The Yes Album

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Not to be confused with Yes, the title of the band's first album.
The Yes Album
Studio album by Yes
Released 19 February 1971
Recorded Autumn 1970 at Advision Studios
(London, England)
Genre Progressive rock
Length 41:44
Label Atlantic
Producer Yes, Eddie Offord
Yes chronology
Time and a Word
(1970)
The Yes Album
(1971)
Fragile
(1971)
Singles from Time and a Word
  1. "Your Move"
    Released: 5 March 1971

The Yes Album is the third studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released in February 1971 on Atlantic Records. It is their first album with guitarist Steve Howe who replaced Peter Banks in 1970, and their last in the 1970s to feature keyboardist Tony Kaye.

The album was the first by the group not to feature any cover versions, which had been a staple of their material until that point. The band spent mid-1970 writing and rehearsing new material at a farmhouse in South Molton, Devon, and the new songs were recorded at Advision Studios in the autumn. While the album retained close harmony singing, Kaye's Hammond organ and Chris Squire's melodic bass, as heard on earlier releases, the new material also covered further styles including jazz piano, funk and acoustic music, with all band members contributing ideas, and tracks were extended in length to allow music to develop. Howe contributed a variety of guitar styles, including a Portuguese guitar, and recorded a solo acoustic guitar piece, "Clap", live at the Lyceum Theatre, London.

The album was a critical success and was a major commercial breakthrough for Yes, who had been at risk of being dropped by the record label. It reached number 4 in the UK and number 40 in the US, and is certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies. The album has been reissued on CD several times, and in 2014 was given a Blu-ray release, remixed by Steven Wilson.

Background[edit]

Yes had already recorded two albums for Atlantic by mid-1970, but neither had been commercially successful and the label was considering dropping them.[1] They had replaced founding member Banks with Howe, who enjoyed playing a wider variety of styles, including folk and country music, and played a mix of electric and acoustic guitars.[2] Singer Jon Anderson later said that Howe could "jump from one thing to the other, very fast, very talented."[3] After some warm-up gigs with Howe,[4] the band moved to a farm in South Molton, Devon, to write and rehearse new material. Howe in particular enjoyed working on the farm, and eventually bought it.[5] Following rehearsals, the band booked Advision Studios in London with producer Eddie Offord and spent the autumn recording.[6] The band enjoyed the sessions, and soon had enough material ready for an album.[7]

In November 1970, the group were involved in a car accident returning from a gig in Basingstoke. The band all suffered shock, and Kaye broke a foot. He had to do the next few gigs, and the album cover's photo shoot, with it in plaster.[8]

Howe mostly used a Gibson ES-175 semi-acoustic guitar and a Martin OO-18 acoustic for recording, though he did attempt to play a variety of styles with the two instruments.[9] Kaye's main instruments were the Hammond organ and piano, including a solo on "A Venture". Kaye had previously played the Hammond M-100, but for this album used the B-3, a move which he saw as "a turning point".[10] He was otherwise disinterested, however, in the variety of electronic keyboards that were becoming available.[11] This proved to be a problem with the other members of the band,[12] and Kaye thought his style conflicted too much with Howe's.[13] He left the group during rehearsals for the follow-up album in mid-1971, to be replaced by Rick Wakeman.[12]

Songs[edit]

Steve Howe played a Portuguese guitar, credited as a "vachalia", on "Your Move".

Yes had started their career being a covers band, performing radical re-arrangements of hit songs, and their first two albums included covers in this vein. However, The Yes Album was the first to feature group-written material in its entirety.[14] Some familiar elements remained; Anderson, Howe and Squire sang three-part vocal harmony throughout the record, while Squire's melodic bass and Bill Bruford's spacious drumming made up their unique rhythm section.[15]

"Yours Is No Disgrace" originated from some lyrics written by Anderson with his friend David Foster.[9] This was combined with other short segments of music written by the band in rehearsals. Howe worked out the opening guitar riff on his own while the rest of the band took a day's holiday.[4] The backing track was recorded by the group in sections, then edited together to make up the final piece.[9]

Howe's solo acoustic tune, "Clap" (wrongly written as "The Clap" in original album pressings), was influenced by Chet Atkins[16] and Mason Williams' "Classical Gas".[17] The piece was written to celebrate the birth of Howe's son Dylan on 4 August 1969.[16] The version that appears on the album was recorded live at the Lyceum Theatre in London on 17 July 1970.[18]

The spacey, electronic-sounding effect in "Starship Trooper" was achieved by running the guitar backing track through a flanger. Anderson wrote the bulk of the song,[19] while Squire wrote the "Disillusion" section in the middle.[20][a] The closing section, "Würm" is a continuous cadenza of chords (G-E-C) played ad lib. It evolved from a song called "Nether Street" by Howe's earlier group, Bodast.[19]

