First off, for the sake of this page, I'm going with the baker's dozen of musicians listed below. I know there have been other members of Yes over the last 20 years or so, but they've either never released a solo album, or I've never bought any. As a couple of examples, I believe the Ladder-era keyboardist Igor Khoroshev released a solo album, but a copy never found its way into my collection. And Eddie Jobson was very briefly in 90215 band, but I don't really count him as a member of Yes.
To me, it seems like the band members all shot their loads with the solo albums and didn't have much left for Yes. When they next got together to record, they came up with Going For the One, which many fans love, but to me it marked the beginning of the decline. From there it was all downhill to Tormato and the band breaking up (for the first of many times). The success of those original solo albums (along with Wakeman's Six Wives of Henry VII) must have convinced everyone who was ever in Yes that they could be a successful solo act, because over the years there have been dozens, if not hundreds of releases to come out of the Yes camp. The challenge for the discriminating Yes fan is to find the good ones amongst the huge heap of sub-par material.
With those preliminaries out of the way, time to let the opinions fly:
After Olias, Anderson released Song of Seven which had a pretty good side-long title track and a couple other decent songs, but was generally a step down. From there on out, Jon's solo output was very hit and miss. Highlights include the orchestral album Change We Must, the vaguely Olias-like Toltec, and (if you really like new-age) the dreamy Angel's Embrace. I also have to admit that parts of the Christmas album Three Ships are a guilty pleasure, and I've read that the album Animation is supposed to be good but I've never heard it because it's been out of print forever.
But for each decent album Anderson put out, he'd also release a turd like the commercial sell-out In the City of Angels or the attempt to jump on the Latin music bandwagon Deseo or the attempt to jump on the Celtic bandwagon The Promise Ring. I gave up on him after buying the super-goofy album he recorded with his wife, Earth Mother Earth - I only paid a couple bucks for that one in a used CD store, and even that was a rip-off. So as far as Anderson's solo output goes, Olias of Sunhillow is a must-have, but after that you're taking your chances.
Anyway, if Andersons' Olias is the best Yes solo album, then Squire's Fish is a very close second. Depending in the day (or which album I've heard more recently), I might even put Fish first. It's an odd album - kind of plodding, and (expectedly) bass-heavy, but there's just something very satisfying about it. Detractors would say that it's very repetitive, but I'd say that repetition becomes almost hypnotic. You could complain about the lack of lead guitar or keyboard parts, but the orchestration more than makes up for that. The whole album is good, but to me it seems to keep getting better as it goes. The original side one closed with the fantastic "Silently Falling", and then side two is made up entirely of two epics - the nearly trance-inducing "Lucky Seven" and then "Safe (Cannon Song)", which builds up to a monstrous conclusion, only to be followed by a section of ringing, chiming bass harmonic notes that end the album on a georgous mellow note. Just writing all this is making me want to go listen to the album right now. It's a shame that Squire never found the time or energy to create another true solo album like this.
First off, he put out a great solo album in 1973 called Two Sides of Peter Banks. Side one contained a suite of composed pieces with titles like "Visions of the King", "Knights", "Battle", etc. It all tied together with repeated themes and reprised tracks. Fantastic stuff, very proggy. Side two was more of a free-form jam, more jazz than prog. Both sides are great, and the album features a lot of famous guest stars (Phil Collins, Jan Akkerman, John Wetton and Steve Hackett), although they mostly only play on one or two tracks. This is a really good album, and seems to be sadly overlooked by all but the most hard-core Yes fans.
Banks was also in the band Flash in the early 70s, and while they're not technically solo albums, if you can find Flash's self-titled debut album and second disc In the Can, they're both worth picking up. I'm not as fond of the third Flash album, Out of Our Hands, but I know it has its fans.
Following the demise of Flash, Banks put together a band called Empire. As I understand the band's history, they first recorded an album that never got released. Then Banks married Empire's vocalist Sydney Foxx, and a second version of the band was put together that re-worked some of the first album material and added new songs, but that album also never got released. Banks and Foxx got divorced but kept working together, putting together a third version of the band and working on demos for a more commercial sounding album, which also never got released. Then in the 1990s, the One Way label found out about all these unreleased recordings and issued them on three CDs as Mark I, Mark II and Mark III. Taking the best recordings from all three discs (and eliminating some of "alternate versions" of repeated songs), you could put together one really good album out of this material. Of the three, the first two are the best, the third one is for hard-core collectors only.
