I Get Up, I Get Down: A Yes Song Countdown

by Jason Warburg

yes_fragileIn choosing the band name “Yes” in 1968, five young Brits aimed to personify the positive spirit of the ambitious music they wanted to make—expansive, adventurous, and full of possibility.

Over the course of more than five decades since, the band has persevered through myriad lineup changes while releasing somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 songs ranging in length from half a minute to 22, and ranging in style from bleeding-edge progressive rock to mainstream arena rock to mild-mannered adult contemporary. It’s a rich catalog of songs of wildly divergent approaches (and quality) to explore and consider—which is why we’ve done exactly that.

Before we begin, a few words about what is and isn’t here.

The base for this exercise is the studio albums the band has issued to date—20 full albums plus the studio material from three part studio, part live releases: Keys To Ascension 1 and 2, and From A Page. Beyond that, the bonus tracks from the 1991 YesYears boxed set are included because several of them are significant to the band’s story. As for the remaining strays and empty-the-vaults studio jams tacked onto the 2002 In A Word boxed set and the 2003 album reissues, sorry, but you have to draw a line somewhere and those leftovers-from-the-leftovers would just further clutter up the bottom end of this 176-track list. Similar reasoning kept out the almost-Yes music of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, even though some of it is quite good. No alternative or early versions of later released tracks are included here either, nor live versions, nor remixes, just the originally released studio versions. Finally, the three tracks found on the second disc of 2021’s The Quest are included because current bandleader Steve Howe has insisted they are not in fact bonus tracks, but rather part of that album (careful what you ask for).  

The Yes family tree looks like a briar patch that was flooded with Miracle-Gro, but a dozen-plus band member names will inevitably come up below: co-founders Jon Anderson (lead vocals), Chris Squire (bass and vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Tony Kaye (keyboards), and Peter Banks (guitar); early recruits Steve Howe (guitar), Rick Wakeman (keyboards), and Alan White (drums); and later additions Trevor Horn (lead vocals), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Trevor Rabin (guitars, keyboards and vocals), Billy Sherwood (guitar, bass and vocals), Oliver Wakeman (keyboards), Benoit David (lead vocals) and Jon Davison (lead vocals).

Much like one of their 20-minute epics, the Yes catalog is presented here in seven interlocking segments, from—in one particular writer-slash-fan’s obviously subjective opinion—worst to best:

The Truly Awful
The Somewhat Embarrassing
The “Meh”
The Not Bad
The Pretty Good
The Very Good
The Great

Finally, most quotes in the text below are taken from my reviews of these albums. Drumroll, please...

The Truly Awful

176. “Man In The Moon,” Open Your Eyes:
You know that spouse/sibling/friend you’ve always wanted to convince to like your favorite prog band? Yeah, don’t play this for them.

175. “Mystery Tour,” The Quest: I love the Beatles too, but this song is more sophomoric than an actual busload of second-years.

174. “Step Beyond,” Heaven & Earth: If the thudding rhythm section and blithering-nonsense lyric don’t get you, the car-alarm synth might.

173. “Damaged World,” The Quest: As a vocalist, Steve Howe is a heck of a guitar player.

172. “The Game,” Heaven & Earth: Yes plays sing-songy electro-pop; please don’t.

171. “It Was All We Knew,” Heaven & Earth: Sometimes you hear a song and just ask “Why?”

170. “I Am Waiting,” Talk: “What this band really needs is more songs that sound like Journey rejects.”

169. “Walls,” Talk: The word “insipid” rendered in musical form.

168. “To Ascend,” Heaven & Earth: Easy Listening Yes is not something I recall anyone asking for.

166(t). “Dangerous (Look In The Light Of What You’re Searching For),” “Holding On,” Union: In which Jon Anderson and co-producer Jonathan Elias replace the rest of the band with session musicians and hope no one notices. (We did.)

165. “Light Of The Ages,” Heaven & Earth: Remember that guy who sold bottles of air? They weighed more than this song.

