Yes: the classic years: a personal view.

Mark H

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What do we music lovers need to know about Yes?

Well, the first two albums can safely be ignored. Number 3, The Yes Album, introduced the remarkable Steve Howe, but its production is inadequate and the four strongest cuts are repeated on Yessongs, so there's no need to buy it.

Rick Wakeman joined during the making of Fragile, and it's a slightly flawed Prog masterwork. It's the first Yes album that you need. The track South Side of the Sky must be one of the band's peaks.

Then comes Close to the Edge, which is a Prog classic. It's all repeated on the live album though, so it's not the first to buy.

Yessongs is the live one, and has songs from The Yes Album and nearly all of the substantial pieces from Fragile, plus all of CttE. There are longish solos, but as a 1970s live Rock album it stands out for its ambition and accomplishment.

... Next up there's Tales From Topographic Oceans. Few records have divided opinion like this one. I'll just offer the opinion that the band was really trying to offer something special here, and for me they succeeded in spades.

Mr. Wakeman thought otherwise, and he quit. His replacement Patrick Moraz played a large part in the making of Relayer. Herein lies the band's masterpiece, The Gates of Delirium. The other two songs amaze and soothe by turns.

Jon Anderson then recorded Olias of Sunhillow, an enchanting and sporadically wonderful thing that Yes fans should revere.

Lastly there's Going For the One. RW has re-joined and much of the music is as magical as it should be.

After that, there are decades of guff.

So, if you're curious about the Prog genre, I'd recommend all of Yes's albums from Fragile to Going For the One.

 

Ozexpat

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I think you under estimate the majesty of The Yes Album. It contains all the elements of the "classic" period but with true craftmanship and energy born out of Howe's influence. There isn't a Yes album that I don't like, yet this rates as (possibly) their best.

No. It doesn't have Wakeman and Tony Kaye doesn't really do it the service that it deserves (hence his sacking). But, while A Venture is a bit dated, I've Seen All Good People, Starship Trouper, Yours Is No Disgrace, and Perpetual Change, are equal to or better than anything that followed. And the studio versions are, arguably, better than the live.

As for being so dismissive of the first two albums ? I think you show fairly poor judgement there. These are both works "of their time" and sound a bit dated but what late 60s music doesn't. The musicality is still there but more Psych than Prog. Too many overlook these albums as nonsense. Their value is the boundary pushing compared to their peers. It sounds like no other group. That's surely a good thing, no ?

 

Ozexpat

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Drama is a fantastic album as well. The Yes "open door" policy can divide opinion more than many bands. Everybody will have their definitive lineup. I actually like the fact that an artist can leave, do a few side projects, then be welcomed back into the fold. Let's face it, without that attitude, we would never have the epic that is Going For The One. Drama is a fantastic album that is completely overlooked by Jon Anderson fanbois. Yet it stands as a well written album with some great performances.

90125 was a greater leap for the faithfull than any previous release due to it's commercial success. This led to Big Generator style "theatrical" production thanks to Yarpie Trevor Rabin. Union, Talk and Keys To Ascension saw the old firm reunited with guest appearances from others. Not to everybodies (Yes fans) taste but a natural progression.

Yes were/are the consumate Progressive Rock band. Each album is a derivative and development of what went before.

 

Tel

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I don't listen to Yes very much if at all these days, but funnily enough my record collectioin includes starts at 'Fragile' and ends at 'Tormato' which was bought more in hope than expectation at the time and got very few plays.

I saw Yes live a couple of times, the Reading festival in 1975 and Wembley Arena (they sold out 5 nights) in 1978.

Of the early stuff I remember Long Distance Runaround, The Fish, Starship Trouper, Clap, I've Seen All Good People' all being very popular live.

 

rabski

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I have to prefix this by admitting I am a 100% prog fan, and always have been. However, my overall tastes are far wider and run from everything from the Sex Pistols to Bach's organ music.

There is actually little Yes that I don't enjoy. It's only pretentious if you approach it from a specific mindset. Taken in it's time, it was magnificent, and still is.

Given the lot, Heart of the Sunrise is what I'd still pick, though others are superb.

If you've got an AV setup, but the DVD of Yes at Monteray. Older and wiser they might be. Spectacular and accomplished they sure as hell are.

 

Humpty was pushed

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Feb 16, 2007
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May seem odd, but I have been a prog fan all my life, but I never really listened to Yes much - didn't know their stuff half as well as Floyd, ELP, Genesis, and others. On the strength of this thread I am trying out "Olias of Sunhillow" - which I bought a few weeks ago in a batch of cds and haven't listened to yet.

So far - loving it! I may have to buy some old Yes stuff and catch up properly! Thanks for posting this!

 

rockabillybass

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Feb 2, 2008
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I agree with Terry's point about The Yes Album. Surely some of their finest work.

I don't agree about Tony Kaye. I think his playing is first class. Actually, being a bit contoversial, I think Wakeman is my least favourite Yes keyboards player. His best playing is fantastic, the Hammond solo on CTTE, for example, but I think Moraz offered more and it was a great shame that he only did the one album. He gave them more of a fusion type sound that could have pushed the band into new territory. Instead Wakeman's return on GFTO just rehashed old ground. GFTO is a good album though.

Also, the first album is great IMHO. It was years before I realised "I See You" was a Byrds song..

