Not quite the classic lineup (even Rick Wakeman would not join until Fragile
), but thanks to new recruit Steve Howe here for the first time is the mature Yes sound in all its sonic glory. On tracks like the barnstorming showpiece "Starship Trooper" Chris Squire's monstrous bass looms large in the mix, Bill Bruford's jazz drumming skates edgily around the beat, and layered on top are those remarkably long-limbed solos from Howe--one of the very few guitarists to fuse the best of jazz with rock (as well as creating a landmark in acoustic guitar literature with his Chet Atkins-inspired solo "The Clap"). Singer Jon Anderson's elliptical lyrics had yet to flower into the truly bizarre realms of Close to the Edge
and Tales from Topographic Oceans
, but he was already using words more for their sound value than sense ("Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face / Caesar's Palace, morning glory, silly human race"). Put it all together and you've got an album with a much sharper edge than their later bloated extravaganzas. --Mark Walker
Steve Howe debuted on this 1971 LP, featuring Yes essentials like Yours Is No Disgrace; Starship Trooper , and I've Seen All Good People . Three bonus tracks!