Thursday, September 10, 2015

YES: "Yes" (1969) / "Time And A Word" (1970)

The earliest Yes I'd ever heard was by seeing a vintage black-and-white video clip of them from Beat-Club on Night Flight, doing a cover of Richie Havens' "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed", although I didn't know it wasn't an original tune then. My exposure to them was pretty limited, so I wasn't aware of their early history, other than The Yes Album. I didn't know that they had done some more before that one.

In November of 1990, I was at Golden Oldies when I saw the album with that song on it, on what I assumed was their first album. It only cost me four dollars, and I was excited to hear what it sounded like. Sure enough, that was the lead-off song on side one, but was accompanied by a loud, clunky orchestra, as were most of the other songs on the album. But beyond the strings, I was impressed and amazed by what I was hearing. They even had a different guitarist (Peter Banks), although Steve Howe was confusingly on the front cover.

There was some great rockin' stuff on this one, such as "Then" and "Astral Traveler", but I was most impressed with their haunting cover of Buffalo Springfield's "Everydays". On my fifteenth birthday, I went and got myself a cassette copy of the album at Tower Records, so I could blast it on the Walkman whenever I went out anywhere.

Speaking of cassettes, a while after getting that one on tape, I found another on by them, only it didn't have a title on it. I immediately figured that this must be their first album...but this time, I didn't have the money to get it. As luck would have it, an 8-track copy of the album turned up at St. Vincent de Paul, and this time, it went home with me. Thankfully, it was in good condition, and played just nicely.

This one was a little rawer and rougher around the edges, but there were some great songs on it, even a Beatles tune ("Every Little Thing"). I was impressed with "Looking Around", and there was a glint of things to come with the opening of "Survival". In the summer of 1993, on a trip to Fred Meyer, there was a close-out section where they were getting rid of all their unwanted vinyl albums...and a sealed copy of this very album was in that rack...for twenty-five cents!!! Score!

Many years later, and I'm buying myself the remastered CD's, the ones with the original British album covers, and bonus tracks on both of them. I really liked the early non-stringed version of "Everydays", and it was cool to hear alternate mixes of songs from the West German version of Time And A Word. They both sounded amazing, and the first album in particularly sounded very impressive. Much fuller, and less brittle than on the original vinyl. A lot of people always complain about that album's production values (or lack of them), but I personally think that it compliments the music just perfectly. They simply got better as they went along, didn't they?

As with Metamorphosis, these two albums are always played a lot around the end of the summer, and well into fall...that time of the year just seems to suit the music, for me, anyway.

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