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Yes - Big Generator CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.54 | 1183 ratings

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3 stars Big Generator was the first Yes album I owned, on cassette. Here, I'm reviewing the 1987 Atco CD.

Big Generator does not start off strong. The first two songs on the first side are the weakest on the album, although each has its redeeming factors. Lyrically, "Rhythm of Love" is a dumb song - - so is the Beatles' "She Loves You" - - but, like the side-one closer, "Almost Like Love," it's fun enough. The intro to "Rhythm" is good, as is the bridge, in which guitarist Trevor Rabin, bassist Chris Squire, and lead singer Jon Anderson each sing a solo line overlapped by the next vocalist's line. "Big Generator" isn't much better, although I've always thought of it as commentary on the demand they felt to follow up 90125, their prior album and their biggest hit, with more of the same. Speaking of which, the second side of Big Generator opens with another nice-enough, radio-friendly tune, Rabin's "Love Will Find a Way." This song, taken with "Rhythm of Love" and "Big Generator," is what earns the album its reputation among some Yes fans as Rabin-heavy, commercial AOR.

For sure, Big Generator is commercial AOR, and if that's a crime, leader Jon Anderson is hardly an innocent bystander. He and Rabin co-wrote six of the eight songs with Squire, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and in most cases, drummer Alan White.

Generally, the album's songs are sequenced from worst to best. The strongest song on the first side is "Almost Like Love," and the best two songs on the album are the sixth and seventh (of eight) in the running order. "Final Eyes" seems to be a mostly successful merger of separate ideas by Rabin and Anderson. Other than bits and pieces on earlier tracks, "Final Eyes" is the first really Yes- sounding song on the album. This is followed by "I'm Running," the only song on which Squire stands out. It's clear from interviews that Squire's addiction problems were significant at this point, and, in my opinion, it would be another decade before Yes albums once again bore his trademark contributions on more than a single song.

"I'm Running," along with "Hearts," "Solitaire," "Endless Dream," and "Mind Drive" is one of the absolute best Yes songs of Anderson's second era with the band (1983 to 2004). It's a severely underappreciated masterpiece, rarely included in compilations and hardly ever played live - - not that playing it live would be an easy task. It doesn't approach the heights of "Close to the Edge" or "Yours is No Disgrace," but its vocal arrangements equal those of either of those Yes classics, and it is expertly executed, especially by Rabin and Squire.

Anderson's solo composition "Holy Lamb" closes the album. In a strange way, it reminds me of how the "Soon" section closes "Gates of Delirium." Musically, "Holy Lamb" is pretty elementary for a Yes song. But it is a nice compliment to "I'm Running," especially given the feverish way "I'm Running" ends.

Big Generator is not as good as other three-star Yes albums, but in my estimation it's better than two-star albums like Tales from Topographic Oceans and Tormato. It's also both "good" and "not essential," so I rate it three stars.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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