Yes – in concert from London – 1971 – BBC Radio 1 In Concert series – BBC Radio 1 –
Yes in concert to end the week. Recorded in London in 1971 for the BBC In Concert series which ran on BBC Radio 1.
Although they had become something of a caricature by the time the first incarnation of Yes broke up in 1981, they were without a doubt one of the most influential and recognizable in what became the Progrock era. They were also one of the most successful, garnishing a large fanbase and dedicated following all through the 1970s.
In 1967, bassist Chris Squire formed the rock band Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, with singer and guitarist Clive Bayley, drummer Bob Hagger, and guitarist Peter Banks. They played at the Marquee Club in Soho, London where Jack Barrie, owner of the nearby La Chasse club, saw them perform. “There was nothing outstanding about them”, he recalled, “the musicianship was very good but it was obvious they weren’t going anywhere”. Barrie introduced Squire to singer Jon Anderson, a worker at the bar in La Chasse, who found they shared interests in Simon & Garfunkel and harmony singing. That evening at Squire’s house they wrote “Sweetness,” which was included on the first Yes album. Meanwhile, Banks had left Mabel Greer’s Toyshop to join Neat Change, but he was dismissed by this group on 7 April 1968. In June 1968, Hagger was replaced in the nascent Yes by Bill Bruford, who had placed an advertisement in Melody Maker, and Banks was recalled by Squire, replacing Bayley as guitarist. Finally, the classically trained organist and pianist Tony Kaye, of Johnny Taylor’s Star Combo and the Federals, became the keyboardist and the fifth member. The newborn band rehearsed in the basement of The Lucky Horseshoe cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue between 10 June and 9 July 1968.
Anderson suggested that they call the new band Life. Squire suggested that it be called World. Banks responded, simply, “yes”, and that was how the band were named. The first gig under the new brand followed at a youth camp in East Mersea, Essex on 4 August 1968. Early sets were formed of cover songs from artists such as the Beatles, the 5th Dimension and Traffic. On 16 September, Yes performed at Blaise’s club in London as a substitute for Sly and the Family Stone, who failed to turn up. They were well received by the audience, including the host Roy Flynn, who became the band’s manager that night. That month, Bruford decided to quit performing to study at the University of Leeds. His replacement, Tony O’Reilly of the Koobas, struggled to perform with the rest of the group on-stage. After Bruford was refused a year’s sabbatical leave from Leeds, Anderson and Squire convinced him to return for Yes’s supporting slot for Cream’s farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 November.
After seeing an early King Crimson gig in 1969, Yes realized that there was suddenly stiff competition on the London gigging circuit, and they needed to be much more technically proficient, starting regular rehearsals. They subsequently signed a deal with Atlantic Records, and, that August, released their debut album Yes. Compiled of mostly original material, the record includes renditions of “Every Little Thing” by the Beatles and “I See You” by the Byrds. Although the album failed to break into the UK album charts, Rolling Stone critic Lester Bangs complimented the album’s “sense of style, taste, and subtlety”. Melody Maker columnist Tony Wilson chose Yes and Led Zeppelin as the two bands “most likely to succeed”.
Following a tour of Scandinavia with the Small Faces, Yes performed a solo concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 21 March 1970. The second half consisted of excerpts from their second album Time and a Word, accompanied by a 20-piece youth orchestra. Banks left the group in 18 April 1970, just three months before the album’s release. Having expressed dissatisfaction with the idea of recording with an orchestra as well as the sacking of Flynn earlier in the year, Banks later indicated that he was fired by Anderson and Squire, and that Kaye and Bruford had no prior knowledge that it would be happening. Similar to the first album, Time and a Word features original songs and two new covers–”Everydays” by Buffalo Springfield and “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” by Richie Havens. The album broke into the UK charts, peaking at number 45. Banks’ replacement was Tomorrow guitarist Steve Howe, who appears in the photograph of the group on the American issue despite not having played on it.
Released in February 1971, their third album, The Yes Album peaked at number 4 in the UK and number 40 on the US Billboard 200 charts.
This is reportedly one of the last concerts featuring Tony Kaye as keyboard player, being replaced by Rick Wakeman shortly after.
The rest, as they say is history – and a second incarnation of Yes was formed in 1983, but that’s a whole different chapter, and largely a whole different band.
Crank this one up and enjoy.