The Yes Album (The Definitive Edition CD/Blu Ray) – Yes
The band known as Yes have always been one of my personal favourite bands of all time for the material they made and released in the early 70’s. There is something very special about their music which speaks to me so differently, and no doubt their music is completely different to anything anybody had ever done before the release of this 1971 album they themselves entitled The Yes Album.
The fact that the band had already made 2 albums prior to this release, and down to changing their musical style and direction into something completely different reflects the reason why this 3rd album was indeed entitled The Yes Album. It was a statement that merely suggested that this is their 1st album, and both of the other albums that came before it never existed, and this was the new musical direction the band was going in.
There is no doubt in my mind that this album was the start of something musically that had never existed on this entire planet, and it was a completely new genre of music that never existed either. The only way you could ever really describe it, was with what the band later went on to call it themselves. Which was simply Yes Music.
At this stage of the game regarding the bands earlier music and has to where they was going. They made one change to their current line up of the band which consisted of Jon Anderson. (Vocals). Chris Squire. (Bass) Peter Banks. (Guitar) Tony Kaye. (Keyboards) and Bill Bruford. (Drums) That change was to fire their guitar player Peter Banks and bring in a virtuoso guitar player known as Steve Howe. That change was the most important decision the band ever made and set them off on the road to international success.
There is no doubt what so ever that Steve Howe brought that extra something to the table, and was the very important ingredient to changing the bands musical style and adding to the bands success. I personally think that there is no way on this earth the band could of written the material for The Yes Album without him.
Even to this day he is still very much my number one favourite guitarist for what he brought to this band. In the world of Progressive Rock quite frankly there is not a guitar player who could touch him. He is without doubt the most outstanding guitar player in this genre of music, and I do not think anybody is capable of achieving what he brought to its genre either.
So Many Different Releases…
I myself have had the 1971 album The Yes Album on vinyl since about a couple years after it’s release back in 1973. Over the decades it’s been released in many other media formats such as CD and bogus SACD’s. But regarding DVD and Blu Ray this is the first time they have been used for this particular album, and this 2014 release of the album that includes a 5.1 mix of the album done by Steven Wilson was the first time the album officially had a 5.1 mix to which was released on both of those media formats in the same year.
Since 2004 there has been quite a few SACD’s circulated from the Japanese market of some of the Yes’s back catalogue of music including this album. All claiming to have 5.1 mixes of the album’s. But none of them are official releases and no way did they also have the master tapes to be able to do a 5.1 mix of the albums in the first place.
In 2013 a complete box set containing 16 of the bands albums all on Hybrid SACD’s with so called 5.1 mixes also came out of Japan. But once again these were not official releases or was they authorised by the band. Every release of any Yes album on a an SACD is a completely dodgy one, and all have very disappointing sound quality and have only a simulated 5.1 mix done by software and are a complete rip off.
Before the year of 2014. The only Yes album from this decade that ever had a genuine official 5.1 release was their 2nd 1971 album Fragile to which was released in 2002 on DVD Audio. I brought it myself back then and still have it. The 5.1 mix was done by Tim Weidner and I can honestly tell you that it was dreadful, and you was better off sticking with the original vinyl album. In my honest opinion this guy never had a clue how to do a 5.1 mix and should of never been given the job in the first place.
In 2003 Rhino released some very impressive stereo recordings of the band’s album’s on CD. All of which came with an array of bonus material on them. I think personally these were the best recordings that ever surfaced on a CD up until now.
What’s So Special About The Definitive Release…
Though The Yes Album was released back in 2014 with what they call the so called “Definitive Edition” it never tempted me to buy it back then, even down to the fact that I am a surround freak and never had this album with a 5.1 mix. The reason for my delay was really down to its expensive price tag.
These things are far from cheap especially when I have picked up many other artists 5.1 mixes that come with even 2 CD’s and 2 DVD’s for a third of the price cheaper than this album is priced at. £18 is a lot of money and even though it comes with a Blu Ray and a CD at the most it should be priced at is around £14 and in some stores you should be able to get it for about £12. Even though the price of £15 may appear to be more attractive on Steve Wilson’s own website. The fact that he will charge you another £3 to deliver the thing to you means that it’s no cheaper at all.
So for the past few years I have been waiting for it to come down to a more respectable honest price point of what its really worth. But unfortunately for me the price has not shifted down at all, and it’s still the same price of when it was released a few years ago. So I ended up paying £17.54p for it from Amazon. It was something I knew I had to get eventually and felt it best to move now and buy it before it goes out of print, and I ended up paying something ridiculously stupid for it.
The band members themselves claim that this version is the definitive and best version of the album. Well it’s the 4th time I have brought the album and now you can find out if it lives up to those expectations in my honest review that’s coming up here. But first let’s see what you get for your money with how it’s been packaged.
The Packaging & Artwork…
The packaging for this definitive edition looks pretty much like the vinyl gatefold album release only on a much smaller scale. However upon taking it out of the cellophane that the package comes with brand new, the first thing you will notice is that the booklet that’s inside it will drop out of it easily and end up on the floor 😊😊😊. Why they could not have fixed the booklet inside so it works just like a book is beyond me, and for the money your spending here it should have been, and it would of made it much more of an attractive package and better presentation by doing so.
The other thing you will notice that once you have removed the album from its cellophane wrapper, is that the album will not stay closed. This is most likely down to the cardboard that they have used to make it with. This is also something that should of been looked at more when designing and constructing the packaging to house it’s contents. Especially if you’re putting a product out at this price point.
