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Yes - Yes CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.26 | 1384 ratings

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4 stars In my high school days, I took a deep interest in exploring the roots of heavy metal, and my searches brought me right into the heart of psychedelic rock and acid rock. This fertile breeding ground of new sounds was largely responsible for giving birth to both heavy metal and progressive rock. Among many bands that pushed toward new ground in rock music, my cassette racks included Cream, the Yardbirds, early Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Vanilla Fudge, Jefferson Airplane and so on. As such, my ears were already well primed for the fabulous sounds of the late sixties.

Jump from 1988 to 2011 and find me just discovering the genius of the music of Yes. Oh, I knew about Yes from the videos from 90125 that got played on late night video shows back in 83/84 and I even had The Yes Album on cassette once. But it was Fragile and Close to the Edge that really got me excited about this band. I had to get all their studio material and that of course brought their eponymous debut into my hands and ears.

Let me say now (finally) that this album really impressed me from the start and still gets among the most plays (top 6 perhaps) of all my Yes albums. There are three things that totally knocked me out and made this album a stand out piece of work for me.

First, the vocal harmonies are fantastic. I love vocal harmony ' not just two or three voices of differing timbre singing the same note ' but voices actually singing different notes in a chord together, achieving a vocal chord if you like. Lead vocalist Jon Anderson is joined by bassist Chris Squire and guitarist Peter Banks to create a powerful version of what Simon and Garfunkle were doing in their more relaxed acoustic setting. Indeed, Chris Squire spent some years singing as a choirboy and I wouldn't be surprised to hear of his influence in the vocal department.

Next, the strong jazz sound coming through the psychedelia. Three reasons here. Drummer Bill Bruford was strongly influenced by jazz drummers and claimed to have believed that he was joining a jazz group (Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes by Chris Welch). His drumming here is very much jazz flavoured, and I love it even though too much jazz turns me off. Then there's Peter Banks who alternates between scratchy fuzzy notes and chords and very smooth and clean solos and chords that fit right into a jazz climate. And then there's Jon, who claims Frank Sinatra as an influence. Though his voice is quite high in register and very different from Frankie's, there are times you can really here him going for that cool, jazzy effect: 'Grocery store, ten bucks, just making change for plastic cherries,' (Everydays cover, bonus track).

Finally, the overall sound is really good on the re-mastered version, very clear, though with emphasis on the bass while Tony Kaye's organ seems to be left in the background often. This disk also comes with bonus tracks and the above-noted Everydays and a West Side Story cover of Something's Coming fit right along with the overall sound of the album.

For a band that was hitting the stage with a sound that was fresh and exciting, Yes really managed to do something different from the standard flair of the time.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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