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YES

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Yes biography
YES formed in 1968 with Jon ANDERSON (vocals), Chris SQUIRE (bass, vocals), Peter BANKS (guitar, vocals), Tony KAYE (keyboards), and Bill BRUFORD (drums). Well-known and influential mainstream progressive from the 1970's, and still around in some form ever since, they were highly influential in their heyday, especially notable for the really creative "Relayer", which included at the time Swiss keyboardist Patrick MORAZ who replaced Rick WAKEMAN

During the 1970s, YES pioneered the use of synthesizers and sound effects in modern music. Driven by Jon's artistic vision, they produced such timeless, symphonic-rock masterworks as "Roundabout," "Close To the Edge," and "Awaken". In the 1980s, YES pushed new digital sampling technologies to their limits, selling millions of records and influencing a generation of digital musicians with classics like "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" and "Rhythm Of Love". Moving through the 1990s and into the new millennium, the band keeps expanding its boundaries by using the latest hard-disk recording techniques and, most recently, working with a full orchestra to create their genre-defying music.

YES gained large popularity with their brand of mysticism and grand-scale compositions. "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" are considered their best works as it's symphonic, complex, cerebral, spiritual and moving. These albums featured beautiful harmonies and strong, occasionally heavy playing. Also, "Fragile" contained the popular hit song "Roundabout". This was followed by the controversial "Tales from Topographic Oceans" LP, which was a double album consisting of only four 20-minute length suites centering on religious concepts. Also, "Relayer" was their most experimental, yet grandiose and symphonic. They broke up, until the new jewel "Going For The One" and its incredible "Awaken" was issued in 1977. In later years, YES would go through many transformations. There were other very good YES albums after "Going For The One" ("Drama", "Keys To Ascension" and suprisingly "The Ladder") but this is the last great album.

These albums can be found under Various Artists - Concept albums and themed compilations :
Yes - Solo Family Album (19...
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Buy YES Music


RelayerRelayer
Import
Imports 2014
Blu-ray Audio$22.25
$44,500.00 (used)
Like It Is - YES At The Bristol Hippodrome(2CD/DVD Deluxe Edition)Like It Is - YES At The Bristol Hippodrome(2CD/DVD Deluxe Edition)
Frontiers Music Srl 2014
Audio CD$14.88
Heaven & EarthHeaven & Earth
Frontiers Records (Universal) 2014
Audio CD$7.29
$7.99 (used)
Songs From Tsongas 35th Anniversary ConcertSongs From Tsongas 35th Anniversary Concert
Eagle Rock Entertainment 2014
Audio CD$15.69
$18.98 (used)
FragileFragile
Elektra / Wea 2003
Audio CD$4.38
$1.69 (used)
Yes AlbumYes Album
Import
Panegyric 2014
Blu-ray Audio$21.64
$21.45 (used)
Close to the Edge [Blu-ray]Close to the Edge [Blu-ray]
unknown
Blu-ray Audio$22.25
$24.95 (used)
9012590125
Elektra / Wea 2004
Audio CD$3.39
$0.66 (used)
RelayerRelayer
Remastered · Extra tracks
Elektra 2003
Audio CD$3.99
$3.80 (used)
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YES shows & tickets


  • Yes performing Close To The Edge & Fragile on 27 Nov 2014
  • Yes performing Close To The Edge & Fragile on 28 Nov 2014
  • Yes on 29 Nov 2014
  • Cruise To The Edge 2015 on 15 Nov 2015

YES discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

YES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.24 | 909 ratings
Yes
1969
3.26 | 953 ratings
Time and a Word
1970
4.29 | 1978 ratings
The Yes Album
1971
4.42 | 2463 ratings
Fragile
1971
4.65 | 3212 ratings
Close To The Edge
1972
3.88 | 1772 ratings
Tales From Topographic Oceans
1973
4.36 | 2147 ratings
Relayer
1974
4.04 | 1432 ratings
Going for the One
1977
2.94 | 1087 ratings
Tormato
1978
3.74 | 1192 ratings
Drama
1980
2.92 | 1122 ratings
90125
1983
2.46 | 817 ratings
Big Generator
1987
2.48 | 752 ratings
Union
1991
3.03 | 675 ratings
Talk
1994
2.04 | 593 ratings
Open Your Eyes
1997
3.28 | 702 ratings
The Ladder
1999
3.76 | 806 ratings
Magnification
2001
3.45 | 793 ratings
Fly From Here
2011
2.50 | 284 ratings
Heaven & Earth
2014

