The Top Ten Yes Albums

Yes Logo

Inspired by fellow Progarchist Erik Heter to post a “Top Ten” list, here are what I believe to be the ten best Yes albums. Whether you agree or disagree with my choices, feel free to add your two cents’ worth in the comments!

Yes Talk

10. Talk

An album by the Rabin/Anderson/Squire/Kaye/White configuration that never got the respect it deserved. I’ve always had a soft spot for it, particularly “The Calling” and “Endless Dream”. It strikes a nice balance between the full-on pop of 90125 and the prog of the band’s glory days. Check out Time Lord’s essay on this album here.

 

yes 90125

9. 90125

Speaking of 90125, the charm and attractiveness of its songs cannot be denied. It won Yes a new generation of fans, and when I need a dose of classic ’80s rock, it’s the album I go to.

 

 

545488_YES_Progeny_LP_Jacket_Cover_13630.indd8. Progeny

Before this recent release of seven concerts from 1972, I would have placed Yessongs here. But the raw sound of these recordings makes them a really fun listen. Hear Rick Wakeman’s keyboards channel a local jazz DJ! Hear Jon Anderson tout a local vegetarian restaurant! And hear a young band at the peak of their powers playing the entire Close to the Edge album.

Tales_from_Topographic_Oceans_(Yes_album)

7. Tales From Topographic Oceans

In the rock world at large, this was considered the epitome of self-indulgence. I think Yes were ahead of their time. Nowadays, it’s normal for a prog band to record a 30-minute epic. In this album, there are some truly beautiful passages of music.

 

Yes Drama

6. Drama

Probably a controversial choice for this slot, but I love this album. It’s notorious for having Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes instead of Jon and Rick, but “Machine Messiah” and “Run Through The Light” are excellent songs. Chris Squire’s playing on this album is some of his best, as well.

 

Yes Fragile

 

5. Fragile

“Roundabout”, “Long Distance Runaround”, “Heart of the Sunrise”, no self-respecting fan of prog music can be without this classic.

 

Yes Album

4. The Yes Album

This is the one where all the disparate elements of Yes first gelled. “Starship Trooper” and “I’ve Seen All Good People” defined early-70s FM radio in America. I still get chills listening to it.

 

 

relayer

3. Relayer

The harsh sound of the original mix of this album turned me off, but Steven Wilson’s new one is a revelation. It’s a shame the Patrick Moraz edition of Yes didn’t record more. They made some wonderfully challenging and exciting music.

 

Yes-close

 

2. Close To The Edge

The pinnacle of the classic lineup (and Bill Bruford’s finest hour). A contemporary symphony that will endure for a very long time.

 

Yes Going

1. Going For The One

The punk explosion of the mid-70s lit a fire under Yes, and the opening title track features some of Steve Howe’s most aggressive guitar. “Parallels” rocks unbelievably hard, while “Awaken” is my favorite long-form Yes song. For a much better and comprehensive appreciation of this album, read Erik Heter’s review here.

 

Agree with the list or disagree? Was I wrong to leave out Tormato or Magnification? Let us know in the comments!

 

10 thoughts on “The Top Ten Yes Albums

  1. Dave

    I would have included The Ladder over Talk. And would have picked Keys To Ascension as the live album, based on the quality of the studio tracks that were part of those releases.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. L'Ornitho

    Nice choice. I completely agree for Talk !!

    My top 10 : 1 – GFTO / 2 – 90125 / 3 – YES Album / 4 – Close to the Edge / 5 – TALES From TPO / 6 – Magnification / 7 – Drama / 8- Relayer / 9 – Talk & 10 : the live “Yesshows”, for his complexity 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent list. I usually exclude live albums when making a list like this. I love “The Calling (I remember my excitement hearing it on the radio when it first came out), but the rest of Talk doesn’t quite gel for me. I’d replace it with Magnification. I think the Yes album (in addition to The Yes Album!) deserves a place on the top 10. Close to the Edge will always be #1 for me as it was the first Yes album I ever listened to. I think I’d try to squeeze The Ladder on there somewhere as it has some of Jon Anderson’s finest songwriting in non-epic songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re the second reader to plug The Ladder – I’m going to have to give it another listen. I deliberately left off compilations, but Yes has released so many live albums, I wanted to include one. Yes’ debut is great fun (their cover of “Every Little Thing” is my favorite Beatles cover, ever), but I don’t think it is representative of what they ended up doing. To be honest, I would like to have included Chris Squire’s Fish Out Of Water, because it is right up there with some of Yes’ best work, but solo albums are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Erik Heter

    I might juggle #’s 2-10, but we *emphatically* agree on #1! I’ve been transcribing an interview with Messenger, but once I get that done I’m going to put out my Squire-related top 10.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Celebrate YES: Finally Inducted | Progarchy

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