A good thread, we could argue the toss over Bruford v White too :)

 

Spacehopper

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I agree with Terry's point about The Yes Album. Surely some of their finest work. I don't agree about Tony Kaye. I think his playing is first class. Actually, being a bit contoversial, I think Wakeman is my least favourite Yes keyboards player. His best playing is fantastic, the Hammond solo on CTTE, for example, but I think Moraz offered more and it was a great shame that he only did the one album. He gave them more of a fusion type sound that could have pushed the band into new territory. Instead Wakeman's return on GFTO just rehashed old ground. GFTO is a good album though.

Also, the first album is great IMHO. It was years before I realised "I See You" was a Byrds song..

A good thread, we could argue the toss over Bruford v White too :)
Spot on - as I've got older I find I get more enjoyment from their earlier albums.

 

Ozexpat

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I agree with Terry's point about The Yes Album. Surely some of their finest work. A good thread, we could argue the toss over Bruford v White too :)
I am in the Bruford camp on that one. I was lucky enough a few years ago to attend a drum clinic where he was present. He was awesome. So free and relaxed when on or off the kit.

I love Alan White's recorded work, he is a fantastic drummer, but his drinking problems have caused his live work to be haphazard at best. Kev (Tel) gave me a live bootleg of a gig in Brighton (Brighton Khatrou), and the drumming is apalling. I spoke to a muso mate of mine, who has toured recently with Steve Hackett, and White's drink problem is well known (but kept deliberately quiet) and a great concern for those around him, the band included.

 

AdamK

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I find Yes a real mixed bag.

I really love Fragile and The Yes Album - two slabs of ultimate prog perfection irrespective of the differing personnel involved.

My problem comes with other so called classics like Close to The Edge & Tales of the Topographic Oceans - pretentious side long muso nonsense when compared to the above.

 

Ozexpat

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I find Yes a real mixed bag.I really love Fragile and The Yes Album - two slabs of ultimate prog perfection irrespective of the differing personnel involved.

My problem comes with other so called classics like Close to The Edge & Tales of the Topographic Oceans - pretentious side long muso nonsense when compared to the above.
Just the sort of thing I love :D

 

wizons

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I agree that the OP is harsh on The Yes Album. IMO it's one of their best albums, followed by Fragile and CTTE (in no particular order). There are moments of ensemble playing on Yours is no Disgrace and Starship Trooper that are magnificent. From Fragile I'd take Heart of the Sunrise as the best track. I suppose CTTE (the song) epitomizes prog rock at its very best. Like Rabski my musical tastes have broadened and I'm in a Bach phase at the moment, though Beethoven's piano sonatas have started creeping back into my listening recently. (I tend to spend some time immersed in one composer or genre before slowly switching to another.)

For me, a measure of how good or great a piece of music is comes from the sense that when I listen to it, it seems like the best thing ever written. Quite a bit of Yes seems like that to me when I hear it.

I saw them in 1977/78 and 80, and again in 2003 and 2004. The band treated Anderson appallingly when they sacked him for being seriously ill before a tour. In 2003/4 his voice was magnificent: his voice took a few songs to hit its sweetspot, but when it did I thought he sounded better than in his early days.

Fond memories!!

 

Clubsport911

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Ok, so I would like to say that.... Despite the huge differences in style / concept / execution etc.... In terms of which album, i have the lot, and love the lot.

"pretentious wank ?" Cannot agree. I'm no hippy but you had to be around in the early 70's to hear how they sounded at the time. I was young but I think if you are open minded enough, (and like prog rock even slightly) then you might find them of interest

High spots ?

Awaken - going for the one

Roundabout - Fragile

9 voices - the ladder

Love will find a way - 90125 (originally written for Stevie Nicks)

Edit

...and Starship Trooper

and Siberian Khatru

and Turn of the Century

 

Petrat

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I saw them live on the Relayer tour at City Hall Newcastle in the mid-70s and can say that in all the years since, and countless gigs attended, I have never seen any other group even begin to approach the sheer energy and power Yes generated that night. Absolutely fucking phenomenal. It was hard to reconcile that it was all coming from just a four-piece plus singer. That night, their traditional encore of Roundabout remains possibly the hardest rocking number I've ever heard live. Mind you, I think Eddy Offord was having one of his better nights on the mixing console, because, almost uniquely at that venue in the 70s, you could actually hear what was being played. The only downside was choking on dry-ice in the stalls ... that and the giant moving fibreglass sea monster props, which were seriously pretentious, even by the standards of the day.

 

themadlatvian

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Many views expressed here I agree with, many I don't agree with at all.

I'm very much a Yes lover, and can appreciate all their output to a greater or lesser extent, but my biggest problem over the years has been that their actual recordings were mostly shite. For example, Close to the Edge sounds like it was recorded in a large public convenience, and Fragile is little better.

Compared with Floyd for example, who I generally enjoy less that Yes, they were very poorly served by their engineers.

 
C

Crazytrain

Guest
I like all the Yes albums. If you want to overdose on the prog magnificence of Close to the Edge, Relayer or TFTO you can.

And then you have the easily accessible Talk, Big Generator and 90125. Not forgetting the short song brilliance of Man in a White Car from the Drama album. Two of my favourite albums are Fragile and The Yes Album. Great stuff.

 

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