164. “Arriving UFO,” Tormato: Coming soon on Netflix: a six-part docudrama explaining how this song ever made it onto an album.

163. “Clear Days,” Time And A Word: In case you ever wondered if there was a ballad so airy that even Jon Anderson couldn’t hit the high notes.

162. “The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be,” Fly From Here: In which Yes records an advertising jingle for a self-help book, or something.

161. “Big Generator,” Big Generator: OMFG, WTAF.

The Somewhat Embarrassing

160. “The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun),” Tales From Topographic Oceans:
A frequently atonal epic-length train wreck that only escapes the previous category by virtue of the startlingly lovely and completely out of place “Leaves Of Green” segment.

159. “In A World Of Our Own,” Heaven & Earth: A world between sleep and waking, perhaps?

158. “Life On A Film Set,” Fly From Here: “Riding a tiger” has never sounded less exciting.

157. “Music To My Ears,” The Quest: Slumbery and disposable, with a discordant bridge that feels spliced in.

156. “Almost Like Love,” Big Generator: Hey kids: too many cups of coffee are not good for you.

155. “Abilene,” YesYears: If you’re thinking the sound of horses neighing is not how a good Yes song typically begins, you’re not wrong.

154. “Somehow… Someday,” Open Your Eyes: I’ve… got… nothing. (And apparently neither did they.)

152(t). “Angkor Wat,” “Take The Water To The Mountain,” Union: For all practical purposes Anderson solo tracks, both lack any fire or impact.

151. “Believe Again,” Heaven And Earth: Not-terrible verses jump the melodic tracks at the chorus.

150. “Hour Of Need,” Fly From Here: Strains hard to echo airy acoustic numbers from years gone by, but no sale here.

149. “Love Shine,” Open Your Eyes: When “bouncy and chirpy” are the best things you can say about a song…

147(t). “Real Love” / “State Of Play,” Talk: Like I said before: “flabby… pompous… wanker.”

146. “Dare To Know,” The Quest: Three-part harmonies are the only thing that lifts this mostly tedious track out of the doldrums.

145. “I'm Running,” Big Generator: “Hey, let’s cram every single idea we come up with in the next five minutes into one song and use a random word generator for the lyric.”

144. “The Solution,” Open Your Eyes: When the 16-minute ambient coda is more intriguing than the actual song…

143. “Without Hope, You Cannot Start The Day,” Union: Quiet then thumping, it may or may not have any actual members of Yes on it beyond Anderson and, in a couple of places, Howe.

142. “No Way We Can Lose,” Open Your Eyes: Anthems to optimism should not plod.

141. “Don’t Go,” Magnification: In their defense, how many times has an attempt by middle-aged proggers to write a radio single actually gone well?

140. “Leave Well Alone,” The Quest: A mildly intriguing opening minute of light prog-funk that never leads anywhere.

139. “Silent Talking,” Union: Same old Union story; this one at least has a decent Howe riff at its core.

138. “Finally,” The Ladder: Three minutes of Big Generator lite abruptly cross-cuts to a wispy two-minute ballad. Wha?

137. “The Messenger,” Open Your Eyes: At least Squire has some fun on this otherwise forgettable tribute to Bob Marley.

136. “Future Memories,” The Quest: A haunted acoustic ballad with pinpoint slide accents; pretty but plain.

135. “Saving My Heart,” Union: Imagine, if you will, a Rabin song featuring reggae verses and a chorus where he tries to out-twee Anderson. (Or better yet, don’t.)

134. “Wonderlove,” Open Your Eyes: A Charlie Brown Christmas tree of a song whose spindly branches are weighted down with every gimmick ’80s Yes ever tried.

133. “A Living Island,” The Quest: Sounds like a co-write with Christopher Cross, except not that good.

132. “Circus Of Heaven,” Tormato: Contender for The Most Twee Song Ever Released by an Alleged Rock Band.

