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Progressive Rock - Released January 14, 2003 | Rhino - Elektra

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Progressive Rock - Released May 28, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

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Yes

Progressive Rock - Released September 17, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

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On Yes' first two albums, Yes (1969) and Time and a Word (1970), the quintet was mostly searching for a sound on which they could build, losing one of their original members -- guitarist Peter Banks -- in the process. Their third time out proved the charm -- The Yes Album constituted a de facto second debut, introducing the sound that would carry them forward across the next decade or more. Gone are any covers of outside material, the group now working off of its own music from the ground up. A lot of the new material was actually simpler -- in linear structure, at least -- than some of what had appeared on their previous albums, but the internal dynamics of their playing had also altered radically, and much of the empty space that had been present in their earlier recordings was also filled up here -- suddenly, between new member Steve Howe's odd mix of country- and folk-based progressive guitar and the suddenly liberated bass work and drumming of Chris Squire and Bill Bruford, respectively, the group's music became extremely busy. And lead singer Jon Anderson, supported by Squire and Howe, filled whatever was left almost to overflowing. Anderson's soaring falsetto and the accompanying harmonies, attached to haunting melodies drawn from folk tunes as often as rock, applied to words seemingly derived from science fiction, and all delivered with the bravura of an operatic performance -- by the band as well as the singer -- proved a compelling mix. What's more, despite the busy-ness of their new sound, the group wasn't afraid to prove that less could sometimes be more: three of the high points were the acoustic-driven "Your Move" and "The Clap" (a superb showcase for Howe on solo acoustic guitar), and the relatively low-key "A Venture" (oddly enough, the latter was the one cut here that didn't last in the group's repertory; most of the rest, despite the competition from their subsequent work, remained in their concert set for years to come). The Yes Album did what it had to do, outselling the group's first two long-players and making the group an established presence in America where, for the first time, they began getting regular exposure on FM radio. Sad to say, the only aspect of The Yes Album that didn't last much longer was Tony Kaye on keyboards: his Hammond organ holds its own in the group's newly energized sound, and is augmented by piano and other instruments when needed, but he resisted the idea of adding the Moog synthesizer, that hot instrument of the moment, to his repertory. The band was looking for a bolder sound than the Hammond could generate, and after some initial rehearsals of material that ended up on their next album, he was dropped from the lineup, to be replaced by Rick Wakeman. ~ Bruce Eder
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Progressive Rock - Released May 7, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

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Progressive Rock - Released August 2, 1994 | Rhino - Elektra

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Fragile was Yes' breakthrough album, propelling them in a matter of weeks from a cult act to an international phenomenon; not coincidentally, it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed. The science-fiction and fantasy elements that had driven the more successful songs on their preceding record, The Yes Album, were pushed much harder here, and not just in the music but in the packaging of the album: the Roger Dean-designed cover was itself a fascinating creation that seemed to relate to the music and drew the purchaser's attention in a manner that few records since the heyday of the psychedelic era could match. Having thrown original keyboard player Tony Kaye overboard early in the sessions -- principally over his refusal to accept the need for the Moog synthesizer in lieu of his preferred Hammond organ -- the band welcomed Rick Wakeman into its ranks. His use of the Moog, among other instruments, coupled with an overall bolder and more aggressive style of playing, opened the way for a harder, hotter sound by the group as a whole; bassist Chris Squire sounds like he's got his amp turned up to "12," and Steve Howe's electric guitars are not far behind, although the group also displayed subtlety where it was needed. The opening minute of "Roundabout," the album opener -- and the basis for the edited single that would reach number 13 on the Billboard charts and get the group onto AM radio in a way that most other prog rock outfits could only look upon with envy -- was dominated by Howe's acoustic guitar and Bill Bruford‘s drums, and only in the middle section did the band show some of what they could do with serious amperage. Elsewhere on the record, as on "South Side of the Sky," they would sound as though they were ready to leave the ground (and the planet), between the volume and intensity of their playing. "Long Distance Runaround," which also served as the B-side of the single, was probably the most accessible track here apart from "Roundabout," but they were both ambitious enough to carry most listeners on to the heavier sides at the core of this long player. The solo tracks by the members were actually a necessity: they needed to get Fragile out in a hurry to cover the cost of the keyboards that Wakeman had added to the group's sonic arsenal. But they ended up being more than filler. Each member, in effect, took a "bow" in mostly fairly serious settings, and Squire's "The Fish" and Howe's "Mood For a Day" pointed directly to future, more substantial projects as well as taking on a life of their own on-stage. If not exactly their peak, Fragile was as perfect a record as the group would ever make, and just as flawless in its timing as its content. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released January 29, 2008 | Rhino - Elektra

