Yes' Union 8-man lineup, circa 1991 (l-r: Trevor Rabin, Tony Kaye, Rick Wakeman, Alan White, Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe).
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 (1968–80, 1983–88, 1990–2008)
- Peter Banks - guitar (1968–70, died 2013)
- Bill Bruford - drums (1968–72, 1990–92)
- Tony Kaye - keyboards (1968–71, 1982–94)
- Chris Squire - bass, backing vocals (1968–present)
- Steve Howe - guitar, backing vocals (1970–80, 1991, 1994–present)
- Rick Wakeman - keyboards (1971–74, 1976–80, 1990–92, 1995–96, 2002–08)
- Alan White - drums (1972–present)
- Patrick Moraz - keyboards (1974–76)
- Geoff Downes - keyboards (1980–81, 2011–present)
- Trevor Horn - vocals (1980), production (1983–87, 2011)
- Trevor Rabin - guitar, vocals, keyboards (1983–94)
- Billy Sherwood - guitar, keyboards, vocals (1997–99)
- Igor Khoroshev - keyboards (1997–2002)
- Benoît David - vocals (2008–12)
- Oliver Wakeman - keyboards (2008–11)
- Jon Davison - vocals (2012–present)
Despite their first two albums suffering from a mixed reception and Early Installment Weirdness
, 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
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, whose sensibilities were far more mainstream, 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 follow-up, Big Generator
, had reasonable sales and positive reception, but was widely considered inferior to 90125
. Anderson, in particular, was so disappointed with it he left Yes to join up with his Fragile
-era bandmates to form "Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe", which released one self-titled album in 1989. As both groups were preparing new material, ABWH's label, through some wheeling and dealing, bought out Yes' record contract and name with the intention of improving ABWH's sales by releasing their next album under the Yes name, with contributions from the Rabin-Squire-Kaye-White Yes. The resulting album Union
, suffered from severe Executive Meddling
and was widely panned. The tour, however, was considered one of their best, with a "Mega-Yes" lineup with all the eight members that were in the band at various points (Anderson, Squire, Howe, Rabin, Kaye, Wakeman, Bruford, and White).
After the mixed reception of Talk
(the last album with Rabin and Kaye), the band's since returned to their old prog sound, 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.Mutant Enemy
is named after a line from their song "And You and I".
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", "On The Silent Wings Of Freedom"
- Drama (1980) - "Machine Messiah", "Tempus Fugit"
- 90125 (1983) - "Owner of a Lonely Heart", "Leave It", "It Can Happen", "Changes"
- Big Generator (1987) - "Rhythm of Love", "Love Will Find A Way", "Shoot High, Aim Low", "Final Eyes"
- Union (1991) "Lift Me Up", "Saving My Heart", "Masquerade"note
- Talk (1994) "Endless Dream", "The Calling", "Walls"
- Keys To Ascension/Keys To Ascension 2 (1996/7) "Mind Drive"
- Open Your Eyes (1997) "Open Your Eyes", "No Way We Can Lose"
- The Ladder (1999) - "Homeworld (The Ladder)", "The Messenger", "Lightning Strikes", "If Only You Knew"
- Magnification (2001) "Don't Go", "In The Presence Of", "System Of Survival"
- Fly From Here (2011) - "We Can Fly From Here" note , "Madman at the Screens", "Solitaire"
- Heaven & Earth (2014) - "To Ascend", "In A World Of Our Own", "Believe Again", "It Was All We Knew"
- Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (1989) is considered by many fans to be a de-facto Yes album, both due to the fact that was made up entirely of ex-Yes members and that the ABWH members were absorbed back into Yes proper with Union (in fact, Union actually started life as an ABWH album).
Tropes found in their music include:
- Adaptation Expansion: The incredibly obscure Yes Remixes (see And Now For Something Completely Different) turns the 37-second "Five Per Cent For Nothing" from Fragile into a 4:44 dance song. Conversely, the same album condenses the 21:33 "Ritual" way down to 6:20.
- And Now For Something Completely Different: Nestled among their many compilation albums, Yes also has an officially-authorized remix album, titled Yes Remixes. It's...extremely different from any other Yes release, with Steve Howe's son Virgil remixing songs like "Heart of the Sunrise" as 2003-era rave songs. Unsurprisingly, it has faded into deep obscurity.
