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Yes - Time and a Word CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.33 | 1530 ratings

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3 stars This is the confusing album that featured a band photo on the American release including Steve Howe, who wasn’t actually hired until after the studio tracks had been recorded with Peter Banks on guitar (the UK version has a tasteful picture of a naked chick which was much easier on the eyes than Howe anyway).

The two most striking sounds right from the opening strains of this album are the strong string arrangements (which did not appear on the band’s debut album), and the very muddy-sounding organ. The strings are a welcome addition, and the organ aside, the second Yes album is a pretty large step forward for the band.

Bill Bruford’s drumming is even stronger than on the first album, and Peter Banks does a masterful job of laying down some very progressive guitar chords at a time when most major rock bands of the day were either recycling Beatles-like pop or veering off into blues-driven psychedelia. In America at least this stuff really was close to the edge.

The second track “Then” is dominated by Tony Kaye’s heavy keyboards and accented a bit with horns. This is another fast-paced borderline psychedelic offering that slowly winds down to silence.

The strings return in a lush arrangement on “Everydays”, a slow-building number written by Stephen Stills that works up to a ear-bending guitar-and-keyboard extended instrumental that is flat-out incomparable to anything else being recorded at the time.

“Sweet Dreams” is a song I vaguely remember as a young kid. There weren’t any singles from this album (not in the States anyway), so my hippy babysitter must have gotten her hands on this album at some point or another. The song has many trademarks of the classic Yes period, particularly Anderson’s soaring and gender- defying vocals and Bruford’s prominent but unpredictable drums.

A jazzy “The Prophet” follows, one of the first of Anderson’s mystic, extended story- songs again with the strings and horns, followed by the brief interlude “Clear Days”.

Finally come the much better-known “Astral Traveller” and the title track. Both feature the strident keyboards and Anderson’s staccato vocals that would be so prominent throughout the 70s (and be largely replaced by more melodic vocal tracks in the 80s). The extended instrumental passages of keyboards, Chris Squire’s very prominent bass, and Bank’s guitar were almost surreal to mainstream listeners at the time, and I must admit I was well into my teens before I really discovered this album following my first memorable introduction (Relayer). Of the two songs I much prefer “Time and a Word” with its memorable repetitive refrain and the way the horns and strings seem to lift the vocals atop the music toward the end. A beautiful song and by far the most memorable on the album.

This album has a much more consistent quality to it than the debut, although all the songs on Side A suffer due to the crappy recording quality of the keyboards (which are much improved on the final three tracks). Like their debut though, this is a very good album, but not quite a classic or an essential part a general progressive collection. Three stars, and the best would come only a couple years later.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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