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Music / Yes

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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)note 
And one peculiar point I see,
As one of many ones of me
As truth is gathered I rearrange,
Inside out, outside in
Jon Anderson, "Perpetual Change"

Yes is a British group that has been vital in the formation of Progressive Rock, embodying both 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, uncommon time, sudden dynamic shifts, incomprehensible lyrics, lush vocal harmonies and lead singer Jon Anderson's distinctive high-pitched voice.

Despite Yes and Time and a Word suffering from mixed reception and Early-Installment Weirdness (cover versions, overproduction, orchestras overpowering 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 the Design Student's Orgasm artwork of Roger Dean) coalesced at the start of The '70s, resulting in the critically acclaimed trilogy of The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge, the latter considered their masterpiece. But it didn't last, as they came back to earth with the widely-reviled double album Tales from Topographic Oceans, which was roundly panned for its self-indulgence (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.note  However, the band soldiered on, managing to make two more reasonably well-received albums influenced by jazz fusion, Relayer and Going for the One (the latter 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 (although it reached the Top 10 in the Album charts just like Tales from Topographic Oceans did).

After an internal conflict and falling out, Anderson and Wakeman left 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 next year.note 

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' original 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 most of the previously recorded vocals and re-writing some of the lyrics. The resulting album, 90125 (named after its catalog number), 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".note 

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 Close to the Edge-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 Arista Records, 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 eight of the nine members that had recorded more than two albums with the band (Anderson, Squire, Howe, Rabin, Kaye, Wakeman, Bruford, and White; original guitarist Peter Banks was the odd man out). A live recording from this tour is available as Union Live.

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 released the acclaimed Keys to Ascension and Keys to Ascension 2. Various further lineup changes resulted in Open Your Eyes, The Ladder, and Magnification, the former of which earned a mixed reception but the latter two of which have generally been well-received. They were going strong until 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 for Fly from Here. However, David was released by the band and replaced by Jon Davison, also from a Yes tribute band for their latest album, Heaven & Earth.

Squire died in 2015 after a short battle with leukemia. In accordance with his wishes, however, the band continued on without him. He was succeeded by Billy Sherwood, who had previously played guitar in the band and had already been filling in on bass during Squire's illness. This marks the first time the band has none of its founding members, while Howe is the only member from the Close to the Edge line-up to currently be a member. Until then, Squire had also been the only member to have been in every lineup of the band, while drummer Alan White was in every lineup from 1972 to his own death in 2022.

In 2017, Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman began performing vintage Yes material with their self-titled band, which was later officially renamed... well, let's just say it wasn't "No"note . The band released a live album in 2018 and a new studio album, The Quest, in October of 2021. Anderson has indicated a desire to have some sort of "final Yes event" involving Howe and others; Howe performs on the track "Now and Again" from Anderson's 2019 solo album, so this is not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

Studio discography and notable songs:

  • Yes (1969) – "Beyond and Before", "I See You" (The Byrds cover), "Every Little Thing" (The 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", "Perpetual Change".
  • Fragile (1971) – "Roundabout", "South Side of the Sky", "Long Distance Runaround/The Fish"note , "Heart of the Sunrise".
  • Close to the Edge (1972) – "Close to the Edge", "And You and I", "Siberian Khatru" (the only songs on the album).
  • Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) – "The Revealing Science of God", "Ritual".
  • Relayer (1974) – "The Gates of Delirium", "Sound Chaser", "To Be Over" (again, the only songs on the album).
  • Going for the One (1977) – "Going for the One", "Wonderous Stories", "Awaken".
  • Tormato (1978) – "Onward", "Don't Kill the Whale", "Release, Release", "On the Silent Wings of Freedom".
  • Drama (1980) – "Machine Messiah", "Into the Lens", "Tempus Fugit".
  • 90125 (1983) – "Owner of a Lonely Heart", "Leave It", "It Can Happen", "Changes", "Cinema".note 
  • Big Generator (1987) – "Rhythm of Love", "Love Will Find a Way", "Shoot High Aim Low", "Final Eyes".
  • Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (1989)note  – "Brother of Mine", "Quartet", "Order of the Universe".
  • Union (1991) – "Lift Me Up", "Saving My Heart", "Masquerade".note 
  • Talk (1994) – "Endless Dream", "The Calling", "Walls".
  • Keys to Ascension (1996) – "Be the One", "That, That Is".
  • Keys To Ascension 2 (1997) – "Mind Drive", "Foot Prints", "Children of Light".
  • Open Your Eyes (1997) – "Open Your Eyes", "No Way We Can Lose", "Man in the Moon".
  • The Ladder (1999) – "Homeworld (The Ladder)", "The Messenger", "Lightning Strikes", "If Only You Knew"
  • Magnification (2001) – "Don't Go", "In the Presence Of", "Spirit of Survival"
  • Fly from Here (2011) – "We Can Fly"note , "Madman at the Screens", "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be", "Solitaire", "Into the Storm".
    • Fly from Here – Return Trip (2018)note  – "Hour of Need",note  Don't Take No for an Answer".note 
    • From a Page (EP, 2019)note 
  • Heaven & Earth (2014) – "To Ascend", "In a World of Our Own", "Believe Again", "It Was All We Knew", "Subway Walls".
  • The Quest (2021) - "The Ice Bridge", "Dare to Know", "A Living Island".
  • Mirror to the Sky (2023) - "Cut from the Stars", "All Connected", "Mirror to the Sky".


