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Yes - Drama CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 1538 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars If you were to follow Yes' career, you might expect this album to really blow. Going for the One was good, but it was a step down from the reach that Yes had had with the three albums beforehand. Tormato was a clear step in the wrong direction for most fans.

So when they learned that Wakeman had left the band again - and that this time, Jon Anderson had left with him - could any fans be faulted for expecting that the next album would not be so good? Furthermore, would not the addition of the Buggles (Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes, famous for the track "Video Killed the Radio Star") not imply that this album would go further down the direction that Tormato had gone?

One would think so, yet if one were to still put the vinyl on the turntable, or the cd in the player, or double click on the mp3, one would be very pleasantly surprised. For, from the very first minute of the opening track, Machine Messiah, it is clear that Yes has moved back towards their more 'progressive' sounds. The guitars and bass and drums just sound excellent. And they rock nice and hard.

Having Geoffrey Downes instead of Rick Wakeman probably caused fans some concern, but he was the bands fourth keyboardist (with Tony Kaye and Patrick Moraz each having left their stamp on the band in its past), and Yes had proven by this point that they were somewhat keyboardist-agnostic. No, the biggest concern was the absence of Jon Anderson, who, with Chris Squire, was one of only two remaining band members left. By this album, Chris was the only member of Yes who had been around since the beginning.

As such, Trevor Horn had high expectations to meet. He meets them in the same way that every new member of Yes has done so so far - by integrating his own take into the bands music. For sure, he does attempt to sing on a higher register, like Jon Anderson did (and I have a hard time imagining what Yes would sound like with a singer who didn't), but there is something distinctly Trevor about his vocals, and in the context of this album, it works.

So, line-up changes aside, how does the album play? This is, in my mind, the most successful marriage of Yes' classic sound and New Wave. It was inevitable, given the time period and the inclusion of the Buggles, that some New Wave sound would creep into this album, but it does so with much success. Songs like "Run Through the Light" and "Into the Lens" both sound distinctly Yes-like, despite the fact that they also fit well in the '80s time period. The band succeeded in this department more than they would in their other '80s albums.

Unfortunately, the songs here are not quite as strong as on Yes' prior albums. Tempus Fugit and Machine Messiah are definitely the standouts here. Honourable mention must be given to Does it Really Happen?, which has some funky stuff going on and is perhaps the catchiest track of the album.

I consider myself lucky that I was able to hear this album before I knew anything about Yes' lineup. It was actually the third Yes album I heard, after 90125 and Relayer, and it fit nicely between the two. For my non-proggified ears, it was much easier to digest than Relayer had been, but so much more than 90125 had been, so I spent a lot of time spinning this disc.

Overall, this album is better than Tormato but worse than anything else Yes had done since The Yes Album. It would also be the best thing they would release for 15 years.

TheGazzardian | 3/5 |


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