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Yes - The Yes Album CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.30 | 2905 ratings

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3 stars

This is a very nice album, but I still find it to be very much a formative effort. It feels like the group really wants to make long songs, but the results are not so much "brilliantly composed suites" as they are "really long pop songs with virtuosic solo sections." As such, they wear out their welcome a little bit. In addition, the keyboard department is a bit thin; I've personally never been very fond of Hammond organs, and they pervade this album. The synthesizers that Rick Wakeman would go on to introduce improved Yes's music significantly. Despite all this, it really is a fine album to listen to, and all of the tunes are well-written; the only problems arise in how the songs develop (or don't).

The opening 9-minute song, "Yours is No Disgrace", is a nice high-energy number, punctuated by very good drumming on Bill Bruford's part. The grinding Hammond organs that pervade the piece occasionally get a bit annoying, but the main theme is still fun and bouncy, and there are nice touches of Moog in the beginning and end. Plus Steve Howe adds little guitar lines all over the place, and does very well. The main flaw I would say crops up in this piece is its length. The middle solo section is pretty good, but the group goes through a whole bunch of different repetitions of the main theme, and it eventually stops being interesting. The one other nice thing that stands out is the ending; the last Moog note climbs while suddenly simultaneously fading out, which is quite surprising.

The following "Clap" is a fun, brief, folky acoustic piece to show off Steve Howe's talents in that department. The theme meanders a bit uncertainly, but it's still a nice breather between two epics and very different from the rest of the material on the disc.

After this comes my favorite song on the disc: the relatively famous "Starship Trooper". It's somewhat unfair to refer to this as a single song, as it's an example of a somewhat disappointingly assembled cut-and-paste suite; it's basically 3 song fragments with little relation to each other stapled into one track. That being said, they're 3 good song fragments. The opening "Life Seeker" is a joyful and atmospheric track that repeats the same theme a couple of times; however, as this only goes on for a few minutes, and incorporates enough variety to stay interesting, it does not tire out. With a sudden blast, it transitions into the relatively simple acoustic interlude, "Disillusion", which after a bit more repetition of the theme, it returns to a sort of atmospheric portion, with relatively simple arpeggiating guitar and vocal harmonizing, until a sudden transition into the final section, "Würm", which is great: the guitars and keyboard play a repetitive but powerful grumbling, tension-building sequence which concludes in a triumphant final guitar riff. The whole thing is very heavy and very exciting; it advances just fast enough to prevent boredom from setting in, but slowly enough to convery tension. Unfortunately, it then just fades out.

After this, you get the second "multi-part" song, "I've Seen All Good People", which is even more of a cut-and-paste effort than the previous. It is also, unfortunately, less exciting. The initial "Your Move" is a nice major-key tune with acoustic strumming and some sort of piping in the background; eventually a blaring Hammond bursts in, which is somewhat disruptive, but the whole thing is quite pleasant. Then after building to a sudden climax and stopping, the second, titular portion begins, which is just one nonsensical phrase repeated over a bouncy, energetic background. It's catchy, sure, but it does go on quite a bit--much like this review.

After this there is (thankfully) another breather--the quirky "A Venture", which has a sort of oom-pah music-hall feel. It starts out nice, but doesn't really go anywhere, with the main vocal line suddenly drifting off into a piano solo. This song feels distinctly unfinished, which is a shame.

The disc concludes with "Perpetual Change". Once again the song begins with the repetition of a couple of (very good) themes. This improves later, when suddenly the band starts up a fascinating counterpoint, with all of the parts playing differently on top of each other (including the base reprising the original theme), until finally returning to one last repetition of the chorus. And then they continue to introduce more variations until fading out. This song has the variety that most of the others on this album lack.

In summary, I would say that this album shows a band still finding its footing as one of the most long-winded of the 70s, but it also shows a lot of promise. Highlights include "Starship Trooper" and "Perpetual Change".

Zargasheth | 3/5 |


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