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Matt Wilson
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Yes

Postby Matt Wilson » 08 Jul 2021, 01:47

The ultimate '70s progressive rock band? I dunno, hard to place another band above them though. One could make a good case for Genesis or Crimson I suppose. Though Crimson stopped recording in 1974 and didn't resume until the '80s. Tull weren't entirely progressive for the full duration of the decade and there are those (not me) who argue that Pink Floyd aren't really prog either. I've always felt that to be a silly argument though. Lots of second-tier groups could qualify, but they're not as popular as Yes or perhaps didn't quite reach the dizzying heights of Close to the Edge. It's all debatable of course, but for the purposes of this thread and in order to start with a thesis, I'm going to say there wasn't a better progressive rock band anywhere, better than Yes for the glory years of the genre. Here's a thread devoted to the '70s albums but I'll probably go into the '80s a bit just because I didn't do that with Soft Machine or ELP (there were no ELP albums during that decade actually)

The Tony Kaye years

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Yes
The beginning isn't all that, really. Some nice stuff to be sure, but two of the best songs here are covers. Not something you're going to be able to accuse the band of too much after this record. Much like oh, I dunno… the first ZZ Top record I guess – the sound is here, but the songs haven’t really arrived yet, but hey, this was 1969 and our boys were just getting started.

• Jon Anderson – lead vocals, incidental percussion
• Peter Banks – guitars, backing vocals
• Chris Squire – bass, backing vocals
• Tony Kaye – organ, piano
• Bill Bruford – drums, vibraphone

1."Beyond and Before" (Chris Squire, Clive Bailey) 4:52
Things start off well with this psych-sounding tune co-written by Clive Bailey, former singer and guitarist in Mabel Greer's Toyshop, the rock band that was a precursor to Yes (wiki). Strong vocals, good playing, etc. I have no idea what the lyrics mean - but I've already stated my option of prog lyrics and how I usually have no time for them, so I'll stick with that. It both sounds like Yes, and doesn't.

2."I See You" (Jim McGuinn, David Crosby) 6:47
But this is much better. The Byrds song all progged up with Anderson's vocals rising to the fore amidst the harmonies. Slider brought this version to my attention about ten years or so ago and that's when I was introduced to the album. This is the longest cut on the record and it sounds like it could've been a hit. Apparently, Peter Banks wasn't happy with his guitar solo. Wonder what Howe could've done with it?

3. "Yesterday and Today" (Jon Anderson) 2:49
A gentle Jon ballad which is the briefest track on the LP. It’s nice and would probably have fit on any number of LPs from British groups at that time. Nice melody too.

4. "Looking Around" (Anderson, Squire) 3:58
Okay, but no great shakes. There’s a real pop vibe to a lot of this material and the ghost of psychedelia is around in the corners of these songs. The sound is there though and you can breathe in a taste of the glory to come in this song. Songwriters Jon and Chris were arguably the genesis of the band at this time.

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5. "Harold Land" (Anderson, Squire, Bill Bruford) 5:40
The major key at the beginning slides into a minor key after a minute and off we go into a war song exploring soldier PTSD years before many even knew what it was. Again though, somehow lacking greatness. Bill gets a look in as co-songwriter too.

6. "Every Little Thing" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) 5:41
I like this one. While not as mind-blowing as their take on “I See You,” the opening section which sounds like a jam, gives way to the familiar chords at about 1:43 and not long after, Jon’s voice begins the words to a four-year-old Beatles song we all know. Soon, they wouldn’t need covers. Bit of “Day Tripper” in there too I hear. Like the previous number, the opening section is different than the main part.

7. "Sweetness" (Anderson, Squire, Bailey) 4:31
Three songwriters come up with what amounts to another Anderson ballad, which at least moves along at a nice clip. I hardly remember this though when I’m looking at the song titles. I’m calling it, and I say “filler.”

8. "Survival" (Anderson) 6:18
Another one with a different opening which becomes like another song before coming back to the opening motifs again. This is the longest self-penned tune and they chose to end the record with it so it must have meant something to somebody. Probably Jon. We’re like that egg in the field you know, and there’s life within us and stuff.

