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Yes - 90125 CD (album) cover

90125

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

2.92 | 1119 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 90125

After the unfortunate bowel movement that was Tormato, I approached this with some reservations about Yes' more openly pop career. 90125 has some equally distasteful eructations but a few gems in with the dross. Squire is rather subdued, Rabin is generally at the forefront, White is very 80s and Anderson sounds nothing like he has before (i.e. on occasion, he emotes ;)).

Interesting how much of the aesthetic appears to be artlessly modelled on the hugely commercially successful Asia. I suppose that many of the things that ruin bits of this album for me are the same things that wreck Asia (i.e. the keyboard sounds) for a lot of this site's members but really, the difference is that Asia's first album has memorable individual songs and doesn't dumb itself down whenever it approaches the territory of hard rock. This album has three, maybe four songs a dedicated Yes fan should hear plus a quick instrumental that they'll like more than I do.

Owner Of A Lonely Heart... the harmonies are lush, I like the various soloish bits, which represent a genuine combination of imaginative writing and pop sensibilities. The whole song is good, has personality and is memorable.

Hold On isn't quite hard rock. The vocal harmony that forms the lead vocal is just not really very compatible with the rest of the (very bland) song and Rabin's guitar tone is unforgivably cheap. We can do without any of the five minutes of this. It Can Happen... the chorus and indeed most of the song is dreadful, bawling stuff and Squire's cool bass flourish is the only feature we might want salvaged into a rather better six minute song. Changes... and wow. After two dreadful pieces that only by virtue of their intelligible but still bad lyrical content and production couldn't be on Tormato, we have one of the greatest songs Yes have ever offered up and a pinnacle of early 80s attempts to make synthetic pop more complex and progressive rock more directly emotive. The lush, dense progressive, tuned-percussion-heavy intro and outro are neither of them hugely relevant to the glorious, direct song they surround but still fits with it superbly. The singing is fantastic, the harmonies again sound like something that only Yes could do and the song is simply so much more imaginative and punchy than anything off the album yet.

Cinema will maybe hold more attractions for those who feel instrumentals for their own sake are still events. I personally have as little affection for this moodless though technically impressive and dense piece as I have for YYZ. Short instrumentals do best with a mood, dammit. Leave It... outrageous, outrageous vocal harmonies completely with a bass voice that sounds like a strange merger of 10cc, Gentle Giant and the Drama Line-Up. So utterly out of character for this album that the vaguely shiny disco chorus seems merely hilarious and the rest inane genius in thankfully relatively compact format.

Our Song... the fairly quick if not hugely imaginative rhythm section is done a disservice by the horribly omnipresent tacky keyboard choices from Kaye. City Of Love has comedy value in excess of the various bad songs here; Jon Anderson trying to sing in a streetwise manner contrasted with stereotypical AOR harmonies ('no woman don't cry! No woman don't... cry!'). Has to be heard for that reason alone. Musically tolerable.

Hearts is a bit more carefully constructed than the remaining songs, with decent development on existing themes, cryptic lyrics put over some very nice harmonies. More of the Trevor Rabin show. A bit too much repetition. Not a bad song, just loses focus a little.

One song elevates this album to the lofty heights of two stars. If you can listen to Changes and still believe that an 80s aesthetic and pop format is incompatible with superb creative music, you are quite beyond help. Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Cinema, It Can Happen and the comedy value of City Of Love further rescue this from the bin and/or toilet I'll keep Tormato. I am hopeful I will never listen to at least three songs from this album ever, ever again. If you're a Yes fan, you need look no further than 1978 to do worse than this.

Rating: Two Stars, some/15... maybe a 7 Favourite Track: Changes

TGM: Orb | 2/5 |

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