XYZ – Cinema 90XYZ (Highland HL 294/295)

Cinema 90XYZ (Highland 294/295)

Disc 1 (73:32):  Believe It, Telephone Secrets, Instrumental (Mind Drive), Fortune Hunter (instr.), Telephone Secrets, Make It Easy, I’m With You, Moving In, Moving With The Times, Changes, Girl It Ain’t Easy, Hold On, Fools, Who Were You With Last Night?

Disc 2 (73:02):  Mussorgsky excerpt “Promenade”, Harmony, Tonight’s Our Night, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Would You Feel, Baby I’m Easy, It’s Enough, Turn It On, Heart Beat, Slow Dancer, Don’t You Know, Make It Easy, I’m Down.

The first four tracks on disc one represent the XYZ demo from 1981 featuring Jimmy Page, and Chris Squire and Alan White from Yes.  This was a year where both Zeppelin and Yes were over:  Zeppelin after Bonham’s death, and Yes after the disastrous UK tour with their “Buggles” line-up. These four songs, from a reported nine total, surfaced in 1997 and were released before on After The Crash on Midas Touch, which also featured some Robert Plant demos.  This title from Highland features the same tape but from the Yes point of view. 

The XYZ demos are very good soundboard.  It is a bit hissy, but enjoyable.  The mileage these songs have is remarkable, considering XYZ never officially existed. The first song, “Believe It,” is a Chris Squire song that has been released officially on the new Yes title Magnification (“Can You Imagine”).  The third, untitled demo is an Alan White song which was used for the song “Mind Drive” on Keys To Ascension 2 in 1996 and released in 2001 on Keystudio.  The final XYZ song, “Fortune Hunter,” is a Chris Squire song which Jimmy Page borrowed and reworked for The Firm.  

The second song, “Telephone Secrets,” (aka “Telephone Spies”) was an instrumental piece written by Chris Squire even before the Drama line up formed.  The original recording appears on the reissued Drama from 2004 under the title “Song No. 4 Satellite.”  The Highland has two seperate versions.  One is from 1980 recorded as a three piece with White and Howe right after Anderson and Wakeman left.  The second version is from a year later with contributions by Jimmy Page and one is able to compare how the two master guitarists tackle the same number.  

The rest of this release is comprised of the demos made by Trevor Rabin when Yes were still operating under the name Cinema in 1982, before Anderson came back and recorded 90125.  The sound quality is hissy mono and are interesting to the extreme Rabin fan.  The final song on disc two, “I’m Down,” is also of interest.  It features the final encore for Yes’ show in June, 1984 in Dortmund, Germany.  Page joins Yes and attacks the song with vigor, playing a solo very similar to “Immigrant Song.” The XYZ demo is very interesting to hear (Page’s playing is very similar to In Through The Outdoor and Death Wish II).  It is said that the band fell apart when Robert Plant didn’t show any interest in the project.  I really don’t think these songs would have sounded any better with Plant as opposed to Squire singing.  We can always imagine it!

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