  • Jon Davison - vocals (2012–present)
  • Geoff Downes - keyboards (1980–81, 2011–present)
  • Steve Howe - guitar, backing vocals (1970–81, 1990–92, 1995–present)
  • Billy Sherwood - guitar, keyboards, vocals, bass (1991 [session], 1994 [touring], 1996 [production], 1997–2000, 2015-present)
  • Jay Schellen - drums (2023-present)

Former Members (founders are in bold):

  • Chris Squire - bass, backing vocals (1968–2015; died 2015)
  • Jon Anderson - vocals (1968–79, 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, 2018 [touring only])
  • Rick Wakeman - keyboards (1971–74, 1976–79, 1990–92, 1995–96, 2002–08)
  • Patrick Moraz - keyboards (1974–76)
  • Trevor Horn - vocals (1980–81, 2018), production (1983–87, 2011)
  • Trevor Rabin - guitar, vocals, keyboards, production (1982–94)
  • Igor Khoroshev - keyboards (1997–2000)
  • Benoît David - vocals (2008–12)
  • Oliver Wakeman - keyboards (2008–11)
  • Alan White - drums (1972–2022; died 2022)

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe members:note 

  • Jon Anderson - lead and backing vocals (1988–1990)
  • Bill Bruford - drums (1988–1990)
  • Rick Wakeman - keyboards (1988–1990)
  • Steve Howe - lead and rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1988–1990)

Supported by:

  • Tony Levin – bass guitar, Chapman stick (session and tour, 1988–1990)
  • Milton McDonald – rhythm guitar (session and tour)
  • Matt Clifford – keyboards, programming, orchestration, backing vocals (album)
  • Julian Colbeck – additional keyboards (tour)
  • Jeff Berlin – bass (tour; temporary replacement after Levin fell ill)

Yes Featuring ARW Members:note )

  • Jon Anderson - lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, harp, percussion (2010–2018)
  • Trevor Rabin - lead guitar, lead and backing vocals (2010–2018)
  • Rick Wakeman - keyboards (2010–2018)

Supported by:

  • Lee Pomeroy - bass, backing vocals (live only, 2016)
  • Louis Molino III - drums, backing vocals (live only, 2016–2018)
  • Iain Hornal - bass, backing vocals (live only, 2017–2018)

Owner of a Lonely Trope:

  • '80s Hair: Even Yes was affected in the 90125 / Big Generator era, but Chris Squire had the '80s-est hair of all. Jon Anderson apparently borrowed Rod Stewart's hair in the late '80s.
  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable:
    • From "Don't Kill the Whale": "If time will AY-llow..."
    • From "Fly from Here": "All-ti-METERS reading zero.."
  • Adaptation Expansion: The incredibly obscure Yes Remixes 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.
  • 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.
    • According to Wakeman, Tales from Topographic Oceans has about a hour's worth of good material, but since that was too long to fit into a single vinyl album, they had to pad the tracks out to fit a double album.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Completely averted for Bill Bruford and Alan White, which makes White's heavy, frenetic drum solo on "Release, Release" all the more surprising. Bruford has gone onto a career in academia in The New '10s, even writing a book on the archetype of a modern drummer.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The liner notes to Fragile explain the "solo" pieces mentioned above.
    • Similarly, the liner notes to Tales From Topographic Oceans explains the concept of the album and the meaning of each piece.
  • Alternate Album Cover: The vinyl cover for Big Generator used a different color scheme from the cassette and CD versions.
  • Arc Words: Plenty of examples.
    • The first example may be the lyrics "I'll ask her for some time to go and look around" being sung on the Yes 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" is sung in "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 first and last tracks of the album, it also counts as 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".
    • The phrase "history of the future" has gotten a bit of mileage; it was the working title for Talk, and then appeared in "Bring Me to the Power" and "Homeworld (The Ladder)".
    • Fly From Here's title is said in Parts 1 & 2 of the suite, "We Can Fly", and "A Sad Night at the Airfield", respectively. Naturally also making a comeback in Part 5, as it is a reprise of "We Can Fly".
  • 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 as well.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Drama, made without Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson, and any lineup since excluding Anderson; the Davison / Sherwood lineup may count double due to Squire's departure and passing.
  • The Big Guy: Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman were both around 6'3 - but Chris Squire, at 6'4 stands out the most, being so tall that the normally quite large and unwieldy Rickenbacker bass he played looked like a guitar, or maybe even a mere toy in his hands.
  • Big "YES!": "Tempus Fugit" has one.
    • Thanks to their name, this is played graphically as well. Yes' name came about as a promotional trick by forcing concert promoters and poster artists to use larger letters for their name due to how short the word "yes" is. This made their name stand out more compared to the other bands sharing the bill until they were popular enough to headline their shows. And of course, there are several albums where there is a rather large Yes logo of one flavor or another on the cover.
  • Bookends: Tales from Topographic Oceans and Fly from Here respectively: A riff from "The Revealing Science of God" appears at the end of "Ritual", and Benoît 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. He also eschewed any kind of advanced synths in favor of sticking with the Hammond organ.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Rick Wakeman has left and rejoined the band four times.
    • 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, he is explicitly credited with Hammond organ only, with Rabin playing all other keyboards.
    • Bill Bruford's brief return to the band for Union.
    • Guitarist / keyboardist / vocalist Billy Sherwood was in the running to replace Jon Anderson for what would have been the follow-up to Big Generator (his collaboration with Chris Squire, "The More We Live – Let Go" is featured on Union, while the outtake "Love Conquers All" appears on the YesYears box set), came back as a Sixth Ranger to help on the Talk tour, came back again as an official member alongside Jon Anderson for Open Your Eyes and The Ladder, and most recently did some engineering work on Fly from Here and Heaven & Earth. He would also fill in for an ailing Squire on bass for a 2015 tour, before becoming the band's permanent bassist upon Squire's death in June 2015.
    • Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes for Fly from Here, with Downes playing in Yes several times since then. In fact, he's still in the band.
      • Trevor has returned to perform with the band on various occasions, singing "Tempus Fugit" at live shows in 2016 and 2018, and providing completely redone vocals for Fly From Here - Return Trip.
    • Jon Anderson left Yes in 1980, re-joined Yes in 1983, left again in 1988, and re-joined Yes a second time (along with Howe, Wakeman and Bruford) in 1990. Howe would leave Yes in 1992 and came back in 1995.
    • Tony Kaye rejoined the band for U.S. touring in 2018, to commemorate their fiftieth anniversary. Bill Bruford also formally introduced the band at a show in London the same year, although he did not perform with them, having been retired for many years.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • While they don't deny the existence of Yes or Time and a Word, they are never mentioned in interviews and few songs have been played live in decades ("Time and a Word", "Sweet Dreams", and "Astral Traveller").
