Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Case for Yes for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In this week's installment of bands that should be in theRock and Roll Hall of Fame, we look at the case for Yes.   

Since its earliest beginnings, Yes has been manufacturing rock that sounds like little else.  Strongly influenced by the structures inherent in classical music, the band compiled albums and tracks that were not configured for commercial success: most of their tracks clocked in at over 4:00, with some coming in over 10:00 - a death sentence for bands in that era looking to find airplay and the fortunes that went along with it.  But find airplay they did, albeit many times with some editing.   

So what are the primary reasons for including Yes into the RRHOF?  There are many: 
  • Longevity.  This band has been producing viable and excellent music since the late 60's, and were extremely relevant for two full decades.    
  • Quality and originality.  Yes music is a soundscape that no other bands touch.  Soaring high-harmony vocals, concept themes, multi-movement songs, and other aspects were generated by Yes when almost all other bands of the period were manufacturing rock songs along an assembly line using the standard "verse-chorus-bridge" recipe.  Here's a wonderful example of their prowess - Roundabout circa 1973.  
  • Great Albums.  1971's The Yes Album and 1983's 90125 are rock and roll classics.  Both contain great tracks from stem to stern and show the band's viability across a dozen years.   

    So what's working against Yes' induction?  Beyond the prog rock bias of which I've already written, one could argue that their lineup changes over the years make it difficult to define exactly what is and is not the band Yes (bassist Chris Squire remains the only band member that is a constant across their 43 year history).  However, Fleetwood Mac is in the Hall, and had massive amounts of change throughout their career.  

    The strikes against Yes are few, and the reasons for induction many.  They deserve a place within the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.   

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