Monday, May 14, 2018

Demos and Alternates Week, Part One: Mabel Greer's Toy Shop

I won't claim the first record by Yes is the best record by Yes. I am not that guy who only likes Led Zeppelin's first, gave up on Clapton after the Bluesbreakers, and thinks "Quadrophenia" stinks. No, I think "Close To The Edge," the record that is universally thought of as the Yes masterpiece, is in fact their best. But man, do I love their debut! I had written about it before and what I had written had somehow found its way to Bill Bruford's eyes, which prompted him to expound on it a bit more. That was certainly a Burning Wood highlight.

While searching for one thing, I stumbled across a listing for an early live recording that featured Yes covering the Buffalo Springfield's "Everydays," which eventually was recorded for "Time & A Word," The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," which I assume was left unrecorded in favor of "Every Little Thing," which made its way to the debut, and The Rascals' "It's Love," which was news to me! The bonus material on this bootleg CD, included a BBC version of my favorite Yes song of them all, "Beyond & Before," the opening psych/pop gem from their debut. I had no idea this was ever performed live, so I dug a little deeper and found what is posted above--"Beyond & Before" as performed by Mabel Greer's Toy Shop, the pre-Yes band that morphed from The Syn with Chris Squire into Yes.

As I said mentioned above, I think "Close To The Edge" is a masterpiece, all three songs of it. But there is something about "Beyond & Before" that really does it for me. The whole of that debut really does it for me. This is what I wrote in 2010:

The songs are relatively short, with nothing clocking in over 7 minutes, and most less than 6. The band hasn't yet employed two of its most infamous members, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman, so the guitar and keyboards are played by Peter Banks and Tony Kaye, respectively. Musically, it leans more towards the heavy, psych-rock of early Deep Purple, as well as, dare I say it, the Airplane and, like this song here, "Beyond & Before," later Move.

I still agree with what I said.


buzzbabyjesus said...

Because you said it, I totally hear late Move.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty unaware of Yes up to their cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "America" and "Roundabout" on 45. I latched onto Peter Banks in Flash right away, tho, cause they sounded a little more human (plus they killed it in on live radio from a concert in my hometown). There used to be a great interview with Banks on a Marquee Club history website that no longer exists. The most memorable story was of Squire and Banks going to catch King Crimson at the Marquee and realizing that Yes was not in Crimson's league as musicians.

kevin m said...

YES was my first real concert (really don't count the Jackson Family Revue at the old Westbury Music Fair) back in 1978. Since then, I have had periods where I love the band and years where I couldn't give a lick (late 80s-late 90s; anything after Jon Anderson left in 2005).

While Sal has a point about their first record, but it's never really been on my "must" listen rotation. To me, still sounds like a band that was learning to work together. You can hear a band w/ great potential but still needed to do some digging. That potential was finally realized w/ The YES Album (still my favorite record by the band)

Last year I saw the YES line up w/ Anderson, Wakeman & Rabin. Despite Wakeman looking like he needs to lose 150 pounds, the band sounded in fine form and I'd much rather invest time & money w/ them than the version Steve Howe is leading

M_Sharp said...

There's definitely some Move going on, I'm surprised I never heard it before. I've always liked their first two albums, but they lost me with "Tales etc.".

Sal Nunziato said...

@M_Sharp--they lost themselves with Topographic Oceans