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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


Heaven & EarthHeaven & Earth
Frontiers Records (Universal) 2014
Audio CD$9.99
FragileFragile
Elektra / Wea 2003
Audio CD$4.66
$4.93 (used)
Close to the EdgeClose to the Edge
Elektra / Wea 2003
Audio CD$2.78
$2.75 (used)
Yes AlbumYes Album
Import
Panegyric 2014
Blu-ray Audio$23.37
$27.73 (used)
Fly From HereFly From Here
Deluxe Edition
Frontiers Records 2011
Audio CD$10.99
$13.41 (used)
The Studio Albums 1969-1987The Studio Albums 1969-1987
Atlantic Catalog Group 2013
Audio CD$42.52
$49.34 (used)
9012590125
Elektra / Wea 2004
Audio CD$3.88
$0.01 (used)
Tales From Topographic OceansTales From Topographic Oceans
Rhino/Elektra 2003
Audio CD$9.35
$8.97 (used)
RelayerRelayer
Remastered · Extra tracks
Elektra 2003
Audio CD$4.68
$3.72 (used)
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YES shows & tickets


  • Yes + Syd Arthur at Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills on 22 Jul 2014
  • Yes at Copernicus Center, Chicago on 26 Jul 2014
  • Yes at Ryman Auditorium, Nashville on 28 Jul 2014
  • Yes at The Mahaffey Theater, St Petersburg on 2 Aug 2014
  • Yes at Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, Orlando on 3 Aug 2014
  • An Evening with Yes on 6 Aug 2014
  • Yes + Syd Arthur at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, Kansas City, MO on 7 Aug 2014
  • Yes at Paramount Theatre, Denver on 9 Aug 2014
  • Yes + Syd Arthur at Ikeda Theatre at Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, AZ on 12 Aug 2014
  • Yes at Greek Theatre, Los Angeles on 24 Aug 2014
  • Yes Australian Tour on 15 Nov 2014
  • An Evening With Yes on 18 Nov 2014
  • Yes performing Close To The Edge & Fragile on 24 Nov 2014
  • Yes performing Close To The Edge & Fragile on 25 Nov 2014
  • Yes performing Close To The Edge & Fragile on 27 Nov 2014

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)

3.23 | 860 ratings
Yes
1969
3.26 | 908 ratings
Time and a Word
1970
4.28 | 1894 ratings
The Yes Album
1971
4.42 | 2359 ratings
Fragile
1971
4.65 | 3083 ratings
Close To The Edge
1972
3.87 | 1681 ratings
Tales From Topographic Oceans
1973
4.36 | 2053 ratings
Relayer
1974
4.04 | 1357 ratings
Going for the One
1977
2.93 | 1032 ratings
Tormato
1978
3.74 | 1132 ratings
Drama
1980
2.91 | 1077 ratings
90125
1983
2.46 | 778 ratings
Big Generator
1987
2.48 | 716 ratings
Union
1991
3.05 | 643 ratings
Talk
1994
2.06 | 563 ratings
Open Your Eyes
1997
3.27 | 670 ratings
The Ladder
1999
3.77 | 771 ratings
Magnification
2001
3.45 | 753 ratings
Fly From Here
2011
2.25 | 139 ratings
Heaven & Earth
2014

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

4.28 | 671 ratings
Yessongs
1973
3.61 | 338 ratings
Yesshows
1980
2.24 | 172 ratings
9012 Live: The Solos
1985
4.11 | 359 ratings
Keys to Ascension
1996
3.95 | 336 ratings
Keys to Ascension 2
1997
2.53 | 105 ratings
BBC Sessions 1969-1970 Something's Coming (2 Cds)
1997
3.59 | 157 ratings
House of Yes: Live From the House of Blues
2001
2.75 | 62 ratings
YesSymphonic
2001
2.64 | 33 ratings
Extended Versions
2002
2.90 | 29 ratings
Roundabout: The Best Of Yes- Live
2003
3.21 | 116 ratings
The Word Is Live
2005
3.79 | 119 ratings
Live at Montreux 2003
2007
4.22 | 204 ratings
Symphonic Live
2009
4.46 | 86 ratings
Keys To Ascension (I & II + DVD)
2010
3.29 | 21 ratings
Astral Traveller (The BBC Sessions)
2011
3.56 | 91 ratings
In The Present - Live From Lyon
2011
3.33 | 20 ratings
Union Live
2011

