Thursday, 10 October 2013

Uncle G's Yes / Yes Related Collection
Spotlight: America (1996 CD Single)

For the longest time, 'America” was my favorite Yes song. How can that be you ask? It's a cover version of a Simon & Garfunkel folk song found on their 1968 album called, Bookends. What a wonderful album that is. Getting back to Yes and America being my favorite YesSong, they reinvented and came out with a real rocker. 

Yes' version of the song 'America' was recorded with the same guys that recorded Yes' all time classic album, 'Fragile' (1972). That line-up consisted of; Jon Anderson (vocals) / Bill Bruford (drums) / Steve Howe (guitar) / Chris Squire (bass) and Rick Wakeman (piano – keyboards).

Yes' cover of America was first released on an Atlantic Records sampler called; 'The New Age Of Atlantic'. I first heard the song on a re-packaging of older Yes material that came out after their seventh studio album, 'Relayer', that they entitled; Yes – Yesterdays (1975). Story goes Atlantic Records wanted to re-introduce songs off the bands first two albums; Yes (self titled debut album) / Yes – Time And A Word (1970). The ones put out before their successful third album; 'The Yes Album'. After all, the band now was a HUGE success. Personally the project worked for me. Opened my ears to Yes music that I believe Atlantic Records must have been thinking that fans such as myself, for whatever reasons, just wasn't exposed to yet. 

Side A Song One was the bands ten minute classic spin on S & G's 'America'. None of the other songs included had either Steve Howe or Rick Wakeman on them. Instead it was mostly the original line-up with Peter Banks on guitar, and Tony Kaye on keyboards. And I can't close the subject without saying what beautiful cover art Atlantic Records commissioned Roger Dean to do. My first time purchasing the release was on wax. It was after all the year 1975. Music CDs would be way down the road still.

Uncle G's Yes / YesRelated Collection
Yes CD Single: Yes – America (1996)
From The New Album Keys To Ascension (1996)

Over the years Yes must have picked up on how popular the cover song they did of 'America' was with their fan base. In 1996 and being in a somewhat reflective mood, the band did a few live shows featuring full set lists of fan favorite material. A few songs into the concert, Jon blew folks away by his introduction of a song that they band has not performed in concert, since their early days on the road. Their version of the already mentioned S & G folk song classic of; America. Yes' tribute, a 180 degree turn to how Paul Simon originally must have intended it. When promoting Keys To Ascension Yes even performing the song in front of folks who were just happening to pass by, in front of a crowd, in the morning rush hour streets of New York City. Killing Internet rumors by the way that it was someone else playing the bad ass guitar work found within. I never fell for that shit, for after all not everything one reads on the Internet, is true. In this song, Howe is a guitar God. Dude sure can boogie on that thing.

The FIRST Yes – America CD single I received, was BLANK. No shit !! The cover art...the case...the disc...appearing to be factory pressed with the art work on silence. Whoever I purchased it from was cool and sent me another, recommending making the empty disc into a Yes Clock. They sell kits in art supply stores. I never did YET. The second CD arrived playing the way it should. Two tracks: America (4:45 Single Edit) / America (10:28 Album Version). The edit cuts Steve's guitar solo. Fuck that !! I never heard an edited Yes song that I liked. The full version rocks !!

As a dedicated and loyal Yes fan, I can recommend if you don't already have (shame shame) getting the Yes album Yesterdays, and the live release I mentioned; Keys To Ascension. As for finding the CD single that this column centers around, good luck (limited out of print...try e-Bay). Really just a YesCollector's Item. The actual song 'America' can be found within the vast Yes catalog of songs they created since their humble 1969 beginnings. Worth seeking out, if again, not already in your classic rock music collection.

Gary Brown
American Corespondent for Classic Rock Radio Dot EU

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