It's easy to look back on early-'70s jazz-rock hybrids with a snicker. For those of us who were there, that snicker might accompany a note of regret; some of us thought that stuff was amazing. But listening to a new collection of Yes' previously unreleased early-'70s live recordings — titled Progeny: Highlights From Seventy-Two — I'm not so embarrassed to have embraced these poster boys of prog-rock.
Consider some of the music released in '72 that blurred the lines between rock and jazz, if not outright combining them: On The Corner by Miles Davis, Caravanserai by Santana, I Sing The Body Electric by Weather Report. Hell, a lot of us were still trying to absorb Bitches Brew, which was released in 1970. Many chances were being taken back then.
Today, this music sounds to me like Chick Corea's Return To Forever — the Al DiMeola version — but with vocals. It's got everything: complex arrangements that still groove, heavy use of then-new technology, plenty of notes, chops for days and, most of all, volume.
"Heart Of The Sunrise" was always a favorite from Yes' amazing Fragile album, and it's damned nice — not embarrassing at all — to hear it again, performed back when it was fresh.