One thing I thought I should mention regarding the cellophane wrapper it comes in. Is to be careful how you open it. Because in reality it’s quite easy to open without having to tear it apart, because on the back it’s got a sticky substance on the cellophane that you can easily enough peel back to open it. The sticky substance they also used is very durable so you will have no problem putting it back in the cellophane wrapper and resealing it.
This is quite a good thing to be honest cause with this sort of cellophane wrapper you can use it to protect the cardboard cover from dust and dirt. To be honest I wished they made those PVC covers you could buy to protect your vinyl albums years ago. I always brought them to protect my album’s years ago and it was well worth spending that bit extra to do so.
The fact that these days most CD’s are now being released in cardboard packages instead of plastic jewel cases, you would of thought by now that some company would of come up with the idea to make those PVC protective covers for CD’s. I have checked everywhere and nobody is. You can however buy the same cellophane wrappers this disc comes with though. But personally it’s perhaps not as practical as those PVC covers that they made for vinyl album’s and they do not fit as snug.
I like the way that both the discs are housed in cardboard sleeves and are just the way one would retrieve a vinyl record from the outer sides of the gatefold case. But it would of been better if like the vinyl album they had a polyurethane protective sleeve inside the cardboard for better protection just as I have mentioned in some of my other reviews.
The booklet contains some useful information about all audio formats and the exclusive Blu Ray extra features. Regarding the extra features I do certainly suggest you have a good look at it. This is because basically the back of both the booklet and the gatefold slipcase only display the 6 tracks that was on the original album, and does not even mention anything about the bonus material at all.
The Artwork is in every detail the same as the original vinyl album and I have always quite liked it, especially the floating head above the empty chair on the back cover. It sort of gives you this impression that this album will blow your head off. In many ways it’s done that several times to mine 😊😊😊.
The biggest majority of the photographs on the album’s cover was done by Phil Franks who was at their 1971 live gig at the Lyceum in Basingstoke London taking photos. Even the back cover photography with the polystyrene manikin head was all his own idea and the photos were taken in his own flat. It perhaps was never going to be as impressive when compared with Roger Dean’s artwork on the album’s that was to follow, but never the less I thought Franks done a good job on the photography.
There is also a short description about when the album was made, but it does not go into great detail like you would get with the latest Jethro Tull book editions for example. But overall it’s quite a nice package even if a bit more thought could of been given to it.
Both The Yes Album and Fragile take me back as to how I first got into the band Yes. It was my oldest brother who is some 7 years older than me that introduced me to them, and it would of been in 1972 that I first heard this strange sound coming from my brothers bedroom.
I was around 12 years old at the time and my older brother used to work on the building and a work mate of his used to lend him a couple of album’s of certain bands to him to play over the weekend, and take them back to him at work on a Monday. So every weekend I got to hear a different artist or band coming from his bedroom. I got to hear Black Sabbath. Uriah Heep. Hawkwind and all sorts of music, none of which my brother had in his own record collection back then. To be honest I do not think even my brother brought any of the albums he lent off his mate either.
I myself was into pop artists like Gilbert O’ Sullivan and Elton John and so on, but the fact that I heard this most unusual strange sound coming from my brothers bedroom led me to further investigate what it was, and me knocking on his bedroom door and asking him if I could come in and listen to it.
That weekend he had lent both The Yes Album and Fragile and quite frankly I had never heard anything like it before in my life. It was totally weird but there must of been something about that weirdness that somehow clicked into my brain to actually like it. Both “Yours Is No Disgrace” and “Starship Trooper” were perhaps something a bit special and were the tracks that stuck in my mind over that weekend of hearing them.
A year later in 1973 I was in this small record shop. I am pretty sure I went in there to buy Gilbert O’ Sullivan’s latest single he had in the charts at the time. It may have been “Get Down” but whilst I was in there I noticed this most wonderful artwork on this album cover, that drew my immediate attention to it.
Upon further investigation I noticed it was by the band Yes and it was a triple live album of theirs entitled Yesssongs. I glanced at the tracks on the album and both “Yours Is No Disgrace” and “Starship Trooper” stood out to me very well, and flashed my mind back to that weekend hearing them in my brothers bedroom. I glanced at the price tag of the album to which it was £3.75p and put a deposit on it for him to hold it for me, so I could buy it over so many weeks with my pocket money.
It took 5 to 6 weeks for me to get that album home after I had finally finished off paying for it, and that album got me addicted to the band Yes. From then on I was a massive fan, and not only did I back track on their studio album’s and ended up buying them, but so did my brother having heard Yesssongs.
The Definitive Yes Album Review…
The 2014 release of The Yes Album was released on the 21st April of the same year and comes with 1 CD & 1 Blu Ray disc. Unless you have the DVD version. To be perfectly honest it does not make any difference which of these two versions you have regarding what’s known as its definitive side of things. Simply because both the Blu Ray and DVD have the capacity to hold a 24 bit 96K lossless recordings which is far greater than the quality you are going to find on any CD or Vinyl record.
This is what I have always loved about both of these media formats and the SACD regardless of if they are in stereo or have a 5.1 mix. The quality that comes on them is much higher, resulting in having the best recordings of them as they would of had in the studio themselves when making the album. It simply cannot be beaten for quality and you are getting the genuine real product too.
Because not only do these discs come with the new mixes by whoever was doing them at the time (in this case Steven Wilson) but they also come with the original mix that was done when the album was made all those years back. So as to regarding to the answer of is it the definitive edition or version. There can only be one answer, and that is also the name of the band, and is YES.