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Time and a Word
Trouble was already brewing for Peter Banks at this time because he was quite vocal about his dislike of the strings on this album. He felt Tony Cox’s orchestra was merely playing music which could have been handled by the guitar or keyboards. Naturally, he felt left out musically. Banks would be out and Steve Howe in before the album was even released.

1."No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" (Richie Havens, Jerome Moros) 4:45
The strings are one of the first things you hear on the first cut on Yes' sophomore effort. They're not all over the place though and used quite judiciously on most of the tracks. It's a weird opener anyway, I mean Richie Havens, really? I like the song though, but I'm not convinced they do it any better than his version on the Somethin' Else Again album even if the two versions don't sound alike. I'm still gonna say this is one of the better cuts here. Jerome Moross' score for the 1958 western The Big Country with Gregory Peck is used in this song for reasons unknown.

2."Then" (Jon Anderson) 5:42
Not bad second number which sounds like a step up from most songs on the last LP. Kaye pushing the song along while Jon pontificates on the nature of life being better soon you know, when the uh revolution comes and the times they'll be a-changin' ... or something. Opening keyboard riffs remind me of Keith Emerson.

3. "Everydays" (Stephen Stills) 6:05
Well, why not? They did the Byrds last time. The Buffalo tune has always struck me as rather mundane though. Perhaps that's too negative a term, but it needs more pizazz. The orchestra is along for embellishment and it's not too obtrusive or anything but I'm left wanting more somehow. Still, strangely, one of the highlights of the album. Yep, it's that kind of record. When the song begins to pick up steam at around 2:10 with Bill's drumming, then the syncopated riffs, it sounds more like Yes, and less like the Springfield, and that helps.

4. "Sweet Dreams" (Anderson, David Foster) 3:46
The band tune sans orchestra. They’re really going for it here – the playing, singing, studio effects, etc. This is what they could do in 1970, but it doesn’t quite make it once again. A tad repetitive for one thing and not enough instrumental interplay. The B-side of "Sweet Dreams" was "Dear Father," which is a better tune. I like it more than about half of the tracks on this LP.

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5. “The Prophet” (Jon Anderson, Chris Squire) 6:31
With another different opening section a la the last album, and then some nice guitar and keyboards, “The Prophet” is probably one of the better cuts here. The strings are back, there’s a nice melody, and Jon’s profundity-laden words don’t interfere with the ambience – in fact they enhance it. So why am I left a bit underwhelmed? I honestly don’t know. That indefinable something is lacking again.

6. “Clear Days” (Jon Anderson) 2:03
Nah, no reason for this. The orchestra is obvious, the lyrics trite, and the length tells you even the band wasn’t fully behind this endeavor. Not that they’re playing on this cut unless that’s Tony on keys.

7. “Astral Traveller” (Jon Anderson) 5:47
This starts thundering along and seems to sit well with this listener until the lyrics again bring it down. I certainly have no problem with Anderson’s voice and consider him to be one of progressive rock’s finest vocalists. But singers tend to write their own words much of the time and I’ve never cottoned to Jon’s. I do enjoy the tune though. Even a rare Peter guitar solo. No orchestra either.

8. “Time and a Word” (Jon Anderson, David Foster) 4:29
Bit more guitars than usual and a nice atmosphere almost helps cover the repetitious lyrics. Wish I liked it more. And with that, we’re done.

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The Yes Album
OMG was there a quantum leap in quality from Time and a Word to this. New guy Steve Howe acquits himself well and Tony Kaye steps it up to hold his own with what was suddenly looking like a group of world class musicians. I mean, the playing had to have been there previously but who could tell with such normal songs? But these, these are larger than life. These tunes scream PROG! And we enter into what I think is the finest trilogy of progressive rock albums in the '70s, which is to say ever I guess. I mean Dark Side/Wish/Animals might give Yes a run for their money, but those masterpieces where released in a four-year span. Yes did their trio in a little over a year-and-a-half.