YES Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.28 | 698 ratings
Yessongs
1973
3.62 | 360 ratings
Yesshows
1980
2.23 | 181 ratings
9012 Live: The Solos
1985
4.11 | 375 ratings
Keys to Ascension
1996
3.95 | 350 ratings
Keys to Ascension 2
1997
2.53 | 109 ratings
BBC Sessions 1969-1970 Something's Coming (2 Cds)
1997
3.59 | 160 ratings
House of Yes: Live From the House of Blues
2001
2.79 | 65 ratings
YesSymphonic
2001
2.64 | 33 ratings
Extended Versions
2002
2.91 | 29 ratings
Roundabout: The Best Of Yes- Live
2003
3.23 | 123 ratings
The Word Is Live
2005
3.82 | 129 ratings
Live at Montreux 2003
2007
4.21 | 218 ratings
Symphonic Live
2009
4.49 | 92 ratings
Keys To Ascension (I & II + DVD)
2010
3.38 | 26 ratings
Astral Traveller (The BBC Sessions)
2011
3.57 | 103 ratings
In The Present - Live From Lyon
2011
3.50 | 31 ratings
Union Live
2011

YES Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.62 | 130 ratings
Yessongs (DVD)
1973
3.14 | 81 ratings
9012 LIVE (DVD)
1985
4.30 | 69 ratings
Yesyears - A Retrospective
1991
3.67 | 34 ratings
The Union Tour Live
1991
2.88 | 43 ratings
Greatest Video Hits
1991
3.58 | 98 ratings
House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (DVD)
2000
3.65 | 103 ratings
Keys to Ascension (DVD)
2000
4.59 | 256 ratings
Symphonic Live (DVD)
2002
3.15 | 59 ratings
Yesspeak
2003
2.34 | 70 ratings
Live in Philadelphia 1979
2003
3.09 | 27 ratings
Inside Yes 1968-1973
2003
3.59 | 72 ratings
Yes Acoustic: Guaranteed No Hiss
2004
4.28 | 135 ratings
Songs From Tsongas: 35th Anniversary Concert (DVD)
2005
3.38 | 55 ratings
Live 1975 At Q.P.R. Vol. 1
2005
3.27 | 50 ratings
Live 1975 At Q.P.R. Vol. 2
2005
3.60 | 49 ratings
Yes (Classic Artists)
2006
3.92 | 109 ratings
Montreux 2003 (DVD)
2007
3.82 | 42 ratings
Yes - The New Director's Cut
2008
3.81 | 35 ratings
The Lost Broadcasts
2009
3.17 | 28 ratings
Rock Of The 70's
2009
3.88 | 50 ratings
Union - Live
2010

YES Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.16 | 175 ratings
Yesterdays
1975
3.86 | 140 ratings
Classic Yes
1981
3.25 | 92 ratings
Yesyears
1991
3.38 | 60 ratings
Yesstory
1992
3.05 | 64 ratings
The Very Best of Yes
1993
2.58 | 30 ratings
The Best of Yes
2000
3.53 | 437 ratings
Keystudio
2001
2.74 | 21 ratings
Yestoday
2002
4.29 | 95 ratings
In A Word
2002
3.19 | 87 ratings
Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection
2003
2.14 | 57 ratings
Yes Remixes
2003
2.50 | 22 ratings
Topography: The Yes Anthology
2004
4.10 | 20 ratings
Essentially Yes
2006
3.48 | 18 ratings
Collection 2CD: Yes
2008

