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Yes - Drama CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 1543 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Unexpected!

Here is a purchase that I'd put off for a good long time. Even being an incredibly big fan of Yes this album was a completely terrifying one to even consider putting the money in for. Luckily I eventually found it for a good, cheap price at a used record store and finally decided to take the plunge and see what Yes would be like without two of my favorite members, Wakeman and more uncommonly - Jon Anderson. Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat. If you're concerned about Jon Anderson's voice being absent on the album them take your worries out behind the shed and make sure you bring your rifle with you. Most people call Trevor Horn the ultimate ''Anderson sound-alike'' and the album has been slagged many times because of that. But let's face it - if they had a wildly different singer they would get even more flack. Of course, one of the biggest factors contributing to the similar voice is the now much more pronounced backing vocals by Chris Squire, which are deadly familiar.

If you're annoyed by some of the more 'sugar coated' Yes that would come after their classic period then this is probably the album for you. With Howe and Squire left solely at the helm of the project things have taken a turn for the darker. Yes still has that 'beatarific hippy heart' that many journalists have talked about over the years, but on this album there's more cynicism and shadows than ever before. Things can get rather moody on the record, and although it is still a rather feel good and 'upbeat' record, this is probably Yes's darkest to date - and being sandwiched between Tormato and 90125 that will likely come as a surprise to some. Still, right off the top of the pseudo-epic Machine Messiah we're greeted with a riff that could have come from Black Sabbath in the early 70s before moving into more familiar Yes territories. A rip-roaring bass riff from Squire also makes this one a huge standout, not only on the album, but in Yes's discography in general.

The other songs on the album are much in the same vein, but they're all excellent. Somehow this album maintains the classic era pomp but while lending from some of the accessibility that lurks in the shadows of the 80s. The result is actually quite fantastic. White Car is a brief, but incredibly emotional number that opens like a Moody Blues tune with an orchestral backing before Horn almost rips tears from your face with his vocals. I don't know how they're so powerful, they just are. More darker songs also lurk on the album, the next best being the amazing Into The Lens, which is actually slightly annoying the first time you hear it thanks to the repetition of ''camera, camera'', but as soon as the subtleties of the song really sink in it becomes nothing short of amazing. Run Through The Light is short and sweet, but no less punchy - this one is a little more low-key, but still impressive.

And they just wouldn't be Yes without doing some more upbeat stuff, now would they. Sure enough, there's a couple of songs that would have felt more at home in the band's pre-Close To The Edge days that still has a more 'modern' twist on it. Does It Really Happen? is a prime example of this, upbeat and catchy, yet still technically impressive. The other song is the closer of the album, the blistering Tempus Fugit, which is probably one of the fastest things that Yes ever did. Sounds a lot like On The Silent Wings Of Freedom, although more tight. Somehow a combination between Yes's classic sound and their 80s sound doesn't sound too attractive to some, but seriously, give it a chance, it's well worth it.

Somehow this album turned out really incredible, and it's likely the most hideously overlooked in their discography. The reasons are obvious, but proggers really should make a second consideration and hold their breath and buy this album - it is so well worth it. Probably the best thing that they did between Going For The One in '77 and Keystudio in '99. Highly recommended.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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