Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: Yes - The Yes Album

The Yes Album is a disc that I grew up with; my mother had this one and Yes' greatest hits sense I was a wee babe. Needless to say I could describe this album in vivid detail without actually listening to it again, but why deprive myself of the experience? It has been a while.

Looking at the tracklist before actually beginning listening I immediately recognize family favorites, "Yours Is No Disgrace," "Starship Trooper," and "I've Seen All Good People." Each of these I can sing along with and could probably manage the majority of the song without any music accompaniment. With those three alone (of six), I know I will enjoy this album as a whole. However, as I listen through it, I'm reminded of how great this album truly is.

The weakest on the album, and the only one that I can't claim to love is "The Clap," but that's mostly because it's a live rendition of an instrumental piece, not a whole lot to critique there, just not of my taste. The next song that I don't know by solely the same is "A Venture," but as soon as the chorus chimes in I found myself singing along too - I was even in the other room cooking - reminding me again of how ingrained The Yes Album actually is in my psyche. The final song, "Perpetual Change," strikes me strongly of Sgt. Pepper's, at least three times throughout the track. It's not a blatant copy or sampling, seeming more of an homage, but it's pretty apparent. Regardless, it's an enjoyable song and, although it is filled with ups and downs, it ends on such a soft and beautiful note that it clearly closes the album perfectly.

Bringing us to the obvious greats; "Yours Is No Disgrace" is an amazing beginning and really gets the album off to a great start. It opens the album with the signature style of the band - long psychedelic songs with varying tempos, time signatures and keys changes - and does it well. It is probably the best song off the album, and as such is one of my favorite songs by Yes at all. The next big one, "Starship Trooper," is the lesser of the three but still a great song by any degree. The last, "I've Seen All Good People," still pops up from time to time on classic radio stations, so it may be one of the best known songs by the band. I really like the song except at the end where they just chant the main line "I've seen all good people turn their heads each day. So satisfied I'm on my way" for literally three minutes. It gets old really quick in the seven minute song.

To me this is the way that progressive psychedelic rock should be, the golden era of the genre. The songs are few but long and sprawling. The lyrics tread between deep and whimsical, and the music is amazing throughout. The Yes Album is my favorite album by Yes, and while that may be because I have heard it the most often (uncountable number of times), but it is also because of the amazing skill and composition. If you haven't already taken my words about Yes to heart, let this album bring you over.

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