Compiled by Chris Squire (in case you're wondering how "The Fish" made it this far upstream), Classic Yes was Atlantic's initial attempt to distill the band's best music. The key to this collection is in the title: this is the band's "classic" music. Anything prior to The Yes Album is cut out, no attempt is made to salvage snippets from Relayer or Tales from Topographic Oceans; Drama and Tormato are dispensed with. What remains is what made this band great: the science fiction and fantasy-laced epics, the tangible wizardry of their arrangements, moments that crystallized the magical power of music, and two unreleased live tracks from 1978 that find the band tethered to the realm of mortals." The logic behind the live tracks is pretty simple: "Roundabout" and "I've Seen All Good People" are two tracks that missed the original LP cut, so live versions of them were included with the LP as a bonus 45 rpm single. This is only a minor complaint, though, and one easily overlooked in lieu of the music that made the first cut. Squire's picks are undoubtedly the right ones: "Heart of the Sunrise" to start things off, "And You and I" in all its ten-minute glory, "Starship Trooper" and "Yours Is No Disgrace" from their third album, and "Long Distance Runaround" and "The Fish." Classic Yes remains the place to start if you're interested in the band or just want to hear their best music in one sitting.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Connolly