Just Check Yes: A Music Love Story

You never forget your first love.

Particularly if the note you passed her asking if she felt the same way made her laugh at you and she showed the note to everyone in fifth grade and you were humilia–

-- wait, where was I? Oh, are we talking about music? For Rock Band? Let me start over.

When I applied for a design position at Harmonix, I had to fill out a design test, and one of the questions on it asked who my favorite musical artist or band was. Mine was Yes. They were the first band that I fell in love with, and that affection continues to this day (including their well-received recent release, Fly From Here).

I discovered the band during a unique time in their career. Yes had been massively popular for years – they had already sold out more consecutive shows at Madison Square Garden than Led Zeppelin – but they’d never been considered “pop.” So while it was unexpected to find Yes with a single at the top of the charts, it was the #1 hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart” (one of five songs coming next week) that introduced me to the band and their music.

That song, along with other singles from the band’s comeback album 90125, put this progressive band into heavy rotation on MTV… including a collaboration with video directors Godley and Creme that featured over a dozen video variants of just one song (“Leave It”). The videos caught my interest, but it was the music – slick, powerful but complex, lyrically unique, and rhythmically challenging – that left me wanting to hear more from the band.

There was little on 90125 that prepared me for the next CD I heard. Classic Yes is true to its name, and as a compilation of the band’s best, most refined work, it’s unsurprising that it features nearly every other song from next week’s DLC. “Heart of the Sunrise,” “Starship Trooper,” and “I’ve Seen All Good People” are sweeping epics that mix deft performance, ambitious songcraft and heartfelt emotion in ways I’d never heard before, and have seldom been emulated. After Classic Yes I devoured the rest of the band’s albums, and deeper cuts like “South Side of the Sky” demonstrate how the band’s musical approach – blending the structures of classical music, the exploratory freedom of jazz, and the raw power of rock – have propelled the band towards frontiers entirely their own.

There’s one other aspect of the band’s music that, for me personally, ties them uniquely to the Rock Band experience. As a fan and amateur musician, I would listen to Yes albums over and over again, immersing myself in the richness of their compositions. Through sheer repetition, I found myself able to trace the path of individual instruments within each song. The lockstep interplay of keyboards, bass, guitars eventually separated in my mind’s eye into the contributions of each performer. An unrecognized 5/4 drum beat over a 4/4 song became an epiphany on the power of polyrhythms. The three-part harmonies of song after song unraveled into disparate vocal threads. It was a threshold moment in my education of how music was made… and I get an eerily similar feeling each time I hear and perform “my” instrument while playing of a Rock Band song.

This is your chance to experience Yes in the same way – to understand their songs from the inside out. Also, I think it’s just really great music.

If you feel the same way, just check “Yes.”

Chris Foster (HMXSlappy) is design director at Harmonix. When not honing his skills in applied fungineering, he is also the main guitarist, vocalist and sometimes drummer for Speck. His kids are cute.


Yes is one of my favorite bands & I was also hooked by 90125. I bought all 5 songs & hopefully it won't be the last stuff from Yes. Leave It!

Now what about some Styx to celebrate their tour with yes?

Finally!!. we want Close to the Edge now!!! xD

Finally more Yes! Please Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Deep Purple

Please Aerosmith and Bon jovi - Always, One wild nigth........Lenny Kravitz - again, Nickelback - some day...................yeahhhhhhhhhhh

About time! I've been waiting for more than just one song by Yes. Now I just have to wait for "Yours Is No Disgrace". :)

Where do I pre-order? lol Now to get some Emerson,Lake & Palmer.... (Thanks, I had just requested Heart of the Sunrise last week, you guys sure are efficient!)

Wow between this week and next week hmx you have really out done yourselves! Nice job once again! Since rb3 released and i found out roundabout was on there ive been requesting a pack of Yes. Thank you for answering mine and im sure many others requests for yes. Keep it up guys/girl.

I've never bought a full pack before but now it looks like I'm going to! The only songs I was dissapointed to not see was Long Distance Runaround/The Fish and Siberian Khatru, but I don't mind.

OH. MY. GOD!!! I've been requesting "Starship Trooper" since the Rock Band games have been out! If I didn't already own RB3, I'd go out and buy it just for this!! Now my life is complete! Now I can start bugging them to add "Perpetual Change." And "And You and I." "It Can Happen..."

If you were a big Yes fan then you should of made sure Close to the Edge was in the pack :P

As a huge Yes fan, let me applaud you for including “South Side of the Sky.” Definitely a deep cut, and one of my all-time favorites. I’d still like to see “Leave It” off of 90125, though. Or for that matter, the entire album! All fantastic songs for a five-person rock band.

I'm not much of a Yes guy, but then again I'm not much of a classic rock guy. However, I do like quite a bit of prog rock/metal. RBN needs more Queensryche, and how about puting Fates Warning into the mix. There are a lot of music fans out there that think Fates Warning is better than Dream Theatre, who get more noticed. Fates Warning never got their due props, and now it's too late, after a long career. But it doesn't have to be. You can give them some life, by puting some Fates Warning songs out on RBN. They have plenty of songs that are mainstream (easy to listen too). If you guys know music, then somebody in your organization knows that they are worthy.

Cool... Of all the progressive bands to listen to and like, Yes is at or near the top. I'm not a prog. guy. I find most of it at best pretentious, at worse, poorly thought out, conceptualized, and played by musicians in way over their head. Yes is another story. Always kept it within their means (and proven if you've ever seen them live. I have multiple times) well crafted songs, and not trying to be too clever by half. Yet they they managed to do something a lot of other prog bands of the time failed to accomplish. They wrote a memorable, catchy tune, that actually had a hook. It took Genesis and Pink Floyd a few years to figure that out. Even the slickly produced 90125 (not a zip code, it's the album catalog number) with it's obvious pop/rock influences, still retained a good deal of their progressive roots. Changes is a prime example of that. Catchy, but like nothing else coming out at the time. For the kiddies complaining that this week is devoid of some sort of metal content, or indie stuff, I suggest you go to Pandora, or wherever you go to sample and stream music, and check out a healthy dose of Yes. Yea, it's not speed metal, and you can actually hear the lyrics as they are not growled, but I dare you to pick up your guitar or get behind your drum kit and play it. (and if you need a list of challenging songs to try. Drop me a note. I'll give you a list) Good job HMX. Way to expand the library into some fun and challenging tunes.

Really awesome writing. Yes is awesome, been waiting for them in Rock Band in ages. Can't wait. "Yes"