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Album By Album: Yes

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Album By Album: Yes

Old 10-15-13, 01:55 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by CRM114
Drama over Close to the Edge, an epic masterpiece?
Not sure about Drama, but Close to the Edge is probably the most pretentious and overblown thing Yes ever did. Even more so than Tales from Topographic Oceans, and it's hard to be more overblown than a two record set with four songs on it. I like Close to the Edge, but the more I get into them, the less I like it compared to their other stuff.
Old 10-15-13, 02:36 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by Jason
Not sure about Drama, but Close to the Edge is probably the most pretentious and overblown thing Yes ever did. Even more so than Tales from Topographic Oceans, and it's hard to be more overblown than a two record set with four songs on it. I like Close to the Edge, but the more I get into them, the less I like it compared to their other stuff.
If you're not into pretentious and overblown music, prog rock is probably not your thing anyway. The album is full of lovely folk-like musical passages and hard rock jamming. I personally find it a beautiful piece of art. Generally regarded as their best album even by prog hating critics. Add a couple bong hits on a good stereo and it's hard to beat.
Old 10-15-13, 02:54 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

I just don't see how CttE is more pretentious and indulgent than TFTO.
Old 10-15-13, 06:24 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

The Yes Album - 1971



Released February 19, 1971

1. Yours Is No Disgrace
2. Clap
3. Starship Trooper
i. Life Seeker
ii. Disillusion
iii. Wurm
4. I've Seen All Good People
i. Your Move
ii. All Good People
5. A Venture
6. Perpetual Change

Personnel

*Jon Anderson - vocals, percussion
*Chris Squire - bass, vocals
*Steve Howe - guitars, vocals
*Tony Kaye - piano, organ, Moog synthesizer
*Bill Bruford - drums, percussion

Producer: Yes and Eddie Offord

From AlbumLinerNotes.com

Intimations of the Edge
“You’ll see perpetual change…”

Although Yes didn’t know it at the time, their third album needed to attract a much larger audience, or their label (Atlantic) was going to drop them. The band was somehow able to respond to this “secret challenge” by both increasing their popular appeal and deepening their
music significantly. This element of “somehow” was in fact Steve Howe, the brilliant guitarist who came aboard for The Yes Album (1971) and for an entire period of intense collective composition.

On their first two records, Yes proved themselves an excellent force, and certainly that incarnation could have made more music worth listening to – perhaps we have some sense of subsequent directions in the albums by Flash, the post-Yes group formed by original guitarist Peter Banks. But “phase 1” of Yes was a psychedelic band; with the addition of Steve Howe in place of Banks, the band took a major step toward full-blown progressive rock.

Their transition is not unlike that of Jethro Tull, which also didn’t start out as a progressive rock group; significantly, Howe had auditioned for the guitar chair in that unit as well – as had Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, which demonstrates nicely the cross fertilizations at work in that period of great experimentation in rock. The stage was set most of all by The Beatles, in a series of remarkable albums that argued for continual experimentation. Of course, experimentation was in the air in the late 1960s, and the counterculture manifested itself in both art and society.

Howe had joined an already immensely talented band, whose members each had distinctive styles. But the new guitarist was not a simple “addition”; not to wax overly philosophical, he provided a new “quantity” that led to a qualitative development. Essentially, a new Yes was born – indeed, a group that was more quintessentially Yes.

Ironically, the music on The Yes Album is in some ways “simpler” than that of the first two LPs – though, to borrow a line from The Who, “the simple things you see are all complicated.” The structures are clean, uncluttered, and even “straightforward” in some ways; indeed, there is a “blockiness” to the longer pieces. “Yours Is No Disgrace,” “Perpetual Change,” and “Starship Trooper” all use big, blocky chords in the guitar and Hammond B3 organ, providing a solid musical “skin,” not unlike the roles played by Pete Townshend’s guitar and Roger Daltrey’s vocals in The Who.

But as with The Who, there is a great deal bubbling just under the surface. The propulsive quality of Chris Squire’s basslines is remarkable, and here it is more subtle than on some later efforts. Listen, for instance, to the six notes that move like sinewy muscles under the two chord “skin” at the opening of “Starship Trooper.” It’s easy to miss. And Bill Bruford is not likely to be compared to Keith Moon in many respects, but they do have one point of similarity: very rarely does either of them state “the one.” But while Moon fills every inch of musical space with an orchestra of tom-toms, Bruford lets the space breathe in a manner unequaled by any other rock drummer. Unlike The Who, Yes in this incarnation not only had a beneath-the-surface complexity, but with Anderson and Howe’s soaring lines, it also came with a jet-pack attached.

