Posted: Monday, January 12, 2015 11:34 amOn this day in 1972, Yes released “Roundabout,” one of the band’s most recognizable songs, a Yes concert staple, and a song that is still being played by classic rock stations across the nation.
The version the band released as a single was just 3:27 in length. As was customary in the days of 45-rpm records, the single version was an edit of the original version, which was 8:29. The single edit is rarely played today and is long forgotten.
Yes was at their creative peak by the time they recorded “Fragile,” the album that contained “Roundabout” and other Yes classic including “Long Distance Runaround.” “Fragile” was the band’s fourth album, but first to feature what was arguably their best lineup in terms of talent.
The current touring lineup of Yes only has two members from the “Fragile” era, bassist Chris Squire and guitarist Steve Howe. It’s Howe’s harmonics in the introduction of the long form version of the song that made me an instant fan of Yes.
In 1971 when Yes released “Fragile,” progressive rock was at its commercial peak, thanks to bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Jethro Tull. While much of the 1950’s and early 1960’s songs were short, not long after the Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” rock artists were experimenting with longer form songs.
Around the same time “Roundabout” was on the charts, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was beginning to get airplay on AOR, or “Album Oriented Rock” stations. “Stairway” is slightly over eight minutes long, and with its success, songs just got longer and longer.
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