    • Wakeman refuses 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 avoided the Rabin-era material for a while, but eventually agreed to play it occasionally.
    • People often think Trevor Horn's re-recording of Fly From Here in 2018, "Return Trip" might have been a way to erase Benoît David's contributions to the band, as the original 2011 version is now incredibly rare to find, and not available to stream, but considering From A Page was released, that doesn't seem to be the case.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Remember that demo song Horn and Downes played to the remaining members of the band before being asked to join? Well, it didn't make it onto Drama... It was eventually reworked into the title track of Fly from Here 31 years later.
  • Cherubic Choir: Squire and Anderson managed to achieve this in their vocals. It helps that Squire had actually been a choirboy.
  • Christmas Songs: Chris Squire and Alan White's single "Run with the Fox", Jon Anderson's solo album 3 Ships, and Chris Squire's Swiss Choir.
  • 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 to be found so far on YouTube -– has them upside-down while their images are altered by various visual effects.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jon Anderson comes across as one.
  • Common Time: Averted. You try playing in 13/8 time.
  • Concept Album: Close to the Edge could perhaps be considered one. According to Jon Anderson, the entire album is inspired by Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha. Due to the Word Salad Lyrics, though, it's highly questionable whether anyone other than Anderson understands the concept. Tales from Topographic Oceans is one as well, being inspired by a segment of Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi.
  • The Constant: Chris Squire was the only member to appear on all their albums during his lifetime. Until his death, Alan White was also in every lineup since joining the band.
  • Cover Version:
  • Darker and Edgier: Drama is noticeably darker and bleaker, not to mention heavier and harder, than anything than Yes has done before or since. The album cover even refers to this with the cold, stark Arctic landscape drawn by Roger Dean.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford, occasionally Chris Squire, too.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Roger Dean's famous artwork.
  • The Determinator: Chris Squire, for wanting to keep the band going after Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson left.
    • And then after they left again in the 2000's.
    • Their decision to carry on after Chris Squire's illness (and subsequent death) in 2015 (with Chris' encouragement) also would count.
  • Distinct Double Album: The Keys to Ascension albums, which are both part live, part studio.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Two cases:
    • 90125: the name 'Cinema' didn't come due to lawsuit threats by similarly named bands, and the label convincing them that just bringing the Yes name back would be enough given that the group had featured everyone but Trevor Rabin - who was annoyed that he inadvertedly joined a reunion.
    • Union, which combined demos from both the Yes that recorded 90125 and the former bandmembers who had joined forces as Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Their first two albums have a simpler sound compared to the sprawling compositions that they would become known for. They also had a lot of covers.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: Many of their songs have at least one minute of instrumental buildup; "Close to the Edge" (four minutes!) is the probably the most recognizable example.
    • Many of their concerts also start with a recording of Igor Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite", typically as a prelude to "Siberian Khatru". A good example is on Yessongs.
    • Early seventies live performances of "Yours Is No Disgrace" often extended the intro by several minutes, as seen on Yessongs and the Progeny box set.
    • Their cover of "Every Little Thing" has a two minute intro with an interpolation of the "Day Tripper" riff, stretching out the original two minute song to nearly six.
  • Epic Rocking: Masters of it. Tales from Topographic Oceans is the most extreme example; Originally meant to be listened to in one go, the album runs over 80 minutes and contains just four songs, averaging 20 minutes each. They have quite a few songs in the 10–15 minute range, and a handful of other songs that top 20 minutes.
    • Close to the Edge is 39 straight minutes of this, as is Relayer. Both have identical formats: One song about 20 minutes long, followed by two that are about 10.
    • Even in the pop-rock period, they still wrote epics – "Endless Dream" is almost 16 minutes long, and every Rabin-era album has at least two songs over 6 minutes long.
    • Fly From Here from 2011 features the band's longest composition yet (barring Tales), the six-part title suite that runs for just under 24 minutes in its original form. However, Trevor Horn's Return Trip remix trims the song to 21:30.
    • Downplayed in the first two albums compared to later material, Justified due to the band having simpler sound and less prog elements which they would be known for. But they still have epic-rockers, such as Survival (6:18) and their cover of I See You (6:48).
