Yes Album Reviews
With their dazzling instrumental chops, lengthy songs, and lush harmonies, London’s Yes perhaps defined 1970s progressive rock better than any other band. At their peak, Jon Anderson’s high pitched vocals delivered unintelligible pseudo-religious lyrics, while Chris Squire’s rumbling bass and harmony vocals anchored the band. Rick Wakeman supplied classical flourishes on the keyboards, while Steve Howe’s agile guitar playing, and Bill Bruford’s jazz-influenced drumming were also important features of their sound. If you can get past any aversion to progressive rock, there’s plenty of solid pop craftsmanship on Yes albums – they’re lushly produced and filled with hooks.
I’ve only covered the group’s albums between 1971-1983 – the period from 1971-1977 is generally held to be their most fertile period, and apart from 1973’s meandering Tales from Topographic Oceans, all of their albums in this time period range from very good to outstanding. Their albums from 1978-1983 are more uncertain, with the group trying to keep up with contemporary trends. I’ve never heard their later work, but some of their work from the 1990s and early 2000s has its share of fans, and apparently their albums from this time are closer to their prog-rock roots.
Yes had a constantly changing lineup even during the time period covered on this page, with bass player Chris Squire the only constant. I’ve included a summary of the band changes below. The first five in the list are the best known lineup, who played on 1971’s Fragile and 1972’s Close to the Edge.
Yes Members, 1971-1983
Jon Anderson: vocals, 1971-1978, 1983
Chris Squire: bass, backing vocals, 1971-1983
Steve Howe: guitars, backing vocals, 1971-1980
Bill Bruford: drums, 1971-1972
Rick Wakeman: keyboards, 1972-1974, 1977-1978
Alan White: drums, 1973-1983
Tony Kaye: keyboards, 1971, 1983
Patrick Moraz: keyboards, 1974
Geoff Downes: keyboards, 1980
Trevor Horn: vocals, 1980
Trevor Rabin: guitars and vocals, 1983
Ten Favourite Yes Songs
Close To The Edge
The Gates of Delirium
Heart of the Sunrise
South Side of the Sky