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Progressive Rock - Released September 13, 1972 | Rhino Atlantic

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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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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Progressive Rock - Released September 15, 1987 | Rhino

The four-years-in-the-making follow-up to Yes' comeback album, 90125, Big Generator was also a million-selling hit, although not as successful as its predecessor, probably because the singles "Love Will Find a Way" (number 30) and "Rhythm of Love" (number 40) couldn't match "Owner of a Lonely Heart" from the previous LP, even if they were favorites on AOR radio at the time. Actually, it was the title track that was a carbon copy of "Owner," so maybe that was the problem. More likely, though, "Owner" was a one-shot (courtesy of producer Trevor Horn), and as Yes asserted itself more here, the band reverted more to its old style, making for some confusion. Nevertheless, this album was Yes' last major hit. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released December 2, 2011 | Frontiers Records

Following Fly from Here, the first new Yes studio album in a decade, but recorded before it, In the Present: Live from Lyon chronicles a December 1, 2009 concert performance by a configuration that, initially in 2008, was being billed as "Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Alan White of Yes," joined by Oliver Wakeman on keyboards and Canadian singer Benoît David of the Yes tribute band Close to the Edge. By the time of this show, however, Squire (who apparently controls the rights to the name) was calling the band simply Yes. The inclusion of David, with his sound-alike vocals copying those of original lead singer Jon Anderson, completes the conversion of this long-lived outfit into what many acts of a similar vintage have become: a tribute band to itself. That is confirmed by the repertoire here, which draws heavily on the early ‘70s LPs The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge. There are a couple of tracks from Drama (another album on which Anderson was absent) and one from Tormato, plus, inevitably, "Owner of a Lonely Heart," the most recent song in the set, at a mere 26 years old. Otherwise, the players re-create Yes music of four decades ago. Of course, there are numerous other live renditions of this material, starting with Yessongs, and these performances, while competent, are not on a par with either the studio originals or earlier recorded concerts. While ersatz bands like this are perfectly capable of pleasing nostalgic concert fans, they may not be well advised to issue recordings of their efforts that, like this one, suffer in comparison to previous efforts. [The album is also available with an accompanying DVD of video excerpts from the concert.] ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released December 19, 1980 | Rhino - Elektra

The second official concert package from Yes contains tunes recorded over a span of two years (1976-1978) and two different incarnations of the band. Like its live predecessor Yessongs (1973), Yesshows finds the combo during one of their states of perpetual change. Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass/vocals), and Alan White (drums) are joined by Rick Wakeman (keyboards) on a majority of the selections. The exceptions being "Gates of Delirium" from Relayer (1974) and the Tales from Topographic Oceans' (1973) epic "Ritual" -- which is presented in two parts -- and has Patrick Moraz (keyboards) in Wakeman's stead. The original concept contained a few features that would have been akin to Yessongs. They debated as to whether they should make it another triple-LP and feature Tales from Topographic Oceans in its entirety, like Close to the Edge had been done on Yessongs. Undecided, they made a rough mix of a two-album incarnation, but then shelved it in order to focus their attentions on creating new music. Purportedly, that unapproved (by Yes, anyway) version was cleaned up by the record company and released for the holiday shopping frenzy of 1980. As issued, the seven tracks hang well together and provide enthusiasts an opportunity to hear a mixture of older and newer material. Best of all, Yes retain their enviable ability to ably re-create the complex and challenging passages with a soul that is occasionally lacking from the studio counterparts. Reaching back nearly a decade is an excellent update of the optimistic "Aquarian Age" anthem and the title composition of their second platter, "Time and a Word." It is enveloped by a pair of equally well-executed sides from Going for the One (1977). Here, both the opener "Parallels" and the song "Going for the One" exceed the comparatively sterile non-live readings. Particularly endearing and inspired is Anderson's off-key voice crack during the high-octane chorus of the latter. The more involved works -- especially the Moraz performances on "The Gates of Delirium" and the nearly half-hour "Ritual" -- are fuelled by a continuous energy. They build on the structure established from the respective long-players, yet even the most intricate elements and dynamics are amplified in their decisiveness and command. Anderson's intimacy and passion fuse on the closer "Wondrous Stories," almost as if releasing the audience from one last embrace. ~ Lindsay Planer