The Yes Album
If Yes had broken up immediately after The Yes Album I’d appreciate it more, but in the context of Fragile and Close To The Edge it documents a group still on a steep learning curve and still missing some key elements. The Yes Album still feels like a 1960’s pop record – albeit featuring a band with a lot of instrumental firepower, and one that drags its songs out at length.
The Yes Album is also Steve Howe’s first album with the band, and he’s immediately amazing, from his live solo showpiece ‘The Clap’ to his solo on standout piece ‘Starship Trooper’. Jon Anderson’s ethereal voice is suited to impressionist fantasies, and the opening phrase “sister bluebird” finds Yes staking out their familiar lyrical concerns. The harmony driven ‘Your Move’ section of ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ is gorgeous, even if the rest of the song drags. The other two epics – ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’ and ‘Perpetual Change’ – both feel overly long, as though Yes are simply stretching pop songs to epic lengths, and don’t have quite enough ideas to make them soar.
While The Yes Album is an entertaining record, it captures Yes in a state of flux; one foot grounded in the 1960s and the other foot stretching into space.