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What’s your favourite post-main sequence Yes epic? 286


Produced by Preston Frazier, David Gordon, Bill Govier, Wayne Hall and Michel Arsenault.

Epic Yes music is under the microscope this week. Also, Mark reviews One Live Badger!

  • Are there any epics post 1979?
  • Are any good?
  • What defines ‘epic’?

Listen to the episode then let us know what you think!

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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

26 replies on “What’s your favourite post-main sequence Yes epic? 286”

Machine Messiah, while a great song, is not quite an epic. An epic can’t be just any Yes song I really like! I think by the definition you came up with, most Yes songs would qualify. I think the time needs to be 10 mins or more, but it also has to have that development, a sense that it is taking you somewhere. That’s why Close to the Edge is an epic par excellence and Endless Dream is not. ED (sorry!) doesn’t reach that climax (sorry!) that CTTE or Ritual does.

Mind Drive is epic. Fly from Here, while it tells a nice story, is not.That, That Is is not an epic. In the Presence Of just makes the cut for me. Maybe Dreamtime? Homeworld is an epic though just under 10 mins. Honorable mentions to Dreamtime, New Languages and The Calling. I think there is a 9 min. edit of The Calling, but was it officially released? It’s on YouTube.

Hello Brian,
Great to hear from you. You make some excellent points. .I agree Close to the Edge is an Epic but I figured that selecting that or And You And I would have been the obvious choice and also didn’t fall into the “Post Going for the One” catagory.
Personally I find Machine Messiah takes me on an epic journey. ..but that could just be me. Haha.’s interesting that you picked Homeworld as that was my alternate selection. A real incredible song.


Either “Does it Really Happen” or “Magnification”.Unfortunately, I can’t choose just one.
There’s a few more in there too, but these would be the two that come to mind first.

Yes the Long Version of The Calling is a bonus track of the japanese Cd but the extra minutes are ambient sounds fading in and out the original edit. A bit like Trevor warming up for film scores. I would really go for Endless Dream with its distinctive contrasting suites as the most epic-like song of the album.

Yes, like Brian never considered MM a classic/epic “that stuff”. It is composed of three very equal parts separated by similar kind of intermissions. I adore MM anyhow, it’s just more of another format for me.
My favourites are In The Presence Of – that’s the kind of song which takes you on a journey internal, there are some sections which are absolutely goosebump / kundalini snake bite inducing.

Mark – the Jon Anderson connection with Badger has to do with David Foster, co-writer of early songs (Time and a Word) rather more so than Tony. Have to agree with your review, having know this fantastic album for so many years and yes it sounds infinitely better than Yessongs… I think that if you care to look for live albums from that period you will fine many sounding better… in any case One Live is excellent.

Very cool show tough for me to just pick just one Mind Drive is a very good one indeed I think Drama the album is a classic for sure however to single out MM as a classic well that may take a revisit indeed.
My choice would be from Magnification In the presence of to me this song takes you through many different passages which I absolutely love but hey like I said their are just to many for me to just pick one.
Interesting album review I honestly have never listen to that album now it is on my to do list I feel like I’m so behind the eight ball with Mark’s vinyl collection and now I have to find more of this stuff lol but I must say it is a lot of fun!

Great show gents see you next week

Paul Tomei

Mark having given a closer listen to Machine Messiah I have to say it is for sure a Yes classic indeed ! Wow it’s been a while since Iv’e have listen and it definitely has all the parts for a Yes classic ….

Hey Paul,

I’m glad you agree….actually I’m not surprised. have similarly good taste in music…like myself. Haha.

Another fun discussion, and reminds me of the stuff we used to hash out on back in the Usenet days. Anyways …

Agreed – One Live Badger is excellent fun and rocks hard – although I am going off memory. I have not heard it in decades.


As far as ‘epics’ – I think there is more to it than just length of the song. If that were the case every jam band from Phish to The Dead to whatever Claypool is doing these days can be considered ‘epic’. No there is more to it than that, and I think Kevin’s analogies with certain movies is spot on. What makes Yes’ music so epic back in the day were its sweeping, quasi-religious themes that could mean whatever I wanted them to mean and expanded my adolescent mind with a sense of wonder. The last song that did that to me was probably Awaken. Of the two post-1977 choices given by our hosts, I will take Machine Messiah over Mind Drive any day of the week. I know I am in the minority, but I consider Mind Drive to be vastly overrated – and one the least of the Keys to Ascension studio tracks.

My favorite post-1977 epic, hands down, is That That Is. It is the one of the few Yes epics ever created that at least makes the attempt to actually be about something, and not left merely to the whimsy of the listener. The song has it all – chops, development, expansiveness – and none of the ‘forced positivity’ that Anderson is often accused of (Kevin being only the latest to make that critique). The lyrics are probably the most atypical of Yes’ career, and go from street crime to the hope of redemption. I am pretty certain Anderson is responsible for Mind Drive lyrics (esp the ‘Bring You Rain’ segments) – but I would love to know who is responsible for the lyrics of That That Is. The only problem with the song is that the final three sections are not as integrated into the whole song as I would like – that and the dreadful song title!
– sorry for the multiple comments – my browser only allows a few lines of text in the comment box!

Although Kevin was referring a song from an album without Anderson 😉 But I understand you… TTI also works for me as a full length piece, with unusual mood and lyrics for Yes, and maybe for that I appreciate that “adventureness”

Hey Rosemary,
Very interesting comments. I must admit I have a soft spot for That That Is as well. But it took a while and a lot of listens to get to that point. ..did you find it difficult to get into at first or was it an instant like?

Instant like for me. Minddrive is the song Off KTA that I could never get into. speaking of which – you know that there are 3 more songs off the KTA tracks of greater than 8 minutes length that I don’t think anybody here has even considered as a potential ‘epic’.

