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Old 02-08-2012, 04:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Yes: Time and a Word- 1970


Yes Time and a Word- 1970
RMR Album Rating- 8


Although I don’t include 1970’s “Time in and a Word” in what many fans consider Yes’ “Main Sequence” of progressive rock albums, it might be the most important and pivotal release in their entire catalog because it laid the foundation for the type of incredibly complex instrumentation that they would use on their albums moving forward.

Yes’ debut album “Yes” was basically a typical late 60’s rock record, and Yes clearly wanted to move past the typical rock sound and incorporate much more complex and progressive ideas and themes into their music. They achieved this complexity on “Time and a Word” by incorporating the use of a symphony. Their use of the symphony showed that an orchestral palette of sounds worked well in their rock format, and they went on to create this symphonic sound on subsequent releases without the use of a symphony— helping create and mold the original progressive rock movement.

It is important to note that Yes was not the first band to incorporate a symphony into their music. The Moody Blues really pioneered the idea on their album “Days of Future Past,” but the symphony really dominated the sound of that Moody Blues album, whereas the symphony really just acted as a backdrop to Yes’ already phenomenal playing. Pink Floyd would also use a symphony on their song “Atom Heart Mother” from the album of the same name, but like the Moody Blues, the symphony really dominated the sound of that song as well. Therefore, Yes didn’t invent the concept, but “Time and a Word’s” use of the symphony was unique for the era because the symphony just complemented what they were already doing, rather than having the band supplement what the symphony was doing.

Many fans and critics cite “Time and a Word” as a weak point in Yes’ catalog that sits in between their modest debut, and “The Yes Album,” but I think “Time and a Word” is severely underrated. The only weak aspect of the album is some of its lyrics, many of which are still rooted in late 60’s style rock. Jon Anderson would go on to develop a very unique style of lyrical ambiguity, and that would become a trademark of Yes’ “Main Sequence” of albums, but he had not developed that style yet, so most of the lyrics on “Time and a Word” are pretty literal. Aside from the lyrics, the sound of the album is fantastic, and every song has a number musical twists and turns to keep the album exciting, and there are great complex and progressive symphonic/ rock jams laced throughout the whole album.

In terms of songs, “Astral Traveler” is the album’s true standout. The lyrics are more ambiguous than the rest of the album (which I like), and it is absolutely Yes’ most progressive song to date, with a fantastic and complex jam session mid-way through the song that is led by Tony Kaye’s great organ work. “Then” is also a standout. It is the most symphonic song on the album, but the song is really driven by Bill Buford’s drumming and Kaye’s organ work. “Then” also has a killer jam session that starts at about the 2:30-mark and runs for almost the rest of the song. I’ll also highlight the ballad “Clear Days,” which is a very short piece that has a great Gentle Giant feel to it. Lastly, I’ll mention the album’s title track, which is not nearly as complex or progressive as most of the other tracks, but it is the most well known song on the album, and it has remained in Yes’ live set for over 40 years.

As mentioned, I think this album is underrated. It doesn’t quite deliver the quality of Yes’ “Main Sequence” of progressive rock albums, but it has some great progressive rock jams in almost every song, and I’m surprised more of these songs didn’t stay in Yes’ live set through the years. All in all, I would not skip this album, as it is shows the Yes levee about to break, and it’s very cool to see their progression leading up to their first signature album (“The Yes Album”), which would be released just 7-months later.



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Old 02-08-2012, 05:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I haven't listened to this is like 10 years, maybe I'll give it another listen now.
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I haven't listened to this is like 10 years, maybe I'll give it another listen now.
Yeah, I've directed most of my Yes listening to the "Main Sequence" albums for as long as I can remember, and I didn't have great memories of Time and a Word, but returning to it for the review... it really surprised me, and I like it better now than I did when I got it, a long, long, long time ago.
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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At last, a review that does justice to this strangely underrated album; I thought your analysis of the relationship between band and orchestra was particularly interesting.

For me, beautiful songs like "Clear Days", and "Everydays", with it`s atmospheric, jazzy opening, give an intriguing hint of what Yes might`ve done if they hadn`t taken quite such a prog rock direction.

As you say, this album stands apart from their "main sequence", but I would say more in style than in quality; it easily deserves the 8 stars that you`ve given it.

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Old 02-10-2012, 04:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If "Unassuming" best described the debut, then "Uninspiring" best describes this album. I agree that a lot of their complex arrangements were put down on this album and an even bigger move into the classic Yes sound took place here. All in all though, the album has a large number of boring songs without any song really standing out.

6 out of 10
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If "Unassuming" best described the debut, then "Uninspiring" best describes this album.
Like your wordsmithing Soldier ("unassuming" to "uninspiring")... you should crank out some reviews.
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Like your wordsmithing Soldier ("unassuming" to "uninspiring")... you should crank out some reviews.
hahaha I probably will do some reviews on here soon, never done any before, but 1970s and 1980s hard rock and AOR is really my thing, so may do something related on this.
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Old 02-10-2012, 10:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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1970s and 1980s hard rock and AOR is really my thing
What's your definition of AOR?

Album oriented rock?
Arena oriented rock?
Adult oriented rock?

I've heard all three, do you consider it one of those or something different altogether. The AOR bands that come to mind for me are Boston, early Journey, Styx, and Foreigner. I'm I wrong on this?
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Old 02-10-2012, 11:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
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What's your definition of AOR?

Album oriented rock?
Arena oriented rock?
Adult oriented rock?

I've heard all three, do you consider it one of those or something different altogether. The AOR bands that come to mind for me are Boston, early Journey, Styx, and Foreigner. I'm I wrong on this?
AOR normally refers to album orientated rock, but I admit that doesn't really tell you too much about what type of music it would be. When I refer to AOR I'm referring to the bands that you've suggested, early Journey is far less AOR than later Journey though. Instead of using AOR, maybe I should be using soft rock as that's a more accurate label, but when most people see AOR they do think of west coast inspired soft rock, so the two labels do go hand in hand.

Basically what I love, are soft rock bands such as Journey, Toto and Survivor etc that can also go heavy effortlessly when needed.
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