- 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 Drummers Are Animals: Completely averted for both Bill Bruford and Alan White, which makes White's heavy, frenetic drum solo on "Release Release" all the more surprising.
- All There in the Manual: The liner notes to Fragile explain the "solo" pieces mentioned above.
- Arc Words: Plenty of examples.
- The earliest example may be the lyrics "I'll ask her for some time to go and look around" being sung on the debut album track "Sweetness." "Looking Around" is another track on the album.
- In "The Remembering" on Tales from Topographic Oceans, the word "Relayer" is sung. This ended up becoming the title of the next album.
- "Roundabout" is the name of the opening track of Fragile, and it is also sung on the Going for the One tracks "Going for the One" and "Parallels."
- "Ten true summers long" is sung in both "Roundabout" and the Tormato song "Rejoice."
- "Round and round" is sung on Tormato songs "Rejoice" and "On the Silent Wings of Freedom." Since it is on the opening and closing tracks of the album, it may be seen as an example of Book Ends.
- "Talk, talk, talk" are the last words sung on "Give & Take," the final track on the European edition of Union. This foreshadows the title of the next album.
- "New State of Mind" is the opening track of Open Your Eyes, and the phrase is also sung on "From the Balcony" from the same album.
- "We Have Heaven" from Fragile is sung on The Ladder track "Can I?"
- "New Language" is the penultimate track on The Ladder, and the closing track "Nine Voices" contains the phrase "speaking new languages."
- "Magnify" is sung on both "Magnification" and "Spirit of Survival."
- On Magnification, the phrase "sacred ground" is sung on both "Give Love Each Day" and "In The Presence Of."
- 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)
- Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles, both Yes fans, count as well. They tried to submit a song to Yes in 1980, and were asked to join as replacements for Anderson and Wakeman, since both bands had the same manager. They hadn't even known about the shake-ups in the band lineup yet.
- The Assimilator: In a weird (but not evil) way. Yes absorbed The Buggles, then Cinema (which was originally supposed to be a new band with Trevor Rabin as frontman), and then Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. Interestingly, each time Yes "absorbed" a band, their musical style was incorporated into Yes as well.
- The Band Minus the Face: Drama, made without Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson. There's also the current incarnation with Benoît David and later Jon Davison due to Anderson's fragile health.
- Big "YES!": "Tempus Fugit" has one.
- Thanks to their name, this is played graphically as well. Yes christened themselves that as a promotional trick, forcing concert promoters to use a larger font size for their slot due to how short the word "yes" is, making their name stand out more compared to the other bands sharing the bill. And of course, there are several albums where there is a rather large Yes logo of one flavor or another on the cover.
- Book Ends: Tales From Topographic Oceans and Fly From Here respectively: A riff from "The Revealing Science of God" appears at the end of "Ritual", and David can be heard singing "And we can fly from here..." numerous times in the cooldown to "Into the Storm".
- Boring but Practical: Tony Kaye's keyboard style, compared to the flashier players that followed him like Rick Wakeman.
- Bowties Are Cool: Jon sports one in the video for "It Can Happen".
- Breakup Song: "Long Distance Runaround".
- Brick Joke: From Fragile, the song "We Have Heaven" abruptly ends with the sound of a door closing. At the end of the album, a Hidden Track has the sound of a door opening and (part of) "We Have Heaven" heard again
- The Bus Came Back:
- Bill Bruford's brief return to the band for Union.
- Tony Kaye in the "Yes West" era. Quite a bit of the keyboards on those albums were actually played by Trevor Rabin or (on 90125) Trevor Horn, though. On Talk, Kaye is explicitly credited with Hammond organ only, with Rabin playing all other keyboards.
- Rick Wakeman has left and rejoined the band several times.
- Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes for Fly From Here, with Downes continuing to play in Yes since then.
- Canon Discontinuity: Since he wasn't involved in it in any fashion, Anderson refuses to perform any material from Drama.
- Wakeman would also refuse to play material from Relayer (Patrick Moraz's one studio album) which was recorded between his first two tenures with the band. Evidenced by the Masterworks tour with Khoroshev on keyboards, which brought "The Gates of Delirium" out of the vault.