YES Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.21 | 24 ratings
Something's Coming
1969
3.34 | 13 ratings
Looking Around
1969
2.79 | 25 ratings
Sweetness / Something's Coming
1969
3.24 | 13 ratings
Sweet Dreams
1970
3.76 | 29 ratings
Time and a Word
1970
3.91 | 37 ratings
Your Move
1971
5.00 | 1 ratings
Carrusel (Roundabout)
1972
5.00 | 1 ratings
And You And I (Part 1 & 2)
1972
3.21 | 37 ratings
America
1972
5.00 | 1 ratings
And You And I
1974
3.48 | 14 ratings
Yes Solos
1976
3.19 | 35 ratings
Soon - Sound Chaser - Roundabout
1976
3.63 | 37 ratings
Wonderous Stories 12''
1977
4.00 | 34 ratings
Going For The One 12''
1977
5.00 | 1 ratings
Turn Of The Century
1977
2.60 | 42 ratings
Don't Kill The Whale
1978
3.21 | 30 ratings
Into The Lens / Does It Really Happen?
1980
4.17 | 35 ratings
Roundabout
1981
2.27 | 36 ratings
Owner of a Lonely Heart (promo single)
1983
2.19 | 35 ratings
Owner of a Lonely Heart (EP)
1983
3.27 | 29 ratings
Leave It 12''
1984
3.49 | 26 ratings
It Can Happen
1984
2.81 | 19 ratings
Twelve Inches on Tape
1984
3.27 | 22 ratings
Love Will Find A Way
1987
2.45 | 31 ratings
Rhythm of Love (EP)
1987
3.29 | 19 ratings
Saving My Heart
1991
2.42 | 36 ratings
Owner Of A Lonely Heart
1991
2.82 | 19 ratings
Make It Easy
1991
2.52 | 10 ratings
Yesyears - Sampler
1991
2.82 | 14 ratings
The Calling (single edit)
1994
3.17 | 55 ratings
We Can Fly - Single (Radio Edit)
2011

YES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Close To The Edge by YES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.65 | 3212 ratings

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Close To The Edge
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat

5 stars I don't know how many years had to go by before I finally considered this the best Yes album let alone one of the best progressive rock albums ever. It has attained that status here at Prog Archives and deservedly so. I am a huge fan of Yes and even that took time to admit, the entry for me being "90125" and "Drama". Those two albums enticed me to really research the band. Now they are one of my favorites even before I started coming to Prog Archives. It does my heart good to know that there is a group of people that know excellent music.

What more can be said of this album that hasn't already been said? I'm not going to write a long review here, but I will tell you that if you are like most people in this world, you will not appreciate this album until you have heard it several times and you suddenly come to the realization that it is in your head, your heart and your soul and you listen and can actually become part of the music. This might take some time, but this is attainable for anyone. This album is perfect and has become the standard for symphonic prog and the pinnacle of progressive rock. The sections in these long compositions are never too long and this album always goes by way too fast. You don't even realize that all the time has passed and you only want to immerse yourself more when it's done. The amazing thing about the tracks on here is that two of them are divided into sections. In most multi-sectional compositions in prog rock, usually the point where each sub-section ends and another begins is quite clear cut. Not so on this album. Each sub-section is not necessarily finished when another one begins, there is a lot of overlap among the sections. In other words, you hear pieces of sections in other sections and so on. This is truly innovation and maybe not exactly the first time it has happened in rock music, but it was never really explored as well as it is here. I know King Crimson had done this before and so had Frank Zappa and others. But never has it had such a nice flow as it does here.

At this point in Yes' career, we have come to the point where the music becomes paintings for the ears to enjoy and for the eyes to imagine instead of the other way around as it is in what we normally consider a painting. The lyrics in the album "Close to the Edge" are not something separate from the instrumentals as they are in most songs. They are all part of the painting or the composition. The instrumentals are not written to support the lyrics or the other way around. Instead, they all work together. In most pop music, you can easily substitute the instrumentals for one song for the lyrics of another, but you can't do that in this music. It all works together. And the result is amazing. This is why it's hard to appreciate this (and always in the best progressive rock) at the first listen. The best progressive rock is not casual listening. You have to invest time and yourself into the music to appreciate it fully.

Anyway, if you haven't heard this, or if you haven't invested the time required to appreciate it yet, then you have some work to do. There is a reason this one stands as the best of the best on Prog Archives. I can't tell you what that is because if I tell you, then I am talking and talking is not music. You have to discover for yourself by listening to the music and not to me rattling on about what makes it so wonderful. So I'll shut up now and leave it up to you to do your own discovery. I didn't get it at first. You probably won't either. I do now. I think you will too. Get to work!

