of how the band sounded in Europe, before illness forced Tony Levin off the tour. There are reportedly some recordings of those shows. It also would have been nice to have a little more of Roger Dean’s awesome artwork. There’s also a little confusion with the way the discs are labelled. The concert disc box says it’s a “Double DVD,” but they managed to fit the whole show on a single disc.

Even with those quibbles, for the die-hard YES fan, this Super Deluxe box is a winner. You ought to be able to order this from local record shops, or from an online music dealer.  Prices vary from ridiculously high to insanely high. Take a quick look…

Once open, you realize that there are two layers of inner box, with foam cut-outs to keep everything snug.

Once open, you find that there are two layers of inner box, with foam cut-outs to keep everything snug.

In the top folder there’s tons of repro press materials, cue sheets, photos and more.

Slick, glossy tour programs, in English and Japanese, and a poster of Roger Dean’s album cover for “Brother of Mine.”

The bottom layer of the box contains the discs. I have to wonder if the concert disc and music videos were supposed to be in the same CD shell, since the radio broadcast is simply adrift in a clear envelope.