Apologies for overdosing you on posts but I’ve got a lot of great stuff to get to this month. Some new tunes (promise) in a couple of days. But I love this album so much I can’t hold back on it any more …
Prog-rock is one of those genres that I was quite a bit into once upon a time. I still listen it occasionally and I’d say my three favorites of that genre are Pink Floyd, Emerson Lake and Palmer. And Yes.
I think the first album I heard by these guys was The Yes Album. Great as that album was, one day I heard a song from Time and a Word on the radio and said, Damn that’s good.
Released in 1970, Time and a Word was a product of the usual sturm und drang that seems to surround this band. Singer Jon Anderson wanted to go more orchestral; guitarist Peter Banks fought him (and the band) every step of the way.
I’m glad Anderson and company won out. I love the orchestral stuff on this album. Sure, some people thought it was pompous, overblown and all that. But you know what? It can’t all be Chuck Berry. I think that this album is actually kinda funky in its own way.
The song “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed,” kicks things off with a visceral bang. That orchestral score you hear is lifted straight from the soundtrack of the epic western movie, Big Country.
The song itself, believe it or not, is by folk singer Richie Havens, he of Woodstock fame. How the hell they got to this version I’ll never know. If Chris Squire’s bass on this isn’t the best thing you’ve heard this week, clue me in to what you’ve been listening to:
In case you know what the late Peter Banks looked like and are wondering where he is on the album cover, wonder no more. The band fired him and replaced him with the incredibly awesome Steve Howe who played not one note on the album but is on the cover. Banks started a prog-rock band called Flash, and played with a lot of different people – most notably Blodwyn Pig – but never quite reached the heights.
Next up, the song “Everydays.” Another cover, this is actually a Stephen Stills tune from Buffalo Springfield Again, that band’s second album from 1967. I love Bill Bruford’s cymbal work on this – so cool. He again proves on this one that he’s the man. And for the record, even though Banks feared he’d be lost under tons of strings, he’s out here loud and clear and I like his work.
Lest ye think the band incapable of writing their own songs, along comes Jon Anderson’s “Astral Traveller.” I have never actually had an out-of-body experience unless you count my first Springsteen concert or that time with Mary Sue in the back seat at the drive-in. If you’re playing along at home, I believe those opening chords are Gmin7-Gmin6:
Reviews were mixed for this album (although New Musical Express loved it). Critical curmudgeon Robert Christgau didn’t like it but then again, didn’t much like anything by Yes. Tough toenails oh, self-appointed “Dean of All Rock Critics.”
I leave you with the title song. Another Anderson tune, “Time and a Word” always leaves me feeling uplifted. It’s anthemic, somewhat hippie-ish and positive. There’s a time – now – and there’s a word – love. Well, why the hell not.
I’ll have more to say about Yes in the future. The band was eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in, I think, 1994. They got inducted this year, some twenty-three years later. You explain it, I can’t. I’ve already expressed my displeasure with this so I’ll leave it there. Guess I’ll just be glad they got in at all.
- Jon Anderson – lead vocals, percussion
- Peter Banks – electric and acoustic guitar, backing vocals
- Chris Squire – bass, backing vocals
- Tony Kaye – Hammond organ, piano
- Bill Bruford – drums, percussion