As I have said in my previous reviews regarding these sort of packages that come with both a CD and a DVD or Blu Ray. The only thing that really interests me is the DVD or Blu Ray and are my real incentive to buying such albums all over again. The CD’s that come with these things only ever gets to be ripped onto my computer into an MP3 320 kbps where I can listen to them occasionally with headphones on there, and also some I put onto my mobile phone so I can listen to them when I am out and about, or in bed. I never play the CD’s on my HiFi.
But as this is the so called “Definitive Edition” and I know that this does not really apply to the CD itself as I have already explained. I did however feel the need to play the CD a few times on my HiFi simply because there has already been some good mixes of this album already put onto CD before. The 2003 Rhino release in particular, and I wanted to compare Steve Wilson’s mix and the way the album projects itself and comes across in relation to those earlier mixes for this review.
The original vinyl version of The Yes Album had an original playing time of around 42 minutes. Both the Rhino and Definitive CD’s came with bonus tracks. The 2003 Rhino release came with 3. “Your Move” (Single Version). “Life Seeker” (Single Version) and “Clap” (Studio Version) The 2014 Definitive release comes with 2.“Clap” (Studio Version) and “A Venture” (Extended Mix).
To some people they may feel they are being short changed here with the bonus material, and only getting 2 tracks on the 2014 version. But in reality 2 of the bonus tracks on the 2003 Rhino release are totally pointless. They are merely edited versions of the album tracks “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Starship Trooper” and just how many times is somebody gonna play those in relation to the whole tracks that are on the album. Anybody with half a brain could simply make their own edited version for god’s sake 😊😊😊.
Both the “Clap” and “A Venture” are the only real interesting bonus tracks that are worth having in reality. The “Clap” is the studio version to which was never included on the original album as it was played live. It’s also the same version that was on the 2003 Rhino release as well. The fact that “A Venture” is longer and not shorter like those other stupid edits are, make it a lot more worth the while.
Regarding the sound quality of the actual album tracks I thought the 2003 Rhino CD release of the album was pretty damn close to the vinyl album myself. There is no doubt it was a well worthy CD to spend your money on and a big improvement over the 1994 Atlantic release on CD.
It was down to the fact that they was very much getting closer to the sound of the vinyl album with what they put onto these newer remasters, and spending more time and consideration and attenuation to the quality, rather than mass producing them as fast as possible to get them out on the market as they did with many of the CD’s years before, that a year later I decided to put my old turntable in the loft. It’s been there ever since along with my vinyl albums, and I am not going to be dragging it back out just to do this review either.
To be perfectly honest I do not need to get the old turntable out of the loft, simply because this album as been planted in my brain ever since I brought it back in 1973 and I know exactly what I am listening to and what needs to project in the mix. If something’s missing, or as been added it will instantly stand out and I will know what is working and what is not.
There are many certain effects that were used in making The Yes Album along many of it’s tracks. For example the wah pedal on “Yours Is No Disgrace” played by Steve Howe. In all honesty this is the best album to hear it on because of the use of the way they panned it in stereo from left to right. Howe never once got it that effective on any live recording. The same can be said for high pitch flute synth sound that Tony Kaye used on the come down section of “Perpetual Change” Not even Rick Wakeman managed to project that sound either on stage, never mind Kaye. They are all part of the studio process and to be honest they are the very thing I love the most about this studio album.
Just as I mentioned that back in 2003 they was getting closer to the sound of the vinyl album and even back then and just before then. some album’s I had on CD in all honesty were in every way were exactly the same quality of the vinyl album.
A perfect example is Mike Oldfield’s 1979 album Platinum. The HDCD remaster of that album done in the year 2000 by Simon Heyworth in all honesty was in every way as good as the vinyl record. It had everything about it that the vinyl album had including all its punchy bass frequencies. Back then I did do A to B comparisons and I honestly would defy anybody who stated that the vinyl was still better.
I did however buy the Mike Oldfield 2012 Deluxe Edition remaster on CD of the album, and I have to say in comparison to Heyworth’s 2000 mix it’s absolutely dreadful. No doubt Oldfield’s mix does have some great clarity about its detail, but as for all the lovely punchy bass frequencies that were on the vinyl album and the 2000 HDCD. He completely threw them out of the window. Honestly he has done a very poor job of it.
But regarding of any new mix of an album you do honestly have to be careful. Basically because even today a lot of people still never get these things right, and just because an album has been remastered or has a new mix done by somebody else, it certainly does not by any means or standards make them the best, and I would say that 70% at least of the time, you can end up buying something that is not better at all, and can end up with something even worse.
Even by having the same person doing all the mixes of an artists entire back catalogue, does not mean he is gonna get that mix right for every album. Some albums have different characteristics to deal with and can present a problem for many sound engineers when mixing. I found that out with the many SACD releases of Elton John’s back catalogue all done by Greg Penny.
To be honest he did do a really good job on the biggest majority of those older album’s of Elton’s he did, both with the new stereo and 5.1 mixes. But as for Elton’s 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. What I found out was that he only really done half a good job on it. He simply could not handle the more heavier rock tracks on the album, and that left me wanting to go back to my vinyl album to be honest. Amazingly though all the lovely ballad tracks on the album are purely “Fantastic” and an 100 times better than the vinyl album too.
When it comes to new mixes Steve Wilson seems to be the guy to call upon these days, and I have to admit he does a pretty damn good job too. I think the fact that he is working on so many different artists albums its very much giving him more experience in how to handle the certain individual characteristics that most album’s are going to always present you with.
The thing I also like about the guy is the way he handles the mix and that he never tends to go overboard, and he tries his utmost to make sure he is not adding something to the recording that is going to be taking something away from the mix. He’s very delicate in his approach to the closet detail of the original album. Having heard this 2014 release 3 times over by playing the actual CD in my HiFi I honestly think it’s bloody amazing.
