Psychedelic projections, a spinning mannequin head and the music of the future: Is this peak Yes?

Jon Anderson performing on Beat-Club
(Image credit: Beat-Club)

Cult German TV show Beat-Club ran for seven years, from 1965 until 1972. Throughout those seven years, it did what all the best music shows did: it provided an outlet for music's best and bravest to perform – minimal lip-syncing, no apparent restraints on song length – and it annoyed the hell out of a generation of parents bewildered by the long-haired "musicians" on display.

Yes were booked to perform on the show twice. In November 1969, in what was the last episode of Beat-Club to be broadcast in black and white, they could be seen playing a cover of Richie Havens' No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed, which would show up as the opening track on their second album, Time And A Word, the following summer. They also played Survival and Looking Around Me from their debut album, although neither song was broadcast at the time.

Two years later, in April 1971, they were back, performing Yours Is No Disgrace and I've Seen All Good People. Both were taken from The Yes Album, released two months earlier. Steve Howe had joined the band – he'd replaced Peter Banks the previous year – and the shoot was in colour. And boy, was it colourful.

Before Yours Is No Disgrace, Yes are introduced by much-loved host Uschi Nerke, who rises to reveal a mannequin head and chair styled after those that adorned the cover of The Yes Album. There are projections, which appear to flicker in time with drummer Bill Bruford's beats. The mannequin head spins. And there are points where Jon Anderson's own head seems to wobble and distort, and if he's trapped in a carnival funhouse mirror. And the music is mind-boggling. 

Anderson sings while playing Dewtron Mister Bassman bass pedals by hand. Chris Squire and Steve Howe's parts are surely beamed in from a future where musicians are held to new and exciting standards of excellence. Bruford plays everything on a four piece kit, while keyboardist Tony Kaye sports a beard. It's complicated, and aggressive, and beautiful, and wild. And I've Seen All Good People (played without the album's opening Your Move section) features more of the same. 

Quite what the other bands performing on the episode – Welsh jam band Man, Krautrock pioneers Popol Vuh and Nick Simper's post-Deep Purple band War Horse – made of this spectacle isn't known. But we suspect they never fully recovered. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.