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Yes - Yes CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.26 | 1384 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A strong debut that's fun to listen to. To use a cliché, the band was generally firing on all cylinders. Lead vocalist Jon Anderson hadn't quite gotten comfortable with the higher register, but sounds very good, especially when backed by the vocals of bassist Chris Squire and guitarist Peter Banks. Squire and drummer Bill Bruford are already playing at a professional level, and organist/pianist Tony Kaye plays competently. To my ears, the real star here is Banks. It certainly wasn't his guitar playing that would get him kicked out after their next album!

Yes opens with the psychedelic rock (or maybe art rock) of "Beyond and Before," a showcase for Squire's bass and support vocals. Also on Side One is the early classic "Looking Around." The other standout track is the Side-Two opener "Harold Land." Yes also includes two covers: "I See You," a fast-paced Byrds song, and the Beatles' "Every Little Thing," which actually eclipses the original.

Less successful are the softer originals "Yesterday and Today," "Sweetness," and "Survival." At some point starting in the 1990s, "Survival" began to appear of compilations as representative of this album, and Anderson later revived it for one of his solo projects. While it prefigures the more-complex Yes music to come, it exposes one of Anderson's relative weaknesses: his literal lyric-writing. He's much better when his lyrics are impressionistic. Also of note is "Something's Coming," a b-side now included on most CD reissues. This is a tune from West Side Story. Whereas the two cover songs on the album feature unique, original arrangements, much of the arrangement ideas for Yes's version of "Something's Coming" were copied from an earlier recording by another group (I've heard it on youtube, but I don't remember the band anymore).

I'll say that this self-titled debut album (1969) by Yes isn't quite as good as Time and a Word, released one year later. And I'll also say that the band made a quantum leap between Time and a Word and The Yes Album, released eight months later in 1971 - - a much easier claim. Furthermore, Fragile (1971), which itself represented a modest improvement over its predecessor, was followed in short order by Close to the Edge (1972), which is ranked here at Prog Archives is the all-time top progressive rock album ever.

So where does that leave Yes? How should we rate an album which was outdone by each of the four that succeeded it? In the rating system here, the five-star rating is reserved for only the best albums, which means Close to the Edge and possibly Fragile - - but not Yes. A four-star album is an "Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection," while three stars means "Good, but non-essential." The Yes Album is easily a four-star album, while Time and a Word possibly deserves four stars as well.* At this point, I'm tentatively rating Yes three stars, but I must confess I'm on the fence. Whereas that might ordinarily mean I should wait to post this review, I've given this rating more thought than most.


*possibly, but at present I rate it three stars.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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