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Yes - Drama CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 1543 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars One of those albums I was taken by surprise. This album has been often maligned thanks to the absence of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. In their place was both guys from the BUGGLES (as in the hit "Video Killed the Radio Star", which became the very first video MTV ever played, by the way), Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn. To be honest, I thought this album was better than "Tormato". They were no longer inflicting me with such infantile crap as "Circus of Heaven" here, and the band was going for a harder-edge approach. Plus it's nice to see Roger Dean return and give us some artwork, as he did here. Also I much preferred Geoff Downes synth sound to the crap synth sounds Wakeman was using on "Tormato" (definately not Wakeman as he was earlier on). Downes tended to use a lot of Minimoog and Solina, as well as polyphonic synths, which were starting to be commonly used at this point. It's nice to see the band in 1980 not abandoning progressive rock here.

The opening cut, "Machine Messiah" is a perfect example of what I'm talking about, a song that goes through different changes and moods, with Moog solos and atmospheric passages. There's no doubt that Horn was trying to imitate Anderson here, and the vocal harmonies are still unmistakable YES, despite the absence of Anderson. "Man in a White Car" is a short interlude that leads us to "Does it Really Happen". This is a prime example of the band exploring more '80s sounds, but reluctant to leave the '70s behind. Many of the vocal harmonies remind me of the dreaded ASIA (which I have never been keen on, and unfortunately the group Downes moved on to after YES, as well as Steve Howe), but I still prefer this over ASIA. There's this driving beat, courtesy of Alan White. I still have problems with "Into the Lens", especially the enunciation of the word "cam-e-ra" over and over. The last song, "Tempus Fugit" is without a doubt the high point of the album, showing YES was still able to deliver the goods when so much was going against them: it was 1980 and Jon Anderson was absent.

I notice some AOR tendencies in this album, but that's not 100% surprising. In my opinion, this is a lot better than what many other prog rock bands were giving us by 1980. It also brought a temporary end to YES. Trevor Horn would later go on producing (including with the reunited YES, this time with Trevor Rabin, and the far more mainstream "90125"), and of course there was the formation of a group called CINEMA with Trevor Rabin, but once Jon Anderson and Tony Kaye stepped in, they had to call themselves YES once again, and well, all was history. Downes and Steve Howe teamed up with Carl Palmer and John Wetton to form ASIA, which I have never been too keen on ('80s nostalgia buffs often go for this band, but for me I thought they were simply overly-commercial). There was even an aborted project called XYZ (standing for ex-YES and ZEPPELIN), I believe involving Alan White and Jimmy Page.

"Drama" really isn't that bad of an album. You'd obviously want to try the albums they did from 1971-77 first before you come here, but there's still excellent stuff here.

Proghead | 4/5 |


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