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YES - YESSPEAK DVDAs one of the pioneers of progressive rock, YES celebrated their 35th Anniversary with an extensive tour, a ‘best of’ album reaching the top ten of the UK album charts and this DVD shot during their 35th Anniversary year.  Back with what most YES fans would consider to be the classic line up of Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, the band has never been in better shape musically.

As might be deduced from the title of this DVD, it is not a straight ‘live in concert’ affair, though music and footage of the tour feature throughout.  This top-notch production is split into a series of ten ‘chapters’; the band members talk about the music and tell us their thoughts about the past, present and future in an informal and often amusing manner.  Rick tells us his reasons for leaving the band on a couple of occasions and expresses his views on Topographic Oceans (well said that man!) and casts a humorous aspersion regarding a blow up doll; Steve tells us that he has slept with his beloved Gibson guitar though he doesn’t mention the chat up lines used; Alan was a pianist before he became a drummer, and talks about how that influences his playing; Chris recalls the time when he mimed to a Beatles number in front of ‘an audience; and Jon concludes that the reason the band has survived the changing fashions in music in because of their ever live presence.  This last point makes a lot of sense.  The best way to promote music is to regularly perform live.  That way, in the absence of airplay, you stand a chance of attracting new fans.  If you give up touring, you have to rely on your existing fanbase and that is bound to decline in time.  Back to the DVD, whilst the chaps are talking, the music of YES plays on in the background, occasionally breaking to shots of the live performance.

The Who frontman and rock legend, Roger Daltrey, provides voice over commentary links which is a nice touch even though it is often obvious from the tone of his voice that he is reading from a script.  Perhaps someone like Bob Harris or Alan Freeman (illness permitting) would have made a more authoritative narrator considering the genre.

YESSPEAK is split between two discs and has a running time of around three hours.  Also included on disc 2 is an audio feature of the live set which has a slide show displaying whilst you listen appropriately designed so that, for example, when Rick is performing his solo medley, pictures of the keyboard wizard appear.

Technical Aspects

Sound and picture quality is state of the art for the main feature with a choice of Dolby 5.1 or DTS though the audio of the live set is 5.1 only.  On our review set up using a Toshiba SD-330 DVD player and Yamaha RX-V630 a/v receiver, DTS really shines and the drop to 5.1 for the audio section is very noticeable.    If you have noticed a difference in sound quality between DTS and 5.1 on your system we would recommend that if you listen to the main feature in DTS, you listen to the audio section another time so that the difference in sound is not so perceptible.

Package Features

The menu sections are very easy to navigate with options to play the entire feature or select individual chapters.  Before selecting ‘play’ on the DVD, move across to the audio option to choose either Dolby 5.1 (default) or DTS.  If you have attended one too many concerts over the years, there is a subtitle function, which, I suppose, is also useful if you are watching late at night when the rest of the household are asleep

The DVD is multi region PAL, Cat No:  DVD7065X and is available now.  A NTSC version will be released on 3rd February 2004.


YES is not getting any younger yet the chaps still perform with the energy befitting a band in their prime.  The return to the classic line-up appears to have revived an excitement within the band together with a desire to return to the musical depth of their early work and produce new music on a par with Close To The Edge.  Only time will tell, but with Rick stating that he will be with the band until the end and Jon saying he has a list of things he wants to achieve in the next ten years, the future looks promising for YES.  Progressive rock has a strong underground following with many new prog bands forming every year, but the genre needs bands of the stature of YES to keep flying the flag.  YESSPEAK is an essential documentary of a band whose following today, after 35 years, is greater than most bands could ever dream of and shows that age and looks are irrelevant as far as good music is concerned.  Let’s hope that YES are able to keep going for many years to come.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Classic Pictures website



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