  • 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.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The "Return Trip" remix of Fly From Here replaces all of Benoît David's vocals with Trevor Horn, rearranges some of the tracks (including cutting two whole minutes from the "Fly From Here" suite) and adds extra guitar and keyboard overdubs.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: According to Anderson, "Khatru" (as in "Siberian Khatru") means "As you wish" in the Yemeni dialect of Arabic, but he had no idea what it meant until he asked someone to look it up.
  • Gratuitous Panning: Several of their albums, up to and including Fragile, featured this. "Roundabout,"'s opening riff, for example, features the guitar harmonics panned hard left; the organ lines that come in are either in the left channel or (for the solo) in the right channel. Other examples include the orchestra throughout Time and a Word; the organ / guitar bridge and guitar solo in "Yours is No Disgrace"; and guitar solo in "Owner of a Lonely Heart".
  • Green Aesop: "Don't Kill the Whale", "Take the Water to the Mountain".
  • Guest-Star Party Member:
    • Jay Schellen had filled in on percussion on and off for Alan White since 2016 due to the latter's various health problems, although some shows have them both performing on different songs; White would eventually die six years later, and Schellen became a full member. Steve Howe's son Dylan did the same during a U.S. tour in 2017.
    • Brufordnote  bassist Jeff Berlin filled in for Tony Levin while the latter was ill on the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe tour.
    • Billy Sherwood played additional guitar and keyboards on the Talk tour.
    • Future Kansas keyboardist Tom Brislin played with the band on the 2001 Yes Symphonic tour.
  • Guyliner Jon Anderson wears this in the video for "It Can Happen".
  • Hidden Track: "The Solution", the closing track of Open Your Eyes, is listed as being 23:47 long, yet the song itself is only 5:26. This is followed by two minutes of silence, then the rest is ambient noise (birds singing, waves crashing) punctuated by lyrics from the album's previous tracks.note 
  • History Repeats: In 1983, a band Trevor Rabin was in was renamed Yes because it contained several core Yes members. In 2017, another band Rabin was in was renamed Yes because it contained several core Yes members.
  • 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.
  • Iconic Item: Chris Squire wasn't Chris Squire without his dual-amped Rickenbacker 4001.
    • Similarly, Steve Howe with his Gibson ES-175 guitar.
  • In Name Only: Inverted — Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe was essentially a reunion of the 1971–72 lineup, minus Chris Squire. They recorded one Self-Titled Album in 1989 and toured behind it, before being assimilated back into Yes in 1991.
    • ARW was a supergroup comprised of Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman, with bassist Lee Pomeroy and drummer Louis Molino III filling in, which formed in 2010. Following the band's Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2017, they have billed themselves as "Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman" with a different logo, as Anderson (who co-owned the rights to the band name with Squire and had allowed Yes to continue without him, so long as Chris was still in the group) wished to assert himself as the only remaining active founding member of the band and believed his group to more closely work in the spirit of the group than the official lineup.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: Anderson was born with the name "John" and kept it that way for the first 3 albums, but changed it to "Jon" before Fragile, and hasn't looked back since.
  • 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.
    • Fly from Here is the second Yes studio album to come out following the departures of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman from the "classic Yes" lineup to see involvement from Trevor Horn (albeit strictly in the producer's chair this time) and Geoff Downes.
    • When the "90125 / "Yes West" lineup which recorded Talk broke up in 1995, Rick Wakeman replaced Tony Kaye as Yes' keyboardist again. Igor Khoroshev's hiring in 1997 after Wakeman's departure marked the second time he would be replaced by a largely unknown, non-English born keyboardist (after Patrick Moraz).
    • Jon Anderson has started two groups that splintered from the main Yes band: ABWH, and ARW. Ironically, one of these bands solely focused on the classic era of Yes, while the other is currently balanced between the classic prog material and the poppier "YesWest" songs.
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • The ending of "Sound Chaser" alternates between dissonant yelling from the band members and frenzied keyboard solos. These get faster and faster until the song ends abruptly. Listening to the song on its album (Relayer) isn't as bad, however, because it segues into the slow, Sweet Dreams Fuel-filled finale "To Be Over".
    • "Take the Water to the Mountain" finishes with background yelling from Jon Anderson, alongside some twinkly synth notes that would be comforting in any other context, but just seem strange here. It's an unnerving ending to Union as a whole, unless you have a version of the album with "Give and Take"note .
    • Magnification's title track ends with the backing orchestra used for the album pretty much collapsing on itself. Interestingly, "Dreamtime" from that same album has an opposite effect, with an upbeat and hard-rocking song followed by two minutes of stray instrumentation.
