Yes (Yes album)

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Yes - Yes.jpg
UK pressing front cover
Studio album by
Released25 July 1969 (1969-07-25)
RecordedSpring 1969
StudioAdvision and Trident Studios
(London, England)
  • Paul Clay
  • Yes
Yes chronology
Time and a Word
Singles from Yes
  1. "Sweetness"/"Something's Coming"
    Released: 4 July 1969
  2. "Looking Around"/"Everydays"
    Released: 3 November 1969
Alternate cover
US pressing front cover
US pressing front cover

Yes is the first studio album by the English rock band Yes, released on 25 July 1969 by Atlantic Records. After the band formed in mid-1968, they toured extensively across the United Kingdom with sets formed of original material and rearranged cover versions. They signed with Atlantic in early 1969, and entered Advision and Trident Studios in London to record their first album. Yes includes covers of "Every Little Thing" by The Beatles and "I See You" by The Byrds.

Yes received some positive reviews from music critics in the United Kingdom and United States, but it was not a commercial success and failed to enter the charts. Two singles from the album were released: "Sweetness" and "Looking Around". The album was remastered in 1994 and 2003, the latter containing several previously unreleased tracks including a rendition of "Something's Coming" from West Side Story.


In August 1968, Yes formed with a line-up of singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Peter Banks, drummer Bill Bruford, and keyboardist Tony Kaye and the band played their first gig under the name on 4 August. They toured the United Kingdom extensively, playing sets formed of original material and rearranged cover songs from rock, pop, funk, and jazz artists. After Bruford left the band temporarily with the aim of pursuing education at university, the line-up returned to its original formation in November 1968. In the search for finding a record label, manager Roy Flynn and Atlantic managing director Frank Fenter secured a deal to have Yes audition for Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records at the Speakeasy Club in London. The gig was a success, and news of the band's signing to the label were reported by the press in March 1969.[2]



With their contract secured, Yes recorded their debut album in the spring of 1969 at Advision and Trident Studios in London.[3][4] Anderson and Banks recalled the band were in the studio between one and four weeks.[5] They were joined by producer Paul Clay and engineers Gerald Chevin and John Anthony.[6][7][4] Banks was unsure as to how Clay became involved in the album, and deemed Clay unfit for the job as he had worked on film soundtracks and knew "a lot about cottages" but little about working with rock bands which caused the album to lack in quality as a result, with Bruford's drums sounding "like biscuit tins" and his guitar sounding "clangy".[5][8] Banks gave one of the engineers the nickname "The Weasel" or "The Ferret" as his small stature and glasses made him resemble "a rocket scientist from the 1950s" and his general distaste for rock music.[9][4] He also consistently asked the band to turn their levels down to the dislike of Banks, who would put his guitar levels up when no one was looking.[10]

Recording was also met with technical difficulties, with the group spending two days trying to get a Hammond organ for Kaye to play on function correctly. They hired one to use as Kaye owned a Vox Continental disguised as a Hammond.[11][5] This was Bruford's first time in a professional recording studio, and it was only when the album was nearly complete that he realised could alter the volume levels of the other band members' instruments in his headphones. Instead, he recorded his parts with the guitar loud in one ear "and nothing else in the other".[5] Bruford described his playing on the album as "a mishmash of everything I'd heard" and later recognised his naive playing, specifically to "swing on the cymbals".[11] Around the third day of recording, Ertegun visited the studio to hear what had been put down, but the band had nothing to play for him.[10]


"Beyond & Before" was written by Squire and Clive Bailey, former singer and guitarist in Mabel Greer's Toyshop, the rock band that was a precursor to Yes and who had recorded it in 1967. The band would open their live shows with this tune, which features three-part harmonies. Years later, Banks was still unsure as to what the lyrics meant yet suggested they were "drug induced".[8] Squire described it as "one of those acid rock kind of songs" with its psychedelic lyrics.[12] "I See You" is a cover version of the original performed by American rock band the Byrds. Banks was disappointed with the version recorded for the album as he later recognised the mistakes on it. The instrumental section with the guitar solo was often stretched for several minutes when performed live, sometimes ending in Banks throwing his guitar in the air and banging it on stage.[12] "Yesterday and Today" was one of the tracks recorded at Trident Studios and features Bruford playing the vibraphone, despite telling the band he can play the instrument and Banks remembering the drummer getting nervous when it came to recording.[4][12] "Looking Around" remained one of Squire's favourite tracks on the album. When it came to recording it, the band had some difficulties with its pitching as they were unsure on what key the song was in.[13]

"Harold Land" got its title from Bruford, who recalled someone asking out loud what the track should be called. "I remember somebody saying ... 'I want to write a song about a man called...' and I said, 'Harold Land' as I walked through the room".[4] The song is named after Harold Land, an American tenor saxophonist, yet the song's lyrics deal with the effects of war on the named character.[4] The album's second cover version is "Every Little Thing" by The Beatles. Squire did not realise how much he liked the band's version until he turned on the radio after performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1984 and liked the instrumentation, failing to recognise it was the band's version being played until Anderson's voice was heard.[13] "Sweetness" was the first song that Anderson and Squire collaborated on following their initial meeting. It is featured in the comedy drama film Buffalo '66 (1998), the first film with Vincent Gallo as director. "Survival" was a song that had contributions from the whole band, but it was not worked on fully due to the limited time they had to finish the album. It later became bothersome for Bruford due to its ecology-inspired lyrics and "drippy" melody.[14]

