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Union: Live Live, Import

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Unless you lived in Japan when it came out on video or had a copy on laser disc, you've almost certainly never seen this fantastic concert film. Shot on August 8, 1991 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, this footage has become a sought-after artifact among Yes fans; get ready for their "rock and awe" campaign on 2 CDs or DVD as they dazzle with I've Seen All Good People; Roundabout; Yours Is No Disgrace; Owner of a Lonely Heart; Heart of the Sunrise; Firebird Suite , and more!

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Amazon.com: 19 reviews
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
A Real Treat For Yes Fans May 20 2011
By Alto Eager - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There was quite a bit of history behind Yes' Union tour. Formed in 1968, progressive rock band Yes experienced numerous lineup changes throughout the 70's, finally stabilizing in the 80's with the lineup known as "Yes West". Amidst urging from their record company, a merging of arguably the two most popular lineups of the band occurred, producing an album (Union) and world tour. This lineup included singer Jon Anderson and Chris Squire on bass, as well as Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin on guitars, drummers Bill Bruford and Alan White, and Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye on keyboards. Fans have the widely available (and slightly underwhelming) Union album to document this period, but few have had the privilege of experiencing the amazing tour that followed.

Until now. Previously only available as a Japanese VHS/DVD import, us Westerners finally get a proper release, and the performance (recorded live on August 9, 1991 at the Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA) gets an official CD release for the first time. There has never been a live Yes album quite like this one (they all seem to have their own personality), as this gives the listener the rare opportunity to hear classic Yes songs reinterpreted by the members (even members who played on respective original recordings make a go at new arrangements). It would be easy for a sloppy performance to result from having eight super-musicians (and therefore, eight egos) on stage, but not only are the performances tight, the energy is amazing. One listen to the extended performance of "Yours Is No Disgrace" should convince any skeptic. The interplay between Howe and Rabin on classic tunes, mixed with Wakeman's keyboard and keytar solos during "Rhythm Of Love" and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" truly demonstrate the unique cross-pollination at work among members across Yes' vast discography. Even the way it was recorded is cool; anyone who has been to the Shoreline Amphitheater will recognize the brand of natural reverb that this venue produces- captured nicely in this recording. Anyone familiar with what Yes can do onstage should have an idea of what to expect (but multiplied by two).

However, as much as I want to shower this release with blind praise, I must admit there are some faults. The first big one is the abridged set list. Excluding the Firebird Suite intro, there are just 12 tracks. The track listing does not differ from the original Japanese release, but there exists audio of additional performances from the night this was recorded. These include the songs "Shock To The System", "And You And I", and "Lift Me Up". I'm sure even more were performed, as period bootlegs feature upwards of 24 songs on the set list. For the diehard fans, a 4-disc deluxe edition is available (two DVD+two CD), with the previously mentioned omitted tracks featured as audio-only 5.1 on the bonus DVD. With the obvious availability of additional performances, one wonders why the record company didn't release the full show (at around 55 minutes of content per disc, there certainly was enough room for at least a few more songs).

In relation to the short set list, a lot of crowd noise and Anderson's in-between-songs banter is eliminated, subtracting from the "live" feel of the album. I would have excused this if it meant making room for squeezing more tracks in. Additional notes: The recording quality and remaster are brilliant -don't get me wrong- the following is more of a heads up to the reader than a noted flaw of the disc. The volume of this release is a bit quieter than comparable CD releases, but this isn't an issue if your CD player features a volume knob (rest assured that this album doesn't suffer from compression in the least). Also, the mix is very bass-heavy, but I believe this stems from the dynamics-killing situation of having eight performers on one stage, rather than a recording issue.

Overall, this set is really the Yes enthusiast's wet dream. Even those not keen on the Union-era of Yes will not be disappointed (only one track from said album is featured here). I do not recommend this album as an introduction to Yes; if you're new to the band, I would instead point you in the direction of The Yes Album, Close To The Edge, or 90125, depending on musical preference. For the casual fan, I would not even recommend this as a first live album (check out Yessongs or the Keys To Ascension series instead). This release is really aimed at the dedicated fan, but the overall quality of the album allows for anyone with like musical tastes to enjoy listening, even if an appreciation for the historical value of this performance can't be established. The truly committed should check out the afore-mentioned deluxe edition (contains both audio discs, plus a DVD of the concert, PLUS a bonus disc with a full professionally recorded bootleg concert, a full audience-shot bootleg concert, and bonus audio). A solo DVD release is also available. Four stars.

