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
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
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)
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)
Remastered · Extra tracks
Elektra 2003
Audio CD$4.68
$3.72 (used)
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YES shows & tickets

  • 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 23 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 performing Close To The Edge & Fragile on 28 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 | 865 ratings
3.26 | 912 ratings
Time and a Word
4.28 | 1900 ratings
The Yes Album
4.42 | 2363 ratings
4.65 | 3091 ratings
Close To The Edge
3.88 | 1686 ratings
Tales From Topographic Oceans
4.36 | 2058 ratings
4.04 | 1363 ratings
Going for the One
2.94 | 1038 ratings
3.74 | 1136 ratings
2.91 | 1084 ratings
2.46 | 783 ratings
Big Generator
2.48 | 723 ratings
3.05 | 648 ratings
2.06 | 568 ratings
Open Your Eyes
3.27 | 673 ratings
The Ladder
3.77 | 775 ratings
3.45 | 758 ratings
Fly From Here
2.37 | 175 ratings
Heaven & Earth

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

4.28 | 674 ratings
3.63 | 341 ratings
2.24 | 173 ratings
9012 Live: The Solos
4.11 | 361 ratings
Keys to Ascension
3.95 | 338 ratings
Keys to Ascension 2
2.53 | 105 ratings
BBC Sessions 1969-1970 Something's Coming (2 Cds)
3.59 | 157 ratings
House of Yes: Live From the House of Blues
2.75 | 62 ratings
2.64 | 33 ratings
Extended Versions
2.91 | 29 ratings
Roundabout: The Best Of Yes- Live
3.21 | 116 ratings
The Word Is Live
3.80 | 120 ratings
Live at Montreux 2003
4.26 | 208 ratings
Symphonic Live
4.47 | 88 ratings
Keys To Ascension (I & II + DVD)
3.29 | 21 ratings
Astral Traveller (The BBC Sessions)
3.56 | 91 ratings
In The Present - Live From Lyon
3.33 | 21 ratings
Union Live

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

3.61 | 130 ratings
Yessongs (DVD)
3.13 | 81 ratings
9012 LIVE (DVD)
4.31 | 72 ratings
Yesyears - A Retrospective
3.70 | 37 ratings
The Union Tour Live
2.88 | 43 ratings
Greatest Video Hits
3.57 | 95 ratings
House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (DVD)
3.65 | 103 ratings
Keys to Ascension (DVD)
4.59 | 255 ratings
Symphonic Live (DVD)
3.15 | 59 ratings
2.35 | 68 ratings
Live in Philadelphia 1979
3.09 | 27 ratings
Inside Yes 1968-1973
3.59 | 71 ratings
Yes Acoustic: Guaranteed No Hiss
4.27 | 137 ratings
Songs From Tsongas: 35th Anniversary Concert (DVD)
3.38 | 55 ratings
Live 1975 At Q.P.R. Vol. 1
3.27 | 50 ratings
Live 1975 At Q.P.R. Vol. 2
3.60 | 48 ratings
Yes (Classic Artists)
3.91 | 110 ratings
Montreux 2003 (DVD)
3.85 | 47 ratings
Yes - The New Director's Cut
3.82 | 40 ratings
The Lost Broadcasts
3.13 | 26 ratings
Rock Of The 70's
3.90 | 49 ratings
Union - Live

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

3.15 | 168 ratings
3.87 | 137 ratings
Classic Yes
3.23 | 87 ratings
3.39 | 59 ratings
3.04 | 61 ratings
The Very Best of Yes
2.58 | 30 ratings
The Best of Yes
3.55 | 432 ratings
2.72 | 21 ratings
4.29 | 94 ratings
In A Word
3.18 | 85 ratings
Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection
2.05 | 54 ratings
Yes Remixes
2.50 | 22 ratings
Topography: The Yes Anthology
4.13 | 24 ratings
Essentially Yes
3.42 | 17 ratings
Collection 2CD: Yes

