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Yes - Open Your Eyes CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.04 | 797 ratings

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3 stars Open Your Eyes is not a great album, but at least on Prog Archives, it's clearly underrated. Within the first sentence or two of reviews is a comparison between this and other Yes albums. Maybe that's part of the reason for this album's aggregate rating of two stars: Open Your Eyes might get more respect here if it had been released by some unknown band.

But it's a Yes album, even if the band is a little different: this Yes includes drummer Alan White, then in his twenty-fourth consecutive year with the band; guitarist Steve Howe, who had joined in 1970, but was missing for the 1980s, and again for a few years prior to this album, and founding members Jon Anderson (vocals) and Chris Squire (bass). Oh yeah, and rhythm guitarist and producer Billy Sherwood, who had joined the band a few months before the release of Open Your Eyes, and who had worked with the band occasionally over the prior six or seven years.

Sherwood's contributions to the album are significant, but not inordinate. As had been the case on Talk, Yes leader Jon Anderson consented to Sherwood's influence; it certainly wasn't foisted on him. The same can be said of the other members of the band. But several things are apparent on Open Your Eyes that might lead one to the conclusion that Sherwood had undue influence. First, Sherwood's backing vocals are somewhat prominent, giving the feeling that he's everywhere on this singing-heavy album. And second, Howe's presence is somewhat less that you'd expect - - leading to a suspicion that, as a rhythm guitarist, Sherwood might have usurped Howe's role in the band. Similarly, Sherwood had nominally taken the spot of flamboyant keyboardist Rick Wakeman, whose absence is also palpable.

There are no Yes classics here, although "Open Your Eyes," "Fortune Seller," and "Love Shine" are well-crafted art-pop. The only real dud here is "No Way We Can Lose," an ill-advised quasi-reggae piece. By the time we get to the seventh song, "Wonderlove," a sameness has set in; "Wonderlove" seems to be recycled from the first song, "New State of Mind." The same can be said of the last two songs, "Somehow Someday" and "The Solution." And to be fair, some of that sameness is due to the somewhat Asia-like, chanted choral vocals - - courtesy, it seems, of Sherwood. But quirkiness of couple of the other songs, "From the Balcony," "Universal Garden," and "Man in the Moon," does counteract some of the monotony.

Without Wakeman (whose role is taken by session men, but only on four of the album's eleven tracks) and with Howe in a diminished role, bassist Chris Squire is as prominent as ever, both instrumentally and vocally. On Open Your Eyes, the return of Squire's inimitable studio presence, having been missing earlier in the decade, is complete.

Overall, Open Your Eyes is not nearly as bad as its rating here might suggest. It's an enjoyable listen every once in a while, and is refreshing to hear this different take on Yes music. On the other hand, it's hardly essential.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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