Paris ’74 (Highland HL132/133#Y26)
Palais Des Sports De Paris, Paris, France – April 19th, 1974
Disc 1 (63:47): Opening (excerpt from “Firebird Suite”), Siberian Khatru, And You And I, Close To The Edge, The Revealing Science Of God
Disc 2 (62:52): The Ancient, Ritual, Roundabout, Starship Trooper
The final three shows on Yes’ long Topographic Oceans tour were in Paris, Zürich and Rome. Paris ’74 on Highland uses a fair to good mono audience recording of the event. The entire show is captured except for cuts after “Close To The Edge,” at 9:40 and between 13:47 to 13:51 in “The Revealing Science Of God,” at 19:29 in “Ritual” and tape pauses at 4:03 and 6:34 in “Roundabout.” The tape becomes brittle during very loud parts, there is a channel shift for a bit in the beginning of “Close To The Edge,” and evidence of tape deterioration in “Ritual” right before the cut. It is a treacherous tape to get through but is worth wading through to hear this interesting and dramatic show.
Spending six months writing and recording the album only to see it bashed by the press took a toll on the group. Add to that a grueling tour where they played the entire album (for the first part anyway) with Rick Wakeman and Chris Squire not being as enthusiastic for the material as architects Jon Anderson and Steve Howe and even more negative reviews by the press, and the strain becomes evident by the final week. Not only does Anderson sound tired in the introductions, but the band play the new songs with a lethargy that is discouraging.
“Siberian Khatru” starts the show off well, but there is some problems with the equipment afterwards. Anderson greets the audience, saying, “Mercy Francois. It’s nice to be here. Thank you all for coming along tonight. Here’s a song called ‘And You And I.'” There is a short delay before they start the song. “Close To The Edge” is played with an anger and hostility largely absent from older versions of the epic with Wakeman especially asserting himself in the middle. It seems like he is telling the band they should be playing music closer to that than Topographic Oceans and the results on this recording are mesmerizing.
After “The Revealing Science Of God” Anderson gives a proper introduction to the third side, saying, “Merci. Thank you…side three of the album…has the title ‘The Ancient.’ The ancient civilizations believed that the sun was god. Giants under the sun.” Howe tries to inject new life into the song by playing different melodies on the pedat steel guitar during the long middle section and even Anderson tries out a new melody in “Leaves Of Green.” It’s the same story with “Ritual” where Anderson raises himself for the “Nous Sommes Du Soleil” ending. The encores are the expected “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper” and Wakeman adds pretty little piano melodies to the latter, seeming to take the final word about Yes’ artistic direction. Paris ’74 is a very early and daring release by Highland and one of many from their tour of Europe that year. It will probably be the only silver pressed edition and is recommended for hearing a band suffering from inner turmoil.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)