Acoustic Sounds

Yes

Yessingles

Music

Sound

Produced By: Yes, Eddie Offord and Trevor Horn

Lacquers Cut By: Jeff Powell (Take Out Vinyl)

By: Dylan Peggin

October 17th, 2023

Format:

Vinyl

Yes’ Battle with the Singles Charts Exemplified By “Yessingles”

A bite-size primer of the progressive rock pioneers

From its late '60's beginnings to today, progressive rock has always had cult status. Musical boundary pushing lengthy arrangements replete with elements of jazz and classical provide challenges for mainstream audiences. Therefore, a prog rock band's desire for commercial appeal then and now is often at odds with its creations and with the execs at the labels to which they are signed.

That often left it up to studio engineers and/or producers to convert a 10+ minute epic into a radio-friendly 4-minute excerpt. While underground diehards devoured the side-long suites, for many new fans the single edits became the gateway musical drug.

Released as part of Rhino’s annual line of Rocktober releases, Yessingles brings together a selection of single edits from Yes’ golden 1971-1983 period of 1971–1983. The result is an amalgamation of career highlights and edits that unlikely as it at first seems works surprisingly well. 

The first two tracks on Side 1, “Your Move” and “Life Seeker,” are lifted respectively from “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Starship Trooper.” These lifted sections work well within their standalone context. “Roundabout” is one of the more transformative edits, removing the intro, a verse, and the middle eight. Yes’ reinvention of Paul Simon’s “America” shaves off the instrumental passages and hones in exclusively on the lyrical content. A promo radio edit of the band’s beloved songs, “And You And I,” solely featured the “Cord of Life” section. The fade-out commences as the song takes off with the Mellotron swells; what a buzzkill! “Soon” is the tranquil climax of the adventurous side-long epic “The Gates of Delirium,” which works perfectly. 


Side 2 starts with the compilation’s only B-side, “Sound Chaser.” It’s merely an edit of the song’s intro, which showcases Yes’ brief foray into the world of fusion. The arrangements of “Wonderous Stories” and “Don’t Kill The Whale” are concise enough to be accessible, the former being the band’s highest-charting UK single. “Into the Lens” has repeated sections removed, consolidating its length from 8 to 4 minutes. Second-generation Yes fans will be well acquainted with “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Leave It,” representing the band at their commercial peak. 

Though the band is best known for its longer pieces, these edits effectively spotlight the facets that made Yes’ sound unique amongst their prog contemporaries. Jon Anderson’s angelic vocals, Chris Squire’s contoured bass lines, Steve Howe’s jazz guitar licks, and Rick Wakeman’s classical keyboard runs (not to mention his wizard-like capes!) still shine through. However, this collection is far from complete. Its inclusion of US and UK singles leaves out several tracks, particularly a good chunk of the group's 80s singles that enjoyed plenty of chart success. 

One of the identifying visual trademarks found on most of Yes’ album covers is the fantasy landscapes of artist Roger Dean. The artwork for Yessingles, designed by Rory Wilson, bears no resemblance to the Yes zeitgeist. The band’s classic logo, also designed by Dean, isn’t shown. The design of this compilation looks better suited for a collection focusing primarily on the group's 80s output. The analytical eye of obsessive fans will realize that some photos chosen for the printed inner sleeve are of various members no longer in the band; come on Rhino! Scans of single sleeves would’ve made for a far more appropriate presentation . Artwork aside, the record is pressed on a gorgeous piece of yellow with black and orange splatter vinyl. 


YessongsTake Out Vinyl's Jeff Powell was more than up to the challenge of taking tracks recorded at different studios by various producers and engineers and producing and mastering a record that sounds coherent and consistently dynamic throughout the various tracks. Colored vinyl suffers the stigma of sounding noisier and of lesser quality than standard black, but this splatter vinyl was pleasantly quiet.

Yessingles is a fresh concept for examining the band’s back catalog. The song selection serves as a concise primer for the curious fan to explore. Perhaps in the future, diehards will have it their way with a multi-LP monolith entitled Yesepics, complete with triple gatefold Roger Dean landscapes!


Music Specifications

Label: Atlantic/Rhino

Catalog No: RCV1 725181/081227820794

Pressing Plant: GZ Vinyl

Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 140 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Single LP

Comments

  • 2023-10-18 12:43:39 AM

    Silk Dome Mid wrote:

    This is a nicely written review of something that's essentially a travesty. The band members must have accepted the need to release singles, but considering that they based their entire output on long, relatively complex and challenging works, brutally slicing and dicing their songs into short, easily digestible chunks is senseless.