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Yes - The Yes Album CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.30 | 2670 ratings

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2 stars Right from the first Bonanza-like chords of Yours Is No Disgrace to the fading guitar of Perpetual Change I sit back with some sort of forced enjoyment. Out of the two biggies in symphonic prog, Yes is my favourite, but neither them or Genesis have ever managed to pluck my stings with an entire album. There's always the parts or songs that have the same effect as a sore thumb: it's annoying and painful, gets even more annoying and painful the more it's exposed and it's extremely potent when it comes to deteriorating the mood as a whole.

Two, no three, things make up this 'sore thumb' on The Yes Album. First it's Jon Andersons gigantic role in the mix, second it's Jon Andersons' voice, which I shouldn't have a problem with. Rush is one of my favourite bands, and Geddy's high-pitched voice needed no time to grow. Jon's have been given that time and it showed no sign of improving. Third is Steve Howe's guitar. No, don't rush to conclusions here. It's merely the sound that I'm not to keen of - sometimes fuzzy, crunchy, but ultimately powerless chords, sometimes it's the electric 'banjo'. And as he is quite a big part of the soundscape, these few things turn quite ugly after a while. Yes have always been bubbly, first in a '60s way and later naturally in a '70s way, with hippie-Beatle-esque esthetics all over the early albums. And that's another thing that takes this record down a notch. Even with great musicianship, some of the potential is lost for me due to this flimsy, light-weight approach to the music, sometimes even in a twisted jazzed up rockabilly form - it fails to move me. It's playful, no doubt, but not the way I like it.

Bashing aside, there are of course things speaking in favour of The Yes Album. Steve Howes melodic mini-solos and background noodling, or his shorter classical interludes speaks of better things to come, and Chris Squire is always classy with his sharp, punctual and melodic bass. Almost every song contains interesting, edgy parts but they all seem to fade away before they get chance to build up steam.

Two songs contain more of these parts than the others: Starship Trooper and Perpetual Change. Starship Trooper was probably the first song I heard by the band, perhaps beaten by Roundabout. Since it's built of different parts I also have a favourite among those. It starts with a slightly lazy, but still interesting theme, with the organ very far back in the mix and Steve Howe's guitar together with the trusty Rickenbacker of Squire carries it in to a part entirely dominated by some acoustic, pseudo-classical guitar work and Jon Anderson. It then wanders around aimlessly for a while with ethereal vocals to enhance the cosmic theme. But it's only when an impromptu stop grows into the phased guitar of Howe that things really build up some steam and pressure. Suggestive, dramatic and the best thing on the album, it then gradually builds up with more instruments, more complexity and finally, a triumphant fake solo duel from Howe. This is the stuff of which stars are made.

Thus ending on a positive note, this is an effort that means so much too many, and so little to me. It was my gateway to Yes, and as Micky says 'You may like this album and not like Yes's future works... but if you don't like this album... you won't like Yes'. Not entirely true for me, but at least to a great extent. I'll gladly recommend other albums, but not this.

2 stars.


LinusW | 2/5 |


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