At first Yes redressed mid-Sixties tunes in progressive trappings, along with elaborate but still melodic compositions of their own. By their... Read More
third and fourth albums (The Yes Album
), the cover versions had vanished and the originals lengthened.
Yesterdays serves as an illustration of the band's earlier phase. It consists of two tracks from their first album and four from their second, plus an obscure B-side to a 1970 single and a ten-minute version of Paul Simon's "America" (previously available only on a British sampler album and, in a considerably shortened version, as a 1972 American single).
Yes reworked Simon & Garfunkel's "America" entirely, with a long and basically unrelated intro (complete with implied snatches of the West Side Story "America") and an alien, elaborate vocal structure which gives the impression that the song is being sung phonetically by a foreign vocalist.
The most interesting track is "Dear Father," previously unavailable on LP and apparently a plea from a doubtful and confused Jesus. It's a relatively straight pop-rock song, with a recurring chorus full of harmonies and some impressive melodic fragments, and it's literally smothered in an overwhelming orchestral arrangement. An atypical number.
Of all the material on Yesterdays, "America" is most important as a transition point. Later songs became even more intricate, bordering on the unfathomable while the lyrics meandered into murkier mystic modes. Yes's last album, Tales from Topographic Oceans, was four sides' worth of hopelessly dense complexity that left many observers recoiling in utter dismay and taxed even the group's most ardent supporters.
Relayer may exhaust even the devoted. Singer Jon Anderson's words plumb new depths of turgidity. Side one of Relayer is taken up by a 22-minute track called "The Gates of Delirium," a titanic battle-of-the-mind-forces allegory of sorts. A sample stanza:
Choose and renounce throwing chains to the floor
Kill or be killing faster sins correct the flow
Casting giant shadows off vast
To alter via the war that seen
As friction spans the spirits wrath ascending (slowly) to redeem
Pretentious balderdash no matter how you stack it and the remaining lyrics are only marginally clearer.
The music seems equally chaotic. Opening with sheets of cascading guitars and wheeling Mellotrons, it breaks off into a fairly melodic vocal segment. This is followed by a seemingl