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

3.61 | 129 ratings
Yessongs (DVD)
1973
3.13 | 80 ratings
9012 LIVE (DVD)
1985
4.32 | 71 ratings
Yesyears - A Retrospective
1991
3.69 | 36 ratings
The Union Tour Live
1991
2.87 | 42 ratings
Greatest Video Hits
1991
3.57 | 94 ratings
House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (DVD)
2000
3.65 | 102 ratings
Keys to Ascension (DVD)
2000
4.59 | 254 ratings
Symphonic Live (DVD)
2002
3.15 | 59 ratings
Yesspeak
2003
2.35 | 68 ratings
Live in Philadelphia 1979
2003
3.09 | 27 ratings
Inside Yes 1968-1973
2003
3.59 | 71 ratings
Yes Acoustic: Guaranteed No Hiss
2004
4.27 | 136 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 | 48 ratings
Yes (Classic Artists)
2006
3.91 | 109 ratings
Montreux 2003 (DVD)
2007
3.83 | 46 ratings
Yes - The New Director's Cut
2008
4.13 | 37 ratings
The Lost Broadcasts
2009
3.13 | 26 ratings
Rock Of The 70's
2009
3.90 | 49 ratings
Union - Live
2010

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

3.15 | 168 ratings
Yesterdays
1975
3.86 | 136 ratings
Classic Yes
1981
3.23 | 87 ratings
Yesyears
1991
3.39 | 59 ratings
Yesstory
1992
3.04 | 61 ratings
The Very Best of Yes
1993
2.58 | 30 ratings
The Best of Yes
2000
3.55 | 432 ratings
Keystudio
2001
2.72 | 21 ratings
Yestoday
2002
4.29 | 94 ratings
In A Word
2002
3.18 | 85 ratings
Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection
2003
2.05 | 54 ratings
Yes Remixes
2003
2.50 | 22 ratings
Topography: The Yes Anthology
2004
4.09 | 23 ratings
Essentially Yes
2006
3.42 | 17 ratings
Collection 2CD: Yes
2008

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

4.24 | 23 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 | 28 ratings
Time and a Word
1970
3.87 | 37 ratings
Your Move
1971
3.21 | 37 ratings
America
1972
3.48 | 14 ratings
Yes Solos
1976
3.17 | 34 ratings
Soon - Sound Chaser - Roundabout
1976
3.61 | 36 ratings
Wonderous Stories 12''
1977
3.93 | 34 ratings
Going For The One 12''
1977
2.58 | 41 ratings
Don't Kill The Whale
1978
3.18 | 29 ratings
Into The Lens / Does It Really Happen?
1980
4.19 | 36 ratings
Roundabout
1981
2.28 | 35 ratings
Owner of a Lonely Heart (promo single)
1983
2.20 | 34 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
2.44 | 35 ratings
Owner Of A Lonely Heart
1991
2.82 | 19 ratings
Make It Easy
1991
2.52 | 10 ratings
Yesyears - Sampler
1991
2.81 | 13 ratings
The Calling (single edit)
1994
3.17 | 54 ratings
We Can Fly - Single (Radio Edit)
2011

YES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.25 | 139 ratings

BUY
Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by jjmurillo

3 stars Yes has been my favorite Band of all times, every time that i bought a CD i have been surprised how different it was from the previous Album, Yes never made 2 Fragiles, or 2 Close To Edge or 2 Tales, in the 80s gave us quality Pop Rock with 90125 and Big Generator album that barely can be called progressive from a purist point of view. Yes has never done the same album twice, and Heaven and Earth is not different. It is like no other Album that YES has created, recorded, performed. Yes it is a bit slow, but it is very enjoyable. It does not have Epics in it ( neither had 90125). I think Jon Davidson does a very good Job at Channeling Jon Anderson, in style and delivery, i have heard Jon D in the past and he has an uncanny resemblance to Jon Anderson. The Album is a bit Light on material, but at the sametime is refreshing, i am hearing a band that is flexible enough to do an almost pop Album, and at the same time see them in concert and watch them play the old Progressive Epics that we all love. I think Yes records the material that they have at the moment, sometimes it is Brilliant sometimes is just Good. The beauty of Yes is they always surprise you with every new Album.

