Yes – The Yes Album (1971)

FrontCover1Yes are an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968 by singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Peter Banks, keyboardist Tony Kaye and drummer Bill Bruford. The band has undergone numerous formations throughout its history; nineteen musicians have been full-time members. Since June 2015, it has consisted of guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Geoff Downes, singer Jon Davison and bassist Billy Sherwood. Yes have explored several musical styles over the years, and are most notably regarded as progressive rock pioneers.

Yes began performing original songs and rearranged covers of rock, pop, blues and jazz songs, as evident on their first two albums. A change of direction in 1970 led to a series of successful progressive rock albums until their disbanding in 1980, their most successful being The Yes Album (1971), Fragile (1971) and Close to the Edge (1972). Yes toured as a major rock act that earned the band a reputation for their elaborate stage sets, light displays, and album covers designed by Roger Dean. The success of “Roundabout”, the single from Fragile, cemented their popularity across the decade and beyond.

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In 1983 Yes reformed with a new line-up that included Trevor Rabin and a more commercial and pop-oriented musical direction. The result was 90125 (1983), their highest-selling album, which contained the U.S. number-one single “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. From 1991 to 1992, Yes were an eight-member formation after they merged with Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe for Union (1991) and its tour. Since 1994, Yes have released albums with varied levels of success and completed tours from 1994 to 2004. After a four-year hiatus, they resumed touring in 2008 and continue to release albums; their most recent is the upcoming album The Quest (2021). From 2016 to 2018, a new group of former Yes members began touring and named themselves Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman.

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Yes are one of the most successful, influential, and longest-lasting progressive rock bands. They have sold 13.5 million RIAA-certified albums in the US.[3] In 1985, they won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance with “Cinema”, and received five Grammy nominations between 1985 and 1992. They were ranked No. 94 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.[4] Yes have headlined annual progressive rock-themed cruises since 2013 named Cruise to the Edge. Their discography spans 21 studio albums. In April 2017, Yes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which chose to induct current and former members Anderson, Squire, Bruford, Kaye, Howe, Wakeman, White and Rabin.

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The Yes Album is the third studio album by English progressive rock band Yes, released on 19 February 1971 by Atlantic Records.[3] It was the band’s first album to feature guitarist Steve Howe, who replaced Peter Banks in 1970, as well as their last to feature keyboardist Tony Kaye until 1983’s 90125.

The album was the first by the band not to feature any cover versions of songs. The band spent mid-1970 writing and rehearsing new material at a farmhouse at Romansleigh, Devon, and the new songs were recorded at Advision Studios in London in the autumn. While the album retained close harmony singing, Kaye’s Hammond organ, and Chris Squire’s melodic bass, as heard on earlier releases, the new material also covered further styles including jazz piano, funk, and acoustic music. All of the band members contributed ideas, and tracks were extended in length to allow music to develop. Howe contributed a variety of guitar styles, including a Portuguese guitar, and recorded the solo acoustic guitar piece “Clap”, live at the Lyceum Theatre, London.

Single

The album was a critical success and a major commercial breakthrough for Yes, who had been at risk of being dropped by Atlantic due to the commercial failures of their first two albums. It reached number 4 in the United Kingdom and number 40 in the United States, and was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for surpassing one million copies. The album has been reissued on CD several times, and was given a Blu-ray release in 2014 remixed by Steven Wilson.

Yes had already recorded two albums for Atlantic Records by mid-1970, but neither had been commercially successful and the label was considering dropping them. They had replaced founding member Banks with Howe, who enjoyed playing a wider variety of styles, including folk and country music, and played a mix of electric and acoustic guitars. Singer Jon Anderson later said that Howe could “jump from one thing to the other, very fast, very talented.” After some warm-up gigs with Howe, the band moved to Devon to write and rehearse new material. They arrived at a cottage in Churchill, north of Barnstaple, but the group felt restricted there and were not allowed to make any noise after dark. They advertised in the local paper for a new location, and moved to Langley Farm in Romansleigh, near South Molton, some 20 miles away. Howe in particular enjoyed working on the farm, and eventually bought it.[ Following rehearsals, the band booked Advision Studios in London with producer Eddie Offord and spent the autumn recording. The band enjoyed the sessions, and soon had enough material ready for an album.

