My post a few days ago about former Yes guitarist Peter Banks led me to a couple of great finds on YouTube.
The band recorded promotional films for at least three of the songs from 1970’s Time and a Word album. All three featured new arrival Steve Howe in place of Banks, who was kicked out of the band after completing the album.
(I continue to wonder where films like this were shown in the days before MTV. As filler on late-night television? In movie theaters?)
The videos for “Astral Traveller” and “No Opportunity Necessary No Experience Needed” are both classics. The first ends with the least rewarding or fulfilling twist ending ever; the second features shots of Yes larking around in a speeding dune-buggy like the Monkees.
But the third video, “Then,” is the best of all. I can only begin to count the reasons why:
Howe looks miserably cold the entire time. Cold as hell. More than a little angry, too. (Perhaps he was thinking he should have held out for a better offer from some other band.)
Two of the band members, bassist Chris Squire and keyboardist Tony Kaye, are playing out of position. Squire’s posturing at the organ is particularly excellent, especially during the long held note at 3:25, or when he turns his back on the keyboard at 4:40 and stares thoughtfully out to sea.
Squire is dressed like a West Country scarecrow, while Bill Bruford appears to be wearing a woman’s coat. But Jon Anderson has them both beat with his weekend-toreador outfit. (Five points to the YouTube commenter who wisecracked, “Is that Esteban?”)
Bruford seems to be taking the piss out of Anderson’s lyrics at about 0:45, lip-syncing along with a particularly purple tidbit: “Souls will be complicated / Life will be consummated / Then.”
This might be the first thing I’ve ever seen to suggest that Yes had a sense of humor, or that it might actually have been funny from time to time to be in the band.
Which is a plus in my book.