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Yes - Open Your Eyes CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.04 | 795 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars And here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the most despised album in YES's uneven catalogue.

Does it deserve such vilification? Yes and no in my opinion. YES continued to be the authors of their own demise, putting this album out just after the acclaimed 'Keys to Ascension' albums, which signalled a return to YES's glory days in structure, if not in composition. This, however, sounds on first listen to be an extension of the so-called RABIN era. I guess fans can only stand so much disappointment.

But if that background is put aside, I think the few high points of this album compare tolerably well to the fare many other proggish bands were offering a decade ago. 'New State of Mind' is particularly strong, having a real progressive vibe, even if the ending of the song is rather weak. Other cuts, such as the insipid title track, do nothing to erase the awful memories of such clangers as 'Big Generator' and 'Union'. STEVE HOWE's presence here is very much the ASIA veteran and not the masterful sound colourist at the heart of classic YES. 'Universal Garden' plods along in acceptable fashion, but it's about at this point you begin to wonder if the band have sacrificed substance for style. It's a puzzle to me why the band, freed now from the expectation of a million-selling album, didn't try to go all-out to make the record they wanted to make: no one can convince me this meets any of the participating musicians' aspirations. 'No Way We Can Lose' is dreadful. Clang. 'Fortune Seller' is a second highlight, and might almost have commanded a place on '90125' with a bit more energy. At one point near the end the band get it absolutely right: with 45 seconds remaining SQUIRE accidentally gets funky with the bass and the keyboards swirl agitatedly around him for a moment, as though unsure what had provoked this moment of musical excellence. Unfortunately, normal transmission is swiftly resumed. 'Man in the Moon' trundles on respectably, more sheen than necessary perhaps, but with a nice keyboard layer to nag away at the listener. We're deceived by the opening to 'Wonderlove' into thinking we might have a winner, but nope. 'Somehow, Someday' might have worked with a faster tempo, or something to breathe life into it. Plod plod. And so it goes, almost as though at the first meeting of the band the decision was taken to alienate both sets of fans, those from the 70s and those from the 80s. It worked, lads.

The fundamental problem here is not the sound, nor the style. It is the substance, which, as always, is composition. There's little here worth a second listen. How frustrating: like being forced to eat all the ingredients for a cake before they're mixed and put in the oven, this album looks and smells promising, but does not satisfy. YES no longer rock, they no longer funk out, they no longer swing, they no longer amaze you with their enormous palette, the withheld note, the syncopation, the counterpoint. Instead they plod. Plod plod plod. The only vestige of the old YES - even the YES of the 80s - is the tight vocal harmonies, all the more essential now as ANDERSON's voice, never the strongest, is eroded by age.

Plod plod.

russellk | 2/5 |


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