If you've got the patience for it, Classic Artists: Yes is an incredible documentary.
But patience is absolutely key here. Because at 338 minutes spread over two discs, this set covers nothing less than the entire history of a band that has seen more changes over its now four decade long history than could ever be written in a Hollywood style biopic.
What becomes most clear watching Classic Artists: Yes, is that these guys never really got along — despite the fact that they made some incredibly good music together.
What Classic Artists: Yes does, is chronicle the history of this great, if often under-appreciated band, throughout its history. This includes both the triumphs (albums like Fragile, Close To The Edge, and 90125), and the missteps (Tormato, Big Generator, and Tales From Topographic Oceans).
When you get right down to it, what becomes most clear when examining the history of Yes, is that this was a band with the best of artistic intentions that allowed things like internal artistic dissension, and the prevailing commercial winds of the day to get in the way.
Seeing the ridiculous "big hair" of the 1980's Yes performing songs like "Owner of A Lonely Heart" in concert, you can actually see how out of touch they were. Well okay, maybe they were in "in touch" with the commercial winds of the time. So much so in fact that guitarist Steve Howe sold his soul to the devil to become part of Asia.
Meanwhile the other guys in the band were off forming Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford and Howe.
So this is where things get a little dicey.
The good news, watching this history of the dysfunctional family that Yes ultimately was, is that in the end the band's dedication to its art ultimately won out.
So like I said, this is a lot to sit through for all but the most dedicated fan. But what we get here is one disc, that runs some three hours in length, that goes through the various soap operas in the band that led various members — Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, etc. — to seemingly come and go at will. This is mainly documented in interviews with members of Yes past and present — everybody from Bill Bruford to Trevor Horne to Tony Kaye gets their say here.
The second disc includes extras like the music videos for songs like "Wondorous Stories," as well as some great studio rehearsal footage for songs like "Roundabout."
So if somebody is looking for all of the dirt on one of rock and roll's greatest real life soap operas this side of This is Spinal Tap, your search stops with this video. It is particularly interesting to see how hurt these guys feel — and it is actually a valid point — that they have not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.
The good news for Yes fans, is that there appears to be some life yet in this band. For evidence of that, look no further than Eagle Rock's Live In Montreux 2003 video.