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Yes' first "classic" lineup, circa 1971 (l-r: Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Tony Kaye, Bill Bruford, Jon Anderson.

Yes is a British group that has been instrumental in the formation of Progressive Rock, embodying the best (incredible instrumental proficiency) and worst of the genre (Ending Fatigue-inducing endless jamming). Formed in 1968, their music is marked by long song lengths, instrumental prowess, unusual time signatures, sudden dynamic shifts, incomprehensible lyrics, lush vocal harmonies and lead singer Jon Anderson's distinctive high-pitched voice.


  • Jon Anderson - vocals (1968-1980, 1983-2008)
  • Peter Banks - guitar (1968-1970)
  • Bill Bruford - drums (1968-1972)
  • Tony Kaye - keyboards (1968-1971, 1983-1994)
  • Chris Squire - bass, backing vocals (1968-present)
  • Steve Howe - guitar, backing vocals (1970-1980, 1994-present)
  • Rick Wakeman - keyboards (1971-1974, 1976-1980, 1995-1997, 2002-2004)
  • Alan White - drums (1972-present)
  • Patrick Moraz - keyboards (1974-1976)
  • Geoff Downes - keyboards (1980-1981, 2011-present)
  • Trevor Horn - vocals (1980), production (1983-1987, 2011)
  • Trevor Rabin - guitar, vocals, keyboards (1983-1994)
  • Billy Sherwood - guitar, keyboards, vocals (1997-1999)
  • Igor Khoroshev - keyboards (1997-2002)
  • Benoît David - vocals (2008-2012)
  • Jon Davison - vocals (2012)

Despite their first two albums suffering from a mixed reception and Early Installment Weirdness (Cover Versions, overproduction, orchestras that overpowered everything, Peter Banks on guitar), the band's "classic lineup" (Anderson-Howe-Squire-Wakeman-Bruford) and distinctive Progressive Rock sound and look (the latter supplied by Roger Dean's Design Student's Orgasm artwork) coalesced at the beginning of The Seventies, resulting in the critically acclaimed trilogy of albums The Yes Album, Fragile and Close to the Edge, the latter considered their masterpiece. But it did not last, as Yes crashed back to earth with the widely-reviled double album Tales from Topographic Oceans, roundly panned for its self-indulgent instrumental wankery and lack of memorable melodies (although it got to the top of the charts at the time). Notably, Rick Wakeman was so displeased with the album that he left soon afterwards. However, the band soldiered on, managing to make two more reasonably well-received albums influenced by jazz fusion (with the latter, Going For The One getting to number one at the height of punk's popularity) and bringing back Wakeman before once again sabotaging their career with the horribly-received Tormato.

After an internal conflict and falling out, Anderson and Wakeman left the band in 1980, being replaced by vocalist/experienced Record Producer Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes of The Buggles. The resulting lineup recorded one album, Drama, which showcased a heavier, harder rock sound than before and earned mixed reception, before disintegrating the same year.

The band's former rhythm section of Chris Squire and Alan White soon joined up with South African guitarist Trevor Rabin and formed a new band called Cinema. Squire also brought back Yes' old keyboard player Tony Kaye and got Trevor Horn to produce the album. During a chance encounter between Anderson and Squire, the former heard Cinema's demos and was so impressed he joined right away, re-singing all the previously recorded vocals and re-writing the lyrics. The resulting album, 90125 was released under the "Yes" moniker and showcased a departure from the band's previous formula, being made up of catchy, accessible poppy hard-rock tunes that still preserved enough of the band's former weirdness like incomprehensible lyrics, complex production, abrupt time changes and multitracked vocal harmonies. The predictable whining from older fans couldn't drown out the critical acclaim, and 90125 became the band's highest-selling album and spawned their biggest-selling single, "Owner of a Lonely Heart".

The band's since returned to their old prog sound, toured as a "Mega-Yes" lineup for a while with all the eight members that were in the band at various points (Anderson, Squire, Howe, Rabin, Kaye, Wakeman, Bruford, and White), reunited their classic lineup and have been going strong since...until in 2008, when Jon Anderson fell ill. The band soldiered on with Rick Wakeman's son Oliver on keyboards (since booted out so Downes could rejoin) and, most surprisingly, Benoît David of tribute band Close to the Edge on vocals. However, David has since been released by the band and has been replaced by Jon Davison, also from a Yes tribute band. In 2017, some of the band got back together, making a 50th-anniversary tour as "Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman". They disbanded again by 2020.