131. “Holy Lamb,” Big Generator: See above, but with Rabin Power Chords™.

130. “Minus The Man,” The Quest: Lilting yet lifeless.

129. “Soft As A Dove,” Magnification: “Madrigal” with an orchestra, anyone? (Anyone?)

128. “Love Conquers All,” YesYears: A strong vocal arrangement featuring Rabin, Sherwood and Squire isn’t enough to rescue this “saccharin wankfest.”

127. “To Be Alive (Hep Yadda),” The Ladder: “It doesn’t get much better than this…” (Haha, just kidding; it definitely does.)

126. “Subway Walls,” Heaven & Earth: The only track on this album that shows any life whatsoever is still an awkward jumble of poorly-stitched-together ideas.

125. “Final Eyes,” Big Generator: YesWest at its Westest; half Rabin crunch, half Anderson fairy dust.

124. “It Will Be A Good Day (The River),” The Ladder: “Hey Jon.” “Yeah Steve?” “Let’s write a ballad that sounds like an Asia B-side.” “Uhhh… oh sure, why not.”

123. “Shock To The System,” Union: In which Steve Howe tries to chord-crunch like Rabin (if that’s even him; it might not be).

122. “Money,” YesYears: A White Album-esque lark that at least shows the band has a sense of humor.

121. “Make It Easy,” YesYears: A Rabin solo song that Yes happens to play on; its snappy central riff and pulsing momentum can’t quite extinguish the strong odor of Loverboy.

The “Meh”

Over the years the band has released numerous instrumentals. A few are notable; many others felt either too familiar or too inconsequential to have much impact. Here fall several of the latter group:

120. “Evensong,” Union: A 51-second lullaby for proggers.
119. “Five Per Cent For Nothing,” Fragile: In which rascally Bill Bruford takes the piss for 35 whole seconds.
117(t). “Vevey Pt. 1,” “Vevey Pt. 2,” YesYears: Anderson and Wakeman enjoy a peaceful interlude with the church organ and harp used on “Awaken.”
116. “Montreux’s Theme,” YesYears: There might have been a song in there if they’d ever developed this one.
115. “Solitaire,” Fly From Here: Steve Howe can play some acoustic guitar.
114. “Masquerade,” Union: See above, but with more energy.
113. “Amazing Grace,” YesYears: Chris Squire can play some bass guitar.
112. “Sign Language,” Keys To Ascension 2: A meandering but enjoyable Howe-Wakeman duet.

111. “Where Will You Be,” Talk: “Pleasant fluff” is not what you’re typically hoping for from Yes.

110. “If Only You Knew,” The Ladder: In which Yes attempts a power ballad; it’s actually not as terrible as that might sound—just completely unnecessary.

109. “The Remembering (High The Memory),” Tales From Topographic Oceans: The “magic mint tea” had definitely kicked in; a handful of good ideas drowning in a meandering stew.

108. “Man In A White Car,” Drama: Blink and you’ll miss this mysterious little bit of filler.

107. “Time Is Time,” Magnification: A brief, folky Anderson coda that floats away on a breeze of strings.

106. “From The Turn Of A Card,” From A Page: An Oliver Wakeman-Benoit David duet where the latter sings in his natural register for once; it’s fine for what it is.

105. “Yesterday And Today,” Yes: The first in a decades-long string of airy Anderson folk tunes; gentle, pastoral, almost plaintive, it goes down easily but leaves little impression.

104. “Miracle Of Life,” Union: A upbeat Rabin tune with momentum and not much else.

103. “Nine Voices (Longwalker),” The Ladder: Lightweight, “Your Move”-adjacent New Age filler.

102. “Then,” Time And A Word: An Anderson tune whose beginning and ending vocal sections feel like disconnected fragments sandwiching an unrelated proggy jam in the middle.

101. “Can I?,” The Ladder: More filler, this time a playful Anderson snippet, a world music chant that interpolates with callbacks to “We Have Heaven.”

