Wednesday 24 March 2021

On the turntable today...Yes

It's a 70's lockdown...on the turntable today we have a bit of prog rock. The Yes Album by Yes was released in February 1971, it was a critical success and a major commercial breakthrough making number 4 in the UK album charts.

The Yes Album was the bands third album release and the first to feature accomplished guitarist Steve Howe and keyboard player Tony Kaye. The album retained close harmony singing behind Jon Anderson's remarkable voice. Kaye's Hammond organ, Howe's acoustic and lead guitars along with Bill Bruford's drums and Chris Squire's melodic bass played progressive rock material that covered various musical styles including jazz piano, funk and acoustic music. All of the band members contributed ideas and tracks that were extended in length to allow music to develop.

Highlights from this album include opening track Yours Is No Disgrace, the three piece suite Starship Trooper at the end of side one and the closing cut Perpetual Change. The standout track for me though is the opener on side two, I've Seen All Good People.  

This early release is one of the bands more accessible albums and is a good introduction to the music of Yes. Please don't be tempted to write it off as boring old self indulgent prog rock until you've heard it. Their double LP set Tales From Topographic Oceans released some two years later was more of a self indulgent album, albeit a hugely successful one. 

Yes progressed through the seventies with varying line ups (keyboard player Rick Wakeman was in and out of the band) producing some very good and huge selling albums such as Fragile, Close To The Edge, Going For The One and Relayer. Their last album release, Heaven & Earth, was in 2014. It's perhaps true to say that different personnel changes to the band over the years did lead to some periods of varying degrees of quality and success in their musical output.

The advent of punk in the late seventies made music from bands like Yes and Genesis rather unfashionable. It became popular, and all too easy, to label prog rock bands as dinosaurs and irrelevant. However that shouldn't detract from the fact that Yes were a band of top notch musicians who progressed and changed their musical output throughout their career. They produced some highly rated and excellent albums over a forty five year lifespan. Not many bands last that long in the music business unless they have something about them; durability, quality and talent. Yes, enough said. 

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