Mutant Enemy is named after a line from their song "And You and I".

They have nothing to do with the musical Yes, which predates the band by four decades.

Discography and notable songs:
  • Yes (1969) - "Beyond And Before", "Every Little Thing (Beatles cover)", "Harold Land", "Survival"
  • Time and a Word (1970) - "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (Richie Havens cover)", "Everydays (Buffalo Springfield cover)", "Sweet Dreams", "Time And A Word"
  • The Yes Album (1971) - "Yours Is No Disgrace", "I've Seen All Good People", "Starship Trooper"
  • Fragile (1971) - "Roundabout", "South Side of the Sky", "Long Distance Runaround/The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)", "Heart of the Sunrise"
  • Close to the Edge (1972) - "Close to the Edge", "And You and I", "Siberian Khatru" (coincidentally, these are the only songs on the album)
  • Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) - "Ritual"
  • Relayer (1974) - "Gates of Delirium"
  • Going for the One (1977) - "Going For The One", "Wonderous Stories", "Awaken"
  • Tormato (1978) - "Onward", "Don't Kill The Whale"
  • Drama (1980) - "Machine Messiah", "Tempus Fugit"
  • 90125 (1983) - "Owner of a Lonely Heart", "Leave It"
  • Big Generator (1987) - "Rhythm of Love", "Love Will Find A Way", "Shoot High, Aim Low"
  • Union (1991)
  • Talk (1994)
  • Open Your Eyes (1997)
  • The Ladder (1999) - "Homeworld"
  • Magnification (2001)
  • Fly From Here (2011) - "We Can Fly", "Madman at the Screens", "Solitaire"

Yes provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Album Filler: The "solo" pieces on Fragile, recorded to get the album out the door quickly to pay the bank loan on Rick Wakeman's instruments. Their "filler" is still pretty good, with Steve Howe's acoustic piece "Mood for a Day" considered one of his best. That's how awesome they are.
  • All There in the Manual: The liner notes to Fragile explain the "solo" pieces mentioned above.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Benoît David was lead vocalist for Yes tribute band Close to the Edge before becoming the lead vocalist of Yes. Similarly, Jon Davison has also been involved in a Yes tribute band before his hiring. (see Ironic Echo)
  • The Band Minus the Face: Drama, made without Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson. There's also the current incarnation with Benoît David due to Anderson's fragile health.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Since he wasn't involved in it in any fashion, Anderson refuses to perform any material from Drama.
  • Common Time: Averted. You try playing in 13/8 time.
    • Also, VERY little of Tales from Topographic Oceans is in anything close to common time.
  • Chroma Key: The video for "Leave It", while groundbreaking for its time has some notable Chroma Key issues with the white shirts on the white background.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jon Anderson comes across as one.
  • Contemptible Cover: Going for the One.
  • Creator Backlash: Rick Wakeman dislikes much of Tales From Topographic Oceans, in particular the "filler material" they used to spread the album's pieces across four sides of vinyl.
    • Also most of the participants of the Union album, due to the overproduction, Executive Meddling and replacement of band contributions with that of session musicians and computer editing in post-production. Rick Wakeman famously calls it "Onion" as it brings tears to his eyes.
  • The Determinator: Chris Squire, for wanting to keep the band going after Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson left.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Roger Dean's famous artwork.
  • Early Installment Weirdness
  • Eighties Hair: Even Yes was affected in the 90125 era, but Chris Squire had the eighties-est hair of all.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: Many of their tracks, perhaps most famously "Close to the Edge". There is probably at least one example on each of their first eight studio albums.
    • Many of their concerts also start with a recording of Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite." A good example is on Yessongs.
  • Epic Rocking: It isn't uncommon for their songs to top twenty minutes in length. I say "isn't" because apparently they have a new unrecorded suite of four album side-length suites completely written, although it's unclear when it'll be recorded or performed.
    • This suite was discovered to be the song Fly From Here, on the album of the same name, released in 2011.
  • Executive Meddling: Word of God says that this is how the Union album of 1991 was sabotaged. Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe were recording their second album in Montserrat, while the official Yes were recording the followup to Big Generator in Los Angeles, while looking for a replacement for Jon Anderson (Billy Sherwood and Roger Hodgson were considered candidates). ABWH's label, Arista, wanted more commercial material, and felt it would sell more copies if ABWH were called Yes. Arista approached Yes to contribute material for ABWH. Trevor Rabin reluctantly sent Arista demos of "Lift Me Up" and "Saving My Heart" for Jon to sing on. Squire and Billy Sherwood sent "The More We Live--Let Go". Meanwhile, Anderson sang backing vocals on Yes' project. Arista assembled all of the Yes and ABWH recordings, plus a Bill Bruford/Tony Levin instumental, a Steve Howe acoustic solo piece, and "The More We Live" into Union. Adding to the meddling was producer Jonathan Elias, who, as Arista wanted the project completed on schedule, changed guitar and keyboard parts Howe and Wakeman recorded for the band, and added myriad session musicians from L.A. to finish off Howe and Wakeman's playing without even any input from Wakeman or Howe.
  • In Name Only: Inverted - Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe was Yes in everything but name, essentially a reunion of their 1972-73 era lineup, minus Chris Squire. They recorded one Self-Titled Album in 1989 and toured behind it, before they were assimilated back into Yes in 1991.
  • Ironic Echo: Benoît David was hired from the tribute band Close to the Edge (and is also known for his work in a non-tribute band, Mystery) to replace Anderson after he was diagnosed with asthma preparing for a tour. A few years later, David is struck with laryngitis during a tour and is replaced by Jon Davison, who's also known as a vocalist for a Yes tribute band and a standalone progressive rock band of his own (Glass Hammer). Here's hoping he doesn't catch any of the bugs that plagued Anderson and David...
  • Larynx Dissonance
  • Long Distance Runaround: They've been going since 1969.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: South Side Of The Sky, a relatively hard rock song about a group of explorers freezing to death. Also "The Gates of Delirium", whose first section features excited, even triumphant music alongside lyrics about preparing for a battle, with such unnerving lines as "Slay them, burn their children's laughter".
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: Love Will Find A Way, as Trevor Rabin hadn't finished the lyrics:

Here is my heart
Waiting for you
Here is my soul
I eat at Chez Nous.

  • Miniscule Rocking: The ridiculously small "Five Per Cent For Nothing", which comes right after an 8-minute epic.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Between 2 and 4, with the occasional 1 or 5. While they could be loud and heavy if they wanted to, they were never quite as hard as contemporaries like Jethro Tull or Uriah Heep; their weirder experiments more than made up for it.
    • The live version of "The Fish" on Yessongs might reach a 6 or 7. It was shockingly loud for its day.
    • The middle section of "The Gates of Delirium" off of Relayer probably goes up to a 6, especially at the bit where a rack of car parts they were bashing on in the studio to simulate the noise of weapons clashing in battle is accidentally pushed over. It's certainly the noisiest Yes ever got on any of their studio albums.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly
  • New Age Retro Hippie: Jon Anderson.
  • New Sound Album: 90125.
  • Non-Appearing Title: In the 11 minute epic "In the Presence of", the title is never said.
  • Revolving Door Band: Chris Squire is the only member who's appeared on every album.
  • Pop Star Composer: Trevor Rabin has gone on to a successful film scoring role since leaving Yes.
  • Sampling: "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was one of the first rock songs to use the technique. In turn, its drum break has been a favourite sampling choice of hip-hop and dance artists ever since.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: A favourite technique of Jon Anderson.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The song "Clap" has no "The" in front of its title. Unfortunately, Jon Anderson announced it with the wrong name, resulting in the record company mislabelling it (with Unfortunate Implications) on virtually every edition of the song ever released.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Benoit David has a similar vocal range to Jon Anderson, wears similar stage costumes, and even looks a little like him. Considering he was previously a member of Yes tribute band Close to the Edge, this probably isn't surprising.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Leave It".
  • Triumphant Reprise: A notable example is "We Have Heaven", from 1971's Fragile (near the beginning). This is reprised at the end of the last song of the album, and, more notably, in the short song "Can I?" on The Ladder - which was released in 1999.
  • Uncommon Time: In addition to the band's songs being played in any number of different meter signatures it wasn't uncommon for Alan White or Bill Bruford to play in a completely different meter from the rest of the band, making it even more difficult for listeners to follow along.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Intentional, as singer Jon Anderson used his lyrics as simply another instrument, choosing them more for their sound than their meaning. Therefore, many Yes lyrics are absolutely incomprehensible, with a generous amount of When Is Purple?.