'87 The BIG Tourbook
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LIFE IN THE KEY OF YES
The first time I saw Yes, I drove in a rented Ford Falcon,
along with fhe Miami representative from Atlantic Records,
to see the band at Rollins College some place in North
Florida. We picked the band up at the Daytona Beach airport,
drove them to the hotel, and Jon Anderson borrowed a dollar
from me to send his wife a card. No limo. No suites. Just a
miserable Holiday Inn. After the gig, they actually went to
a sleazy North Florida redneck diner at 1:00 in the morning.
I couldn't understand a word they were saying with their
alien sounding British accents, but god... were they good!
Over the years I've witnessed the most amazing musical
evolution, an evolution utilizing certain musical trademarks
but never being driven by them. A perfect balance of science
and emotion using technology as a vehicle to drive the Yes
vision to its highest point.
The early days for Yes were the late 60's, and relatively
speaking, the band was rather innocent, playing the local
London rock clubs along with contemporaries like Jethro Tull
and E.L.P. Their first two releases, Yes and Time In A Word,
were adventurous but rough around the edges and brought them
moderate commercial success and a significant cult
following. But the blueprint for the Yes approach was
clearly theie, illustrated by lush, pre-synthesizer string
arrangements, psychedelic versions of Beatles records, and
the inherent ability to arrange a basic melody into a
headphones-oriented epic. But the first real turning point
for the band was in late 1970 when they recorded The Yes
Album. With producer Eddy Offord at the knobs, a young but
somewhat legendary new guitarist named Steve Howe and a
battery of extremely original compositions, The Yes Album
gave Yes their first taste of real stardom, as the record
soared to the number one spot in the English charts, and
eventually went platinum in America as well. The Yes Album
scored big. It soared. At the time, it was the epitome of a
technicolor record with theater of the mind qualities that
balanced mind music with body music. When it rocked, if
rocked, and when it rolled, it rolled. Though most of the
songs were close to the ten minute range in length, the
music worked, powering itself through near telepathic
integration between the artists and stunning complexity
without sacrificing the melodic focus. The songs may have
been long, but they were long for the right reasons. In
1972, their tradition continued with Fragile, which included
an actual hit single in "Roundabout".
Pushing themselves forward, as always, Fragile was no copy
of The Yes Album but a clear statement forward. The band
members each contributed a relatively short solo statement,
and their tour de force, orchestral precision was
exemplified in the 10 minute suite "Heart of the Sunrise."
In "South Side of the Sky", they used a symphonic, hard rock
approach. All in all, the album showed the band was real and
here to stay...on their terms.
By 1973, Yes was selling out stadiums across the free world.
Their once rough but committed live performances were now
smooth and powerful, delivering stunning presentation of
their albums, with just enough bite to feel the experience.
And to make things better, the band released Close To The
Edge... a definitive statement of what this particular early
era of Yes was all about. Three sonic tapestries that would
"float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Close To The
Edge is possibly the most draining of all the Yes records
to listen to. All of the songs had a clear sense of
crescendo that could ride the listener on a powerful
audio-roller coaster. The title track "Close to the Edge"
is possibly at that time the only 20 minute song that never
deteriorated into a show of self-indulgency, but instead
was filled with wonderfully insane changes that would take
you from a break-n
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