Yes, “Survival” from Yes (1969): YESterdays

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Yes knows a thing of two about survival. It’s doubtful than anyone in the Yes camp — or the music industry for that matter — expected the band to be around too much after their 1969 debut, much less go through so much perpetual change. As such, it seems only fitting that the last song on the initial recording by the world’s greatest progressive rock band be titled “Survival.”

This Jon Anderson composition has many familiar Yes elements, such as tight harmonies between Anderson, Peter Banks and Chris Squire, pulsating organ flourishes by Tony Kaye and an adventurous, distorted guitar opening. Throughout, Bill Bruford provides a jazzy, ride cymbal centered back beat. The instrumental introduction is progressive in nature, but when the main theme kicks in the song becomes more conventional.

“Survival” is a song from a band still tentative in its progressive leanings — though, lyrically, Jon Anderson is, well, Jon Anderson. “Sunshine is creeping in and somewhere in a field a life begins; an egg too proud to rape,” he sings. “The beginning of a shape of things to come that starts the run; life has begun — fly fast the gun.”

Interesting stuff, if not fully backed, and a promising end to the debut album. Yes would go on, the following year, to release Time and a Word. Change was already in the air, as that album marks the last with the original lineup.

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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