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Time and A Word

Review by Gary Hill

When Yes went into the studio to record their second album, the producer decided that they could benefit from an orchestral string arrangement on much of the material. This works extremely well on some of the songs here, while falling rather flat in other places. This disc is arguably a step above the debut album, and certainly showcases Peter Banks' style of guitar wizardry in quite a few songs. The whole band really seem inspired here, but I must say that a few cuts seem to have been recorded hastily as Anderson could have stood to redo the vocal line. They cover two songs on this one, as on the previous release. This time out Richie Haven's "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" opens the album and "Every Days" by Buffalo Springfield is also represented.

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Track by Track Review
No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed
Organ begins this, then a symphonic explosion takes it. As this winds through, a frantic bass line takes over; Squire is just running frantically over the fret board, driving this cut. The chorus is more of a group effort, and after that Banks take the opportunity for a tasty solo. This Richie Havens penned cut seems a great vehicle for the band. Indeed after the second chorus, they explode out into a great instrumental break, augmented again by the orchestra. This jam is a killer early Yes exploration. The remainder of the piece, until the short fast paced interplay section at the end, carries on much like the rest of it.
A descending progression begins this, then a tentative jam with lots of kinetic energy takes it. As this runs through the vocals come in over top. The lyrics on this one are particularly potent. The chorus is a satisfying resolution out of the tension created by the verse segment, and the strings are especially effective on this number. "Love is the only answer, Hate is the root of cancer, then". This cut takes a seemingly deceptively complex arrangement and makes it seem simple and catchy. The band eventually moves this into a fast paced instrumental break that features a lot of soloing by Tony Kaye. This musical excursion seems to be Yes' answer to Vanilla Fudge in many ways. At the end of this they drop it way down to a very atmospheric sort of segment that gains as much from what isn't there as it does from the sounds that are - the space between is enchanting. Both Squire and Banks move subtly around in this segment, bringing a lot of style to it by playing just the right thing, and never too much. A quick flourish ends the piece.
While much of this cut is a rather forgettable jazzy ballad, the center piece frantic jam that makes up the mid-section is awesome and certainly brings the power of the entire piece up. This one is all over the place, and Banks really shines here.
Sweet Dreams
Although this one is a bit more familiar to Yes fans, than much of the material here, its fairly straightforward Beatlesish song structure is just not that special. Although catchy, this is one of the weaker tracks on the disc, gaining much of its appeal, I believe, from the repetition awarded it from its presence on Yesterdays.
The Prophet
Organ begins this in rather noisy enigmatic fashion. It holds the piece for quite a while, creating various melody elements and working through them. After a tie the orchestra joins in, building on this melody. Then the rest of the group comes in on it for a time before a new bouncy straightforward jam ensues. They begin to create within this structure for a time, then drop it down and Banks takes a jazzy solo. The verse, a quick rather psychedelic structure takes the track next, running through. The next change is a drop to bass and strings only accompanying the vocal. These segments make up the mass of the rest of the cut with short bursts of improvisational jamming showing up from time to time. An extended instrumental segment, based on earlier elements, shows up later. A false ending gives way to a reprise in the form of short fast paced musical exploration.
Clear Days
This is a short, rather syrupy ballad, and not one of the stronger points on the album. If you listen closely, Anderson's voice is even a bit hoarse at times on this one.
Astral Traveller
This is another of the better-known cuts from the album. It is a fairly strong fast paced early prog cut with definite psychedelic leanings. The instrumental break on this one features some of the most classic Yes oriented instrumentation on the whole album, and the build up that follows, along with its guitar solo, are spectacular. This one is truly awesome, and Squire, Banks and Bruford all are on fire at different points in this number.
Time and A Word
The title track is an intriguing, but not spectacular balladish piece. Although this one has a special place in the hearts of most Yes fans (myself included) listening to it critically it just isn't all that special.
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