Time and a Word

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Time and a Word
Yes - Time and a Word - UK front cover.jpg
UK cover
Studio album by Yes
Released 24 July 1970
Recorded November 1969–January 1970
Studio Advision Studios
(London, England)
Length 39:35
Label Atlantic
Producer Tony Colton
Yes chronology
Time and a Word
The Yes Album
(1971)The Yes Album1971
Singles from Time and a Word
  1. "Time and a Word"/"The Prophet"
    Released: 27 March 1970
  2. "Sweet Dreams"/"Dear Father"
    Released: 19 June 1970
Alternate cover
US cover
US cover

Time and a Word is the second studio album from the English rock band Yes, released in July 1970 by Atlantic Records. Several months after releasing their debut album Yes, the group resumed touring and recorded Time and a Word at Advision Studios in London during gaps between shows. The group continued to follow their early musical direction of performing original material and cover versions of songs by pop, jazz, and folk artists. An orchestra of brass and string musicians was used on most of the album's songs; guitarist Peter Banks did not support the idea which resulted in increased tensions between himself and the rest of the group.

Time and a Word became the group's first release to enter the UK Albums Chart, with a peak at number 45, and their second not to chart in the United States. The album received mixed reviews from critics. During their UK tour in April 1970, Banks was fired from the group. By the time of the album's release, he was replaced by Steve Howe, who is photographed with the group on the album's American pressing. In 2003, the album was remastered with several previously unreleased tracks.

Background and recording[edit]

Time and a Word is Yes's last studio album recorded with guitarist Peter Banks in the group's line-up

After the release of their debut album Yes in July 1969 for Atlantic Records, Yes resumed extensive touring across the UK. The line-up of the group at this time included lead vocalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Peter Banks, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Bill Bruford, and organist Tony Kaye.[1] Towards the end of 1969, they booked time at Advision Studios in London during gaps between shows to record Time and a Word. In a November 1969 interview during a tour of Switzerland, Bruford talked about the album, saying Anderson was "pouring out new numbers for us to play ... Usually he writes a tune and we listen to the tape and take it from there".[2] At Advision, Yes were joined by producer Tony Colton, a friend of Anderson's who was also the singer of the rock band Heads Hands & Feet.[3][4] Phil Carson, the European managing director of Atlantic and a fan of the band, brought in audio engineer Eddy Offord to assist Colton in the album's production because of his skills and hard work.[5][3] Offord would become a key figure in the band's history in the 1970s as their producer and live sound mixer.[5]

The group continued to follow their early musical direction of performing original material and rearranged cover versions of songs by pop, jazz, and folk artists. They followed the same format as Yes; an album of eight tracks with two covers.[3] A discussion amongst Squire, Anderson, and Colton during the writing process led the decision of incorporating orchestral arrangements into some of their new songs. Anderson wished to use an orchestra as their new ideas needed "some additional ... sounds".[6] He observed that Banks and Kaye had not worked together to create a strong sound that their new arrangements required. To attempt to solve this, the group discussed using a Mellotron and tested one out, but the idea fell through.[7] Instead, a brass section of session players and a string section formed of students from the Royal College of Music were hired to perform arrangements written and conducted by Tony Cox.[1][5]

Time and a Word was met with "Yes-style controversy", as described by band biographer and reporter Chris Welch.[5] Banks became the most outspoken member over his issues surrounding the album which began the strain on his relationship with the rest of the group. He did not support the idea of an orchestra and thought it merely followed what rock bands Deep Purple and the Nice had already done.[4] He argued it merely played parts originally written for the guitar or organ, leaving his active participation to the album a minimum or his guitar buried into the album's mix.[8][9] Banks also disagreed with the decision to have Colton produce the album and claimed that Colton lacked the experience and personally disliked him and his playing.[9] Colton's ability was also questioned by Squire, who recalled one incident during the mixing of "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed", by which time Banks's replacement Steve Howe had joined and attended; Colton mixed the song using "a crappy pair of cans that did not reproduce bass", rather than using the studio's monitoring equipment. Offord asked for more bass, but Squire and Howe noticed the bass levels on the monitors were already high.[8][10] In 1995 Offord said that he too thought Colton had not been the right person to produce the band at that time.[9]

The album's six original tracks are credited to Anderson with either Squire or David Foster, Anderson's former bandmate in The Warriors.[8] Banks said he made contributions to the writing of the album, but his name was not included in the credits. It did not bother him at first, but it caused some discontent years later when he missed out on royalties.[9][11] Time and a Word marked a development in the lyric writing of Jon Anderson, who began to move from simple love themes to topics of greater scale, described by biographer Dan Hedges as "life, oneness and the future".[8]


"No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed", the album's first cover song, was written by American artist Richie Havens. It opens with an orchestral arrangement taken from the soundtrack to the 1958 Western film The Big Country by Jerome Moross.[11]

Anderson wrote "The Prophet" telling the story of a man, followed by many, who tells others to find and believe in themselves and not follow "like sheep".[12] The song borrows a theme from "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" from The Planets suite by English composer Gustav Holst and shows Anderson incorporating other themes from classical music, to which he listened regularly.[12]

"Sweet Dreams" was particularly well received by future Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin, who requested the band perform the song in concert during the 90125 tour in 1984.[12]

The song "Time and a Word" saw the band searching for an anthem-type song. Anderson, who was still musically naive, presented its basic theme to the group on a guitar, using only two or three chords, leaving the other band members trying to discern what he was playing.[13] The song was recorded with Foster on acoustic guitar. Again Banks didn't agree and claimed it was not meant to be part of the final mix, having been intended only as a guide track. On the final version, Banks played his parts over Foster's.[13]

