Discord & Rhyme: An Album Podcast

Discord and Rhyme is a podcast where we discuss the albums we love, song by song.

025 (feat. Dave Weigel): Yes - The Yes Album (1971) and Drama (1980)

"Joining Yes was one of those stupid things that you do sometimes. It was one of the two or three times in my life that I've done something that I knew was wrong."

—Trevor Horn

It’s Discord & Rhyme’s 25th episode, and we’re celebrating by tackling not one, but two Yes albums (with more in common than they appear to have): The Yes Album from 1971 and Drama from 1980. In this double-length episode, Rich, Phil, and Amanda join forces with Prog John and (making a return appearance) with Washington Post reporter David Weigel, aka Prog Dave, aka The Man Who Wrote The Book On Prog. Yes has one of the craziest histories of any major band from the 1970s onward, marked by a willingness to replace anybody at any time, most notably demonstrated by the time that they responded to the departure of their singer and keyboardist by replacing them with The Buggles, and this episode features a deep dive into the history of Yes and the circumstances that led to one of the least likely lineups ever formed. Join us for a discussion of one of John’s very favorite bands, full of silly sing-alongs, ridiculous listicles of yesteryear, and one of the most scorching hot takes this show will ever produce.

Miscellany

  • During the band history section, John alluded to an incident involving chicken curry during the “Tales From Topographic Oceans” tour. The short version is that, during a show in Manchester, Wakeman showed his displeasure with the material by laying out foil dishes of chicken curry on his keyboards during a performance and eating them as the music was playing. A more detailed account is found in Dave’s book and in a Slate article Dave wrote in 2012, linked to below.

  • John realized after the fact that he subconsciously cribbed “Enter the Buggles” from the liner notes of the 2004 reissue of Drama, but as Producer Mike pointed out, “Enter the Buggles” followed by a snippet of “Video Killed the Radio Star” is always funny and was worth cribbing.

  • John incorrectly remembered the publication date of the “50 worst guitar solos” list he mentioned in the episode (and linked below). The original publication date was in October 1998, not 2004, though it was re-published multiple times thereafter before getting removed.

  • John completely mispronounced the last name of Guillaume de Machaut (the prominent 14th century French composer) as “de Mahsh-ay” when it’s clearly “de Mahsh-oh”

  • Since this episode’s recording, both John and Phil have listened to the Steve Wilson remixes of various Yes albums, including The Yes Album, and they are indeed worth hearing even if you are perfectly happy with your current mixes of these albums. Wilson definitely has strong opinions on what matters in making Yes music great (it typically involves making Squire’s bass as prominent as possible), but generally speaking he shows a deft touch in preserving the essence of the original recordings while making improvements around the edges. Among other things, he does an excellent job of making the production games in “Yours is No Disgrace” and “Perpetual Change” seem less gimmicky than they sometimes do in older editions of the album.

  • The use of the Blur song “Song 2” in the introduction to “Starship Trooper” is a reference to the use of that song in the trailers for the film “Starship Troopers” back in 1997. A link to a trailer is below.

  • John and Dave had intended to make a “(S)he’s running!” joke in the introduction to “Run Through the Light” and completely forgot to do so, which is why they both groaned near the very end of the episode.

Other links

Discord & Rhyme roll call

  • John McFerrin (host)

  • Rich Bunnell (moderator)

  • Dave Weigel (special guest)

  • Phil Maddox

  • Amanda Rodgers

The Yes Album tracklist

  1. Yours Is No Disgrace

  2. Clap

  3. Starship Trooper

  4. I’ve Seen All Good People

  5. A Venture

  6. Perpetual Change

Drama tracklist

  1. Machine Messiah

  2. Man in a White Car

  3. Does It Really Happen

  4. Into the Lens

  5. Run Through the Light

  6. Tempus Fugit

Alternate version recommendations

As promised in the episode, we are including recommendations of alternate versions of each track from each album, with a brief explanation for each choice. Note that not all of the preferred alternate versions are available on Spotify, and in this case Youtube links for these tracks will be provided below. In these cases a second alternate recommendation will be provided for the Spotify playlist.

