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Yes Perpetual Change Paperback – 7 Oct 2001
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For one thing, almost half its pages are mind-numbing lists of tracks and record numbers (even bootlegs!), what songs were played at each and every gig and so forth. Someone who has gone to such inordinate lengths would consider his labours worthy of presentation, but this cataloguing brings joy to only the most obsessive anorak. I mean, who is going to sit down and read all these? Come to think of it, is there really any point? If so, a simple website would have been more appropriate, and the pages used up on better things.
For this has inevitably borne onto the remaining mere 77 pages of genuine script. All the personnel changes and musical directions of the band itself not to mention its individual members are spared any critical discussion. Also there is no real bona fide review of the most important thing - Yes' music. Anyone listening for the first time to, say, an evolution of 'Yes' then 'Relayer' then 'Drama' then '90125' then 'Open Your Eyes' will wonder if it's the same band but, I trust, will enjoy and want to know more. This book alas doesn't go into nearly enough detail as to the whys and wherefores. Not least, why did such and such band member (Tony Kaye for instance) leave and why did he return years later only to summarily depart again?
Finally, all Yes-fans will see the many mistakes. As a sample, page 61 refers to 'Heart of the Matter' when it should have been 'Heat of the Moment', and some artwork such as 'Yesterdays' on page 146 are repeated in the colour section. Again, more space needlessly taken up.
Sorry, but the overall impression is this is not a professional work. Dan Hedges' out of print biography (unfairly described as "appalling" in this foreword) is better at answering these.
If you're buying this to get a friend 'into' Yes then spend your money on their latest CD instead.
It's effectively a work split in two, a history of the band which in itself falls somewhere between Dan Hedges effort and Chris Welch's summary and a comprehensive list of collectibles. Having consumed the 1970 - 2001 section, I found it to be quite interesting with some quotes I hadn't read before. It's not another 'warts and all, kick the ex-members' biography, more a work of a genuine fan who hasn't necessarily got any axe to grind. There are some telling quotes and for fans new to Yes, I'd probably recommend it over Chris Welch's 'Close To The Edge' because it's more accessible that way.
I would have liked some more info on the departures of Billy Sherwood and Igor Khoroshev, which seemed to be glossed over as was the period 2000 - 2001 but this may be due to outside pressures to get the bulk of the book published (??). Also, more use of colour photos and pictures rather than B/W would have been welcome.
The collectibles section details all manner of legitimate and bootleg delights. Watkinson details the history of all gigs performed, all set lists used, CD, LP and single releases as well as video, tour memorabilia and bootlegs, both vinyl and CD. Quite a lot of work involved obviously and quite a good reference guide as a result.
The nicest feature of the book though is the scattering of press cuttings throughout which give an insight into the music media's view of Yes at their height. It confirms they really were up there with the best and they've made music unlike any other band before or since. Lets hope someday they get the just rewards for a glittering career. This book goes someway to address that.
Hopefully there will be an updated version for the group's 50th anniversary in 2018?!
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