100. “The Western Edge,” The Quest: Mid-tempo AOR, elevated by a clever vocal arrangement.

99. “The Prophet,” Time And A Word: A Kaye showcase early on, this number exposes how much this lineup struggled trying to incorporate an orchestra; every time the strings come in they feel like intruders.

98. “Sister Sleeping Soul,” The Quest: An appealing hook rescues this otherwise rather pedestrian folk-prog number.

97. “Endless Dream,” Talk: In which Johnny Power Chords tries really really hard to write an epic and delivers an incoherent jumble that “ends up sounding like a parody of Yes.”

96. “Madrigal,” Tormato: “Hey, you know that Renaissance feel we tried last year on ‘Turn Of The Century’? Let’s try that again.”

95. “City Of Love,” 90125: A brawny, thumping Rabin solo tune that Yes happens to play on.

94. “From The Balcony,” Open Your Eyes: “Leaves Of Green” part two, anyone?

93. “Lift Me Up,” Union: Anderson adds incidental vocals to a Rabin solo tune that sounds like Billy Squier fronting Invisible Touch-era Genesis.

92. “Everydays,” Time And A Word: Yes transforms a Stephen Stills song into a lounge jazz number. A driving mid-song jam leads to an adventurous Banks solo, but overall it’s a muddle.

91. “Can You Imagine,” Magnification: A decent Squire solo tune with Yes and an orchestra accompanying.

90. “Into The Lens,” Drama: In which Trevor Horn wants very badly to be a camera.

89. “A Venture,” The Yes Album: The least consequential song of the entire Yes Album-to-Going For The One “main sequence,” it has a nice bounce to it, but not much else.

88. “Onward,” Tormato: Pretty, if insubstantial.

87. “That, That Is,” Keys To Ascension: Nineteen minutes of cascading, at times intriguing Howe and Anderson bits where many of the patchwork seams have failed (and one of the worst song titles ever).

86. “Future Times / Rejoice,” Tormato: There’s probably a decent four-minute song lurking in the debris of this underproduced 6:46 heap of ideas.

85. “The Calling,” Talk: Being the least bad song on an album full of them is not the compliment some might wish it was; a melodic rocker that desperately wants to soar but never manages to get off the ground.

84. “Be The One,” Keys To Ascension: A warm-up for better songs to come on KTA 2, with some quality instrumental bits overlaid with a hazy New Age lyric.

The Not Bad

83. “We Agree,” Magnification:
I agree that some judicious edits could have improved this overlong track.

82. “Into The Storm,” Fly From Here: Frothy and playful, leaning into the harmonized pop side of the band’s multiple musical personalities, though it never really goes anywhere.

81. “I Would Have Waited Forever,” Union: Tries hard in places, but only the layered vocal arrangement and Howe’s urgent central riff raise this above filler.

80. “New State Of Mind,” Open Your Eyes:
An ’80s-style rocker with solid dynamics and harmonies.

79. “The Ice Bridge,” The Quest:
Asia keyboard tones aside, there’s sufficient drive and complexity to make this the strongest track of the Jon Davison era.

78. “Spirit Of Survival,” Magnification:
Some strong instrumental bits tucked in between the lines of Anderson’s never-ending lyric.

77. “Run Through The Light,” Drama:
An airy, somewhat lurching tune featuring zippy Howe solos.

76. “Universal Garden,” Open Your Eyes:
A moderately successful attempt at marrying the band’s ’70s and ’80s styles, though the seams are still apparent.

75. “In The Presence Of,” Magnification:
Some engaging bits and a strong finish, but with a cloying core melody and (again) not enough room for the instrumentalists to stretch out.

74. “The Gift Of Love,” From A Page:
A 10-minute suite from the 2008-11 Benoit David-Oliver Wakeman lineup; some intriguing moments though it ends up a bit underwhelming.

73. “Our Song,” 90125:
As warm and fuzzy as “Hearts,” but this time about the joy of making music.

