Friday, April 26, 2024

Yes 9: Yesterdays

By now Yes were ready for a break, and who could blame them. While the key members worked on the requisite solo projects, the label bided their time with a compilation. Yesterdays didn’t have to stretch too much for a title, as it was built around tracks mostly from the era of their first two albums, a.k.a. the ones before Steve Howe. The big draw—outside the Roger Dean artwork, and we could do without the kid taking a leak on the back—were the non-album tracks making their first appearance on a Yes LP, and which bookend this one.

“America”, here in its full ten-minute splendor, is a molecular reconstruction of the Simon & Garfunkel album track, incorporating motifs from the unrelated song of the same title from West Side Story (clearly an influence on the band from the beginning). This is the only track here with Howe and Rick Wakeman, who are revved up and restrained, respectively. Of their epics, it’s not their best, but it’s still a good setup for “Looking Around” from the debut, which is itself followed nicely by “Time And A Word”. “Sweet Dreams” interestingly sits in the same side-ending slot as it did on the second album. Unfortunately, side two drags a bit, although “Then”, “Survival”, and “Astral Traveller” are undeniable harbingers of their later developed sound. The orchestrated “Dear Father” was the B-side of “Sweet Dreams” and a good place for it, as the religious hand-wringing doesn’t really suit them.

Yesterdays is redundant in the CD era, as the first two albums have never gone out of print, and the rarities have become standard bonus tracks. But it arguably chose the best tracks to satiate those waiting for the next big statement—or spur new initiates to fill in their racks—while sending some cash Peter Banks’ way.

Yes Yesterdays (1975)—

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