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Old 01-07-2023, 08:57 PM   #31 (permalink)
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So only their second album and Yes are already courting controversy. They say no press is bad, so the “scandal” over their intention to use the original album cover, showing a naked woman and upsetting the delicate flowers over in the USA, would have at least been good publicity for them. The spat with Peter Banks over the usage of the orchestra, on the other hand, would not. When Jon Anderson decided the guitar and bass parts weren’t enough for the sound he wanted to create, and instead brought in a small orchestra composed of music students (probably got them cheap, maybe even free) Banks walked. He realised his guitar parts would be at best subsumed under the orchestral sounds, at worst not needed at all. Wasn’t it Peter Gabriel who would describe his orchestral work, Scratch My Back (or was it New Blood? One of them anyway) forty years later as “freedom from the tyranny of the guitar”?

So Banks knew, without having to be told, that he would not feature really on this album, and though he played on it he left midway through the tour, which led the band to recruit Steve Howe, who would end up being an integral part of Yes until the 1980s, when he would leave to set up the supergroup Asia, and then return to Yes on staggered occasions over the next three decades. Give his guitar work on the following albums, you would probably say the band got the better deal when Banks left, but even so, it sort of comes across as a hissy fit, as it wasn’t as if they were going full orchestra for the rest of their career. As pointed out by Queen Boo, and to correct my previous assertion, Yes did use an orchestra again, but only once, and it would be another forty years before this would happen. So Banks could have sulked, played, toured and then been part of what was quickly going to become a legendary and wildly successful band. Instead, he took his ball and went home. Ah well. What might have been, eh, Peter? The things we do in anger, and have all our lives to regret.

But bollocks to him. Let’s check out the second Yes album, the last one on which he worked and the one on which Yes did something which I don’t think anyone had done before in the emerging progressive rock arena (though I’m sure Her Highness will correct me if I’m wrong), and which gave them their first chart placing.

Album title: Time and a Word
Year: 1970
Personnel: Jon Anderson (Vocals, some percussion), Chris Squire (bass), Tony Kaye (Organ, piano), Bill Bruford (Drums, vibraphone), Peter Banks (Guitars)
Track by track:
“No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”

At least it kicks off with a big meaty Hammond run, but then for reasons I’ve never been able to divine they put in the riff from Jerome Moross’s superb western The Big Country. It’s a cover, too. I mean, come on! I know I went on about covers on the other album, and despite what comments have been sent my way, I still don’t like the idea, especially when a band is trying to get themselves established. Well I guess I can’t blame Yes for the composition of this song, but damn does it annoy me. That theme is one of my favourites - used to have it as a ringtone - and to hear it used in such a pointless way pisses me off. Anyway other than that the song is pretty decent organ-led rockout material, and certainly closer to what would become prog rock than nearly anything off the first album. And what in the name of blue jumping fuck does the title mean, eh?

What I like about this: The Hammond intro
What I don’t like about this: It’s a cover, and the use of the film theme, which makes no sense to me.

“Then”

The first of three written solo by Anderson (the other two co-written with David Foster - that one? No, don’t think so) it’s a decent kind of psychedelic tune with some fine noodling on the organ by Kaye, and I do have to be honest here, as I think I may have noted in my original review in the Prog Rock History journal: I don’t hear any orchestra. I mean, they were on the first track, sure, but I don’t hear them here. Don’t, to be fair, hear a lot of Banks’ guitar either; mostly it’s very much organ-driven with Kaye front and centre, especially for the extended instrumental parts. Okay I heard a little brass there, but it’s hardly an orchestra now is it?

The reflective part in the last minute or so is nice, Squire gets to soothe us with a lovely hypnotic bass line and Anderson sings like a choir boy, everything else dropping away. Nice idea in the lyric: ”Love is the only answer/Hate is the root of cancer.”

What I like about this: The keyboard parts
What I don’t like about this: Seems a little busy to my ears. A lot going on, and I get slightly confused.

“Everydays”

Okay well I can definitely hear the orchestra now, but this is a song we’ve already covered as part of the bonus tracks on the 2003 re-release of the debut, so other than the atmosphere the strings and such set up within the song, not much else to say really. Oh and I clearly hear Banks going wild on the guitar solo here, so what his problem was I don’t know, but again, you know.

What I like about this: Orchestra is nice, as is the organ. Also that it’s the final cover.
What I don’t like about this: Cover, and heard it already.

“Sweet Dreams”
And there he is, leading the line before Kaye comes thumping in with the organ. This is the first of the Anderson/Foster collaborations, and I must say it does sound good. I miss the close vocal harmonies though - there’s one now, so not lost entirely. But scarcer than they were on the debut for sure. Once more, don’t really hear any contribution by this orchestra as such. Certainly not taking over the track or anything. Have to wonder if Banks was just being a big girl about this whole situation, and if he was precipitous in leaving?

What I like about this: Everything
What I don’t like about this:

“The Prophet”
The Keyboard intro is really powerful here, and Banks gets to strut his stuff too. A long intro, about two and a half minutes, the theme of this song would be revisited in a slightly different manner by Genesis on their 1976 album Wind and Wuthering on the track “One for the Vine”. The orchestra comes through clearly here, and it definitely adds something to the melody.

What I like about this: Everything, particularly the instrumental bits.
What I don’t like about this:

“Clear Days”
This I guess is the ballad, a simple love song that perhaps presages Anderson's later hit with Vangelis, “So Long Ago, So Clear”. Or maybe not. Nice song though. A great opportunity for the orchestra to shine.

What I like about this: Everything
What I don’t like about this:

“Astral Traveller”
This is all right but there’s just something about it that I can’t put my finger on. Oh yeah: I’m bored with it. The keyboard solo in the midsection is pretty fine, but the rest of it can take a flying leap. It’s also too long.

What I like about this: Keyboard solo, guitar solo
What I don’t like about this: Everything else

“Time and a Word”
Nice little acoustic guitar intro with some bubbly organ and the harder percussion from Bruford works very well here. See I can follow the melody here, whereas on “Astral Traveller” I was, perhaps appropriately, lost. This is pretty catchy, and a good closer too.

What I like about this: Everything
What I don’t like about this:



Bonus Tracks

Nothing that hasn’t been already reviewed, or else special mixes of songs already here. Meh. Not doing those.

Comments: I think I very much prefer this album to the previous one. It seems more together, the songwriting is better, and despite the annoying covers, it works better. I really don’t get all the fuss about using the orchestra; I mean, you can certainly hear it throughout most - but not all - of the album, but I don’t think Banks had anything much to worry about. It doesn’t overshadow or drown out or make superfluous the guitar parts. If anything, they’re almost more pronounced here than they were on the debut. I can also see how this album managed to make it into the charts (just) and could be seen as more of a marker along the path to their career than the first one could. The first real glimmers of brilliance here I think.

Rating: 7/10
Yes or No? Yes


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYiWlnXppb0
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Old 01-07-2023, 10:43 PM   #32 (permalink)
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The orchestra itself sounds nice it's just the way it's mixed with the band sounds a little rough and not quite seamless, compare it to a record like Days of Future Past where the orchestra is only used for transitions between the songs so the orchestra and the band never get in each other's way, here the orchestra is fully integrated with the band and it sounds a little busy especially with the muddy production. That being said Clear Days which is just Jon and the orchestra is quite lovely.

The songs themselves are very good, the title track is the most simple song here but it's also my favorite and the build up of the orchestra at the end actually works really well. The songwriting is definitely an improvement over the first album but I think the debut had more charm and energy.

Both of the Peter Banks era albums are underrated and need more love, really.
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