Yours is No Disgrace

  • Preferred alternate version: Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two: Uniondale, New York 11/20/72

  • Available alternate version: Same

  • Notes: Until a few years ago, the clear choice for best available live version would have been the 14-minute version from the 1973 triple-live album Yessongs, an album recorded during the tours for Fragile and Close to the Edge. In 2015, however, the band made the simultaneously excessive and awesome decision to release a box-set of 7 complete shows (titled Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two) from the Close to the Edge tour that the band recorded as source material for Yessongs. Every version of “Yours is No Disgrace” in this set is excellent, but the absolute best one is the 17+-minute version on the final show of the set, recorded at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on 11/20/72.

Machine Messiah

  • Preferred alternate version: In the Present: Live From Lyon

  • Available alternate version: Topopgraphic Drama: Live Across America

  • Notes: In the portion of the episode related to the creation of the Drama-sequel, Fly From Here: Return Trip, I described in brief the Saga of Benoit David, the Yes tribute band singer hired after Jon Anderson suffered acute respiratory failure and fired in 2012 when he became afflicted with a combination of a respiratory illness and a case of acute irony. While Yes did their best to expunge him from their history, the Benoit David-fronted version of the band nonetheless put out a 2011 live album of a 2009 show called In the Present: Live From Lyon, and at the time this was the only official release of “Machine Messiah” in a live setting. Since this live album is no longer in print and is unavailable on Spotify, I am alternately recommending the version from the 2017 Topographic Drama album, in which the version of the band fronted by Jon Davison performed Drama in full (more on this album in the “White Car” notes).

Clap

  • Preferred alternate version: Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two: Greensboro, NC 11/15/72

  • Available alternate version: Same

  • Notes: Picking one performance of “Clap” and “Mood for a Day” from the Progeny set is a fool’s errand, but the Greensboro, NC show is my favorite show from the set that’s also available on Spotify, and thus I’d lean towards hearing this performance in the context of the entire show.

White Car

  • Preferred alternate version: Topographic Drama: Live Across America

  • Available alternate version: Same

  • Notes: This track was performed as part of Geoff Downes keyboard solo during the tour for Drama, but no officially released live version existed until 2017, courtesy of the Topographic Drama live album. In early 2017, after Chris Squire had died, a bastardized version of Yes with Howe on guitar, Downes on keyboards, White (sometimes) on percussion with Jerry Schellen helping him out, Billy Sherwood on bass guitar, and Jon Davison on vocals toured the southern United States, performing the entirety of Drama and about half of Tales From Topographic Oceans along with a handful of other favorites. Yes actually toured quite a few albums in full during the 2010s, and of their full album performances their resuscitation of Drama has been my favorite, even if I oppose the very existence of this incarnation of the band on principle.

Starship Trooper

  • Preferred alternate versions: Yessongs and Keys to Ascension

  • Available alternate versions: Same

  • Notes: Nowadays, “Starship Trooper” is on the shortlist of tracks that hardcore Yes fans might consider overplayed in concert; it has long reached the status of being a track likely to make a casual fan go “I didn’t think they were going to play it, and then BAM! Second encore!” In the 70s, though, it was actually somewhat of a rarity; it didn’t enter the band’s live sets until the second half of the Close to the Edge tour, and from there it didn’t become a standard inclusion until Wakeman’s second stint in the band. Despite this, “Starship Trooper” is amply represented in the band’s live albums, and narrowing down to one is impossible, so I’m cheating and picking two. The first comes from late 1972 and is found on Yessongs, and the second comes a set of 1996 reunion shows in San Luis Obispo, CA and is found on an album called Keys to Ascension.

Does it Really Happen?

  • Preferred alternate version: The vinyl mix / original CD mix (pre-2004)

  • Available alternate version: Topographic Drama: Live Across America

  • Notes: My recommended alternate version is the original vinyl mix or, if you can somehow find it, the mix from the original CD pressing before the 2004 remaster. The remasters from around 2003 and 2004 are generally excellent, and for the most part the remaster of Drama is no exception, but there’s a change made to “Does it Really Happen” that I have always found unsatisfying, even if we used this new mix in the episode credits. In the original mix, the song has a false ending, and the coda slowly emerges through a gradual fade-in and crescendo before taking flight. In the new mix, the song has the same false ending, but the coda emerges at full volume from the start, without the fade-in. I sold my original Drama when I bought the remaster, but I kept an mp3 of the original “Does it Really Happen” around, because it’s just better. Since this version is not available on Spotify, I am recommending the Topographic Drama version, which is quite solid, all things considered.

