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Yes - Union CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.50 | 860 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Yes: Union [1991]

Rating: 4/10

The 80s was a turbulent time for Yes: their sound went through an enormous overhaul, and their core members were split between different groups. As the title suggests, Union shows these groups (Yes and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe) reuniting for a new decade. This reunion created Yes's most perplexing album. There are basically two different bands performing here, each with totally different musical personalities and compositional characteristics. Needless to say, this causes the album to lack cohesion and identity. The style present here is different than the 80s albums, but is still marred by unenthusiastic songwriting and generally unexciting musicianship.

"I Would Have Waited Forever", which is basically a seven-minute "Owner of a Lonely Heart", is one of Yes's better pop-rock songs. "Shock to the System" continues in a similar vein, with dull metallic guitar and a decent chorus. "Masquerade" is a short classical acoustic piece. This track is an overlooked masterpiece hidden within the hard-rock drudgery, and is one of my favorite acoustic performances from Howe. "Lift Me Up" brings things back down. The song is dominated by Rabin's vocals, and whole track is flat-sounding. "Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day" is centered on Anderson's singing; the phoned-in chorus contains some terrible lyrics. "Saving My Heart" has a bit of a gospel feel and contains yet another lame (albeit somewhat catchy) chorus with even more bad lyrics. "Miracle of Life" improves things a bit; the chorus is well-done and there's actually some rather interesting guitar and keyboard playing. "Silent Talking" features decent guitar work and good vocals, but isn't particularly special. "The More We Live/Let Go" is the same, with subdued synths backing up Anderson. "Angkor Wat" is one of Yes's most bizarre songs, and one of the best on the album. The spacey synths and vocals give it an excellent atmosphere, even though the spoken-word section could easily have been cut. This ambience is soon killed by "Dangerous (Look in the Light of What You're Searching For)", a half-baked hard-rock song. "Holding On" opens with a vocal mantra and features a catchy synth riff in the latter half. "Evensong" is a forty-second interlude with tribal percussion. The short closer "Take the Water to the Mountain" is a calm vocal-driven song backed by quiet percussion.

Union is an unpopular album both among the band and among fans. The songs are uninteresting and playing is formulaic. Anderson manages some strong vocal work, but for the most part sounds just as uninspired as the rest of the band. Yes managed to transition into the 90s with a modern sound, but failed to back it up with strong composition or emotional depth. It's obvious that the band was almost entirely dispassionate while creating this. With the exception of the wonderful "Masquerade", this is a fourth-rate Yes album that is in no way worthy of the musicians involved.

Anthony H. | 2/5 |


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