John Anderson – lead vocals, percussion
Chris Squire – bass guitars, vocals
Steve Howe – electric and acoustic guitars, vachalia, vocal
Tony Kaye – piano, Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer
Bill Bruford – drums, percussion

1."Yours Is No Disgrace" (Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Tony Kaye, Bill Bruford) 9:40
A propulsive opener which sound like the same band from the last two albums, but better. They had never attempted a song this long before - never had the confidence I suppose - and you're never bored for a second. Howe's fills are a revelation. This is what the music lacked previously, and how come the band never wrote together like this earlier? It certainly works. And the anti-war theme was certainly timely though they had dipped from this well before. You'd noticed Chris Squire's bass in other songs, but all of a sudden he's like a powerhouse on this cut. Fresh, fresh, fresh, I tells ya!

2. "Clap" (instrumental) (Steve Howe) 3:16
Loves me some cool guitar, I do. Wish I could play this. The guitar is what I principally listen to when paying attention to music. This could've gone on forever... Don't think Banks could've pulled this off, but you never know.

3."Starship Trooper" a. "Life Seeker"b. "Disillusion"c. "Würm" (Anderson, Squire, Howe) 9:29
And we're off again. Another mind-blower for the band and this time I don't even mind the sci-fi lyrics. This is what "Astral Traveller" wishes it was. This band is bristling with ideas and the longer songs don't meander, this is another solidly-constructed tune which even gives Steve another acoustic showcase in the middle. The three sections are easy to distinguish. Jon wrote most of "Life Seeker," Squire handled the majority of "Disillusion," and Howe brought "Wurm" with him from an earlier band (Bodast, not Tomorrow). Almost as good as "Yours is No Disgrace." Epic side one!

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4. "I've Seen All Good People" a. "Your Move" b. "All Good People" (Jon Anderson, Chris Squire) 6:55
Heard it a thousand times on the radio and this was the finest representation of what the band could do in a radio-friendly format at the time and with a pushing-the-envelope length too. Jon's really got his multi-tracking harmonies thing down here. The "Your Move" section uses the chess metaphor well, and when Chris kicks in with the "All Good People" portion, we're in heaven. Honestly, they couldn't have recorded this any better.

5."A Venture" (Jon Anderson) 3:20
Now, this might be the slightest piece which the group performed on this record. But let me bring some clarity: Had this been on either of the first two albums it would have been one of the best songs. That's how good The Yes Album is. Nice interplay between Tony, Chris, and Bill at the end too.

6. "Perpetual Change" (Jon Anderson, Chris Squire) 8:57
And we wind up with another epic with the usual multiple sections, nice vocal melodies, and superb production. At this time Yes are a perfect blend of progression, virtuosic musicianship, ambition, and pop nous.

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Last edited by Matt Wilson on 10 Jul 2021, 05:26, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Yes

Postby GoogaMooga » 08 Jul 2021, 04:45

Trevor Horn. That's all.
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Re: Yes

Postby trans-chigley express » 08 Jul 2021, 05:39

I have to say I like the debut a hell of a lot more than you do and I think both the covers and their self written tunes are very strong. I prefer it more than Time and a Word

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Re: Yes

Postby toomanyhatz » 08 Jul 2021, 06:22

It's between the first and the Yes Album for me. After Fragile they start to lose me, though I'm willing to be convinced that I've missed something great.
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Re: Yes

Postby robertff » 08 Jul 2021, 09:17

Love all those three albums, each showing a progression and where they were heading. Time and A Word is generally under appreciated and the forgotten 70's Yes album. A decent gatefold cover design and it might have fared longer in the memory and better sales wise.


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Re: Yes

Postby never/ever » 08 Jul 2021, 10:34

I think the term progressive came with the expanded musical vocabulary and, indeed, lifestyle and no band exhibited that better than Yes.

Nice write up. I think I'm more inclined to like Time And A Word over the first one,, which felt like adolescents fumbling around to have sex.
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Re: Yes

Postby robertff » 08 Jul 2021, 11:52

toomanyhatz wrote:It's between the first and the Yes Album for me. After Fragile they start to lose me, though I'm willing to be convinced that I've missed something great.




I can understand a loss of interest following Fragile. Following The Yes Album it was a slight drop off with all the idiosyncratic solo pieces among the stratospheric band tracks but Close To The Edge, their next album, is their magnum opus. An absolutely brilliant album in the genre of progressive/prog rock. It needs more than one listen.



