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YES

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.24 | 900 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
3 stars It's the sweltering summer of '70 and I'm hanging out at Tommy Cline's house. He's the drummer in my band and we all practice almost daily in his parent's stifling garage. He's also the guy who turned me on to King Crimson and Jethro Tull, just to name a few. We're discussing the merits of The Byrds and he jumps up suddenly, grabs an album and says "Man, you gotta hear these guys play 'I See You!' It's great!" Tommy's right. It's incredible. So begins my infatuation with Yes. Once again my dear friend (God rest his soul) had introduced me to a group that didn't sound like anyone else in the world.

The album starts with an alarming wakeup call from Chris Squire as his bass notes jump right out of the speakers at you, demanding your undivided attention. His composition, "Beyond and Before," clearly displays the love of vocal harmonies that brought him and singer Jon Anderson together in the first place. It has a sophisticated arrangement that is pretty advanced considering their level of experience and the song, while not mind-blowing, is an impressive starting point. Their take on Jim McGuinn and David Crosby's "I See You" is staggeringly good. I get the feeling from listening to this adaptation that the group started out to be a blend of cool jazz with a rock mentality and here they succeed. Peter Banks' smooth guitar licks paired with Bill Bruford's deft drumming is excellent. Again, this was the first song I ever heard from Yes. It knocked me out that fateful afternoon and I can honestly say that it's still a killer nearly four decades later. "Yesterday and Today" is nothing more than a pop ballad sung over some nice piano noodlings. It sounds like other flowery tunes of that day and it could've easily been covered by a group like The Mamas and The Papas. "Looking Around" is the best original song on the album with Tony Kaye's Hammond organ setting a powerful pace. The three part harmonies are adventurous (but sometimes shaky pitch-wise) and the end is abrupt but it's still a memorable offering. In contrast, "Harold Land" is the weakest tune. It starts well but soon gets bogged down in an unimaginative melody and loses its initial momentum. Next is "Every Little Thing," a Lennon/McCartney song I've always liked. In much the same spirit that Vanilla Fudge put their individual stamp on "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by the Supremes, Yes completely revamps this catchy tune while keeping its integrity intact. After a noisy but interesting opening they dive right into the song and deliver the tightest track on the album complete with pristine harmonies. Here they make a very good tune become great. "Sweetness" follows and it's another average but trendy love song (probably included to appease some hit-seeking record executives at Atlantic). "Survival" is a fine closer in that it features an adventurous arrangement based on several intertwining musical themes. It's not a classic by any means but it does display rudimentary elements of the progressive traits the band was just starting to explore.

The photograph on the cover speaks volumes. This wasn't a collection of grinning cover boys or a pack of sneering punks bent on searing your eardrums, this was a confident and convinced group of gifted musicians that knew exactly what they wanted to accomplish with their music. The juxtaposition of these five young men surrounded by what looks like a graveyard for outdoor antiques is quite appropriate and symbolic. As debuts go there have been better and a whole lot worse than this album. But when I first heard it on Tommy Cline's record player long ago I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Yes was going to carve out their own, unique niche in modern rock and roll.

Chicapah | 3/5 |

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