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Yes - Time and a Word CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.32 | 1450 ratings

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3 stars UPDATE: 2 stars was harsh for this proto-progressive gem. Although I still feel the orchestra application is sloppy here (and some), the tunes I always liked, I now love. Trevor Rabin said he liked it because of the transitional feel from cool pop to symphonic prog rock, and with that in mind, Time and a Word does have a great mood to it. Nevertheless, it contains orchestral filler (the worst kind)....

REVIEW: Time and a Word is difficult for me. Both to listen to and review. For, when I hear it, part of me wants to congratulate Jon Anderson for continuing up the 'mountain of progressive-ness'. Yet, part of me also wants to slap him in the face for being so prematurely pretentious. Yes, I'm talking about the orchestra. Enhancing a rock album with an orchestra, is considered a bit of a "mid-career crisis". It is designed for bombastic double albums and rock operas with their inevitable world tours. But Yes hadn't reached the middle of their career yet; this was only their second album. And in my opinion, the orchestra restricts the record as a result.

A lot of people compare Time and a Word to YES; the two come as a sort of 'pair'. This isn't surprising (they were the only two albums to feature that line-up). And most people rate them pretty much equally. The thing is, Time and a Word, SHOULD be better than Yes, and compositionally it is. In fact, most elements of the album are an improvement: theres more of a focus, more complex arrangements, and an increased showcase of instrumental skill. However, the album is handicapped by its orchestra. It's too ambitious, and the band, still young and relatively inexperienced, don't carry it off well. If they had waited until their world-domination status to make a symphonic album, it may have worked in their favour (Maginification doesn't count, they were hardly "on top of the world" when they made that). And so what we get on Time and a Word, is the snazzy and impressive nature of YES, ruined by the sloppy application of the orchestra, who seem to be just as confused by it all as the listener. There are great moments, but you have to ignore the symphonic decoration to appreciate them. Violins add nothing to a great rock song. Cellos add nothing to a jazz workout. Quirky brass adds nothing to a Richie Havens cover (and what's the Western insert all about?!).

For Yes, Time and a Word was one step forward, two steps back. The mistake of the orchestra was forgivable, but a mistake nonetheless. They were lucky to survive this one...

thehallway | 3/5 |


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