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.

Don’t be shyLeave a Reply!

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

A Beatles Fan Reviews McCartney III

McCartney III is the latest musical effort from former Beatles member Sir Paul McCartney. This one quietly grew and grew upon me and I did not realize it until I caught myself singing “Kiss of Venus” in the frozen food aisle. Of course, I continued singing despite strange glances from other shoppers.

Is this only Paul’s third album since the Beatles broke up in 1970?

Um…No! When Paul McCartney self-titles an album, it denotes a total solo / indie project. He plays all instruments and has no interference from other musicians or producers. Granted there was some vocals from his wife Linda, on McCartney II.

What is the reason for McCartney III?

Another reviewer on YouTube said it best. The last few from Paul had too much interference from top producers trying to make Paul sound timely and like other current top-selling bands. I think it best to let Paul be Paul, i.e., his timeless self, rather than molding him into the latest trends and fads.

My initial perception

Thoughts of winter permeate through the lyrics. It is possible that Paul, now 78, recognizes that he is in the winter of his life. At times, he seems to be reflecting upon the past or imparting his sage like advice to us “younglings” about life, love, and happiness.


Track 1: Long Tailed Winter Bird: This one is mostly instrumental and features some bouncy acoustic Appalachian-style guitar.

Track 2: Find My Way: A classic McCartney top 40 designed happy little ditty. Almost as if Paul is announcing “finding his way” through his golden years, and the reason for this solo project.

Track 3: Pretty Boys: I am not sure about the point of this one. Other reviewers boldly claim they can live without this tune. It is certainly a “listenable” song, but I do not see how it fits in with the rest.

Track 4: Women and Wives: Here we have elder Paul tickling the ivories while dispensing some advice for the young. Be careful about the choices you make.

Track 5: Lavatory Lil: A bluesy stomper for sure which harkens back to the late Beatles era. An odd tune to be included within this collection due to the subject matter. Paul usually writes happy tunes and never goes negative. However, I (and this is completely subjective) get the distinct impression that this one is about wife #2.

Track 6: Deep Deep Feeling: This is a mellow and somewhat haunting song that one could interpret as unrequited love. But it seems to me that Paul is pining for those who have passed. Could it be Linda? John Lennon? George Harrison? Or all three? There are some sultry moments, and a somber riff comes in to round out the basic mood.

Track 7: Slidin’: This one is by far the ‘heaviest’ song on McCartney III. A roughly three-and-a-half-minute song destined for charting. But it was not released as a single. Color me confused. If you have any doubts about Paul McCartney rocking, thus tune will quiet those doubts.

Track 8: The Kiss of Venus: Here is one of those McCartney special acoustic songs that you cannot help but sing along. This one is calling me to pull my guitar out of the closet and play again.

Track 9: Seize the Day: The theme of Winter encroaches again. Relish the days you are living, because soon they will be a memory. That is the message I am getting from Paul lyrically. But of course, those lyrics are sung with a snappy tune.

Track 10: Deep Down: This one is the most contemporary tunes on this album. Here’s where Paul delivers some R&B

Track 11: When Winter Comes: A pastoral acoustic “ditty” that also bears the winter theme again. There is a reprise of the guitar intro to the opening song, “Long Tailed Winter Bird.”

Here we have an album displaying varied musical genres. Heck, it’s just Sir Paul McCartney on a creative journey with his muse. As much as I enjoy these songs, I cannot help but wonder what they would sound like if his fellow Beatles John, George, and Ringo had some input. I know that is an impossible wish, but a die-hard Beatles fan can dream, can’t I?

Let me know if you have given McCartney III a listening session.

On Vikings, Italian Grandmothers, and Wooden Spoons

Recently, a historical mystery has sparked a debate on Facebook between Kristen Lamb (Indie Author guru and Viking Goddess) and me. Namely, who weaponized the wooden spoon? Was it the Vikings or the Italian grandmother? Both parties are famed in both song and story for their ability to transform any benign object within arm’s reach into a deadly weapon. I began a quest to find the answer.

First, I turned to several noteworthy historians who have presented us with Viking lore. Famed British chroniclers who write under the collective pen name Monty Python have expounded on a wide swath of human history in a series of films, from the Biblical Life of Brian, to the medieval quest for the Holy Grail, and even the rather post-modern philosophical epic The Meaning of Life.