Following Instinct, Banks put out a couple more albums in the same vein called Self-Contained and Reduction. They're both OK, but neither one really blew me away like Instinct did. Later in his life, he seemed to focus on releasing a lot of archival material like BBC live recordings of early Yes, a live recording from Flash, etc. I kept hoping that he'd put out one more great studio album, but his passing in 2013 has put an end to those hopes.
Badger - One Live Badger. This is actually a pretty good album, although it doesn't sound much like Yes and isn't really a progressive rock album. As the title implies, it's a live album, and I've read that it was recorded at the same shows that produced YesSongs (apparently Badger was the opening act). Kaye sticks mostly to organ, although there are also some Moog leads and one review I read claimed there was some mellotron on the album somewhere. The music reminds me of the band Traffic - it's mostly blues-based songs with some jamming and soloing puffing the tracks out to the seven or eight minute mark. The playing is decent, the energy levels are generally high and there are some catchy songs. Oddly, the back half of the album gradually turns into Christian rock, with a songs about God helping people across the river, drunken preachers and going to heaven. Kind of a weird, but satisfying album.
I've read that Badger released a second album called White Lady, but that it was in a completely different and more commercial style, dominated by a new lead singer who wanted to turn them into a soul group. I've never bothered to track it down.
All that said, the two albums that he released in the 70s, Beginnings and The Steve Howe Album are both pretty good. You could take the best tracks from those two and make a really good album. I usually lean towards The Steve Howe Album as the better of the two, but I think that might just be because it opens with its two best tracks, "Pennants" and "Cactus Boogie", so it makes a favorable first impression. Beginnings has some good tracks as well, especially the two minute acoustic guitar workout "Ram" which is in the same class as "Clap". Both albums get bogged down by lengthy orchestral pieces - sort of guitar concertos. Those might impress classical music fans, but they leave a rock audience looking at their watches wondering how long until they're over.
Howe followed up Turbulence with In the Grand Scheme of Things, and it's easily my least favorite of all his albums. Not only did he go back to singing (on nearly every track), but most of the lyrics are of the grumpy old man variety and basically boil down to "the world's not as good as it was when I was a lad". Avoid. Following that album Steve went on a solo tour playing mostly acoustic guitars in small clubs (I was lucky enough to see the show in Washington DC) and those shows are documented on the live Not Necessarily Acoustic album, which is nice enough although listening to over an hour of solo acoustic guitar music can get a little old unless you're really into that sort of thing. I was also disappointed that they edited out a lot of the little stories that Howe told between songs, which for my money was the best part of the show.
Since then Howe has been releasing a lot of archival material in his Homebrew series, and has put out a few more album both under his name and under the band name Remedy. I've got the first and third Homebrew albums, as well as Quantum Guitar and Spectrum - they're all worth a listen (although the Homebrew discs are really just for rabid fans), but in the end I just kind of lost interest and stopped following Steve's solo career. I wouldn't even own a couple of those later albums if I hadn't gotten them as free review copies from a web site I used to write for.
That said, he's done a lot of good stuff, and for the most part it's not what you'd expect from a drummer's solo album - Bruford's a pretty good composer, his albums aren't just 45 minute long drum solos. If I had to make a single recommendation, I'd probably go with the album One of a Kind, released under the band name "Bruford". Really good prog/jazz fusion, flashy stuff, every player on the album is great and the music is all instrumental. The Bruford band put out a couple other albums that both included tracks with vocals, but the singing just detracts from the music in my opinion. There's also a live album called The Bruford Tapes which contains some great performances and gives a nice summary of this stage of Bill's career.
In addition to the above albums, Bruford has recorded as the leader of a jazzy band called Earthworks (where he used mostly electronic drums) and with his Crimson rhythm section partner Tony Levin in Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (BLUE). I've only heard a couple Earthworks albums, and while they're nice they didn't really thrill me much. I had the good fortune to see BLUE in a tiny little room - there were only 150 tickets available, and they had to pack people in shoulder-to-shoulder to make all 150 fit. The BLUE band featured David Torn playing avant-garde guitar and loops, and a then-unknown trumpeter named Chris Botti who has gone on to be a bestselling jazz artist and Grammy winner. My wife and I arrived late at the BLUE show we attended and the guy at the door wasn't going to let us in because Bruford and Levin had already taken the stage. Botti was standing in the hallway waiting for his turn to go on, and he came over and told the doorman it was no problem and he should just let us in. Really nice guy. Anyway, the BLUE band unfortunately only lasted long enough to put out two albums, a self-titled studio album and the 2-CD live set BLUE Nights. Both are worth picking up if the idea of a mix of Miles Davis-like jazz fusion and prog rock sounds interesting to you.