No doubt about it whatsoever. 5 enormous stars.

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 Close To The Edge by YES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.65 | 3212 ratings

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Close To The Edge
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by ster

5 stars CTTE to me was created during a perfect storm. The lineup of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire, Bill Bruford and let us not forget Eddy Offord was now fully comprised of virtuosos at the most creative time of their careers at the most creative period in rock music history. This line up had just produced two amazing albums in The Yes Album and Fragile. The latter always felt more like an EP or a set up to CTTE with its emphasis on solo material showing off the talents of each member separately. Both of those records hinted that something great was coming and Yes delivered on that promise.

Close to The Edge is when it all came together. The sound, playing, songwriting, production, creativity and the intangibles that make the whole much more than the sum of its parts. Brash and subtle. Loud and dissonant. Soft and tuneful. The ensemble playing is perfect here. Nobody fighting for space like on subsequent albums. The songs themselves are served rather than being a vehicle for show-offness. Yes would never achieve the perfect balance of CTTE again.

The best prog album of all time? It gets my vote.

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 Keystudio by YES album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
3.53 | 437 ratings

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Keystudio
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Keystudio' - Yes (54/100)

Keystudio is one of the best-intentioned failures in progressive rock history.

Is it simply a compilation, or an overlooked Yes studio album? The record should state its the former, as it technically offers nothing past the fresh studio cuts on the Keys to Ascension albums. Even so, putting an hour of freshly written material together begs to be judged as a full-length. While Keys to Ascension (and Keystudio, by extension) would salvage the band's waning quality and get them out of the AOR rut, Yes' return to progressive rock isn't as propitious as I would have hoped. The bold attempt at multiple epics and instrumental fireworks would thankfully pave the way for The Ladder and Magnification, but for the sake of Keystudio, it sounds like Yes were still getting back on their feet.

Rick Wakeman originally wanted Keystudio to be released as a proper full-length; while I had initially wondered why he didn't get his wish, I'm sort of glad the band decided to veto him. While Yes made the right move to return to progressive rock after the tragically dull Open Your Eyes, the classic quality is nowhere to be seen. Nothing on Keystudio is outwardly bad- some parts are even truly impressive- but the proggy edge seems contrived. The structures are mechanical, the longer song structures often feel like pop tunes that were forcibly drawn out. The hooks are none too effective, and every moment of brilliance on a track is offset by an idea equally as dull or complacent. I'm really happy Yes got their head out of the dirt and tried to reclaim what they were best at, but the magic wasn't so quick to return. Seriously; Jon Anderson- a middle-aged British progger- chanting on about being 'strung out on crack time' in the ghetto is utterly ridiculous, and not in the way that would endear them to me at all.

If there's an issue with the material, it's consistency. "That, That Is" and "Mind Drive" are two of the longest, most conventionally 'epic' works Yes have ever crafted. Both are endowed with incredible ideas; "Mind Drive" in particular is seen by a few fans as one of the band's best works, and a few of the most fiery instrumental passages might suggest I should agree with them. As start-to-finish compositions however, there isn't a track on Keystudio that doesn't escape problems of flow and consistency. The two epics are the worst contenders for this- so many of the ideas feel dull and uninvolved; in contrast, "Close to the Edge" was utterly captivating even during its least involving passages. It's a case of a band trying to replicate their former glory, and not quite replicating the formula.

If something portrays Keystudio in a positive light, it's everything that came before it. Union and Open Your Eyes made it evident Yes had no idea where to go with their sound, and half of Talk was equally as terrible. With their one-time leader Trevor Rabin out of the picture, it wasn't looking likely that Yes would find their way again. The Keys to Ascension duology was a blessing for Yes fans, and while they were far more impressive on the merits of their live showcase of classic material, the studio material at least showed that Yes weren't going to rest on the laurels of their 70s material. Even if Keystudio is a mixed success at best, the Keys to Ascension series would beckon in a brief renaissance for Yes, continuing with the far-more engaging The Ladder and culminating in their latter-era masterpiece, Magnification.

