The Yes Album

The band was in the weeds by this point, in real danger of getting dropped by Atlantic, and they needed a win. This wasn't really it but slightly more often than not it gets close. Typical of their later output their longform pieces are the best ones, even if the lyrical concepts are clumsy; anti-war "Yours Is No Disgrace" is incredibly poignant and supple, some of their best work ever, along with the oblique but earnest three-part "Starship Trooper" with Steve Howe's satisfyingly heavy guitar self-duet. Unfortunately, they're split by the sloppy "Clap," recorded live for no good reason and thus a famine amidst plenty, and while "A Venture" is charming in miniature "I've Seen All Good People" after awhile gets dreary in length, the kind of overwrought metaphysical chess metaphor that would make Bobby Fischer slit his wrists. Closing track "Perpetual Change" is particularly instructive: full of fascinating moments you want more of, but like your hyperactive nephew keeps erratically running off to other tangents, even audibly near the end when the music abruptly pans into one channel in an idea that probably sounded better to the engineer than it does in my ears. Well, live on to record another day, I suppose. The 2003 remaster adds a studio version of "Clap" which largely eliminates my objections to the album live cut, but the bowdlerized single versions of "I've Seen All Good People" (as "Your Move") and "Starship Trooper" (as "Life Seeker") are unnecessary, and so is the excessive 2014 Panegyric multi-format release. (Content: no concerns.)