Yes is a band of the ages. Formed in 1968, with the original members being Jon Anderson as the lead singer, Peter Banks on the guitar, Chris Squire being the bassist, Tony Kaye as the keyboardist, and Bill Bruford as the drummer, the band has undergone several paradigm shifts, and yet has withstood the test of time. There have been numerous changes to the band’s lineup, and as of 2015, the band consisted of Jon Davison as the lead singer, Steve Howe as the guitarist, Alan White as the drummer, Geoff Downes as the keyboardist, and Billy Sherwood as the bassist, with none of the founding members being in the lineup. This goes to show that even though radical changes have occurred within the band, it is because of this that they have maintained their longevity. The band has produced twenty-one studio albums, an oeuvre of work that in many ways describes what progressive rock is all about. As mentioned earlier, the band is still going strong, and recently, they announced their upcoming studio album, their twenty-second, called The Quest. This article’s raison d’etre is to ensure that you know everything there is to know about the forthcoming album.
History in the making
This is the first studio album that features Billy Sherwood as part of the band since the band released The Ladder, back in 1999. It is the first studio album the band released following the passing of Chris Squire, one of the founding members, in 2015. It is also the first album that the band has released without any of the founding members. It will be the second studio album to feature Jon Davison as the lead vocalist, which in itself is the first time a vocalist for the band, other than the band’s original vocalist, Jon Anderson, has appeared in more than one studio album with the band.
A bit of backstory
In July of 2019, the band, with a lineup of Geoff Downs, Jon Davison, Alan White, Steve Howe, and Billy Sherwood, finished the Royal Affair Tour, which saw the group headline the tour all across the United States, and with the accompaniment of acts such as Asia, Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy with Arthur Brown, and John Lodge. After they had completed the tour, the band originally planned to start another tour in March of 2020, planning to continue the ALBUM Series tour by performing their seventh studio album Relayer, which had been released in 1974. They planned to perform the album in its entirety. However, the tour was postponed to 2021, and later to 2022 due to the pandemic. In August of 2020, Howe stated that the lockdown which was a result of the pandemic had presented the band with an opportunity to progress the making of their album, which they had already begun.
During the lockdown, the band members amassed ideas and shared them with one another through online platforms. Soon, they had made a collection of demo tapes. Much of the music, according to Howe, was written in late 2019 and the rest of 2020. By August of 2020, the band had created roughly half of the album, in terms of material. A typical scenario of how the band went about making the album was that one member of the band would contribute an instrumental track to the rest of the band. Then, the lead vocalist, Davison, would take the track and develop the lyrical content and the vocals of the said track. Davison has stated that he preferred this method of creating music, as it allowed him to work in his studio, his own habitat; a place he was more than comfortable in, and in which his creativity was optimal. He preferred this to the pressure of working on the clock in a professional studio.
The album was announced on the band’s official website, Yes World, on the 7th of July, 2021. The announcement also came with the tracklist of the album, the album artwork, which was designed by Roger Dean, a frequent collaborator of the band, and the scheduled release date. The album is scheduled to be released in five distinct versions; the 2CD digipak, a limited edition 2CD and Blu-ray art book, a limited-edition deluxe box set which contains 2LPs, 2CDs, and a Blu-ray disk, a 2CD set with a booklet and a gatefold sleeve LP, and on all the major digital music streaming platforms.
The album has two parts the first part of it having eight tracks, whose total length is eleven seconds shy of forty-eight minutes. The second part of the album has three songs, a continuation of the first part. The songs run for thirteen minutes and forty-four seconds. Thus, in total, the album has a total of eleven tracks, and it runs for one hour, one minute, and thirty-three seconds.
Jon Davison provides the vocals to all the album’s songs, Steve Howe is on both the guitars and the backup vocals, Geoff Downes is on the keyboards, Bill Sherwood plays the bass guitar and also assists with some backup vocals, and Alan white is on the drums and the percussion. There are also other musicians on the album. Jay Schellen, the drummer from the hard rock band Hurricane, assists with percussion. There are also songs that have an orchestra playing. Production of all the songs, for the first time in the band’s history, is handled by one man, Steve Howe, while, as aforementioned, the cover art of the album as well as the logo of the band that will accompany the album was designed by Roger Dean.
The album, if there are no delays and postponements, will be released on the 1st of October, 2021, by InsideOut Music, under exclusive license to Sony Music. The tour for the album is expected to follow soon after, with the tour dates to be announced a couple of weeks before the album is released.
This album is the first since the release of Heaven and Earth, which was released in 2014. The seven-year hiatus, even though the band has been touring, has built up anticipation not only from the band’s fans but also from lovers of music in general.