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 Yes Remixes by YES album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
2.14 | 57 ratings

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Yes Remixes
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Remixes' - Yes (33/100)

What were Yes thinking when they accepted, and subsequently released these remixes by Steve Howe's son Virgil? I don't think it's simply for nepotism's sake, trying to get another Howe family member into the spotlight either. By his own merit, Virgil Howe is a capable electronic producer, but it still doesn't explain this. Remixes is possibly more singularly detested in Yes' career even than Union, and given that we all know progressive fans are a bunch of old fogies with a deep resentment for anything new and trendy, none of this reception comes as a surprise. Again, what were Yes thinking? What demographic was this album aimed at?

Beyond the shattered principle of bastardizing something as classic as Yes 70s material, I'm not opposed to the material's infusion with electronic. I'm a fan of many types of electronic music both old and new, and based on some of the more inspired chops and cuts Virgil Howe offers here, I think Remixes could (and should) have been more compelling than it is. Although every track here can be traced back to its origins easily enough, Virgil has stripped most of the songs of their initial structure, rewiring and repeating samples, often alongside programmed beats.

Yes fans and progressive lovers would probably balk at that last line. Surprisingly enough, parts of it work really well. The rhythmically reworked intro to "Starship Trooper" is particularly inspired, and Virgil takes advantage of "Awaken"'s celestial atmosphere to his own benefit; the moments here that stick to me go as far as to vindicate the idea of remixing Yes' material. I get the impression that Virgil Howe wasn't the person to take it all the way however. Whether the project was rushed or undercooked altogether, for every clever idea here, there's three or four others that are almost intolerably annoying. "Heart of the Sunrise" is a muddled mess here, without any of the gorgeous build-up that made the original so impressive. The unnecessary sample-repetition is usually taken too far; the weird first seconds of "Sound Chaser" are repeated ad nauseam, to the point where the magic and effect are lost entirely.

Remixes are far from my first choice musically, but even when they're set on dissecting classic material, there's the potential to create a new and satisfying experience. Max Graham's reworking of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was really interesting, and some of Virgil Howe's cuts here lend credibility to something proggers would reject outright. Remixes has too many interesting moments to be horrible, but too many worthless cuts and chops to be recommended to anyone, be they fans of Yes or electronic music in general. It's an interesting novelty, but there's no substance here to keep the interest going. Check out Virgil's recuts of "Starship Trooper" and "Awaken", and leave the rest to the dogs.

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 Live at Montreux 2003 by YES album cover Live, 2007
3.82 | 129 ratings

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Live at Montreux 2003
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Live at Montreux 2003' - Yes (70/100)

Live albums have fallen out of favour in the past generation, and I think it's for the reason that a recording of a live performance is accepted as never being able to capture the scope and spontaneity as if it were happening in real time. Just as importantly, most bands fail to add something fresh to the music in a live album; as a result, it ends up sounding like their studio work with the added strain of weaker mixing and hazy crowd ambiance.

I do wonder whether Yes really needed another live album. Nonetheless, it's something of a checkpoint for longstanding rock bands to record a performance at the legendary Montreux jazz festival. While Yes made a habit of looking outlandish in their classic live shows, Montreux was known for its stripped down, no-frills stage set. While Live at Montreux 2003 offers little visual indication as to whether Yes toned down their image accordingly, the album largely unfolds almost exactly as you would imagine for a Yes live album. Therein lies the problem of it; whereas Symphonic Live at least had the orchestral angle to differentiate it from albums past, Live at Montreux 2003 has come too late to the party to offer much worthy of excitement or surprise. It's a two hour-plus (!) performance of most of their best- loved songs. A lot of the set mirrors Yessongs and Yesshows too much to feel fresh at this point, but in this case, the music- as well as a hardy performance from Yes themselves- hold their own.

Although Live at Montreux is probably most notable for its twenty minute rendition of the immortal "Awaken", the spotlight is often fixed on their Fragile material. Barring a few of its solo pieces, Fragile is scattered throughout the set. Even the rare Jon Anderson song "Show Me" (written during the Fragile sessions) is included. "Heart of the Sunrise" and "Roundabout" are given straight-laced treatments here, not unlike the manner they were approached on Yessongs. Although Yes had been using "The Fish" as a way to sneak a bit of "Tempus Fugit" into their set since the '80s (Jon Anderson wouldn't sing anything from Drama), the only other live album of theirs that shows this gem is 9012 Live. Suffice to say, you're far better off hearing it here.

