Yes‘ third album was released on this day 43 years ago, and is the first record to feature guitarist Steve Howe, and the last with keyboardist Tony Kaye until his return in 1983. The album was written and rehearsed at a farmhouse in South Molton, Devon, then home to Langley Studios.
The Yes Album received great reviews from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Q and many other publications around the world. It reached #4 in the U.K. and the Top 40 in the United States. The Yes Album is included on Q’s list of the “100 Greatest British Albums of All Time.”
In the two albums prior to releasing this one, Yes had proved they were talented, but there was nothing to give them concrete influence in the world of rock music. Having not had very much sucess, the record label gave the band a very clear ultimatum; release something that will get noticed, or the deal is off. Indeed, it was a very precarious moment for the band; but in their desparation, something really great was made.
Some of the most well-known Yes material is on here, and even the casual listener who lived through the 70′s will recognize the hooks of classics like I’ve Seen All Good People and Starship Trooper. The Yes Album is a lot more instantly gratifying than their more progressive classics like Close To The Edge and especially the massive Tales From Topographic Oceans. With the more abstract work heard in other albums, it could take listen upon listen to hunt out the subtle nuances, but with this; almost everything comes out at you after two or three listens. This has positive and negative consequences, because while it doesn’t demand much of the listener while still being interesting, there isn’t that same satisfaction one gets when an album finally ‘hits’ them.
Consider it symphonic prog with a heavy pop influence or not, this is the album that saved Yes, and gave them a chance to make some of the best symphonic prog ever performed. For that, we must be grateful.