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Yes - Union CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.50 | 972 ratings

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2 stars ONIONS....OR...I'M OFF PART 3

Following the deserved success of ABWH Part One, the gang reassembled for part two, whilst Yes West floundered somewhat, especially in their efforts to get Roger Hodgeson on board with lead vocals, on hje rather understandable premise that he was the only vocalist they could find with a similar pitch to Anderson's. Of course, he refused.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, some Atlantic record company executives though that the world was utterly fed up with two versions of Yes (even though only one was active), and the public would queue up for miles to purchase the glorious fusion of the two versions of the band. A marvellous idea in theory that didn't come anywhere near in practice (in common with most theories).

Wakeman to this day describes this as Onions because it brings tears to his eyes thinking about it, and even listening to the album on a good set of headphones, it's not difficult to see why. For some unknown reason, his contributions to the album are edited to the point where the once mighty lord of all prog keyboardists is reduced to the listener having to strain to hear his parts. Of course, he left soon afterwards, for the third time (although people were starting to lose count).

Is the album as bad as many make out? Probably, but the great shame is that there are enough signs there that show that it could have been fantastic. Without concentrating on each track, there is some decent stuff here.

I Would Have Waited Forever starts off marvellously, but lacks overall focus. Masquerade is an absolutely fantastic acoustic piece by Howe - I wish he played this more often live than the usual fare of The Clap. Silent Talking starts off as a mess of a track, and when Anderson sings It Doesn't Ring True, you realise he probably hasn't sung a truer line. However, after the Howe solo intro to the main body of the song, it is heavenly, with Howe and Anderson reminding us all of the reason why we listen to them in the first place.

The Yes West pieces don't come out badly at all. Miracle of Life, especially, is a great track, being a throwback to the trick they played on 90125 of mixing commercial stuff with prog roots. Anderson and Rabin especially shine in their vocal interplay. The More We Live.. is somewhat similar, but with the difference that Squire is absolutely to the forefront vocally. It is certainly true that Kaye can be heard more than Wakeman on the ABWH tracks, and he provides good backing on this track.

Take the Water to the Mountain is a great track, which features Anderson in finest soaraway vocalist mode.

The rest of the album, though, feels like what it is. A disparate collection of over produced and edited tracks from what were in effect two different bands forced together for commercial reasons. As I write this review, I am listening to Angkor Wat, which should be a glorious fusion and collaberation between Wakeman & Anderson, but which, instead, just sounds messy, the album's principle fault.

After this finished, the resultant tour was, surprisingly, a massive success, with Wakeman & Rabin especially gelling. However, the inevitable breakup soon followed the tour, with Bruford (who excelled on the first ABWH album, but was barely heard on this), Wakeman (for the third time now), and Howe (who stated in an interview with Guitar magazine that No, I'm no Yes man!) all leaving.

Many of us thought that this album marked the end of the the band we loved, on an exceptionally low point. In fact, it marked the end of an era for the band, with a new wave to follow.

Two stars - a shame, but all it deserves.

lazland | 2/5 |


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