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Atlantic 100
Released: March 1973
Chart Peak: #12
Weeks Charted: 32
Certified Gold: 3/17/73

Alan WhiteRick WakemanChris SquireSteve HoweJon AndersonYes suffers from having too many diverse talents for one group to handle. The differing musical styles of the five musicians cannot easily be integrated into a unified approach. As a result the group has, more often than not, fallen back on a pattern of extended soloing to duck the issue. On this six-sided live album, they do it less than on previous releases (in concert you can't very well have people strolling offstage all the time) although regrettably there is still far too much of it. Nonetheless, this is their best album in quite a while, far superior to Close to the Edge and Fragile.

Yes' lead singer and group spokesman is Jon Anderson, a lad blessed with a silver throat and a magnificent range. On the negative side, he writes the group's lyrics which are both contrived and sometimes senseless, and it has been Jon who has urged the rest of the group (especially Rick Wakeman, keyboards) to solo more, as an outgrowth of his admiration for such soloists as Keith Emerson and John McLaughlin. Wakeman and drummer Alan White have made names for themselves as group members rather than front men (in the Strawbs and Plastic Ono Band/Balls, respectively), and they are most effective in their natural roles.
Yes - Yessongs
Original album advertising art.
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Steve Howe, guitar, is a unique stylist who has helped to define the Yes sound with both his playing and songwriting, but his musical contributions were much more earthshaking (although not recognized as such) and indicative of his extraordinary talents when he led Tomorrow, a psychedelic superband of the late Sixties. Finally there's Chris Squire, a quiet and musically humble bassist who knows how to exploit the spacey Rickenbacker bass guitar sound, as well as having written the majority of Yes' songs.

"Perpetual Change" is perhaps the best single track on the album; the group uses dynamics to build crescendos full of emotional impact. Unfortunately, the cut ends with an anti-climactic and monotonous drum solo. "I've Seen All Good People" would have been better if the bass/drums weren't mixed so loud during the acoustic segment -- the rumbles around the low edge of the audio spectrum are more distracting than exciting. But the live version of "Roundabout" sounds more full and exciting than the original and "And You and I" is quite invigorating.

In fact, if our interest wasn't so consistently being diverted by the solos -- which ideally could have been reduced in length and number by editing, leaving us with a more wieldy two-record set -- I could recommend Yessongs without reservation. But it is impossible to do so with its stop/start energy and beautiful songs continually being interrupted by single instrument rambling that add only length to the album's timing and nothing to the force of the group's music.

- Jon Tiven, Rolling Stone, 6/7/73.

Bonus Review!

The best live album to emerge from the entire art-rock scene, a compendium of blazing performances covering the previous three studio albums by the group and the accompanying solo career of Rick Wakeman. Some of the performances are superior to their studio originals, although "And You and I" is something of a disappointment next to the version on Close to the Edge. * * *

- Bruce Eder, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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