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Episode 200!

Yes Music Podcast
Episode 200 with a new logo!

We have reached episode 200! Thank you so much for all your support.

  • What are the lists in this episode?
  • What are the surprises?
  • What do you think?

Listen to the episode and then let me know what you think!


Show notes and links

Graeme Stevenson’s organ disc spots: First one, second one.

Ken Fuller’s APB photographs:

Starship Trooper review by Preston Frazier

Billy Sherwood review by Preston Frazier

Sound Chaser on piano

Aeon Santori’s new progressive music

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

31 replies on “Episode 200!”

Hello Kevin,

Thanks again for having me on the Yes Music Podcast. It was truly an honor and I hope to appear again sometime in the near future. The 200th episode was a success in my opinion and as usual there were many items of interest for all to enjoy. I must say that even though our worst to best list’s weren’t similar. .they weren’t that far apart either. I’m not surprised that you picked Fragile as your number one as it is a true classic but to put Tormato as number 3 is insanity. The production is terrible there only a few decent songs and the rest is filler….like Madrigal and Circus of Heaven. I know…its your first album…but man even you most see that its not anywhere near as good as most of the albums. Im sorry to say that 90125 destroys it. But hey that’s what makes being a Yes fan so great….our difference of opinions.

Great work Kevin and i look forward to next week.

Hey Mark, I am glad to hear what to you had to say about poor maligned Igor. Fantastic keyboardist – and I wish we could have heard more from him after he ‘left’ Yes. I saw him perform at the Yes Masterworks tour in July 2000 where he pulled off Gates of Delirium to perfection. I bought his solo CD ‘Piano Works’ at the merchandise table, and it remains my favorite solo release from any member of Yes. If you like Igor, and if you can find his solo release these days (good luck), I would love to hear your review especially compared with some of Rick’s piano releases. Take care.

Greetings Joe and Rosemary. I’m glad to see another Igor fan present themselves. I will definitely put “Piano Works” on my to get list. When I get it I will definitely make a comparison to Rick’s work. Thanks again for the kind words.

In defence of Kevin’s high ranking of Tormato, it’s an album I’d owned and listened to extensively but dismissed back in the 80s, but have only recently purchased on CD and listened to with fresh (and rather older) ears. Arriving UFO and Circus of Heaven are the two tracks that really put me off the album. And the whale thing. But, having written them off years ago, I now consider each of those has some aspects that are worthy of Yes.
The rest of the album is fantastic. Seriously. Listen again without preconceptions. The production is lousy – even the band agree (please Steven Wilson are you able to rescue this or is it so poorly recorded nothing can be done), but the laying and arrangement are superb.

Take the Yes-meets-Status Quo-meets-punk Release Release. On the face of it a straightforward idiot rocker (not that I’ve anything against those), but try counting along to the beat. Bet you’ll tie yourself up in knots. But if you don’t concentrate on the mechanics, it “just works” and this is how awkward and changing time signatures should be. They exist to fit the music – not the other way round (Let’s write a progressive rock piece so we’d better start with a bar of 13/8 followed by 5/4) All the best “unusual time signatures” pieces are those where one is barely aware of it (unless one tries to dance!) cf Brubeck’s “Take Five” or “Unsquare Dance”

Not just because of the effortless use of unusual time signature, this is probably my favourite album for showing off Alan White’s drumming capabilities. Try following it throughout the album – it’s just fantastic, always adding to the music, frequently imaginitive, never excessive.

As for Madrigal, I consider it much maligned. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s a beautiful melody and progression. I’d put it there with “Leaves of Green” and “Soon” which are also simple, yet beautiful melodies with simple, yet beautiful arrangements. To me the only difference is that Madrigal doesn’t emerge out of chaos as the others do. How often have we commented on how “Soon” doesn’t work nearly as well as a standalone song?

Tormato might not quite make my top ten (which is very much a movable feast) but I can easily justify why it might rank as number three in someone else’s!

Thanks so much, Tim! Steven Wilson on Tormato – what a tantalising thought. It might be the last one he attempts though… Great to hear some positive Tormato comments…finally!

Congratulations on #200! (and you thought you were going to run out if things to say at 50…)

Top ten Yes albums will always be different for all fans, but that is another reason they are so great. They’re music has struck each of us in a personal, emotional way and means something different to each of us.

Kevin, congratulations on a great 200th episode. I’ve been listening since somewhere in the mid forties, and this is head and shoulders the best one so far. Thank you for all of the time and effort you put into this series.

I wish all that admiration and admiration were enough to prompt me to write, but alas, it is not. Probably a personal feeling on my part. I want to correct one tiny technical niggle in Mark’s top 10 list. I don’t know exactly what software are the band used for that album, but Pro Tools and Mark of the Unicorn have always been completely separate companies. The early version of Pro Tools was called Sound Tools. Mark of the Unicorn, on the other hand, is a much older hardware and software company whose original software was called Performer, and when they added the ability to record audio changed the name to Digital Performer, which is still available today as a competitor to Pro Tools.