(Edit 3/22/12: The four disc deluxe edition I mentioned in this review is sold out. It was made in extremely limited numbers. For fun, I wanted to see how much used copies cost, and I couldn't even find a copy anywhere online for any price, eBay included. The rest of my review about the CD and DVD standard versions still apply. Thanks for reading.)
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Yes Union Tour great gig June 25 2011
By Eh Van Bodegom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I can be brief. This is in theory an over the top concert with two guitar players (Rabin, Howe, you cannot find two more diverging guitar styles in rock)), two keyboard players (Kaye, Wakeman - introvert and extravert), two drummers (Bruford - jazzy and percussion-oriented - and White - in fact a real rock drummer), Anderson (vocals) and Squire on bass. As my daily paper put it after their Rotterdam concert: they are the best players in the scene, and they have very big egos. That might be true or not true, but the combination is utterly beautiful. Rabin's more "tradional"rock sound only in "Yours is no Disgrace" is over the top. The whole concert is very beautiful. Sound and image are good. Awaken, with the special percussion of Bruford is stunning.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Treat for Yes Fans! 8 Great Musicians and a Classic Playlist. Aug. 3 2011
By D. Dutton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD is best suited for the seasoned Yes fan. I saw 3 shows of this tour in 1991. 2 in Philly and one in Atlantic City at Trump's Taj Mahal. These were the last of the epic Yes shows. The set list on tour was great and the track selections for the CD are great as well. My only disappointment was the dropping of "And You And I" and the Bruford/White double solo. In the live show the Bruford/White "tandem solo" was amazing.

For me I never tire of "Awaken" and love every version. I could listen to them back to back and never get tired of it. "Union Live" also has a great version of "Awaken".

Going from Firebird Suite into "Yours is No Disgrace" had to be Bruford's idea. It worked great! Rabin and Howe both are highlighted on "Yours Is No Disgrace" with solo pieces. Howe's mastery does edge out the very talented and accomplished Rabin. It's magic to hear them both. Two great players with distinct styles. You will have no trouble figuring out who's playing.

The Union CD when it was released had some great music. The live version is not a live version of the Union album. Only one track from Union is on here.


* Rabin and Howe solos and playing together
* Awaken
* Rythm of Love
* Bruford and White compliment each other very well.
* Jon Anderson

Disc 1
Intro/Firebird Suite 3:15
Yours Is No Disgrace 15:13
Rhythm Of Love 5:12
Heart Of The Sunrise 11:00
Clap/Mood For A Day (Howe Solo) 6:43
Make It Easy/Owner Of A Lonely Heart 6:34
I've Seen All Good People 7:22
Dics 2
Solly's Beard (Rabin Solo) 6:32
Saving My Heart For You 5:09
Whitefish/Amazing Grace 9:58
Rick Wakeman Solo 4:28
Awaken 19:26
Roundabout 9:41
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Theirs is no disgrace Aug. 15 2011
By The Lion - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
OK, I'll get right to the point: I purchased this CD because I wanted to go back in time 20 years and experience this great show again. So I was hoping for some "goosebump moments" and I'm glad to report that there are some of those on this nice 2 CD set. In fact, one of my favorite moments happens early on, during "Yours Is No Disgrace". How well I remember the twin guitars of Rabin and Howe battling across that slowly revolving stage! The crunch of White's bass drum was loud enough to shake my rib cage and Anderson's divine vocals transported me to otherworldly places. Ah, this is what Yes music is supposed to BE! Unfortunately this is the real high point of the show for me, although some of the other songs come close. I especially like "Owner of a Lonely Heart", "Awaken" and the "Whitefish" solo. What I would have liked to hear (and what seemed to me to get lost in the mix) is more of Bill Bruford's outstanding percussion work. Alan White's drums more often than not seem to swallow up Bruford's stellar contributions due to the sheer power of his playing---this wasn't the case when I actually attended the show. And there are a couple of times where even Steve Howe's guitar volume seems to have been downsized, most notably in the first half of "Awaken." Of course, there are always problems with a live concert, but I would have thought that modern day mixing technology might have been able to bring out the BEST that this concert had to offer. It's still a great show which really captures the band at another peak, I just wish it could have been given a little more TLC which would have made it a five star CD instead of just another Yesshow.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Union: Live July 16 2011
By Anthony F. Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase

Sound quality is not up to today's standards, but the music is full of Yes Spirit.
We have been waiting for this one for 18 years. At last it is here. There is a DVD as well.

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