Book Review: Time And A Word: The Yes Story

Time And A Word:  The Yes Story, by Martin Popoff

This book is an interesting one on several levels, but in order to get very much out of it you either have to be a fan of music history in general or a big fan of the group Yes itself [1].  Now, admittedly, I am more on the side of the former than the latter, but this book has a lot to offer for those who are fans of the group and have been for a long time and/or who want to know about the whole span of their career going back from the beginnings of the lives of the musicians to the mid 2010’s when this book was written.  Besides the interest that the book offers for its subject material, the book’s structure is also of interest.  The author has chosen to avoid a conventional narrative formula by adopting a chronologically-based discussion that includes a wide variety of different material, and strives to include as much as possible from the various musicians themselves.  A lot of musicians have been in Yes, and it is remarkable how prolific they have been apart from Yes as well, as this book is at least a partial effort at a history of progressive music influenced by Yes and its members.

This book is about 200 pages long or so and it is divided not thematically into chapters but chronologically by decade.  So it is that the book begins with an introduction, then discusses the period before the 1970’s when the members of Yes were growing up and building their chops and then releasing their first music (1), the 1970’s, when Yes had a great deal of success as well as turmoil (2), the 1980’s, where the fluke success of “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” kept the band popular despite a lot of division within the group as a whole (3), the 1990’s, when the various segments of Yes unified but there was continued drama in the keyboard department and also a diminishing popular interest in the group (4), the 2000’s, where the band continued to tour but whose albums were not paid attention to by the general public and where a new generation of Yes musicians joined the fold (5), and the 2010’s, where the book was written and where the band was starting to lose its members to death from old age, alas (6).  After this material there is a selected discography, notes and sources, special thanks, and information about the author.

In the main, it appears that this book had several aims.  The author wanted to convey the full sense of Yes’ career from their beginnings as a noodling progressive act with a lot of band drama to their rare flashes of pop success that were not particularly sought by most of the members, and which included a few years of there being two feuding Yes camps, which joined together for a great tour but a rather uneven album, and then how Yes became a legacy act whose tours were appreciated and whose old songs were enjoyed by fans but whose new material has generally fallen on deaf ears despite the continued creativity of the group.  On top of the goals of the author in conveying some sense of the whole discography of Yes as well as its complex history, the author also appears to want to encourage the induction of Yes into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which had not happened by the time this book was published but did happen in 2017, which means that this book can be considered to be a success in what it sets out to do, at least.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, Music History and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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