72. “Sweetness,” Yes:
Another gentle ballad with Anderson cooing romantically, executing a gradual build; they’ve made plenty better and plenty worse.

71. “Give Love Each Day,” Magnification:
Interesting shifts in tone and tempo and good incorporation of the orchestra.

70. “Words On A Page,” From A Page:
That rare bird, a prog ballad that works, thanks to Oliver Wakeman’s rippling piano, a gently lilting core melody, and Howe’s sky-hugging solo.

69. “We Have Heaven,” Fragile:
A trifle, but a witty, entertaining one.

68. “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed,” Time And A Word:
Lively early Yes that rides a wave of energy for the first half, whereupon the orchestra disappears, only to return two minutes later playing a Western movie score. Ambitious but chaotic.

67. “Release, Release,” Tormato:
A punchy rock number whose impact is undercut by a silly chorus and cringey fake crowd noise on the bridge.

66. “Fly From Here,” Fly From Here:
The 30-years later answer to “What if they’d recorded an epic for Drama?” features dense layers of keys from Downes, angular Howe riffage, throbbing Squire bass, and crisp Horn production. Not one of their best, but a credible attempt.

65. “Leave It,” 90125:
A.k.a. Fun With Multitracked Vocals.

64. “Cans And Brahms,” Fragile:
Rick Wakeman at his Wakeman-est.

63. “Survival,” Yes:
Their first suite (though not labeled as such), with a heavy opening giving way to a plaintive middle section with rich harmonies, before the opening motif returns for a powerful finish.

62. “Sweet Dreams,” Time And A Word:
Rudimentary compared to what was to come, but energetic and harmony-rich.

61. “Looking Around,” Yes:
A driving pop-rock tune with a late-Beatles feel, strong vocal arrangement, shifting time signatures and propulsive Squire bass.

60. “Rhythm Of Love,” Big Generator:
One of those tracks I feel strongly both ways about; sure, it’s “an arena-rock cheese log”… but those hooks. (Insert shoulder shrug emoji.)

59. “Harold Land,” Yes:
Some of Squire’s dirtiest bass prefaces an atmospheric midsection with a kind of “Simon and Garfunkel on Broadway” feel; it’s wonky and overlong, but endearing.

58. “Changes,” 90125:
Another Rabin-dominated number, except this time they do a decent job of melding imagination with aggression.

57. “Don't Kill The Whale,” Tormato:
Cool beat minus stilted lyric plus bluesy guitar solos minus screechy synth tones equals something north of okay.

56. “Fortune Seller,” Open Your Eyes:
An alternately riffy and airy number that the band gives a lively reading.

55. “The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn),” Tales From Topographic Oceans:
Bloated, but with enough entertaining component parts to land this high.

54. “Face To Face,” The Ladder:
A driving, effusive tune with abundant bass and guitar hooks.

53. “Astral Traveller,” Time And A Word:
A brash if sometimes wobbly prototype for all that was to come, with Squire in particular having a blast.

The Pretty Good

52. “Magnification,” Magnification:
Builds nicely through the verses into a punchy chorus and extended outro.

51. “Lightning Strikes,” The Ladder:
Plenty of folks detested Yes’s one and only experiment with Caribbean/Calypso sounds; to me it was charming and well done.

50. “Shoot High, Aim Low,” Big Generator:
Spacious and atmospheric, with perhaps the best arrangement ever of the Anderson-Rabin dueling lead vocals that characterized the ’80s lineup.

49. “Dreamtime,” Magnification:
This album’s strongest track, with muscular "lead bass" from Squire, sharp picking from Howe, and full incorporation of the orchestra.

48. “Hearts,” 90125:
Twee as they come, but sometimes it just works.

47. “To Be Over,” Relayer:
The gentle third act of Relayer, a soothing, earnest ballad.

