Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Time and a Word: The YES Story by Martin Popoff

Time and a Word: The YES Story
by Martin Popoff [Music 781.66 Yes]

Rock journalist Martin Popoff calls himself a fan of Yes, but sometimes it would be hard to tell from this “celebration” of the group.

The title of the book is an allusion to the band’s second album, but also refers to the book’s structure, which consists of a chronology (“Time”) interspersed with numerous quotes (“a Word”) from the various figures involved. Unconventional though this is, it is an approach that makes sense given Yes’ convoluted history. Popoff uses this structure to provide a wide perspective on the group and the unusually large number of members it has had in its nearly 50-year history. He includes information about many (though not all) of the other groups and side projects that the members have been involved in. From the standpoint of a simple collection of facts about the band and its members, the book is a treasure trove for fans.

The book is a little weaker, though, when Popoff attempts to provide analysis and context. For better or worse, he seems to have a particular disdain for Jon Anderson’s lyrics. Anderson is known for lyrics writing that pays more attention to the mere sound of the words than to any coherent meaning in them, and Popoff is hardly alone in leveling just criticism at them. But this criticism is undermined by the author’s own verbal excesses; it’s hard to take his complaints entirely seriously when he uses a phrase like, “maudlin musical beds on which … hope bounces like a toddler.”

The book’s usefulness is hampered somewhat by the lack of an index; nonetheless, if Yes fans can set aside the author’s self-indulgent complaints about the band’s musical self-indulgence, this will be a welcome addition to the collection of rock histories.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, 1968-1978, by Bill Martin, Rock & Roll Year By Year, by Luke Crampton or Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture, by Edward Macan.]

[ official Time and a Word: The YES Story web page on the official Martin Popoff web site ]

Recommended by Peter J.
Virtual Services Department

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