Electric Freedom (Virtuoso-008/009)
Boston Garden, Boston, MA – December 11, 1974
Disc 1: Radio intro., Firebird Suite, Sound Chaser, Close To The Edge, To Be Over
Disc 2: Gates Of Delirium, And You And I, Roundabout, Radio outro
Electric Freedom is the latest Yes release on the Virtuoso label documenting the December 11th, 1974 Boston Gardens show. This tape comes from the DIR archives and was broadcast over the King Biscuit Flower Hour back in the seventies and has unfortunately never seen official release, but is one of the most popular recordings of Yes in circulation.
The two LP set Affirmery (Beacon Island Records 2S710) and its clone The Affirmery(TAKRL 1981) has “Firebird Suite,” “Sound Chaser,” “Gates Of Delirium,” and “Roundabout.” Stellar Attraction (Beacon Island Records 2S719) is a 2LP set that has all but “To Be Over,” but Stellar Attraction (Singer’s Original Double Disc SODD 008) is the only vinyl title to have the complete broadcast.
Material from this tape can be found on many compact disc releases. Close To The Edge (Alegra CD9018) has all but “Gates Of Delirium,” Domino (Three Cool Cats TCC 009/010) is a two disc set with “Roundabout,” Experience The Future (Diamond In Your Ear DIYE 25) has “Sound Chaser and “To Be Over,” Live In LA Forum 1974 & 1987 (Best Of Live Series BOLS 004) has “Close To The Edge” and “Roundabout,” Re-Evolution (Flashback 08.90.0124) and Re-Evolution (Flashback 08.9090124-33) both have this show but are missing “Gates Of Delirium.”
Roundabout (Living Legend LLRCD 082) has “Close To The Edge,” “And You And I,” and “Roundabout” while Siberian Khatru (Live Line LL15486) has “Close To The Edge” and “Roundabout” and Siberian Khatru (Lobster CD 021) has “Close To The Edge,” “And You And I,” and “Roundabout.” Something Wonderful (Prime Of Rarities PRCD-1009) has four songs including “To Be Over,” “Gates Of Delirium,” “And You And I,” and “Roundabout” and Sound Chaser (Chapter One CO 25140) has three, “Sound Chaser,” “Close To The Edge,” and “Roundabout.”
The latest silver release was about a decade ago on The Gates Of Boston Garden(Highland HL339/340) where it is supplemented with eight songs from the Q.P.R. gig on May 5th, 1975. The Highland is a very popular and commands high prices when it does surface, but the sound is mastered very hot in the upper frequencies and there is a tendency for the sound to crackle in high volume.
Virtuoso, by contrast, has less crackle in the high end, yet there is a bit of dullness to the sound that isn’t on Highland. Whether the sound quality is an improvement or not depends upon taste. And just like the Siréne release Roosevelt Stadium which contains the complete WNEW commentary, this new release restores the KBFH introduction and conclusion where are absent on the prior release.
Again whether one like this or not depends on taste, but keeping in the commentary does place the tape in its proper historic context.
Yes’ winter tour in 1974 lasted about a month and was a quickly arranged way to try out the new material on the road. These shows featured a very short (for Yes) set list that was focused on the new songs. Later Relayer tours would feature the long solo spots and acoustic set, but these are very focused ensemble playing. There are many documents on tape including the recently excavated Baton Rouge tape, but Boston remains the only professionally recorded tape in circulation.
Unfortunately it is not complete, missing the final song of the set “Ritual” and quiet possibly another encore since “Siberian Khatru” pops up in some of the gigs. This release begins with the announcer speaking about the special two part Yes and Gryphon special before the “Firebird Suite” and the new song “Sound Chaser.” The song was so unusual in dynamics that even the radio engineers don’t know how to handle it and the backing vocals sound a bit out of tune.
A perfect Moraz-tinged “Close To The Edge” follows before Jon Anderson says, “It’s nice to be with you again… What we’d like to do is play our new album to you. And some other things later on. Now we’d like to play something called ‘To Be Over.'” What follows is a pristine version of one of their most sublime creations.
The DIR announcer has a few words afterwards before Anderson introduces the first side of the new album “Gates Of Delirium.” Much like “Sound Chaser,” the sound engineer plays around with the mix and sometimes Moraz’ backing organ sounds are louder than Howe’s stratocaster.
Having such a clean recording strips the number of some of its excitement since the audience’s reaction is hardly visible. However, some of the Boston faithful do get some of their whistles in during the song and thankfully the engineers figure the song out enough to capture a great version of “Soon,” the closing peaceful section of the new epic.
“Thank you very much. Hope you like the new songs. We’d like to play for you ‘And You And I'” he says before one of Yes’ most popular stage numbers. It was on this tour that Chris Squire began to play the harmonica during “The Preacher The Teacher.” Anderson encourages the audience to dance along for the final song of the night “Roundabout.”
Despite how popular this recording is, Electric Freedom is recommended because it is the most complete (with KBFH announcements) and sounds great. Since the tape is so short with a running time just over eighty minutes, Virtuoso could have supplemented this with other material. There is an audience recording of this show extant which has never been released, and that would have been a tantalizing bonus.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)