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Yes - The Yes Album CD (album) cover

THE YES ALBUM

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.29 | 1995 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review 40, The Yes Album, Yes, 1971

StarStarStar

No disgrace.

The Yes Album is where my current Yes collection begins (never really had the inclination to try the debut), and was one of the two Yes albums I started with (along with Close To The Edge). There are plenty of people who consider it a masterpiece, and I'm not among them. We can see some of the superb musicianship and composition that we will see in later Yes, even if Wakeman really completes the set for me and Bruford really comes into his own on Fragile. There is a lot of energy on the album, and that's certainly good for it. However, the problem is the arrangement, which sometimes falls down into a bombastic and bouncy section that has basically no relation to the song it's in, and the vocal repetition is often rather excessive. This is certainly a good album, and a nice, relatively accessible introduction to Yes, but they've yet to reach the stellar heights of things like South Side Of The Sky or Siberian Khatru.

The cheerful chords of Yours Is No Disgrace (even if repeated for rather longer than I think is necessary) introduce us to the style of the album, with Tony Kaye's blocky organ. A whirl of guitar from Howe leads us impressively to the initial heavily harmonised vocals with an organ background, and we move on through a few mostly un-necessary instrumental sections with repeats abounding to a vocal-bass section to a great biting Howe solo (and a couple of additions from Kaye and Bruford). From then on, the song is a little more satisfying: Howe's melodic acoustic and electric guitars over some superb organ from Kaye and a typically excellent Squire-Bruford duo delights every time, while all the vocals feel well-placed and the pompous 'bam-babam-bam' theme does seem appropriate. Howe and Squire both throw in some soloing. On the plus side, some very nicely done lyrics and essentially good playing throughout, but the flow is lacking in the first half.

The Clap is an acoustic delight from Howe, with a cheerful feel, superb moments, extremely good flow and never dull. A very mobile, original and enjoyable piece.

Starship Trooper is probably going to be the highlight for most progressive-ly interested people, being around ten minutes long and featuring an expanding theme. On Anderson's Life Seeker, Bruford provides some superb style, Squire provides strong bass and the swelling organ is appropriate for the song. Jon Anderson's vocal is relaxed, yet assertive and strong enough to handle the stripped back spots rather well. There are a couple of places where I think the bombast inserted compromises the piece's flow. Squire's section, Disillusion, features some unsurprisingly excellent bass playing, even if the vocals on 'loneliness is a pow'r that we possess' don't do much for me. The flow up to Howe's excellent entrance to the final instrumental section (Wurm, written by Howe) is perfectly handled, and that section is certainly worthy of Yes's efforts, with an excellent build-up, careful additions from Kaye and Bruford, and Howe gets to handle an electric guitar solo, which is suitably awesome. It is very well concluded, but the first two parts of Starship Trooper don't really satisfy me.

The following 'I've Seen All Good People' is a mixed piece, with an annoying opening, some beautiful vocals from Anderson, but some terrible harmonies. Howe provides an acoustic background to the vocals, with an occasional thump in the background from Bruford. A flutey sound, probably from Kaye's direction is present throughout until the large organ bursts in. The more cheerful All Good People proper features a more bouncy rhythm created by Squire and Howe, while Kaye and Bruford add in a little bounce with some piano and excellent drumming. Unfortunately, the repeats from Anderson don't really help the song a lot, and the massively blocky organ doesn't really do the end much. One of those ones I don't really like, even if I admire the components.

I actually like the maligned and folky 'A Venture', which contains a delicious piano opening, followed by a rather consistent bass part, Anderson contributes to some great moments as everyone else drops out, and everyone gets to do a bit of jumping out of the piece's mould. Again, the problem is flow, with a couple of 'just to hide away' sections feeling awkward, but the ending is actually very good, with a bizarrely chosen guitar solo when the piece has already basically faded.

Perpetual Change, the albums third longer piece, begins with the bombast that the other two have already seen, and the Howe guitar and Squire bass feels a little powerless on the opening. Again, we have the flow not complimented by feeble bridging efforts. A brief Squire bass solo features before another repeat of the chorus and the bombast. The verse proper, however, is wonderful, with Anderson's high vocal contrasting with the harmonies, and we get some more rocking moment from the band with Anderson's powerful 'You'll see perpetual change' blasting out from the speakers with a couple of taps on piano not too dissimilar to something on Aqualung. The piece takes off into an excellent instrumental section which bridges properly, instead opting to move into a repeated riff. A moog hum brings us onto the final vocal section with a very satisfying conclusion created by the vocals and the wordless harmony, and the bombastic throbs of the earlier song being repeated, but feeling appropriate. Everyone takes a brief solo and the piece comes down to a calm end.

The bonus material isn't great. A single version of I've Seen All Good People and Life Seeker is pretty unnecessary. The start of Your Move is very jarring after the album proper's conclusion. However, the studio version of The Clap, which does vary enough from the one included to be of interest, is worthy of inclusion on the remaster.

All in all, lots of potential, and some great sections scattered about the place. However, the overall flow of lots of the pieces is lacking, and Kaye's rather simplistic organ as well as the arrangement-shaped hole and bombastic (I'm sorry for horribly overusing this word. Allegorical in the extreme) guitar-chords become quite annoying at times. A nice album. One I like. There are some bits of this that every Yes fan must hear, and everyone else will certainly like, but only with Wakeman do Yes become an essential band.

Rating: Three Stars (but a good three stars) Favourite Track: Perpetual Change or Starship Trooper, but I don't particularly prefer any of the individual tracks to the others.

TGM: Orb | 3/5 |

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