What do I remember of that first run through of 40 years ago? The thundering Bass accents of Total Mass Retain, the adult beauty of I Get Up I Get Down, the gentle acoustic introduction of And You and I and the unleashed energy of the repeating figure that ushers in Siberian Khatru with Ricks playfull interjections on the Hammond.
Then it is off for a lesson on the British Constitution.
The title track is a summation of everything the band had been working toward over 4 ½ years. Clean, pristine, immaculate playing welding musical fragments together to create a perfect piece of musical architecture. Bill had matured hugely by the spring of 72 and was confident to play with an unfussy focus always aware of the potential to reinforce the melody or the rhythm. Once we pass into the dream and the playing gets under way Bill pilots the piece deftly toward the main melodic theme prodding, pushing, controlling, holding the rhythmic reigns of the piece making it seem effortless in the process.
A little later he rides out Total Mass Retain with jazzy eloquence as Rick offers a beautifully appropriate baroque over lay. If this is Bill’s finest hour I think it is also Ricks. The stabs of orchestral insight throughout the first two sections and the remarkable eloquence of his back drops for the third movement are examples of Ricks best work . This pre-dates the master of mood and spiritually aware playing of Vangelis and yet is of the same vein. Ricks furious improvisation into the fourth movement represents his most committed fiery playing, bar none.
What makes this 40 year old album really extra ordinary is having played there finest card, summarising all their musical ambition on side 1, they then leap off into the unknown with Side 2.
“And You and I” beats a path toward a new type of Yes more emotional more spiritually evocative and opens up the way for “The Remembering” to the twin summits of “To Be Over” and “Awaken”. We all know the music so no need to describe it but this piece like Act 3 has grown in the live telling. Both the original musicians and new ones have breathed new meaning and life into this piece., the powerful performance of the Union line up at Wembley in the summer of 1992 springs to mind...and yet down the years whenever I listen to the original recording in a new setting I hear Steve and Jon’s best interpretation, the latter’s vocal performance is one of his most sophisticated ever.