  • Lead Bassist:
    • Chris Squire was basically all four types, but he was most certainly a Type A. He's for very good reason renowned as the virtuoso, in a band of virtuosos, with basically every major bassist coming after him singing his praises. However, he was also a Type B, with his backing/harmony vocals being a huge part of the Yes sound, and he sang lead on a few songs as wellnote . He was also a Type C, most likely being the most recognizable member aside from maybe Rick Wakeman or Jon Anderson, as well as a Type D, with pretty much all of their most famous songs, for example Roundabout featuring his bass front and center.
    • Trevor Horn was this in The Buggles, and plays a fretless bass on "Run Through the Light" on Drama.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: 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 separately, though 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.
    • "Part IV - Bumpy Ride" (from Fly From Here) — these are the only lyrics, which appear once:
    Seeing you there
    See you
    Sometime somewhere
  • Long-Runners: They've been going since 1968.
  • Long Runner Lineup: To an extent, they inverted this. Although the most famous lineup of the band (Anderson/Squire/Howe/Wakeman/White) racked up a decent amount of mileage, they never performed together for more than three years at a time.
  • Loudness War: The Ladder and Fly from Here (both DR7) are affected, having fairly low dynamic range and clipping throughout. Strangely, Magnification, released between the two albums, is less affected at DR8 and isn't clipped nearly as noticeably (it's only particularly terrible in one section of "Can You Imagine" that lasts for about fifty seconds). Some of the band's other recent releases have averted this trope; Progeny in particular was noted for its complete aversion of this trope (having a high dynamic range by 1970's standards, let alone modern ones) and being the best-sounding recording of the band's '70s live performances to date. The band's latest studio album Heaven & Earth also averts it at DR11, so it's possible they've acquired a distaste for this trope in recent years.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "I've Seen All Good People", "Leave It".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "City Of Love" from 90125, a kick-ass song about, out of all things, prostitution.
  • 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
  • Lyric Swap: In the 2018 re-recording of the Fly From Here album with Trevor Horn on the vocals instead, Fly From Here - Return Trip, some of the lyrics for "Part III - Madman at the Screens" are changed in the first half of the song. What was once this:
    Out on the shoreline (shoreline)
    Someone is waiting (waiting)
    The wind that was falling is rising again
    I hear the voices (voices)
    I hear them calling (calling)
    Every song was singing in the rain
Became this:
Down in the harbour
The men are watching
The wind that was falling is rising again
They hear the voices (voices)
The storm is calling (calling)
Hearing singing singing through the rain
Despite that, in the second time that verse is brought up in the song, the original lyrics are used.
  • Meaningful Name: The Yes Album unintentionally ended up having one due to it being the band's Breakthrough Hit and also establishing their Signature Style.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Close to the Edge, 90125 and Open Your Eyes are really the only true examples of this trope. Close to the Edge has just the title and band name at the top over a black-to-green gradient (Though the inside cover is a Roger Dean artwork that is not minimalistic), 90125 has a grey background with the band name in a simple font at the top, and a circle spilt up into three parts - Red, yellow, or blue - with the title in the blue section, while Open Your Eyes has just the album title and band name in Orange over a flat black background.
  • Miniscule Rocking: The ridiculously small -– as in 37 seconds -– "Five Per Cent for Nothing" comes right after an 8-minute epic.
    • They also have the 1:21 "White Car" in between the epic 10:27 "Machine Messiah" and 6:35 "Does It Really Happen?"note 
  • Mythology Gag: "Quartet" from Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe has one segment with several references to past Yes songs strung together, such as "She gave me love, long distance runaround". "Can I?" from The Ladder also counts.
  • The Napoleon: Jon Anderson was nicknamed as such in the band's early days for his short stature and habit of chewing out band members who turned up late to rehearsals.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Jon Anderson.
  • New Sound Album:
    • The Yes Album embraces the sparse progressive elements and ditches the psychedelic Beatles-esque styling and Silly Love Songs that dominated in Yes and Time and a Word.
    • Relayer steers closer to jazz fusion much more than before or since, partly due to Patrick Moraz's influence and because Anderson was a big fan of fusion groups at the time (particularly the Mahavishnu Orchestra, with whom Yes had performed a few years earlier).
    • Drama has very prominent New Wave influences due to The Buggles joining, and is the only album where Steve Howe's playing goes into heavy metal, particularly on "Machine Messiah".
    • 90125 reinvented Yes as a pop rock group, but kept enough of their trademarks to garner critical acclaim.
  • Non-Appearing Title: In the 11 minute epic "In the Presence Of", the title is never said.
