Steve Howe Explains the Yes Effect
The prog vets are currently touring to mark their 50th anniversary, with dates confirmed in the U.K. and Europe.
“When I joined [in 1970], Chris [Squire] and Jon [Anderson] were the main writers, and over those first three albums, it changed quite considerably,” Howe told Music Radar. “So, The Yes Album was kinda like more piecemeal things; I had ‘Würm,’ we collaborated on ‘Yours Is No Disgrace.’ … So, the model on the first album was like we were feeling each other out; we had little bits we could put in, but arrangement, that was the key to Yes. Everything Yes did in the ‘70s that was great was great because it was arranged. It wasn’t great because it was necessarily the best song in the world, but it was great because it got this treatment from Yes.”
He pointed to the 22-minute lead track from the 1974 album Relayer. “Jon had virtually written ‘Gates of Delirium,’ but what you hear is the arrangement done by Yes: We all contributed to every song," Howe said. "There was no barring, like, ‘You can’t come in here because this is my song.’ It was like, ‘Here’s my song; how are we going to do it?’ And everybody would give their views, so that was basically the key.”
Asked about the “diverse creativity” displayed by Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson and others of the era, Howe couldn't put his finger on it. “Goodness knows what it was," he said. "I’ve always put it down to a post-psychedelia reinvention of rock music, because it had already got churned up quite a lot in psychedelic times, but I think it got broader then and orchestral spirits came into it. I think what was great about the bands you’ve mentioned, including Yes, was that each one of its members had a different story that they wanted to bring into the group.”