"I've Seen All Good People" is a suite of two tunes. Anderson wanted the piece to start quietly and develop, leading into a large church organ sound, before moving into the funky second movement.[21] The band had difficulty recording the initial "Your Move" section, which was resolved by making a tape loop of bass and drums, over which Howe overdubbed a Portuguese 12-string guitar,[22] miscrediting it as a "vachalia" on the album's credits.[23][b] Gnidrolog's Colin Goldring played recorder on the track.[22]

Anderson wrote "A Venture" in the studio, which was arranged by the rest of the band. Kaye played piano on the track, contributing a jazzy solo towards the end.[25] Howe played a guitar solo on the original recording, but it was left off the final mix, which faded out just as it started.[23] The song was never played live by the original group, but an arrangement was worked out when Yes decided to play the whole album live in 2013.[26]

The lyrics for "Perpetual Change" were inspired by the view of the countryside from the farm in South Molton. The middle of the track features a polyrhythmic structure, where two pieces of music in different time signatures[c] are playing simultaneously.[27]

Cover[edit]

A mannequin's head, similar to this one, was used in the front cover shot.

The front cover was shot by Phil Franks the day after the Basingstoke gig accident. Franks had already taken some photos from the Lyceum gig, but felt he needed something more for the front cover. The band showed up late having been in hospital earlier that day, and only 30 minutes were available for a shoot. Unable to get a satisfactory photo in the studio, Franks took the band around to his flat, grabbed a polystyrene mannequin head from a bin, put a 1000 watt bulb in the kitchen light fitting, and improvised the shot. Franks credited the sleeve designer, Rolling Stone art director Jon Goodchild, for making the cover a success.[28] When Yes performed a live version of "Yours is No Disgrace" for the German television series Beat Club in April 1971, footage of the band was combined with that of another mannequin head, mimicking the cover's concept.[29]

The inside of the album's gatefold sleeve shows Kaye playing a Hammond organ,[30] while the front cover showed his leg in plaster, following the accident.[31] Anderson is credited as "John Anderson" on the album[20] but he had dropped the "h" from his first name by the next album, Fragile.[32]

Release[edit]

The Yes Album was released in the UK on 19 February 1971. It was a commercial success and was the band's breakthrough album, reaching No. 4 in the UK.[33] and number 40 in the US.[34] It has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies.[23]

Squire later said a key reason for the success was that there was a postal strike which prevented chart returns being sent, and reducing the available ones to a few retailers in London. Yes had the largest fanbase in these stores, and that allowed a good chart position.[35] By the time the strike had ended, the album had started to sell well due to its initial apparent success.[36]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[12]
Robert Christgau B− [37]
Pitchfork (8.1/10) [38]
Rolling Stone (positive) [14]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[39]
The Rolling Stone Record Guide 5/5 stars[40]

The album had a positive reception from critics. John Koegel, writing for Rolling Stone, praised the instrumental unity between Squire, Howe and Kaye, but missed the cover versions present in earlier releases.[14] The album is the only one by Yes to appear in 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Author Tom Moon preferred the group unity that he felt was missing on later releases and gave a positive impression of Anderson's vocals, saying the melodies in "I've Seen All Good People" were "instantly singable and still somehow deep."[41]

Anderson was worried about the initial response to the album, but after about a month noticed that fans started singing along at concerts, and concluded that this musical style could be developed and still remain popular.[42] Kaye concluded that overall it was "quite a simple album, considering where Yes went onto from there."[43] Rush singer and bassist Geddy Lee included The Yes Album among his favourite albums.[44]

Reissues[edit]

Year Label Format Notes
1988 Atlantic CD[45]
1994 Atlantic CD Digitally remastered[46]
2003 Rhino CD Digitally remastered with bonus tracks[47]
2010 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab CD Sources from the original master tapes[48]
2013 Rhino CD Part of The Studio Albums 1969–1987[49]
2014 Panegyric CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray combo packs Mixed in original and new stereo mixes, as well as 5.1 surround sound[50]

The Yes Album was remastered and reissued in 2003 by Rhino Records with several bonus tracks, including a studio version of "Clap", entitled as Howe intended.[18] In 2014, Steven Wilson, formerly of Porcupine Tree, created a new stereo mix and a 5.1 surround sound mix, available as either a DVD or Blu-ray Disc. It was released on 21 April with bonus tracks including the studio version of "Clap", an extended version of "A Venture", and an alternate version of the album with live tracks, single edits, and an extended mix.[50] The Blu-ray version also features an instrumental version of the album, a needle drop sample of the original vinyl release, and additional live tracks.[23]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Yours Is No Disgrace"   Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Tony Kaye, Bill Bruford 9:41
2. "Clap"   Howe 3:17
3. "Starship Trooper"
  • a. "Life Seeker"
  • b. "Disillusion"
  • c. "Würm"  
Anderson, Howe, Squire 9:29
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "I've Seen All Good People"
  • a. "Your Move"
  • b. "All Good People"  
Anderson, Squire 6:56
2. "A Venture"   Anderson 3:21
3. "Perpetual Change"   Anderson, Squire 8:58
2003 remaster bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "I've Seen All Good People: Your Move (Single Version)"   Anderson 3:00
8. "Starship Trooper: Life Seeker (Single Version)"   Anderson 3:28
9. "Clap (Studio Version)"   Howe 4:02
2014 remix bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "Clap (Studio Version)"   Howe 4:04
8. "A Venture (Extended Version)"   Anderson 4:45

