Yes Acoustic: Guaranteed No Hiss

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Yes Acoustic: Guaranteed No Hiss is one of the more satisfying of the Yes DVDs to appear since the advent of the digital video format -- preserved from a live satellite transmission from Los Angeles on January 26, 2004, the performance is, in a word, exquisite. Some of the group's more serious fans may not appreciate the lightheartedness of "Tiger Rag," the opening number -- until, that is, Steve Howe and Jon Anderson begin trading rockabilly licks and Rick Wakeman throws in some rippling piano. And when Anderson throws in what sounds like a George Formby vamp -- well, the opening six minutes are the most engaging six minutes of video in Yes' entire output to this moment. Some of the group's songs, such as "Long Distance Runaround" and "Roundabout," have begged for this kind of unamplified (or, to be fair, low-amplification) treatment for decades, and the group rises to the occasion -- Alan White shows that 30 years of playing to arena audiences have left him with a few subtle touches. "South Side of the Sky" reveals a gentleness in its conception that eluded this listener for three decades, until Anderson and company intoned the song's opening here -- by the time Wakeman is done with the grand piano version of the break, I've been sold. "Show Me," from the group's preceding tour, slots in well in this setting, and leads into "Roundabout," with a new introduction by Howe and a slow, loping beat that makes it sound more like a ballad than it ever did before. It'll never replace the original approach, but it is different enough to hold the viewer and, what the hell, it is their song and if anyone has the right to fiddle with it, it is the band; meanwhile, Wakeman comes up with enough blues variations on the grand piano so that his synthesizers are never missed, and Chris Squire delivers a powerful sound from his bass on the bridge to the end. "Time Is Time" represents the Magnification album well enough, with the virtuosity of Howe and Wakeman somewhat overpowering the song itself. This leads to "I've Seen All Good People" and the original Yes unplugged official release, "Your Move." Everything falls into place perfectly leading into "All Good People," which works as "wooden music"; it's about as perfect a performance as one could want with this repertoire (this reviewer did find himself wishing they'd attempted something truly bold, like "Close to the Edge" or "The Revealing Science of God" in this format, although they might've needed reinforcements for those -- at least Bill Bruford on bongos). The 38-minute performance is augmented by behind-the-scenes footage of the rehearsal ahead of the broadcast, narrated by Wakeman (who reveals a very droll wit throughout). It presents a lighter, looser side of a band that isn't known for its lighthearted nature or its looseness -- the vamps to "The Lady Is a Tramp" "Blue Moon," "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," and other pop songs are delightful, especially with Wakeman's voiced expectation that the group will be in cabaret in another five years. The image is letterboxed in an aspect ratio of about 1.85 to one, and the audio options include DTS and Dolby Digital.

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