    • "Siberian Khatru", "Tempus Fugit" (sort of; the phrase is "time flies" when translated into English, which does appear), "Into the Lens", "Sound Chaser", "Sad Night at the Airfield", "Life on a Film Set"; there are plenty of examples.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Union was not actually a union of anything, but rather an album combining songs from two completely different groups (YesWest and ABWH) who happened to have the same singer (Jon Anderson, of course). Inverted with the follow-up tour, which did feature all eight members on stage together.
  • Occidental Otaku: Jon seems to be something of a Japanophile, working with Kitaro and expressing a desire to climb Mt. Fuji in a TV interview in the '80s.
  • Odd Friendship: Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: The pipe organ in St Giles-Without-Cripplegate appears in "Close to the Edge".
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with the 90125 lineup, which had Trevor Rabin on guitar and Trevor Horn (both of whom also share the middle name Charles) 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 was from Ferryhill, County Dunham. Geoff Downes is also from Stockport, and Trevor Horn is from Sunderland.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Parody Assistance: Chris Squire and Alan White's 1981 Christmas single, "Run with the Fox", received parody lyrics from a fan titled "A New Pair of Socks"note . Squire sang these lyrics over the instrumental on Rick Wakeman's radio show on Planet Rock. Doubles as Self-Parody.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Trevor Rabin has gone on to a successful film scoring role since leaving Yes.
  • Protest Song:
    • "And You and I" was called "The Protest Song" when it was being written, as revealed before several performances documented in Progeny. The song is a commentary on how political leaders have consistently failed humanity's ideals and how very little seems to change.
    • Several other songs also provide examples, most notably "Don't Kill the Whale".
    • "Yours Is No Disgrace" also has subtle protest song themes based around The Vietnam War, contrasting the suffering of soldiers in Vietnam with people partying in Las Vegas (Caesars Palace [sic], mentioned in the lyrics, is a famous casino and resort in Vegas). According to Anderson, the song is a commentary on how the kids fighting the war had no choice but to fight, and that it wasn't their fault.
    • Jon Anderson's "Go Screw Yourself" is a Take That! at politicians, Wall Street, Pedophile Priests, and more, even calling them "soulless motherfuckers". He wrote it in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in his dismay at the lack of gun control, but it wasn't released until the runup to the 2020 US presidential election.
  • Recurring Riff:
    • In Tales from Topographic Oceans, the chorus to "The Revealing Science of God" makes a reappearance at the climax of "The Remembering". The placid guitar solo at the start of "Ritual" reprises not only a number of motifs from earlier in the album, but also the main riff of the title track from their previous album, Close to the Edge.
    • Also in Tales, the melody of the chorus to "The Remembering" is featured in every single song, lyrically in the first two songs (Soft summer mover distance mind in "The Revealing Science of God", and obviously the chorus of "The Remembering") and musically in the last two during Howe's guitar solos.
    • In Going for the One, the last riff of "Awaken" is basically a major-key transposition of the opening riff of "Siberian Khatru", also from Close to the Edge. The band's live / studio album Keys to Ascension gives a sly nod towards this by making these two songs the Book Ends of the first disc.
  • Religion Rant Song: Perhaps surprisingly, they have one. According to That Other Wiki, "Long Distance Runaround" was written about Anderson's experiences with religious hypocrisy during his youth and his desire to find a genuine, compassionate example of godliness. With the Word Salad Lyrics, it is of course difficult to tell.
  • Remix Album: One of the strangest entries in their discography is Yes Remixes from 2003. Steve Howe's son Virgil (credited as "The Verge") did Drum and Bass-inspired remixes of classic songs from 1970 to 1980.
  • Revolving Door Band: Members have gone in and out of the lineup so often (From their debut to Drama, they never had a consistent lineup for more than two albums) that the band has often been described as a real-life Theseus' Ship Paradox; until his death in 2015, Chris Squire was the only member who'd appeared on every album. 2021's The Quest marked the first Yes album without any of the band's founding members.
  • Scenery Porn: The landscapes depicted on Roger Dean's album covers for the band.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: A favourite technique of Jon Anderson.
  • Shout-Out:
    • 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, initial it with loving care", and towards the 3-minute mark during the scatting chorus, Anderson can be heard in the left channel singing "All we are saying, is give peace a chance!".note 
    • "City of Love" references Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry".
    • "Machine Messiah" references William Blake's poem "The New Jerusalem". Considering its relative obscurity, it also doubles as a Genius Bonus.invoked
