Yesterday & Today Live

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Years before unleashing their critically acclaimed Earthshaker album in 1981, San Francisco's Y&T had enjoyed a brief, semi-covert existence in the mid-'70s, when they still went by their original name, the pre-shortening Yesterday & Today. Signed to the tiny London label, the quartet recorded two albums during this phase, the first of which was this eponymous 1976 debut. And although their name eventually changed, this album already boasted most of the sonic traits which would characterize the band's entire career thereafter, most notably, amazingly high musicianship standards all around and searing leads from main man Dave Meniketti. Highlights include the party-hardy anthem "25 Hours a Day," the emotional, atmospheric ballad "My Heart Plays Too," and the strutting tour de force "Fast Ladies (Very Slow Gin)." The excellent closer "Beautiful Dreamer" would also survive long into the band's latter days as a regular concert favorite, and sees Meniketti doing his best Sammy Hagar impression. Which raises the compelling theory that, in effect, Yesterday & Today actually bridged the gap between Montrose and Van Halen in the succession process of Californian hard rock. Given the quality of this debut, it's really a shame they didn't fare as well as either band.

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