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TIME AND A WORD

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.25 | 866 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars As with the first album, Yes offers six original songs and two covers. This time, the material is stronger and a little bit closer to the classic Yes sound, though still not quite there. With the notable exception of "The Prophet," Tony Kaye is inadvertently relegated to the background, and I believe this is due in no small part to the band bringing the orchestra on board. My opinion of this addition is mixed, as sometimes they blend in with the band, and at other times stick out somewhat unpleasantly. Peter Banks, who will no longer be a member of Yes after the release of this album, takes more of a supportive role as well. Chris Squire's bass guitar is creeping up to the fore, as the first two tracks show. Jon Anderson is much better than he was on their first album, but still lacks much of the maturity that came later. Bill Bruford, doesn't stand out too much, but keeps the beat well enough. Five of the eight tracks are strong enough to warrant this album four stars, but only just.

"No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" Normally, I don't think a band with original material should start off an album with a cover song, but none of the other pieces are energetic enough to warrant going first. The introduction contains a heavy organ and the orchestra. The bass groove is most powerful during the verses, and Anderson really does a phenomenal job singing this one. The orchestral-based interlude always makes me think of the theme for "The Magnificent Seven" even though the tunes are quite different. I consider this Yes's best cover song (even though there aren't many of them), and I enjoyed it the very first time I heard it.

"Then" Like "Survival" from the previous album, this is one song I wish the band would do live now. It's an excellent song, full of very interesting parts, at just under six minutes. The introduction has a descending organ and guitar line before Kaye locks into a groove, while Banks and Squire fiddle around over it. Anderson's singing is delightful, especially during the chorus. Squire makes his bass sound like a deep machine gun during the instrumental section, and Banks and Kaye really show what they're made of. At times, the music sounds like it could have been part of the soundtrack to a James Bond film, and this is largely due to the orchestra's involvement. Afterwards, only Squire and Banks play, and after Anderson finishes the song (very quietly), the band and brass section wrap it up quickly.

"Everydays" Here's the second cover song (this one from Buffalo Springfield), and the problem is, it's terribly boring. The trembling strings, the pizzicato, the uninteresting drumming, Anderson's dreary singing, and the lack of rock instrumentation,make the first couple of minutes tiresome. The heavy rock section that follows is wild and doesn't really flow, but at least it's a relief from what came before. Banks gets a rare opportunity to show his stuff throughout the entire middle section. Sadly, the song becomes what it was in the beginning- bland and tedious. The very end is just random.

"Sweet Dreams" If Yes ever wrote a pop song before 90125, this is definitely it. But it's good, and one I enjoy hearing. I was pleased the band pulled it out of their catalogue on their DVD Songs from Tsongas, though I would've picked something else myself. Despite its generally simple structure, there are some fine bass and guitar runs, and the chorus is a lot of fun to sing along with.

"The Prophet" Kaye enjoys time in the spotlight during the first minute of "The Prophet." Even though he is clearly not as talented, I like his organ playing here better than most of what Keith Emerson ever did on his solo spots on the ELP studio records. The strings, and later the whole band, joins Kaye in setting things up for the song proper. The vocal work, especially over the strings, is some of the best on the album, as Anderson gives his voice some "oomph" that is clearly lacking on most of Yes's first two albums. I enjoy Squire's playing on the short section just before the final verse. This song, which overall is the closest to progressive rock on this record, finishes strongly.

"Clear Days" The shortest number here is a bland little ditty that really features only the strings section and Anderson singing. The music sounds like something that would be performed during an extravagant wedding.

"Astral Traveler" Yet another exceptional Yes song, "Astral Traveler" has some exciting instrumentation throughout. I like the warbling effects applied to the vocals, and the entire piece has very clear direction. Banks gets in two solos, one on a muffled guitar with a jazz tone, the other with a crispy, distorted tone. There is more machine-gun bass-playing from Squire, and Bruford's drumming is fantastic. I also especially like the lyrics. Like "The Prophet," this one is definitely "progressive rock" and shows exactly where the band is heading musically.

"Time and a Word" The title track is not progressive rock, really, but still a positive and pleasant acoustic guitar-based song. I like how the lead guitar is played through a Leslie, and Squire's bass work during the chorus is top-notch. Most of all, the vocal harmonies are exceptional.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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