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Yes

Yesterdays

Review by Gary Hill

This compilation is composed almost entirely of material from the first two Yes releases (Yes and Time and a Word) - the majority from the second album. As such the lineup consists of Jon Anderson, Peter Banks, Bill Bruford, Tony Kaye and Chris Squire. The two exceptions are the previously unreleased "Dear Father" (by the same lineup) and the group's cover of Paul Simon's "America" which featured the Fragile lineup of Anderson, Bruford, Steve Howe, Squire and Rick Wakeman. The disc might make a great introduction to this period to fans wanting to hear it for the first time, and certainly is a must have for completists. It also makes for a very entertaining listening experience taken as an independent album. Since I have reviewed nearly all these cuts in other articles, I will simply copy those here for the track by track section.

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Track by Track Review
America
Yes' cover of Paul Simon's piece, this one feels more like older Yes in many ways, seeming like it might have felt quite at home on one of the Banks era albums. It is a solid reworking of the song, and the group finds plenty of opportunities to shine here.
Looking Around
This one comes in quite frantic and the pace holds throughout most of the cut, mellower segments occasionally provide a nice contrast. Banks; guitar work is quite inspired at points on this number.
Time and a Word
The title track to Time and a Word 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.
Sweet Dreams
Although this one is a bit more familiar to Yes fans than much of the material on Time and a Word, 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.
Then
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.
Survival
A definite highlight of the first album, this begins with some almost funky guitar that gives way to another free form jam that the band seems so fond of in those days. This eventually works through, then gives way to a balladic segment that serves as the bulk of the piece. During the lyrics Anderson sings, "the beginning of things to come", and these words seem truly prophetic on this cut. This is a strong track, and has weathered the years quite well.
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.
Dear Father
This must have come from the sessions for Time and A Word, as it features the string section that was used for that recording. It is a strong, if fairly straightforward number that feels sort of like a combination of the Beatles influence pop rock style that that band were so fond of, and the type of arrangements that they would later embrace with albums like Fragile. This is actually stronger than some of the material that did make that album, and I wonder why it was chosen to be left off. This is a good way to end this disc. It features a great vocal arrangement.
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