Chris Squire Takes a Yes Trifecta Live
Yes, a classic prog rock act, which is in the midst of its fifth decade of existence, will present three of their groundbreaking albums played in their entirety at nearly every gig, commencing in early 2013. The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One remain seminal works for the band, recorded back in the 1970s, that have stood the test of time due to their intricate song structures and remarkable pop melodies. The British act has undergone a myriad of personnel changes, but have never relinquished their grasp on their pristine and protean brand of unique music that combines a structured foundation with a fair dose of inspired improvisation. Indeed, there is only one YES in all of rock.
Jambands.com sat down with its lone original member, bassist/vocalist/composer Chris Squire for a conversation about the importance of those three albums to the band, a few other projects throughout the years, and his continuing fascination with what truly still gives him so much pleasure, as does us all—it’s the music.
RR: There has been a tendency for bands to play full albums at concerts lately, but I am not aware of anyone, especially not of the stature of Yes, to play three albums.
CS: I don’t think it’s a totally original idea. I think, if I recall, I saw Steely Dan, and they did something similar, where they just went out and played certain albums. I’m not sure how many, whether it was just one. It was a concept that we had been discussing for a long time, and I guess we just figured the time was right to try it. I must admit that I’m quite surprised at the level of added interest that it’s bought, well, to the ticket sells, for one, but definitely people seem to be inspired by the idea.
RR: How will rehearsals be approached as far as the emphasis on the albums? Will the material be rehearsed front-to-back as they will be presented on stage?
CS: Yes, but, we haven’t finally actually agreed on the order that we are playing them in; although, I think it’s likely to be Close to the Edge first, Going for the One, and, then, The Yes Album. That is likely to be the order. Of course, we are going to play the albums in sequence, though, as they were originally released. I think, I’ve read some reports before that other acts have done this, and people actually like the idea of going to hear an album as it was originally presented because it gives a certain added excitement as you know what is coming next. We’re definitely looking forward to going out there and seeing how it all works.
RR: It is ironic that the concept of an act playing an entire album at a gig has become such an attraction in an age when the album as a whole is not heralded. Yes was always an album act, and the band is certainly timeless because of that fact.
CS: (laughs) Yeah, well, we’re hoping so.
RR: Did you choose these three albums because of the 1970s timeframe, or for the fact that this trio seem to tell a specific story from beginning to end?
CS: We obviously looked at the whole selection of albums that we could do, and I think we just sort of agreed that these three would be sympathetic to each other and, of course, they are, in a way, landmark albums in their own right.
The Yes Album was the album that was responsible for breaking Yes to the general public, and was our first number one album in England, which, also, of course, garnered a lot of interest in the U.S., so you could say The Yes Album was the breakthrough album for us in the States, too.
Of course, Close to the Edge was the first time we attempted to do a 20-minute piece that took up the whole one side of the vinyl that we had back then. That sets another landmark in history for us.
Going for the One was also an interesting album. It was the first time that we actually made an album out of England. We made it in Montreux, Switzerland, and we lived in that part of the world for six months. That was kind of an interesting experience in itself.
So, yeah, definitely, all three stand out as being events in Yes’s career.
RR: I love the albums that have been selected because they also present completely different shades and colors to Yes. Obviously, all three were created by Yes, but they tell some sonic stories in different ways with the personnel that were involved.
CS: Well, one of the main differences, of course, was that on The Yes Album and Close to the Edge we had Bill Bruford’s drumming on the originals, and, then, of course, Going for the One had Alan [White]. Different keyboards, as well; same keyboard player, Rick Wakeman, on Close to the Edge and Going for the One, and, of course, Tony Kaye was on The Yes Album.
But, oh, yes, you are right, different phases of our career and they are all from the 70s, of course, but, yeah, it’s sort of like, in a way, shows a lot of where the band started and where the band developed, too, but, I realize, as I said, that we probably won’t do it in that order. We’ll probably do Close to the Edge, then Going for the One, then The Yes Album. Don’t quote me on that because we haven’t all gotten together (laughter) and agreed upon that, and I don’t want to upset anyone else. (laughs)