[Review] Yes: Yesterdays (1975)

A compilation of their early songs plus the full-length version of “America,” all tied up nicely.

Kronomyth 9.0: Yessalad days.

I wouldn’t call Yes or Time and a Word classic Yes albums, although both have their moments. While the group was on hiatus, Atlantic chose the best moments from their first two albums and wrapped them in two hard-to-find but well-worth-hearing songs: Dear Father (originally released as a single B side) and the complete version of Simon & Garfunkel’s America that only appeared on the label compilation, The Age of Atlantic. (A less satisfying edited version was released as a single in 1972.) Calling it Yesterdays, fans now had an early catch-all compilation that belonged with the band’s best work.

There’s no denying that “America,” the only track on here that features Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman, is head and shoulders above the rest of these songs. Even with Wakeman essentially emulating the style of Tony Kaye, the difference is significant, particularly in Howe’s acrobatic guitar playing. “Dear Father” isn’t so agile, but the Beatles-influenced chorus is too good to hold down. The same could be said for Time and a Word and Then. I’m on record as saying I don’t like Time and a Word, and I’m not changing my tune, only pointing out that it’s more palatable in smaller doses.

You could argue that Yesterdays is nothing more than product, and you’d be right. But it’s product with a purpose, folding the band’s early work into their classic period of The Yes Album through Going for the One. Packaging it with a Roger Dean cover is also a nice touch (how many of us have speculated on what a Roger Dean cover of The Yes Album might have looked like?). The band’s classic albums are compulsory purchases for prog fans but, after that, a trip back to Yesterdays might be in order before you follow the Drama of what came after.

Original elpee version

A1. America (Paul Simon) (10:31)
A2. Looking Around (Jon Anderson/Chris Squire) (3:59)
A3. Time and a Word (Jon Anderson/David Foster) (4:31)
A4. Sweet Dreams (Jon Anderson/David Foster) (3:47)
B1. Then (Jon Anderson) (5:46)
B2. Survival (Jon Anderson) (6:20)
B3. Astral Traveller (Jon Anderson) (5:53)
B4. Dear Father (Jon Anderson/Chris Squire) (4:18)

The Players

Jon Anderson (vocals), Peter Banks (guitar & vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Tony Kaye (organ), Chris Squire (bass & vocals) with Tony Cox (orchestral arrangements), Steve Howe (guitar & vocals on A1), Rick Wakeman (keyboards on A1). Produced by Paul Clay, Tony Colton, Eddie Offord, Yes; engineered by Gerald Chevin, Eddie Offord.

The Pictures

Cover design and illustration by Roger Dean. Layout by Mike Allison. Plates by Mansell Litho.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on February 27, 1975 in the UK (Atlantic, K50048), the US (Atlantic, SD/TP 18103), Argentina (Atlantic, MH50141), Germany (Atlantic, ATL50048), Japan (Atlantic, P-8503A) and Mexico (Atlantic, GWEA5412) with picture sleeve. Reached #27 on the UK charts and #17 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee, cassette and compact disc in July 1988 in the US (Atlantic, SD/CS 19134) with picture sleeve.
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc on September 20, 1994 in the US (Atlantic, 82684).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in Japan (Atlantic, AMCY-6325).
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