YES – TALK 30th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set (Review)

Review of the Yes ‘Talk’ 30th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set

by Geoff Bailie

So … 30 years later … Yes: Talk is back! Where has it been? Well therein lies a long story for anyone interested, but let’s say that the rights have floated around for some time, just waiting for Spirit of the Unicorn to pick it up and bring us this deluxe set.

The story of the album you can read elsewhere, but Talk is notable for 2 significant things: first up it’s the main “equal” studio collaboration between Jon Anderson and Trevor Rabin, to the extent that they took time out to work up music together. Secondly, it’s a pioneering album in terms of it being an early “non linear” recording using Apple Computers, something that today is par for the course!

A quick overview of what’s coming out. First up Talk on vinyl!!! The original editions fetch eye watering prices these days and are certainly beyond the reach of most people who want to fill the gap in their collection. So a two LP While vinyl with the Special Version of The Calling on Side 4 is a brilliant option! The original album is about 55 minutes long so everything fits quite comfortably – I think the decision to separate the Special Version is a good one, with the original album order being maintained.

Next up there is a four CD set with the original album, a disc of “Versions” and two CD live recording. I think that covers things nicely! Some fans have said – no surround mix? … no video? – but you have to assume there were budgets and parameters that mean this release wouldn’t get the same treatment as The Yes Album or Fragile. But nevertheless what’s here is a complete (audio) picture – here’s why.

The original album has had a refresh remastering, so it’s sonically strong! After the less than satisfactory Big Generator, it’s great to get a fully formed Yes album from this line up. To me this album takes the best elements of 90125, Big Generator and the Yes West Union tracks, sprinkles it with a whole lot more Jon Anderson, and drops in some classic Yes elements… but ends up sounding completely like its own thing.

The Big Vocals of this Anderson/ Rabin/ Squire line up get “The Calling” started, one of many tracks with a very hooky chorus. The album credits make it clear that Tony Kaye is here on Hammond Organ only, but he gets a fantastic showcase on the solo breakdown of this track. The album closes with surely THE Yes epic of the 1990s, “Endless Dream” – as the track closes the album, and draws a curtain on the Rabin era of the band, it’s monumental in its execution! The incredibly powerful and proggy “Silent Spring” section gives way to a plaintiff, Rabin played piano section, with Trevor on vocals. All of this sets up for Jon’s vocals, soon joined by Squire for some classic Yes duo harmonies. Some ususual sound effects lead the Tin Jesus section, and the sheer power of Alan White’s drums in this part are incredible. The piece continues its journey through different sounds and sections, heading towards the triumphant “Talk” ending, the emotional chorus, and a fantastic Rabin guitar solo, incorporating some elements of slide guitar, which feel like a nod to earlier eras and epics (you would really have to conclude that playing “Awaken” each night on the Union Tour must have left its mark on Rabin?).

The Versions disc collects up everything else that was out there relating to the album, primarily the promo versions of the album’s singles, plus the audio content from the Yes Talk CD ROM that came out at the time. A few highlights on this that I’d pick out are: the Endless Dream demo. In interviews Rabin talked about Anderson and him taking time out and armed with some demos from Rabin plus two “boom box” cassette recorders – on one the backing track was played, while the other captured what they added to it. The track I mentioned is exactly that and you can hear Jon vocalising and, at times, finding the ideas that we now know are the melody. The instrumental tracks present give you a glimpse into the depths and intricacies of the backing tracks, with lots of small details jumping out. The various edits … it’s good to have them, I suppose, but really the only one of particular interest is the Special Version of The Calling which inserts a 60 minute instrumental breakdown in halfway through the song. On its own, it’s lovely (and shows how film scoring was the perfect next step for Trevor Rabin!) but I feel not using it on the album was a good call!

Next to the live material. What was amazing about this tour, as reflected in this life set, is that the band played 6 of the 7 album tracks during the shows. The material translates incredibly well to the stage – while the beautifully crafted studio versions on the main album are amazing, Real Love packs a real punch live, while the slower tracks like “I Am Waiting” and “Where Will You Be,” work really well too. “Endless Dream” with Rabin on live piano, is just breath-taking. Yes fans will know these shows featured Billy Sherwood in a “utility guy” role-playing guitar, keys, bass and bolstering the vocal mix.

The set is filled out by Cinema, Hearts, Changes, City of Love and Owner from 90125, stage favorite Rhythm of Love from Big Generator, and the Yes classics which landed best with the Rabin era band (Heart of the Sunrise, All Good People and And You And I – on this tour featuring a unique piano intro as it leads in from Rabin’s piano solo). The live album sounds great, and I assume it is sourced from a hack into the Concertsonics system which allowed some concert attendees to hear a soundboard mix of the show using a radio and stereo headphones. I assume that’s also the reason why the opening Perpetual Change intro and the first part of The Calling are missing from the discs, and disc timings mean that the encore of Roundabout appears at the end of Disc 1. But given the show was not pro-recorded, it is great to have something that sounds good and has been cleaned up in circulation (die hards would probably have been happy with the missing pieces being added as bonus cuts, along with Hold On which was played at some other points in the tour – but a minor critique!).

Overall, for an album that has been out of reach for many years, it would have been very easy just to put it out on vinyl and CD and be done with it. So praise is due to the team at Spirit of the Unicorn for giving us more than just the plain vanilla! If this is a Yes album that hasn’t been on your radar, or maybe you concluded that the Rabin era wasn’t really prog, check out this new release with fresh ears!

YES “TALK” 30th Anniversary Edition:

A1 The Calling
A2 I Am Waiting
B1 Real Love
B2 State Of Play
B3 Walls
C1 Where Will You Be
C2 Endless Dream
a) Silent Spring (Instrumental)
b) Talk
c) Endless Dream
Bonus Track
D1 The Calling (Special Version)

The Calling
I Am Waiting
Real Love
State Of Play
Where Will You Be
Endless Dream
a) Silent Spring (Instrumental)
b) Talk
c) Endless Dream

The Calling (Special Version)
The Calling (Single Edit)
The Calling (Radio Edit)
Untitled – Trevor Rabin Instrumental
Endless Dream (Demo)
Where Will You Be (Instrumental)
Walls (Instrumental)
Endless Dream (Excerpt) (Instrumental)

I Am Waiting*
The Calling*
Rhythm Of Love*
Real Love*
Heart Of The Sunrise

City Of Love*
Make It Easy*
Owner Of A Lonely Heart*
Trevor Rabin Piano Solo/And You And I*
I’ve Seen All Good People*
Endless Dream*
*Previously unreleased

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