"Where all this repackaging and repurposing is headed is anyone's guess, but we're surely beyond the point of diminishing returns": The Yes Album (Super Deluxe Edition)

Yes's breakthrough album has been effectively re-repackaged, again: there's plenty of greatness included, but when is enough enough?

Yes - The Yes Album cover art
(Image: © Rhino)

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Back in 2014 Yes released a "Definitive" edition of their third and breakthrough collection, The Yes Album. It was jam-packed with as many bells as there were whistles: the original album, freshly remastered; some unreleased material; recordings from two live shows; and the obligatory Steven Wilson 5.1 Surround Sound mix. 

Cut to next scene: It's 2023, and Yes have released a "Super Deluxe" version of the same album. It's been remastered. There's some unreleased material. There are recordings from two live shows. And there's a Dolby Atmos remix from Lord Porcupine Tree.

Quite where all this repackaging and repurposing is headed is anyone's guess, but we're surely beyond the point of diminishing returns, and there are a couple of points within this Super Deluxe package where things are truly diminished. The first is the inclusion of the single edit of Starship Trooper, which is a reasonable enough curio, but it's spineless without the transcendent Würm section of the original, with its gorgeous build-climax-release prog-gasm.

Then there's the mono version of the album – originally sent to American AM radio DJs – which only succeeds in comprehensively neutering Yours is No Disgrace, previously lit up by Steve Howe's guitar panning maniacally from left to right and back. A collector's item, perhaps, but in a package so clearly aimed at audiophiles its inclusion seems a little obtuse.

The original album is still unearthly. It marks the point at which Yes stopped flying formation and soared off on their own trajectory, equal parts dazzling musicianship and wide-eyed ambition, and time has not worn its wonder. Wilson's remixes are exemplary, but the raw material he's working with is good as it gets. Eddie Offord's production on The Yes Album was balletic, with an almost unmatched mix of lightness and grace, and Wilson knows not to add beef where none is called for. 

Amongst the extra tracks are several present on the 2014 release, including the studio version of Clap and the ever-lengthening A Venture, and several that weren't, including entirely unnecessary instrumental versions of Wilson's mixes. The live material comes from a Gothenburg show recorded prior to the album's release and a New Haven show taped in its wake, with the biggest surprise a lively take on Time And A Word's Astral Traveller that adds almost two minutes to the original version's running time. 

Bring on 2032's Ultimate Fandango Edition.  

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.