Posts Tagged yes

Album of the Day: Yes (10/15/69)

The eponymous debut album by British prog-rockers Yes is considered to be the first progressive rock album. And Yes the band (for their playlist, click here) is considered to be the most venerable and commercially successful prog-rock band. Their debut album was released on October 15, 1969 in the waning days of psychedelic rock, and just ahead of the big splintering of rock music into a multitude of sounds and genres that made the 70s the best decade for rock music. With their next three albums, Yes became a major and defining force on the progressive side of rock music. But the debut LP didn’t fare well, even though it’s a decent collection of early Yes songs. The biggest reason: Yes was released within a few weeks of several notable late-1969 rock albums by the heavy hitters of the time, including Tommy by The Who, Led Zeppelin II, and the StonesLet It Bleed. By 1973, that would all change.

By the way, Yes includes two very ambitious and interesting covers of songs by the Beatles (“Every Little Thing”) and the Byrds (“I See You”). To download Yes from iTunes or for a CD from Amazon, click here.

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Album of the Day: Emerson, Lake & Palmer (6/14/71)

Not just the first supergroup in progressive rock, Emerson, Lake & Palmer (aka ELP) was also the earliest prog-rock band to truly master the heady mix of classical, hard rock and pop music that became a significant and commercially viable force in the 70s. Formed in very late 1969, the trio issued their eponymous debut LP in 1970 and followed with the prog-rock seminal Tarkus on June 14, 1971.

Keyboardist Keith Emerson and bassist Greg Lake met in 1969 while on tour with The Nice and King Crimson, their respective artsy hard rock bands of the time. Realizing the opportunity to form a new venture and deciding on a trio, they convinced drummer Carl Palmer to jump over from his group Atomic Rooster. (There is much truth to the rumor that they also courted Jimi Hendrix to join them and form “HELP”, but Hendrix declined and was dead a few months later, anyway). With the super-trio in place, ELP set about crafting their signature organ-dominated, pop-goes-cathedral sound for the self-titled first LP. For album #2, Tarkus, the band expanded the theme, gloomy at times and explosive at others, sharing compositions and instrumentation in a mostly glorious, thundering cannonade of early but now classic progressive rock.

Tarkus features the epic, 21 minute conceptual title track that consumed Side 1 of the original LP and taught everyone that such self-centered indulgences were acceptable (but only when they were credible and listenable!). On Side 2, ELP bookends a Bach-based hymn (“The Only Way”) and three more spirited rockers (“Bitches Crystal,” “Infinite Space (Conclusion)” and “A Time And A Place”) with two curious but acceptable matings of countrified rock ‘n’ roll with Emerson’s classical-turned-dancehall piano, “Jeremy Bender” and “Are You Ready, Eddy?” The whole is as good as the sum, although “Tarkus” the composition is the best of the album.

The album climbed as far as #9 in North America and opened the door for a broad range of successful 70s art/prog/avant-garde rockers, from Ambrosia to early Moody Blues to Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream and Yes (ELP’s chief competitors in the mid70s). My Top 25 ELP tracks will be up on DrRock.com shortly, and Tarkus is available as a CD or mp3 downloads on Amazon and as iPod downloads on iTunes.

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Album of the Day: Yes (1/4/72) 38 Years!

Yes released their fourth album, Fragile on January 4, 1972, a scant six months after Rick Wakeman left the Strawbs and joined Yes (click here for my playlist), bringing synthesizers and another strong classical music background to a band on verge of breakthrough. While contractual issues precluded any official credit for his keyboard and co-writing work on the album, Wakeman’s presence solidified the band, their sound and their place in rock history. Fragile quickly rose to #4 on the Billboard 200 and pushed the band to the forefront of the burgeoning prog-rock movement.

The whole affair owes everything to the surprise hit single version of the 8-plus minute “Roundabout,” which became a cross-over AM and heavy FM hit after a shortened version was released as a single. That extremely unusual achievement lifted an otherwise excellent prog-rock album to unheard of heights and began a nearly 40 year reign for Yes as the quintessential and longest-running prog-rock show on Earth.

