9012Live is a whimpering example of a lost opportunity. With the Trevor Rabin era of Yes still making its first bold steps, a live album would have made a wonderful companion to the 90125 album. The anthemic sing-a-long vibe many of the songs enjoyed and refreshing energy could translate into a live setting like wildfire. It’s a disappointment that 9012Live completely falls short of delivering that intensity. It’s not even a technical matter so much as the abridged approach they took here. Rather than deliver a traditional live experience, this album takes a small handful of songs and fills the rest with puzzling interlude tracks. I suppose it could have been interesting for the band to take an unconventional route for a live album, but following the success of Yessongs and Yesterdays, I’m not sure why they let this opportunity slip. What was going through their heads at the time?
9012Live holds some minor significance to me as the first Yes album I ever owned- it was given to me on cassette by a relative. I never thought much of it then, and wouldn’t become a true Yes fan until I was introduced to the classic material some years later. The cassette version was further abridged (leaving off “City of Love” and “It Can Happen”, making the already-undercut feeling of the album even worse. Even in it’s full apparent glory however, I’m confused as to what Yes were trying to prove here. “Hold On” is a good anthem-rocker and fitting choice of opener, but for the three songs that follow, we don’t even hear Yes performing as a band. “Si” offers some faux- Wakeman organ rambling from Tony Kaye, “Solly’s Beard” is a purely acoustic and relatively pleasant guitar exercise from Trevor Rabin, and “Soon” is focused exclusively on Jon Anderson’s vocals. “Soon” itself is performed as an edited cut from “The Gates of Delirium”, but here it’s abridged even further, cutting down the beautiful piece in half.
This idea of weirdly abridging classic Yes material is reprised with “Whitefish”, although the medley (built around Squire’s “The Fish”, among other classic Yes tunes) is probably the strongest thing the release has going for it. “Amazing Grace” is another Squire track, wrapped in fervent guitar distortion the same way Jimi Hendrix‘s live performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was. As for the choices of full tracks off of 90125, I’m further puzzled by the fact that they left off their #1 single “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, but “Changes” is a welcome cut. “City of Love” and “It Can Happen” were two of my less favourite songs from the album, but I doubt any selection from 9012Live‘s studio counterpart would have made this feel any less lopsided.
If you want to hear an interesting medley, check out “Whitefish”. Otherwise, 9012Live is more or less a throwaway. I can’t seem to find any satisfying explanation as to why this album was released as it is. Can someone enlighten me on this?
1. Hold On (6:57)
2. SI (Tony Kaye) (2:40)
3. Solly’s Beard (Trevor Rabin) (4:39)
4. Soon (Jon Anderson) (2:18)
5. Changes (7:00)
6. Amazing Grace (Chris Squire) (2:10)
7. Whitefish (Squire & White) (8:40)
Total Time: 33:24
* Bonus Tracks on Japanese Remastered CD Version (2009):
8. City of Love
9. It Can Happen
* Jon Anderson – vocals
* Chris Squire – bass and vocals
* Tony Kaye – keyboards
* Alan White – drums
* Trevor Rabin – guitars and vocals