No doubt this CD is in every way as good as the vinyl album. I would even say with today’s technology that he has even improved the overall quality of the vinyl album. For my ears there is not a shred of a doubt that the “Definitive Edition” is genuinely what it is.
I do however feel that they should of released it also as a CD only release at a cheaper price. Especially for those who do not have surround systems. Because if you have not got one I honestly think you are paying well over the odds for this package and it would be shame for the other disc to be standing there doing nothing.
I also think because the biggest majority of the bonus tracks are on the Blu Ray or DVD that they could of done a double CD Deluxe Edition for about £10 – £12. Being a surround freak myself will always make me personally buy this kind of CD + Blu Ray package. But there is no doubt in my mind even just the CD alone that comes in this package is well worthy of upgrading your old CD’s with and even your vinyl album.
The Blu Ray
The Blu Ray that comes with this package contains a ton of things on it. That much that you simply do not need the CD at all, unless you want it for your car, or you have not got a Blu Ray Player of course. Not only does it include the 2 bonus tracks that are on the CD but in total it has 11 bonus tracks a few of which have never seen the light of the day before. So I will deal with the bonus tracks first to give you an idea of just what you’re getting extra in relation to them. The 11 bonus tracks are as follows:
“Yours is No Disgrace” (Live in London 1971). “Clap” (Studio Version). “Starship Trooper (a) Life Seeker” (Single Edit). “I’ve Seen All Good People” (Live in London 1971). “A Venture” (Extended Mix). “Perpetual Change” (Live in New Haven 1971)
These first 6 bonus tracks are found under the heading of “Alternative Album” I guess what they tried to do is make the same track list of the original album with the bonus material here. Both the “Clap” (Studio Version) and “Starship Trooper (a) Life Seeker” (Single Edit) were featured as bonus tracks on the 2003 Rhino release. The live tracks are perhaps the more interesting out of the bunch and are perhaps a bit more on the nostalgic side regarding the sound quality of these early recordings, but the best of the bunch of these live tracks which does have a lot more quality about it is “Perpetual Change” (Live in New Haven 1971). I do like this and I do not think it has ever been released before either.
Has with all the tracks on the Blu Ray they come with very high quality recordings. and the 6 tracks in this “Alternative Album” section are in 24Bit 96K LPCM Stereo. To be honest as some of the live recordings had a much less quality about their recording in the first place putting them out in 24 Bit 96K may bring out far to much of the clarity resulting in them sounding a bit more on the tinny side of things and may not really of needed to be in this high quality audio format in the first place.
Regarding the sound quality, they have used exactly the same audio quality for the 5 exclusive extra bonus tracks that come with the Blu Ray only. These tracks come under the heading of “Single Versions. Edits & Live”. They are as follows:
“Your Move” (Single Version. Stereo ). “Clap” (Stereo Single Version). “America” (Live in London 1971). “Its Love” (Live in London 1971). “Your Move” (Single Version. Mono).
The both live in London tracks are the best of the bunch here and I do not think they have been released before either. They also sound very good and both are very interesting I have to say. For example. I have heard Yes play the Simon & Garfunkel song “America” many times live before, they even done a studio version that came with the compilation album Yesterday’s back in 1975. But this version is really early and the first time I have heard it played with Tony kaye on the keyboards as well. In many ways you can hear that at this stage how undeveloped the song was in relation to later version done with Rick Wakeman on the keyboards.
The live recording of The Young Rascal’s song “Its Love” is certainly a rare find. To be honest it also sounds as if they had another singer as well as Jon Anderson on the stage because his voice does go really deep and more low registered in certain parts of the song. They tend to treat the song as a jam and really drag it out over some distance.
But the interesting thing here is very much the bass guitar lines and tones coming from Chris Squire. A lot of it reminds me of his bass solo on the Yessongs album playing his solo piece “The Fish” which follows “Long Distance Runaround“. It’s not exactly bang on to the bass lines he used but the tone is more or less exactly the same. It’s quite a find I have to say and great to hear.
The other exclusive features that come with the Blu Ray only are the 2014 Stereo Instrumental Mixes of the whole 6 tracks on the album so you can sing along to the songs yourself, if you can reach that high with your voice without murdering them 😊😊😊. You also get what’s called the Needle-Drop. This is where they drop the needle on the original 1971 UK vinyl album, so you can hear it as if you was at your mates house. These all come in the same high end audio quality of 24 Bits 96K LPCM.
The main feature on the Blu Ray is the new 2014 Steven Wilson 5.1 mixes of the 6 original tracks that was on the album. Which comes with 2 x 24 Bit 96K high end audio mixes. They are the DTS HD Mix and the MLP Lossless Mix. There is even a 24 Bit 96K MLP Lossless Stereo mix of Wilson’s new mix and it also comes with an LPCM 24 Bit 192K Stereo mix of the original Flat Transferred album.
There is no doubt that word “Definitive” is really what you’re getting here in every sense of the word with the outstanding quality of high end audio that comes on this Blu Ray disc, you maybe be able to see why you are paying this bit more for it. But then again the question maybe begging to ask. Do we really need all these audio formats of the same thing, and how many times is anybody going to really listen to them all?.
Well no doubt one is spoilt for choice and for me personally the 5.1 mixes are always going to be my preferred choice. The that fact it also offers high end quality for the stereo mixes as well is also a good bonus and also the original album mix as well as the new Steve Wilson mix for making comparisons.
There a couple of things I would of liked to have seen included on the Blu Ray though, especially as this is a disc is capable of handling HD picture quality as well as audio. For example they could of included either some animation or even pictures of the band and various stuff to watch whilst the music is playing.
