I was a fanatical Yes fan in high school (I'm speaking of the band Yes, here) which is proof that I was pretty confused. I mean, it's one thing to think Close to the Edge is good stuff; that's the if-you-only-buy-one-Yes-album-make-it-this-one album. It's a recording that doesn't need much defending. But thinking Tormato is a good album? With its prissy pastiches (Most anglo funk ever), vegan-meatheaded mystic-shmistic lyrics ("boy-child Solomon"? Oy, child,) and arpeggio-workouts-disguised-as-music? That's confusion.
In the liner notes for Relayer, the other Yes record I consider a keeper, there was a note informing anyone who cared to know that the album was recorded on producer Eddie Offord's portable recording equipment. As I have since learned from interviews, this means they set up shop in a band member's house. But at 16 or whatever I visualized the band recording in the trailer of a moving ten-wheeler, cutting an album as they rolled down the road on the way to the next gig. With Eddie Offord driving the truck, which had a sound board on the dash. I'm not kidding. This made sense to me.
I still seem to lose all sense when it comes to Yes. I've been downloading awful concert bootlegs, forcing myself to listen, then deleting them from my hard drive if not my mind, in an effort at aversion therapy. It just seems to keep me fixated, though; I much prefer jazz, these days, but some part of me will always be stuck on my first love.
One thing these concerts make evident, especially if you listen to them back to back with the original studio recordings: Yes suffered from bombast creep. If a tune was sensitively played and tastefully arranged at birth, bet on it turning into a thumping, crashing, squealing, effects-laden pomp-rock disgrace by the time it's become a concert staple.
Recently I went on a solo night-driving trip to the beach, and I listened to a long bootlegged instrumental medley of Yes tunes, as performed by Circle, a band composed entirely of members or de-facto members of Yes. Circle sounds a lot like the early post-psychedelic rough and ready version of Yes, so to hear Circle's version of later Yes music was awfully disorienting... like hearing the Beatles of Meet The Beatles play tunes from Abbey Road. They stripped bombast out instead of larding it up; the reverse of Yes's usual MO. I actually had to pull off the highway and get some food, because the music made me feel too discombobulated to drive. Music has power, and goofy music has goofy power.