After "And You and I" (which benefits from some surprising harmonica during "The Preacher and the Teacher") the floor is given to Steve Howe, who delivers a gorgeous acoustic renditions of "To Be Over" and "The Clap". While "The Clap" stays true to form (it's a bloody classic of fingerpicking in any case), "To Be Over" is one of the coolest parts of this album; it shows Yes reinventing their music in a new and inviting way. Most of the other songs in Live at Montreux's favour are largely so because they weren't included on live albums past. "Awaken" is the real gem here (sounding as strong live as it does in the studio), and "In The Presence Of" off the latter-era masterpiece Magnification stands as being one of the best epics they've ever done.

There are surprises and fresh encounters on Live at Montreux; the setlist and performances are great, and the re-appearance of Rick Wakeman makes it special for Yes. Did we need another live album with "Siberian Khatru", "And You And I", "Heart of the Sunrise", "Long Distance Runaround", "Roundabout" or "I've Seen All Good People" on it? Probably not. As it stands, Live at Montreux is a fine live album, but I can't see any reason to recommend it over Yessongs. If you've already heard Yessongs however, and want more of the same, Live at Montreux stands as the second best among their live releases.

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 Symphonic Live by YES album cover Live, 2009
4.21 | 218 ratings

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Symphonic Live
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Symphonic Live' - Yes (60/100)

Whatever doubts I may have had about post-90125 Yes were dispelled with 2001's Magnification. Sure, most of the 90s had been wasted on bad pop and lazy songwriting, but Magnification (and to a lesser extent, The Ladder) proved to me that Yes could still churn out a lovely album, given the proper inspiration. Although Symphonic Live was released on CD in 2009, this live performance was recorded during the Magnification tour. A more comprehensive portrayal of their Amsterdam date at the Heineken Music Hall can be found on the Symphonic Live DVD package. Suffice to say, even for the sake of a live album, hearing the band's classic material played alongside a full- blooded orchestra would be many a progger's dream come true. It's that heavy expectation that makes Symphonic Live somewhat disappointing. I loved what Larry Groupé had done with the immersive orchestrations on Magnification, but the symphonic arrangements here feel like background ambiance in comparison. Add to that a fairly muddled mix to an otherwise inspired performance from Yes, and you have yourself a fairly live album. By all accounts it's not a bad or even misguided attempt, but it should have been so much better.

Though, from what I've heard, the DVD release is apparently infinitely more impressive than this, the symphonic element feels understated to a fault. The string harmonies and bombast is audible if you listen hard enough, but it's almost always drowned out by the band's performance. It's obvious the band should remain the central attraction in a symphonic experiment like this, but adding an orchestra would have only been a worthwhile investment if it added something substantial to the music. The orchestral intros are a nice showcase for the symphony, but the arrangements to the classic material add no new dimensions. Even an epic like "Close to the Edge" (which is as close to classical composition as rock music gets) doesn't seem to take advantage of the vast potential here. What's more problematic is that many of the songs have been slowed down accordingly, supposedly to make room for the symphonic sweeps and flourishes. As far as the CD component to Symphonic Live is concerned, it wasn't worth it. Still, this is Yes we're talking about, and they have some of their best material here. The performances aren't as lively or essential as Yessongs, but you can't go wrong with the prog-heavy setlist they chose for it. In spite of the lazier tempo, "Close to the Edge" remains an absolute titan of a track. Sessioneer Tom Brislin fills Wakeman's shoes snugly, to the point where I could have sworn it was Rick playing those parts himself. While the pace and tone of Yes' performance is more leisurely than I would have preferred, Jon Anderson's voice is bright and shows little sign of aging here.