Also even if for the sake of nostalgic reasons alone. They could of included some of those live lost broadcasts you can see plastered all over YouTube that have some great quality about them with how they have been touched up. They would of been fitting to put on this particular album as it’s the same line up of the band who were on this album.
The Yes Album Review…
To be honest I was not going to do a review for the 6 album tracks that was on the original 1971 album of The Yes Album. Most people will know it like the back of their hand by now. But as it only contains 6 tracks over 42 minutes. I thought it best to give my interpretation in my own words how this music speaks to me.
For me The Yes Album. Fragile and Close To The Edge have always been my favourite side of the band’s music. This is basically because all the tracks on these 3 albums have the same feel and style of their music about them. It’s almost as if they used all the same chords to play all the songs that are on all 3 albums. There is no doubt that even if these 3 album’s were originally released as a triple studio album it would of worked 100% as well.
There is also another special thing I have always seen about all 3 of these album’s in the way of how the material is placed on these particular 3 album’s. For example both the album’s The Yes Album and Fragile have the their strongest songs that are really known as Yes Music placed in the 4 corners of the album.
For example the little tracks like the “Clap” and “A Venture” are placed on the 1st album as little breaks in between the main music. The same as the individual artist tracks were placed in between the main tracks on the Fragile album. In reality both album’s have 4 major tracks that I would really call Yes Music they are by far the main features on the album, and stand out the most by being placed in the 4 corners of each album. As for the album Close To The Edge that has no corners or break points, and it’s very much what I would call a Triangle of an album.
You may think I have gone totally nuts and am off my head with my observations here. But my observations about these album’s have been buried deep in me ever since the day I brought these album’s back in the 70’s. There is no doubt that Yes Music had a massive effect on me back in those days more so than today, and their music literally fried my brain 😊😊😊.
Back in the 70’s this band said more to me than any other band or artist ever did. They was without doubt my number one band, and I was so adolescent in my youth and that mad on them, that I would even smash somebody’s face in if they said a bad word about them 😊😊😊. Honestly I was possessed by their music and even one of my best mates nearly got a smack in the face just for calling Jon Anderson a fairy 😊😊😊. This is not no cock and bull story I can assure you. I was nuts back in those days.
The Yes Album is perhaps the only album of theirs that presents me with the problem of naming my favourite track on the album. That’s basically because 3 of its 4 corners can easily match each other, in the way those tracks come across and present themselves to me. Those 3 tracks are “Yours Is No Disgrace” “Starship Trooper” and “Perpetual Change“. For me personally the way these 3 tracks are musically structured is very strong, and they all have their equal value, strength and merits about them. It’s just impossible for me to choose one of them as the best. They are pillars of strength.
Track 1. Yours Is No Disgrace.
From the moment you put the album on and hear the opening intro of its 1st track “Yours Is No Disgrace” you instantly get the feel of excitement. It’s got this big punctuated sound bashing out on Bill Bruford’s drum kit backed up by Steve Howe’s guitar riff joined by Chris Squire’s heavy bass thudding along. I have heard Bruford himself describe this intro many times in interviews of how its lifted from the TV Western Theme to the Big Country or Big Valley. It’s very much a TV series I used to watch myself as a child, and to be honest before he came out with his description of it I never quite seen it quite like this at all. But when you listen to it after the way he described it I think he was spot on.
There is no doubt in my mind that Yes Music is very much constructed in many ways like how classical music is structured. If anything its perhaps more of a modern version of it. Jazz also came out of the structure of classical music only it had a few extensions of its own, just as Yes Music does. There is no doubt this is music that had never been created before as I said earlier, and back in those early 70’s when I first heard it. It did sound like something that was not on this planet and came from somewhere in space. Even the lyrics are the most bizarre thing I have ever heard in my life, never mind the music 😊😊😊.
Back in those days I honestly thought Jon Anderson was God regarding the lyrics he wrote for this song and the many others. It was as if he wrote some sort of symbolism or symbolic language for his audience to try and decipher them. In many ways it was a good thing, simply because I always think it’s best for the listener to give their own interpretation of what they mean to them, and it always good if somebody can come up with other meanings from any set of lyrics (no matter what genre of music they come from) rather than have the guy tell you himself what they mean.
Honestly I was scratching my head for hours upon hours and years throughout the 70’s trying to work them out. I knew there was some sort of war going on here, but I still could not fathom it all out. It was like some mad sort of riddle from another time, or from another planet, and you had to be an alien to work out WTF was going on here 😊😊😊. Myself and many others no doubt would of seen him as some sort of genius.
Back in those days Anderson very rarely gave an interview but I did happen to catch one he gave in the Melody Maker back in the late 70’s. Where he was asked the question of what the lyrics were about for the song “Yours Is No Disgrace“. The only answer he gave was that they was about World War 2. He never went into great detail at all and the only really thing he came out with was about the words “Battleships confide in me and tell me where you are, Shining, flying, purple wolfhound, show me where you are” Which is why I myself thought there was some sort of war going on in the first place.
These days I have a completely different perception regarding Anderson being a genius with how he wrote those lyrics. It most likely comes down to how I myself go about writing lyrics to my own songs. The music always will come first with me, and when I have done that I always throw over a vocal line singing anything that appears in my head to the music, rather than write anything down. When you playback the tape and listen to all the mumbo jumbo you just sang. I often find that mostly they are just words that seem to rhyme with one another. A lot of it does not make any sense at all. until afterwards you actually sit down and write the lyrics, but you may get something out of the mumbo jumbo that you could also use.
