The Yes Album was Yes's first record that really encompassed the iconic progressive sound of the band.. It was their first album with guitar virtuoso Steve Howe and their last featuring keyboardist Tony Kaye. Yes, there was a keyboardist before the marvelous cape adorned Rick Wakeman. At this time the lineup included Jon Anderson (vocals), Chris Squire (bass), Steve Howe (guitar), Bill Bruford (drums) and Tony Kaye (keyboards). This was the album that really saved Yes, at the time they were on their last legs with Atlantic Records, almost being dropped for lack of success from their previous two albums.
With the addition of Howe their sound caught fire... His guitar playing was second to none. A good example of this is his solo song on the album titled "The Clap" ...an interesting name I know, but hey, It's prog. A lively upbeat tune with incredibly difficult finger work... Watch the live video of a 24 year old Howe playing below:
Here is a clip from an old TV Show on the BBC called Sounding Out featuring Yes from 1971 when they were on tour with The Yes Album. There are live clips from some of their shows and tid bits talking to each band member... I love watching old footage like this. You wonder what they would say looking back now and what philosophies have changed. I think they look pretty dang cool in my opinion, big hair, girlish garb and all. But more than that the music was exceptional. Every musician in this band was a master at their craft. I can only assume the arguments were heated as everyone had their own vision in mind. But nonetheless, they created a thing of beauty. This album has so many shades and colors, it's the musical interpretation of a Roger Dean painting (The artist who would later create covers for most of their albums).
Now for the ultimate track on this record, a legendary song entitled Starship Trooper.. Written mainly by Anderson, Squire and Howe this song goes through many different tempos and key changes ultimately ending with a reoccurring guitar riff with slight modulation and then one by one each band member comes in and layers on top. This created a wall of sound which climaxes and diffuses fairly quickly with Howe's final killer solo. Grab a drink and let this song take you on a melodic journey...
A live version, as well.. This was done a few years later featuring Alan White on drums.