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Yes - Union CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.50 | 972 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Quite a shock indeed.

Yes's Union is an album that takes a lot of criticism from fans and general listeners alike, but it not for no reason. This album may not be quite as bad as it's often made out to be - as in some kind of terrible nadir that will make your ears bleed with excessive listens - but it still is one of those albums that should simply be avoided unless you really want to know what all the (anti)fuss is about. But believe me, if you buy the album you will be shocked. This, really, is not Yes and it's not ABWH and it really isn't a combination of both. What is does sound like though is 8 super-egos not wanting to put aside their differences and all trying to cram all of their ideas into each and every track without putting thought into where each of the ideas should fit. The album is a mish-mash of everything you could possibly think of from Yes, and that just doesn't work.

Now, there are a few problems with this album that most progheads will pick up on right away. First off, listen to the first 3 seconds of the album where Jon comes in a-Capella and shouts ''I would have waited forever!''. The poppy harmony in even this short amount of time will undoubtedly set off alarms in most, if not all, prog fans that decide to give this album a spin. While the rest of the song is not quite as bad as expected we come to one of the biggest problems that the album has. Somehow, with all those musical geniuses in one room the album became very poppy. Even more so than in their Big Generator days, the songs are simply structured and Jon's voice dominates as though the rest of the band should be wearing a full leather suit. Take for example the poppy-boppy Saving My Heart which has Jon repeating that chorus so many times that it's just painful.

Another problem with the album is that it is far too long. If you don't like the album you have to sit through a lot of it. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is Yes's longest album to date. Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, but there are actually enough modest songs that they could have made an album more to the length of Close To The Edge and gotten away with a fairly ''good'' album. Had the album been made up of 30 minutes of modest instead of 30 minutes of modest and 30 minutes of blah it might have even turned out a lot better. However, with the two bands struggling for power over one another it's likely that this would have never been possible, they each wanted to have as much as possible in there.

As for style of the album, what we have here is something very unique... However, it's not the good kind of unique. Ever heard of symphonic-soft-rock? Me neither, but that's probably the best way to describe the music on the album. Kind of like Air Supply meets Yes, now there's a scary thought. Some songs like Miracle Of Life have quite a catchy chorus that's ultimately let down just because the rest of the song is so forgettable - and when have you ever listened to a prog album just for the catchy choruses? Unfortunately the album is all about the hooks and it forgets something that has always been so key to Yes, the instruments!

While there may be two instrumentals on the album they're both unfortunately short. Granted, they're likely the best tracks on the album, but they don't last long enough to really make up for any of the album's downfalls. Masquerade is a great Howe track reminiscent of (although maybe not comparable to) his older works with the band, and makes for a great follow up to the admittedly very good Shock To The System and later on Evensong makes for a good percussion piece.

What else is there to say about the album other than - it's got a nice sleeve. Yessir, that Mr. Roger Dean certainly knows how to make an appealing cover, even if it's the best part about the album. A true brother sleeve to the ABWH album, they even have a similar banner across the top. It's just too bad that this album wouldn't be a real follow-up for ABWH nor a come-back for Yes. Okay, so there's some enjoyable music on here - but it's really not enough to make up for some of the other stuff on here. If you're looking for the Yes of old you're very much in the wrong place - Go back about 14 years or skip ahead another 5.

I won't call the album poor since it's not unlistenable, but I will say - if you're not a big Yes fan then don't buy this album. 2 reunions that didn't work out of 5. Only recommended for fans who want all the band's albums and people who like a poppy edge. Or for those who just want to see what's up with the album.

Queen By-Tor | 2/5 |


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