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Yes - Time And A Word (1970) review

Yes "Time And A Word" (Music On Vinyl, 1970/2014) 

By the time of Yes's second LP for the Atlantic label, 1970’s Time And A Word, it's fair to say that the group had pretty much left behind most of the trappings left over from the psychedelic realm that had, at least, partly informed their eponymous debut. In its place comes the application of a more deliberate and conscious striving towards a purer distillation of their collective influences. Time And A Word is the sound of the group fusing all those influences together into a fresh chapter; a successful melange of new ideas to feed into their always forward-thinking programme.
They flirt with some classical-style themes, and unashamedly wedge a few passages of orchestral highbrow into one or two of the selections yet it never sounds verbose or too over-the-top. Peter Banks’ lead playing continues to be an adventurous proposal and it’s his dynamically fluent style of playing, alongside the elegant creativity of keyboardist Tony Kaye which permeates much of what's on offer here, from the skittering progressive rock treatment of Richie Havens’ 'No Opportunity Neccessary, No Experience Needed' to the gentler, more reflective vistas pointed towards by the likes of 'Clear Days'. There’s also the teasingly funky Hammond shuffle of 'Sweet Dreams' – a minor hit single when issued at the time.  Now and again the group makes one or two threatening moves towards self-indulgence but, thankfully, the songs are always rescued in time from any barriers of elongated pomposity.
With Bill Bruford giving expert percussive direction, and exerting extra power whenever required, and Chris Squire's bass lines bouncing and zooming across the aural spectrum with distorted, melodic grace (and seemingly relative ease) you know that, rhythmically speaking, the songs are also in good, safe hands. Vocalist / lyricist Jon Anderson's idiosyncratic turn of phrase and soaring capability – going from keening bird on high to fragile (almost) cracked whisper – comes  through strongest on what I believe is the set’s true masterpiece, the thundering 'Astral Traveller' – itself an effective distillation of the full panoramic Yes sound! It’s also worth pointing out that on this latest re-release via Music on Vinyl, never has the booming, resounding atmosphere of such as 'Astral Traveller' sounded so sharp and impressive.
Moreover, what is most significant and glaringly apparent throughout Time And A Word, is the already hugely cinematic nature of Yes’ music, and the way, as individual facilitators, or as a group, they can slowly (or swiftly) and deliberately pan from one scene to the next, throwing us, the listeners, headlong into another of their thoroughly absorbing episodes, all within the blink of an eye. Just like a good film director, Yes too seem to always be ready to change tack and skirt off down one or two unexpected avenues.

Review made by Lenny Helsing/2014
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1 comment:

Dale said...

Time And A Word is easily the most underrated Yes album. It (and the debut) appeal to me more and more as the years go by. Something about them as a hungry young group searching for their style gets me now. When I was a young fan,my attitude toward the early Yes was the predictable,"They're OK but nowhere near the later albums." Now in my fifties,the first two Yes records are my favorites.