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.25 | 139 ratings

BUY
Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars OK, so those expecting the new Yes album `Heaven and Earth' to be a prog-rock blowout are in for a disappointment. Great. Now that's out of the way, let's move on and see if this album does anything right or worth bothering with, which of course the answer is yes! What we have here is the most gentle work from the band to date. Oh sure, some smart-ass listeners will gleefully rip this album apart, happy to dig the knives into a defining progressive band that have mostly been irrelevant for the better part of...many years now (add your own timeframe to when Yes lost you as a fan!) and look on them as an easy target. Yes' time as a cutting-edge, experimental and artistic band may be long gone, but that doesn't mean they are incapable of releasing something worth listening to. At least they're writing original material all their own, not useless cover versions most older pop/rock artists are forced to rely on, and that even includes some dismal efforts from prog bands that should know better.

Accusations that this is more soft rock/pop than true prog are absolutely correct, but look back, poppier softer tracks have appeared on Yes albums right back when they started in the late 60's, and have maintained through just about every one of their albums since then. The band now works in a fancy AOR style, but thankfully they're still offering music that sounds better and more intricate than anything a band like Asia have done recently. The key to any enjoyment listeners will gain from this disc will come from how much they can stomach pleasing, melodic and tastefully played adult rock music. It's frequently polished and perhaps a little overproduced to within an inch of it's life in many spots (early Queen maestro Roy Thomas Baker ensures this is a very lavish sounding release, much more `full' sounding that previous album `Fly From Here'), but to it's credit, almost every track on `Heaven and Earth' has a strong chorus with clever layers of group harmonies, melodies that really grow after several spins, and subtle playing with many moments of true Yes characteristics on display. Glass Hammer ring-in Jon Davidson also comes out more successfully and with more personality intact with his Yes involvement than previous singer Benoit David did (a usually great singer in Mystery who got to display none of his real character at all on the previous disc), so let's hope he gets another chance to prove his worth in further studio efforts.

First track `Believe Again' is a little too sedate for an opener, a slow-tempo tune with a slightly drippy vocal, bland unmemorable verses and only the briefest of instrumental passages in the middle that is more of a tease because it never really launches, but thankfully on repeated plays the positive chorus harmonies prove very catchy and hummable. `The Game' is a stronger overall tune, a foot-tapping melody emerging throughout silky smoth verses with a positive chorus, Steve Howe's constant little electric guitar fills very joyful. With a looped Moog pattern that may drive listeners crazy, the jaunty `Step Beyond' is probably a little too cute and very repetitive. Some nice jazzy flavours and fiery licks from Howe almost save `In A World of Our Own', a fairly annoying `political statement/protest' song with some truly cringe-worthy lyrics, but the groaning stop/start keyboard crunch in the middle is pathetic and uninspired. Despite some of the melody drifting a little close to the Beatles `Eight Days A week', `It Was All We Knew' is kept simple and therefore easily the best of the poppier pieces, nice fiery guitar bursts from Howe throughout, a sun-kissed reflective lyric and an upbeat chorus that is hopelessly romantic in the Jon Anderson/classic Yes tradition.

The fourth track `To Ascend' is the first sign of greatness on the disc, a lush and thoughtful acoustic ballad that works best when it remains a little darker, and there's a nice heightened drama that gradually builds throughout around exquisite and varied group harmonies. `Light of the Ages' then thankfully dials up the prog, an intricate and dazzling arrangement that slowly unfolds through grand orchestral rises, ethereal guitar strains, gentle piano movements from Geoff Downes and a stirring vocal from Jon, making it a real triumph for the album. The album then concludes on the dazzling `Subway Walls', the proggiest piece with plenty of open spaces for the band to privide their own unique instrumental flourishes. Nice drum tension and build from Alan White, Chris Squire's chunky bass weaving forwards and backwards throughout, rippling Hammond organ runs from Geoff Downes and slow-burn guitar ugency full of flare from Steve. It frequently hints at the inspiration and potential that this current formation of the band could offer so much more than nice Dad-rock, and is possibly better than anything on the previous studio album.

