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The Yes Album Takes Flight Via Dolby Atmos Mix In Super Deluxe 4CD / Blu-ray Disc / LP Edition

Mark Smotroff enjoys the perpetual change of new ways to hear old favorites…


A spectacular new super deluxe edition package out from Rhino Records celebrates the 1971-released third album by progressive rock pioneers, Yes.  This collection includes wealth of outtakes, alternates mixes and live recordings as well as a remastered 1LP vinyl disc of the original recording which is titled The Yes Album. Peaking at No.4 in the U.K., it was the group’s first album to break into the US Top 40 (an album eventually certified platinum after selling 1 million copies!).

Perhaps most significantly featured in The Yes Album (Super Deluxe Edition) package is a Blu-ray Disc which contains remastered original Stereo audio, an updated 5.1 surround sound mix and a dynamic new Dolby Atmos mix, all created by Steven Wilson.

This updates are significant because Wilson even admits in the liner notes that his Dolby Atmos mix and revisions to the 5.1 mix he created in 2014 represent a marked improvement both due to advances in technology as well as more advanced mixing techniques he learned over the past 10 years.  Much has changed in that time! 

He says: ”For the Atmos Mix, I used my 5.1 as a starting point but found myself taking quite a different approach on some parts of the music, partly by virtue of now having the extra speakers to place the sounds in, but also because I’ve learned a few things in the nearly ten years since I first remixed the album…I hope you enjoy The Yes Album in its new, fully spatialized form. To me, it still sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded.”

Indeed, when I went back to listen to the original 5.1 mix, I was surprised how it sounded. It is not bad and for the time it was pretty great! But, I did notice that it lacked a certain extra something, in retrospect. There is a phrase I like to borrow at times like this which comes from Tim Burton’s wonderful take on Alice In Wonderland: “muchness.”  It lacked muchness.  Yes, that is it.

When I put on the new Dolby Atmos mix in The Yes Album (Super Deluxe Edition), I immediately could sense the difference.

Indeed, it has much more muchness! 

There is a richness and fullness in this new presentation of the music that is at times astounding, especially when the multi-part harmonic vocals reach out and fill the room. Also, one of the things I love about this new mix is how Mr. Wilson has seemingly gone to great lengths to honor the underlying vision and intent of original producer Eddie Offord’s 1971 sound design.  

I went back to listen to my original UK pressings on vinyl (orange/purple and red/green variants) and there was a specific sonic texture (if you will) which Offord was working with. Wilson’s new mix feels like what I might imagine Mr. Offord might aimed for had he access to this technology (or even a Quadrophonic mixing system) back in the day.

In that sense, this approach makes the new Dolby Atmos mix of The Yes Album (Super Deluxe Edition) feel incredibly authentic, as forward-looking as it is a glance backward 50-plus years.  

Of course the musicianship on The Yes Album is impeccable and we get to hear incredible new details literally all over the place.  

As far as glitches, there is a small problem with the mastering I need to call your attention to. I’ve heard this happen — and one other person online has told me they had experienced a similar problem — where the very beginning second or so of certain tracks are clipped. A similar issue happened on the recent XTC remix of The Big Express also on Blu-ray (coincidentally also remixed by Mr. Wilson). I suspect that this occurrence may more than likely have something to do with compatibility between modern Blu-ray mastering software and older players. I’m not sure but it’s a relatively minor detail on one hand… yet, for the money you pay for these things you expect it to be perfect. I have reached out to Rhino Records asking for any insights as to possible solutions (TBD) and will update this review accordingly if/when I hear back.

On the bonus CDs within The Yes Album (Super Deluxe Edition) we get live recordings of US in 1971 in Connecticut at Yale University and also in Gothenburg, Sweden. These recordings had been circulating for years among fan/collectors but now are finally officially released in much better quality. Notably featuring then brand new guitarist Steve Howe playing versions of earlier Yes songs which he never recorded in the studio, it is super interesting hearing his approach to these tracks.  It is also a wonder to hear just how the band was growing so rapidly into a live concert powerhouse. Here on these tapes we can hear Yes starting to sound more like the so-called “classic era” of the band which would begin with the next album, Fragile, when Rick Wakeman joined the group, replacing keyboardist Tony Kaye. 

A lot of the bonus materials that were on the original Blu-ray from 2014 are now included in The Yes Album (Super Deluxe Edition) as a dedicated rarities CD. This is a double-edged sword because on one hand it’s nice having the high resolution versions of these tracks on Blu-ray Disc for archival posterity, yet there’s no question about the convenience of having it all contained in one place on a CD, in a format that could be easily played on portable devices. I listen in my old car stereo’s CD player all the time so I do welcome having these tracks on CD.

