Yes – ‘Roundabout’
  • Writers: Jon Anderson and Steve Howe
  • Producers: Eddie Offord and Yes
  • Recorded: September 1971 at Advision Studios, London
  • Released: November 1st, 1971 (U.K.), January 4th, 1972 (U.S.)
  • Players:
    Jon Anderson — vocals
    Steve Howe — guitar, vocals
    Chris Squire — bass, vocals
    Rick Wakeman — keyboards
    Bill Bruford — drums
  • Album: Fragile (Atlantic, 1972)
  • Also On:
    Yessongs (Atlantic, 1973)
    Classic Yes (Atlantic, 1982)
    Yesyears (Atlantic, 1991)
    Highlights — The Very Best Of Yes (Atlantic, 1993)
    Symphonic Music Of Yes (RCA Victor, 1993)
    The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection (Rhino, 2004)
  • An edited version of “Roundabout” was the first big U.S. hit for Yes, peaking at Number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was their highest charting single until “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” in 1983.
  • Singer Jon Anderson remembered writing “Roundabout” during a drive from Aberdeen to Glasgow in Scotland: “We were driving down in our van. We had an acoustic guitar and were singing on the way down, rehearsing for the next show. We had some new ideas, and ‘Roundabout’ was one of them. It happened there were mountains there, and lakes. There’s a big roundabout on the way to Glasgow, and these words started jumping out as we started to drive down… I just remember mountains coming out of sky; you couldn’t see the top of the mountains because of the heavy clouds, so it looked like they were coming out of sky.”
  • Guitarist Steve Howe said “Roundabout” is special to him because it was the beginning of his songwriting collaboration with Anderson — “‘Roundabout’ was really the first piece Jon and I wrote together… We received incredible adulation for it, and of course it was one of Yes’s hits. But in reality, what it really was for Jon and I, I think, was the beginning of big exploration, big experiments.”
  • Howe also said “Roundabout” allowed him to fulfill the dream of mixing acoustic and electric instruments in one of his songs: “Since 1968, when I bought a Martin guitar, I wanted to play that guitar in a group. And I couldn’t see doing it because all the groups wanted electric guitar. But I wanted to play acoustic guitar in a group, with the bass, drums, and electric keyboards and three voices. And ‘Roundabout’ was the first track I really did that on.”
  • Howe credited the song’s enduring quality to the arrangement Yes worked out for it — “It’s been pretty constantly there. It’s not a song that’s just faded away, and I think that was the incredible arrangement that Yes brought to all the music we did in the ’70s. That was because we sat in a room and hammered and fought about arranging — not about who drives what, who gets what, or who pays what, but the music. We fought about the music. And it brought the arrangement to a level we haven’t been able to surpass.”
  • The Fragile album hit Number Four on the Billboard 200 chart, and Number Seven on the U.K. chart.
  • Fragile was the first Yes album to feature Roger Dean‘s cover artwork.
  • Fragile was also keyboardist Rick Wakeman‘s first album with the band.

FAST FORWARD:

  • Wakeman left Yes in 1974, though he has returned to the band several times since. He recently left the band for the fifth time.
  • Anderson and Howe have also logged time in and out of the band, though both are part of the current Yes lineup, which also includes bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White.

Yes recently announced plans for a 40th anniversary tour. The band’s current lineup includes Anderson, Howe, Squier, White, and Oliver Wakeman, son of Rick Wakeman, on keyboards. The senior Wakeman says he’s not interested in being in the band right now.