Being a rock fan in the early '70s meant never knowing a year when rock wasn't moving forward -- when newer and bolder innovations weren't always just around the corner.
Yes took the burgeoning progressive rock movement further -- and with a longer running time -- than anyone else had dared to before. Album-side suites, cosmic lyrics inspired by yogis, circular chanting, odd time signatures, squiggly synth sounds -- if there was a glass ceiling to this thing we still called rock, Yes was going to smash through it. Some said prog rock was excessive. Well, so was going to the moon -- but someone had to try, and thank goodness Yes got us there musically, bless its starship-trooper heart.
Growing up in a heady climate like that, where musicianship was king, the men of Yes seemed superhuman. Jon Anderson hitting helium notes, which made singing along an impossibility for any post-pubescent male; the towering highs and lumbering lows of bassist Chris Squire; the rhinestone-caped key-thumping of Rick Wakeman; the polyrhythmic majesty of drummer Bill Bruford, playing in 17/16 time when it was all we could do to understand basic algebra.
And, of course, you had the crazy flying fingers of their classically trained guitarist, Steve Howe.