Six Wives features six tracks, each representing Wakeman's musical impressions of one of the wives of King Henry VIII. The music is all instrumental and ranges from solo pipe organ to rampaging, full-band, keyboard-dominated fusion music. A few of the tracks have a truly epic feel to them. It's a shame all of Rick's solo releases couldn't be this good.
But, of course, they weren't. When a musician is pumping new albums out at the rate of one every four months for over a decade, you can't expect every one to be a gem. A lot of that back catalog is padded out with mind-numbingly boring "new age" albums. Sometime in the 90s I foolishly shelled out big bucks for a 3-disc Japanese import called Sunrise, Sunset, Sunshadows that was nothing but ultra-slow paced instrumentals with sparse keyboard instrumentation and not much else that went on for over three hours. It was coma-inducing.
So that just leaves Ramshackled. When it first came out, it got nothing but bad reviews from Yes fans - people were still badmouthing it on prog rock newsgroups in the 1990s. It was out of print for ages and I figured I'd never get a chance to hear it, but then it was surprisingly reissued on CD in 2006. I had to hear for myself, so I bought a copy and...it's not nearly as bad as people say. Most of it sounds nothing like Yes, and you have to be able to tolerate some "soulful" singing on a couple tracks, but overall it's a pretty good disc. It covers a wide variety of musical styles, from R&B to jazz fusion to reggae to new-agey (with Anderson vocals) and even a proggy track or two. It doesn't really sound like a drummer's album, it just sounds like a band that likes to dabble in various styles of music. Most Yes fans might hate it, but I thought it was mostly pretty good and fit in well with the other post-Relayer solo albums.
Back in the late 80s I stumbled across another Moraz solo album called Future Memories II in a cassette cut-out bin. The music is a tad cheesy and sounds like it was heavily influenced by early video games (the songs even have titles like Video Games and Flippers), but it's an interesting album. I looked for Future Memories I for ages but never found a copy.
The only other Moraz album that I've heard is a live album called PM in Princeton - I think the same person who provided the copy of Piano and Drums gave me that one. It's been a while since I listened to it, but I remember it being mostly piano and sort of classical sounding, and like all of Moraz's other work outside Yes, pretty good.
His first solo release was called The Light Program and was credited to "The New Dance Orchestra". Something about that name almost put me off buying it, but I decided to take a chance and it turned out to be a really good album. It's 33 short instrumentals that are mostly keyboards and drum machine, arranged into five suites, each with a different theme: Symphonie Electronique, Oceana, Ethnic Dances, East West and Urbanology. The album came out around the time that CD players were first becoming popular, so the liner notes suggest programming the tracks in various orders to determine your own favorite playing order. They even include a N.D.O. Appreciation Society address where you can exchange your favorite program with other "users".
About five years after The Light Program, Downes released another New Dance Orchestra disc called Vox Humana. I quickly ordered it, hoping it would be as good as the first one, but unfortunately it was awful. It's nothing at all like the first album - Vox Humana contains a dozen badly done pop songs (including remakes of "Video Kill the Radio Star" and Yes' "White Car") with horrible vocals. I paid a small fortune to get an import copy of that album, and then when I realized how bad it was I tried to sell it off and couldn't find a buyer at even half the original price. That put me off buying any more of Downe's solo output, but according to Wikipedia he's put out several more albums since then.
Update Feb 7, 2015 - I finally got ahold of the Buggle's second album, Adventures in Modern Recording, and according to the liner notes it's practically a Trevor Horn solo album, moreso than the first Buggles disc was. And it's a pretty good album. Based on my first few listens, it's on par with the first Buggles disc, and shows where a lot of the material on the Yes albums Drama and Fly From Here came from. Well worth picking up for Horn/Buggle/Yes fans.
After leaving Yes, Rabin mostly worked on movie soundtracks, and what little I've heard of that has not made me want to seek out more. However, I've read that he recently released an instrumental jazz fusion album, which has me curious enough to consider buying it...
Update Feb 7, 2015 - I got that new Rabin solo album, called Jacaranda, for Christmas and it's really good. It probably won't convert Rabin-bashers to fans, but I like it a lot. It sounds like a combination of Can't Look Away and Rabin's "Solly's Beard" solo from 9012Live, with jazzy overtones and the arrangement knowledge he's gained from doing soundtracks mixed in. It's entirely instrumental, so if lack of lyrics puts you off, there's that to consider. But overall I'm very happy with it.
With the internet and the ease of finding obscure used CD and/or downloading music (either legally or, um, otherwise), it should be possible to find most of the above somehow. It definitely beats the years I had to spend scrounging around through the import section of every music store I could find hoping to score an expensive CD that I probably wasn't going to like anyway.