PopMAC day 3: Yes, the Psychedelic-Symphonic Cover, and ‘Every Little Thing’ #popmac

Yes, the Psychedelic-Symphonic Cover, and ‘Every Little Thing’. John Covach (University of Rochester)

[abstract] The 1969 debut album of the British band Yes contains a cover version of the Beatles ‘Every Little Thing’. The original Beatles version runs just over two minutes, while the Yes version extends the song to almost six minutes. The practice of taking a short pop song and developing it into more extended piece was perhaps made most famous by the American band, Vanilla Fudge, whose 1968 version of the Supremes ‘You Keep Me Hangin On’ (1966) clocks in at well over seven minutes. Inspired by Vanilla Fudge, Yes created a series of psychedelic-symphonic cover versions of this type, including ‘I See You’, ‘Something’s Coming’, ‘No Opportunity Necessary’, ‘No Experience Needed’, ‘Everydays’, and ‘America’.

This paper will examine how Yes’s version of ‘Every Little Thing’ is developed from the Beatles’ song, at times jamming on a static harmony, at other times developing melodic and harmonic ideas from the song itself, and ultimately recasting the actual sung parts of the original tune to amplify some of the characteristics present in the original. The practices found in this song will be compared to passages from the other Yes covers, as well as to the Yes originals that would soon dominate the band’s output. It will be argued that the practice of the psychedelic-symphonic cover becomes a part of the band’s composing process for epic numbers such as ‘Close to the Edge’ and ‘Awaken’, complex numbers that grow out of simple pop songs.

John’s paper opens with an outline of his approach – that he intends to focus exclusively on cover versions by Yes. Their practice in this early work was to develop complex extended arrangements based on very simple pop song originals; this approach was modelled on the covers of Vanilla Fudge.

[Read more…]