One of the finest progressive rock groups was the band Yes. Coming from rural England, they were becoming more popular at this point, although yet to go into full prog mode at this point. Let’s observe this album, often seen as a classic in their career, and in music in general.
We kick off with Roundabout with its reversed piano and precise and delicious sounding 12 string acoustic guitar. It then kicks into an awesome groove, before the singing kicks in. Jon Anderson sounds great here. Next, it bursts into a very 1960s/1970s organ groove that is just purely fantastic. The sounds here are from a very intellectual process, these guys obviously knew how to be inspired by other musical greats. There are numerous and unique sounds in the bridge sections, making it very interesting listening. The lyrics sound fantasy based and drug influenced, not unusual for the time. The midsection has computerized keyboard sounds and the 12 string acoustic arrive, once again. It sounds like Yes, and nothing else musically. There are some unusual scales being used in the guitar solos, obviously well thought out. Some harmonies in the second section of the song emerge, which are pretty cool. A masterful work overall.
Following is Cans and Brahms which is a nod to some of Yes’s influences. It is mainly keyboard driven, and is a short and excellent melodic interlude. Fantastic effort regardless. There is a huge array of inspired musical diversity on this album, a very good job well done here.
We Have Heaven is a heavenly slice of short and beautiful brilliance with strummed acoustic guitars, chanting and a surreal sounding piece to hear. There are so many beautiful and interesting arrangements here. It ends quickly though, with a door slammed and the sound of footsteps running away.
South Side Of The Sky follows and it begins with the sound of wind blowing, before launching into a more mainstream sounding rock groove. It’s a consistent and daresay it, odd sounding piece. The guitar parts here put the punk rockers to shame who arrived some time after, to muddy the reputation of bands such as Yes. A piano and wind midsection is really interesting and intelligent listen, giving one a sense of musical suspense. Original and catchy melodies follow, and more unusual chanting is here to listen to. The group powers ahead with a simple rock groove, before returning to the piano playing. Some electronic noises begin the second half of the song, with some really superb loud guitar playing. The sounds here towards the end are nothing short of amazing. Great effort from Yes. Wind sounds conclude this track, once again.
Next is Five Per Cent For Nothing which is a thirty second instrumental. Not too much to say about it, apart from it sounding rather random.
Following is Long Distance Runaround has synchronized melodies to begin with, in the times before computers could modify that process easily, which is an effort in itself. It has some great melodies on the track, and the singing is sublime. It is a beautiful piece with chugging piano and great melodies within, and the vocals are brilliant and prominent in this track. Intellectual music for rock fans is here with Yes. A short but quality listen.
The Fish (Schindleria Praemeturus) is next, with some hypnotic and forward thinking electric guitar parts. It then has a meaty bassline come along, which is thumping. Some more interesting melodies then arrive, which make this fascinating. Towards the end, vocals emerge which are chanted. Not bad stuff.
Mood For A Day comes next and has some really good acoustic guitar playing. It sounds really fantastic, even on its own. Who said you couldn’t have an acoustic guitar solo? This is interesting and original music. Sound effortless and great. A nice solo acoustic guitar piece to enjoy, for three minutes of blissful beauty.
Lastly we have the Heart Of The Sunrise which sounds interesting from the go. Many different hyper speed sounds begin the track, followed quickly by bass guitar on its own, before the rest of the band catch up. Some beautiful keyboards sounds from genius Rick Wakeman enter, before we hear more speedy melodies arrive again. A beautiful guitar sound by itself then leads into some ethereal singing by Jon Anderson. Lyrically interesting, the song part of this piece is majestic and very enjoyably listenable. The whole place is interesting, beautiful and brilliant. It sounds very hypnotic. Some quirky organ parts then enter, with some frenetic guitar parts to hear. Towards the end, we return to song mode, with some interesting piano interludes in between. A very awesome and fresh listening experience.
This is definitely a great album. It’s not just simply a defining progressive rock album and Yes album, it is also an intellectually satisfying listen throughout. Many re-releases of this album include outtakes and extra tracks from it. This has been such an enormously influential album that the Nine Inch Nails album The Fragile stole the title of it, and was inspired a lot by this sort of music. Don’t delay, hear this today.