Here's the thing...Yes have nothing more left to prove. They're one of the innovators of the first wave of progressive music that got the ball rolling, and they're responsible for some of the defining releases of the genre as well as a bunch of other solid albums. Their importance to prog rock is cemented, and they no longer need to try to challenge themselves or listeners with anything truly groundbreaking. But, if you have a lot of love for the different eras of the band, you may enjoy what is simply easy to listen to music from a band that is slowly starting to wind down. It's now looking like `Magnification' was their last truly impressive swansong, but it doesn't mean forgiving and understanding fans can't enjoy a set of undemanding and pleasing adult rock that makes for a decent background listen, and if you listen closely...there's still little tiny traces of that classic Yes magic waiting to be discovered.

Three stars.

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.25 | 139 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by rdtprog
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

2 stars Is our beloved band from the 70's is starting to show their ages? Listening to this new CD, I was picturing the band playing in a small club with small speakers at a rather slow pace. There's no more big symphonic soundscape from Rick Wakeman, no more big bass's sound of Chris Squire, in the latter, it's unacceptable, because he hasn't been replaced here... Steve Howe is still carrying the song as much as he can with is unique style of playing. Also the drums of Alan White are so quiet. One positive thing is the voice of John Davidson that doesn't make me miss Jon Anderson.

Was I expecting too much after the average "Fly from Here"? The fact is there are no terrible songs on this CD, the songs contain some delicate and forgettable melodies and the entire release has 2 progressive songs; "Light of the Ages" and "Subway Walls". These are the only ones with cool breaks and more symphonic structures. The music is soft as the production compare to the Yes sound. We have to wait to the song "It was all We Knew" to hear some heavier guitars parts from Howe, and Squire is shaking his bass for the first time on the song "Subway Walls", which is the closer the band gets from the style of the past. There are some nice breaks with the drums and the bass along with some nice keyboards parts.

I can't rate this more than 2.5 stars. It's a disappointment for me, but I have to admit that I didn't know what to expect. In interviews, the band said that they did this album in a hurry and it shows. Probably that the band was satisfied for at least making a CD to support another tour that fans will follow for the classics.

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.25 | 139 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by richardh
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It seems the whole earth and his wife has already posted an opinion on this album even though it was only released yesterday. Jon Davison from American Symph prog outfit Glass Hammer replaces David Benoit with hopes of a return to classic YES that clearly was never going to materialise. This is 'OAP YES' and some have said that its just a sad pastiche or tribute. I wouldn't go along with that. The songs have a lot of warmth and I like the richness of melody that pervades throughout. There are even some nice hooks here and there. This makes a refreshing change to my ears to the deathly dark sound of so much modern prog. A touch of light goes along way. I would say this is actually a classy pop album and if it had been marketed as something other than Yes and no Roger Dean album cover maybe some would have been more forgiving and not posted hysterical 1 star reviews. OK Alan White is a bit ploddy but its not that worrying while I like Downes contribution , not too showy but you can hear the odd hammond/piano bits in the backgound and some good synth parts. Howe plays in and out of the music adding some lovely guitar licks while Squire is just solid but his bass is always clean and on the mark. Davison does an uncanny Anderson impression , probably a bit too much at times, but I think he's written a decent set of lyrics.

On the whole this is pleasant slab of 'easy listening prog' or even 'Dad prog'. WIth all the hot weather in the UK this laid back approach is not totally unwelcome. Leave the heavy dark stuff alone for a while and enjoy some warmth!