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Yes had fallen out of critical favor with Tales from Topographic Oceans, a two-record set of four songs that reviewers found indulgent. But they had not fallen out of the Top Ten, and so they had little incentive to curb their musical ambitiousness. Relayer, released 11 months after Tales, was a single-disc, three-song album, its music organized into suites that alternated abrasive, rhythmically dense instrumental sections featuring solos for the various instruments with delicate vocal and choral sections featuring poetic lyrics devoted to spiritual imagery. Such compositions seemed intended to provide an interesting musical landscape over which the listener might travel, and enough Yes fans did that to make Relayer a Top Ten, gold-selling hit, though critics continued to complain about the lack of concise, coherent song structures. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released January 14, 2003 | Rhino - Elektra

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Fragile was Yes' breakthrough album, propelling them in a matter of weeks from a cult act to an international phenomenon; not coincidentally, it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed. The science-fiction and fantasy elements that had driven the more successful songs on their preceding record, The Yes Album, were pushed much harder here, and not just in the music but in the packaging of the album: the Roger Dean-designed cover was itself a fascinating creation that seemed to relate to the music and drew the purchaser's attention in a manner that few records since the heyday of the psychedelic era could match. Having thrown original keyboard player Tony Kaye overboard early in the sessions -- principally over his refusal to accept the need for the Moog synthesizer in lieu of his preferred Hammond organ -- the band welcomed Rick Wakeman into its ranks. His use of the Moog, among other instruments, coupled with an overall bolder and more aggressive style of playing, opened the way for a harder, hotter sound by the group as a whole; bassist Chris Squire sounds like he's got his amp turned up to "12," and Steve Howe's electric guitars are not far behind, although the group also displayed subtlety where it was needed. The opening minute of "Roundabout," the album opener -- and the basis for the edited single that would reach number 13 on the Billboard charts and get the group onto AM radio in a way that most other prog rock outfits could only look upon with envy -- was dominated by Howe's acoustic guitar and Bill Bruford‘s drums, and only in the middle section did the band show some of what they could do with serious amperage. Elsewhere on the record, as on "South Side of the Sky," they would sound as though they were ready to leave the ground (and the planet), between the volume and intensity of their playing. "Long Distance Runaround," which also served as the B-side of the single, was probably the most accessible track here apart from "Roundabout," but they were both ambitious enough to carry most listeners on to the heavier sides at the core of this long player. The solo tracks by the members were actually a necessity: they needed to get Fragile out in a hurry to cover the cost of the keyboards that Wakeman had added to the group's sonic arsenal. But they ended up being more than filler. Each member, in effect, took a "bow" in mostly fairly serious settings, and Squire's "The Fish" and Howe's "Mood For a Day" pointed directly to future, more substantial projects as well as taking on a life of their own on-stage. If not exactly their peak, Fragile was as perfect a record as the group would ever make, and just as flawless in its timing as its content. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released January 28, 2008 | Rhino - Elektra

