(01 September 2002) Envision is the perfect band for female vocalist enthusiasts that love Yes. The band's debut album A Tribute To Yes (1999) reveals the tremendous musical talent of Envision's instrumentalists as well as the stunning vocals of their lead singer Melissa Riddle. The lineup also consists of Matt Riddle (keyboards), John Kastelic (guitars, vocals), Alex MacDonald (bass, vocals) and Marty Zlocki (drums). Melissa also contributes various percussion and acoustic guitar parts.
Envision's 1999 studio album includes covers of Yes' classic tunes: "Siberian Khatru," "Wondrous Stories," "All Good People," "South Side of the Sky," "America" (P Simon), "Long Distance Runaround," "Roundabout" and "Heart Of The Sunrise." The album has been distributed in a number of territories and serves as an excellent introduction to the band.
Yes' music is extremely complex in its own right making covering the material that much more difficult. Not only have Envision done so accurately with their instrumentals but Melissa is gifted in being able to sing like Jon Anderson incredibly well. Her voice is most akin to Solstice's Sandy Leigh. The Live at The Tralf two CD set is a wonderful celebration of Envision's live performance and was recorded live in Buffalo, NY on 2 February 2001. Interested readers should note that an album of original material is being prepared by the band.
The live album opens with Envision's stunnig cover of "Siberian Khatru" which captures the essential features of the song, individual solo parts and reflects a live ambience only to be equalled in a Yes concert. The album continues with a medley of "Perpetual Change" and "Soon" which work well together despite their Yes period chronological difference.
We especially enjoyed Envision's live version of the entire "Close To The Edge" and "And You and I" suites that follow and their cover of "I've Seen All Good People." The first CD of the set concludes with a powerful rendition of "Yours Is No Disgrace." Even the audience reaction reminded us of a Yes concert. And we especially enjoyed Melissa's lead vocals throughout; harmonies from the others worked perfectly and faithfully reproduced the Yes sound.
The second CD opens with Envision's live version of "Cinema" which breathed new life into the track for our editors. Their cover of the popular "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" offerred an extended live mix preceding their version of the concert classic "Roundabout." One of our editors' favourites is "Heart of the Sunrise," and it was made even more special with some of the unique instrumental arrangements in this live version. We were given a unique opportunity to hear Melissa speak in both normal and Jon Anderson cover voices in a break before the penultimate track--and now we long to hear her sing on the original Envision material!
As a further illustration of Envision's prowess, the first side of Tales From Topographic Oceans "Ritual" is performed superbly with each member's contribution highlighted at various moments--including the faithfully reproduced drum solo--within this epic track. Wild audience acclaim is evident in the opening of "Tempus Fugit" which concludes the album. Guitar, bass and keyboard excursions perfectly introduce the vocal harmonies and lead as this final track brings us down the home stretch of this two-CD set. An a/v mpeg of "The Meeting" that highlights the tremendous skill of Matt and Melissa Riddle and presents a glimmer into what Envision's live performance is like.
Interested readers will want to browse our 2002 Yes feature which reviews the two-DVD set Yes Symphonic Live and the five-CD box set In A Word (1969 - ) as well as the band's live performance at Jones Beach in July 2002. And those interested in the British Yes cover band Fragile should read our review of their 2001 live performance at The Brook. Fragile also offer a full length CD entitled Live at the Half Moon that is worth a journey.
Click on either of the CDs left to visit the band's website. There you'll find further reviews, band biographies and photographs including poses with Yes members!
Envision's Live at The Tralf two CD set is available directly from the band for $16 US. Visit this website for further ordering information. You may also obtain the band's debut studio recording Envision - A
Tribute To Yes (1999) for $10 US. Add $3 US per item for shipping outside the United States. Contact
Matt Riddle to arrange payment or make payments through www.paypal.com. Certainly worth a trans-Atlantic journey, especially in the run up to Envison's first studio recording of original material, these CDs are a must listen!