I very much think Anderson just wrote down the words he was singing from the top of his head to the music that were on the tape when he played it back, rather than sit down and write any lyrics after it, and if he did sit down and write any, they were most likely additional lyrics to match up with most of what he already sang from the top of his head in the first place.
For example I could quite easily come out with “I’ve got sherbet lemons in my teacup and I’m going to use them on this sunny afternoon”. Now WTF is that all about?. I don’t know myself, but I am pretty sure it will work and somebody is gonna get a kick out of it. It does not matter if it makes any sense as long as it works, and people will be left for decades trying to fathom it out and make their own interpretation of it. Job done as far as I am concerned 😊😊😊.
No matter how I think Anderson came out with lyrics that will baffle your brains out for many decades. I honestly think they do not make a lot of, or any real sense. Anderson has even admitted it himself these days in his more recent interviews, that the words were meaningless. But one thing I will say is that they work 100% for the music Yes made back in this decade. These songs probably would of never said the same thing without them. Everything about Yes was new, even down to its lyrical content. It’s the very thing that set them apart from everybody else.
Getting back to track and after the massive short intro. The song settles down into a short groove and Tony Kaye’s chords on the hammond come into play, then the song takes off at a very fast pace with Bruford upping the tempo on the drums and Chris Squire’s speedy melodic bass line is a real joy to hear.
There is no doubt that Chris Squire is one hell of a bass player who can construct some of the finest melodies on the instrument. There is no doubt that his bass melodies played a massive contribution to constructing the music for this song. A lot of people go on about his work on the Fragile album, but in all honesty even if you listen his bass playing on the 2 album’s that came before this one, and this one, the guy stands out a mile in the crowd.
Then in comes the majestic lead lines from Steve Howe’s electric guitar. Absolutely mind blowing counter melodies that defy all belief. The very fact that Howe can play these lines live on stage bang on to the studio record shows there is no trickery here. He could play them in is sleep that’s how perfect they are.
The counter melodies Howe plays on this track I honestly do not think there was a guitarists on the planet back in those days who would have the knowhow, of how to construct them. In many ways they do play a part to the writing of this song to which he was thankfully given some of the credit for. His work on this track is purely fantastic. For that alone I should of perhaps nominated this track as the best track on the album. But those other 2 songs can speak exactly the same language when it comes down to their musical structures. Which is why I simply cannot separate them.
After this amazing spell of mind blowing music and the theme that is developed from it comes into play that carries the song along. It’s seems quite longer than it is in reality and I guess that’s down to the fast pace of it all. But a minute and half later in comes Anderson with a voice that has a lot of sweet characteristics about it. This is not the voice of a rock singer, but in the world of Progressive Rock it serves very high standards and suits the music right down to a tee.
Jon’s voice works very well as a ballad singer more than anything, and it’s always had that more sweetness to it on those type of songs. Even on the 2 album’s that came before this one, it works superbly on the ballad songs that are on those album’s. With songs like “Sweetness” “Then” and “Time and a Word” to name a few. Pretty much most were ballads to be honest on those album’s.
I am also amazed how he never had more success as a pop singer with all that sweetness his voice can project, and that those first 2 album’s gave them hardly any success at all. I still think they are great albums. For the type of songs on The Yes Album his voice is a bit more hard cut, but it still works very well. There is some incredible high notes though I will say, and he can handle them with ease, were as many would be left struggling to reach them. He reaches them with perfection and everything about his voice will always remind you of Yes no matter who he sings with in some ways. He is indeed the voice of Yes.
I love the way the tempo changes throughout his singing parts, and how the musicians in particular work their way around the vocal section with the odd fills here and there. It comes down and raises back up in all the right parts, right up till the lead section really comes in after the superb wah effect from Howe’s guitar around the 4:45 part of the song. Has I mentioned earlier I have always loved the effect on that wah break and interestingly enough how Steve Wilson has managed to have it coming out 4 channels in the 5,1 mix without losing an ounce of it, it’s purely amazing.
I am not saying that Howe’s wah playing is anything like Jimi Hendrix with how he plays the wah on the cover he did of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” Christ that thing blows my brains out and is one of the best wah pedal jobs I have ever heard in my life. There is just something about the stereo effect of it and you only get it on this studio version. It never sounded the same on any Howe live recording.
Howe’s guitar work in the lead section is purely fantastic, it’s got that many contrasting styles with the use of electric and acoustic guitars. Then the song comes out of it and back into the chorus with the sound of Kaye’s hammond organ which brings it down very well and lets Anderson come back in nicely on the vocals. I actually like the way Anderson comes back into this section on the live version. It’s super chilled out how he uses his voice on that version especially on the Yessongs album. Though this song is really rushed on that version I will say, and perhaps is not as good as how many of the other live songs came out on that album.
The song then goes back into its main theme for another verse and chorus twice and breaks off with another bit of wah from Howe and into the final verse and is rounded off nicely with a run down on the keyboards by Kaye. It’s the longest track on the album and the first pillar of its 4 corners. I think I have just written a book on it (LOL) and better get on with the rest of the album 😊😊😊.
Track 2. Clap.
The 2nd track on the album entitled “Clap” is what I call the first break point. It’s the only live track on the album which was recorded at the Lyceum in Basingstoke London in the same year they made this album. It’s a short 3 and a quarter minute acoustic guitar solo written and played by Steve Howe. There is no doubt that Howe was influenced by many guitar greats who came out of the 50’s and perhaps this particular piece was inspired by his love for the great guitarist Chet Atkins.
No doubt Howe learnt a lot from these country picking players and this is far from anything easy to play on the guitar. You certainly have to know a thing or two to get your fingers around it. To be honest I have heard quite a few people play it during my lifetime, but nowhere near as precise how he plays it that’s for sure. It really shows how versatile he is on the guitar and it’s a most wonderful piece.
