The Sunday Dozen: Yes

Yes circa 1977.

Yes has had a long history and many personnel changes. I’ve decided to focus on music originally recorded from 1970-1980, which was the band’s artistic heyday.  I call the Eighties band with Trevor Rabin Yes West. It’s a terrific band but very different to Seventies Yes. Yes, indeed.

The Yes Album was my introduction to the band. I was dabbling in altered states back then and the music was trippy enough to trip to. I feel as if I should add a man, man.

The first time I saw Yes was on the Tales Of Topographic Oceans tour at Winterland in San Francisco. I sat in the balcony with my friend Russ who was the only person at my high school who knew more about rock music than I did. Russ grew up and became a soundman and radio DJ with the handle Gus Mozart.

We were blissfully unaware of the turmoil in the band that led to Rick Wakeman’s departure. Their music blew my mind as it continued to do throughout the decade.

When punk rock came in, Yes were one of the bands they disdained. I didn’t care. I liked the music and didn’t like being told what to listen to by idiots with pierced nipples.

Yes-Paul Klee month on Saturday Odds & Sods concluded yesterday. I decided to rule out all the Yes songs that I used this month to make my life easier. Sorry Going For The One, Perpetual Change, and Machine Messiah. 3 or 4 of the tunes below were Odds & Sods theme songs but I’m too lazy to do the research. Sue me.

As always, the list is in chronological order and reflects my own personal taste such as it is. I’ve skipped Yes’ biggest radio hit Roundabout even though I like it a lot. The Dozens are a demanding mistress

Time and a Word is the only song on the list without Steve Howe. It’s always been a special favorite of mine. It has surprisingly straightforward lyrics for a Yes song.

I’ve Seen All Good People is one of the few songs that the band played every time I saw them. It’s irresistibly catchy. It’s long been the song I play for people who say they hate Yes. I say no to those haters. It’s your move.

Yours Is No Disgrace is a great Steve Howe guitar work out as well as the opening track on The Yes Album. I prefer it live. The interplay between Howe and Wakeman in the intro is sublime.

Fragile is one of the band’s best sequenced and constructed albums. South Side Of The Sky is one of its anchors.

Heart Of The Sunrise is a perfect distillation of the classic Yes sound. FYI, Fragile was the second cover featured on Album Cover Wednesday.

Close To The Edge is an ambitious song that works on so many levels.

I have a confession to make. I prefer this Wakeman heavy version of And You and I to the studio original. There, I said it.

Tales is often ridiculed and cited as an example of prog rock excess. I think it’s an ambitious idea that halfway succeeded. Sides one and four of the original LP are brilliant, the other sides not so much.

Here’s side four: Ritual. It features a spectacular Squire bass solo that’s even better in concert.

Rick Wakeman disliked Tales and left the band after the tour. He was replaced by Patrick Moraz who was a good fit sonically, but the fans pined for the Caped One.

Gates Of Delirium is one of the group’s best and longest songs. I saw Yes at the Cow Palace on the Relayer tour. They blew the roof off that dump with this number.

Parallels begins with Rick Wakeman playing a church pipe organ, but it’s dominated by Chris Squire’s bass and superb harmony vocals.

My most vivid memory of Awaken comes from a high school era road trip. A bunch of us piled into my friend Xtian’s station wagon and hit the road for his parents’ pad in Tahoe. It’s nice to have rich friends.

Anyway, we played the cassette tape of Going For The One and went a bit berserk when Awaken started to rock; even shout singing, “awaken, gentle mass, touch” as we drove through the mountains.

Awaken is one of Rick Wakeman’s favorite Yes songs and one of his finest moments in the band. Hit it, Wakey.

I’ve always liked Drama, but it was a controversial album with Yes fans until recently. It certainly was on tour in 1980 when Trevor Horn was booed for having the temerity to replace Jon Anderson. I thought he did well, and that Geoff Downes was an exceptional keyboard player, but I was in the minority. Fans tend to be ultra-conservative and change resistant.

Tempus Fugit closed out the Drama album as well as the first part of this post. Time truly flies.

It’s Yes lagniappe time. Squire and Anderson famously bonded over their mutual love of Simon and Garfunkel. The result was this spectacular cover of Paul Simon’s America. To say that Steve Howe kills it on this song is an understatement.

Finally, a cover of I’ve Seen All Good People by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs from one of their fabulous Under The Covers albums.

It’s time to take a straight and stronger course to the exit. The last word goes to the original band.

One thought on “The Sunday Dozen: Yes

  1. Saw them right before COVID up by Woodstock. Whitest, oldest rock crowd in history. One=1- black person and he and his white girlfriend left at break.

    But the music was awesome. Couple of ex Moddy Blues opened and Palmer from ELO. Nice pot night.

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