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

4.24 | 23 ratings
Something's Coming
3.34 | 13 ratings
Looking Around
2.79 | 25 ratings
Sweetness / Something's Coming
3.24 | 13 ratings
Sweet Dreams
3.76 | 28 ratings
Time and a Word
3.87 | 37 ratings
Your Move
3.21 | 37 ratings
3.48 | 14 ratings
Yes Solos
3.17 | 34 ratings
Soon - Sound Chaser - Roundabout
3.61 | 36 ratings
Wonderous Stories 12''
3.93 | 34 ratings
Going For The One 12''
2.58 | 41 ratings
Don't Kill The Whale
3.18 | 29 ratings
Into The Lens / Does It Really Happen?
4.19 | 36 ratings
2.28 | 35 ratings
Owner of a Lonely Heart (promo single)
2.20 | 34 ratings
Owner of a Lonely Heart (EP)
3.27 | 29 ratings
Leave It 12''
3.49 | 26 ratings
It Can Happen
2.81 | 19 ratings
Twelve Inches on Tape
3.27 | 22 ratings
Love Will Find A Way
2.45 | 31 ratings
Rhythm of Love (EP)
3.29 | 19 ratings
Saving My Heart
2.44 | 35 ratings
Owner Of A Lonely Heart
2.82 | 19 ratings
Make It Easy
2.52 | 10 ratings
Yesyears - Sampler
2.81 | 13 ratings
The Calling (single edit)
3.17 | 54 ratings
We Can Fly - Single (Radio Edit)

YES Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.37 | 175 ratings

Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Kjarks

5 stars I find very astonishing to read so many negative reviews about this new album. I refuse to fall in this kind of collective condemnation. So many notes between 1 and 2 stars, how can we explain this ? Maybe a lot of people thought Yes could produce, in 2014, a masterpiece of modern prog music ?

I did not. We had to be aware Yes will never create a new "Close to the edge" or a new "Awken", not even a new "Mind drive". We just had to expect an agreable record and that's what it is : a nice collection of very pretty melodies full of beautiful harmonies in the typical Yes' manner. Probably, "Heaven and earth" is the most melodic record Yes has ever made.

The writing is quite good, the musicianship is skilled, more especially the guitar (though Howe's "it was all we knew" is the only weak moment of the album), Davison's voice is very close to Anderson's (in spite of some clumsiness, more especially in "Subway walls"). The entire disk reflects a great musical sensitivity and a perfect homogeneity. Surely, this is also the softer record Yes has ever made.

Ah ! I think I understand now why so many reviewers are disappointed : there is no heavy riff. Yes did not make any contractual reference to heavy prog, that's it ! Indeed. I could not say the contrary. No saturated guitars, no inflamed keyboard solo, no acute shouting, no thundering drums ; just soft and beautiful melodies.

In the mid 1990's, when they were reborn ("Keys to the ascension"), these musicians would have transcend the wise "Light of the ages". But this time is over. "Believe again" and "The game" are very decent true Yes songs, "To ascend" flows serenely and we nearly recover the great past some short moments in the bass parts and the keys/guitar bridge of"Subway walls".

I would have given 4 stars to this record, their best one since the Keys to the ascension. But I will give it 5 stars to balance a little bit the impressive flood of severe criticisms. "Heaven and earth" is quite an appropriate title for this record. But "Hell and flood" could reflect the predominant evaluation it gets here ! Unhappily...


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 Union by YES album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.48 | 723 ratings

Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Union' - Yes (37/100)

I can't rightly decide whether Union was a good idea in concept or not. The idea of teaming up the 'classic' Yes with the fashionably poppish '80s Yes is about as high concept as you can get in prog without spiralling into bombastic operatic narrative. While it probably sounded like a great way to merge the merits of both eras on paper, the album itself give the impression that it was a misguided decision at best. Rather than capitalize on the 'best of both worlds' as Union was no doubt supposed to, the strongest suits of Yes' prog and pop halves alike have been dulled to make room for one another. As is the case with every less-favoured Yes record, there are a few worthy gems, but it's not enough to compensate for Union's lack of focus and appalling inconsistency. If any one of the past four albums hadn't convinced someone that the glory days were indeed over for this band, Union should have been the final nail in the coffin.