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.25 | 139 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by guillamene

1 stars Sometimes before I buy/download a new album, I listen to some samples. Never even thought that I should have done so with 'Heaven and Earth': I had been looking forward to this for so long and it was from one of my favourite bands.If i had listened to this- and it saddens me to say this- I would not have bought it. Yes music takes me somewhere else but this latest album left me cold. I kept on waiting for the next track to get going, but it never happened. This is 'prog lite' or 'soft prog' and not a patch on 'Fly from Here' The sound and production made me think as I listened 'well, I know that Steve has left ASIA, I didn't know that he had left YES as well....' It pains me to have to be sarcastic about a great band. I listened to 'Heaven and Earth' yesterday morning.....last evening I had to listen to a show from the 35th Anniversary tour just to remind me how wonderful this band really are.

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.25 | 139 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by w770@aol.com

1 stars OMG?.!!!!! Yes have become the antithesis of what I always loved about them the most!!!! They used to have intricate arrangements/time changes/lush vocals/magical poetic beautiful lyrics, that took you to another world, another dimension. Every song would be a story, an adventure never knowing where they are taking you. They were soooo much more interesting and progressive than any other band. NOW, It's BUBBLEGUM, it's top 40 MOR, (well actually it's not even that good)?it's crap!!!! And I thought the last album was bad?. Cheezy lyrics and melodies, completely ONE dimensional, nothing left to the imagination. I tried, I really tried, and the more I listened to the songs, the more I hated them. The band was NEVER together when this album was recorded, they each put their own parts on, maybe a couple of them would get together, BUT the synergy and creativity never happened. Hard to believe these are the some of the same guys who wrote "Close To The Edge". Wow, I'm still shocked. These guys should at best retire from TRYING to write new material. Tour till ya die, PLEASE just play the music that touches our hearts and souls.

Title should be: "HELL ON EARTH" WHEN YOU LISTEN TO THIS RECORD!!

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.25 | 139 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by DrömmarenAdrian

3 stars I became very happy when I read that Yes were going to release a new record the summer 2014, their nineteenth studio album, released fourty-five years after their debut. I hadn't so big expectations though. I didn't though them to be especially innovative and that they probably would reuse a lot of themes from the past. The old Yes members are still members: Chris Squire(bass), Steve Howe(guitar) and Alan White(drums) and two are new: the singer Jon Davison and the keayboard player Geoff Downes.

After three listenings through the album I want to say that Jon Davison is a very good Yes' singer with a voice similar to Jon Anderson's but not too similar. My second impression is that this is something new, that Yes doesn't sound like it has sounded before. On fly for me the band tried to make another symphonic masterpiece (the title track) but I don't really think they managed. It feels like the band is more comfortable now and play the music they want to play today, instead of living in the past.

Of course I miss old Yes, which were heavier and more crazy, symphonic and frenetic. This doesn't sound like the classical Yes and unfortunatley it isn't prog. But still am I enjoying the album a lot and think it sounds fresh. It is a collection of catchy songs without high intentions but the music is well performed and honest.

My two favourites are the two last songs: "Subway Wall"(7/10) and "It was all we knew"(7/10). The first of those has a pleasant guitar theme which gives me children song thoughts, i like the chorus and the organ solo. The length makes it perhaps also more interesting. The second is very catchy with a schlager melody in perhaps a Greek way. This soft and catchy clothing introduces a heavy rock fanfare which reminds me of the rock'n'roll intro of Going for the one.

On the album's first song "Believe again" there are things I like such the guitar solo in the middle and many of the instrumental parts even if I think the chorus is quite boring(6/10). "The game" is a mixture of higher intentions and a populistic structure and I like also that(6/10). "In a world of our own" is also worth mentioning. It's a song not very unlike the eighties' Yes and I liek the structure as well as the vocals(6/10).

A lot of the feautures of the album aren't so interesting, It's not a masterwork we are talking about. I find "Light of the Ages" a bit boring(5/10) and "Step Beyond" rather bad(4/10). The last named uses a computer sounding melody that goes aroung and some repeated silly lyrics, and I don't like the result.

Over all do I think Yes' "Heaven & Earth" is a decent work that makes me happy and makes me respect these guys that still do their music exactly as they please. I also enjoy Roger Dean's cover which doesn't look like the earlier ones. I will actually give this record three stars and I definitely think Yes fans should give this a try.

