I consider myself a Yes fan, and I'll concede the fact that this is as much a Yes album as any of the Yes West albums are Yes albums. I'll add that I have the studio CD of ABWH, and enjoy listening to that. Overall, this CD has some aspects going for it that merit mentioning. The quality of the recording is very good, among the best that Yes has mustered over the years. The choice of tracks is also good quality, everything from Close to the Edge to solo efforts from Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson, to AWBH vintage.
I was unable to, however, give this higher than a 3 star rating. There are two reasons why. The first is Bill Bruford, and the second is Chris Squire, or more specifically, the lack thereof. First, Bill Bruford. There's no doubt that he is a good drummer, and did a fine job on the first few Yes albums. One can hear quite clearly that he has improved a great deal compared to those years, based on his performance on this album. Unfortunately, he chose to use electronic drums, which in parts, I found extremely annoying. There a section in Long Distance Runaround, about 3:18 into the track, when they do a slice from Heart of the Sunrise. His snare drum (or at least I think it's a snare drum) just sounds silly, almost like machine gun fire. Now, I've got nothing against machine gun fire, but I do like it separate from my music listening. This snare drum sound occurs in numerous sections on several tracks, and it makes it almost unlistenable. It's a shame because Close to the Edge is nicely done for the most part, except for the drumming, which again, to this listener, is almost unlistenable.
On to the bass. To me, a big part of the Yes sound is the bass. Chris Squire's unique sound and style contribute in large part to Yes. And the lack of that contribution is hopelessly apparent. On top of that, the bass is buried completely under the mix, almost as if it were done on purpose. The few time I can hear the bass, it sound fine. Jeff Berlin obviously knows how to play well, but I really wish I could hear him better. And the addition of another keyboard player and guitarist only serves to bury the bass deeper behind the mix. And while the background vocals are competent, again, Chris Squire's unique blend with Jon Anderson is sorely missed.
Overall, if one can get past the electronic drums and lack of bass, this is a good album. But not one of Yes' best.