- Steve Howe tried to avoid the 80s material for awhile, but eventually acquiesced to playing it occasionally. It seems to be a bit of a running theme that band members don't mind playing material from before they first joined the band, but don't like playing material from albums where they had temporarily left the band.
- While the band does not deny the existence of the Yes or Time and a Word albums, they are almost never mentioned in interviews and nothing from either one except the latter's title track has been played live in decades.
- 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.
- Cheap Heat: "Our Song" mentions Toledo, Ohio prominently. It got so much airplay from DJs there that it made the Billboard charts, despite never being released as a single.
- Chekhov's Gun: Remember that demo song Horn and Downes played to the remaining members of the band before being invited to join? Well, it didn't make it onto Drama...but it eventually was reworked into the title track of Fly From Here thirty-one years later.
- Cherubic Choir: Squire and Anderson managed to achieve this in their vocals. It helps that Squire had actually been a choirboy.
- 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.
- Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were the masterminds behind the "Leave It" video, which they reportedly made fifteen different versions of. They were all variations of the five band members standing in a lineup against a white background: Most were upside-down, some were right-side-up, one version had their backs to the camera, and one version had some choreography involved. The most familiar version – and the only one so far to be found on YouTube – has them upside-down while their images are altered by various visual effects.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Jon Anderson comes across as one.
- The Constant: Chris Squire is the only member who's been in every lineup. Alan White has also been in every lineup since joining the band.
- Contemptible Cover: Going for the One, the U.K. version of Time and a Word.
- Cool Old Guy: Despite pushing 70, Anderson is very active on social media. The rest of the band qualifies as well.
- Covers Always Lie: The band picture on the front of the US version of Time and a Word has Steve Howe in it...despite the fact that he had just joined and did not play on the album at all.
- Darker and Edgier: Drama is noticeably darker and bleaker than anything than Yes has done before or since. The album cover even refers to this with the cold and stark Arctic landscape.
- Deadpan Snarker: Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford, occasionally Chris Squire, too.
- The Determinator: Chris Squire, for wanting to keep the band going after Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson left.
- And then, after Wakeman and Anderson left again in the 2000s.
- Design Student's Orgasm: Roger Dean's famous artwork.
- Door Closes Ending: Did this on their album Fragile, when Jon Anderson's solo piece "We Have Heaven" ended with the sound of footsteps walking away and then a door slamming. (A hidden track after the last song on the album has the door reopening onto a reprise of "We Have Heaven.")
- Early Installment Weirdness: Their first two albums had a lot of covers.
- '80s Hair: Even Yes was affected in the 90125-Big Generator era, but Chris Squire had the eighties-est hair of all. Jon Anderson also apparently borrowed Rod Stewart's hair in the late '80s.
- 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. Heck, the album Tales from Topographic Oceans, which was originally meant to be listened to in one go, runs 80 full minutes and contains four 20-minute long songs. They also have quite a few songs in the 10-15 minute range.
- Their fifth album Close to the Edge is considered by prog enthusiasts as 39 straight minutes of this, as is their seventh album Relayer. Both albums have only three tracks, and both have identical formats: one song that is about about twenty minutes long followed by two songs that are about ten.
- Even in their pop-rock period they could still write epics- "Endless Dream" is almost 15 minutes long.
- Everything Is an Instrument: "The Gates of Delirium" notably featured a percussion rig created by Jon Anderson and Alan White out of discarded metal parts. It can be heard in the direct center of the song, including said rig accidentally being pushed over.
- Free-Love Future: "Real Love" is a dark subversion.
- Genre Roulette: Union has songs that range from pop ("Lift Me Up"), to psychedelic rock ("Take the Water to the Mountain"), to folk rock ("Masquerade"), to hair metal ("Dangerous"). Unlike some examples of this trope, the constant genre changes are often regarded as a weakness of the album, particularly since most Yes albums settle on a genre for a given album and stick with it.
- Gratuitous Panning: The orchestra throughout Time and a Word; the organ/guitar bridge and the guitar solo in "Yours Is No Disgrace"; and the guitar solo in "Owner of a Lonely Heart". The first album had a bit of it as well, seeing as it was made at the end of The Sixties.
