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Yes - Drama CD (album) cover

DRAMA

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 1545 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 76

"Drama" is the tenth studio album of Yes and was released in 1980. It's a unique and special album because it's the only studio album released by the group, until then, without their front man Jon Anderson. After "Tormato", while the group was working to release a new studio album, Anderson left the band due to creative and financial differences. Soon he was followed by Rick Wakeman who believed that Yes couldn't continue without the Anderson's voice. It seems that the really creative differences were because Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White didn't like the music composed by Anderson for the band. They thought that it was very light and soft for the Yes' standards. So, some of these songs appear on the Anderson's second solo studio album "Song of Seven" released in 1980. The fourth last bonus tracks on my 2004 remastered and expanded CD version belong to these songs. It seems that they were right.

The remaining band's members, Howe, Squire and White, had to "carry the piano alone". While working in the studio, they met Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn of The Buggles, who worked in a next door studio. The duo had recently released their first studio album "The Age Of Plastic", and they were having great commercial success because of their single "Video Killed The Radio Star". As they were great fans of Yes, the duo was invited to participate in some sessions to help them on vocals and keyboards, and soon they were invited to join them as band's members.

After the previous collaboration, partially failed, with Hipgnosis, Yes invited again Roger Dean to design the art cover for the album. Moreover, they invited again Eddie Offord who had co-produced the band in the early 70's. Eddie was one of the most famous producers of the time. However, the major part of the production work was handled by Horn.

"Drama" has six tracks. The writing credits of the songs are assigned by all band's members. The first track "Machine Messiah" is the lengthiest track on the album and represents the return of the band to longer songs. The lyrics are similar to Yes' usual style despite they're made by Horn. Still being one of the hardest rocking songs of the band and has sometimes characteristics of hard rock and heavy metal, the song keeps intact the main features of the Yes' sound. In my humble opinion, this is the best track on the album. The second track "White Car" is the smallest track on the album and is also the shortest Yes' song ever. It's a nice song with interesting and good Horn's vocals. The third track "Does It Really Happen?" is a very good track and where we can see more the influences of the two new elements. On this track, the main thing we can hear is the fantastic dynamic bass line from Squire. The end of the song is absolutely wonderful. The fourth track "Into The Lens" was originally written by Downes and Horn, and one year later, it would be part of the new The Buggles' studio album "Adventures In Modern Recording" released in 1981. It was called "I Am A Camera". This is, for me, one of the highest points of the album. It's a song with fantastic individual works of all band's members and is, in my humble opinion, the perfect way to catch a pop song and turn it in a progressive song. The fifth track "Run Through The Light" is also a very good track and is another song where we can see more the influences of the two new elements. It has a more modern musical structure and is probably a clever way of making music in the 80's. The sixth track "Tempus Fugit" is, in my humble opinion, the second best track on the album and is probably the best well known of it. This is the other heavy and aggressive song of the album and it has also a fantastic and dynamic bass line from Squire, which is unmistakable and very unique in the progressive rock.

Conclusion: All we can say is that everything had pointed that "Drama" would be a huge failure. The previous album "Tormato" had partly failed, and so, there was much pressure on the new Yes' album. The exit of Anderson and Wakeman, left the group orphan of two of their most influential members. If the group could survive without Wakeman was obvious, but it seemed to be impossible survive without the Anderson's voice. Finally, the participation of the two new band's members, without great musical experience, mostly POP musicians that coming from the new wave musical movement, it seems to be an impossible thing that can goes well. However, I must say that the test was largely exceeded and that "Drama" doesn't become on a really true drama. In my humble opinion, "Drama" is the best studio album without the classic line up, and I dare even say that "Drama" is somehow a better album than "Fragile", because is a more collective effort and is more uniform and balanced than "Fragile" is. "Drama" has the different but beautiful voice of Horn and has also the new keyboard sound of Downes. Both brought a new sound to Yes. By the other hand, Howe, Squire and White demonstrated fully that Yes could survive without their front man Anderson. They turn it in an essential work of one of the best progressive bands. It represents also one of the best progressive albums of the 80's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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