Written on January 2, 2010
Yes’ unassuming 1969 debut is a collection of late 60’s mature pop songs, with some complex songs mixed in that slightly foreshadow the future direction of the band.
The key pop songs on the record are “Beyond and Before” and “Looking Around.” Both tracks feature great instrumentation and sound more mature than the other pop tracks on the record.
The more complex songs on the album are all excellent. “Harold Land” has a great intro and build up, and it climaxes with powerful organ work from Tony Kaye that gives the song a feeling of a war march. The Beatles’ cover, “Every Little Thing,” is one of the grandest moments on the album, and I like it better than The Beatles version. Yes adds an extended instrumental jam that starts the song, and it is much heavier than The Beatles’ version. “Survival” is easily the best track on the album. It has an epic feel, and it foreshadows the type of progressive rock that Yes would create on their Main Sequence of albums.
The only major misstep is the Mary Poppins inspired “Sweetness.” Jon Anderson’s voice paired with the lyrics of “She brings the sunshine to a rainy afternoon/ she puts the sweetness in/ and stirs it with a spoon” is very sappy, and the lyrics have always reminded me of the Mary Poppins song “A Spoonful of Sugar.”
Ultimately Yes is a modest debut record, but it has enough substance and maturity mixed in to make it an interesting listen.
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