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YES

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.23 | 820 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Yes was beginning to find their sound before The Yes Album, I believe, as elements of what they would become are scattered throughout this very good first recorded effort. Tony Kaye's keyboard work stands out a tad more on this album than on any other Yes release with him on board. Peter Banks shows himself to be a capable guitarist (even though he would not be long for the world of Yes). Chris Squire's bass work is not as prominent as it will be on most future records, but it definitely stands out. Bill Bruford's drumming throughout the record is not his best by far, but that may have something to do with the fact that half the music here is so mellow; he does get in some fairly exciting drumming on a few tracks, though. Finally, Jon Anderson's voice is youthful, cottony, and far from the maturity he will reach. This was the beginning of something good.

"Beyond and Before" The first song is a great opener, is my second favorite song here, and gives a good overall impression of the band's sound at the time. The vocal melodies are beautiful, the chord progression interesting, and the general musicianship very solid. It is a sprightly and cheerful five minutes; even if one were to pass on Yes's first album, he should have this song somewhere in their collection (as well as the final song).

"I See You" A fast-paced, jazzy rendition of a 1966 song by The Byrds, Anderson doesn't sound right at all singing this, and the silly rhymes don't make for a particularly good song. Banks engages in a quiet solo over Bruford's jazz-inspired drumming before giving his guitar some distortion to let loose on an extended instrumental section with the rest of the band.

"Yesterday and Today" Short, sweet, and simple, this ballad might be a tad too syrupy, but it's okay. The lovely instrumental section is a variation of the vocal melody.

"Looking Around" While this song still retains the pop-rock feel very early Yes had, the organ (especially in the brief introduction) intimate the band's future sound. But the music is rather muddled, and severely weakens an otherwise decent track.

"Harold Land" Again focusing on Kaye's organ and piano abilities, the happy introduction soon gives way to Anderson's vocalizations (and makes me think of how he would use this to great effect in the beginning of "Close to the Edge"). The verse sections are quiet and a somewhat melancholy. The vocal work from everyone is rather shoddy throughout, I think. The final section is a return to the happier (and better) introduction.

"Every Little Thing" Based on the band's collective inspiration taken from The Beatles, it is no surprise they decided to cover one of their songs. The rolling snare and electric guitar in the two-minute introduction makes me think of The Who during their early years for some reason. The song, I feel, goes on far longer than it ought to, even though Banks's guitar work is fairly enjoyable

"Sweetness" Another weak track, this one has Anderson at his most feathery again (as on "Yesterday and Today"). The melody and overall sound is pleasant, but there's just nothing special about this song.

"Survival" My favorite of this album, "Survival" is a song I really wish the band would do a modern live version of. This one qualifies for the tag of "progressive rock" more than anything else on this album. Squire's fat and fuzzy bass tone in the introduction is the most like what it would later be. There is plenty of ride cymbal, keyboard work, and a theme played on electric guitar. All of this fades out, leaving a quiet clean guitar with a lead played on an acoustic twelve-string over it. Anderson's voice is calm and gentle, as it has been on much of this album. The chorus is at once creative and very powerful, and shows the lovely vocal arrangements the band would carry throughout their career. The final moments are a reprise of the earlier guitar theme, and after Squire, Banks, and Kaye take turns playing it, the piece is over.

Epignosis | 3/5 |

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