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On 23 November 1970, the group were involved in a head-on vehicle collision at Basingstoke, while returning from the previous evening’s gig at the Plymouth Guildhall.[13] The band all suffered shock, and Kaye’s foot was fractured. He had to do the next few gigs, and the album cover’s photo shoot, with it in plaster.

Howe mostly used a Gibson ES-175 semi-acoustic guitar and a Martin 00-18 acoustic for recording, though he did attempt to play a variety of styles with the two instruments. Kaye’s main instruments were the Hammond organ and piano, including a solo on “A Venture”. Kaye had previously played the Hammond M-100, but for this album used the B-3, a move which he saw as “a turning point”.He was not interested in playing synthesizers, which had started to appear on the market. This proved to be a problem with the other members of the band, and Kaye thought his style conflicted too much with Howe’s. He left the group during rehearsals for the follow-up album in mid-1971, to be replaced by Rick Wakeman. (wikipedia)

Tony Kaye

On Yes’ first two albums, Yes (1969) and Time and a Word (1970), the quintet was mostly searching for a sound on which they could build, losing one of their original members — guitarist Peter Banks — in the process. Their third time out proved the charm — The Yes Album constituted a de facto second debut, introducing the sound that would carry them forward across the next decade or more. Gone are any covers of outside material, the group now working off of its own music from the ground up. A lot of the new material was actually simpler — in linear structure, at least — than some of what had appeared on their previous albums, but the internal dynamics of their playing had also altered radically, and much of the empty space that had been present in their earlier recordings was also filled up here — suddenly, between new member Steve Howe’s odd mix of country- and folk-based progressive guitar and the suddenly liberated bass work and drumming of Chris Squire and Bill Bruford, respectively, the group’s music became extremely busy.

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And lead singer Jon Anderson, supported by Squire and Howe, filled whatever was left almost to overflowing. Anderson’s soaring falsetto and the accompanying harmonies, attached to haunting melodies drawn from folk tunes as often as rock, applied to words seemingly derived from science fiction, and all delivered with the bravura of an operatic performance — by the band as well as the singer — proved a compelling mix. What’s more, despite the busy-ness of their new sound, the group wasn’t afraid to prove that less could sometimes be more: three of the high points were the acoustic-driven “Your Move” and “The Clap” (a superb showcase for Howe on solo acoustic guitar), and the relatively low-key “A Venture” (oddly enough, the latter was the one cut here that didn’t last in the group’s repertory; most of the rest, despite the competition from their subsequent work, remained in their concert set for years to come).

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The Yes Album did what it had to do, outselling the group’s first two long-players and making the group an established presence in America where, for the first time, they began getting regular exposure on FM radio. Sad to say, the only aspect of The Yes Album that didn’t last much longer was Tony Kaye on keyboards: his Hammond organ holds its own in the group’s newly energized sound, and is augmented by piano and other instruments when needed, but he resisted the idea of adding the Moog synthesizer, that hot instrument of the moment, to his repertory. The band was looking for a bolder sound than the Hammond could generate, and after some initial rehearsals of material that ended up on their next album, he was dropped from the lineup, to be replaced by Rick Wakeman. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
John Anderson (vocals, percussion)
Bill Bruford (drums, percussion)
Steve Howe (guitar, vachalia, vocals)
Tony Kaye (keyboards, synthesizer)
Chris Squire (bass, vocals)

BookletTracklist:
01: Yours Is No Disgrace (Anderson/Squire/Howe/Kaye/Bruford) 9.41
02. Clap (Howe) 3.17
03. Starship Trooper (Anderson/Squire/Howe) 9.26
03.1. Life Seeker 
03.2. Disillusion
03.3. Würm
04. I’ve Seen All Good People (Anderson/Squire) 6.57
04.1. Your Move
04.2. All Good People
05. A Venture (Anderson) 3.19
06. Perpetual Change (Anderson/Squire) 8.50

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1 thought on “Yes – The Yes Album (1971)

  1. Great write up! The first time I saw Yes, Patrick Moraz was on keyboards. They played Relayer in it’s entirety. At first, not having heard Relayer, it sounded odd. Time changes, tempo changes, mood changes. In time, Relayer became and remains my favorite Yes album. Nevertheless, Starship Trooper, from The Yes Album has always been my favorite Yes song.

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