Sleeve design[edit]

The album was packaged in a gatefold sleeve, with the UK pressing featuring a front cover of the word "YES" in blue and red inside a speech bubble against a plain black background.[4] The sleeve was designed by Cosby/Fletcher/Forbes, a design collaboration formed of graphic designers Theo Crosby, Alan Fletcher, and Colin Forbes, with additional design work from Haig Adishian.[6] Music journalist and band biographer Chris Welch wrote: "Although the sleeve wasn't graced with the kind of elaborate cover art that Roger Dean would introduce on the 1971 Fragile album, the ... cover was most effective".[4] The front cover of the United States and Canada pressings feature a photograph of the band at an architectural centre in Fulham taken by American photographer David Gahr.[6] It was also included in the album's 2003 remastered release.[4] The gatefold includes a group and mid-gig photographs taken by Nicky Wright at Parliament Hill Fields in north London.[10][6] When it came to producing the liner notes, Flynn requested that his name was omitted from the list of credits.[4] Anderson is credited on the original release as "John"; he removed the "h" from his name in 1970.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[15]
Rolling Stone(favourable)[16]

Yes was released on 25 July 1969 in the UK.[7] Its release in the US followed on 15 October 1969.[3] "Sweetness" was put out as the album's lead single and the band's first overall, which Banks disagreed with as he thought it was the song that represented the band's style the least.[13]

The album received a positive reception from two American newspapers. Scott Campbell of the Arizona Republic wrote that Yes are "a promising set" that deliver on being "solid and together at nearly all times", with "strong and competent" vocals from Anderson.[17] David Wagner, in the Post-Crescent, agreed Campbell in Yes being a "very promising" group. He recognised "a lot of jazz swinginess" on the album, particularly on the two cover songs, and compared Banks's guitar style to Wes Montgomery which comes across strong on the guitar and drum section on "I See You". Wagner rated the band's original material as "generally good" and "fully arranged" despite the over-sentimental quality of "Sweetness", "but there are so many delights on so many levels here that it's hard to complain".[18] Lester Bangs favourably reviewed the album in Rolling Stone, writing that it was "the kind of album that sometimes insinuates itself into your routine with a totally unexpected thrust of musical power."[16]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Beyond & Before"Chris Squire, Clive Bailey4:58
2."I See You"Jim McGuinn, David Crosby6:54
3."Yesterday and Today"Jon Anderson2:53
4."Looking Around"Anderson, Squire4:18
Side two
1."Harold Land"Anderson, Squire, Bill Bruford5:45
2."Every Little Thing"John Lennon, Paul McCartney5:46
3."Sweetness"Anderson, Squire, Bailey4:35


Credits are adapted from the album's 1969 and 2003 sleeve notes.[6][7]



  • Paul Clay – production
  • Yes – production
  • Gerald Chevin – engineer
  • John Anthony – engineer[4]
  • Crosby/Fletcher/Forbes – sleeve design
  • Peter Sanders – other photographs
  • Nicky Wright – full page photograph
  • Haig Adishian – cover design (UK edition)
  • David Gahr – cover photograph (US edition)


  • 1989 - Atlantic - CD
  • 1994 - Atlantic - CD (Remastered)
  • 2003 - Rhino - CD (Remastered with bonus tracks)


  1. ^ a b "Yes - Yes | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  2. ^ "Tail-Pieces". New Musical Express. 15 March 1969. p. 18. Retrieved 21 September 2016 – via ProQuest. (Subscription required (help)).
  3. ^ a b Yes [1994 Remaster] (Media notes). Yes. Atlantic Records. 1994. 82680-2.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Welch 2008, p. 59.
  5. ^ a b c d Morse 1996, p. 12.
  6. ^ a b c d e Yes (Media notes). Yes. Atlantic Records. 1969. 588 190.
  7. ^ a b c Yes [Expanded and Remastered] (Media notes). Yes. Rhino Records. 2003. 8122-73786-2.
  8. ^ a b Welch 2008, p. 60.
  9. ^ Morse 1996, p. 12, 13.
  10. ^ a b c Welch 2008, p. 63.
  11. ^ a b Welch 2008, p. 59, 60.
  12. ^ a b c Morse 1996, p. 13.
  13. ^ a b c Morse 1996, p. 14.
  14. ^ Morse 1996, p. 15.
  15. ^ Eder, Bruce. Yes: Yes > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  16. ^ a b Bangs, Lester (7 February 1970). "Records". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  17. ^ Campbell, Scott (21 December 1969). "Sound—from the underground". Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2 September 2018 – via (Subscription required (help)).
  18. ^ Wagner, David F. (21 December 1969). "Yes, Yes is promising". The Post-Crescent. Appleton, Wisconsin. Retrieved 2 September 2018 – via (Subscription required (help)).