Yes, “I See You” from Yes (1969): YESterdays

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There are hints of what’s to come for the world’s greatest progressive rock band on “I See You” from Yes’ self-titled debut, but there are also many tentative elements remaining. The song, a Byrds cover written by Roger McQuinn and David Crosby, is likely best remembered as a indicator of Yes’ early interest in humble folk rock. There’s more to it than that, however.

Founding Yes drummer Bill Bruford provides a driving and nuanced drum foundation, which may well be the highlight of the track. His cymbal and snare work are hardly common rock fare as he plays on top of the kick — using the ride cymbal as effectively as many of his jazz brethren. Tony Kaye also shows his meddle with manic Hammond sweeps and stabs.

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Still, it’s hard to believe this is the same band that would soon compose and play “Yours Is No Disgrace.” By then, of course, Yes had moved on without guitarist Peter Banks, whose multi-colored lead and solo push “I See You” from folk rock to psychedelic rock, and back. Banks is explosive, exciting and dangerous.

It might seem that the combination of these many elements would make “I See You” a little awkward, but they are somehow combined into an offbeat, if decidedly “un-Yes-like” whole.

Credit Jon Anderson and Chris Squire. “I See You,” a wild experiment in folk psychedelia, is ultimately held together by Anderson’s vocal prowess, and Squire’s brotherly harmony and driving bass, both of which push the song over the top. Yes, indeed.

Preston Frazier’s new YESterdays is a song-by-song feature that will explore the unforgettable musical legacy of Yes. The series runs every other Tuesday.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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