The Albums That Shaped Me: CLASSIC YES

albums-classicyesYES: Classic Yes
Year of Release: 1981
Year it Came Into My Life: 1981

“Heart of the Sunrise”
“Wonderous Stories”
“Yours is No Disgrace”
“Starship Trooper”
“Long Distance Runaround”
“The Fish”
“And You and I”
“Roundabout” (live)
“I’ve Seen All Good People” (live)

Finally moving on from 1980! That was the year that nearly every one of my “cornerstone” albums came out. And no, that’s not an intentional Styx pun (that album came out in ’79, anyway). Having been a Rush fan for a few years at this time, my pump had been primed for full-blown prog-rock. I had of course heard Yes before. I remember hearing “Roundabout” on the radio when I was fairly young. And once I started listening to rock radio in high school, I started hearing things like “Long Distance Runaround” and “I’ve Seen All Good People”. But the previous year – yes, 1980 again – Yes released the album Drama. I was completely unaware of this at the time, or about any of the big-deal line up changes. All I knew was that our local rock station started playing “Tempus Fugit” a LOT, and I really fell in love with it. It became my favorite song on the radio. I’d wait for them to play it. I remember a couple of occasions blasting it while I was driving. I guess a couple of my friends were aware of my love of this song, because I was given the cassette of Classic Yes for Christmas.

To be honest, I didn’t take to it at first. Let’s be frank, none of it sounded like “Tempus Fugit”! But the more I listened, the more my appreciation grew. “Wonderous Stories” was the first one that grabbed me, followed by “And You and I. I slowly took in more of the other songs as well, and started to really like what I heard.

By the time 90125 came out in ’83, I was ready to become a serious full-time fan. I bought that album when it came out and really liked it, partly because it sounded much more like “Tempus Fugit” than any of the other Yes songs I knew. I saw them on that tour very soon after. They played two nights at the Lakeland Civic Center, the 3rd and 4th nights of the tour, I believe, and I went both nights. And that sealed the deal for me.It also introduced me to other songs that I hadn’t heard before. After this, I started buying up every Yes album there was, and I went on this journey deeper and deeper into the world of prog-rock. The last two I bought were Tales From Topographic Oceans and Relayer. Both of those albums eluded me for a long time, they were just a little more than I could digest at the time. But my appreciation grew, I began to listen to rock music the same way one would listen to a symphony – for the themes, the development, the progression of ideas throughout the course of a piece or in some cases throughout the course of an album. It took a while, but I finally climb the twin mountains that are Topographic and Relayer, and now they’re my two favorite Yes albums.  “Gates of Delirium” is, to me, the culmination of prog rock. Its the progiest prog there is.

I continue to follow Yes and have loved everything they’ve created, especially later albums like The Ladder and Magnification. Just saw them a month ago at Atlanta Symphony Hall and they were fantastic. And Yes greatly expanded my musical horizons as I continued to explore deeper prog groups, like King Crimson, as well as the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, and younger bands like Spock’s Beard and IQ. Seriously, two of the most perfect prog albums I’ve ever heard are V by Spock’s Beard (2000) and Dark Matter by IQ (2004).

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