Four decades after its release, this is still the most controversial record in Yes' output. Tales from Topographic Oceans was the place where Yes either fulfilled all of the promise shown on their previous five albums or slid off the rails in a fit of artistic hubris, especially on the part of lead singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe, who dominated the composition credits here. Actually, the group probably did a bit of both here across 80 minutes of music on a fully packed double-LP set; the group's musical ambitions were obvious on its face, as it consisted of four long songs (really suites) each taking up a side of an album, and each longer than the previous album's side-long "Close to the Edge." And Tales had a jumping-off point that was as far advanced in complexity and density as Close to the Edge had been out in front of its predecessor, Fragile, -- and all of it made The Yes Album seem like basic rock & roll. Anderson, by virtue of his voice and lyrics, is the dominant personality on Tales, and his fascination with Eastern religion is fully manifest, as never before (or since). Confronted by song titles such as "The Revealing Science of God," and a concept derived from the Buddhist Shastric scriptures, the casual listener might have felt in need of both a running start and a sheet of footnotes: Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman clearly felt something along those lines, as it was while making this record that he decided to exit the group. And, yet, Tales contains some of the most sublimely beautiful musical passages ever to come from the group, and develops a major chunk of that music in depth and degrees in ways that one can only marvel at, though there's a big leap from marvel to enjoy. If one can grab onto it, Tales is a long, sometimes glorious musical ride across landscapes strange and wonderful, thick with enticing musical textures; it offers the Yes fan the chance to be a true "astral traveler." Apart from one percussion break by Alan White that doesn't come off (if there had to be a Yes album with a percussion solo, why couldn't it have come along when Bill Bruford was in the band?), the music never falls flat, and it's a pity that Wakeman couldn't appreciate the richness and vitality he brought to the album. And Anderson and Howe get to work in an extraordinarily wide range of musical voices. In another reality, perhaps the gorgeous, folk-like passages on Tales would have spawned songs of four or five minutes, but here they are, woven into these long-form pieces, and if one can take the plunge into these particular sonic oceans, and comfortably stay under long enough, it's a journey that will reward. But it's not a trip for everyone -- or even every Yes fan -- to take, especially not too soon after discovering the album. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released January 28, 2008 | Rhino - Elektra

With 1971's Fragile having left Yes poised quivering on the brink of what friend and foe acknowledged was the peak of the band's achievement, Close to the Edge was never going to be an easy album to make. Drummer Bill Bruford was already shifting restlessly against Jon Anderson's increasingly mystic/mystifying lyricism, while contemporary reports of the recording sessions depicted bandmate Rick Wakeman, too, as little more than an observer to the vast tapestry that Anderson, Steve Howe, and Chris Squire were creating. For it was vast. Close to the Edge comprised just three tracks, the epic "And You and I" and "Siberian Khatru," plus a side-long title track that represented the musical, lyrical, and sonic culmination of all that Yes had worked toward over the past five years. Close to the Edge would make the Top Five on both sides of the Atlantic, dispatch Yes on the longest tour of its career so far and, if hindsight be the guide, launch the band on a downward swing that only disintegration, rebuilding, and a savage change of direction would cure. The latter, however, was still to come. In 1972, Close to the Edge was a flawless masterpiece. ~ Dave Thompson
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Progressive Rock - Released February 26, 2013 | Rhino - Elektra