I’ve Seen All Good People

  • Preferred alternate version: The Word is Live

  • Available alternate version: Same

  • Notes: This is another song, even more so than “Starship Trooper,” that has become a cliche for the band, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine a time when it would have seemed fresh in live performance. And yet a recording from such a time exists: on the 2005 boxset The Word is Live, one can find about 45 minutes from a show done in London on the tour for The Yes Album, and among these is a fresh-as-a-daisy rendition of “I’ve Seen All Good People” that all Yes fans should hear. In case you are wondering, the other tracks from this set are “Yours is No Disgrace,” a 16-minute cover of “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, and an 11-minute cover of “It’s Love” by The Young Rascals.

Into the Lens

  • Preferred alternate version: “I am a Camera” by The Buggles, from Adventures in Modern Recording

  • Available alternate version: Topographic Drama: Live Across America

  • Notes: While there is an EXCELLENT rendition of this song on the Topographic Drama live album (which I’m perfectly happy to use as an alternate recommendation), I’m nonetheless going to cheat here in my recommended alternate version, in that it isn’t a Yes track at all. After the Drama lineup broke up, The Buggles made a second album, titled Adventures in Modern Recording, and the album contains a reinvention of “Into the Lens” as a pure Buggles song, called “I Am a Camera” (briefly clipped in the episode) I enjoy all of the prog clutter that makes “Into the Lens” such a fascinating combination of the Buggles and Yes sensibilities, but hearing this song in its purest form, as atmospheric stripped-down synth-pop, is an utter delight, and I could never choose between this version and the Yes version. For what it’s worth, though, Trevor Horn prefers the Buggles version.

A Venture

  • Preferred alternate version: Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome

  • Available alternate version: Same

  • Notes: In one of the many oddities in Yes’ career, the only officially released live version of this song has the keyboards played not by Tony Kaye, but by Geoff Downes. As mentioned earlier, in the early 2010s, Yes began routinely playing full albums in concert, and The Yes Album was one of them. The 2014 live album Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome contains full performances of The Yes Album and Going for the One from the “Three Album Tour” of 2013, and as with most of the full-album performances from late-period Yes, it certainly exists.

Run Through the Light

  • Preferred alternate version: Single version, from Drama bonus tracks

  • Available alternate version: Same

  • Notes: As briefly mentioned in the episode, this song had a single version, found on the bonus tracks of the 2004 remaster, and it fixes every complaint I had about the album version by nearly turning it into the Buggles track it was always meant to be, even back when it was an Anderson-sung monstrosity. It ups the volume on the piano, cuts down much of the unnecessary guitar clutter and even most of the better guitar clutter, puts heavy emphasis on the synths in the extended breaks, and in so doing creates one of the great hidden gems in the entire Yes catalogue.

Perpetual Change

  • Preferred alternate version: House of Yes: Live From the House of Blues

  • Available alternate version: Same

  • Notes: The easy solution would be to nominate the version from Yessongs, recorded on the Fragile tour and one of the few recordings on that album to feature Bill Bruford on drums. My personal preference, though is from the album House of Yes: Live From the House of Blues, recorded in Las Vegas on Halloween 1999. “Perpetual Change” was played surprisingly rarely by the band; after the Fragile tour, it appeared only in a 25-minute medley played on the Tormato tour and in a handful of shows at the beginning of the band’s first tour with Trevor Rabin in 1984. This version from 1999 is a little glossier and a little more laid-back than its earlier counterparts, but I think it sounds amazing, and it’s a highlight of a generally terrific live album.

