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Yes - The Yes Album CD (album) cover

THE YES ALBUM

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

4.28 | 1964 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

sealchan
4 stars The Yes Album - Yes (4.11 stars) Original Release: 2/19/1971

Songs:

Yours Is No Disgrace (4 stars) The lyrics seem to be about the folly of the efforts of the human race; and so your personal folly is no great matter. Staccato melody on guitar, bass and drums, then nice counterpoint from the organ. Then this shifts to a synth sound that is atmospheric. The guitar wraps around the beat like a rhythmic fairy. The bass swings away in the background with the same energy as previous albums but not so much in the foreground. At one point the guitar makes little melodic whines in counterpoint to vocal rhythm. The song returns to its original theme repeatedly in subtly different forms. In a more extended instrumental section after a guitar solos oscillating in left and right channels various progressive instrumental melodies play out which compliment the main theme. The guitar is heard in various ways. Although the overall variety of melodies is not great this long song does not seem long. Each section contains subtle variations which present and represent the themes in every changing ways. The overall groove is engaging and yet somehow stately.

Clap [Live] (4 stars) This is a guitar solo played live somewhere to a small group of people. The genre seems to be country or folk. It has a good pace, rhythm, the chords and plucking blend together gracefully showing up the great dexterity of the guitarist's fingers. The song acts as a kind of palette cleanser between the two longer songs which flank it lightening the tone a bit.

Starship Trooper: Life Seeker/Disillusion/Wurm (5 stars) The lyrics seem to be invoking a familiar Yes theme of the "hidden glories" of life. Contrasting qualities of summer and winter (as in "Yours is no Disgrace"), the visible and invisible help to describe a mystical perspective which is self-consciously realized by the vocalist it seems. "Life Seeker" begins with a heavy bass theme and lighter guitar counter theme. At first this first movement of the song avoids settling into a beat. Then an instrumental bridge brings us into a rhythm and a different lyric with nostalgic references. The bass plays with muscle under the melody. In "Disillusion" the acoustic guitar takes over and the vocals are rhythmic. This second movement finds its way after an instrumental bridge to a melody from the first movement building until it releases into the third movement "Wurm". "Wurm" is a repeated series of three minor chords which seem to descend and ascend with a kind of dark, demonic quality. Gradually the various instruments build up an intensity which eventually erupts into a furious guitar solo. The first two movements of the song seem to joyfully anticipate the third movement like an extended joyful prophet announcing the coming of an awesome power. The way the instruments represent this arising/descending power is a wonder to behold and if you are caught by the deep mystery of this song you probably forever hold it in high esteem.

I've Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People (4 stars) In the politics of life you may not be well respected but make your moves as you would make them and karma and your love will prevail...so say the lyrics. More rhythmic vocals create a stark and energetic intro to this two part song. Soon the acoustic guitar and a heartbeat bass come in for a relaxed vocal section. There is a pan flute or synth flute sound as well to add flavor. The vocals harmonize and there is some doo-wap that adds further punch. Layered vocals with lead and a countering background are also employed. Eventually a cathedral organ comes in to darken and intensify the mood. The organ climaxes and then there is a silence...after which the second part of the song kicks in with a swing-rock rhythm. The same single lyrical line with which the song began is now repeated...a very long sentence sang in a rhythmic way. The guitar lays down a blues flavor. Once again the organ and bass come in with dark intensity and the same vocalizations fade away with a more profound energy.

A Venture (3 stars) The lyrics seem to be about living your life and not separating yourself from others; to control your passions utterly is to breed addictive behavior. The Beatlesque rhythm of this song passes quickly and ends with an interesting off kilter instrumental jam with the guitar and the bass and the piano frolicing around each other.

Perpetual Change (4 stars) The vocalist seems to be having a discussion with someone who thinks that consciousness is everything...that we control ourselves, even our destiny. But deep inside we are moved by forces greater than us. This song also features a staccato instrumental intro, a strong hammering fanfare. Then is shifts down into a laid back bluesy rock rhythm where the vocalist comes in. The song flows even as it changes through matching shades of color; from militaristic to swing to blues and back again perhaps reflecting the title of the song elegantly. Then comes a brief instrumental section which suddenly transforms into a march-like, complex, clock-work like phrase that winds up and builds energy. A keyboard sound comes in to tie it all off. Then back to vocals with a heightened sense of energy applied to a repeated lyrical section. Then seems to breakaway from its twists and turns with a atmospheric vocal/instrumental coda of yet another flavor although this too is playfully interrupted a couple times with another staccato phrase.

Your Move [Single Version] (2 stars) Cut down version of the album song.

Starship Trooper: Life Seeker [Single Version] (2 stars) Sounds the same as the corresponding portion of the same song on the album.

Clap [Studio Version] (2 stars) Slightly longer version of the album song. It is enjoyable to hear the song more clearly in a studio context. There are some differences in the song showing that the song would be played slightly differently at times. For me the live version flows more naturally, but this may be due to that version's greater familiarity.

Album:

On Yes' third album there is an elegant coordination of the various instruments. The guitar is a stronger player in the mix with a wide variety of styles. Somehow the sound of the album is more open making each instrumental contribution more approachable. The songs themselves have an improved sense of craft in that the musical ideas within a song seem to fit together more coherently. Admittedly, I've heard this album so many times that at first it was hard to really hear it, but taking a critical approach to it has reawakened some of my original appreciation for it. This album shows how Yes has taken a leap of confidence in their song compositions as they seem to have combined simplicity with complexity in an optimal way.

Yes seems to have left their 60s pop sound far behind and defined a new level of sophistication within their own repertoire. With this album they join Genesis, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer in what is fast becoming the then new genre of Progressive Rock.

MP3 recommendation:

I have no good MP3 highlights to recommend. As usual for me I don't get much out of the extra song versions.

sealchan | 4/5 |

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