Before The Birth Of Yes (Seymour SR-021/022)
Disc 1, Happy Magazine (w/ Alan White): Who Belongs To You, Beautiful Land. Federals (W/ Tony Kaye): Brazil, In A Persian Market, The Climb, Dance With A Dolly, Boot Hill, Keep On Dancin’ With Me, Marlena, Please Believe Me, Twilight Time, Lost And Alone, Bucketful Of Love, Leah. The In Crowd (W/ Steve Howe): Why Must They Criticize?, I Don’t Mind. Keith West (W/ Steve Howe): Engel Fallen Night Vom Himmel, Shy Boy. The Warriors (W/ Jon Anderson): You Came Along. Hans Christian (Jon Anderson): Sonata Of Love, Mississippi Hobo
Disc 2, Tomorrow (W/ Steve Howe): Revolution, Three Jolly Little Dwarfs. Winston’s Fumbs (W/ Tony Kaye): Real Crazy Apartment, Snow White. Syndicats (W/ Steve Howe): Maybelline, True To Me, Howlin’ For My Baby, What To Do, On The Horizon, Crawdaddy Simone. Dib Cochrane & The Earwigs (W/ Rick Wakeman): Oh Baby, Universal Love. Paul Williams Set (W/ Alan White): My Sly Sadie, Please Stop The Wedding. Happy Magazine (W/ Alan White): Satisfied Street, Do Right Woman Do Right Man. SYN (W/ Chris Squire & Peter Banks): Created By Clive, Grounded. Tomorrow (W/ Steve Howe): My White Bicycle, Claramount Lake. Yes: For Everyone
Before The Birth Of Yes is a collection of material of Yes members recorded by bands they were previously in. Releases like this are a narrowly themed Nuggets which serve the purpose not only of presenting music by the musicians who have been in Yes before they become popular, but of also gathering to gather rare and otherwise unobtainable material. Many of these songs were issued on singles by major record labels which have fallen into obscurity, but listening to them one gains an appreciation of what was playing on the jukebox in England in the mid sixties.
Forty years on it is easy to think that all people listened to were The Beatles and the Stones, but there obviously was much more on the pop charts and below which can be given another critical evaluation. Since Yes have had so many members there is an ocean of material to choose from and there have been several releases, both official and unofficial, with a similar theme. Highland released The Goddess Of Mercy (HL405/406) in 1999. Highland wanted to emphasize Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman more than Seymour and present more of their early singles. Seymour has more Alan White, Tony Kaye and Chris Squire related songs with a healthy dose of Steve Howe singles.
The first two tracks are unreleased singles from Happy Magazine, a band Alan White drummed for before the Plastic Ono Band between 1968-1969. “The Beautiful Land” is their cover of the song from the play The Roar Of The Greasepaint…The Smell Of The Crowd and this tune is well known to Yes fans as “The Colours Of The Rainbow” sung on the Going For The One tour in 1977. This is followed by Tony Kaye’s mid sixties band The Federals. Their entire catalogue from the Parlophone label is included including unreleased songs. There is no record of “Brazil”, “In A Persian Market”, and “Boot Hill” being released which is a shame since these tracks are brilliant.
All three are instrumentals and are an early attempt of a British band playing South American and Middle Eastern music. “The Climb” and “Dance With A Dolly” was released on Parlophone in January 1964, ” Marlena” / “Please Believe Me” in May 1964, “Twilight Time” / “Lost And Alone” in October 1964, and “A Bucketful Of Love” / “Leah” in August 1965. These songs are all mid-level ballads and safe sounding pop whose biggest characteristic is being inoffensive. Seymour used very good copies of the vinyl with minimal surface noise. Most of these tracks were not included on Goddess Of Mercy and make their compact disc debut here.
The In Crowd was Steve Howe’s second band (after The Syndicats) which was active between 1965 to 1967. They released three singles for Parlophone but only one is included on this release. “Why Must They Criticize?” / “I Don’t Mind” was issued in November 1965 and is an interesting stab at psychedelia. The first song especially is similar in theme to The Who’s “My Generation” without the attitude. “Things She Said”, “Stop Wait A Minute”, “You’re On Your Own” are not present on this release but are on Sons Of Olias (TDR-063) on the cheap Tendolar label along with “Why Must The Criticize?”
“Engel Fallen Night Vom Himmel” and “Shy Boy” is the first single by Keith West, the singer for Tomorrow who tried a solo career. Ex-bandmate Steve Howe was on hand to help and play guitar but the single didn’t go anywhere and neither did West’s career. The final three tracks on the first disc cover Jon Anderson’s career before joining Yes. The Warriors’ “You Came Along” was released backed by “Don’t Make Me Blue” in 1964. The B-side isn’t included in this collection which is unfortunate as it was a group original written by bassist David Foster who went on to help write “Sweet Dreams” and “Time And A Word” for the early Yes. Decca included “You Came Along” on the 1974 collection Hard Up Heroes.
The B-side is included on the Highland collection as are most of Anderson’s solo recordings as Hans Christian Anderson (“Never My Love” / “All Of The Time” and “Out Of My Mind” / “Someone In Heaven Knows”). Two singles were releases by Parlophone and Seymour includes the second, “Sonata Of Love” / “Autobiography Of A Mississippi Hobo” released in May 1968. The sound quality of these two is fair at best and sounds much better on other releases. The second disc of Before The Birth Of Yes begins with the second single release by Tomorrow, Steve Howe’s band after The In Crowd. “Revolution” / “Three Jolly Little Dwarves” was released on Parlophone in September 1967.
The former is a poppy call for anarchy and the latter is a bizarre song about the dwarves being chased by a giant. Jimmy Winston And His Reflections (aka Winston’s Fumbs) was the band Tony Kaye was in after The Federals and issued two singles in 1967. “Real Crazy Apartment” / “Snow White” was the second of the two released in July 1967 on RCA. On these recordings Kaye begins to develop his well-known Hammond Organ sound that was perfected in the early seventies with Yes and Badger. The following six songs represent the entire recorded output of Steve Howe’s first band The Syndicates who played between 1963 and 1965.
“Maybellene” / “True To Me” was issued in March 1964 on Columbia, “Howlin’ With My Baby” / “What To Do” in January 1965 and “On The Horizon” / “Crawdaddy Simone” in September 1965. The following two songs are a release by the mysterious Dib Cochran & The Earwigs: “Oh Baby”/”Universal Love” (Bell BLL.1121) in August 1970. Dib Cochran & The Earwigs was a pseudonym for a band comprising of Marc Bolan, David Bowie (on sax), Rick Wakeman, Mickey Finn and Tony Visconti. The single did not chart and has slipped into obscurity.
‘Oh Baby’ is featured on the Australian Bolan compilation 3LP 20th Century Boy (EMI MARC 1), whereas both tracks are included on the bootleg 4LP box T. Rex – A History (on LP1, labeled The Wizard). This just might be the first release of these songs on compact disc and are real treat. The rest of this title is comprised of tracks from The Syn and the other singles by both Tomorrow and Happy Magazine. The Yes track “For Everyone” rounds off the set which has been released many times before including an official release on Beyond & Before. The cover art features a developing embryo with dividing cells reminiscent of the slide show during “Close To The Edge” during the Yessongs movie. This is a good companion piece to Goddess Of Mercy and Sons Of Olias that sounds very good and is recommended.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)