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Yes - 90125 CD (album) cover

90125

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

2.92 | 1129 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Yes, we know it's not Yes

To understand how the music of "90125", came about, a brief explanation is required. Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman both left Yes prior to the recording of the previous album, "Drama". In their place came Trevor Horne and Geoff Downes, ex of Buggles. While the album is generally acknowledged to have succeeded musically, the band did not gel, and effectively fell apart after a promotional tour.

Downes and Steve Howe joined up with John Wetton and Carl Palmer to form Asia. Horne moved away from performing and took up a successful career in production. The rhythm section of Chris Squire and Alan White decided to continue to work together, briefly considering forming XYZ (ex Yes &Zeppelin) with Jimmy Page. Squire then heard demos by Trevor Rabin, which impressed him and they got together with White to work on a project under the Cinema name (also the name of a track on this album). Squire met former Yes keyboard player Tony Kaye, and invited him to join the trio. Interestingly, Kaye had never worked with White, Bill Bruford being the Yes drummer during his time with the band. While the band were happy with the music they were making, much of which was based on material written by Rabin, they felt they needed a front-man. Rabin's vocals were adequate if not distinctive, but his multi instrumental capabilities made it difficult for him to sing, play and act as front man simultaneously.

Squire therefore met up with Jon Anderson, and played him some of the Cinema demos. Anderson was immediately impressed, and signed up with the band. It was quickly decided that trading under the name of Yes would be a sensible option, given that four of the five present had been members. The decision was not however a no-brainer for two reasons.

A) Any band with the Yes name will be expected when touring to perform a selection the classic Yes numbers. B) The material they had recorded was heavily Rabin influenced, and hence did not have the traditional Yes feel.

It is this latter point which has led to Rabin being so derided by many Yes fans. It must however be understood that Rabin never intended his songs here to become Yes songs. He was writing and performing originally for his own solo output, then for a project known as Cinema.

With that in mind, what of the album? There's no doubt it is far more commercially orientated than what had gone before. Yes had ventured into singles territory with tracks such as "Don't kill the whale", and "Wonderous stories", but these had been little more than simplified traditional Yes fare.

The first few notes of "Owner of a lonely heart", make it immediately apparent that things are radically different here. Trevor Horne's immaculate production joins together more disparate noises in the first 20 seconds than other Yes albums have in total. The track was of course a massive hit single, and served to open up the music of Yes to an much larger audience than they had ever previously enjoyed. That new audience was of course much more fickle and transient, and not that interested in who the band were, just whether the music had a good beat! The song did however restore, nay enhance, Yes' credibility with their record company. Enough of the new found fans did start to explore Yes' back catalogue too, and thus they rode the Genesis inspired train to fame and fortune.

The remaining tracks on the album are rather hit and miss. All have an AOR sound, with bands such as Styx and Kansas coming to mind as comparisons. "Leave it" has some excellent harmonies. There are three versions of the song on the extended remaster including the original Cinema version, and an appealing a-capella version.

The track "Cinema" is a live version (for no apparent reason). It's an enjoyable if brief instrumental which bizarrely won a Grammy award as best rock instrumental performance. The final track "Hearts" is probably the best on the album, at least in terms of what might be expected from a Yes album. Like almost all the tracks here, it is still dominated by vocals but Anderson appears to be performing what is predominantly his own composition.

In all, an enjoyable AOR album bearing the Yes name but not really performed by Yes.

The expanded, remastered version of the CD has six extra tracks, four of which were recorded without Anderson. The two which are repeated on the album with Anderson's vocals give an interesting indication of how Cinema would have sounded had they not been stillborn. Also included is an extended version "Owner of a lonely heart" which claims to be previously unreleased, but appears to be taken from the 12" single.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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