And yet in the case of the latter, “soaring lines” gives the impression of instrumental heroics and of the “lead guitar,” that nutty expression of the time. Well, there are different sorts of musical
“heroes,” and Howe is far from the histrionic kind. Among his many accomplishments on The Yes Album, Howe led the group to a new sense of orchestration, best exemplified in his superb “solo” in “Yours Is No Disgrace.” Can a song really rock and yet also be beautiful? Can a song be beautiful without being merely “pretty”? Yes accomplished this feat many times, but “Disgrace” is a touchstone, with lyrics that respond to the Vietnam War with subtle power.

Of course, the band could also rock outright and even launch into a kind of country-rock
boogie. Prog-rock gave us many fine guitarists, who had studied musicians ranging from Wes Montgomery to John McLaughlin, and from George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Andrés Segovia (the latter undoubtedly spinning in his grave to be included in such a list). But Howe had also listened to Chet Atkins and the great flatpickers of American Appalachian music, adding the pedal steel guitar to his growing arsenal of instruments. Howe’s eclecticism was emblematic of that of Yes as a whole; diverse styles were integrated and made to work together, not put on display for the purpose of showing off.

At this stage the lineup was learning how to make this stylistic openness and generosity cohere. They were all improving as musicians and making improvement a part of the band. Yes never “replaced” members in order to preserve what they had already accomplished; they brought in new faces and changed. Thankfully there were cultural and social openings in the world at that time that allowed such a band to receive the following it deserved.

In terms of the formal structures, Bruford and Squire were less and less of a “rhythm section” – certainly there is no comparison with what their respective instruments were doing in blues-based rock music. As Yes went forward into a period of even greater creativity, they would work without a net, so to speak – but on The Yes Album they had a “net,” in the form of Tony Kaye.

The multiple-keyboard setup was about to become the progressive rock standard, but here the mighty Hammond B3 does a lovely job keeping the music together, and Kaye’s piano work at the close of the undervalued “A Venture” is truly a magical mystery tour. With the help of Squire and Howe, Jon Anderson became an even better singer (he keeps getting better even today) and a more powerful wordsmith. Musical lyrics should not be expected to hold up as independent poems, but many of these “Yeswords” do.

As an avid player of the game, I can’t help but remark on Yes’ contribution to chess music, which indeed is a real genre from John Cage to Wayne Shorter to Gryphon (who toured with Yes in the mid-‘70s), not only in “Your Move,” from “I’ve Seen All Good People,” but also in “Perpetual Change”: “We look on as pawns of their game.”

The Yes Album inaugurates what I call the “main sequence.” This is a term from astronomy that has to do with the period when a star begins to shine at full strength for a long period of time. The star called Yes was already there in the sky, but suddenly we noticed it, and we could not look away.

– Bill Martin

Bill Martin is the author of numerous books on music and political philosophy, including Music Of Yes: Structure And Vision In Progressive Rock (1996). His essay “Another Green Language: Still Yes After All These Years” appeared in Elektra/Rhino’s boxed set In A Word: Yes (1969-). He is a professor of philosophy at DePaul University, Chicago.

From Wikipedia:

Steve Howe appeared with the band for the first time and played a prominent role throughout. The band explored longer songs with "Yours Is No Disgrace", "Starship Trooper", and "Perpetual Change", foreshadowing the many side-length tracks that followed on Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer.

Tony Kaye preferred Hammond B-3 and piano over the novel Moog synthesizers that Anderson was interested in using. This became a cause of contention within the band and had an influence on the line-up change, bringing in Rick Wakeman and his array of electronic keyboards from Strawbs. (On the album cover's inside gatefold, however, Kaye is pictured playing a Hammond spinet organ, probably an L-100 or M-100.)




