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Yes - Time and a Word CD (album) cover

TIME AND A WORD

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.33 | 1515 ratings

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Prog Eden
4 stars Review - #2 (Yes - Time And A Word)

Time and a Word is the band's second studio album that was released in July of 1970 on Atlantic Records. It was distributed several months after the release of the band's self-titled debut. During the writing of Time and a Word they continued to tour heavily and recorded during the gaps between shows. In Time And A Word, Yes continues to follow their early musical direction as heard on their debut album but now are accompanied by a small orchestra of brass and string session musicians. The use of the orchestra seems to be a controversial point when discussing the album. The orchestra at points enhances a song and at other points feels slightly unnecessary. However, the main issue involving the orchestra to me seems to be its unbalanced production/mixing. Luckily, the unbalanced production doesn't take away much from the overall listening experience as there still are numerous well thought out orchestral arrangements that work well on various tracks. The line-up of musicians remains the same as their previous album. It consists of Jon Anderson on vocals, Tony Kaye on Hammond organ, Chris Squire on bass, Bill Bruford on drums, and Peter Banks on guitar. Guitarist Peter Banks did not endorse the idea of adding an orchestra to the album, which resulted in heightened tensions between himself and the rest of the band. While touring in the United Kingdom during April of 1970 and before the album's release, Peter Banks was fired by the band and was replaced by the now legendary guitarist Steve Howe. Funnily enough, the US album features Steve Howe on the cover even though he didn't perform on Time and a Word. Let's take a closer look at some of the tracks found on this album.

No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed is the album's first track and was originally written by American artist Richie Havens. It opens with an orchestral theme taken from the soundtrack to the 1958 Western film The Big Country by Jerome Moross. The orchestra adds a new dynamic to the track, as it accompanies the keyboards quite well. Interestingly, Jon Anderson sings at a lower register then usual which makes this track have a unique appeal to it. The next song, Then, was written by Jon Anderson and puts Bill Bruford's jazz-like drums on full display. Here, his unique snare and high-hat work helps to make Then stand out as one of the finest from the band's early catalogue. Furthermore, Tony Kaye performs superbly throughout this track as he alters between attention-grapping solos and interwoven playing with the rest of the band. Everydays (which is cover by Stephen Stills), contains a similar jazz-like drumming style that was found on Then. Both the band and orchestra complement each other quite well as the orchestra knows when to take a step forward at just the right moments to make this rather simple piece fell a lot more dynamic. Just from these first few tracks, the improvements made from their debut are clearly apparent. Sweet Dreams is one of those tracks that you find yourself humming to while driving to work or talking to dog on a walk, it is incredibly catchy. It was co-written by Jon Anderson and his former Warriors bandmate David Foster. Guitarist Peter Banks displays excellent playing throughout while Chris Squire renders a brilliant bass performance which we have all come to expect. It was also well-received by future Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin, who requested its performance during the 90125 tour in 1984.

The next song, The Prophet, is the longest track on the album and shadows some of the arrangements the band would be known for. Jon Anderson wrote The Prophet tells the story of "a man who tells others to find and believe in themselves and not follow like sheep". It contains an abundance of orchestra which fits this track well. Despite The Prophet seeming to be forgotten by most of the Yes fanbase, it is a wonderful track that I would love to see the band revisit in a live performance on their upcoming tours. Credit also goes to the great Hammond organ work from Tony Kaye at the beginning of the track. Clear Days is next and is a short yet beautiful song that has a similar style to Yesterday and Today off the band's self-titled debut album. Tony Kaye also makes an appropriate appearance on piano to accompany the softer tone of Clear Days. Astral Traveler instantly became one of my favorite tracks off this album and is essentially absent of any orchestral arrangements. Jon Anderson uses an odd vocal distortion while singing which conveys an other-worldly sound. Once again, Peter Banks really shines here with his guitar work as it is probably the most prominent instrument on the track. In addition, Tony Kaye also manages to step up to a somewhat lead role in various parts which is not necessarily a common occurrence on this album due to the abundance of orchestra. Last but certainly not least we have Time and a Word. The band was searching for an anthem-type song as Jon Anderson later explained in an interview. He would present its basic theme to the group on a guitar, using only two or three chords, which left the band members trying to discern what he was playing and eventually resulted in the song we know today. It was recorded with Jon Anderson previous bandmate David Foster on acoustic guitar. However, Peter Banks claimed it was not meant to be part of the final mix, having been intended only as a guide track. On the final version, Peter Banks played his parts over Foster's. This song would eventually become another classic tune off the album that would be played on multiple tours.

Time And A Word is a wonderful album made during the initial launching point of progressive rock. Jon Anderson still seems to be finding his voice as the instruments sometimes appear to be lost in the mix which is most likely due to the orchestral arrangements. However, these flaws do not take away from the overall listening experience of the album by any means. From beginning to end, Time And A Word is a joy to listen to as it contains a unique version of the band that would not be revisited after this album. Soon after recording, Peter Banks would be kicked out of the band in favor of Steve Howe which would ultimately be a good decision by the band. Time And A Word is the first excellent album by an excellent band! "There's a time and the time is now, and it's right for me, It's right for me, and the time is now!"

Prog Eden | 4/5 |

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