If you remove the superfluous orchestrations, you're left with a perfectly capable Yes album, with most of the tracks I might have liked to hear on one of their live albums. Even so, an album entitled Symphonic Live begs to be judged primarily on the merit of its orchestral contributions; in this sense, the album is a disappointment. Beyond the muddied mix (which could be forgiven- Yessongs suffered from the same thing) the orchestration suggests a sense of bombast, but lacks the determination to infuse itself into the composition. The symphony is a pompous backdrop to an otherwise strong performance from the band. It's reasonably good, but it's nothing that Yessongs and Keys to Ascension didn't offer years before.

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 Magnification by YES album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.76 | 806 ratings

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Magnification
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Magnification' - Yes (79/100)

In so many ways, Magnification rides on the precedent set by The Ladder. As was the case on The Ladder, the strong epic tracks may not be quite enough to excuse the inconsistent pop songwriting, but Yes truly sell their 17th album on account of the passion they've put into arranging and executing it. Even without the full orchestral treatment, I think Magnification could have held its own against anything the band had released in over twenty years.

Whereas so much of Yes' post-Drama material is cumulatively shat upon by their fans and critics, the short period beginning with their Keys to Ascension duology and ending with Magnification escaped the brunt of the storm. After how bad things got with Open Your Eyes (a next-to-worthless AOR album if ever I've heard one!) Yes seemed to get the message, and decided to turn their sound around for the better. The fresh studio material on both Keys to Ascension 1 + 2 was well-intentioned and proggy, but lacked soul and inspiration. In spite of a few weak tracks, The Ladder aptly demonstrated that Yes were still capable of releasing great prog in their fourth decade of existence. Magnification, then, is the next logical evolution in this short Yes renaissance. Not having employed a full-bodied orchestra since 1970 with Time and a Word, the fact alone that Yes were bringing symphonic prog full circle was pretty audacious, particularly for a band who, earlier on Union, didn't sound like they had a clue where they wanted to go.

Most of Yes' orchestral experiments have felt superficial to me- Time and a Word only used the symphony in spurts, and the Symphonic Live orchestral renditions of classic material rarely did more than shadow the guitar and bass lines. In any case, Larry Groupė orchestral arrangements here proved to be a wonderful surprise. Although the focus remains almost always on the band themselves, these songs were clearly written with enough 'fill in the blanks' room for Groupė to make the orchestral contribution relevant. These songs could have existed well enough on their own, but the symphonic arrangements make them come alive.

Using a symphony (even as background accompaniment) in rock music is always ambitious, but it doesn't often work. Even if the orchestra holds the potential for intensity and bombast that rock musicians often strive for, people have become too desensitized by the fanfare of action film soundtracks to make it so exciting when the symphony is made to sound as energetic as their rock counterparts. The Michael Kamen-conducted orchestral rendition of Metallica's S&M is an example of the hokey bombast Yes cleverly avoided here. There are times when Groupė's orchestral arrangement gets bold alongside the guitars, but the beauty of the arrangement lies in the fact the symphony transcends a merely supportive role. Although the rest of the song isn't particularly well written, the two minute orchestral to "Give Love Each Day" is as beautiful and tender as anything on the album. The fact that so much of the spotlight is given to the orchestra makes the symphonic experiment so much more than the ego trip it usually is for bands.

Although the symphony adds an expected sense of grandeur to the proceedings, Magnification may very well be the most laid-back album Yes have ever released (I'm not going to give Heaven and Earth the credit of mention here). The passion from The Ladder is here, but there's nothing here as wacky and caffeinated as "Homeworld" here. There is a confidence and sense of purpose on Magnification I don't think Yes had experienced since even before Tormato in 1978. While the soft epics ("Dreamtime", and "In the Presence Of" especially) still comprise the best the album has to offer, the quality of the regular songs has considerably increased over The Ladder. Despite its mid- tempo pacing and orchestral overlay, "Spirit of Survival" is one of the hardest rocking tunes Yes had done in ages. The title track has a pleasantly 'classic Yes' feel to it, and the beautifully pastoral moments on "We Agree" more than compensate for the cheesier AOR influences. "Soft as a Dove" is short, but it's a gorgeous showcase for Jon Anderson's voice, who sounds just as he did thirty years prior.