46. “America,” YesYears:
Many Yesheads adore this creative cover/expansion of the Simon & Garfunkel road song; I’m less enamored but it’s still a good ’un.

45. “To The Moment,” From A Page:
Oliver Wakeman and Howe trade nimble licks on this appealing slice of keyboard-centric progressive pop.

44. “Cinema,” 90125: A rangy, sharp-elbowed instrumental carrying the band name the 1982 Rabin-Squire-White-Kaye lineup was using before Anderson returned to the fold.

43. “I See You,” Yes: Another transformative early-days cover, in which they reimagine a Byrds tune with a Van Morrison mystical soul feel, with Banks and the rhythm section running wild during the middle jam.

42. “Homeworld (The Ladder),” The Ladder: Seven minutes of dynamic prog that runs off a cliff into an underwhelming Anderson coda.

41. “Beyond And Before,” Yes: The song that announced the band’s arrival, a cosmic mind-meld between Buffalo Springfield and Led Zeppelin, with all the seeds of what was to come: pounding bass, bold guitar and organ, complex arrangements and multi-part harmonies.

40. “Love Will Find A Way,” Big Generator: A richly melodic bit of Rabin AOR that Yes happens to play on.

39.“Hold On,” 90125: One of the stronger rockers on 90125, with a potent Anderson/Rabin/Squire vocal attack supporting a punchy hook.

38. “New Language,” The Ladder:
A compact nine-minute mini-epic that melds the band’s ’70s and ’80s styles as effectively as anything they’ve ever done, with Squire and Howe in fine form.

37. “Open Your Eyes,” Open Your Eyes:
A propulsive anthem with a snaking central riff, that also feels like an answer to the unasked question: what if Anderson had stuck around for Drama?

36. “It Can Happen,” 90125:
The sitar is the secret weapon on this soaring Squire-led rocker.

35. “Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil),” Tales From Topographic Oceans:
The strongest of the four Tales suites features an appealing chorus and powerhouse work from White in particular; there’s a very good 12-minute track hiding in its 21-minute folds.

34. “Sound Chaser,” Relayer:
Many fans love the hyperactive acid jazz opening and closing, all frantic keyboard runs and scat-singing, while I prefer the more measured middle section.

33. “Time And A Word,” Time And A Word:
A folk anthem of sorts; the original studio version actually sounds better today than any of the myriad live renditions issued over the years, even with the unnecessary strings on the later choruses.

The Very Good

32. “The More We Live — Let Go,” Union: Billy Sherwood’s first collaboration with Squire delivered a moody, swirling gem.

31. “Children Of Light,” Keys To Ascension 2: One of several impressive tracks from the neglected KTA 2, this one a ringing piano-led number co-written with Vangelis.

30. “Something’s Coming,” YesYears: Early Yes’s psychedelic takedown of the West Side Story classic is kinetic, fearless, and somewhat shambolic in places, but ultimately dazzling, with the whole band pushing hard.

29. “Bring Me To The Power,” Keys To Ascension 2: A bounding Squire bass line, sharp Howe riffage and soaring vocals from Anderson, plus alternating heavy and light sections; it’s prototypical classic Yes.

28. “Every Little Thing,” Yes: A crashing, anthemic, deeply affectionate reinvention of the Beatles tune, it’s the founding lineup’s effervescent high-water mark.

27. “Does It Really Happen?,” Drama:
A muscular, melodic number that Squire in particular has a great time with, pushing the band and soloing dynamically during the closing minute.

26. “Mood For A Day,” Fragile:
The best of Howe’s several solo classical-guitar tracks, full of sharp turns and virtuoso playing.

25. “Wonderous Stories,” Going For The One: This most indelibly Anderson of songs defines the adjective “lyrical”; there isn’t a whole lot to it, but what’s there soars.

24. “Machine Messiah,” Drama: With an opening salvo that’s as close as Yes ever came to progressive metal, there’s a bit of “Heart Of The Sunrise” in this one’s bones, and the entire band sounds fired up.