- Green Aesop: "Don't Kill The Whale", "Take the Water to the Mountain".
- Heavy Meta: "Release, Release". Rock is the medium of our generation...
- Hidden Track: "We Have Heaven" is reprised at the end of Fragile as one of these. See Brick Joke above
- I Am the Band: A trope not usually associated with Yes, but by all accounts Talk was essentially a Trevor Rabin solo album with token contributions from Anderson and Squire. This was cemented by the fact that with the very small budget the band had to record with at that time, Rabin also ended up being the album's producer as well, leaving him with a very heavy hand in shaping the album's final sound. The same thing happened to a lesser extent with Big Generator as a falling out with Trevor Horn left Rabin as the album's main producer.
- 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.
- Intercourse with You: "Tempus Fugit". Some of the songs from the Rabin era (such as "Hearts") also may qualify depending on interpretation.
- 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
- Lead Bassist: Squire's basslines are very prominent.
- Limited Lyrics Song: Yes has a few:
- "We Have Heaven"—two lines repeated over and over in a sort of round:
Tell the moon dog, tell the March hare
We have heaven
- ...Joined by these lines about halfway through:
He is clear
Now look around
- "The Fish" (if taken separate, although it is often twinned with "Long Distance Runaround"), repeats the line "Schindleria Praematurus".
- "White Car":
I see a man in a white car
Move like a ghost on the skyline
Take all your dreams
And you drive them away
Man in a white car.
- Long Distance Runaround: They've been going since 1968.
- 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
- Meaningful Name: The Yes Album ended up having one unintentionally due to its status as the band's Breakthrough Hit and the album that established their Signature Style.
- Miniscule Rocking: The ridiculously small—as in 36 seconds—"Five Per Cent For Nothing", which comes right after an 8-minute epic.
- They also have the 1:21 "White Car" that is placed between the epic 10:27 "Machine Messiah" and the 6:34 "Does it Really Happen?".
- 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 Gates of Delirium" from Relayer covers everything from 1 to 6, with "Soon" being the 1 and the middle section going up to 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.
- Yes has a couple of pieces that could honestly be classified as more Progressive Metal than Progressive Rock, notably "Endless Dream" and "Machine Messiah" (the latter was even covered by Dream Theater, to drive the point home). Yet they also have pieces like "Mood For a Day" that are the lightest 1's imaginable, which shows just how versatile they are.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Jon Anderson.
- New Sound Album:
- Drama as well. The album has very prominent New Wave influences due to The Buggles joining the band. It is also the only album where Steve Howe's guitar playing comes close to heavy metal (the heavy tracks on Union were overdubbed by session guitarist Jimmy Haun)
- For that matter, Relayer steered the band closer to jazz fusion than they had been before or since, partly due to the influence of Patrick Moraz and partly because Anderson was a big fan of fusion groups at the time.
- The Yes Album is pretty different from the first two albums, embracing the scattered Progressive elements while dispensing with the psychedelic, Beatles-esque styling and Silly Love Songs that had dominated.
- Non-Appearing Title: In the 11 minute epic "In the Presence of", the title is never said.
- "Siberian Khatru", "Tempus Fugit", "Future Times", "Into The Lens", "Sound Chaser"; there are plenty of examples.
- Obvious Beta: Averted. "Lift Me Up", "Miracle of Life", and "Saving My Heart" were actually demos by Trevor Rabin, and Rabin intended them to be re-recorded. Apart from Jon Anderson's vocals being added, they were mostly unchanged before being included on Union. However, the "demo" status of these songs is not noticeable and in fact are often regarded as the best songs on the album.
- Occidental Otaku: Jon seems to be something of a Japanophile, working with Kitaro and expressing a desire to climb Mt. Fuji in an TV interview in the '80s.
- One Trevor Limit: Averted with the 90125 lineup, which had Trevor Rabin on guitar and Trevor Horn doing production. Also Jon Anderson and Jon Davison (even their last names are of similar structure!).
- Oop North: Jon Anderson is from Accrington, Lancashire. He has a very rural accent in his speaking voice. Alan White is from Ferryhill, County Dunham. Geoff Downes is also from Stockport.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Tony Kaye had the misfortune of being a competent keyboard player in a band famous for keyboard wizards like Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz and Geoff Downes. Some detractors have nicknamed him "Can't Play."
