Monday, May 31 2004, 11:21 AM
The Yes Album

Yesterday, while Molly was executing a tactical strike at Target, Joe and I headed over to Best Buy to see what it had over, say, Second-Best Buy. Stunned by how little DVDs can be had for ($9.99!), I picked up Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which for some reason I still have not seen.

Then we headed for the music section, specifically the end, where the bands starting with "Y" are. I went through the Yes section thoroughly, grouping identical albums together (I managed to resist ordering them by year — I'm obsessive, not compulsive), and finally picked out The Yes Album, a relative bargain at twelve bucks.

This is the happiest I've been with any album* in a long time: you don't hear a lot of Yes on the radio anymore, and especially not the long-format songs found on this album: Yours Is No Disgrace (9:36), Starship Trooper (9:23), and Perpetual Change (8:50).

I first heard The Yes Album (not to be confused with their first album, titled simply Yes) in the summer of '81 or '82, when my brother borrowed it (on cassette tape) from our much-cooler next-door neighbor. I listened to it over and over again; it was exciting and new — to me, anyway; I had no idea it was a decade old at the time.

I'm still kind of surprised that it's from 1971 (March 19, a little bit before I was born). So much of it sounds more mid-to-late-'70s, and not just because I first encountered it in the early '80s. The sheer complexity of some of the songs makes it stand out from other rock (even progressive) of the time, both in the arrangements (you frequently need headphones to figure out exactly what's going on) and in the structure (much more like classical than like the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-verse-chorus rock structure).

Well, the album's over (even the bonus tracks, which I don't think I'll play much: two are cut-down singles version of other songs, and the third is a longer, studio version of The Clap), and Molly won't let me play it anymore today (she seems to have a particular aversion to Perpetual Change), so that's it for amateur music criticism for today.

* Note: an album is a collection of songs, not a piece of vinyl — the latter is properly referred to as an LP or a piece of vinyl. It's like the difference between a bunch of files and the disk, CD, memory stick, keychain drive, or whatever that the files are on. Bands will still be producing albums long after all the CDs in the world have decomposed into glittery dust.