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 Big Generator by YES album cover Studio Album, 1987
2.46 | 778 ratings

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Big Generator
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Big Generator' - Yes (52/100)

Although I'm part of the clear minority when it comes to my appreciation for the much- loathed 90125 album, there's no doubt that Yes' music became increasingly difficult to defend as time went on. Even sparing the fact they had shifted gears to the point of being virtually unrecognizable, the pop-centric Yes lost creative impetus pretty quickly. Big Generator was released four years after 90125, and two of those years were spent working on it. Clearly, the honeymoon period brought on by Trevor Rabin was over by this point; Tony Kaye and Trevor Horn had been at each other's throats, and Jon Anderson was expressing doubt around the direction the band was taking. It's this sort of artistic division that first sent Yes on the downward slope with Tormato, and Big Generator saw fit to reproduce this scenario with their pop era. It's undeniably a weaker album than 90125, even possibly the first album the band released I might consider truly weak. Much like Tormato though, Big Generator has some strong moments. It's not enough to earn a recommendation, but its enough to deserve some sort of defence against some of the 'worst album ever' comments made against it.

I'll admit, even if my initial instinct is to defend it, Big Generator is a pittance compared to just about everything that came before it. Had it been received more warmly by others, this review would have likely turned out much nastier- such was the case with the terribly overrated Drama LP. I had written a bit of a review about Big Generator Yesterday after my first couple of listens, and much of it agreed with the generally panned reception. Listening to it on the coattails of the far-superior 90125, it was instantly clear that Big Generator wasn't as coherent or effective- if you take a look at the album's recording history, it's hard to blame it. Perhaps it managed to grow a little bit with some more intent listening, but a few tracks really stand out to me now. As much as I cannot stomach the song titles, "Rhythm of Love" and "Love Will Find A Way" are solid pop tunes. The former even has some surprising Beach Boys-y vocal harmonies, which is totally coming from left-field on a Yes album. The chorus on "Final Eyes" is admittedly weak, but the verse is a beautiful showcase for Jon Anderson's voice- the same goes for the mellowed "Holy Lamb" at the end.

"Shoot High, Aim Low" is probably the most impressive track here, and it sounds like something Rush may have released on Presto or Hold Your Fire. There's an exotic and meditative atmosphere to the song that distances it from the more straight-laced pop rock. Speaking of which, "Almost Like Love" is probably the worst song they had put out up to this point- I guess Anderson's weird vocal phrasing is interesting enough, but I'm probably digging for gold in a coal pit at this point. I suppose its a testament my generally contrarian nature, but the song people point towards as Big Generator's only saving grace- that being "I'm Running"- is probably the most irritating song on the album for me. "Almost Like Love" is easy enough to ignore for how bloody middle-of-the- road it is, but "I'm Running" tries to conjure up some of Yes' adventurous spirit. The result of which is a peppy, unfocused mess that somehow reminds me of Ska enough to cringe. I guess it's a sign of hope that the Rabin-era Yes was still interested in pursuing longer songs, but for the sake of Big Generator, they may as well have forgone it entirely.

There's a certain masochism when it comes to reviewing. Sometimes I find myself looking for albums I know I'll hate, in the hopes that it might result in an enjoyably heated rant of a review. Before giving Big Generator a listen, I might have pegged it as such an album. The album art is atrocious, and any LP with a song called "Rhythm of Love" would almost certainly make faeces smell good in comparison. It's really not the case here; call it a guilty pleasure or an outstretched effort to hear quality in one of my all-time favourite bands, I think Big Generator's got some great moments. Other than that, it's an inconsistent record at best; each of the band members seem to have wanted something different to come of it. Oh well, we'll always have Fragile.

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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.25 | 139 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings

3 stars Like so many others, I eagerly anticipated the release of this album. I only became a Yes fan in June of 2011 (I knew of Yes ever since "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was a hit) but how rapidly my interest in their music took on. My Amazon order history shows that I ordered "Fragile" and "Close to the Edge" in mid-June as my first purchases of Yes albums, and before August was done I had wrapped up purchasing all the studio albums, including a five-disc digipak of "Keys to Ascension" and the non-Yes album by Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe. Ever since then, Yes have been my favourite band second only to Rush.