Much like the album, I too find myself torn between sides. Part of me would like to see Union in a positive light. After all, given time and patience, I was even able to find some things to love about the unpopular Big Generator, and there are just enough hints of the 'old' Yes here to have piqued my interest. On the other hand, even compared to the band's 80s material, Union feels sloppy. Whether they're attempting to bring out the proggy side of their sound or opting for lighter fluid pop anthems, the music sounds like it was out of a compromise. Regardless what idealistic notions paved the way for Yes to pull this 'all together now' gimmick, every defining problem on Union is a cause of the decision to merge rosters. Looking at the performance credits on the album is enough to give anyone a headache; Trevor Rabin, Alan White and Tony Kaye (for example) are responsible for tracks 4, 6, 7 and 9, and their earlier counterparts are responsible for the rest. Instead of a real union, the band is just as segregated as ever; the only difference is that they're stuck on the same disc together. Yes' have proved a clichéd expression true- it turns out there is such a thing as too many cooks in a kitchen.

Although moments like the introductions to "Lift Me Up" and "Miracle of Life" showcase the instrumental fireworks of the proggy Yes, it's ultimately clear that the poppy constructs of their 80s material paved the sound here. Even the two aforementioned tracks revert to a fairly recognizable AOR format once they get the technical flash out of their systems. While I'm a defender of 90125 and even Big Generator, with Union the songwriting has taken a general turn for the worse. "I Would Have Waited Forever" is a fun song that would have fit well on Big Generator. "Shock to the System" is easily the best song on Union, featuring strong melodic hooks and an interesting groove. "Masquerade" is a solid classical guitar piece from Howe, and "Angkor Wat" (curiously left off of the original pressing) is an exotic ambient track that sounds like it could have been pulled out of Jon Anderson's solo career. Also, even though it's not even a minute long, the interlude "Evensong" (by guest bassist Tony Levin) is a pint-sized gem. Of course, it's little more than wallpaper ambiance, but it's still one of the best surprises the album has going for it.

The bad songs on Union are a lot easier to spot than the good ones, and there are plenty more of them too. While the classic roster at least offered "Shock to the System", the Rabin side of this musical debate doesn't have a single musical success here. When I was reviewing Big Generator, I remember condemning it for having the worst song yet of Yes' career with "Almost Like Love". Union offers several songs that make "Almost Like Love" look favourable by comparison. "Saving My Heart" is seriously one of the worst songs I've heard in ages; saccharine cheese and a god-awful chorus have a way of turning a song sour. "Dangerous" is not quite as bad, but it's pretty close, sounding like a less-fun, shallower version of the Ghostbusters theme, and as much as many Yes fans have been quick to sing the praises of "Lift Me Up" and "Miracle of Life" for their proggy intros, the songs themselves resort to the same mind-numbing AOR crap the rest of the Rabin material here is plagued with. I was a fan of Trevor Rabin's refreshing approach on 90125, but by this point, it's clear he was just as creatively exhausted as the rest of them.

Rather than work together, it truly feels like the two Yes's are trying to duke it out on Union. Like two warring nations continuing to fight after they've both been nuked, or two swordsmen duelling long after limbs have been hacked off, neither side is anywhere near their best, but it's nonetheless clear that they aren't compatible. Were it not for "Shock to the System" and a handful of others, I might consider Union a downright horrible album. Maybe there was a way a so-called union could have worked between the two eras, but this album sure as hell is nowhere near it. To date, Union still counts as one of the most disappointing albums Yes have ever done, and I don't suspect anyone's mind is going to change anytime soon.


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 Yesshows by YES album cover Live, 1980
3.63 | 341 ratings

Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by 10string

5 stars THIS is a masterpiece 9/10 (because of the not too top notch production)

I'm sure thet it has been said before but ,this is how it went... Chris Squire did a "rough mix" of a live album and a couple of months later found out that Atlantic had released it! Now, mind you, the mix is NOT bad , but it doesn't have the usual Eddie Offord "sheen" (which was later corrected in the "Classic Yes" little 7 inch where Eddie mixed the remains of the LP)

Bought this when it came out TWICE, once in a USA pressing, and then a Japanese pressing, through the mail from a shop that was called "The Essentals" (which some of you may remember)-guess which one I STILL have and sounds like Heaven????