I am going to take a contrapuntal view and argue that an “epic” not only has a dramatic storytelling component (similar to film), but also exposits it over a lengthy period of time (for me, longer than 15 minutes). Many definitions for the word epic include the phrase “A long narrative poem”. Close to the Edge, all of TFTO, The Gates of Delirium, and Awaken all fall into this category, but are obviously pre-Going for the One. Given that, Endless Dream has to be my choice. The Fly From Here suite meets the criteria, and I enjoy it very much, but the overall feel of it for me was that they were trying too hard to create an “epic” Yessong.

My Initial thought was that Yes hasn’t done an epic since Awaken. However like a good boy I thought to follow up on both Kevin and Mark’s choices, and listen also to the others surrounding them.
I started out with Mind Drive. I confess that I’d written off all of the KTA studio tracks years ago when I bought the CDs on release. I did listen again when making my top album choices quite some time ago. I have to say I quite liked Mind Drive but only when it was Chris and Alan providing the platform. Rick’s bits were great on top of that, very reminiscent of The Revealing Science of God. However, as a piece, it doesn’t work. It sounds like a lot of disparate bits and pieces chucked together, some from Jon from the early 80s some from the Rabin era etc. Had it been honed to perfection a la CTTE etc maybe but in the raw state, even the production was all over the place, it doesn’t work. There’s no consistent soundstage.No musical coherence, just a bit of a cut and paste
Turning to Drama and MM. I can see why Mark picked this out. There are a few songs from this album which have the Yes prog touch. For me though, Does it Really Happen is a better choice.
Turning to Talk and BG was interesting. No proper Yes music but for goose bump feel there are three Stadium Rock songs I’d pay to hear live. From BG it is Final Eyes. Not an Epic but a great song with all the elements of that era of Yes. Talk delivers two blockbusters though, in Endless Dream and I am Waiting. Both have massive emotional impact which is what an Epic song should have. For me, I am Waiting is the one with the best frisson coefficient. It carries one along with a current of a beautiful riff simple but which gets right into one’s head, along with a powerful bass line, while not pyrotechnical, it is Chris at his economical and harmonic soulful best.

I still contend that Awaken is the last true Yes Music but they did produce some great pieces after that.

Agree almost completely with everything you say here, Jeremy. Mind Drive is unbelievably overrated for the reasons you give. I still really dig That That Is, but it pales compared to the last song they recorded that took me to another world – Awaken.

Jeremy, I agree with pretty much your entire post with the exception of Drama. It was not a bad effort but it didn’t push any “prog buttons” for me.

Regarding BG, I’ll go one better – I’ve always thought side two was the best Rabin-era Yes has ever done, with final track Holy Lamb being for me the best short song since Wondrous Stories.

I can only post a couple lines here, so I’ll have to send my comment via e-mail of facebook, Sorry. The info stuff below disappears when I write much of anything.

Does ABWH count?

If so, I’d submit Brother of Mine and Quartet for the reasons Kevin mentioned. Although Quartet has been criticized for being derivative lyrically and a bit too “cute,” the last section is as heart wrenching as anything Yes has done.

And while not Yes, Jon Anderson’s solo composition Animation is wonderfully “epic” with perhaps the most straight forward story telling lyrics of any long form song he’s composed.

Great show guys!!! Well, for me, Tormato and Drama are very much a part of what I think of as “The Main Cycle” from Yes. The final ringing tones of “Tempus Fugit” ending the classic Yes years. So, I’d feel like I was betraying my own ideas about Yes if I picked an epic from those. So….my final 3 choices after much deliberation were Endless Dream, In the Presence Of, or Subway Walls. I was never much of a fan of the Keys music. Don’t know why. It just seems, I don’t know, kind of inorganic or forced to me. But perhaps those aren’t the right words either. Well dressed, but empty suit perhaps? That’s a little strong. Heck, I don’t know. Just doesn’t hit my buttons. I ended up, after much deliberation deciding on Subway Walls. There are many reasons for this. First, on a musical level, the music is top drawer, with great strong melodic lines. It puts forward thematic ideas, like the best of the older and longer epics, but manages somehow to check all the boxes of the grand Yes epics with an economy that I think is just brilliant. There is a whole lot of song packed into this little 9 minute package. From the beautiful opening keyboard wash hinting at the main theme, the extraordinary solo performances for the bass and keyboards, the vocal and lyrical arrangement etc. It’s mind blowing when you think about it. They would have spent 25 minutes to express this song in the 1970’s, and it may have fallen victim to the Tales meander syndrome. I submit that this song, to my ears is the perfect Yes Epic, and I can take this journey on my ipod during a coffee break at work. Stunning.

Final tipping point in it’s favor: I don’t know, of course the actual sequence in which the songs were recorded for Heaven and Earth, but Subway Walls, (the last song presented on the album), is drenched with amazing bass lines from Chris, so I like to think that this was the last Yes song he ever recorded. It is the perfect send off for our beloved friend. I get misty eyed listening to this song, and so that’s the sentimental factor to the piece.

I do pray that Yes considers this format and approach to epic music as they go forward, and that they’ll consider playing this one for us someday soon. I’m hoping it’s one of the “surprises” at Yestival, but I highly doubt it. Howe doesn’t like H&E, so I guess Chris’ swan song album is consigned to the dust bin for live music choices. Sad. Whilst I suppose it could have been a better album given the time, it is an excellent album in my opinion as it is. It’s certainly an honest album. There is zero pretension. It is a perfect document of what Yes was right at that moment, like all their best albums. I’m glad they put it out, and I can only hope that they’ll revisit it someday, with headphones maybe, only to find, that “it’s not such a bad little tree, Charlie Brown”

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