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Yes - Union CD (album) cover

UNION

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

2.48 | 747 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer
2 stars It pains me to give so many negative reviews to my favorite band, but unfortunately, for about fifteen years, they weren't producing the same music they were before. Instead, they redefined themselves in the context of the new musical landscape, a movement that was prompted by the inclusion of new guitarist, Trevor Rabin.

It seems that, while he was in the band, they were unable to record albums at the same speed that they had previously. This album was probably partially delayed by Jon Anderson leaving to create Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, basically an entirely second lineup that was unable to use the Yes name.

If you, as a record company, see a key member of your band going off and making albums with other former members of the band, you might get nervous. So why not coerce him back into the band, using the idea of a large 'union' between his version of the band and the existing version as enticement?

Unfortunately for fans, who must have been super excited to see Yes uniting in their biggest lineup ever, that is what happened here. In a sense, fans still got the best of both worlds, for this album was basically a mishmash of an unfinished ABWH album, and an unfinished YesWest (as the Rabin lineup was occasionally called) album. But there was no real union going on here. The two bands did not really interplay, other than Jon Anderson singing vocals on all the tracks.

You would think, with 9 talented musicians, the band would be happy, but this album also features several sessions musicians. Many of Steve Howe's guitar parts were actually re-recorded by someone else! Rick Wakeman makes very little appearances as well. This was partially due to the release schedule and other band members having solo careers.

Okay, so we have an album that really is not what it was promised to us to be. But if the music is good, who cares, right? Well, this album doesn't have a a lot of good music. The poppy songs are the cheesiest yet, with lyrics like "I would have waited forever for you to come into my life", or "Saving my heart for you, do what you want to do, there's a place in my heart for you, this time I'm watching you. Until the blood in veins runs dry, I'll be there to testify." (Well, at least this time, we know what the music is about, no Khatru here!)

The music isn't all bad. Without Hope, You Cannot Start the Day has a cool dark feeling to it. Shock to the System rocks pretty hard. Masquerade is another great Steve Howe solo track (and features no sessions musicians). The More We Live - Let Go is a pretty successful pop song, and Angkor Wat has a really cool feeling, if it doesn't quite translate into it being a good song.

The truth is, however, that almost all the good songs were played live during the Union tour (which I've heard, unlike the album, was actually amazing and the band really enjoyed), and from the bootlegs I've heard, they sounded much better live. If the record company were to release a live album from this era, it would be a better purchase than this album.

My final words? When Rick Wakeman first heard this album, he threw it out his limo window because it was so bad. He has since referred to it as "Onion" because it makes him cry. It still has some good tracks, but unless you are a fan of Yes, it won't be worth wading through all the poor tracks to get to them.

TheGazzardian | 2/5 |

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