Track 3. Starship Trooper. (a. Life Seeker. b. Disillusion. c. Wurm.)
The 3rd track on the album is the 2nd corner and pillar of strength. Its another pure Yes classic entitled “Starship Trooper“. It kicks off with some swirling rhythm playing from Howe’s electric guitar followed by a punctuating melodic bass lines from Squire. The piece also comes in 3 parts to which they have given sub heading names to each part which are as follows: Life Seeker/Disillusion and the Wurm. According to what I much later learned, is that the latter part was a piece Howe was working on when he was with the band Bodast before he joined Yes.
To be honest the way they worked all 3 of the parts it sounds very much like one complete song, to which it certainly is how they have constructed all 3 parts into each other to fit perfectly. Believe it or not this song is the 2nd longest track on the album at 9 and half minutes, and on this studio version it sounds as if it’s all over after 5 minutes. When they play this song live they can actually drag it out much longer at around the 14 and half minute mark, and it’s purely great how they can do it like that as well.
Though it perhaps does not have as many changes along its path in relation to the opening track “Yours Is No Disgrace” it does have at least 3 good changes to how they have constructed it out of the 3 parts. Its got such a great verse and chorus structure over the first part, and it has a most wonderful acoustic section on the 2nd part that works wonders for Anderson’s voice. The final part has such a great build up about it and really ends it all off superbly.
The whole band put their heart into this song and it’s got some fine parts from every member in it, with what they all contribute to it. I know a lot of people may of thought at this stage that Tony Kaye was a weaker link in the band, but I honestly could not fault his contribution to this song. It even took Rick Wakeman near enough 3 decades to add a superb lead moog solo at the end of it, to which he first done live on the Keys To Ascension Tour in 1996 so you certainly cannot knock the poor guy at all. But I also cannot blame the band for bringing in Wakeman for the album that was to follow.
Track 4. I’ve Seen All Good People. (a. Your Move. b. All Good people.)
It’s perhaps at this point of the album I should explain my theory regarding the albums 4 corners and pillars of strength. Otherwise as this next track is not a break point and in fact another corner you maybe rather confused. I am of course referring to the original vinyl album that comes with 2 sides, each of them having 3 tracks on each side with a break point in the middle of them.
However popular the 4th track on the album is for being played at the bands live shows I have always seen “I’ve Seen All Good People” a corner of the album. But the weakest pillar of the 4. My basis and theory for this is really down to the songs structure. This particular song that comes in two parts is not 100% what I would class as Yes Music. This is really down to the 2nd part of the song “All Good People” being constructed from music that already existed. It’s very much lends its musical structures from the Blues.
The fact that this part is also very repetitive or should I say repeats itself over and over, does not really help it even if you do want to be at their live shows shouting the words out like an anthem 😊😊😊. For me personally the first part of the song “Your Move” is the best part of it, and they maybe should of took more time in constructing something more better to go along with it. Interestingly enough Colin Goldring from another early British prog rock band called Gnidrolog played the recorders on this part of the song too. It’s still a great song but it’s also one that you can easily get tired of listening to it too many times.
Track 5. A Venture.
The 5th track “A Venture” or Adventure is what in reality it really is. Is the 2nd break point on the album. It’s a really great song and one instantly can feel that this particular song is something more like what we seen on the bands first 2 album’s. I certainly think it may have been written before Howe actually joined the band and they used it more or less as a gap filler.
To be honest I have no knowledge or know any history how the song came about, and my theory is merely based on what I am hearing here from not only the songs musical structure, but also the set of lyrics we have here. In all honesty they are the only lyrics on the album that make any sense at all, quite unlike the rest of the tracks that I would call Yes Music and relation to the bands new musical style and direction I would not call this song Yes Music either.
There is no doubt the song sounds like Yes but an earlier period of their career and in all honesty that’s really down to Anderson’s voice and Howe’s input into it with his guitar to which he has even made some of the other earlier songs sound this way with his input to them. Though Anderson is the only person credited as the only writer of this song. I would even stick my neck out and say his old band mate from The Warriors, David Foster helped him out with the lyrics, because these lyrics are excellent. It does add a nice touch to the album I will say and works better than any gap filler as well.
Track 6. Perpetual Change.
The final track on the album is yet another utter classic from the band. No doubt about “Perpetual Change” being Yes Music in every sense of the word with its musical structure and lyrics. It’s all so a strong pillar and the 4th corner of this magic album that was the starting point of something completely new and different. If anything just the name “Perpetual Change” itself sums up this bands music perfectly, simply because it has many changes, diversities and goes in many directions with its superb chord progression.
Once again there is no doubt Tony Kaye shows his worth on this song and does a superb job on it to be honest. It even kicks off with the him on the keyboard. The electric piano he uses also works very well in the songs verses and works very well for Anderson to sing along too.
He also contributes a lot to the lead break too which works by using a Polyrhythmic cross sections that use two different time signatures which are playing simultaneously, and that whistling high pitch flute synth noise he uses at the end of the solo to bring the song back into play is quite something. A lot of this particular song features perhaps more of him than the rest of the guys. But no doubt along with the two mentioned here Bruford, Squire and Howe do the business with them on the song.
According to form Anderson wrote the lyrics for this by his inspiration from the view of the countryside cottage in Devon were the band were staying and writing the material for the album. No doubt they were rearranged inside out and outside in (LOL) Honestly the times I have heard Rick Wakeman say this guy is on, or from another planet. I am beginning to wonder 😊😊😊. I should not really criticise him to be honest because in all honesty they work, and this song put an end to pivotal point of the bands first step into a new direction, which went on to make them one of the most dominant and successful bands in the world of Progressive Rock.
