YesIn a Word: Yes (1969-?) (Rhino/Elektra) In one form or another, Yes has existed for more than 30 years. With the arrival of In a Word, Rhino's new 5-CD box set, one has to wonder: "How did that happen?" For sure, this is a band that's had more lineup changes than most college football rosters, with so many ex-members that at one point there were actually two bands touring under the moniker Yes. Still, what started as the idea of "taking pop music to a higher plane," as this comprehensive set's extensive liner notes note, evolved into one of the most successful progressive rock bands in history. They enjoyed overwhelming popularity throughout the Seventies and had a surprising resurgence in the Eighties, while being an important part of a music movement that included other British bands like Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, and a slew of lesser-knowns and offshoots. Many will laugh off the importance of their music since it's often overblown, excessive, and incredibly difficult to play. But to a certain degree, Yes and their ilk caused the punk revolution, and for that we can be grateful. Yes' earlier period is interesting as it shows them taking tunes like Simon & Garfunkel's "America" and the Beatles' "Every Little Thing" and transforming them into intricate suites. This of course led into the 20-minute and longer opuses that are bombastic, mystical, or sleep inducing, take your pick. Then there's the Eighties, when, with the addition of members of the Buggles, they attempted a New Wave sound that brought them their biggest commercial success, which sounds downright silly today. To many, and especially to anyone interested in this box, Yes was about master musicianship, Sixties/Seventies-era rock mysticism, a spectacular light and stage show, and taking rock and roll beyond its rote formula into a framework that incorporated jazz, classical, and electronic music. Despite the fact that there's already been several hits packages, as well as Atlantic's previous Yes box set, In a Word trumps them all, covering the full range of the group's output, including outtakes and tracks from its most recent work. The real selling point is the sparkling remastered sound. (Yes plays the Backyard, Friday, August 16.)
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