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Greatest Hits

Review by Gary Hill

With this Yes compilation recently reissued, it seems a good time to have a look at it. It always seems a bit odd when you get a “Greatest Hits” compilation from a band that isn’t known for hit singles, but such is the case here. That said, many of these songs may not have tracked in the US, but caused a stir on the British charts, nonetheless. This is a good set for someone wanting a sampling of both classic and Rabin eras of Yes. Completists like myself are a definite audience for this. For the rest, you might be better served with one of the other sets. Since I’ve reviewed the rest of this material on other CD reviews, the track by track takes here will be copied or modified from those reviews for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Coming from the band’s debut disc, I can’t imagine this one charting at all. It is one of the highlights of that album, and begins with some almost funky guitar that gives way to a free form jam that the band seemed 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 definite strong point, and has weathered they years quite well.
Time and a Word
The title track to the Time and a Word album 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.
Starship Trooper
A mid-paced jam starts this one, the band working through it and basing the first verse on it. It drops back in an almost stuttering break, then moves back up the pervious segment to carry forward. The main melody is both straightforward and quirky, and the musicians go forth on various short musical excursions from time to time as they work through the discovery of it. Eventually it drops to a fast paced acoustic guitar line that serves as a bridge into the next section as well as the backdrop for the next set of vocal elements. An airy jam ensues with an almost jazzy texture, seeming to stream skyward. This new melody carries the cut for a time. As this resolves out a new guitar strumming pattern takes the piece. The band eventually works this up to be the backdrop for a fairly frenzied prog excursion that serves as the extended outro. This segment is a trademark Yes musical exploration.
I've Seen All Good People
Beginning with an acapella chorus round sung by Squire and Anderson, Howe's gentle acoustic guitar heralds the coming of the other instruments. They join in a bouncy folk rock style jam. Trails of melody are woven over top of this at times, and the vocal harmony arrangement is stellar. When the organ enters later it hints at majesty to come, and the band quote John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." This crescendos, then a new bouncy rock and roll jam comes in, Howe's guitar playing awesome leads all over it. The guitar solo break is especially potent. The cut shifts shortly after this to a short syncopated change of pace, then returns to the previous section. A reprise of the chorus with only organ accompanying it replaces this section and fades down to end the cut.
Other than the Trevor Rabin era "Owner of a Lonely Heart" this is probably the most well-known Yes track of all time and sits near Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" in the category of most recognizable '70's rock song. Guitarist Steve Howe's harmonic-based intro gives way to a thundering groove that combines quirky changes into a hard rocking anthem that is actually quite catchy. This one certainly suffers from over-exposure, but truly is a masterwork.
Long Distance Runaround
Another that has become a Yes classic, this one features an especially strong vocal arrangement and intriguing rhythmic pattern. It is quirky, dramatic and smart. It leads here straight into Chris Squire's solo "The Fish.”
This song is the closing section of the epic "Gates of Delirium" from Relayer. As part of that piece this represents the final vocal segment, and it quite poignant, the peace after the horrors of war. The lyrics portray a vision of hope amongst the madness. Howe works some stunningly beautiful slide guitar over top of the melody here. This works through to a satisfying resolution. As a single without the music that preceded it, it still works quite well.
Wonderous Stories
Mellow, but quite complex prog wonderment is used to create a composition that is both other worldly and accessible. This was a bit of a hit for the band in some parts of the world. Sections of this one have sounds that were destined to show up on the band's next release Tormato.
Going For the One
Fast-paced, hard-edged, guitar-dominated prog, this cut really rips forth. It features a quirky jam section in a rock and rolling manner at the 5:30 mark. It is a bit brief, but quite effective. The ending segment seems to just soar ever higher. This is achieved by vocals that feel like they are building and ever increasing jamming of guitar and keys. Before it reaches its resolution, the tension is released in a joyous Beatlesesque manner.
Owner of a Lonely Heart
A quick percussion run gives way to the familiar crunch guitar line. While this cut is an understated hard rocking piece, it has been quite influential, in off all music, R & B, in its production. This is not what one would normally think of as "Yes music." It's not prog and is definitely overplayed. Still, it does have its moments.
Leave It
The vocal arrangement is the best part of this track, and indeed that aspect alone makes this one a standout.
Rhythm of Love
In my opinion this pop drivel with its Beach Boys like vocal arrangement is the worst cut Yes have ever recorded. I can't stand it.
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