Yes, “Astral Traveller” from Time and a Word (1970): YESterdays

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Yes’ “Astral Traveller” is a dramatic contrast from the prior track on Time and a Word, “Clear Days.” This Jon Anderson original, in fact, rocks as hard as almost anything else on Yes’ 1970 sophomore release.

Peter Banks kicks things off with distorted guitar riffs, followed in short order by syncopated ride cymbal work by drummer Bill Bruford. By the time Chris Squire’s bass kicks in, the listener is sure they are in for a treat.

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Bruford seems particularly inspired, working his kit with a mixture of Elvin Jones and Buddy Rich’s power and precision. Tony Kaye continues to provide the Hammond B3 foundation found on the first three Yes albums. His interlude is a touching prog element, and works well with the intertwined guitar solo. Banks shows his stuff, convincingly combining jazz licks and straight-on rock guitar sensibilities. This may be Peter Banks’ best moment on a Yes album.

Jon Anderson’s lyrics are oblique, yet strangely fitting:

Astral traveller leaving without her,
Wandering where lights go,
Leave out the body load

Unfortunately, Yes’ vocal harmonies are poorly mixed and favor Peter Banks over Chris Squire, but there is no mistaking that the foundational elements of the world’s greatest progressive rock band are here.

Preston Frazier’s YESterdays is a song-by-song feature that explores 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; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at
Preston Frazier
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