In many ways, the extravagance of this package equates the profligacy of the prog rock combo themselves. After all, how else but on a triple-LP collection could one hope to re-create (and/or contain) an adequate sampling of Yes' live presentation? Especially since their tunes typically clocked in in excess of ten minutes. Although they had turned in five studio long-players, the vast majority of Yessongs (1973) is drawn from their three most recent endeavors The Yes Album (1970), Fragile (1971), and Close to the Edge (1972). There are two exceptions, the first being the "Opening (Excerpt from "Firebird Suite")" -- which comes from the 1969 Boston Symphony Orchestra's recording, conducted by Seiji Ozawa. The other is Rick Wakeman's keyboard solo "Excerpts from 'The Six Wives Of Henry VIII'." Yes had just undergone a personnel change shortly after concluding work on Close to the Edge as Bill Bruford (percussion) left to join King Crimson in July of 1972. Bruford can be heard on "Perpetual Change," as well as the medley of "Long Distance Runaround" and "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)." Enthusiasts keen on various and arguably irrelevant minutia should note the spelling of "praimaturus" as credited on Yessongs. It is slightly different from Fragile, which is denoted as "praematurus." That bit of trivia aside, the new lineup finds Alan White (drums), quite ably filling Bruford's shoes, alongside Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitars), Chris Squire (bass/vocals), and Rick Wakeman (keyboards). One of their trademarks has always been an ability to re-create their often densely layered sound in concert. They effortlessly pull off the tricky chord progressions and changes in time signatures of "Siberian Khatru" and a sublime "Heart of the Sunrise," which unquestionably bests the dexterity of its carefully crafted studio counterpart. Both Howe and Squire's respective solos during "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" are highlights as they give the entire unit an opportunity to show off their capacity for dramatic dynamics. The remainder of Yessongs is similarly strong, particularly the note-perfect "Close to the Edge," and the inspired concluding instrumental jam during "Starship Trooper." However, one criticism that can be leveled at the entire Yessongs release is the less than optimal audio quality throughout. The sound is generally muddy with no real fidelity to speak of and an even less precise stereoscape. But until someone goes back to the multi-tracks and remixes them for 21st century ears, this is as good as it gets when documenting Yes during this seminal transition period. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Rock - Released January 28, 2008 | Rhino - Elektra

Going for the One is perhaps the most overlooked item in the Yes catalog. It marked Rick Wakeman's return to the band after a three-year absence, and also a return to shorter song forms after the experimentalism of Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans, and Relayer. In many ways, this disc could be seen as the follow-up to Fragile. Its five tracks still retain mystical, abstract lyrical images, and the music is grand and melodic, the vocal harmonies perfectly balanced by the stinging guitar work of Steve Howe, Wakeman's keyboards, and the solid rhythms of Alan White and Chris Squire. The title track features Howe on steel guitar (he's the only prog rocker who bothers with the instrument). "Turn of the Century" and the album's single, "Wonderous Stories," are lovely ballads the way only Yes can do them. "Parallels" is the album's big, pompous song, so well done that in later years the band opened concerts with it. Wakeman's stately church organ, recorded at St. Martin's Church, Vevey, Switzerland, sets the tone for this "Roundabout"-ish track. The concluding "Awaken" is the album's nod to the extended suite. Again, the lyrics are spacy in the extreme, but Jon Anderson and Squire are dead-on vocally, and the addition of Anderson's harp and White's tuned percussion round out this evocative track. ~ Ross Boissoneau
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Progressive Rock - Released August 31, 1993 | EastWest America

As any longtime fan of Yes will tell you, the group has been through quite a few lineups over their years. But through it all, they have been able to retain their diehard fan base, even when they were at their most indulgent (mid-'70s) and most pop-minded (mid-'80s). The 2000 collection, Best of Yes, covers 1970-1987, but since it's a single disc, far too many classics are left out for it to be considered definitive. True, you do get such expected Yes faves as "And You And I" and "Owner of a Lonely Heart," and it's a pleasant surprise that such oft-overlooked tunes as "Siberian Khatru," "Sound Chaser" and "Into the Lens" (the latter which featured the extremely short-lived Buggles-Yes union) are included. But you simply can't call it a Yes 'best of' and leave off such selections as "Starship Trooper," "Yours Is No Disgrace," "Roundabout" (No kidding, it's not here!), and "I've Seen All Good People," among others. You'd be better off paying the extra clams for a better-rounded double-disc set (Yesstory, The Ultimate Yes, etc.) -- too many classics are omitted here. ~ Greg Prato
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Progressive Rock - Released August 22, 1980 | Rhino - Elektra

For this one album, ex-Buggles Geoffrey Downes and Trevor Horn were drafted in to replace Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. It rocks harder than other Yes albums, and for classically inclined fans, it was a jarring departure; but it was a harbinger of Yes and Asia albums to come. A newly emboldened Chris Squire lays down aggressive rhythms with Alan White, and Steve Howe eschews his usual acoustic rags and flamenco licks for a more metallic approach, opting for sheets of electric sound. Prime cuts include the doom-laden "Machine Messiah" and the manic ska inflections of "Tempus Fugit." Despite the promise of this new material, the band soon fell apart; Horn went into production, Howe and Downes joined Asia, and Squire and White toyed and then gave up on a pair-up with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, which was to be titled XYZ (i.e., Ex-Yes and Zeppelin). ~ Paul Collins
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Progressive Rock - Released February 19, 1971 | Rhino - Elektra

