This album was Yes’s breakthrough album. Prior to this album, they were merely a fairly ordinary yet inspired musical group that wanted to succeed. Once classical and jazz-inspired guitarist Steve Howe joined, there was no turning back for Yes. It brought them an upward period of musical excellence and critical acclaim for the once struggling band, with this release going into the top 100 in both the UK and USA. Although Yes had greater moments (arguably) after this album was released, this is a key moment in the history of music. Let’s examine this journey through Progressive Rock sounds, and hear if it is any good.
We launch into the album with Yours Is No Disgrace, a nine-minute long piece. It begins with synchronised guitars and drums before an organ sound quickly joins in the scene. This sounds very decent and exciting, with the track quickly launching into a wonderful Progressive Rock jam. There is some awesome guitar playing by Steve Howe, which sounds really fantastic. Jon Anderson’s singing sounds really amazing and majestic, perfectly complementing the awesome sounds from the band. The piece then gets going away nicely, sounding really fantastic and awesome. It does sound like a futuristic statement from Yes, way back in 1971. Steve Howe plays some very expressive licks before the breakdown occurs. The bass played by Chris Squire is nimble and precise, whilst the singing and some slide guitar are also here at this point. It quickly exits this section, before launching back into the action. Some interesting stereo panned guitars that are drenched in wah-wah come along next before the band return into the action. In the second half are some acoustic guitars which rival a very retro sounding late 1960s/early 1970s organ. This is really brilliant music, just played very well and very imaginative, too. There is a breakdown once again, before Jon Anderson and Yes get this piece going nicely again, with some pretty acoustic guitar. The bass and drums are really excellent as well. As we approach the end of this song, it goes back into a brilliant musical jam. Top-notch music, very good to hear, and enough to put a smile upon your face. A great opening song, it has a dramatic finish with some pitch-shifted keyboard. Excellent.
Next is a live instrumental simply titled Clap. It is merely guitarist Steve Howe on acoustic guitar, but all the same, it is a joyful and wonderful listen by him. Short and sweet, at three minutes long, there is some outstanding playing that encompasses a variety of styles and influences from Steve Howe himself. There is a decent mixture of strumming, picking and melodic playing that sounds really great. A very pretty and timeless listen, this is worth a listen for any guitarist or guitar enthusiasts out there. Brilliant effort, and worth listening to for sure. The audience cheers loudly at the end, which is well deserved.
Starship Trooper: a. Life Seeker, b. Disillusion, c. Würm begins with some interesting keyboards, guitar playing and drums, before Jon Anderson gets singing beautifully away in the left channel. This is a really inspired and excellent piece of music that sounds really nicely structured and delivered. There is an interesting set of rather Poppy like song structures on this one, in between instrumental playing that is excellent. A really profound and pretty sounding piece of music, this album deserves credit as Yes were at this point working well as a unit. Really upbeat and interesting listening, this is a great musical journey through space and time. Towards the middle is some dramatic acoustic guitar playing, with some multitracked vocals that sound ridiculously great. Really interesting and artistic sounds are present, with an articulate feel and awesome sounds to boot. The midsection is laidback and steady to listen to and just sounds really amazing. This piece of music progresses nicely, with some flanger affected electric guitar parts that sound really awesome, which are followed by other instrumentation in the left channel. It is rather catchy to listen to, along with some electronic sounds via keyboard. Really excellent music to listen to, this is a Progressive Rock lover’s delight, and this does sound very professional and amazing music from Yes. The piece finishes with call-and-response guitars, along with some furious drum rolls before fading out. Very, very good.
I’ve Seen All Good People: a. Your Move, b. All Good People begins with more multitracked vocals that are really decent and well done. Before long, some nimble acoustic picking enters, along with some odd kick drum sounds. Jon Anderson’s singing continues to impress, and this amazing effort is very listenable and captivating. There is a recorder thrown into the mix as well on this tune, which is both different and welcome. This piece continues with many beautiful multitracked vocals and the other instrumentation playing along very well. This is a sonic trip through inner space and outer space, sounding truly grand and majestic. In the middle, an organ swell occurs, before the second half kicks right in. The song continues in an inspired and well-played nature, with some mid-position Fender electric guitar sounds and playing that is impressive. This song is a brilliant and timeless effort, complete with piano in the background. Inspired, fresh and artistic, Yes deliver what we need to hear. The song eventually comes to a conclusion with vocals and loud organ, before gradually fading out. Great effort.
Next is A Venture which is a much shorter piece at only three minutes long. It begins with some faded in piano, which sounds really excellent. Steve Howe then enters on guitar, followed by the others in the group. This is a pretty, inspired and nice piece by Yes that is very accessible, for those who do not like super long songs. This is a pretty and awesome musical statement that sounds really fresh, inspired and energetic. An excellent and driven piece of music, Yes deliver what we need to hear. A really top piece of music, this sounds awesome. Great stuff, the piano at the end is really brilliant.
The last song on this album is Perpetual Change which is nearly nine minutes long. This begins with more synchronised instrumentation and sounds incredibly catchy. Some awesome and beautiful guitar parts enter, which are played very precisely. A really nice and inspired listen, this sounds really tranquil in many ways. This song is really interesting, with a proto-Disco feel to it, without intentionally being so. There are call-and-response vocals to listen to that sound really well done, before epic guitar and bass guitar enter. This piece is very beautiful, imaginative and clever to listen to. A very great number, which points ahead to the future of Yes and mainstream music of the time itself. The playing on guitar by Steve Howe is nothing short of brilliant, he does exceptionally well on these songs. The second half makes everything change completely at the drop of a hat, which adds some suspense and flavour to the music work at hand. Each member of the band is heavily competing with each other for first place, although they are all equals at their craft. Towards the end, this piece becomes a sort of waltz listen, before finalising and concluding the album very well. Great effort by Yes, and no doubt a classic album for sure. Excellent to hear such a great band that was improving their craft.
This is not just a classic album of the Progressive Rock genre, it also is an underrated album in the back catalogue of Yes’s music. This is great listening if you are interested in Progressive Rock or if you have heard other albums by Yes, and want more. A great listen from start to finish. Fans of the band will be pleased to know that there are bonus track editions of this album, so seek them out if you wish.
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