Yes

Keystudio

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Yes' 2002 album Keystudio is a compilation, but one that makes perfect sense. It collects seven superb studio tracks that the progressive rock giant's classic lineup -- vocalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Rick Wakeman, bass guitarist Chris Squire, and drummer Alan White -- recorded as bonus cuts for the live albums Keys to Ascension and Keys to Ascension, Vol. 2. Even if Keystudio was released to cash in on the 2002 tour by Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, Squire, and White, it doesn't matter because these new songs were the strongest released by any version of Yes in years. "Be the One" and "That, That Is" are from 1996's Keys to Ascension and "Mind Drive," "Foot Prints," "Bring Me to the Power," "Children of the Light," and "Sign Language" are from 1997's Keys to Ascension, Vol. 2. These songs retain Yes' trademark instrumental prowess, but there's a maturity to the cohesive arrangements and the melodies. Most tracks push either ten or 20 minutes, ensuring the adoration of Yes diehards who yearn for 1970s-style experimentation. All seven songs have their share of highlights, but the best are "Mind Drive," "Foot Prints," and "Sign Language." "Mind Drive" stretches out with both soothing, dreamy passages and tough, full-band bombast. "Foot Prints" relies largely on the rhythm section drive of Squire and White and Howe's economical guitar lines. The terrifically tasteful instrumental "Sign Language" is basically a duet by co-writers Howe and Wakeman. "That, That Is" resembles Yes' 1970s work the most, with the exception of Anderson's lyrics, which address drug and violence problems in inner cities, not his usual mystical topics. The only new piece on Keystudio is Wakeman's "Lightning," a brief intro segment for "Children of the Light." Keystudio would have been a smash had it been released 25-30 years earlier. Even casual Yes fans from both the 1970s and 1980s should enjoy Keystudio. Highly recommended.

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