Musicians & Credits…
The original album was produced by Yes & Eddie Oddford at the Advision Studios. London. Engineered by Eddie Oddford and co-ordinated by the bands manager Brian Lane with thanks to Tom Dowd. Photography by Phil Franks & Barry Wentzell. Design by Jon Goodchild.
Jon Anderson: Vocals/Percussion.
Chris Squire: Bass/Guitar/Vocals.
Steve Howe: Electric & Acoustic guitars/Vachalia/Vocals.
Tony Kaye: Piano/Organ/Moog.
Bill Bruford: Drums/Percussion.
Additional instruments Colin Goldring. Recorders on “Your Move”.
The 5.1 Mix…
Not only do I take my hat off to Steven Wilson for the 5.1 mix but also the stereo mix of this album. There is no doubt he has done good in presenting The Yes Album over all its 6 channels. There is also no doubt that the 5.1 mix will in many ways re-sparkle and rekindle the life back into revitalising the album all over again, giving you tremendous joy and pleasure in hearing not only this album, but also the other Yes album’s he has done in these “Definitive Editions”.
For me personally I am overwhelmed to finally have these albums with a 5.1 mix, that much that they have literally brought tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. To be perfectly honest even though personally for me the Yes were no doubt my favourite band back in the 70’s. Over the past decade I have certainly played more of the band Genesis a lot more than Yes and in some ways I have not played any Yes album for long periods of time.
There is no doubt the reason for this is simply because all the early Genesis album’s got the 5.1 treatment a decade ago now. These Yes album’s have been long overdue regarding getting the 5.1 treatment, and now that they have. I can assure I will go on to enjoy the band all over again as I did back in their heyday with the result of these mixes. Thank you Steve Wilson. You have literally brought the best decade of this bands music back to life.
Summary Of The Yes Album…
There is no doubt in my mind that the band Yes back in that magical decade of the 70’s and in their heyday of the earlier part of that decade made music that was entirely their own. In the world of progressive rock they simply outclassed any other band in its genre. They carved and sculptured music like no other band had ever done, and had the biggest name in the world of Prog Rock. Without a shred of a doubt they are the number one Prog Rock band of all time in the world. They easily claimed that title and made history in the world of its genre. They made music back then that not even they could produce again or any other band for that matter.
The 70’s for me was the magical decade of all time, especially for Prog Rock. Did the Punk Rocker’s who never had a clue how to play instruments really kill this magical genre of music?. No way on this earth did they, and many bands are still continuing to make it even today. They are also heavily inspired by all the greats in this genre of music we had back in the 70’s. There is no doubt Yes Music will live well long after I have gone.
The Yes Album is one solid fine body of work. The written material upon it is without a doubt just as strong as the material that was on the 2 album’s that followed it, and the musical structures on all 3 of those album’s is exactly carved and shaped out in the same way. There is no doubt that Rick Wakeman added a further element of strength to the line up on the 2 albums that followed. But all 3 of the album’s have the same blood and veins of how strong the material is upon them and how they stand up.
My theory regarding these 3 album’s having 4 corners on the 2 of the album’s and a solid triangle on the other one. I think stands out very well. Because there is no doubt in my mind you could of crammed all the material that’s on all 3 album’s together and made a triple album out of them and it would of worked.
From the time they made The Yes Album in 1971 the only real significant change Yes ever made regarding the written material on all 3 of the album’s they made from 1971-1972 was the day Bill Bruford left the band and I honestly believe that.
For me personally The Yes Album was the start of something that had never been heard before. It was entirely fresh and stands up very well in every way to represent what real Yes Music was all about. It was a remarkable piece of work and one big achievement that was all sparked off by the changing of one man in the bands line up. I honestly think that without Steve Howe. Yes Music would of never existed. For me personally there was no such thing has Yes Music without him in the band either. You simply cannot replace a guitarist of his stature with a rock guitarist and call it progressive rock. What Yes did with Trevor Rabin was a mile away from the genre of Prog Rock I am afraid to say.
Yesterday a smile really did come across my face!.
The CD track listing is as follows:
1. Yours Is No Disgrace. 9:42.
2. Clap. 3:16.
3. Starship Trooper (a. Life Seeker. b. Disillusion. c. Wurm.) . 9:30.
4. I’ve Seen All Good People. (a. Your Move. b. All Good People.). 6:59.
5. A Venture. 3:32.
6. Perpetual Change. 9:01.
7. Clap (Studio Version). 4:04.
8. A Venture (Extended Version) 4:45.
2 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #11”
I agree very much with a lot of statements here: The music of Yes is totally unique. This is caused by the unique songwriting, but also by the unique musicians. Talking about Steve Howe he never sounded like one of those Blues-influenced players. If you you compare him to other english guitar-players of his time like Page, Clapton, Beck, Iommi and and others he has a very fresh approach far away from the Blues-tradition and includes elements of Bluegrass, Jazz and Classical in his style.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Your bang on with your observation about Steve Howe Dirk. No doubt it was down to the fact he was never influenced by the blues that made Yes so different from the rest in many ways. Incidentally I was watching Jeff Beck the other night on YouTube and he’s such an amazing talent on the guitar too.
Its like I said in my review of Chris Fry’s album. There is no such thing as the Greatest Guitar Player simply because they all have that special unique touch and approach to the instrument, especially in their own genres of music they play. They all have the ability to bring that something more special to the table that works for them and makes them stand out from the crowd. Well the best ones do for certain and that’s why they are so unique.
LikeLiked by 1 person