Yes – Union Of Dreams (Highland HL238/239)

Union Of Dreams (Highland HL238/239)

Disc 1 (65:52):  Yours Is No Disgrace, Rhythm Of Love, Shock To The System, Heart Of The Sunrise, Make It Easy / Owner Of A Lonely Heart, And You And I, Lift Me Up

Disc 2 (67:56):  Changes, I’ve Seen All Good People, Roundabout, Awaken (2nd half).  Holding On demo take 1, Holding On demo take 2, Holding On demo take 3, Holding On demo take 4, Holding On demo take 5, Holding On demo take 6, Holding On demo take 7, Holding On (part 2) take 1, Holding On (part 2) take 2, Holding On (part 2) take 3

Union Of Dreams is another interesting and confusing as hell Highland release from Yes’ Uniontour.  Released in 1998, the liner notes claim that the bulk of this release is sourced from the April 24th, 1991 Montreal show, the latter half of “Awaken” from a show in Wembley on June 22nd, and the “Holding On” demos from 1991.

The majority of this release comes from a telecast in 1998 on Canadian television of the Yes Union show, but there was no mention of the date or location.  The assumption was this is the Montreal show, however this telecast featured the May 9th show at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado.   

In reality “Yours Is No Disgrace” to “And You And I,” “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Roundabout” come from Denver, and “Lift Me Up,” “Changes” and “Awaken” are taken from Wembley Arena on June 29th, 1991 and are sourced from the excellent Westwood One radio broadcast.  It’s a confusing edit because “Lift Me Up” and “Changes” from Colorado circulate and why they were edited in from Wembley is not exactly clear.

Denver was released before and several tracks can be found on Union Review ’91 (Dr. Gig DGCD004) which lacks “Rhythm Of Love” and “Lift Me Up.”  Wembley has been the source of many great titles including Live In Montreal (Flash 09.92.0187), The Return To Fantasy (Beech Marten Records BM 055) and U.S.A. 1991 (Post Script PSCD 1243).  Despite the errors and the bizarre editing, the sound quality is imply outstanding.  The stereo separation, gain and balance are perfect.  The only small quibble would be about what sounds like canned cheering during the tracks which sounds artificial.  Even that isn’t intrusive though.

The performances are also outstanding.  By this time the had become used to playing with one another and they mesh very well with hints of competition between the guitarists.  This is apparent in the first song “Yours Is No Disgrace” where it is obvious Howe and Rabin are dueling it out (and Rabin blows Howe off the stage).  After “Rhythm Of Love” Jon Anderson greets the audience, saying, “It’s great to be with you this evening. Do you want to hear a new song? Here’s a new song from the new album. The song is called ‘Shock To The System.’  Shock to the rights of mankind” articulating heavily each syllable.

“And You And I” is referred to as being “like good wine, things get better with age. They really do. Especially this next song. Woo!”  There is a noticeable change in the sound quality after the song as we switch to Wembley for the next couple of songs.  “Life Me Up” is the second Union song played in the set at this point. 

The second disc cuts in while Anderson is congratulating the drummers for their duet, saying:  “Hear it to the thunder machine, Mr. Alan White! On the electronic drums, Mr. Bill Bruford!”  He goes on to make an introduction before “Changes,” saying:  “The unbelievable, the original, the very naughty, the man who never says no. Mr. Tony Kaye!” 

There is another edit after the song and Jon Anderson, speaking to the Colorado audience, is saying:  “What we need now is some audience participation. What we’re going to do is a song which, I’m sure a lot of you know and we’re going to record it. As you know we’re recording anyway tonight so.   We have these microphones at the end of the blue lights. You see the blue lights so we can pick up the audience. You guys. Alright. We need you to sing along. Okay? Are you ready to sing along okay?”  The live material ends with the final ten minutes of “Awaken” from Wembley, cutting in during the meditative harp section to the end. 

The final half hour of this disc is devoted to an amateur recording of Jonathan Elias, Trevor Rabin and Jon Anderson in the studio working on “Holding On.”  This is one of the more produced and treated songs on Union, but this tape reveals how much work went into the song.  This kind of tape really appeals to hardcore fans.  While it is interesting, a half hour of stops, starts and discussions (some of which are bearly audible) tend to get a bit tedious. 

Highland should be applauded for pressing this tape since it is, as far as I can tell, the only version available on any release.   Union Of Dreams utilizes the Roger Dean artwork on the front cover and has typical period photos on in the inner artwork.  However, if you’re not looking for ever piece of rehearsal tape Yes ever produced or am not a big fan of the album, then the appeal is quite limited.  The Denver material, while sounding great, is not complete and actually watching the footage is so much better, especially since there aren’t many Union clips floating around.   

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