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Last edited by robertff on 08 Jul 2021, 17:10, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Yes

Postby C » 08 Jul 2021, 13:23

A quantum leap indeed (to the third album)

The first two never appealed and then they start to get going

The Yes Album and the next few that followed are awesome

Look at Bruford's T-shirt:







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Rorschach wrote:Is this one of those references that only prog goons get?

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Re: Yes

Postby C » 08 Jul 2021, 13:32

Incidentally Matt, nice post.

Very nice

I'm with Peter Banks re: strings on the second album. Awful.

Almost unplayable




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The Slider wrote:
Rorschach wrote:Is this one of those references that only prog goons get?

Why would you expect otherwise?

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Re: Yes

Postby robertff » 08 Jul 2021, 13:43

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Last edited by robertff on 08 Jul 2021, 17:12, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Yes

Postby slightbreeze » 08 Jul 2021, 14:08

I love all three, to be honest, but it was definitely a massive step forward with the Yes album, a lot of it to do with the introduction of Howe. Banks was ok, but not up to the standard required.

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Re: Yes

Postby Matt Wilson » 08 Jul 2021, 15:16

Gentlemen, gentlemen, if you're in disagreement with any review I posted, by all means post a counter argument review. And do it right here! The last thing I am is proprietary about any thread I start. I welcome any other reviews contrary to what I've posted myself. Opinions seem to be all over the map. The first one and The Yes Album are the keepers. The sophomore effort is better than the debut, nothing after Fragile (what?!) etc. I'll review everything in the '70s for sure, and even some solo stuff - particularly Wakeman's first three, Squire's Fish Out of Water, Jon's Olias of Sunhillow, and that's probably it. Yes gave us an embarrassment of riches in that decade.

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Re: Yes

Postby OUTPLAY » 08 Jul 2021, 15:40

Matt Wilson wrote:Gentlemen, gentlemen, if you're in disagreement with any review I posted, by all means post a counter argument review. And do it right here! The last thing I am is proprietary about any thread I start. I welcome any other reviews contrary to what I've posted myself.


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Re: Yes

Postby Matt Wilson » 08 Jul 2021, 16:22

Didn’t you recently give a warning to someone at Preludin because he disagreed with you John? Seems he’s quit posting after that as well…

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Re: Yes

Postby C » 08 Jul 2021, 16:56

Matt Wilson wrote:Didn’t you recently give a warning to someone at Preludin because he disagreed with you John? Seems he’s quit posting after that as well…


Those that really disagree with him are banned without even been given the opportunity to post a single word

The lad would want to airbrush out Trotsky next.

What I've heard there is trouble at t'mill - Geraint went into a meltdown a couple of weeks ago and the number of regular posters is almost at single figures.

Anyway, enough of that waster - young John, back to what matters - Yes





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The Slider wrote:
Rorschach wrote:Is this one of those references that only prog goons get?

Why would you expect otherwise?

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Re: Yes

Postby robertff » 08 Jul 2021, 17:08

robertff wrote:
toomanyhatz wrote:It's between the first and the Yes Album for me. After Fragile they start to lose me, though I'm willing to be convinced that I've missed something great.




I can understand a loss of interest following Fragile. Following The Yes Album it was a slight drop off with all the idiosyncratic solo pieces among the stratospheric band tracks but Close To The Edge which, their next album, is their magnum opus - an absolutely brilliant album in the genre of progressive/prog rock. It needs more than one listen.



.

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Re: Yes

Postby OUTPLAY » 08 Jul 2021, 17:15

Carlsson wrote:
Matt Wilson wrote:Didn’t you recently give a warning to someone at Preludin because he disagreed with you John? Seems he’s quit posting after that as well…


Those that really disagree with him are banned without even been given the opportunity to post a single word


:lol:

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Re: Yes

Postby Matt Wilson » 08 Jul 2021, 17:22

Oh really? Does that mean that C and I can post at Preludin then?

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Re: Yes

Postby GoogaMooga » 08 Jul 2021, 17:50

Matt Wilson wrote:Oh really? Does that mean that C and I can post at Preludin then?


I can't even ACCESS Preludin.
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Re: Yes

Postby Matt Wilson » 08 Jul 2021, 18:08

That’s because he’s banned you too. He likes to come back here and stir the shit but he’s terrified one of us will go to his house and do the same.