Jon Anderson: Vocals Bill Bruford: Drums Steve Howe: Guitar, Vocals Tony Kaye: Keyboard Chris Squire: Bass, Vocals
"On a sailing ship to nowhere, leaving any place,"? is one great way to describe the nature and evolution of Yes. Sprawling, mystical epics from the band literally captured you and carried you on a sailing ship, and to where it was going was a mystery. Would you be witnessing a classic guitar solo? A rumbling bass line? Jazzy drumming? Sweet harmonies and melodies? Or maybe even sounds coming from a keyboard that could surely only come from a man who's sold himself to the devil? With Yes, you never know exactly what to expect. For their mastery of technicality, emotion, and uniqueness (along with a catalog of some damn good songs), Yes became one of the greatest progressive rock bands of the 20th century, and definitely holds the title of one of the longest lasting great bands as they've moved into the 21st century.
But before the progressive breakthrough of 1972's Fragile, things were a bit different. Piano, keyboard, and synthesizer wizard Rick Wakeman was not yet a member of Yes. The music itself was not yet at the level of full-blown progressive suites. The Yes Album actually plays a bit more like a classic rock album, but filled with rich organs, charming harmonies, and memorable sing-along lyrics (at times). The two previous albums, Yes and Time and a Word, were more psychadelic Brit pop-rock than progressive rock, with heavy influences from the Beatles (which at times was taken to the degree of emulation). One thing that Yes already did have established was lengthy, multi-part songs, as seen by the first track, "Yours Is No Disgrace". The short, staccato notes of its introduction quickly pull you in and board you "on a sailing ship to nowhere."? Anderson's vocals at times make no sense, although that's precisely the point. "Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face/Caesar's Palace, morning glory, silly human, silly human race,"? seems to have no lyrical importance. It is though a great example of the beginning of Anderson using his distinctive voice as just another instrument, where the lyrics are lush with imagery and literary devices, adding to the mystical and adventurous nature of the songs, such as the first song. "Yours Is No Disgrace" is simply an incredible song, with its memorable theme, soothing acoustic section, and chaotic guitar.
From the start of the album, Chris Squire's bass is extremely noticeable, which is a big plus. His talent shines through with all of the bass heavy tracks, which would feel incomplete without the definitive grooves. Take for example "Starship Trooper". Squire starts the song and keeps it soaring into all directions with his rumbling bass. There's of course plenty of other highlights of this medley. After an early build of Yes' classic prog sound in the "Life Seeker"? comes "Disillusion"?, a quick and light acoustic section that borders on bluegrass. It's the last section though, entitled "Wurm"?, that may interest most people. Steve Howe replaced barely-there guitarist Peter Banks for this album, making a very noticeable difference. Howes guitar is at the forefront for a lot of the album, especially in "Wurm"?. The new guitarist's talent shines as he lets out a memorable solo, showcasing his technical ability. This dramatic solo (one of the greats of all time) caps off this esteemed Yes classic.
Steve Howe's guitar also gets the spotlight on "Clap"? (originally mistitled as "The Clap"?). This live solo acoustic piece is cheerful with the intention of getting you to clap along. The Chet Akins country influence makes the song rather enjoyable. To mention some of the other members of the band, Bill Bruford's jazzy offbeat drumming (no pun intended) adds a flavor of style and class to all of the songs. It could be Tony Kaye's performance though that holds things back a bit. Unlike his future replacement's interest in exploring instruments and sounds, Kaye stuck to traditional piano and organ, not taking advantage of what technology had to offer. This is not to say though that he was a worthless component of the band. The piano introduction of "A Venture"? is impressive and classy, along with his playing towards the end of the song.
While it was the first display (or attempt) of the "true"? Yes sound, The Yes Album also produced the band's first Top 40 hit with "I've Seen All Good People"?, or more specifically, the "Your Move"? section. This section featured absolutely extraordinary vocals, with smooth harmonies and appealing lyrics. The second half of the song is much more rock driven and features the interesting repetition of "I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied I'm on my way,"? which gradually decreases in pitch. "I've Seen All Good People"? was one of the band's biggest hits and remains to be one of the fan favorites at concerts.
Above all, the most intriguing part of the album is "Perpetual Change"?. It's not as lengthy as "Yours Is No Disgrace"? and "Starship Trooper"?, yet it embodies the start of the long progressive suites that would come shortly after its release. Whereas the other longer songs on the albums are medleys, "Perpetual Change"? comes closest to a smooth flowing epic. Following the superb introduction, countless time, tempo and key changes occur along with the repetition of themes and style changes. The music is technically solid and unique, and elaborate, yet the song is still basic relative to future progressive masterpieces and maintains a good level of accessibility. If this still leaves the listener looking for more, the powerful, emotional, and inviting vocals will offer enough to satisfy the listener.
