Being a huge fan of Yes I'm really glad to hear from Jon Anderson again after suffering severe breathing problems. Unfortunately The Living Tree has little to do with the music of one of the greatest prog rock bands of all times. The Living Tree is an album by Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson and it was announced as going to be containing reworks of classic Yes-songs and at least nine new songs. Sadly the album only contains the nine new songs for vocals and keyboards.
The recording began in August 2010. Wakeman recorded the backing tracks in England, later on they were sent to Anderson in the USA in order to record the vocals. All the lyrics were written by Jon and all the music was composed by Rick, except for Just One Man which was composed by Jeremy Cubert. Jon Anderson's voice sounds as crystal clear as it always has been; he even sounds better than a couple of years ago. Rick's playing on the piano is refined as ever and his Moog-passages really sound heavenly. A song like Morning Star even has Oriental influences and the orchestration of some of the songs even reminds me of the classical composer Claude Debussy. Despite the lack of a band and the lack of musical power by electric guitars and percussion, Anderson and Wakeman prove that they can create diverse moods and tempos as a duo. My favourite song is the anti-war track 23/24/11.
The Living Tree is a warm album filled with charming and melodic music. However, I would recommend the die-hard Yes-fans to listen to the album first. Hopefully we will see and hear Anderson & Wakeman on tour in The Netherlands together with Trevor Rabin!
***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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