Loading their songs with rapid-fire chord changes ("Roundabout"), key changes (playing in one key is just too restrictive) and time changes (they weren't content with 4/4), Yes set out to be groundbreakers. Jon Anderson's airy vocals battled with guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman for attention. No band could pull off what Yes attempted without a solid rhythm section - bassist Chris Squire and drummer Bill Bruford.
Yes trademarks were long instrumental breaks and chords with suspended 7ths - definitely not beginner stuff. Eventually, the band got caught in its own excesses and saw personnel changes (Wakeman and Bruford left and were replaced by Patrick Moraz and Alan White respectively) before halting all together.
Anderson and Squire founded Yes in the "anything is possible" environment of the late '60s with the idea of stretching Rock's boundaries. Yes opened for Cream at the latter's farewell concert at London's Royal Albert Hall and the Iron Butterfly on that group's final European tour. These excursions led to a recording contract and a self-titled debut.
Their sophomore effort "Time And A Word" saw the addition of guitarist Howe.
Following "The Yes Album," the flamboyant Wakeman joined on keyboards. "Fragile" with "Roundabout" was next and represented the group's commercial peak. "Close To The Edge" was the last '70s Yes album with its strongest and best-known line-up. From this point the group's reach exceeded their grasp.
The original members re-launched Yes in the '80s with "90125" and the single "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and the lesser album "Big Generator." But by then, Yes had made their mark.
Squire, the only band member heard on every Yes studio album, passed away on 06/28/15, a month after revealing he had been diagnosed with leukemia. He was 67.
"Chris was a very special part of my life; we were musical brothers," wrote Anderson.
1970 Time And A Word
1971 The Yes Album
1972 Close To The Edge
1973 Yessongs (live)
1973 Tales From Topographic Oceans
1977 Going For The One
1980 Yesshows (live)
1984 9012 Live
1987 Big Generator
1989 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
1996 Keys To Ascension (studio & live)
1997 Keys To Ascension 2 (studio & live)
1997 Open Your Eyes
1999 The Ladder
2011 Fly From Here
2011 In The Present: Live From Lyon
2014 Heaven & Earth
After taking a couple albums to warm up Yes hits the mark with three successive albums. "The Yes Album" has "Yours Is No Disgrace," the extended "Starship Trooper" and "I've Seen All Good People." "Fragile contains the group's best known song "Roundabout." The song is a good example of the group at its creative height. During the instrumental break Howe unleashes a reverb drenched guitar. The lick doesn't last more that two measures but its placement and execution is perfect. A truly memorable moment. It's a perfect example of the intricate touches Yes created. In addition, "Fragile" has another Yes classic "Long Distance Runaround." "Close To The Edge" also stands among the group's finest. The rest of the '70s material, with new members, is largely unfocused and unsatisfying. The '80's reunion albums "90125" and "Big Generator," with "Love Will Find A Way" are OK.
Yes has been re-packaged about as much as any group could. "Yessongs" from '73 is the first attempt. Other compilations cover longer periods but there's a lot of Art-Rock meanderings thrown in. Also, Yes "live" CDs abound. The best bet is to stick with the three classic Yes albums.