There are some really cool things such as instrumental versions and rare mono mixes and such. You can see the full track listing at the end of this review below. 

All in all of The Yes Album (Super Deluxe Edition) is an exemplary production. The packaging is beautiful and it comes with a bonus 180-gram vinyl LP of the 2023 remaster of the original album. The LP sounds fine for a modern pressing — the mastering felt a little bright for my tastes. Still, it is terrific that Rhino and Yes decided to include LP in the set for those who might want a fresh copy. Everything in the set comes to you housed in a hard-bound book style package including a lovely full color booklet with interesting essays as well as special note from producer Steven Wilson. 

If you love Yes and The Yes Album, this new super deluxe edition is an essential release to get. 

[Mark Smotroff has been reviewing music at AudiophileReview for many years but can also be found at AnalogPlanet.com. In the past he has written for Sound & Vision, DISCoveries, EQ, Mix and many more.  An avid vinyl collector and music enthusiast who has also worked in marketing communications for decades you can learn  more about his background at LinkedIn.]

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4-CD/Blu-ray/LP TRACK LISTING

THE YES ALBUM (SUPER DELUXE EDITION)

Disc One: Original Album 2023 Remaster

1. “Yours Is No Disgrace”

2. “Clap”

3. “Starship Trooper”

a. “Life Seeker”

b. “Disillusion”

c. “Würm”

4. “I’ve Seen All Good People”

a. “Your Move”

b. “All Good People”

5. “A Venture”

6. “Perpetual Change”

  Disc Two: Steven Wilson 2014 Remix and Instrumentals

1. “Yours Is No Disgrace”

2. “Starship Trooper”

a. “Life Seeker”

b. “Disillusion”

c. “Würm”

3. “I’ve Seen All Good People”

a. “Your Move”

b. “All Good People”

4. “A Venture”

5. “Perpetual Change”

6. “Yours Is No Disgrace” – Instrumental

7. “Starship Trooper” – Instrumental

a. “Life Seeker”

b. “Disillusion”

c. “Würm”

8. “I’ve Seen All Good People” – Instrumental

a. “Your Move”

b. “All Good People”

9. “A Venture” – Instrumental

10. “Perpetual Change” – Instrumental

Disc Three: Rarities

1. “Your Move” – Single Version (2023 Remaster)

2. “Starship Trooper: Life Seeker” – Single Version (2023 Remaster)

3. “Clap” – Studio Version (2023 Remaster)

4. “A Venture” – Extended Mix (2023 Remaster)

5. “Yours Is No Disgrace” – Mono Version (2023 Remaster)

6. “Clap” – Mono Version (2023 Remaster)

7. “Starship Trooper” – Mono Version (2023 Remaster)

a. “Life Seeker”

b. “Disillusion”

c. “Würm”

8. “I’ve Seen All Good People” – Mono Version (2023 Remaster)

a. “Your Move”

b. “All Good People”

9. “A Venture” – Mono Version (2023 Remaster)

10. “Perpetual Change” – Mono Version (2023 Remaster)

11. “Starship Trooper: Life Seeker” – Alternate Take (Instrumental) *

12. “I’ve Seen All Good People” – Early Take

a. “Your Move”

b. “All Good People”

13. “Yours Is No Disgrace” – Alternate Mix

  Disc Four: Live

Live at Konserthuset, Gothenburg, Sweden (January 21, 1971)

1. “I’ve Seen All Good People” *

a. “Your Move”

b. “All Good People”

2. “Astral Traveller” *

3. “Everydays” *

4. Live at the Yale Bowl, New Haven, CT (July 24, 1971)

5. “Yours In No Disgrace” *

6. “I’ve Seen All Good People” *

a. “Your Move”

b. “All Good People”

7. “Clap / Classical Gas” *

8. “Perpetual Change” *

  Blu-Ray

– 2023 Steven Wilson Dolby Atmos Mix

– 2023 Steven Wilson 5.1 Mix DTS-HD MA

– 2023 Steven Wilson 5.1 Mix LPCM

– 2023 Stereo Remaster

LP: Original Album (2023 Remaster)

Side One

1. “Yours Is No Disgrace”

2. “Clap”

3. “Starship Trooper”

a. “Life Seeker”

b. “Disillusion”

c. “Würm”

Side Two

4. “I’ve Seen All Good People”

a. “Your Move”

b. “All Good People”

5. “A Venture”

6. “Perpetual Change”

*previously unreleased

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