Tempus Fugit

  • Preferred alternate version: The Word is Live

  • Available alternate version: Same

  • Notes: The box-set The Word is Live contains three live tracks from the Drama tour, taken from a show the band did in Hartford, CT. Two of them are of non-album tracks, namely “Go Through This” and the previously mentioned “We Can Fly From Here,” but the third is indeed “Tempus Fugit,” and it provides a favorable view of this lineup’s abilities as a live act. I would note that the song didn’t return to the band’s setlist until 2008, though the bassline did become part of an instrumental called “Whitefish” that became a routine part of the band’s 80s and early 90s shows and was basically a medley of famous basslines capped by a drum solo. “Whitefish” is worth hearing once in a while, but it’s gimmicky at best and tedious at worst, and the only official version of it is on the horrendously-conceived 9012Live: The Solos.

Other clips used

Yes:

  • Roundabout

  • Don’t Kill the Whale

  • South Side of the Sky

  • Beyond and Before

  • Close to the Edge

  • Gates of Delirium

  • Going For the One

  • For Everyone

  • Fly From Here - Pt. 1

The Buggles:

  • Video Killed the Radio Star

  • I Am a Camera

Others:

  • Bananarama - Robert De Niro’s Waiting

  • György Ligeti - Requiem: II. Kyrie

  • Tomorrow - My White Bicycle

  • King Crimson - Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Pt. 1

  • Rick Wakeman - Merlin the Magician

  • Charles-Marie Widor - Organ Symphony No. 5: V. Toccata

  • Asia - Heat of the Moment

  • Wings - Band On the Run

  • Blur - Song 2

  • Robert Downey, Jr. - Your Move/Give Peace a Chance

Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip

  • Yes - Everydays

  • Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time

  • King Crimson - In the Wake of Poseidon

  • Jethro Tull - Teacher

  • David Bowie - Life On Mars?

  • John Lennon - Imagine

  • Frank Zappa - Willie the Pimp

  • Led Zeppelin - Dazed and Confused

  • Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird

  • Richard Thompson - Sumer Is Icumen In

  • Gary Numan - Cars

  • David Bowie - Teenage Wildlife

  • George Harrison - Beware of Darkness

  • King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man

  • Greg Kihn - Jeopardy

  • The Greg Kihn Band - The Breakup Song

  • Everclear - The Twistinside

  • Rush - Subdivisions

  • John Lennon - Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

  • The Plastic Ono Band - Give Peace a Chance

  • John Lennon - Working Class Hero

  • The Beatles - Martha My Dear

  • The Beatles - Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

  • King Crimson - Red

  • Dolly Parton - 9 to 5

Band/album personnel

The Yes Album:

  • Jon Anderson - vocals, percussion

  • Chris Squire - bass guitar, vocals

  • Steve Howe - electric and acoustic guitars, vachalia, vocals

  • Tony Kaye - piano, organ, Moog

  • Bill Bruford - drums, percussion

  • Colin Goldring - recorders on “Your Move”

Drama:

  • Trevor Horn - vocals, fretless bass on “Run Through the Light”

  • Steve Howe - guitars, mandolin, backing vocals

  • Chris Squire - bass, piano, backing vocals

  • Geoff Downes - keyboards, vocoder

  • Alan White - drums, percussion, backing vocals

Credits

“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:

  • Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste

  • The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...

  • Faith No More - Midlife Crisis

  • Herbie Hancock - Hornets

  • Kraftwerk - Autobahn

  • Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen

  • Yes - Does it Really Happen? (this episode only)

You can buy or stream The Yes Album, Drama, and other albums by both Yes and The Buggles at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Rich @zonetrope, Amanda @MagneticInk67, John @tarkus1980, Phil @pamaddox, and Dave @daveweigel. Special thanks to Rich for editing and Mike for production. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.

This website and all episodes' discussion/commentary © 2018—2019 Discord & Rhyme. Excerpts from recordings appearing in episodes are included for purposes of review only, and all rights to such material remain property of their copyright holders. Please note that we make a good-faith effort to ensure all information included in these episodes is accurate, but if we get something wrong, let us know at discordpod@gmail.com and we will print a correction in the show notes. Website design by Amanda Rodgers. Thank you for visiting, and be ever wonderful.

Powered by Squarespace