    • Another example from Drama is "Into the Lens", which references the Christopher Isherwood novel Goodbye to Berlin (part of The Berlin Stories, the precursor to Cabaret; Isherwood is probably now better known for A Single Man), which contains the phrase "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking". It's another example of a Genius Bonus, once again due to the story's relative obscurity.
    • The title of "Starship Trooper" is apparently a Literary Allusion Title to the novel Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, though it doesn't really have any connection to the novel other than the title. Anderson got the idea of a "Starship Trooper being another guardian angel and Mother Earth" after seeing the novel's title and wrote the lyrics around that concept.
    • "And You and I" is loosely inspired by Isaac Asimov's The Foundation Trilogy; in particular, the "mutant enemy" is inspired by the Mule.
    • "Close to the Edge" is inspired by Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha.
    • Their cover of The Beatles' "Every Little Thing" quotes "Day Tripper" in the intro.
    • The opening sitar strum of "It Can Happen" quotes from the opening sitar strum of The Beatles' "Love You To".
  • Singing Voice Dissonance:
    • Jon Anderson has the singing voice of an angel and the speaking voice of a Monty Python farmer.
    • Listen to Chris Squire's high pitched, angelic backing vocals - then take a look at the 6'4 brick house with hands basically eclipsing a normal one throwing around a full sized bass guitar like it's a kids' toy that he actually was.
  • Solo Side Project: Around 1975–76, all the then-members released solo albums.
  • 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 "Man in the Moon" (Open Your Eyes)note , "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.
      • Fly from Here - Return Trip has the first true Yes song with Steve on lead vocals: "Don't Take No for an Answer". It's derived from the FFH recording sessions back in 2011. He returns to the mic on "Damaged World" from The Quest.
    • Rick Wakeman usually doesn't sing on his solo albums, with the exception of the three vocal songs on Rock 'n' Roll Prophet. He also narrates "The Dancer" on Silent Nights.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Benoît 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!:
    • "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 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).
    • Bill Bruford left during the tour for Union, even though the band still had some dates scheduled in Japan for Winter 1992. They were apparently okay with it, and they would have done those concerts with Alan White as the sole drummer. Of course, he was coaxed into coming back.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: How Time And A Word's Title Track came to be. The Other Wiki states that Jon Anderson, who was musically naive at the time, was presenting the song's basic theme on a guitar, using two or three chords, leaving the other band members trying to discern what he was playing.
  • Tragic Dropout: Jon Anderson left school at 15 because his father had become ill, working on a farm, as a truck driver delivering bricks and as a milkman. He decided to pursue a career in music because he didn't want to end up delivering milk all his life.
  • 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.
    • The Fly from Here suite, and thus the A-side of the album, concludes with the aptly-titled "We Can Fly (Reprise)". The line "And we can fly from here" is also repeated in the outro of "Into the Storm", bookending the album as a whole as well.
    • "Seasons of Man", the final movement of "Close to the Edge", which is musically similar to the first movement, "The Solid Time of Change".
  • Uncommon Time: In addition to the band's songs being played in any number of different time signatures, it wasn't uncommon for Alan White or Bill Bruford to play in a meter completely different from the rest of the band, making it even harder for listeners to follow along.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • In a strange application, Union got a re-release called (Re)Union that removed "Angkor Wat", "Dangerous", "Evensong", "Take the Water to the Mountain", and the Roger Dean cover art.
    • The studio songs appended to the end of each of the Keys to Ascension live albums were issued together as Keystudio, with a restored intro section for "Children of the Light".
    • The band's back catalogue from Yes to 90125 was reissued on CD in 2003, each including bonus tracks such as demos, single edits and B-sides.
    • Fly from Here was reissued in 2018 as Fly from Here: Return Trip, with lightly re-arranged songs and Trevor Horn replacing Benoît David on all lead vocals.
  • Vocal Tag Team: The Rabin era. "Endless Dream" from Talk, "Shoot High, Aim Low" from Big Generator and "Changes" from 90125 are the most notable examples, with the two switching off lead vocals throughout.
  • 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 sound than meaning. Therefore, many Yes lyrics are totally incomprehensible, with big amounts of When Is Purple. Despite this, he revised many of the lyrics several times; he noted that "Close to the Edge" underwent at least three or four revisions. Some lyrics really do click though, such as "Heart of the Sunrise"'s late appearance of "Dreamer, easy in the chair that really fits you."
    • Toned down significantly on 90125: Anderson was a late addition to the project and rewrote some lyrics to better suit his vocal delivery. They're probably the most understandable lyrics in Yes' catalogue, but still far from sane.

"I'll be the roundabout, the tropes will make you out 'n' out"