“…Power at first to the needs of each other’s days
Simple to lose in the void sounds of anarchy’s calling ways
All unaccounted for in the craziness of power
In the craziness
Release all, release all, or abandon your hope for your brother
Release all, release all, or abandon your hope for your sister
I’ve always thought that “Release, Release,” a Yes composition credited to Jon Anderson, Alan White and Chris Squire, harkened back to the days of original guitarist Peter Banks. The track, while written during the sessions for 1978’s Tormato, has a no holds barred, flying-off-the-rails feel that made the Banks era of Yes fascinating.
Part of the song’s synergy is due to lyrics like those above, which more than hint at chaos and unbridled power. The lyrics also seem to acknowledge the state of music at the time, with the onslaught of punk and new wave music.
Steve Howe provides a moving lead guitar section at the beginning of Yes’ “Release, Release,” but seems to fade away as the song progresses. That leaves Chris Squire and Alan White to provide the real heartbeat to the song. White’s multi-tracked drum backing almost breaks free of the muddy mix, kicking “Release, Release” to a higher gear. Squire too, pushes the song with his trebly, galloping bass. Alan White adds a brief and weird mid-song drum solo for good measure, which pushes the song careering towards a musical ditch.
Of course, with Yes’ group of skilled musicians, “Release, Release” continues to fly forward, crowd noise and all. Howe does reappear from the rhythm section to dish out a frenzied solo, leaving only poor Rick Wakeman to make a lasting and not-so-positive impression with his rather labored-sounding Polymoog synthesizer lead and solos.
Despite all that’s wrong, the world’s greatest progressive rock band makes “Release, Release” one fine train wreck.
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