Anyway...the mix is a bit rough but it works real well to give you an insight to how they REALLY sounded onstage, WHY?, cause there are NO OVERDUBS!!!! (Jon's voice breaking up in GFTO is proof of this...)

Great versions of ALL the songs ("Time and a word" still catches me off guard) AND we get to hear Pat playing a SMOKIN' version of GoD!!! Also does a SPLENDID Job on Ritual, (which I edited as on the CD from my Japanese pressing! to make it into one song)

You can actually hear when Chris "mixes in between songs" because of the crowds. Sometimes the keys are lower on th emix , but he had the good sense to avoid what most players who mix their group's LPs syndrome -having his instrument louder than everyone else- I find this way more accessible than Yessongs...which sounds like crap.


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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.37 | 175 ratings

Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by tbstars1

2 stars I will clearly have to marry AtomicCrimsonRush as soon as I have cleared the legal obstacles. My opinion matches his/hers exactly. "Believe again", "Light of the Ages" and "Subway walls" face to the left; the rest face resolutely to the right. To the left lies something akin to prog and distant memories of a band called Yes; to the right lie Tales of Unadulterated Garbage. Three out of eight is better than none out of eight but not nearly as good as eight out of eight. Time to re-shuffle this pack - yes or no? My bags are packed. I await the call from ACR.


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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.37 | 175 ratings

Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars No. This album is not like "Relayer", "Close to the Edge", "Going for the One".... No. It is not entirely Progressive Rock in musical style. Does it mean it is a bad album? No.

No. There is not Jon Anderson singing and composing the songs. No. There is not Rick Wakeman playing the keyboards. Does it sound like YES? Yes. This line-up still sounds like YES. And more than in their "Fly From Here" album which in my opinion sounded more influenced by THE BUGGLES (Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn).

The most characteristic sound from the "old" YES in this album comes from Steve Howe`s guitar playing, in my opinion. Geoff Downes` keyboards playing and arrangements sound a bit more in the background in comparison to his role in ASIA and more particularly in comparison to the "Fly from Here" album, on which he was one of the main songwriters with producer Trevor Horn. Maybe he has a more prominent role in his song called "Subway Walls", a song which he co-wrote with Jon Davison. Alan White also plays good drums, but the drum parts are not very complicated. Chris Squire plays bass but in a more relaxed way, but his backing vocals still are very good and very characteristic from him for the general sound of YES. The recording and mixing of this album is good, and the production in general sounds more "simple" and "light" than in their previous album.

Jon Davison sings very well, and he is the main songwriter in this album. He sounds more closer to Jon Anderson in the sound of his vocals than Horn or Benoit David, but he still retains his own style. He does a very good job in this album as YES`s lead singer

In general, this album is really "very relaxed" in musical moods, maybe too much for some fans, and maybe it lacks some of the "old" "power" and "heaviness". Maybe the most Progressive song is "Subway Walls", with some changes in rhythms and good solos by Downes and Howe. But maybe the general "sweet musical atmospheres" are the main troubles for some fans to really like this album as an album from YES. I really expected worst things from this album. But I like this album, not a lot, but it is good anyway.

The cover design by Roger Dean is very good.


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 Symphonic Live by YES album cover Live, 2009
4.26 | 208 ratings

Symphonic Live
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars After the remarkable Magnification, which featured a full orchestra, it only made sense to record a concert in the same vein, and it's fascinating to hear many Yes classics accompanied by such an ensemble. While I agree that "The Firebird Suite" is Yes' official entrance theme, I appreciated their use of the stunning introduction to "Give Love Each Day" to begin the concert.

Symphonic Live boasts three epic masterworks. Opening with "Close to the Edge," the band performs this at a pace that doesn't quite suit the energy the piece deserves, although I find Steve Howe's cleaner tone more enjoyable than his tone on the original. "The Gates of Delirium," from that peaceful beginning to that peaceful ending and all the cacophony in between, is always wonderful and welcome. Clocking in at nearly a half an hour, "Ritual" features extended bass soloing and a nod to "The Ancient."