While many don't consider it up to par with some of the "classic"? Yes releases of the 70s, The Yes Album is an interesting look at the shaping and perfecting of the band's sound. Even though it is a progressive rock album, it's not overly self-indulgent and offers a high level of listenability. If there were to be one distinctive flaw to point out, it would be some of the songs seem like a few songs put together, although one may argue that these songs are appropriately labeled as medleys and still do offer a very enjoyable listening experience. Fans of rock music in general should be able to appreciate the exceptional instrumentals, interesting compositions, or marvelous vocals, if not all three. The Yes Album left fans in 1971 begging for more and wondering what could come next, and even today it leaves people with the interest of "What happens next?"
Yours Is No Disgrace
I've Seen All Good People
I really like this album a lot. Better than "Fragile," even. You wrote a really nice review of it, but it would have been a lot easier on the eyes of your apostrophes and quotes were represented as ' and " instead of that crazy stuff you've got there. Thanks.
[QUOTE=Zappa]I really like this album a lot. Better than "Fragile," even. You wrote a really nice review of it, but it would have been a lot easier on the eyes of your apostrophes and quotes were represented as ' and " instead of that crazy stuff you've got there. Thanks.
This album gets a 4/5 from me.[/QUOTE]
Whoa, I have no idea how that happened. It was fine at first. Let me go in and edit that.
Great review. One can tell that it was done by someone with a developed ear. Of course most Zappa fans do. This album is a true classic. Yes really displayed their various talents on this album, especially Chris Squire, with his ground-breaking Rickenbacker crunchiness, and Steve Howe with his country twang influences. I had the opportunity to catch one of Steve Howes shows at a small venue here in Detroit in 1994. It was just him with a couple of acoustic/electrics and a stienberger promoting his latest album at the time. He also did some stuff off of his first two solo albums, and some excerpts from Tales from Topographic Oceans. I was stunned, the whole show. What a master!
Yes - The Yes Album
Jon Anderson - Vocals
Steve Howe - Guitar, Vocals
Chris Squire - Bass, Vocals
Bill Bruford - Drums, Percussion
Rick Wakeman - Keyboards
Yes proves to be one the best progressive artists of their time, and it stills stands true, even today. This album had the first appearence of Rick Wakeman, a permenant bandmember. The album itself is very energetic, very optimistic. It gets my spirit everytime I listen to it, and I'm sure it will for you also. If you're looking into progressive rock, or looking for a good album in general, this is one to look for.
1)Yours Is No Disgrace
The first song off this album starts with a punch from the whole band, beautiful harmonies, and tight rythms. Steve Howe solos through the middle of the song, overlapping many guitar tones for a nice sound. Squire's bassline is tight and interesting, and pronounced than the keys. Very beautiful song, and one of my favorties by Yes.
Steve Howe's live performance of one of his guitar solos. There's really no way to describe it other than amazing. One of the most amazing guitar playing I've heard in a long time.
3)Starship Trooper/Life Seeker/Disillusion/Wurm
This 9 minute song is divided into four main parts, all fitting together very nicely.
Starship Trooper has a very spacey feel to it. The bass comes through very clean, packing a punch everytime it's played. Guitars sing through with shifting effects, giving the song a very progressive feel. Keys are nowhere to be heard in this section except for a few runs.
Life Seeker/Disillusion/Wurm has beautiful harmonies and a quick, complicated acoustic guitar part. It then goes into quoting the ST, and runs into a building quote, eventually up to a moving guitar solo, and fades out.
4)I've Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People
Your Move is not quite a ballad, but not as punching as any of the other tracks so far in the album. This is the most moving track on the album by far, and very relaxing. The first time keys are heard as a main part, first in a flute sounding tone, and then changing to organ playing strong underlining chords.
All Good People is a rocking bluesy type section, upbeat and almost makes you dance. Guitar solos through the whole section of the song, with the bass and drums laying down a tight pocket. Keys seem to dim out until the end of the track, laying down more underlining chords.
5) A Venture
A stranger song from the rest heard so far. The keys take their first real part through the whole song this time, amongst drums, moving bassline and rocking guitar. Very different from the rest, but a nice variety. The riffs can get stuck in your head for days.
6) Perpetual Change
A great way to end the album. A good-feel song with a vibrato guitar, almost letting the bass and keys be the main voices. Jon Anderson does a wonderful job singing, with the rest of the band singing beautiful harmonies in the background.
One of Yes's best works, and will last the turns of time. One of my favorite albums out there, and a must have.
Final Score: 5/5