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Yes - 90125 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.96 | 1435 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars The Reason Why the 80's Are Regarded as the "Dark Ages" of Prog

When progheads talk about the 1980's as a whole, they usually refer to them as "The Dark Ages". Even though the neo-progressive rock movement began and progressive metal was born, people still think lowly of this entire decade. I wasn't alive to experience this, but I do understand how people can ignore these two movements and still call the 1980's a bad decade for prog.

It's because of this album I'm reviewing right now. 90125 by Yes was the "beginning of the end" for many prog fans. This isn't completely because of this album - Abacab by Genesis also played a huge role. This is just like a stab in the neck for all traditional prog rock fans.

The music that is played here is standard pop/rock. No extended compositions, no lush arrangements, and no emotion, to be honest. This is just pure pop in every sense of the word. There are a few experimental and progressive overtones, but they are scarce. The absence of Rick Wakeman on keys really shows. Tony Kaye is a pretty mediocre keyboard player in my opinion, and it really shows throughout this album.

However, if you get past the fact that this is a largely commercial oriented album, you will find some good melodies and riffs beneath the muddy production and uninspired musicianship. This is a solid pop album from beginning to end, even though I don't enjoy it very much.


"Owner of a Lonely Heart"- The first moments of this song always make me cringe. The guitar riff is decent ? I'll give you that. The annoying pop sensibilities with the dance music overtones are just awful. I like the chorus, and I think it has a decent melody. Overall, this is a mediocre pop song with nothing really worthwhile for a prog fan especially. It just amazes me that the same band that once made Close to the Edge can make a song as terrible as this.

"Hold On"- After a short drum intro, a guitar solo enters with a catchy beat. Unfortunately the entire song builds off of this same idea in a verse-chorus-verse format. This has good melodies and riffs, but this is no different than pop music you'll hear on the radio. This is far from the best the album has to offer.

"It Can Happen"- The song opens up with a psychedelic-sounding sitar (well, I think that's what it is). This has good melodies and chord progressions, but again, this is average pop music. The lyrics are pretty laughable for the most part, but at least this is decent musically. As a pop song, this is a success.

"Changes"- After the previous songs left the progressive rock fans in the cold, this intro immediately brings us back. The opening is excellent with exceptional bass playing from Chris Squire. Unfortunately, after the great intro this turns into another verse-chorus-verse pop song with Trevor Rabin on vocals. This is disappointing because it definitely had potential to be great.

"Cinema"- This is a short, but effective, instrumental piece. The guitar playing is excellent, and I like the drum fills as well. This is a solid composition, and it will appeal to progressive rock fans more than anything else on this album.

"Leave It"- This song opens with vocal harmonies. They honestly leave me quite cold, and the following section doesn't do anything else. It sounds honestly like a song you would hear at a dance club. To think these guys were once the leaders of symphonic progressive rock. This song is repetitive, annoying, and a compositional failure.

"Our Song"- This has airy synthesizers with heavier guitar riffing that sounds typical of the 80's. The melodies that open up this song are actually really good, and the opening as a whole is solid. It turns into a standard verse-chorus-verse format song, but at least this song has memorable sections. This is one of the better songs from the album.

"City of Love"- This song is absolutely terrible, and I will say that from the start. This has no compositional qualities whatsoever, and the entire song builds off of the same two notes and an irritating chorus. This is a sub-par pop/rock song.

"Hearts"- The closing song is the longest, and the only actually progressive song found on the album. This has some good melodies and bass playing from Chris Squire. I particularly like the progressions between different sections in the song. This is not my favorite from the album, but it's a decent closer.


90125 is a decent pop album by Yes. From a pop perspective, this is a solid album with enough memorable melodies to be worth a purchase. From a prog perspective, there's no way this will keep you interested. I don't find much enjoyment out of this release at all, and I don't think many other prog fans would either. This is only for collectors and fans of Yes, so a 2 star rating is deserved.

2 stars.

J-Man | 2/5 |


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