Average rating on Amazon: 4.5 stars

Most helpful favorable review from Amazon:

Yes is arguably the best of not most well-known progessive rock band. Audiophiles and progressive rock fans especially appreciate the best sound possible on this complex music. This newly remastered (by Bill Inglot and Rhino) version of "The Yes Album" greatly improves upon the the original cd release of this set which I already owned. The biggest difference for me is the greater clarity of Bill Bruford's drumming and Steve Howe's adept guitar work. The harmony vocals are also more noticeable. The album itself one of the group's best is almost a greatest hits collection. I think every song except "A Venture" has remained in the group's concert set even to this day. This proved to be Tony Kaye's last album with the band for a long time but his organ playing is good on this set. He apparently left or was forced out because he resisted using some of the newer synthesizer technology which was becoming available at this time. With this set the band finally achieved their goal of playing complex arrangements but utilizing catchy and memorable harmonies which remain in your head long after the song is finished. Songs such as "Yours Is No Disgrace", "Starship Trooper" and "I've Seen All Good People" prove this point and the latter two were issued in edited form as single versions included here as bonus tracks. The other main reason for puchasing the set is the inclusion of the unissued studio version of "Clap" which is Steve Howe's acoustic guitar picking tour de force. The song appears of the album in an energetic live version but the studio version is not only longer but also clearer in sound. If you do not already have this album pick it up immediately especially considering the improvement in sound quality and the addition of three bonus tracks. Another plus is the detailed booklet included with great pictures, song lyrics and details about the album sessions. Great job Rhino! I can't wait for the next batch of remasters!

Most helpful critical review from Amazon:

Does this music have any relevance to today?
This was the first album which contained entirely Yes compositions. The cosmic vision thing was beginning, as exemplified in the impenetrable lyrics of 'Starship Trooper'. The classical structures were taking shape. Yes were never going to make 'Top of the Pops' with this stuff. They didn't write catchy tunes. You had to listen to their albums several times to get into them. People (mainly male teenagers) would wander around with Yes-logoed t-shirts proudly declaring that not for them were the likes of Hot Chocolate, T Rex or Dawn. They were serious music listeners.

But this was a very different era. The spirit of the 60s (Altamont aside) was still around. Popular music wasn't quite the cynical business it is today. There was still the whiff of liberation in the air. The music/lyrics/vision of Yes hinted at a gentle, non-aggressive form of liberation which campuses around the world could take to.

I came to Yes just after this album -- I bought 'Close to the Edge' for my mono Philips 'compact-cassette' player in '72. I played it to death, and my brother bought 'Fragile' soon after.

I like 'The Yes Album', but I cannot imagine how it sounds to someone coming to Yes for the first time. (Let's face it -- most of the reviews written here were written by people who have been familiar with it for over twenty years.) My children won't give it a minute of their time. When they grow out of Eminem, could they turn to Yes for aural relief?
Old 10-15-13, 06:29 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

I don't know if it was solely Steve Howe who kicked Yes up to another level, but I consider this album to be many times better than the two that preceded it. By which I mean, it is not a chore to listen to as the first two albums were and which I listened to mostly so I could give my opinion of them in this thread.

A couple days ago was the first time I had ever heard this album in it's entirety, but I was already familiar with three of the songs, and had heard of all of them, except for "A Venture". This one is definitely a keeper and worthy of being in any music collection.

"Don't surround yourself with yourself..."
Old 10-15-13, 09:31 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Like many bands who got their start in the late 60s/early 70s, the third album is where they finally got it all together, and really came alive. The Yes Album is a perfect example of this.

One could say it was because they finally found the missing ingredient they needed in Steve Howe. Or, that it was because they knew that this was their make or break moment, and last chance to get it right, before being dropped by their label. Whatever the reason, the results speak for themselves. Personally, it's always been an essential Yes album to me.
Old 10-15-13, 09:34 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by CRM114
Drama over Close to the Edge, an epic masterpiece?
I'll take Drama over Close To The Edge any day of the week. Song for song, it's just more to my liking.
Old 10-15-13, 10:14 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

I like The Yes Album, but I would be OK with never hearing I've Seen All Good People again.
Old 10-16-13, 08:29 AM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by Jason
Not sure about Drama, but Close to the Edge is probably the most pretentious and overblown thing Yes ever did. Even more so than Tales from Topographic Oceans, and it's hard to be more overblown than a two record set with four songs on it. I like Close to the Edge, but the more I get into them, the less I like it compared to their other stuff.
I listen to Yes FOR the pretentiousness. Doesn't everyone?
Old 10-16-13, 08:55 AM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