Unlike so many others who have followed Yes' career since their glory days in the 70's, or at least since the 80's, I acquired their entire studio catalogue in two and a half months and not only read the Wikipedia article on them, but also read reviews of each album and purchased Chris Welch's "Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes". So as I listened to all this "new" music, I also gained an understanding of the band's history and the general opinions of each album. I knew there were some like "Open Your Eyes", "Big Generator" and "Union" that were going to test my music enjoyment boundaries. Nevertheless, each album always had a couple of songs that I felt like listening to frequently enough.

I was disappointed but perhaps not surprised really to read all the negative reviews that "Heaven and Earth" had garnered. Yes fans tend to be extremely critical of Yes music, and where other lesser bands may receive more favourable reviews for more mediocre material, Yes are unforgivable for producing anything that doesn't live up to the "The Yes Album" to "Going for the One" period. So once again, disaster!

But I don't think so. "Heaven and Earth" is less "prog" than much of their previous releases, including "Fly from Here". It's gentler and softer than many songs in their catalogue, and the musicians rarely seem interested in showing off their skills as masters of progressive music. However, I find myself enjoying the songs for what they are, in spite of the fact that this album is overall more cheery and light that what I usually choose to listen to ("Heart of the Sunrise" is more like my style).

The focus on this album would seem to be melody and that supported wonderfully by Yes' trademark vocal harmonies. From the first track of the debut, Yes established themselves not as a band with a lead vocalist and backing vocals but as a band with a lead vocalist and harmony vocals. Three voices sharing the lead to create some wonderful harmonies to complement the melodies of the songs. This can be heard throughout much of "Heaven and Earth" with "Believe Again" being my favourite of the lot.

I had some concern about Jon Davison as the lead vocalist because on Glass Hammer's "If" I felt he lacked the emotion and depth of Jon Anderson (who it seemed he was intentionally trying to emulate). But I haven't felt that here, though that may be thanks to the strong harmony vocals provided by Squire and Howe. As non-Anderson line-ups tend to last for only one album, I would welcome a second album with Davison on the lead mic.

Addressing the issues of lack of prog or rock, it's true that traditional Yes moments are found only here and there and not up to full potential at that. The "prog" instrumental section in "Believe Again" sounds promising at first, but Steve Howe only repeats the same runs on his fretboard and Geoff Downes sounds ready for a wild keyboard solo but only lets of a couple of finger flashes across the keys. There's a bit of a rock section in the first half of "Step Beyond" which sounds great as the song's opening is very candy floss, and two of the most out-of-place-for-Yes songs "In a World of Our Own" and "It Was All We Knew" actually let Steve Howe play something that sounds almost like he's still got it. As almost everyone has pointed out, "Subway Walls" is where the music gets a proper prog treatment, and one wonders if Yes hadn't done that on at least two other tracks then would this album have scored a star or two higher.

I agree that this album is softer, more cheery, and makes the great musicians in this band sound a little tired. At times, especially Steve Howe seems to have run out of ideas, and Chris Squire doesn't really start moving until "Subway Walls". However, I also know very well that Yes albums from "Tormato" onward tend to disappoint before they reward. Many people who didn't like "Drama" at first now praise it and even "Fly from Here", which received so many unkind words upon its release is now seen more favourably by some.

Perhaps all the negative reviews helped brace me for what was to come, but I am enjoying this album so far. True, like with Deep Purple's "Now What?!" and Rush's "Clockwork Angels" the initial honeymoon feeling will wear off and only a few songs will be invited for regular additions to daily playlists. But for now I like it and I accept it as the latest chapter in Yes' history. As if to affirm this, I went ahead and ordered a ticket to see Yes in November. I hope they play a few songs from the new album. It would be a shame to have it brushed under the mat and replaced entirely by the nostalgic classics.