Yes also recorded "Dear Father" at Advision Studios, but decided not to include the track on the album.[8]


The front cover of the album's UK pressing depicts an artistic black-and-white Dada-esque chequered design featuring a nude woman, which resembled little regarding the music or the band. The back cover included photographs of each member in front of a wind machine, distorting their faces.[5] The sleeve, designed and photographed by Laurence Sackman and co-ordinated by Graphreaks,[1] was deemed inappropriate by the American record distributors, resulting in the sleeve for the American pressing replaced by a photograph of the band, by which time Howe had replaced Banks, though a picture of Banks remained on the back cover on both pressings. Howe has said it was rejected because it was sexist, and got angry at Atlantic for continually pressing the album with the picture of him on the front. The picture of the group for the American cover was taken by Barrie Wentzell at his studio in Wardour Street, London.[14]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[15]
Robert Christgau C[16]

Yes premiered most of Time and a Word during their two solo concerts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, on 21 and 22 March 1970. For the second half, they played songs from the album with a twenty-piece orchestra led by Tony Cox.[17][3][4] Anderson later considered the shows a failure, due to a lack of rehearsal time and a poor sound system.[17] To record the orchestra, microphones were left dangling above the players using coat hangers.[18] Banks thought the experiment was a "daft idea". Nevertheless, Chris Welch wrote a positive review in Melody Maker noting that despite the amplification problems, the "musical break-through" reaction from the audience suggested to him that the group had "arrived".[4] The shows were the last in which Yes performed with an orchestra, until the 2001 Symphonic Tour to support their nineteenth studio album Magnification, which also featured orchestral arrangements.[3]

Tensions within the band increased, and just after the album's recording was completed in early 1970, Banks was asked to leave. Steve Howe would join the line-up, as a replacement, that June.

Following the UK release of Time and a Word in July 1970, the album became the group's first to enter the UK Albums Chart, with a peak at number 45.[19] Its US release followed in November 1970.[7] Two singles were released: "Time and a Word" in March 1970 and "Sweet Dreams" in June 1970.[20] The album sold no more copies than did the debut album Yes, which led management at Atlantic to consider dropping the band from the label. Carson managed to convince them to withdraw the notice, by which time the band had recruited Howe and secured Brian Lane as their new manager.

The album received a mixed reception. It received an enthusiastic review by Roy Carr in New Musical Express in August 1970, which hailed it as one of the best releases of the year. To the reviewer, its material was "mentally exhilirating", and "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" set the standard and mood of the remaining seven tracks. Cox's arrangements were praised, which blended well with the group's ability "to perform intricate and highly complex ensemble passages with meticulous dexterity and precision". The review credited the band's instrumental strength from Squire's "identifiable" bass playing, which created a "formidable" rhythm section when paired with Bruford's "expertise" drumming.[21]


  • 1989 – Atlantic – CD
  • 1994 – Atlantic – CD (remastered)
  • 2003 – Rhino – CD (remastered, with bonus tracks)

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" Richie Havens 4:48
2. "Then" Jon Anderson 5:44
3. "Everydays" Stephen Stills 6:08
4. "Sweet Dreams" Anderson, David Foster 3:51
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. "The Prophet" Anderson, Chris Squire 6:34
6. "Clear Days" Anderson 2:06
7. "Astral Traveller" Anderson 5:53
8. "Time and a Word" Anderson, Foster 4:31
2003 remaster

Note: Tracks 9–11 first appeared on early West German CD issues of Time and a Word.


Credits are adapted from the album's 1970 and 2003 liner notes.[1][3]

Additional musicians
  • David Foster – vocals on "Sweet Dreams", acoustic guitar on "Time and a Word"
  • Tony Cox – orchestration, conductor
  • Royal College of Music students – brass, strings
  • Tony Colton – producer
  • Eddie Offord – engineer
  • Loring Eutemey – cover design (US cover)
  • Barrie Wentzell – photograph (US cover)
  • Laurence Sackman – photographs and design
  • Graphreaks – design co-ordination


  1. ^ a b c d Time and a Word (LP liner notes). Various. Atlantic Records. 1970. 2400 006. 
  2. ^ Welch 2008, p. 74.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Time and a Word [2003 Remastered and Expanded Version] (CD liner notes and booklet). Various. Rhino Records. 1970. 8122-73787-2. 
  4. ^ a b c d Welch 2008, p. 77.
  5. ^ a b c d e Welch 2008, p. 76.
  6. ^ Hedges 1982, p. 37.
  7. ^ a b Morse 1996, p. 15.
  8. ^ a b c d e Hedges 1982, p. 38.
  9. ^ a b c d Morse 1996, p. 16.
  10. ^ Kirkman 2013, p. 20.
  11. ^ a b Morse 1996, p. 17.
  12. ^ a b c Morse 1996, p. 18.
  13. ^ a b Morse 1996, p. 19.
  14. ^ Kirkman 2013, p. 31.
  15. ^ Eder, Bruce (2011). "Time and a Word – Yes | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: yes". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  17. ^ a b Hedges 1982, p. 39.
  18. ^ Kirkman 2013, p. 21.
  19. ^ "Chart Stats – Yes – Time and a Word". chartstats.com. 2011. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  20. ^ Hedges 1982, p. 144.
  21. ^ Carr, Roy (22 August 1970). "Yes, It's Superb!". New Musical Express. p. 10. Retrieved 21 September 2016 – via ProQuest. (Subscription required (help)).