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Yes - The Yes Album CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.29 | 2621 ratings

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4 stars What a difference a guitar makes! Peter Banks is out and Steve Howe is in. The switch was actually made even before Time and a Word released, but this is the first time we hear Howe in the studio. Kaye is still on keyboards but delivers an admirable performance. Wakeman would come along a year later and complete the transformation of the band to a progressive rock legend.

"Yours is no Disgrace" seems to pick up where "Time and a Word" leaves off, a lengthy, wandering work full of intricate interplay between guitar and keyboards, with Anderson's vocals soaring above it all. The difference on guitar is immediately noticeable, with Howe providing a much more dynamic presence than the capable but unspectacular Banks.

"Clap", unfortunately and mistakenly labeled "The clap" on the original cover, is the live acoustic interlude piece from Howe that was the start of a long tradition of solo showcases by band members throughout the group's recorded and concert history.

But just when the listener has their expectations set for another technically sound but seemingly haphazard arrangement of tunes, along comes "Starship Trooper", the first truly epic progressive work by the band. This one has it all - intensely delivered and frantic bass by the unequaled Chris Squire; an incredible array of guitar riffs by Howe; Anderson's celestial but strong vocals; and Kaye's keyboards providing the catalyst for a range of tempo shifts with rising and falling moods. To this day I don't know or care what the vocals are all about - this is just a wonder to behold in every respect.

As if this weren't enough, Anderson launches immediately into the brilliant "I've Seen all Good People", a celebration of life and living that starts with a bit of chess doublespeak and works its way into a treatise on human relationships. Howe is much more subdued at first, satisfied to lead with an understated supporting performances, while Kaye dominates with his heavy organ before both Howe and Squire kick things up a notch for a rocking second movement with Kaye switching to piano chords until things wind around to a close. Both of these songs would grace many a compilation in the band's later years.

"A Venture" is much more subdued, and a largely forgettable short character sketch featuring piano overdubbed with organ and much more emphasis on the lyrics than the music.

The closing "Perpetual Change" would be the last studio track to feature Kaye for a dozen years, and opens with strong keyboards and an almost bluesy guitar riff from Howe before lapsing into a rather dull bit of poetic lyrical noodling from Anderson. The vocal harmonies and Howe's guitar are pleasant enough, but this song has a very 'summer of love' dated feel to it that doesn't stand the test of time like some of the band's stronger works do.

By the time The Yes Album released it was obvious this was no ordinary 60s holdover band. The best was yet to come, but this is a very solid work overall, and definitely has a place in any progressive music collection. A no-brainer for four stars.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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