Negative Creep wrote:
Ariel, it's fucking stellar! IMO not one bad moment on the whole thing.
I think Howe and Squire impressed me the most on this album though.
Awesome! Glad you enjoy it
Yes Album was basically the 'transitional' album for the band, between the 'early' (pre prog) Yes of '68 to '70 (I haven't heard any of that stuff) and the 'classic' prog giant Yes of '72 to '77. It's my favorite Yes album, with Close to the Edge probably 2nd (or maybe tied for 1st tbh). Also one of my favorite albums in general.
My impression has always been that the group didn't really find their 'voices' as instrumentalists or fully mature on their respective instruments as a full band 'til Fragile. Bill had a ton of finesse and sophistication, but he hadn't become a leading voice yet in the ensemble, not until Fragile, he was basically just a really impressive jazz drummer-in-a-rock-band but I don't think he started showing genius 'til '72 with Fragile (actually late '71). Squire's playing on The Yes Album owns but I don't think it really compares to his monumental later work that would come just after, Bill hadn't exploded creatively/artistically yet and that explosion that was about to happen I think is a major thing that spurred Squire to his own heights he'd reach on Fragile too. In general his playing isn't as 'focused' and is more meandering on The Yes Album IMO, but it's still extraordinarily creative, just not his peak yet in my opinion. Tony Kaye on keyboards is surprisingly effective, but he was pushed as far as he could go on the Yes Album and they did need someone better to grow as a band (enter Rick Wakeman in later '71!). This was Howe's first album with yes but he was already stellar and mature as an instrumentalist imo. Jon was in top form too.
All in all, then, as far as I'm concerned the playing isn't quite classic Yes level yet in terms of chemistry or discipline or creativity, but man, I still think The Yes Album is a better album than Fragile is (by a slight degree) despite that. Cheers! And allow me to subtly suggest that you get the rest of the great albums in order
(Yes is one of those bands it's very satisfying to follow chronologically since they kept growing and stuff)