The first time I heard “Heart of the Sunrise” was in the film Buffalo 66. I was familiar with the group’s hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart” but knew nothing about their previous releases. Yes formed in 1968 in London with original members Bill Bruford (drums), Rick Wakerman (organ/piano), Jon Anderson (vocals), Chris Squire (bass), and Steve Howe (electric guitar). The band would go through numerous changes in line up over the years, but are considered monumental pioneers in the development of progressive rock. The album Fragile, one of the groups most successful LPs was released on Elecktra in 1971 and was their fourth studio album. They recorded over 20 albums, spanned a 40 plus year career, and have opened up for acts such Janis Joplin, Iron Maiden, and Cream. If you listen closely you can hear their influence today with bands like Tame Impala. The group is still together and is planning a 2014 tour.
As if you’ve just woken up in a dream world, the musicians literally jump right into the jam. The funky, technical power, and slow pace of the drums, strings, and bass is what initially grabbed me at first listen. An eleven minute song, “Heart of the Sunrise” boasts many worlds sonically. The drums go on to march, the strings become cinematic, and Jon Anderson softly narrates. Then the force of the song drives chaos and calm as the tempo increases and the guitar returns. One of the most amazing things about Yes and this song is the group’s ability to take multiple levels of complex arrangement and emotion and blend them together cohesively so that each voice of the song combines. Add the psychedelic and fantastical artwork by artist Roger Dean and you have a feast for the senses. Check out “Heart of the Sunrise” below, and let your mind roam free.