On Yes' first two albums, Yes (1969) and Time and a Word (1970), the quintet was mostly searching for a sound on which they could build, losing one of their original members -- guitarist Peter Banks -- in the process. Their third time out proved the charm -- The Yes Album constituted a de facto second debut, introducing the sound that would carry them forward across the next decade or more. Gone are any covers of outside material, the group now working off of its own music from the ground up. A lot of the new material was actually simpler -- in linear structure, at least -- than some of what had appeared on their previous albums, but the internal dynamics of their playing had also altered radically, and much of the empty space that had been present in their earlier recordings was also filled up here -- suddenly, between new member Steve Howe's odd mix of country- and folk-based progressive guitar and the suddenly liberated bass work and drumming of Chris Squire and Bill Bruford, respectively, the group's music became extremely busy. And lead singer Jon Anderson, supported by Squire and Howe, filled whatever was left almost to overflowing. Anderson's soaring falsetto and the accompanying harmonies, attached to haunting melodies drawn from folk tunes as often as rock, applied to words seemingly derived from science fiction, and all delivered with the bravura of an operatic performance -- by the band as well as the singer -- proved a compelling mix. What's more, despite the busy-ness of their new sound, the group wasn't afraid to prove that less could sometimes be more: three of the high points were the acoustic-driven "Your Move" and "The Clap" (a superb showcase for Howe on solo acoustic guitar), and the relatively low-key "A Venture" (oddly enough, the latter was the one cut here that didn't last in the group's repertory; most of the rest, despite the competition from their subsequent work, remained in their concert set for years to come). The Yes Album did what it had to do, outselling the group's first two long-players and making the group an established presence in America where, for the first time, they began getting regular exposure on FM radio. Sad to say, the only aspect of The Yes Album that didn't last much longer was Tony Kaye on keyboards: his Hammond organ holds its own in the group's newly energized sound, and is augmented by piano and other instruments when needed, but he resisted the idea of adding the Moog synthesizer, that hot instrument of the moment, to his repertory. The band was looking for a bolder sound than the Hammond could generate, and after some initial rehearsals of material that ended up on their next album, he was dropped from the lineup, to be replaced by Rick Wakeman. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released January 14, 2003 | Rhino - Elektra

Yes' second (and least successful) album was a transitional effort; the group trying for a more produced and sophisticated sound through the use of an orchestra. Even so, the results weren't conventional, because the group didn't tone down or turn down its sound. Much of Time and a Word relies on bold, highly animated performances by Bill Bruford, Chris Squire, and Tony Kaye. Additionally, by this time the group was developing a much tauter ensemble than was evident on their first LP, so there's no lack of visceral excitement. "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" was a bold opening, a highly amplified, frenzied adaptation of the Richie Havens song, melded with Jerome Moross's title music from the movie The Big Country. Somewhat more successful musically is "Then," which keeps the orchestral accompaniment to a minimum and allows Kaye and Banks to stretch out on organ and guitar. "Everydays" is highlighted by Anderson's ethereal vocals and Kaye's dueting with the orchestra. A surprising amount of the material here seems rather tuneless, but the group was solidifying its sound and, in the process, forcing Banks out of the lineup, despite some beautiful moments for him (and Tony Kaye) on the prettiest parts of "The Prophet," a piece that also contains fragments of music that anticipate Yes' work right up through Tales from Topographic Oceans. "Astral Traveller," as a title, anticipates the themes of future group work, though they still don't have the dexterity to pull off the tempo changes they're trying for. By the time the record was completed, Banks was out of the band, which is why Steve Howe, his successor, ended up pictured on the cover of most editions. ~ Bruce Eder