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.“