Yes: The Yes Album: Released February 1971

Oh yes!

Confession time.

Besides the incredible music from The Beatles, my other most loved band of all time is YES. I would have to write a book to relate and track the changes in their line up over the years. But “The Yes Album” contains their first major switch. The band replaced guitarist Peter Banks with the legendary Steve Howe. This would also be the final recording session for Tony Kaye until the 1980’s. Their first two albums achieved meager sales, and there was a threat about a loss of their recording contract with Atlantic Records. But “The Yes Album” propelled them into long lasting stardom.

Let’s face it, Yes equals progressive rock at its finest. If the songs “Perpetual Change,” “Starship Trooper” or “Yours Is No Disgrace” do not turn you into a rabid Yes fan…you have my sympathies. Even some of the best legendary albums have a minor track or two that I consider rather bland. However, “The Yes Album” and many Yes albums afterwards are total gems. Every second of every song either soothes or amazes the listener.

Currently as I scan through YouTube, I’ve noticed that there are many new channels about reacting to classic rock. These YouTubers are usually young and are getting suggestions from older peeps like me. I never cease tiring over seeing their reactions to the music of Yes.

Here’s some Yes reaction links for YouTube

vzqk50HD – An odd name for a channel, but he makes some incredible videos with Yes music. This is one of his for “Starship Trooper.”

Popenyco – His reactions are quite honest and heartfelt. He’s done Yes many times. I think his “Starship Trooper” reaction is his only one from The Yes Album

Daily Doug – He’s a classical composer with a lot of insight Here’s his reaction to “And You And I.”

Track 1: Yours Is No Disgrace – An automatic announcement that there’s a new guitarist in town. A somewhat lengthy song of about 10 minutes. I’ve got the feeling this served as a precursor to the epic 18-20 minute songs of later Yes albums.

Track 2: Clap – Here Steve Howe shows off his skills with a country picking solo that makes other guitar players gush with glee. On the original vinyl album this song was recorded live. A later CD release has the studio version as a bonus track. P.S. I’d still like to learn how to play this one.

Track 3: Starship Trooper – Some consider this song the greatest album cut of all time. It is presented in three parts a) Lifeseeker b) Disillusion and c) Würm. Here, Yes is showing off some skills from the spacey sounding Lifeseeker then transitioning into the country Disillusion and then the slow building of Würm. Steve Howe begins Würm with a chord riff and is joined by other instruments one at a time which creates an incredibly full rocking sound.

Track 4: I’ve Seen All Good People – Even older non-Yes fans will know this track. One of the few times the band released a radio play single. Although with Yes being Yes, the song is presented in two parts and was considering a bit too long. Therefore, there was a shorter single version. It also features Steve Howe strumming a Portuguese guitar. I don’t think the instrument was used again until “Wondrous Stories.” In the late ‘70s.

Track 5: A Venture – This is a bouncy song that manages to bestow a pastoral charm and calm upon the listener. In retrospect, I could almost hear some Tolkien Hobbits singing this one in the Green Dragon Pub.

Track 6: Perpetual Change – Like the opening track, here we see Yes coming together in a way that would reflect the forthcoming grandiose songs on later albums. The guitar work is awesome and as usual, the creative bass lines of Chris Squire in locked sync with drummer Bill Bruford. There’s even a polyrhythmic section in or around the middle. Listen to the gentle softness of the music while Jon Anderson sings and the intensity between the lyric stanzas.

O.K. Kids I think I’ve talked this one up enough and have shown my gushing self.

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Ernesto San Giacomo is the author of the epic fantasy novel “Storm of Divine Light.

Jethro Tull: Songs from the Wood: Released Feb. 4th, 1977

Songs from the Wood” by Jethro Tull has some incredibly thoughtful lyrics and musical arrangements, which makes it one fantastic album. The songs are multi-faceted in the sense of its musical delivery.  Yes, I know that this was the era of the thematic album, which threaded the tracks together both musically and lyrically. There is always some type of celtic / medieval flavor within Jethro Tull’s music. What do I mean by ‘multi-faceted’?

My Explanation

We hear the strings, percussion, flutes, and other instruments creating that signature Jethro Tull sound. However, what if that medieval flavor is delivered via a heavily distorted guitar? Now that’s what I mean by multi-faceted.  If one were to have a listen at “Jack in the Green” and compare it to the opening of “Pibroch (Cap in Hand)”, you’ll understand.

A Pibroch is considered an artful piece of music for bagpipes. They are usually played slow with theme variations.  The intro for “Pibrock” certainly sounds like something written for a bagpipe, but played on a distorted guitar. Of course, deftly delivered by the magical hands of Martin Barre.

I remember the title track getting its share of airtime on FM radio back in the ‘70s as did “Cup of Wonder” and “The Whistler.” However, for many fans (me included), “Hunting Girl” remains a favorite, as does the aforementioned “Jack in the Green” and “Pibroch.”

“Songs from the Wood” is my second favorite offering from Jethro Tull. Can you gather a guess at number one?

This is one of those albums that put the ‘classic’ in the term Classic Rock. I have made links. Enjoy!

Storm of Divine Light” is an epic fantasy adventure by Ernesto San Giacomo. Download it to your Kindle!

Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks: Released Jan. 20th, 1975

What can I say? This pick is one of my favorite albums from anyone at any time. Even my ultimate Dylan lyric quote comes from “Tangled Up in Blue,” the first track on this album.

Upon it’s release, “Blood on the Tracks” received some incredibly mixed reviews (ugh critics). Now, in retrospect, even the meanest critics of this album have since reversed themselves. But this is not the only controversy. Many have examined the lyrics and subject matter and have concluded that this album is autobiographical. Even Dylan’s son has commented that this is his parents having a dialog. However, when asked, Dylan has clearly denied anything personal within this album.

Does it matter?

No! Just sit back and enjoy some incredible songs from the ultimate American bard, Bob Dylan. If anyone ever doubts Dylan’s storytelling ability, point them in the direction of “Blood on the Tracks.”

Well did you listen to any songs?

Ernesto San Giacomo is the author of the fantasy novel “Storm of Divine Light

Available in Kindle eBook and paperback formats.

Led Zeppelin I : Released January 12, 1969

Fifty-three years ago, Led Zeppelin exploded on to the music scene. Yes, I said ‘exploded.’ Funny how I always think about that whenever I look at that first album cover. Of course, the music is quite explosive as well. Later albums were more polished productions and the songwriting somewhat more sophisticated. However, this first gem captures much of their initial energy and their unique sound that captured the attention of rock n’ rollers worldwide and earned their subsequent adulation for decades.

I am a dedicated ‘classic rocker’ and cannot stress harder the necessity to have Led Zeppelin I in your collection. I have it on CD and vinyl (Ooops! Showing my age). Sadly, my vinyl copy (which is framed) is currently in storage.

So, what makes this album special?

I mentioned a unique sound before. Led Zeppelin took Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, and strung them together seamlessly with threads from the Blues. At times, the three different elements are jockeying for position with one of them becoming the dominant element within a song.

The energy is still fresh after all these years. Thanks to songs that are chock full of stinging chords and riffs, and yet, one’s ears do not feel ‘bloated’ from the experience. The self-titled Led Zeppelin (I) must be ranked as one of the most important debut albums of all time.

Want to Listen?


Good Times Bad Times

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You

You Shook Me

Dazed and Confused

Your Time is Gonna Come

Black Mountain Side

Communication Breakdown

I Can’t Quit You Baby

How Many More Times

Was Led Zeppelin the greatest of the Super Bands of the ‘70s?