Surprisingly, Fragile is not on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of all time, but it should be in the first 100. However, it is available as a CD on Amazon (click here) and download tracks on iTunes (click here).

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Album of the Day: Yes (10/15/69)

316ZDSWKM0L._SL160_The eponymous debut album by British prog-rockers Yes is considered to be the first progressive rock album. And Yes the band (for my Yes playlist, click here) is considered to be the most venerable and commercially successful prog-rock band. Their debut album was released on October 15, 1969 in the waning days of psychedelic rock, and just ahead of the big splintering of rock music into a multitude of sounds and genres that made the 70s the best decade for rock music. With their next three albums, Yes became a major and defining force on the progressive side of rock music. But the debut LP didn’t fare well, even though it’s a decent collection of early Yes songs. The biggest reason: Yes was released within a few weeks of several notable late-1969 rock albums by the heavy hitters of the time, including Tommy by The Who, Led Zeppelin II, and the Stones’ Let It Bleed. By 1973, that would all change.

By the way, Yes includes two very ambitious and interesting covers of songs by the Beatles (“Every Little Thing”) and the Byrds (“I See You”). To download Yes from iTunes, click here. For a CD from Amazon, click here.

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Album of the Day: Yes (9/13/72)

31RTNYW5SYL._SL160_Yes released two albums in 1972, Fragile in January and Close To The Edge on September 13. The former was their breakout album and established Yes as the leaders in the burgeoning progressive rock movement. The latter became the definitive progressive rock album. Close To The Edge brought together all of the pieces of the trademark Yes sound: expansive, multi-layered, organ-dominated mixtures of classical, choral, and gothic sounds over rock and jazz underpinnings with Jon Anderson’s choirboy tenor delivering eclectic, mystical lyrics at the center. The album is cohesive where its predecessor was a showcase of individual musical talents. It contains only three songs, none less than nine minutes, and was well received both critically and commercially. Close To The Edge topped at #3 in the U.S. and #4 in the U.K., and a cut down version of the 10 minute “And You And I” posted at #49 on the Billboard singles chart. But the band’s time at the pinnacle of the art/prog rock genre would be brief. Drummer Bill Bruford left to join King Crimson immediately following the Close To The Edge recording sessions. And the follow-up LP, Tales Of Topographical Oceans, 16 months in the making, was a disaster of overindulgent pretentiousness that sold well but was critically sneered at. A Yes playlist is in The Playlist Vault at DrRock.com and Close To The Edge can be purchased as a CD on Amazon our downloaded on iTunes.

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Album of the Day: Yes (7/7/77)

51XPGKSRD5L._SL160_Yes released their eighth studio album, Going For The One, on July 7, 1977 at the height of punk-rock backlash against (among other things) the excesses and pretention of the progressive rock genre. Punkers openly disdained the self-absorbed, artsy proggers and vowed a return to the basics of rock ‘n roll. Punker views notwithstanding, progressive rock’s heyday in the early 70s was rapidly waning anyway. Top shelf art/prog-rock groups were dead or dying (Soft Machine, King Crimson, Uriah Heep) or shifting to a more audience- and radio-friendly sound (Genesis, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd). Going For The One mostly bucked the trend.  The album reached backed to the more concise, shorter tracks in earlier Yes albums like Fragile (although “Awaken” is the lone hold-out at over 15 minutes). Given the music landscape of the time, it is remarkable but not surprising that Going For The One reached into the Billboard Top 10 and includes the Top 10 single, the flowing ballad “Wondrous Stories.” Going For The One is a necessary addition to any serious Yes collection and is recommended for even a casual Yes fan. The album is available as a CD and mp3 tracks on Amazon and iPod tracks on iTunes, and a Yes playlist is in my Playlist Vault.

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