Within the scope of their work, Monty Python has delved into the world of Nordic civilization, as evidenced by their presentation of Njorl’s Saga. Within this Icelandic Saga, there is no mention, either visual or vocal, of a wooden spoon. However, it does confirm the ability of Vikings to turn any benign object into a weapon. In part III of Njorl’s Saga , Eric Njorl, the son of Frothgar… is charged with using “the big brown table down at the police station,” in a deadly manner. While “the big brown table” may be wooden, it is certainly not a spoon.

There can be no doubt as to the historic veracity of this most scholarly endeavor.

Then I searched through the archives of Monty Python’s American counterparts – the Looney Toons. Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny have delved into prehistoric times through the medieval and modern eras as well. In one particular grand opus, “What’s Opera, Doc?” the duo performs Wagner’s four cycle opera Der Ring; there is no mention of a wooden spoon. Elmer’s aria concerning his spear and magic helmet – not spoons – should lay all notions of wooden spoons within a Viking context to rest.

Finally, I turned to the Beatles, who referenced the Nordic part of Europe with the song “Norwegian Wood.” Despite the fact that Viking influence is vast in the British Isles, the wood described in the song was thrown on the fire, and never fashioned into a spoon. In the end, in all of literature and film, I could not find a single reference to Vikings using wooden spoons as weapons.

What About Italian Grandmothers?

At a dead end with the Vikings, I turned to the other side of the question.


I only found modern references to Italian grandmothers and wooden spoons (and shoes, and rolling pins). But I believe there is an indisputable case of cultural appropriation stemming from Italy. Fuhgeddabowt the Men in Black, for Italians there are the Women in Black. This may be the root of the old joke: What’s the difference between an Italian grandmother and an elephant? About 25 pounds and a black dress. 🙂

Let me explain. In the old days, Italian women who did not wed most likely became nuns – women in black. From their roots in Italy, nuns and the convent culture have since spread throughout the world. Whether a nun is in France, Germany, Britain, the U.S., or South America, their prowess with using rulers as weapons is legendary. Survivors of Catholic education readily show their scars and even compete with each other concerning their number and intensity.

I find it highly probable that Italian grandmothers found the ruler to be so effective that they instituted similar punishment in their homes, using the closest thing they had on hand – the wooden spoon.


Music: The Other Writing Muse


I once read that you should never listen to music with lyrics while writing. Naturally, I ignored that suggestion and later learned that it is truly a sound piece of advice.

Luckily, besides my towers of classic rock CDs, I have a cabinet full of classical music. There’s Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Prokofiev, Chopin, Wagner, and many others. Classical CD’s are quite the bargain as well. You can get a stack for the price of two or three of the stuff charting on Billboard. Not sure if they’re a bargain on iTunes, but I’m sure someone will post in the comments about it (psst…that’s a hint).

trebleBeside a broad paintbrush approach, think about music that compliments your subject. Listen to Chopin while writing something romantic, Wagner for a major battle scene, Grieg for a morning scene or writing about Dwarves. However, if you need to listen to something between writing spurts, then go ahead and break out that classic rock catalogue.

At those times, when I take a break, out comes The Beatles, Yes, The Stones, Pink Floyd, Dylan, or ELP. Yes, I’m a classic rock child of the ‘60s and ‘70s and I hope you are one too. If you’re wondering about my classic rock choices, then check some of those artists out on YouTube. There’s a plethora of uploaded music and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Another Inspirational Source

Last November during #NaNoWriMo, I wanted to complete the first draft of my second #fantasy novel. The second book in the Tales of Tyrennia Series is set in the Dwarven Kingdom of Eismark. At one point I became stuck. I wouldn’t call it a writer’s block episode, but rather a malaise. During NaNoWriMo 2016, I caught a bad flu and didn’t write for weeks.

So, I thought about what could serve as a healthy push about Dwarves. In a flash, I had an idea. I created a Dwarf toon on Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). After running around Thorin’s Hall and a few quests in the mines, I found myself itching to write again. Suddenly the last three chapters flooded onto my screen. They poured out of me and practically wrote themselves.

The #LOTRO gaming experience turned a fledgling NaNoWrimo into something of a success.

What music or other media inspire you to write?




Click the Pic and go straight to Amazon –>

Get one or all of Ernesto’s short stories today! –>