Three traditional Yes songs are rendered better here than on any other live album I have heard. "Long Distance Runaround" is light and dashing, with Alan White brightening the song considerably. "Starship Trooper" is full-bodied and ethereal. Finally, "And You and I," with that phenomenal orchestral backing, transports the listener to another world.

Two songs, however, just don't belong in the set list. Of all the stellar material on Magnification, the band opts to include "Don't Go," which is the second weakest piece from that album (that adjective, of course, belonging to "Soft as a Dove"). I would have preferred to have heard the uplifting and progressive masterpiece "We Agree" instead. And as much as I enjoy "Owner of a Lonely Heart," the song seems inappropriate among everything else on the album. "Hearts" (from the same album, 90125) would have been a stirring penultimate song. Still, the inclusion of these two songs is hardly anything to fuss over.

This is one of Yes' greatest live offerings.


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 The Lost Broadcasts by YES album cover DVD/Video, 2009
3.82 | 40 ratings

The Lost Broadcasts
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars The Lost Broadcasts offers a historical look at early Yes. All but one of the performances are for the German program The Beat Club, the exception being "Time and a Word." It's a treat to be able to hear Yes' Ritchie Havens cover in its unadulterated form, with no orchestra swirling about the rock. Alas, Peter Banks' guitar is buried in the mix. Jon Anderson shows that, even in 1969, his between-song banter was rather cheesy and sometimes embarrassing.

"Survival" is my favorite song from the Peter Banks-era Yes, one I wish would have been performed live with Yes' more modern sound. It sounds like Chris Squire flubs the introduction a bit, after which Tony Kaye offers an unexpected organ solo. It was interesting to see how the band would "fade" into the quiet guitar that introduces the first verse; I was impressed to hear them throttle back into a quiet mist to allow Banks to emerge with his halcyon strumming. Kaye treats us to more soulful psychedelic playing. However, the vocals all around are pitchy, and Anderson actually misses a beat during the second refrain. I found myself paying more attention to Squire's groovy jamming than I did to the vocals anyway. Watching Bill Bruford is amusing, as his expressions alternate abruptly between opiate and tonic.

When "Time and a Word" arrives, so does the color, but the "live" element departs momentarily. The viewer may note immediately that no one- not even Anderson- is playing the acoustic guitar clearly heard, and later, a spectral orchestra materializes. That's because this is merely the band pantomiming to the studio version of the song.

"Yours is No Disgrace" is visually upsetting, with pink and yellow seizure-inducing flashes cut with a rotating head evoking the cover art of The Yes Album, worse even than the "psychedelic" interjections that make Keys to Ascension almost unwatchable. Speaking of strange visuals, what is that furry thing that crawled on Kaye's face? The sound is raw, and the synthesizer in front of Anderson doesn't help matters. The final "lost broadcasts" consist of three takes of "I've Seen All Good People," with "Your Move" out of the picture. The third is the finest, as the band is visible the entire time.


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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.37 | 175 ratings

Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by Detlef Albrecht

2 stars Heaven and Hell for Yes fans Previous comments have outlined the weaknesses of this album: Lack of dynamics and energy. Weak song writing (Was this really the best material available after all those years? If yes, why not engage brilliant songwriters such as Neal Morse for help? Yes has always been a great arrangement band, they practically re-invented "America"!!) Weak lyrics that sound like they are trying to emulate Jon Anderson's lyrical ambitions. On "Fly from here" they did stay away from that and did much better. Feeling that they are going through the motions, attempts to repeat past glories without new ideas. Why did they have to rush the production? If record sales don't matter anymore and they can only make money by touring, they might as well not have put out this record and done more concerts. The best I can say is that "Heaven & Earth" sounds surprisingly like a weak Jon Anderson Solo Album. 1.5 stars


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 Tormato by YES album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.94 | 1038 ratings

Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by thwok

4 stars I almost never submit ratings only - this review of Tormato will come in under 100 words. In fact, this is only the second one I've done. I simply believe that Tormato deserves a better fate than an overall rating of less than 3 stars. No, Tormato's not Fragile, or even Going for the One, but it is a Yes album. That almost guarantees that it's worth investigating. There are some fine songs here; I'm giving Tormato 3 1/2 stars rounded up. I'm being generous, but this is a better album than many people regard it as.


