This is a darned interesting record, not just for fans of traditional YES wanting to hear the band's sonic roots, but for folks like me who come at this set as a fan of the Beatles and the Nice etc. On these BBC recordings, YES is energetic and propulsive in their performances; several songs, especially "Beyond and Before," give me the feeling of being yanked about on a short hang-glider ride--later YES is less likely to be as concise, fast, and skittish. The longest song here is
about seven minutes. It is exceptionally neat to hear YES take an early Buffalo Springfield song ("Everyday"), put a rocket under it, and take it through smart, well-defined breaks (including some killer unison accent bits) all in less than five minutes, ending in a ferocious Squire/Bruford "buh-blam"! That track is what this record is about: YES reworking 60's pop-psychedelia and figuring out what they can do with it. Elsewhere on the web someone says of these YES BBC performances, "they play their asses off"--I agree. The rhythm section, especially Bruford at the drums, is superb. The vocals are rough on a few tracks, but fine on others. This band features Tony Kaye on a Hammond organ and the band's original guitarist, Peter Banks. No, he's not Steve Howe, but he's quite fine being who he is. His style is often angular and aggressive; he's not as interested in sounding lyrical or pretty as Howe is, but Banks also does some neat volume pedal work and some lacy effects influenced by jazz guitarists. But the bottom line: Banks is a fine, loud rock'n'roll guitar player, and he's key in giving the early version of YES a raunchier sound than fans of AOR radio might associate with this group. The playing on this record is frankly more in a 60's idiom than the 70's idiom the later band helped define. And that may actually appeal to people who are more fans of sixties' pop and psychedelia (YES work out on a 1965 Beatle song here) than of the seventies' 17-minute arty excursions the band is famous (or infamous) for.