Inspiration is a wonderful thing in that it inspires people to do good things and create wonderful works of art. Its is also cool in that it can leap across boundaries. What I mean is for example that a musician will see a painting, a film or see a newspaper story and create a great song. The Beatles “A Day in the Life” was in part created by a newspaper story mentioning ” Four thousand holes” in a road in Blackburn Lancashire and Pink Floyd’s “The Final Cut” from bassists Roger Waters dead fathers wartime heroics. In an earlier post I wrote about my favourite artist Jackson Pollock and this time I again go back to music,mentioning the band called Yes. I recited a couple of lines from their 1972 classic “Close to the Edge” in my last post “Seasons will pass you By” and for me they create so well the outdoor ambience you get while camping naked outdoors or visiting a naturist club. In some songs they use birdsong in others running water,which are in abundance in this green and pleasant land.
Yes are an English band formed in 1968 by Chris Squire with singer Jon Anderson. Squire and guitarist Peter Banks had played together in The Syn and then Mabel Greer’s Toyshop. Anderson and later drummer Bill Bruford joined a line-up of Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, which evolved into Yes. Keyboardist Tony Kaye completed the first Yes line-up. Their early sets were a mix of original material and cover versions.
The 1970s saw Yes release the albums that are widely viewed as their creative peak: The Yes Album, Fragile (both in 1971), Close to the Edge (1972), Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973), Relayer (1974) and Going for the One (1977). For most of this period, the band included Anderson, Squire, Howe (who replaced Banks in 1970), Rick Wakeman on keyboards and Bruford, or later Alan White, on drums; Kaye and Patrick Moraz each play keyboards on one of these albums. After the relative failure of Tormato (1978) and the rise of punk rock, Anderson and Wakeman left the band in 1980; Squire, Howe and White recorded Drama with Downes and new vocalist Trevor Horn, both also members of The Buggles. The band disbanded in December 1980, with Howe and Downes subsequently creating Asia.
Yes reformed in 1983 with Anderson, Squire, White, a returning Kaye, and singer and guitarist Trevor Rabin, adopting a more pop rock sound. This quickly became the most commercially successful Yes lineup with 90125 (1983), which spawned the US number one single “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, and Big Generator (1987). The tour in support of Union (1991), which amalgamated members of Yes and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, was a commercial success that featured an eight-man line-up (instead of a quintet). Subsequent albums and singles have sold less well.
The band toured almost constantly between 1997 and 2004, including both 30th and 35th anniversary shows, also releasing the albums Open Your Eyes (1997), The Ladder (1999), and Magnification (2001) during this period. After a four-year hiatus, Yes resumed touring, replacing Anderson with Benoît David and Wakeman with his son Oliver Wakeman due to health issues. In 2011 they released Fly from Here featuring Downes, who returned on keyboards after 30 years. The following year David left the band due to illness and was replaced by Jon Davison, also of Glass Hammer.The band’s twenty-first studio album Heaven & Earth, their first album with Davison, was released in July 2014.
The thing that sets Yes apart is the use of outdoor sounds that give the songs a natural feel.In songs like Close to the Edge,Survival and Siberian Khatru it even gets mentioned.In a recent interview an interviewer asked Jon Anderson :
“You’ve mentioned how many times your references to nature are about specific places, like the Loch Ness Lake is the lake in “Roundabout.” In “Starship Trooper,” the talks by the water, was that a specific place ?”
Anderson replied: “I think it was more to do with in the days of the ’60s, when there was a lot of energy about being a hippie, being a spirit, a force to love, peace. All that kind of energy that came from The Beatles. So there was always that feeling you would sit down with friends down by the lake. You sit together and you would say how beautiful life truly is, and that love is all we need. So when I’m singing it, I’m always thinking about my brothers and
my sister. I have two brothers and a sister. Then I think about my family, my son and my daughters.So it’s interconnected with the realization that the most peaceful place is down by the lake, down by the river close to water. I think that has something to do with our ancient evolvement as human beings.”
Add to that the genius and complex guitar playing of Steve Howe’s,the thumping rhythm section of Alan White and the wizardry keyboards of Rick Waksman it becomes quite magical.It is a unique feel which is replicated too in the artwork for many of the albums which we created and designed by Roger Dean.When on days when the weather is cold and wet just putting on Yes can transport you back to the wonderful naked days of summer…….River running right on over then over my head.
They even had nudity on the cover of the album “Going for the One”