Best Of 1971 (Siréne-243)
Yes, Yale Bowl, New Haven, CT – July 24th, 1971 & Emerson Lake & Palmer, Royal Theater, Drury Lane, London, England – June 20th, 1971
Disc 1, Yes, Yale Bowl, New Haven, CT – July 24th, 1971: Yours Is No Disgrace, I’ve Seen All Good People, Clap, Perpetual Change, drum solo, Perpetual Change (reprise)
Disc 2, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Royal Theater, Drury Lane, London, England – June 20th, 1971: Promenade (end only), The Gnome, Promenade, The Sage, The Old Castle, blues variation, Promenade, The Hut Of Baba Yaga, The Curse Of Baba Yaga, (Tarkus) Stones Of Years, Iconoclast, Mass, Manticore, Battlefield, Aquatarkus, Rondo drum solo, Rondo (reprise)
Best of 1971 gathers together two shows. The first is the Yale soundboard from Yes’ first US tour, and the second an audience recording of Emerson Lake & Palmer’s Royal Theater show. There is no obvious connection between these two except that they occur about a month apart in the same summer. Both tapes capture these two important progressive rock bands at the point where they were honing their live skills and were beginning to make a name for themselves. The first disc is the shorter of the two, just under forty minutes. This comes from the final date of Yes’ first ever trip outside of England and contains The Yes Album line up of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Bill Bruford, Tony Kaye and Steve Howe.
This is a soundboard recording by an enterprising member of the audience who, the story goes; simply plugged his reel-to-reel into the sound system and security said nothing about it. It contains the complete, four song set except for a cut after “I’ve Seen All Good People”. There have been three previous silver releases of this popular tape on the one disc set 1971 In The Beginning Is A Future (Rocket Sound RS-1002), the two disc set Alternate Yessongs (Highland HL003/4#Y2) coupled with the 1972 Duke University tape, and Perpetual Change (Hiwatt YS 001). Siréne claim they use a digital copy of the master reel which may be true since this sounds much more loud and clear than the earlier releases and this is the very best tape two have from Yes’ early days.
Yes began their first tour of north America a month before this show in Alberta, Canada. The only other tape to be widely bootlegged is the show right before Yale at Gaelic Park in the Bronx. Yes’ set is truncated (they also usually played “Everydays” and “It’s Love” after “Perpetual Change”) because they were third on the bill before a local band called Decibel Death and the headliners Grand Funk Railroad. There is a small cut in the tape between “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Clap”. Steve Howe includes his version of Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas” as a slow, melodic interlude as was usual for this tour.
“I must say it’s very nice for us to be playing in New Haven this evening and we’re very pleased to be here. The other side of story is this is the last date of our current US tour so we’re obviously very excited about going home, as well as we’re certainly going to miss this country because we’ve had a hell of a time over here. Thank you very much. Just a bit of kinda tuning up noise. It’s a very harmonic thing to hear actually, I don’t know if you’ve been to a concert recently, where it’s more kind of…. This is another track from our current Atlantic release called The Yes Album and this is..uh possibly the last song from us this evening and this is also the last song on the album from us. So we’d like to…continue here with a song called ‘Perpetual Change'”. This version is complete with Bill Bruford’s drum solo in the middle.
The second disc is devoted to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s June 20th show at the Royal Theater in London. Two tape sources exist for this show and both were released on vinyl. The first tape is longer, containing more including “Knife Edge” and a twenty-four minute version of “Take A Pebble”. This tape appears on the vinyl Sukrat and on compact disc as Demon Seed on Ayanami. The second tape contains many cuts and first appeared on the vinyl The Palms. Siréne use an excellent vinyl copy for this release. The sound quality is excellent with some distortion during louder parts. It cuts in during the first “Promenade” and runs through a cut at the end of “The Sage”. There is a small cut at 2:37 in the “blues variation”. It is also cut 2:47 in “The Curse Of Baba Yaga” eliminating “The Great Gates Of Kiev”. The tape fades back in during the “Stones Of Years” section of “Tarkus” with “Eruption” missing. There is another cut between “Battlefield” and “Aquatarkus” with several minutes missing.
After “Aquatarkus” fades out “Rondo” cuts in already in progress and contains most of the show, lasting almost twenty minutes. It is a shame this tape is so fragmented because it is one of the best sounding early ELP tapes and would be definitive. This tape is enjoyable because they were playing the full “Pictures At An Exhibition” suite and pieces like “The Sage” and “The Old Castle” would be dropped in the future never to appear again. It is also nice hearing “Tarkus” at such an early stage in its development without Lake’s asides or the “Epitaph” reference in “Battlefield”. Best Of 1971 is worth having since this is the best version of the Yes tape and the ELP does have its charm.