Yes, “The Ancient / Giants Under the Sun” (1973): YESterdays

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At 18:35, “The Ancient / Giants Under the Sun” is the shortest track on Yes’ Tales from Topographic Oceans. This third-side track is also often overlooked, yet offers some of the most daring music conceived by the world’s greatest progressive rock band.

The interplay between Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and drummer Alan White is some of the most inventive and intricate in the Yes canon. Howe, in particular, seems to have reached new heights with his electric guitar, moving Wakeman’s keyboards to higher and higher planes. Howe’s use of vibrato, various effect pedals and volume pedals is cunning and forceful. He employs his pedal steel, electric guitar and acoustics at various points in the songs, providing some of his wildest Yes guitar moments.

White, meanwhile, plays fast and loose with his drumming while incorporating various tuned percussion effects to move the song to a higher plan. White’s drumming style, while totally different than his predecessor, is no less inventive. Jon Anderson’s lyrics, which come in and out of focus around time and the sun, are abstract but never distracting.

In the softer, acoustic guitar sections Jon Anderson and Chris Squire demonstrate the harmonies which became a staple for Yes. Howe changes the mood of the song effectively with his acoustic guitar break, which floats above Wakeman’s synthesizer string section.

Yes’ “The Ancient / Giants Under the Sun” shifts moods often and dramatically. Is it an easy listen? No, but it sure is a good one.

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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