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Yes - Open Your Eyes  CD (album) cover

OPEN YOUR EYES

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

2.04 | 583 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FunkyM
2 stars You might say listening to this album again in order to help put my thoughts on it together has opened my eyes a bit.

For the longest time, I considered Yes' 1997 album Open Your Eyes to be the worst album I own. Now, I consider myself pretty accepting when it comes to musical taste. I enjoy a lot of albums that many people would avoid like the plague. Genesis' Invisible Touch? Really like it. ELP's Love Beach? It's not so bad. Heck, I have already written about Yes' Tormato, which many fans of the band would describe as their "disasterpiece", and I gave it a fairly positive review.

For some reason though this album had always rubbed me the wrong way. It's easy to see some of the problems before you even listen to the thing. Just look at the cover - it consists of a big "Yes" logo on a plain black background with the title of the album above it.

Okay, so the effort put into the packaging of the album doesn't necessarily reflect the effort put into the musical content, in this case I think it does. Just like the album cover, Open Your Eyes is a dull, uninspired and forgettable album.

However, much to my dismay, upon listening to the album for the first time in a while, I found that Open Your Eyes is not as irredeemably awful as I had remembered. After I had bought the CD all those many years ago, I had forced myself to listen to the blasted thing a number of times to see if I could find any trace of the Yes I had known and loved, but the album had just never clicked.

Now, here I am ready to write a scathing one star review of the wretched album and I find that there are actually positives to be found. Not a lot of positives, mind you, but while I still think Open Your Eyes would be a strong contender for the worst album in Yes' discography, I actually found myself enjoying a lot more of this album than I had expected.

The opening song "New State of Mind" is decent. It definitely sets the tone as AOR a decade past it's best before date, but it starts the album off with an energetic track. The vocal counterpoint and harmonies are decent and the album production benefits from not being recorded in 1987.

The title track "Open Your Eyes" is pretty enjoyable and easily one of the best songs on the album for my money. Jon Anderson and Chris Squire both sound good, the song is actually pretty catchy and memorable with some good guitar bits.

"Universal Garden" is also a pretty enjoyable AOR-ish Yes song with some good vocal harmonies and guitar playing.

Things then go downhill pretty quickly. You could make a lot of jokes about a title like "No Way We Can Lose", but the truth is that this track is an abysmal attempt at being radio friendly.

"Fortune Seller" is a step up again, but it's hard not to be after what we just experienced. Again, it's the guitar work and the vocal harmonies that stand out.

"Man in the Moon" is a pop tune with Anderson and Squire sharing lead vocal duties. It's decent enough pop song, but nothing special.

"Wonderlove" starts off with some slow acoustic guitar plucking and sounds like it's going to be pretty dreadful, but the track soon expands to become a passable mid-tempo AOR pop song and, in my opinion, it actually manages to sustain itself for its six minute run time.

"From The Balcony" really is a gentle acoustic guitar song, but at a 2:42 running time it doesn't really have time overstay its welcome.

We then reach another low point of the album, "Love Shine". This is a bland, boring pop song that doesn't really go anywhere. Chances are you'll forget this song as soon as its over.

"Somehow Someday" continues along much the same lines as the previous track.

By this point it becomes clear that Open Your Eyes suffers from 1990s "CD syndrome" where bands feel compelled to fill the disc whether they have enough worthwhile material or not.

Mind you, about 15 minutes of the over 74 minute run time is filled with nature sounds after the final track, "The Solution". How many people were disappointed when they saw the track's 23 minute running length and then found this waste of time?

Speaking of "The Solution", for me it is one of the best tracks on the album and easily one of the proggiest songs in this set.

Overall, Open Your Eyes isn't a very good album, but perhaps, coming on the heels of the Keys to Ascension projects, it has earned a reputation of being a much worse album than it deserves. If they had cut the weakest tracks and worthless filler at the end then I could see a decent pop/AOR Yes album clocking in at around 40 to 45 minutes.

As it is, Yes created an album that is overlong, largely forgettable, and sprinkled with abominations like "No Way We Can Lose" and "Love Shine".

On the other hand, the first couple tracks, "The Solution" and "Fortune Seller" are enjoyable enough that I can't justify giving Open Your Eyes the dreaded 1 star rating, but they're not enough for me to recommend this album to anyone other than brave Yes completionists.

Highlights: "New State of Mind", "Open Your Eyes", "Fortune Seller", "The Solution"

FunkyM | 2/5 |

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