Our Top 10 Yes Albums list takes a look at probably the most loved progressive rock band in history. They are also a band that went though more lineup changes and divisions than almost any other band in rock and roll history. Although the Beach Boys may have given them a run in the lineup change category. Nonetheless, the heart of Yes has always been defined by a handful of core musicians. Of course the sound of Yes starts with the mesmerizing and original vocals of Jon Anderson, the bass work of Chris Squire, the virtuosity of Steve Howe, the mastery of Rock Wakeman, Tony Kaye and Patrick Moraz on keyboards and of course the back beat of a handful of incredible drummers such as Bill Bruford, Alan White.
There were many other musicians who have contributed to the Yes legacy in the studio and on tour for various time periods including musicians Peter Banks, Tony O’Reilly, Trevor Horn, Oliver Wakeman, Trevor Rabin, Eddie Jobson, Igor Khoroshev, Benoît David, Tom Brislin, Dylan Howe and Jay Schellen.
The band Yes released their first album in 1969 entitled Yes. The group quickly followed up that album a year later in 1970 with the album Time and A Word. The glory days of Yes had begun. Over the next decade of the 1970s the band would release some of the most spectacular and important progressive rock albums in classic rock history. The band would continue into the 80s before all the splits began leaving Yes fans very frustrated. Nonetheless, we will always have the classic such as these great 10 Yes albums listed below.
# 10 – Big Generator
We open up our top 10 Yes Albums with a Yes album released in the late 1980s. This was no longer the classic lineup. However, Jon Anderson still stood front and center on lead vocals. Chris Squire still held it all together on bass, Alan White still manned the drums. Tony Kaye played keyboards and Trevor Rabin supplied all the guitar work along with vocals and keys. Big Generator along with 90125 are`the only two albums on this list that were not released in the 1970s. While some may argue that Drama or Tormato should be on the list instead, we were never really big fans of those records and we felt that their 1980s period should be represented on this list from an historical perspective.
# 9 – 90125
The Yes album 90125 was a tremendously successful album for the band Yes from at least a commercial standpoint. The success of the album was fueled by the massively successful single “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” The song was so successful for the band it became the group’s first and only number one single of their career as it hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983. The same lineup found on the Big Generator album was responsible for the music on the album 90125.
# 8 – Tales from Topographic Oceans
The two record set Tales from Topographic Oceans stands as the first Yes album released in the 1970’s to be placed on this list. The two record set was released in 1973. The album included the classic Yes lineup of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White who had just replaced Bill Bruford on drums. Tales from Topographic Oceans was a concept album that was released in a beautiful gate fold design displaying the brilliant artwork of Roger Dean
# 7 – Going For The One
The great Yes album Going For the One was released in 1977. Anderson, Howe, Squire Wakeman and White all performed on the album. The band released two singles from the record including the title track “Going For The One,” and the much loved song “Wonderous Stories” Going For the One was a commercially successful record for the band. The band toured to support the album. I saw the Going For The One Tour in New York during the summer of 1978 and the band was simply amazing.
# 6 – Time and A Word
The Yes album Time And A Word was released during the summer of 1970. It was the band’s sophomore effort. At the time, Peter Banks was still playing guitar in the band and Bill Bruford was on drums. The album’s opening number “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” was written by Richie Havens who only one year earlier had opened the Woodstock Festival in 1969. The band also did a cover of a Stephen Stills song on the record called “Everydays.”
# 5 – Yes
The album simply titled Yes was the band’s debut album. The record was released in 1969. There were eight songs on the record as the band had not yet developed into the progressive rock outfit that would release albums with songs that could last an entire album side. The band also recorded two cover songs on the record including a version of The Beatles’ “Every Little Thing,” and The Byrds‘ “I See You.”
# 4 – Relayer
Speaking about albums with lengthy songs. The great Yes album Relayer only contained three songs. In reality, we should be calling them pieces rather than songs. Side A of the Relayer album contained the complete legendary piece “The Gates of Delirium.” Side two presented fans with the great musical selections “Sound Chaser,” and “To Be Over. ” Patrick Moraz took over the keyboard duties in Yes for the album. One can hear a bit of a different vibe on the album with the addition of Moraz. Nonetheless, this has always been one of our favorite Yes albums. We also always loved the distinctly brighter brownish cover which was in contrast to the darker green and blue tinted covers that the band had previously utilized.
# 3 – The Yes Album
In 1971 the band Yes released the record titled The Yes Album. The record would stand as the band’s third album release. More significantly, it would become the first album recorded with guitarist Steve Howe. The Yes Album turned a lot of people onto the band as it presented rock fans with some great new music that sounded like nothing that had been done before.The musical pieces “Yours Is No Disgrace,” “Starship Trooper” and “I’ve Seen All Good People,” would become legendary pieces in the band’s catalog and classic rock music in general.
# 2 – Fragile
Fragile was the album that turned the band Yes into a household name. The reason for the band’s mass acceptance on the world stage was fueled by the success of the single “Roundabout.” The album Fragile defined many firsts for the band. It was the first Yes album to feature the talents of Rick Wakeman on keyboards. It was also the first Yes album to feature the artwork of Roger Dean
# 1 – Close To The Edge
Coming in at number one on our top 10 Yes albums list is the classic Yes album Close To The Edge. It was easy to pick Close To The Edge number one because the entire A side of the record contained one of the bands greatest musical achievements in the stunning piece “Close To The Edge.” Further cementing Close To The Edge as our favorite Yes album was the inclusion of our favorite Yes song “And You and I” filling up half of side two. We don think many Yes fans would argue with our choice of Close To The Edge as the number one Yes album of all time.