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Yes - 90125 CD (album) cover

90125

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

2.92 | 1104 ratings

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ghost_of_morphy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Welcome to the three star era (the Trevor Rabin era.)

After the Drama lineup split up, Yes looked like it was never coming back. Howe and Downes were riding high after the incredible reception that the first Asia album had received. Anderson had released a decent solo album (Animation) and was in a productive collaboration with Vangelis. After the failure of the Paris sessions, Wakeman was devoting himself to his solo career, releasing five albums in three years. Yes had scattered to the four corners of the earth, never to return.

Squire and White were trying to form a new band around the old Yes rhythm section (originally called Cinema.) South African import Trevor Rabin (whom the record company had been trying to attach to various projects) was brought in and most of what would eventually become 90125 was developed from songs he had been working on. Keyboard player Tony Kaye, who had been with Yes up until Fragile, was brought on board (and quit and rejoined, which leaves us with the question of how much of the work on this album was and how much was Horn and/or Rabin covering for him.) And somewhere, somehow, a lightbulb clicked on, and Anderson was asked to supply vocals, despite the fact that Rabin was a competent vocalist in his own right. After all that, how could you not call this product Yes?

90125 represents a considerable change in the style of Yes, though, and as such is disliked by many old-time Yes fans. Yes no longer has that progressive sound that it managed to keep even through the merger with the Buggles on Drama. This is basically a collection of edgy pop songs. Strangely enough, this album was not villified like the other Rabin-era albums. Yes fans saw enough progressive elements in the long ballad Hearts and the technically complicated Changes to hope that Yes would be coming back to the progressive fold, energized and revitalized, in short order. Boy, were they wrong!!!!

Probably the most controversial part of this album is the idea that in bringing Yes a hit single and bunch of slick pop songs, Trevor Rabin somehow saved Yes from dissolution. That's about half right. Without Rabin's contributions there would not have been a single or an album that caught the public's attention. But we could just as easily claim that Anderson saved Yes by returning to the fold and keeping the Yes franchise alive.

This is not a bad album. Probably Rabin's most important contribution to Yes was that he managed to keep Yes from releasing anything really crappy in his tenure (except for the Union album.) If there aren't as many instrumental high points on the albums he contributed to, there also aren't nearly as many low points. And vocally, Rabin and Anderson worked together extremely well: the vocals of the Rabin era are the best that Yes ever had.

Owner of a Lonely Heart: I really hate this song. I really, really hate it. Yes doing dance music is an abomination before the gods. The only way I can listen to this is to listen to the Trevor Horn contributions. Geez, he put that sound there? Is that Horn doing that backing vocal? Listen to what Horn is doing with left and right balance on that solo. Trevor Horn really enhanced his reputation as a producer on this album, and it shows in Owner, even if you can't stand the song.

Hold On: A competent if unexceptional song.

It Can Happen: Below Average. This one wouldn't sound too out of place if it had been released on Drama, but it wouldn't have been one of the best tracks.

Changes: Good. Again, production values really punch this one up, but there was a good core here to work with from the beginning. And this one sounded so good when they would do it live.

Cinema: Good. A short instrumental piece (with the original band name) where White and Squire really show off their stuff.

Leave It: This almost sounds like a novelty song. Of course, it is designed to show off the vocal talents, but cheezy guitar and backing vocals ruin it for me.

Our Song: This is my favorite track on the album. Anderson takes a Rabin track and manages to make it his own here.

City of Love: I like this ttrack too. Probably the edgiest song from the Rabin era.

Hearts: Average. A long (perhaps too long) ballad that manages to salvage itself by building to a realy good ending. This is a hallmark of the longer tracks during the Rabin era. They don't start out as much but they manage to get somewhere worthwhile by the end of them.

ghost_of_morphy | 3/5 |

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