The 40 greatest Yes songs ever

(Image credit: Future)

We recently asked Prog readers to tell us their favourite Yes songs. And boy did you deliver! Almsot 50,000 people voted in our online poll (that's more than Genesis when we did them last year). 

It was the biggest response the magazine has ever had to any online vote. So thank you. We've sifted through the results and compiled a Top 40 which is in the current issue of Prog, on sale now

Any surprises? Find out. Here's how you voted.

40. The Remembering (High The Memory)

Jon Anderson wanted "a calm sea of music" for side two of …Topographic Oceans, according to band biographer Tim Morse. But nothing ever turned out so simple with this band. The opening passages are dreamy enough, but soon enough Howe can’t help but disturb the peace with emotive guitar lines and even electric sitar, and Squire’s lively bass also offsets their singer’s Hindu-influenced visions and understated vocal musings, to beguiling effect.

39. The Fish

The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) is a showcase for its composer Chris Squire. The title came from Squire’s nickname as a result of his fondness for taking long baths. It’s built around a groove in 7/8, with Steve Howe picking out the harmonics on guitar as a backdrop. Live, the track was a platform for Squire to stretch out with an extended solo, fine examples of which can be found on Yessongs and Live At Montreux.

38. Homeworld (The Ladder)

The Ladder saw Yes working with producer Bruce Fairbairn, who brought much of the warmth and ambition of their classic 70s albums back to the music, evidenced in the grand scale of Homeworld. “Yes seem to have come round in a beautiful cycle,” says Jon Anderson in Stuart Chambers’ Yes biography. “It’s remarkable that we’re still making music, and it’s viable music, and it’s very adventurous still. It is still, to coin a phrase, progressive.”

37. Shoot High, Aim Low

Four years separated Big Generator from 90125 and the album had a difficult gestation that saw the band switching studios, countries, and producers before it was finished. Shoot High, Aim Low is unmistakably a product of its time with a slick polished production; note the gated reverb on Alan White’s drums, a technique the became ubiquitous thanks to Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight. There’s a live performance on 2005’s The Word Is Live

36. Mood For A Day

Steve Howe’s one-man contribution to Fragile is a classical gas. If his signature showpiece Clap doffs its cap to his guitar hero Chet Atkins, this three-minute marvel owes more to another early idol, Andrés Segovia. Howe demonstrates some Flamenco-style strumming, and that rangy left hand of his fingers an ornate, baroque melody harking back to Bach. The penultimate song on its parent record, Mood For A Day is a tasty palate cleanser before the final course, Heart Of The Sunrise.

35. Endless Dream

Closing out the undervalued mid-90s album is this three-part 15-minute epic, fruitfully recalling Yes' longer numbers of earlier times (it's effectively the title track). Trevor Rabin, at the helm producing, wrote the bulk of it, and both Anderson and White have since sung its praises, the former likening it to Awaken. Its shifts between busily robust and calmly chilled are consummately handled, with Squire and White reminding us why they were among rock's most dazzling rhythm sections.

34. Hold On

One of Yes’s less-heralded qualities has always been their versatility, and this is as good a reflection of it as any. Hold On manages to take the emerging AOR, FM-friendly sound of Asia, Journey, Foreigner et al and repurpose it, while also adding a gutsy rock edge echoing the increasingly dominant pop-rock sound of Bon Jovi and their ilk. 

Trevor Rabin’s tidy guitar licks and way with a winning chorus are never in doubt, but Anderson and Squire’s harmonies and intricate bridge section also stamp this song with an inimitable Yes identity as the band reinvent themselves for a new era. 

33. Leave It

After the incredible success of 90125’s first single Owner Of A Lonely Heart the pressure was on to repeat the trick. The follow-up, Leave It didn’t reach the same giddy heights, peaking at No.24 in the US in April ’84, but it’s still a curious, clever piece. 

Squire’s bassline (the kernel of the song) is groovy, Trevors Rabin and Horn contribute to the numerous catchy motifs and lyrics about the ‘pleasures’ of touring, and Squire joins Rabin and Anderson on those huge, Synclavier-enhanced choral harmonies. Horn’s slick production and Godley and Creme’s 18 arty, upside-down MTV videos add to the 80s charm.

32. Love Will Find A Way

The first single released from the Big Generator album, this is as good a slice of progressive pop as you’re likely to find, but, as with its parent album, not one that finds much favour with a certain section of the Yes fanbase. 

Written by Trevor Rabin with Stevie Nicks in mind (the sort of thing to drive Yes’ more narrow-minded fans to utter distraction), drummer Alan White heard the song, liked it, and pushed it forward for Yes to record. The single made No. 30 on the US Billboard chart, too. The band would never feature so high in a singles chart again.

31. Don't Kill The Whale

That Yes were at each others throats during the recording of Tormato is well documented and goes a long way to explaining why many of the Yes faithful care little for the album. This, the only single release from Tormato, is certainly one of the most consistent and coherent on offer. 

Largely written by Chris Squire and Jon Anderson and based around an environmental poem the later had penned, with Rick Wakeman chiming in with sounds he conjured from his newly acquired Polymoog that he thought sounded like the titular animal. The single breached the UK Top 40, reaching No. 36.

David West

After starting his writing career covering the unforgiving world of MMA, David moved into music journalism at Rhythm magazine, interviewing legends of the drum kit including Ginger Baker and Neil Peart. A regular contributor to Prog, he’s written for Metal Hammer, The Blues, Country Music Magazine and more. The author of Chasing Dragons: An Introduction To The Martial Arts Film, David shares his thoughts on kung fu movies in essays and videos for 88 Films, Arrow Films, and Eureka Entertainment. He firmly believes Steely Dan’s Reelin’ In The Years is the tuniest tune ever tuned.