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "I Am Waiting" is mostly a mellow, dreamy song based around a rather soothing guitar line and angelic vocals from Jon Anderson, albeit with loud drums in parts. About halfway through, Trevor Rabin suddenly launches into a hair metal riff and takes over lead vocals, singing a few lines in a much more aggressive tone. Less than 30 seconds later, it's back to the original mellow guitar line as if nothing happened.
- Pop-Star Composer: Trevor Rabin has gone on to a successful film scoring role since leaving Yes.
- The Power of Rock: "Our Song".
- Pun-Based Title: Initially, Tormato was going to be named Yes Tor, after a peak in Devon.
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Roundabout" was chosen to be used as the ending credits theme to the 2012 anime adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
- Revolving Door Band: Chris Squire is the only member who's appeared on every album.
- Sampling: "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was one of the first rock songs to use the technique, courtesy of the then-cutting-edge Fairlight CMI. 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.
- The first part of "I've Seen All Good People" has two references to John Lennon: one of the lines is "Send an instant karma to me", and towards the 3-minute mark during the Singing Simlish chorus, Anderson can be heard in the left channel singing "All we are saying, is give peace a chance!".
- "City of Love" references Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry".
- "Machine Messiah" references William Blake's poem "The New Jerusalem". Considering the relative obscurity of the poem, it also doubles as a Genius Bonus.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: Jon Anderson: singing voice of an angel, speaking voice of a Monty Python farmer.
- Solo Side Project: Around 1977-8, all the then-members released solo albums.
- 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 mislabeling it (with Unfortunate Implications) on virtually every edition of the song ever released.
- The Yes Album, which is virtually always said or written with "the" included, to avoid confusion with their self-tilted debut album.
- Spell My Name Without An H: Anderson was born with the name "John" and kept it during the first three albums, but shortened it to "Jon" in between The Yes Album and Fragile, and hasn't looked back since.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Trevor Rabin takes the lead vocals on "Changes" and "Walls", in addition to providing additional lead vocals on many songs as part of a Vocal Tag Team. Notably, he was going to actually be the lead singer of Cinema (with occasional contributions from Squire) before Anderson joined the band.
- Chris Squire sings "Can You Imagine?" (Magnification) and "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be" (Fly From Here).
- Squire and Howe both frequently sing on their solo albums.
- Rick Wakeman usually doesn't sing on his solo albums, with the exception of the three vocal songs on Rock 'n' Roll Prophet and narrates "The Dancer" on Silent Nights.
- 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 isn't surprising. Jon Davison also happens to vaguely resemble a young Anderson.
- Take That:
- "Man in a White Car" is a dig at Gary Numan, who had been given a car by his label.
- The track "Themes" from the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album is a big jab at Big Generator, especially in regards to the hit single-focused writing of the album.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman have had a couple (notably, Wakeman left after Tales From Topographic Oceans, then came back for Going for the One; likewise, Anderson left after Big Generator, then came back for Union)
- Title Only Chorus: "Leave It".
- Triumphant Reprise: A notable example is "We Have Heaven", from 1971's Fragile (near the beginning). This is a reprise 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.
- Updated Re-release: In a strange application of the trope, Union got a re-release called (Re)Union that actually removed a good chunk of the second-half of the album, along with the Roger Dean cover art.note
- Vocal Tag Team: The Rabin era. "Endless Dream" from Talk is a particularly notable example, with Rabin and Anderson switching off lead vocals through the entire song. "Shoot High Aim Low" from Big Generator, too, with the two playing different characters.
- Parts of Drama can evoke this between Horn and Squire, although this might be due to mixing. Squire is MUCH more prominent in the harmonies than anyone else, or than he is on any other album, and it often sounds like he's singing another lead part.
- War Is Hell: "The Gates of Delirium". "Shoot High Aim Low" has elements of this as well.
- 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.
- Toned down severely on 90125: Anderson was a late addition to the project and rewrote some of Trevor Rabin's lyrics to better suit his vocal delivery. They are most likely the most understandable lyrics of the entire Yes catalogue, though they're still pretty far from being sane.
"Starship troper, go sailing on by!"