Sadly, not everything shines so brightly on Magnification. Other songs are less successful; "Don't Go" sounds like a pop tune you might hear on "Big Generator"- it's catchy and cheerful enough, but ultimately feels out of place on the album. While I've already mentioned how much I love the first two minutes of "Give Love Each Day", the rest of the song is dampened by a chorus that is far too do-goody to be saved by the confidence Yes performing it with. Also, while the rose-tinted lyrical imagery doesn't really detract from the album, given the fact that Jon Anderson was once writing lyrics about massive battles, Hindu vedic shastras and the exodus of alien peoples via mythic Moorglade, I might have hoped a Yes album this good would have been given some more fascinating narrative material.

Whatever Magnification's faults may be, they're far outclassed by the major strides Yes achieved here. It's a brief period of inspiration and clear-sightedness you wouldn't expect to see from a band that had been going for so long, much less a band that had spent the better part of the decade prior writing wallpaper rock. In some cruel twist of fate, the album on which Yes finally 'got it back' would be their last, at least until the Benoit David-fronted Drama-wannabe Fly From Here a decade later. Oh well. The important thing is that the post-Tormato era released at least one great Yes record. At the time, I think that was more than any of us were rightfully expecting.

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 Close To The Edge by YES album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.65 | 3212 ratings

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Close To The Edge
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Einwahn

3 stars It is hard to imagine this album ever being displaced from its eyrie at the pinnacle of Prog Archives esteem. Really impressive and, for this site, clearly THE definitive progressive rock album. It is a very rich and ornate artwork, delivered with great power and conviction. Close To The Edge comprises just three long tracks, all very melodic. And here lies its weakness for myself - musical appreciation is very personal and inexplicable, and two of the three melodies I do not find as inspiring as I am supposed to. A pity, really, because it calls into question my credentials as a prog rock fan.

Verdict: obviously a good album, and this medium personal rating is my own problem.

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.50 | 284 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Mutante

4 stars I really can't understand the fuzz around this record. Is it a kind of Asch conformity thing or am I getting mellow as I get old? By the time of the release of Open Your Eyes (1997) I heard Steve Howe say that they were trying to unite the best of the 70s and the 80s Yes. Well, Heaven and Earth did it. First I appreciate the fact of the band moving on to something else and not simply repeating old formulas. Jon Davison proved to be a helpful and talented hand in the writing department. I don't dislike any of the songs. According do Davison, they were paying more attention to the harmony side of it and I can see where he is coming from. To Ascend is one of the best Yes tracks in many years. Subway Walls, the opening track and The Game are all very fine, so is Light of the Ages. In a World of Our Own has a Beatlesque feel to it, and Step Beyond and It Was All We Knew have a childish (not in a pejorative way) cadence. The arrangements are fine, the drums is good (not pedestrian as I read here) and, as mentioned before, the harmony is strong, emotional (what music should really about) and there is no lack of good guitar licks.

It only isn't rated as five stars in respect of the magnificence of Close to the Edge.

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 Fragile by YES album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.42 | 2463 ratings

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Fragile
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by aglasshouse

5 stars What has been said about this album that hasn't been said before? Definitely YES's most known and popular album, Fragile is an absolute masterpiece of progressive rock. Instead of going into facts about the release and band status at the time, I'm just going to take you through the pros and cons of the album.

Opening up with one of the finest work of guitar and bass work I've ever seen, Roundabout drives the whole album to a fast start. The song switches back from dark and slower to fast and lighter, all the while still retaining a common theme of progressiveness. A similarly good song, South Side of the Sky, has most of the same qualities as Roundabout, but somehow is able to pull it off in a nicer, smoother way. Both are mighty enjoyable to listen to.

After the larger epics such as Roundabout and South Side of the Sky, there are short interludes like Cans and Brahms and Five Per Cent for Nothing. They are honestly just odd and slightly annoying, and don't intrigue me like the other songs.

Sadly, after Long Distance Runaround, the album gets significantly more boring and repetitive. Songs range from strange, like The Fish, to simply dull compositions, like Mood for a Day, and the outro epic Heart of the Sunrise.

However, I would say that this album is absolutely deserving of 5 stars. Even though the forgettable tracks are sort of lame, the better prog rock epics along with Long Distance Runaround are extremely enjoyable to listen to.

Go give it a listen.

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