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 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.37 | 175 ratings

Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars All bets are off, believe the hype? Yes opt for pure pop and AOR!

Nothing wrong with a bit of nice pleasant music, with nice pleasant harmonies, nice pleasant lyrics with a nice pleasant album cover. Nothing wrong at all. This is an album to throw on after a hard day's work, with your feet up and a cuppa Hazelnut Coffee. Aaah yes, this is so relaxing, so peaceful. Not much Prog to wade through, no complex musicianship to adjust the ears to, easy to comprehend lyrics, just a pleasant mind relaxing album that lulls you into a dream. Only problem is this is Yes we are talking about; the band that brought us complex Progressive classic albums such as "Fragile", "Relayer" and "The Yes Album" (Starship Trooper is still my all time fave Yes masterpiece), the band that brought us masterful conceptual treasures like "Tales From Topographic Oceans" (one of the most revered or maligned Prog excess albums, depending on your tastes), and epic music such as Close to the Edge. Even the last effort "Fly From Here" at least embraced some prog and had one colossal epic to indulge in (a great track heard live by the way, a genuine highlight of the 2012 Melbourne concert I attended).

Let's look at the content of this music that kind of blends in as one huge syrupy dreamy AOR excursion (even my wife who shuns Prog would love most of this and it would sit proudly in her collection alongside her other easy listening music such as Michael Buble, and Guy Sebastian, rather than all that "dreadful King Crimson, Hawkwind and Van der Graaf Generator rubbish that you always listen to!")

There are some highlights on "Heaven and Hell... er... Earth" amidst all the commercial music, but you have to open your ears wide to find them. Light of the Ages stays with me in a good way and Howe showcases some skilful guitar work, and the melody is a grower. The opener Believe Again definitely stands out as a gem with a gorgeous melody and lovely keyboards from Downes and excellent lyrics that are uplifting but still leave room for intelligent reflection. Yes, Yes, this is a great song, and one worth hearing for sure, so the album opens with a killer track; although not progressive I love the keyboard sweeps, Howe's awesome riffing, and Jon Davison's vocals are supreme.

Subway Walls is one of the definitive highlights with a touch of innovation in the time sig and Squire's bassline is totally cool. It sounds like the band have a spark of creative ideas shining through here with a wonderful instrumental break, and Jon's voice is excellent and the switch into half time feel works perfectly. Howe even shines with some really great guitar licks, and it has the feel of a majestic atmosphere in the likes of And You And I (though not a shadow of that masterpiece, mind you). But this diversion into innovative musicianship is actually an annoyance as it shows what the band could have produced on the whole album, yet the album closes with this track and it is too late to salvage the album with a mere three decent tracks.

The lowlights are many, oh so many, but they still grow on the listener, like fungus on a toadstool. I speak of dainty ditties such as the maddeningly sugar sweet saccharine strains of It Was All We Knew, sounding like a Summer drive down to The Partridge Family's mansion. It languishes lyrically in lala land with "Sweet were the fruits, long were the Summer days, it was all we knew" then the harmonised "all we knew" chimes in on cue; surely the band are capable of better than this. I could envisage this being played on the radio and competing nicely with anything by The Eagles, or Air Supply, except they have better songs. Heck, Asia came up with better than this, and I can envisage all the pretty ladies in the crowd dancing to these boilers. White's drumming is so restrained he sounds like a session musician, he hardly strays from a straight 4/4 beat from the get go. I know you can play White, I heard you once in concert.

Let's talk about The Game, so lovely yet so dull, I think if Rick Wakeman heard this he might laugh and say "these old codgers have really lost the plot". Yes can play no doubt, nobody can take that away from them, but here they have abandoned everything that made them stand apart as innovators and shakers of prog rock. The lyrics offer very little worth pondering, "I am standing here at your door with all my defences down, we all know the rules the game must fools still we play the same as if our days remain" and "the love we gave along the way, along the waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay". Cue the nice guitar music and harmonised dadadas and lalalalas. Oh, by the way bot fades out; can you believe it, a Yes song that fades out, how droll.