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 90125 by YES album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.91 | 1077 ratings

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90125
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars '90125' - Yes (71/100)

If there's anything Yes' latest disasterpiece Heaven and Earth has taught me, it's that I will always prefer a solid pop album over a dog[&*!#] prog one. Writing a set of catchy, concise and effective tunes is potentially just as much a challenge as penning a grandiose epic; it just requires a separate set of skills. Yes had long-since established themselves as masters of the latter, and the decade prior to the release of 90125 was filled with lasting testaments to their skill as a band. With that inspiration having shown its end with the patchy Tormato and largely outsourced Drama however, in retrospect it makes perfect sense the band found themselves in need of some renovation. Yes' transition on 90125 has made it the most polarizing album among fans after "Tales from Topographic Oceans". Even if it's a disappointment in retrospect that Yes didn't have another decade of prog masterpieces left in them, 90125 stands as a remarkably well-crafted pop record, and one well-deserving of the success it enjoyed throughout the 80s.

Like any mid-life career change, the transition Yes made with 90125 was a risk, but it certainly paid off. Someone with no idea what a mellotron or moog is will almost surely be cognizant of their hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart", and it's unlikely they would be able to hum out the first few lines. Sure enough, I don't think a song penned under the Yes name was so concise and effective since "Roundabout". Cheesy electronic embellishments and lyrics are easily offset by the song's perfect melodic writing and indomitable hook factor. With Steve Howe's absence, the instrumentation sounds a world away from the 'classic' Yes, and might have passed for another band entirely had it not been for Jon Anderson's vocals. If any of classic members truly benefited from the newfound pop leanings on 90125, it would be Anderson. Granted, there's no longer any room for his New Age lyrical dawdling here, but the his distinctive voice feels perfect for the approach the band took here.

90125 pleasantly evades the stereotype of the pop album as being shallow or inconsistent; from a point of songwriting it was the most consistent record they had produced since Going for the One or even before that. It's granted there are none of the sonic highlights that past records offered (including my much-beloathed Drama) but there's a sense of purpose to each of the songs that Yes had struggled with on their best days. Say what you will about the dated 80s cheese, almost every song on the album manages to feel memorable and distinctive. This ability to write distinctive tracks served Yes well in the past, but it is especially relevant on 90125; strangely enough, the only forgettable track included- that being "Cinema"- seems most like a trace of their proggy past, a longform introduction to "Leave It" with ambient guitar flourishes that that don't sound entirely unlike what Howe would have done, had he performed on the album.

The pop direction is shouted loud and clear from virtually every orifice of the album; with that said, Yes were clever to include proggy detours as well. The first couple of minutes of "Changes" sound particularly adventurous, navigating time signatures and vague polyrhythms you would never expect to find on an album so decisively brushed off as 'pop'. Though "Hearts" is about as saccharine as the title suggests, it's got a more epic feel to it that might not have sounded out of place on "Tormato". It's this thoughtful balance of the adventurous and commercial that makes 90125 sound exciting in an entirely new way for the band. A full-bodied production (also heard on Drama) does a lot to bring Yes into the new era as well.

Of course, as successful as 90125 is as a pop album, it's certainly not what I would have hoped to hear from Yes. Distancing oneself from progressive rock is pretty forgivable, considering the genre's dire state at the turn of the decade. Whatever reservations I have towards the album have everything to do with how little it rewards repeated listening. Many will peg that off as an expected result of shorter, simple songwriting, but I don't think that's necessarily true. The human heart ultimately cares little for how many keyboard solos are in your nine-part suite epic; it cares about an artist's intimacy and expression of feeling. Whatever you might make of that, there doesn't seem to be much of that sincerity on 90125. Perhaps Yes had just become too functional or mature for their own good, but the music lacks the personal touch their prior work revelled in. It's a funny thing to call the album impersonal considering it was the most coherent the band had sounded in over five years. Then again, with the band's personnel becoming increasingly different from what the popularly declared 'classic' lineup, perhaps it's unfair to judge this as a Yes album to begin with.

Like a Summer blockbuster movie, 90125 isn't particularly filled with depth or return- value, but it's skilfully compiled and plenty of fun. Sadly, Yes' pop-rock ambitions would take a turn for the dark and dismal following the album's success.

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