While Yes had shown early potential with their first two records, The Yes Album became their breakthrough. Guitarist Steve Howe joined as a replacement for Peter Banks, who was fired prior to the release of Time and a Word, his arrival bringing the group one step closer to their classic sound. Keyboardist Tony Kaye remained with the band for now, but would eventually also be replaced, by of course no other than the silver cape-wielding Rick Wakeman, though he would play with the band more than a decade later again.
Understandably, The Yes album is often seen as the group's real starting point. The six-track record is centred around its three epics, an idea later repeated similarly with its follow-ups. These epics, Yours is No Disgrace, Starship Trooper and Perpetual Change, have become classic Yes in every sense: the musicianship is the longest and most technical up to this point, and full of tempo –and mood changes. Most importantly though, the band’s musicians have found their niche: Anderson his unmistakable voice , Squire his dominating bass sound, Bruford his signature drum technique, and the organ-driven sound that has characterised the band really comes forward here, a feature that Wakeman would of course improve on the following albums. These guys knew to make one hell of a jam at this point.
Filling out the rest of the album are the lovely bit of guitar playing Clap, a live recording that more than well shows how integral Howe became for the group, a three-minute 'interlude' in A Venture, and I’ve Seen All Good People. The latter is of course the only Yes song that ever made it into a real classic rock staple. The chorus hook is catchy although repetitive, and Howe is throwing out fantastic guitar licks that are unusually traditional (as in bluesy) for him.
Even though their debut was already self-titled, The Yes Album was a fitting name for the record that established the actual basis of the sound that would make the group into one of the Big Four of progressive rock. Yes’ compositions would get more ambitious, overblown to a fault eventually, but it’s ultimately what they’re remembered for. This is where the group’s golden age started.
The Yes Album’s Yes was:
- John Roy Anderson ~ Lead Vocals
- Stephen James Howe ~ Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Christopher Russell Squire ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Anthony John Selvidge ~ Organ, Piano, Moog Synthesizer
- William Scott Bruford ~ Drums, Percussion
It's not really a well-known title as in the Big Four of Thrash, but it's generally accepted that the biggest (as in most popular and influential) prog bands were King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis.
Of those I like Pink Floyd the most. But I'm sure progressive has to be about more than just influence (which I don't care about) or even most popular (as not all good music is popular simply because most don't hear that much music). Maybe for the media there's only room for a few groups to dominate in a period and for people to get used to. Foreign language records of course are normally just dismissed by most lol.
Album could have been more consistent. Most of the songs don't fit together well, and it's lacking of a natural flow. Album is more or less saved by two of my fav Yes songs in both epic 'Yours is no Disgrace' and 'Starship Trooper'. In the same vein of Nag's statement, the presence of Wakeman would have been more than useful.