Next is Step Beyond with a torturous synth line that is akin to the 80s synthpop sound at its absolute worst. The lyrics are sung in a corny rhythmic time to the music "you told me so, if I don't let go, I'll never know, what freedom brings" then there's the cheesy chorus "beg, steal, run, and hide." Oh this is so sing songy its ghastly, and it has a dance feel; I can see the band bopping to this. I guess it is a happy song, but oh so hackneyed. Howe tries to save it with a cool guitar lick but it's not enough. It was at this stage on the album that I looked over at my HiFi system and saw globules of honey dripping down out of the speakers.

As To Acend began to play I swear I saw sugar raining down from the ceiling. This is the song to raise up the lighter to, or these days it would be an iphone, and we wave it as we all sing in unison. Ahhhhh isn't this lovely, so peaceful, so interminably clichéd and saccharine. Where is the innovative ground breaking thought provoking lyrics we have come to expect? On Starship Trooper it was "Sister bluebird flying high above, Shine your wings forward to the sun, Hide the mysteries of life on your way", but now on To Ascend it's "taking the time, on a wing and a prayer, a wounded bird in the hand, with the eyes of a child come to understand, I will open the book, raise the pen, let it reinvent my life again, take me from where I am, as a free bird flies from the hand to ascend, to asceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeend". Of course a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, I get it. In that section alone there are at least 3 clichés and it just comes across as lazy song writing. In A World Of Our Own is not much better with "right back where we began, why can't we be like we were then, living in a world of our own, living in a world of our own, living in a world of our own, living in a world of our own". You get the picture, and it pretty much just locks onto that idea and the band seem content with that. Okay, that's' another one in the can, boys, next!

It is such a safe album, nothing innovative really to speak of, no power. It doesn't have enough power to knock the fluff off a peanut. Howe plays it safe, Squire plays it safe, White plays it safe, Downes is always safe so no surprises there, actually everybody plays it safe, and it has the unmitigated effect of alienating us old Yesaholics, and I am not sure how it will affect those newcomers to the band. If they heard "Topographic" after this their brain might go into meltdown. So Yes have gone the way that Genesis did in their final stages and it is not an experience that will please the older Yes fanbase.

Don't compare Yes to their past glories? Why not? They are Yes! Not some band rising up from the overcrowded AOR scene. Yes! Well, that's my take on this and the album will sit very nicely alongside other mediocre Yes projects such as "Union", "Talk" and "Big Generator". At this stage I had to think is it actually the worst Yes album? Let's see. Is it worse than "Big Generator"? On that album I had heard Rabin saying on the documentary that this was the most difficult album he had worked on, with a foot note to the fact that Anderson hated the changes in direction and musical differences were creating tension in the ranks. Okay, "Heaven and Earth" is not quite THAT bad. Is it then as appalling as "Union"? That album was a catastrophe, and album producer Jonathan Elias should be lynched by the prog community for deliberately replacing Wakeman and Howe's solo prowess with inferior so called session musicians, creating a hyper soundscape of saturated noise. Is it then as bad as "Talk"? No, cos at least Trevor Rabin is not on "Heaven and Earth". So it's perhaps the 4th worst Yes album, but that is no consolation. Nor is the awesome Roger Dean cover; which is false advertising; a promise of the great Yes of old which simply doesn't deliver the goods. 3 songs save it from a complete disgrace, but as an old Yes fan I was bitterly disappointed and I did not have high expectations after reading the reviews. However I expected something better than this. If I want to hear syrupy commercial easy listening music I will put this on, and it will remain in pristine condition as the CD will rarely leave its cover.

Ah well, it's only music. So let my passionate opinions rest at that, after all it's only an opinion, and I don't have to listen to this album again. I can always put on the 70s classics such as "Fragile" and revisit the glory days when Yes blew my mind and were the ground breaking movers and shakers of the Prog scene. Despite their pitfalls, Yes will remain in my heart as an essential brilliant band that I will always cherish.


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