Yes, “The Prophet” from Time and a Word (1970): YESterdays

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Side 2 of Yes’ sophomore release Time and a Word hits the ground running with what may be the most progressive song up until that time by the world’s greatest progressive rock band.

“The Prophet,” the only collaboration on this 1970 album between Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire, touches on many classic Yes elements. Anderson provides an almost mystical feel, with lyrical elements which border on science fiction. Musically, Tony Kaye kicks “The Prophet” into high gear with one of his best organ arrangements of his Yes tenure. Kaye’s organ is followed by a unobtrusive but unneeded string arrangement. Luckily, the late Peter Banks’ provides a more supportive foundation for Kaye.

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Chris Squire enters the fray with what may be the most driving bass part yet supplied to this young band. The maestro moves the song’s rhythm and melody like an unbridled steed. Bill Bruford plays his high hat and snare with delicacy and precision, and at almost halfway in the song picks up the tempo with the late Squire now trailing along.

Jon Anderson finally comes in at this point with a strong mutitracked vocal which is subtle but almost derailed by the now overzealous strings. There is plenty of goodness in this song, from Kaye’s swirling B-3 to Buford’s blazing ride cymbals. Still, in the end, “The Prophet” is a strong track slightly hampered by the heavy-handed production associated with Time and a Word.

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

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