The Yes Album Review
By Rachel Brown
If one were to illustrate the genre of rock and roll, the resulting picture would probably look something like an amoeba, with multiple undulations and peninsulas. After all, the exact definition of rock and roll is unknown, but everyone knows it when they hear it, or rather feel it. Southern rock, alternative rock, stadium rock – there are dozen of subgenres within the world of rock and roll, but not the least among them is progressive rock.
Arguably one of the greatest progressive visionaries of all time, and certainly one of its chief pioneers, is Yes. Before the 80’s warped the group’s sound into something much more mainstream, Yes traversed many waters that had as yet been uncharted by many former rockers and, taking a cue from precursors like The Moody Blues, began to create a realm all their own. One of the greatest records in the band’s collection is none other than The Yes Album, which perfectly marries their progressive sound to the familiarity of classic rock.
The album opens with a burst of energetic power chords, essential to any rock tune, accompanied by the synthetic sounds of a keyboard. The combination of the two instruments creates a classic rock vibe that cannot be ignored, but the many ups and downs of “Yours Is No Disgrace” are what set it, and the rest of the album, apart from the traditional rock record. The customary template of “verse, hook, chorus, bridge” that usually varies little in melody is nonexistent. Within “Yours Is No Disgrace” alone the music simultaneously starts, stops, speeds up, slows down, fades, and explodes. Yes certainly keeps its listeners on their toes.
One of the most interesting pieces on The Yes Album is Steve Howe’s “The Clap”, recorded live at The Lyceum Theatre and, interestingly enough, included on the album in this original form. A three-minute ditty nestled comfortably between two nine-minute selections of progressive rock genius, it is a delightful interlude – but only an interlude. The rest of the record doesn’t seem to bear any similarities with the tune, and yet the album would seem quite incomplete without it.
The meat of the album, however, proceeds “The Clap”, with selections like “Starship Trooper”, “I’ve Seen All Good People”, and “Perpetual Change”. Many of these songs were cut and edited for radio play, but the single versions hardly do them justice. If you’ve never listened to them in their entirety, you are doing yourself a great disservice.
The Yes Album is certainly a roller coaster ride for the ear. You must simply shut your eyes, throw your hands up in the air, and let it take you where it will. Place your trust in the men behind the music, put the record on your turntable, sit back, and experience Yes.