7/24/70: Yes – Time and a Word
Yes’s second album, released on Atlantic 50 years ago today, was recorded during the band’s touring breaks and continued the evolution of their classic early/mid 70’s sound (and lineup). A small brass and string section was employed on most of the album which sets it apart from Yes’s other albums, a move which guitarist Peter Banks did not approve of and which hastened his departure from the group before Time and a Word‘s release. He was replaced by Steve Howe, who was added to the group photo on the album’s jacket which was released in the U.S. because the original U.K. jacket was deemed inappropriate for release across the Atlantic.
There’s simply no doubt who you’re listening to from the opening notes of Tony Kaye’s Hammond organ on No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed, a very interesting take on Richie Havens’s original which is also notable to me as a Havens fan because Richie was known better for being an interpreter of others’ tracks rather than the one being covered. Yes’s version has an Aaron Coplandesque bombast of strings and brass, giving it a bit of an American flavor. Other favorites of mine include their reading of Stephen Stills’s Everydays, which starts out spacey before kicking into an extended jam before returning to where it began, plus Jon Anderson & David Foster’s Sweet Dreams, which points the way to future Yes albums, and Anderson’s Astral Traveller, a standout track for drummer Bill Bruford. Dear Father is probably the only song on this album that doesn’t really do anything for me.
Time and a Word is considered by prog and specifically Yes aficionados to be the weakest of their 1970’s albums. I consider myself to be a casual Yes fan, and I find it to be a very enjoyable listening experience despite its status as a transitional work. The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge, and Relayer it is not. Probably not Tales from Topographic Oceans, either. But to me that says more about their depth of quality albums in those years. Take away the occasional overuse of strings and it would probably be more on par with those others.
- No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed
- Sweet Dreams
- The Prophet
- Clear Days
- Astral Traveller
- Time and a Word