Anyway, love the show, and I’m looking forward to the next 200!

Greetings Robert…your right. I stand corrected about the digital performer and pro tools. Thanks for listening and your comments.

Thank you, Robert! Great to hear that deeply technical correction – it’s only by collaborating that we get to the full truth of everything about Yes. Although most of the time I just spout my personal views, of course 😉

Brilliant episode Kevin. I only wish I’d had the forethought to send a message of congratulation in advance. (actually I did but with the slight hiatus I forgot).

I thought M A K set a good precedent for sending in top albums, though starting at 20 was too much for me. I’d prefer a top ten. His logic though was rather strange in many of his choices, such as marking down CTTE because since then they play SK a lot and he geeks out over the production of the title track. For me it is about the music and the vibe. Praising the three track approach was also odd as it applies to only two of their records. Not as if they found a formula and stuck with it. Also to criticise the cover!! That is ridiculous, it was Roger dean getting into gear, the inner picture is iconic. I knew he was a revisionist as you read out his comments. It is not fair to make these remarks out of the context of the time. The following interview confirmed my suspicions.

However, as he said it is all about being a Yes fan. I couldn’t compile a top 20 as I’ve not heard some of their later albums. I will however come up eventually with a list of those I do have

I loved your comments on your own top 21. Tormato especially. It is pretty bad but I like your reasons for loving it. Fortunately my first was CTTE! I like the reasoning on most of the rest of your selections but for me Fragile is spoiled by the fragmented nature of the pieces. The three main pieces are without doubt in the top class of their output but as an album it doesn’t hang together because of the inclusion of Cans and Brahms which is too odd. Time and a Word is far better than ‘Yes’ but I was disappointed that TFTO was not higher. Who cares what the members of the band thought, it is a magnificent album in spite of their in-fighting.

So now I have to put my top albums in order to back up my comments. I’ll be back to do so!

Greetings Jeremy. ..thanks for your comments. But I still think the CTTE cover is extremely dull….i do think the rest of the artwork in the album is great. Oh well we won’t see eye to eye on things but that’s whats great about being a Yes fan. My list can change ever week depending on my mood. That was my mood that week.

Greetings back to you my friend. As you so well pointed out in your original piece, Yes music can appeal differently from one adherent to another. I hope my comment didn’t come across as critical of your own experience. Of course opinions differ.
I thought it was great that you took the initiative to produce a list rather than waiting for Kevin to suggest it. The idea ha been floating around for some time.

As for the covers, I suppose the same applies. I include the gatefold art to be part of the cover, nothing dull there as I think you agree. I guess you were thinking of the Green outer cover. However think of it being the first appearance of the iconic Yes logo as well as the ‘Roger Dean’ font. It is not a busy cover I’ll grant you that but I objected on the use of the word ‘dull’. Nothing about Yes is dull, certainly not the vibrant green of CTTE’s cover.

Perhaps we should put together a list of favourite covers. Relayer will be right up there!

That’s my mood for the day 🙂

I just thought I’d point out that the Beatles so called “White Album” cover is one of the most iconic of all time!

Thanks so much, Jeremy! I always look forward to your take on these episodes. You are brilliant at keeping me ‘grounded’. It’s also great to see some debate happening in the comments – that’s what they are there for, of course.

Congratulations Kevin for the YMP number 200! I especially enjoyed your Yes album rank. I was tempted to do one of those myself. Yours was well justified – even when you confess that you’re not sticking to the same rules all the way. That’s the way it is with Yes music! Overall I ended up agreeing quite a lot with your order. No doubts for my number one, and you explained it perfectly. Here’s to the “Future Times” of YMP! Miguel

Thank you, Miguel. It’s great to have all the folks listening from so many different parts of the world and backgrounds. A real global community of Yes fans!

Coincidentally, Jon Anderson recently ranked HIS top five!

On another note, I had a thought for a future Yes tour. Rush, my other favorite progressive band, took a novel approach on its last tour (and indeed, it may be their last, as replacing one of their three members would be unthinkable). They started with songs from their most recent album and went backwards, all the way to the first.

Imagine a similar set list for a Yes concert. Would we hear something surprising from the Rabin era? Would they close with something like “Every Little Thing”?

Certainly, things are different for Yes because of the personnel — they have no one who played on the first two albums, and only Alan White remains from the 1980s. But I might argue that such a concert would be even more interesting than Rush’s “backwards” set list because we’d get a different take on things.

Thanks for the Jon Anderson list! Great to see that. I can’t see Yes doing that reverse thing – although I’d absolutely love to hear it! Just like the set list for the Chris Squire tribute on the Cruise to the Edge, I love hearing more obscure tracks!

Kevin, congratulations on your 200th episode. I was lucky enough to discover the podcast at the time of episode 4 so didn’t have much of a back catalogue to get through. Your presentation style and eloquence continues to improve and it is only right and proper that you are receiving your just desserts with what appear to be increasingly regular conversations with Yes alumni and, indeed members.

