Weekend Musical Break: Yes

Blue Oyster Cult is not considered a ‘core’ Progressive Rock act, for a number of reasons. They had bonafide hits, for one, something that pretty consistently eluded most Prog bands even in Prog’s heyday. During that time, one of the most enduring Progressive acts also didn’t have a hit single, despite a number of critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums, including Close to the Edge. It wasn’t until the acquisition of Trevor Rabin by the band that they finally produced a suprise smash in ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’.

The album which spawned that hit, 1983’s 90125, was quite atypical for Yes, but over the years their sound has had a consistency that most bands never attain over such a lengthy period, despite a membership almost constantly in flux. The ‘classic’ Yes lineup in fact only endured for one record, Fragile. Today’s piece is from that album.

Over the years there has been only one perfromer who’s been a part of every incarnation of Yes, bassist Chris Squire. This particular performance shows off his talent despite the fact that one generally doesn’t find good sound quality on YouTube. Just listen to that baseline. Les Claypool has nothing on this man.

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4 responses to “Weekend Musical Break: Yes

  1. While BOC is my favorite band ever, I don’t think anyone has ever called them a prog band. Just a really, really good rock band.

    I would certainly not call Yes an even band. They’ve been all over the place. While CTTE and Fragile hold up over the years, their early stuff really has not aged well, and their later stuff is, to me, unlistenable. There is no denying their musicianship, but I feel they let the music devolve into aimless noodling way too often. Trevor Rabin, Geoff Downes and, arguably, Alan White helped reign in the band’s worst excesses.

    But I’ll tell you two things that do not at all age well. Jon Anderson’s hokey lyrics, and Rick Wakeman’s massive ego.

    Chris Squire, on the other hand — and Steve Howe and Bill Bruford — gave Yes their sound. You could not go wrong with those three, which is why the earlier Yes could be so amazing.

    I saw Chris Squire when he was doing the Chris Squire Experiment with Steve Porcaro and Alan White. It was. AWESOME. And I saw the Drama-era Yes, with the Buggles + Squire/White/Howe. Simply astonishing. I will never forget either.

    Jon Anderson used to live not far from me in California; he lived in San Luis Obispo (and still may, for all I know) and used to play Yes songs with various combos of Yes members fairly often, but their later stuff was so horrid I never bothered going.

  2. I think BOC is a straight rock act, albeit one with prog leanings. Wikipedia lumps them into Prog, for whatever that’s worth. One other reason though, that they aren’t typically considered Prog is that they’re American; another example would be Kansas. Both acts clearly share some of the features of Prog. Along with, say, Styx, I consider them a sort of demi-Prog.

    Yes certainly had their low points – Talk and Big Generator stand out for me, and Tormato was, in my opinion, unlistenable. Even so, I think they redeemed those dry years with the Keys to Ascension albums and The Ladder.

    I also could not possibly disagree more on the early, pre-Fragile stuff – I think there’s a ton of great material on those three albums. Yes, the debut, is probably the weakest one, but even there you have tracks like ‘I See You’, ‘Looking Around’ and, even more so, ‘Survival’, which are rock-solid still.

    This last is the most amazing track when I think about it – that album came out in 1969, and yet there’s such a huge difference between it and anything else that was being produced at the time – and yet it’s clearly of a piece with their later work up through Close to the Edge.

    Yes is a band I hold out hope of seeing some day… but I consider myself lucky to own both of the hard-to-get ABWH albums, at least.

    EDIT: And I notice, after bothering to check, that a Jon Anderson-less Yes is playing in Cleveland on November 25.

  3. One album for me

    Tales From Topographic Oceans

    (PS: During the Trevor Rabin era, I saw these guys at a rodeo of all places in Grand Rapids, MI. What was unique is they started their show 30 minutes before Sundown, and the sun set BEHIND their open air stage, and as the sun set, the light show kept changing, until smoke and lasers filled the surrounding area…and it was the most drug induced moment I ever felt being straight in all of my life…Genius…..I Will never forget it)