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Yes - Fly From Here CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.41 | 1095 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Yet another example that Prog-life doesn't end at 60 after all!

Although the BUGGLES are BACK with a vengance on this album, Horn and Downes' compositions graciously redeem their presence by allowing plenty of room for Steve Howe's guitar and Chris Squire's bass guitar performances to shine like diamonds. Even Rick Wakeman's familial presence is fleetingly etched in the form of son Oliver's keyboard performance on a few tracks here and there. (Score a songwriting credit to Oliver for his part in the creation of the strong group effort album closer "Into the Storm!)

Steve Howe writes and manages to coax a rich on-key baritone vocal harmony for "Hour of Need". His solo guitar piece "Solitaire" may not be pack quite the razzle-dazzle of "Clap" but it is beatiful and wondrous with a graceful magic all its own.

Chris Squire's vocals take center stage on "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be", a pleasant song with delightfully playful little time signature shifts in the verses.

And although I truly HATE that Jon is not the lead vocalist for Yes on this album... I simply must confess that Benoit David's vocal performances on this album are simply superb. Not only is he an incredible vocalist in his own right, he is THE RIGHT man for this job at this moment in this place and time. Quite amazingly, he has somehow managed to find Yes' 2011 "sweet spot" vocally. He isn't so unlike Jon - especially whenever the songs require him to reach angelic high notes as to make the band sound "out of character". But neither is he so like Jon as to sound like a pale imitation. He is every bit as comfortable in a lower register as a high one. And while I had approached the album 100% prepared for Benoit to do his best to approximate the tone and cadence of a certain previous vocalist for this UK supergroup of Prog, I was totally surprised to discover that the name of this ex-Yes vocalist would far more often be Trevor Horn than Jon Anderson!

On first listen, the album's "prog-suite" sounds more like a small collection of tunes pasted together than an organic whole emerging from the best bits of endless jam sessions (like they did way back in the "good old classic glory days of Yes). The second and third spins, however, reveal a synergistic sympathy from one song to another. They really do inter-relate with one another musically to create a greater whole, even if their transitions from one to the next sound a little bumpy and uneven. Speaking of "bumpy", oddly enough, the one portion of the suite that feels most contrived is the most "progrock" section, Howe's "Bumpy Ride". If I didn't know Steve better, I'd think it had been concocted as part of a cynically gratuitous plot to appease the "pure proggers" among us with a "15/8" section. "See? Now get outta my face! You can't say this 21 minute longe suite of songs isn't 'prog' now!" ;-)

Truth be told, you might be better advised to start this album on track #7. Take in the straight-forward Chris song "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be". Move onward to the more diverse and emotional "Life on a Film Set". Flow into Steve Howe's sincere folk rock on "Hour of Need" before deeply drinking in his solo acoustic guitar piece "Solitaire". Allow yourself to appreciate and enjoy the strong band composition "Into the Storm".

By the time you arrive back at Track #1, you will already know what this album is going to be about. You won't get "teased" by the first 90 seconds of a 20+ minute "suite" into thinking the album might be a Prog Masterwork or even a Drama type rock-fest. This album is a gentler, less ambitious set of high quality songs from a mature group of gentlemen with nothing left to prove. And while this album is far from the most "progressive" thing currently on my mp3 playlist, neither is it the most lifeless or uninspired.

"We Can Fly from Here" was the name of the original demo that Buggles Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes gave to Chris way back in 1980. An expanded version (with a second part) almost made the Buggles album "Adventures in Modern Recording". While it was still a candidate for that Buggles album, Horn and Downes "fleshed out" various ideas for the piece, some of which ended up becaming the basis for "Sad NIght at the Airfield" and "Madman at the Screens".

In the grand scheme of things, this album, although very good, is non-essential. Even so, anytime a classic band from Prog's yesteryear releases a set of songs this inspired, I can't help but think it makes an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. Just be sure to buy "Close to the Edge" first!

progpositivity | 4/5 |


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