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YES - Acoustic DVD

YES - Acoustic DVDProgressive giants, YES, have released so many small shiny discs over the past 18 months, anyone would think the band was about to retire.  Hopefully, that will not turn out to be some curiously prophetic statement (but if it does, remember you heard it here first!).  Of course, YES have been celebrating their 35th anniversary and return to the classic line up of Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, with extensive touring and CD and DVD releases.

The latest of these releases also happens to be one of the best, a DVD of YES performing unplugged.  This performance from a studio in Los Angeles on 26th January 2004 was filmed as it was transmitted live by satellite to cinemas throughout the USA following a showing of a 75-minute version of YESSpeak.

The setting momentarily brings to mind The Fast Show’s ‘Jazz Club’, an image that’s further enhanced by the band’s choice of clothing and the rendition of Tiger Rag.  The absence of the usual YES stage scenery, bright lights and glitter that draws us all back to the days of our youth, leave the viewer feeling that this is a ‘grown ups’ type of show, a show your parents might attend if it wasn’t so cool.  Are we really that old?  Is the band that old (apart from Jon Anderson who looks as if he has found the secret of eternal youth)?  Thirty-five years is an awfully long time in any profession, not least popular music.  Consider that all bar two of the songs on this Acoustic DVD were written over 30 years ago yet sound as fresh now as they did in the days when the UK had just three television channels.  YES concerts may not sell out as quickly as they once did but they still invariably sell out and the vast majority of attendees are true YES fans. 

YES Acoustic has been out for a week at the time of writing and already it holds the number one slot in the UK music DVD charts – pretty amazing achievement for a progressive rock band and testimony to the fact that prog rock didn’t ‘die’ back in 1977.  The acoustic arrangements of classics such as Long Distance Runaround and Roundabout are, in a word, brilliant. 

A ‘Special Features’ section on the DVD includes all the versions of trailers for YESSpeak and YES Acoustic as they were aired in the USA, plus ‘The Unseen Footage’ showing the band earlier that day, behind the scenes and rehearsing.  Rick Wakeman provides an amusing narrative at the band’s expense for this, adopting a style akin to the commentary on UK TV programmes such as People Like Us and Entertainment Now.  Rick speculates that when they all become too old for this there will always be the northern club circuit, in particular Batley Variety Club (a famous club which, since the late 90’s, now operates as a typical UK nightclub).  Still, there’s always the Phoenix Club where, after Half-a-Shilling, YES would not be considered radical unless they interrupted the Bingo!

Technical Aspects

Sound and picture quality is top notch with a choice of DTS, Dolby 5.1 or stereo, DTS, for those with the necessary equipment, being our recommendation.

Package Features

The menu sections are very easy to navigate with the usual options.  Before selecting ‘play’ on the DVD, be sure to move across to the audio option to choose either Dolby 5.1, stereo or DTS. 

The DVD is multi region PAL 16:9 (widescreen), Cat No:  DVD7090X and is available now.  A NTSC version will be released on 14th September 2004 (but see the YES website for further details).


Acoustic is a terrific DVD showing YES in an entirely different mode.  The music remains powerful and instantly recognisable but in acoustic form quite different, bringing out the band’s jazzier side.  If YES has been part of your life at any stage over the last 35 years, this is one DVD not to miss.  As it states on the box, ‘Guaranteed no hiss’, certainly not from the audience.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Classic Pictures website




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