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Top 10 Songs by: Yes

  • Someone said that you only really like a band if you have real trouble deciding what your top 10 songs of theirs are. Good point. It turns out that not as many acts meet that criterion as I would have thought. But when I remember one, I make up a playlist for it…

10. Soon (35th Anniversary Collection edit)

Relayer’s “The Gates of Delirium” is a bit jazz-rock for me, especially when it goes into a percussion battle, but then it turns into one of those lovely Jon Anderson symphonic poems. I could have included similar concluding sections from Tales From Topographic Oceans’ “The Ancient” (“And I heard a million voices singing…”) or “Ritual” (“Nous Sommes Du Soleil”) – but “Soon” it is.

9. Time And A Word

I needed something from the early albums, just to show that (unlike with, say, Genesis), I do quite like them. For some reason I adored this track as a teenager, and have always remained fond of it.

8. Into The Lens

Yes were one of my favourite bands long before they transformed completely into an 80s rock band, but unlike many fans, I thought this incarnation was just as exciting. And I was there at the Rainbow in 1980 when they played almost all of Drama and many of the much older fans around me walked out noisily. Almost a punk rock moment for a prog-loving teenager.

7. Turn Of The Century

Going For The One was the first Yes album I bought on its release, and may still be my favourite. More than two tracks made the 20-song-long shortlist here.

6. Fly From Here Pt.I – We Can Fly (Return Trip version)

Apparently they played this live in 1980, but I don’t remember it. The song wasn’t released until 2011, and then got an even better version on Fly From Here – Return Trip in 2018. Originally recorded by Horn and Downes for The Buggles, I don’t think that version of the song got released until many years later either.

5. Awaken

Going For The One again. In the late 70s and early 80s, you got your prog where you could, and Tommy Vance’s Friday Night Rock Show was the place where I got mine, along with Radio Caroline. I remember the excitement of a listeners poll to determine the best ever Yes songs, and my total surprise that this was number one. What fine taste Radio One listeners had.

4. Machine Messiah

What an opening. What a production. Another one from Drama, and still one of my favourite air guitar songs ever.

3. Hearts

The song which has grown on me much later. I think 90125 was Yes’ most successful album ever in the USA, but I never really ‘got’ it. Maybe I’d moved on to more pop by 1983. Love it now though.

2. Starship Trooper

Just to prove it’s not all about the mid-period stuff for me, a classic which nobody will disagree with. A coda which is up there with “Layla”, “Have You Ever Had It Blue” and “Uncertain Smile”. Actually no, it’s even better.

1. And You And I

I probably should have had the title track from Close To The Edge in this list; it was a really tough call to leave it out. But this one just had to be there. “Yes rarely again achieved something so complete in both conception and execution” says Nick Deriso talking to Jon Anderson here. It “may truly be Yes at the peak of its powers” says Preston Frazier here.

All Top 10s in this series…

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