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Yes - Drama CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 1802 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Pleasantly surprised' is 90% of people's response to this album. And when you play the opening epic 'Machine Messiah' for the first time, it's easy to see why. The introduction would have been suitably shocking for Yes in 1980. Howe and Squire deliver some heavy riffing that initially sounds more Floyd or Zeppelin than Yes. Then, making the audience's jaws drop even further, the vocals come in. After the first sentence, a rewind is required to make sure it isn't Jon Anderson singing, because Trevor Horn voice sounds incredibly close to his. The track then launches itself into a fast-paced progressive workout that becomes increasingly Yes-like. After 10 minutes, you feel guilty that you dismissed the line-up before hearing the album. It delivers everything a prog-head could want, something that Yes fans definately wouldn't have anticipated after their favourite two members have left the band and been replaced by a pair of electro pop noodlers.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album fails to match or maintain the 'pleasant surprise' of it's opening track. For the remainder of side 1, the influence of The Buggles becomes more apparent, resulting in two throw-away tracks. 'Into the Lens' is better (probably more input from the Yes-men, although I don't want to make assumptions) but occasionally lacks energy and is structurally unsure of itself; the frequent pauses and changes in direction make for a sloppy progressiveness that unlike 'Machine Messiah', DOESN'T bring back memories of 'Fragile' et al. After some more 80's Buggle-filler, the album ends with another 'pleasant surprise'. 'Tempus Fugit' is energetic and catchy, yet interesting and almost written like a "mini prog epic". The self-referential cries of "Yes!" add to the fun.

So Drama isn't as 'dramatic' as some Anderson purists make out. It is nice, certainly better than people expected it to be (perhaps in awareness of this, the band called back Roger Dean to paint the cover), but only the first song manages to wow me. Wisely, Howe's guitar and Squire's bass are punched to the forefront a bit (I don't care much for the keyboard work of Geoff Downes; he delivers what is required of him but never goes beyond this) and the sometimes struggling vocals of Horn are backed up with Chris' harmonies. If you were expecting shit, then as I said, this album is a 'pleasant surprise'. But if you were expecting 'Drama', then it's a bit of an anticlimax.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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