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.


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.




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.




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!


Steven Wilson Remixes Yes FRAGILE

Taken straight from


YES’s ‘Fragile’ Remixed and Remastered in 5.1 Surround & Stereo Mixes – out 30th Oct

Fragile is the fourth in a series of remixed & expanded Yes Classics. The album has been mixed for 5.1 Surround Sound from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson & is fully approved by Yes.

Release date: Oct 30th 2015




The Definitive Edition Blu-Ray Disc features:

– Album mixed in 24-96 5.1 PCM Surround Sound & in DTS-HD MA 5.1 from original multi-track sources.
– New Album mix in High Resolution Stereo
– Original Album mix (flat transfer) in High Resolution Stereo
– Six additional tracks

– Original Roger Dean artwork expanded & restored with material from the Roger Dean archive & with full approval of the artist.
– Presented as a 2 x digi-pack format in a slipcase with new sleeve notes by writer Sid Smith along with rare photos & archive material.

Blu-Ray exclusives

– Full album instrumental mixes by Steven Wilson
– Two additional alternate takes
– A full album needle-drop of an original UK vinyl pressing
– US promo singles edits as needle-drops.




The Definitive Edition DVD-A Disc features:

– Album mixed in 24-96 5.1 DTS vLossless Surround from original multi-track sources.
– New Album mix in High Resolution Stereo
– Original Album mix (flat transfer) in High Resolution Stereo
– Six additional tracks

– Original Roger Dean artwork expanded & restored with material from the Roger Dean archive & with full approval of the artist.
– Presented as a 2 x digi-pack format in a slipcase with new sleeve notes by writer Sid Smith along with rare photos & archive material.


Original Track Listing

01 Roundabout
02 Cans & Brahms
03 We Have Heaven
04 South Side of the Sky
05 Five Percent for Nothing
06 Long Distance Runaround
07 The Fish
08 Mood for a Day
09 Heart of The Sunrise

Additional Tracks

10 We Have Heaven (full mix)
11 South Side of the Sky (early version)
12 All Fighters Past (previously unheard)
13 We Have Heaven (acapella) mixed by Steven Wilson
14 Roundabout (rehearsal take/early mix)
15 Mood for Another Day (alternate take of Mood for a Day)

In addition to the main album, Steven unearthed a virtual treasure trove on the multi-track tapes, allowing him to mix full length & acapella versions of “We Have Heaven”, an earlier take of “South Side of the Sky” & – in perhaps the most exciting discovery of this series to date – a previously unheard segment of a piece now called “All Fighters Past” which incorporates ideas that would later form parts of “The Revealing Science of God” (Tales from Topographic Oceans) & “Siberian Khatru” (Close to The Edge) performed in the style of Roundabout! With a further two additional tracks – alternate takes of “Roundabout” & “Mood for a Day” & numerous exclusive to Blu-Ray edition features, including the complete album in instrumental form mixed by Steven Wilson, this is the definitive edition of Fragile.


Jon Anderson: Vocals
Bill Bruford: Percussion
Steve Howe: Guitars, Vocals
Chris Squire: Bass, Vocals
Rick Wakeman: Keyboards


“I wanted to hear something inspiring…”
– Jon Anderson
(from the sleeve-notes)
With Fragile – the fourth album by Yes, Jon Anderson’s wish was fulfilled. Recorded in September 1971 following rehearsals a month earlier Yes was, by this point, on something of a roll. The Yes Album had been a chart success in the UK & had started to make inroads in the US album charts following a highly successful tour there. The challenge – to take the band to the next level of success – had to be met quickly to build on that momentum. The Yes Album was both the peak & natural end point of the first period of Yes album recordings.

It had marked the arrival of Steve Howe, the expansion into long-form material & with a final date at London’s Crystal Palace Bowl, the departure of keyboardist Tony Kaye. His replacement, ace session player & Strawbs member, Rick Wakeman, completed what came to be regarded as the first classic Yes line-up. Wakeman brought with him an expanded array of keyboards, including a Moog synth & Mellotron & proved every bit as strong a soloist & arranger as Steve Howe. With this line-up, Yes was ready for the big league.

Released in Late 1971 in the UK & at the beginning of 1972 in the USA, the album reached the Top 10 in both countries (7 UK, 4 USA). With additional impetus from the hit single “Roundabout” in the USA – a track which became a radio staple – the album quickly reached platinum status & went on to sell millions over the past 44 years. The album’s long form pieces were presented in a running order which allowed for the placement of solo led tracks by each of the five members, a novel way of presenting an album that merely enhanced the reputation of the band as a group where each member could be viewed as band member & star soloist in their own right.

Tracks such as “Roundabout” & “Heart of the Sunrise” have rarely been out of the live set-list & the album was performed in full by Yes in venues worldwide in recent years to unanimous standing ovations. Another key factor in Yes’ history was the fact that the album occasioned the arrival of sleeve artist extraordinaire, Roger Dean, a man who would go on to design logos for the band – including the famous ‘bubble logo’ – stage sets & numerous album sleeves & and artist who, despite having provided equally dramatic sleeves for numerous other bands, is always most readily associated with his work for Yes.


In keeping with earlier releases in this series, Steven Wilson’s approach to this album for new stereo & 5.1 mixes is to faithfully retain the spirit & sounds of the original album mix, while applying modern mix techniques to bring further clarity to the individual instrument, vocal & overdubs for each track. The songs, instantly familiar to a multitude of Yes fans, remain so, with the new mixes – especially in 5.1 form – providing a greater sense of space for each voice to be heard, Anderson’s voice seems to join the listener in the room, Howe & Wakeman’s solos glisten with clarity & Bruford/Squire remind all that they were unmatched as a rhythm section during that period.


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