I listen to them because I'm a musician and I appreciate what they are capable of doing. Not everyone is a cynic.
Old 10-16-13, 04:23 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by cungar
If you're not into pretentious and overblown music, prog rock is probably not your thing anyway. The album is full of lovely folk-like musical passages and hard rock jamming. I personally find it a beautiful piece of art. Generally regarded as their best album even by prog hating critics. Add a couple bong hits on a good stereo and it's hard to beat.
No, having seen both Kansas and Yes within a few weeks of each other a couple of months back, I'm really getting into prog again. And I have been playing a lot of Yes. I'm just not crazy of the song Close to the Edge, and feel it overshadows some other great stuff. Of course, I can look at this from the perspective of having their entire catalog at my fingertips. If I had heard Close when it first came out, I'm sure my mind would have been properly blown.
Old 10-16-13, 04:25 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by bunkaroo
I just don't see how CttE is more pretentious and indulgent than TFTO.
I know, it's weird. I always heard that Tales was pretentious horseshit, but when I played it, I really enjoyed it.
Old 10-16-13, 04:31 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by CRM114
I listen to Yes FOR the pretentiousness. Doesn't everyone?
I thought that was what King Crimson were for?
Old 10-17-13, 10:26 AM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

I gave The Yes Album a listen yesterday and my feelings are still the same. It's not bad, but not nearly as good as what comes next. I do like Clap and Starship Troopers a lot, and Yours Is No Disgrace is pretty cool, but I've never been a big fan of I've Seen All Good People. The "Your Move" part is good, but I am not a fan the second part at all. It doesn't help that it seems to be a staple of their live show.

The last two tracks are OK but nothing terribly memorable for me.
Old 10-17-13, 02:11 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by bunkaroo
I listen to them because I'm a musician and I appreciate what they are capable of doing. Not everyone is a cynic.
Saying progressive rock is pretentious is not a cynical statement. I listen to many varieties of music and I listen to progressive rock for a specific reason - the one you alluded to - instrumental virtuosity.

Originally Posted by Jason
I thought that was what King Crimson were for?
Well, that's a different discussion. And for the record, Yes isn't even in the same league as King Crimson. (My opinion, relax.)
Old 10-17-13, 04:34 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by CRM114
Saying progressive rock is pretentious is not a cynical statement. I listen to many varieties of music and I listen to progressive rock for a specific reason - the one you alluded to - instrumental virtuosity.
I disagree. I don't see why music whose whole purpose was to progress and push boundaries has to be automatically labeled pretentious. If anything, I think it says more about the people who call it pretentious. Not every band has to play verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-solo-chorus out.
Old 10-17-13, 05:29 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Maybe I should have used the phrase self-indulgent as opposed to pretentious.

As for The Yes Album, it's good, but they were still in their formative stage.
Old 10-17-13, 10:20 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

The Yes Album is aptly named, as this is the album where the band becomes the Yes we know and love. Steve Howe certainly kicked the band up a notch, just listen to his playing on "The Clap" for evidence of what he could do. But it seemed like the whole unit was really gelling and stretching. You wouldn't have heard anything like "Starship Trooper" or "Yours Is No Disgrace" from them prior.

It's not their best album, but it is the inaugural album in their classic run, which for me goes from The Yes Album through Tales From Topographic Oceans (not that they didn't have later classics, but the "do no wrong" feeling that pervades this period is lost with Relayer, IMO).
Old 10-17-13, 10:20 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

And King Crimson is my personal favorite prog band, although Genesis is damn close.
Old 10-18-13, 10:09 AM
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I gotta be that guy - it's "Clap" not "The Clap". They weren't naming it after an STD.

It's actually been misnamed on some editions and iTunes has it wrong too.
Old 10-18-13, 01:00 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

It will always be The Clap to me.
Old 10-18-13, 01:30 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

So it's just named after a single clap then?
Old 10-18-13, 01:43 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

A very significant one, yes.
Old 10-18-13, 02:03 PM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Listening to that piece I'm still amazed it's all being played by one guitar. But he makes the goofiest faces playing it.
Old 10-19-13, 08:27 AM
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Re: Album By Album: Yes

Originally Posted by Supermallet
It's not their best album, but it is the inaugural album in their classic run, which for me goes from The Yes Album through Tales From Topographic Oceans (not that they didn't have later classics, but the "do no wrong" feeling that pervades this period is lost with Relayer, IMO).
Totally agree.

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