23. “Clap,” The Yes Album:
A contender for the best filler track in the history of them, it’s Steve Howe putting on an acoustic guitar clinic for the open-mouthed masses.

22. “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” 90125:
Hooky and clever, with a powerful vocal arrangement and nimble dynamics; it’s gimmicky at times, but will always be the song that gave the band new life.

21. “Mind Drive,” Keys To Ascension 2:
An 18-minute epic full of light and dark, heavy and soft, it’s a powerhouse number that recycled a central riff dating back to the 1981 XYZ sessions with Jimmy Page.

20. “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom,” Tormato:
A Squire showcase featuring some of the most resonant, memorable riffs ever coaxed from a bass guitar.

19. “Foot Prints,” Keys To Ascension 2:
A personal favorite from the band’s last three decades, this ringing number has Squire carrying the melody for the first minute, with the rest of the song built off his complex, bouncy line, and a worthy message embedded in Anderson’s lyric.

18. “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus),” Fragile:
Why would anyone listen to a two-and-a-half minute bass solo? This. This is why. Jaw-dropping and anything but dull.

17. “Long Distance Runaround,” Fragile:
Alternating between transcendent beauty and playful instrumental runs, it’s classic Yes distilled down to a miniature.

16. “Tempus Fugit,” Drama:
Among the hookiest songs they ever recorded, it’s direct and riff-centric, yet also complex, and rippling with energy and enthusiasm.

15. “Turn Of The Century,” Going For The One:
Sublime work from the entire band on this gorgeous ballad.

14. “Perpetual Change,” The Yes Album:
Hard and soft, fast and slow, hooks galore—and it’s even better live on Yessongs.

13. “Going For The One,” Going For The One:
The band’s last great album kicks off with blistering slide guitar over a propulsive rhythm section, as an energized Anderson paints with sound and cracks a joke.

The Great

12. “The Gates Of Delirium,” Relayer:
Another epic journey, with both the heavy and the light turned up to 11.

11. “And You And I,” Close To The Edge:
An iconic entry in the Yes canon, with some of the most beautiful individual passages the band has ever created.

10. “Parallels,” Going For The One:
A driving, soaring rock anthem featuring church organ? Count me in.

9. “Siberian Khatru,” Close To The Edge:
The group at peak propulsion and Steve Howe at the top of his game.

8. “Starship Trooper,” The Yes Album:
The band’s first official three-part suite more than holds up after all these years, an alternately shimmering and rocking prog anthem.

7. “I've Seen All Good People,” The Yes Album:
It’s ridiculous, really—a somewhat wonky acoustic ballad (“Your Move”) paired with a bounding rock number (“All Good People”) whose entire lyric consists of a single repeated line. Together, though, they constitute a timeless slice of progressive pop magic.

6. “South Side Of The Sky,” Fragile:
Knotty, skronky, and gorgeous, it’s as if Yes tried to write a King Crimson song.

5. “Yours Is No Disgrace,” The Yes Album:
Now THIS is how you stitch a string of melodic hooks together and achieve a captivating, dynamic flow. (And don’t miss the astonishing live version on Yessongs.)

4. “Heart Of The Sunrise,” Fragile:
Perhaps the most extreme example of contrast between light and heavy, loud and quiet, in the band’s entire catalog, it’s raging thunder one minute, exquisite grace the next.

3. “Roundabout,” Fragile:
Sure, it’s been overplayed by radio—because it’s a fantastic song, brimming with hooks and rippling energy and mostly free of the band’s tendencies to excess.

2. “Awaken,” Going For The One:
The pinnacle of Anderson’s “sound painting” approach to lyrics, with spectacular performances by the entire band of a steadily morphing yet somehow seamless 15-minute epic.

1. “Close To The Edge,” Close to The Edge:
The band’s greatest achievement and the gold standard for progressive rock epics, an 18-minute journey through soundscapes of dazzling energy and eye-dampening beauty.

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