Definitive Oakland 1988 (Virtuoso 377/378)
Oakland-Almeda Country Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA, USA – February 27, 1988
Disc 1 (68:33) Rhythm Of Love, Hold On, Heart Of The Sunrise, Big Generator, Changes, Shoot High Aim Low, Holy Lamb, Solly’s Beard, Make It Easy, Owner Of A Lonely Heart
Disc 2 (66:27) Yours Is No Disgrace, Bass Solo, And You And I, Love Will Find A Way, I’ve Seen All Good People, Roundabout
Back in June of this year on a well known torrent site a previously un-circulated Yes recording “dropped” seemingly from the heavens, a soundboard recording from the groups tour in support of Big Generator. The Trevor Rabin era of Yes seems to fall into the love or hate category, for me I like it and was quite pleased when Virtuoso announced this title for release that same month. The hardcore collector knows there has been a professional recording made from this tour, Westwood One recorded the February 19, 1988 Houston Show and parts were broadcast on FM, the recording would later show up on both Yesyears and The Word Is Live official releases.
This recording is incredible, referred to as Ultramatrix SBD, just a guess here folks but this is not a dry recordings, it has audience noise close by like one would get field recording so I am guessing there were mics possibly near the soundboard area and so you get soundboard feed plus ambient mics mixed together. The sound for the actual concert was produced Ultrasound, a company who specialized in premium live sound in the Bay Area and who’s founder, Don Pearson, was a Deadhead. This recording was mastered by none other than Charlie Miller who has mastered many Grateful Dead recordings from their original tapes to digital format and freely sent them out to legions of fans worldwide, like his Dead transfers, Miller has graciously shared this brilliant Yes recording free of charge (the downloadable one, your paying for this). The sound is absolutely perfect in every way, a warm perfectly balanced recording with a wonderful range of frequencies and seems to sound better the louder you play it, the words stunning comes to mind.
The set list by this time is standard, songs both new and old mixed with mini solo segments allowing each member to shine collectively and individually. The two and half minute dance remix intro certainly sounds of the era but once Squire starts Rhythm of Love with a nice fat bass line and the band join, the warmth of the sound instantly gets your attention. For me this concert finds the band taking the typically positive vibes of the Bay Area and reflects them back to the crowd with a relaxed evening of Yesmusic. Alan White gets a mini solo as a prelude to Hold On, Heart of the Sunrise is introduced as a “song about dreams…the Sunrise”. Squire’s bass is really good in Big Generator, certainly the song is the least palatable in the set but I did find myself really enjoying it as Chris’ playing is just funky good. Changes is one of those songs from the 90125 era that is purely Yes, intricate and adventurous with superb harmonized vocals, only thing placid hear are Tony Kaye’s keyboards.
Shoot High Aim Low is the ultimate version, Jon does a great introduction “sometimes the music comes pretty fast the lyrics seem to take the time…eventually the song turned into two songs together, I’ll be singing the song about the real world…the first line I sing is about the blue fields, the blue fields is in Nicaragua…Trevor will sing about the dreams of love and peace. This song is for beyond War”, like many bootleg Yes recordings, his energy comes through…the best Yesmusic moves you, gives you tingles up your spine, this song is in that category. A bit of individual spots follow, Jon does a great Holy Lamb, Trevor plays a superb Solly’s Beard accompanied by Tony Kaye all followed by Owner Of A Lonely Heart via the Make It Easy intro.
Save for Heart Of The Sunrise the first half of the concert was all new material, the second half finds the band getting back into their early 70’s classic material, Yours Is No Disgrace is a good way to start. I like Trevor’s playing, kind of gave the song a “Metal” edge. Tony Kaye on the other hand seems like he sets the keyboard to play and works on his Rock Star moves. Chris Squire’s bass solo starts out with a 1:48 minute segment of Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil) and features his Amazing Grace as well. And You And I segues into the Wurm section of Starship Trooper, one can certainly forgive Charlie Miller for missing the track but Virtuoso should certainly have made a cue for the piece. The best of the two singles from Big Generator, Love Will Find A Way played before a rousing version of I’ve Seen All Good People, the latter gets the audience on their feet dancing and clapping. The audience demand more, the band returns to the stage for an encore of Roundabout, Jon tells the audience to dance and sing, Rabin’s lightning fast strumming gives the song a Latin feel that is quite interesting and brings a most satisfying end to a most satisfying performance.
The packaging is the standard full color inserts with official Big Generator graphics, visually it is like a companion piece to the Tokyo 1988 3rd Night (Virtuoso 324/325) release with a yellow hue. A perfect recording, a great performance by Yes, and a nice release by the Virtuoso label.
Great review as usual, Relayer67. We’ll, nothing else to add. If you’re a Yes fan, do yourself a favor and grab this title. It’s a fantastic boot to add to anyone’s collection.