Personnel[edit]

Yes
Additional musicians
Production
  • Yes and Eddie Offord – production
  • Eddie Offord – engineering
  • Brian Lane – co-ordination
  • Phil Franks – photography
  • Barry Wentzell – photography
  • Jon Goodchild – design[20]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "Disillusion" evolved from an earlier song "For Everyone", live recordings of which later appeared on Something's Coming: The BBC Recordings 1969–1970 and The Word Is Live).
  2. ^ Howe was given the instrument by his sister in the 1960s, who erroneously thought it was a Spanish guitar, and he only discovered the actual name later.[24]
  3. ^ A riff in 14/8 pans to one side of the stereo while a chorus in 7/4 appears on the left[23]
Citations
  1. ^ Martin 2003, p. 1.
  2. ^ Welch 2009, p. 166.
  3. ^ Anderson 2011, 14:28.
  4. ^ a b Welch 2009, p. 170.
  5. ^ Bruford 2009, p. 116.
  6. ^ Welch 2009, p. 169.
  7. ^ Anderson 2011, 15:37.
  8. ^ Welch 2009, p. 168.
  9. ^ a b c Howe 2012, p. 1.
  10. ^ Nick DeRiso. "Gimme Five: Tony Kaye remembers Yes, Badger and Badfinger". Somethingelsereviews.com. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Martin 2003, p. 7.
  12. ^ a b c Eder, Bruce. "The Yes Album – Yes | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  13. ^ Kaye 2011, 16:47.
  14. ^ a b c Koegel, John (22 July 1971). "Yes The Yes Album > Album Review". Rolling Stone (87). Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  15. ^ Martin 2003, pp. 4,7.
  16. ^ a b Howe 2012, p. 2.
  17. ^ Welch 2009, p. 167.
  18. ^ a b Martin 2003, p. 14.
  19. ^ a b Howe 2012, p. 3.
  20. ^ a b c d e The Yes Album (Media notes). Yes. Atlantic Records. 1971. 2400 101. 
  21. ^ Anderson 2011, 8:50.
  22. ^ a b Howe 2012, p. 4.
  23. ^ a b c d e Kelman, John (8 June 2014). "Yes: The Yes Album (Definitive Edition CD /Blu-Ray)". All About Jazz. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Howe, Steve (24 July 2011). "Archived questions". Steve Howe (official website). Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. 
  25. ^ Howe 2012, p. 5.
  26. ^ Greene, Andy (4 February 2013). "Yes' Chris Squire on Their Classic Album Tour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  27. ^ Howe 2012, p. 6.
  28. ^ Franks, Phil (1996). "The Yes Album Sessions". Philm Freax. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  29. ^ Strik, Henri (2013). "Yes – The Lost Broadcasts". Background Magazine. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Martin 2003, pp. 5–6.
  31. ^ Bruford 2009, p. 139.
  32. ^ Fragile (Media notes). Yes. Atlantic. 1971. 240 1019. 
  33. ^ "UK chart history – Yes The Yes Album". www.chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  34. ^ Billboard albums chart info – Yes The Yes Album at AllMusic. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  35. ^ Welch 2009, p. 172.
  36. ^ Bruford 2009, p. 55.
  37. ^ Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: yes". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  38. ^ Dahlen, Chris; Leone, Dominique; Tangari, Joe (8 February 2004). "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Yes: The Yes Album / Fragile / Close to the Edge / Tales from Topographic Oceans / Relayer / Going for the One / Tormato / Drama / 90125". pitchfork.com. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 January 2008. 
  39. ^ Lechner, Ernesto (6 February 2003). "Classically Trained!". Rolling Stone (915): 64. Archived from the original on 23 March 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2005.  Reviews reissues of Yes, Time and a Word, The Yes Album, and Fragile.
  40. ^ Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John, eds. (1979). The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1st ed.). Random House/Rolling Stone Press. p. 424. 
  41. ^ Moon, Tom (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Workman Publishing. pp. 881–882. ISBN 978-0-7611-5385-6. 
  42. ^ Anderson 2011, 6:15.
  43. ^ Kaye 2011, 17:01.
  44. ^ Middles, Mick (29 June 2012). "In The Mood: The Favourite Albums Of Rush's Geddy Lee". The Quietus. 
  45. ^ The Yes Album (Media notes). Yes. Atlantic Records. 1988. CD-19131-2. 
  46. ^ "The Yes Album [CD]". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  47. ^ "The Yes Album [Bonus Tracks]". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  48. ^ "Yes – The Yes Album II 24 KT Gold CD". Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Inc.(www.mofi.com). Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  49. ^ "The Studio Albums 1969–87". Rhino. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  50. ^ a b "Yes Album [CD/DVD]". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
Sources