Right from their first single, Sweetness, released in 1969, with its B-side of Leonard Bernstein’s Something’s Coming from West Side Story, Yes’ music has always carried a strong melodic pop element.
But at the same time, they also enjoyed and excelled at writing longer tunes that often landed around the 10-minute mark. And so if they were going to have any representation in the singles chart, an eight-minute-plus song with a memorable verse and chorus such as Roundabout needed some fairly serious cuts.
The single edit, included on this patchily incomplete ‘greatest hits’ compilation, ignores the acoustic guitar intro, then cuts straight from the end of the second verse into the organ solo, allowing it to clock in at a more radio- friendly 3:27. It sounds structurally odd in the process but it did give Yes a breakthrough hit in the US in 1972.
Sound Chaser is recast as an instrumental, losing the verses, but retaining the brief chanting section and all the eccentric tempo changes, which makes it fun after a fashion, but almost completely uncommercial. Owner Of A Lonely Heart only loses half a minute, but for most listeners its identity came from radio plays anyway. And America, the cover of the Simon And Garfunkel tune, works well in condensed form rather than the rather sprawling full-length version.
These 12 tracks are claimed to be Yes’ biggest singles, yet there are some obvious omissions. It Can Happen from 90125, which was a sizable hit in the US, is notable by its absence, while Soon is included and that didn’t chart at all. This selection was made to fit on an LP, but as the band have released 41 singles so far, it’s only part of the story.
There’s some good music, of course, but most of it was reshaped for expediency rather than for aesthetic reasons. For example, the fact that Yessingles includes a rare promo radio edit of And You And I (Part One), also available for download for the first time, is unlikely to get fans jumping up and down with excitement.
Yessingles is on sale now via Rhino.