How could you trivialise all this with a top 21 studio albums? This should have been a dreadful idea and against everything Yes and yes fans stand for. Surely top x lists are for early teen girls about X-Factor contestants and boy bands?

Yet somehow it works. And I think this is why. You have quite openly contradicted yourself on the criteria by which you judge each album. There are also contradictions in MAK’s list and reasons. I’d venture to suggest it is impossible to judge all of Yes’s albums by the same criteria – unless it is something really arbitary like the number of tracks, total playing time, number of letters in the song titles.

And I think this has something to do with the era in which each album was created.
Edward Macan’s book “Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture”, which I read last year, argues that the “classic era” of English prog (1968-75) only existed because of the social and economic conditions in England at the time. Macan arcues his case well and I’m not knowledgeable enough to argue against it, but I would say that I’ve yet to hear a band producing progressive music sibce that period that quite fits with Yes, Genesis (of that period), ELP, Tull or Crimson. (Not that those five were any more similar than they were diverse)

Given that there are musicians with far greater musical dexterity/technique and music technology (studio and synthesisers/sample) have moved on so much since the 1970s one would have expected ate least as great a composition to have been born. perhaps they have – but not in the same vein. I can only agree with Perer Macan’s argument that the environment for the next Tales from Topographic Oceans/Relayer (or it’s logical next step) does not exist.

All of this is a very roundabout (!) way of saying it is impossible to come up with a list ranking Yes albums as one cannot possibly compare CTTE with Magnification.

But we can have fun trying, eh?

BTW Am I the only person in the world that likes Heaven and Earth?

Episode 4 eh? You are a die-hard listener! Thanks so much for still listening! I’m just glad you thought the list idea actually worked in the end… I was worried there for a minute. That social and economic idea is highly valid and applies to punk and the 1980s as well, I’d say. Perhaps it’s even a universal concept. Look at the ‘charts’ today or consider the great music of the past which was created through the patronage of the wealthy, for example. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for the comment!

So after all these years this is my top 16 (the rest I’ve not heard)
16 Open Your Eyes
15 The Ladder
14 Keys to Ascension
13 Union
12 Big Generator
11 Tomato
10 90125
09 Yes
08 Talk Stadium rock at its best. Had me reaching for the air guitar
07 Going for the one Awaken is one of the best but the rest is jingly jangly Howe and Wakeman
06 Time and a Word Tight ensemble. Pity about the strings
05 Relayer Superb but for more Howe jangliness
04 The Yes Album Pure class
03 Fragile equal second in reality. Roundabout and Heart of the Sunrise as good as it gets
02 Close to the Edge Speaks for itself. The best song of all
01 Tales from Topographic Oceans just the ultimate Prog Rock album. Four magnificent pieces.

Thanks Jeremy. Tales at number 1 – controversial but I respect your choice there. Maybe I could have been braver and out that at the top of my list… Great to see Keys in at number 14 and 90125 at number 10. Not sure I understand Big Generator higher than some of the others but there you go. Poor old Open Your Eyes – like wading through treacle.

I can put up a sterling defence for Tales. I know it was panned in ’73 by the critics and interviews with some band members indicated not all was well among them. It was I think Jon and Steve’s project according to some interviews I read in the music press Rick in particular was not enamoured with it but I’m not sure that’s why he left the band. It was the album to hate and scoff at for being ‘overblown’, ‘pretentious’, in a word Arch. However I bet most people who cited it as Prog gone too far, never listened to it. It may well have been the first ‘concept’ double album . Genesis “Lamb” was 1974, Pink Floyd’s The “Wall” and “Animals” were late 70s

I surprised myself in choosing it as my favourite, I thought I would choose CTTE!
That “dull” (hahaM A-K) green covered LP was the first Yes I listened to and loved ever since. My mental list had it at maybe 4 or 5. It was when I spent a day listening to the albums again, it all came flooding back.

1973: Tales had just come out at the time and only one kid at school had it so eventually it was my turn to borrow it. I loved its mysterious opening and the driving Moog solos as well as the Mellotron and awesome percussion. As for Chris’ bass solo, WOW! Even Steve’s guitar work is amazing. Every piece of the four is exceptional but The Revealing Science and Ritual are perfect. The cover is beautiful. A bit surreal of course and not the masterpiece that is Relayer, but I love its vibrancy.
Throughout the rest of the 70s it remained my favourite Yes album.

Big Generator is a fun album, nothing to dislike. The albums I’ve ranked below it are all IMHO inferior. Union is a mess, Ankor Wat is the highlight, but there’s a bit too much AWBH emphasis. The Ladder and Keys are plain bland. Open Your Eyes: the best bit is the sounds of nature which fades in several minutes after the music ends. ( I mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t hear that for ages as I’d eject the disc after the end of the last song, then one day I was busy doing something so left it going only to be puzzled by the sound of surf in my living room!)

Great to read everyone’s thoughts here.

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