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Yes - Yes CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.26 | 1383 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A good demo

Yes' first album is a somewhat rough and ready affair, giving little indication of what was to come. With no Rick Wakeman or Steve Howe on board yet, the Anderson/Squire/Bruford core is completed by Tony Kaye on organ and piano, and Peter Banks on guitar. The band evolved from Mabel Greer's Toyshop, a group which all but Bruford had been a member of at sometime. Clive Bailey of that band is also involved here, co-writing some of the tracks. Bruford was not directly known to the other members when he joined having responded to an advertisement in the pop weekly Melody Maker. Anderson and Squire's collaboration resulted mainly through a shared interest in the development vocal harmonies. In retrospect, while that interest is obvious here, it has some way to go in terms of development.

This, the band's first album consists mainly of original material, with just two cover versions of songs by The Byrds and the Beatles. As with so many albums of the period, the vastly under appreciated influence of Vanilla Fudge can be heard in the way these cover versions take the song and completely transform it.

For me, the best track by far is "Survival", a wonderfully constructed piece which was so far ahead of its time it was likely to meet itself coming back! The song is an excellent example of early prog, being a six minute track with several time and mood changes and a great vocal performance by Jon Anderson. It has a passing resemblance in terms of structure and perhaps sound to the Moody Blues track "Question", which came slightly later, but is more widely known by virtue of the fact that it was a hit single.

The rest of the tracks have a much less refined feel to them, in part due to the immature nature of the arrangements and in part to the songs themselves. This album is more about the potential it contains than the content as such. The cover of the Byrds "I see you" for example has that distinctive Yes sound combined with a brave interpretation, but the track sounds more like an advanced demo than the completed article.

The songs are generally straight forward in terms of composition (apart from "Survival"), with tracks such as "Yesterday and today" and "Harold Land" being much simpler than the prog epics which would soon follow. Today they inevitably sound rather dated, but we must bear in mind that this album was recorded almost 40 (yes 40!) years ago.

In all, Yes' first album is a satisfactory demo for what lay ahead. There is little here to make this album essential, even to Yes fans, but it is a key part of the band's history.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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