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Yes - 90125 CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.97 | 1438 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars As it is quite evident from most of the previous reviews, this is one of the most controversial albums in the history of prog - and rightly so. Yes go pop? Yes go DISCO?!? Horrorshock! Legions of faithful fans of one of the milestones of '70s prog felt let down, even betrayed, when their favourite band chose a distinctly different path from what they were accustomed to. No matter that Yes' previous effort (1980's "Drama"), though excellent from a musical point of view, had obviously suffered from the absence of Jon Anderson's legendary vocals - Yes doing a track that would become a disco hit was something not to be borne.

We all know what happened to the various members of the band and how this album - different from the rest even down to the title and sleeve design - came to be. The question is, is it so awful as the many 1-star-reviews here purport it to be, or does it have any saving graces? Did Yes really sell out, or did they rather go for something which would be more in tune with the decade, and at the same time not completely oblivious of their past? Personally, I tend towards the second hypothesis. This does not mean that the band were averse to making a bit more money than before; however, this album was also a way to get more people to listen to Yes and possibly explore their back catalogue - something which indeed happened.

Having been recorded in the hedonistic, appearance-loving '80s, "90125" is sleeker and more polished than its predecessors, but not as shallow as the output of other bands in the same period. Beyond the choruses and the disco-ish beat of hit single "Owner of a Lonely Heart", there is a hard, metallic edge to this album, which is especially evident in tracks like "Changes" and "City of Love". The much-maligned Trevor Rabin may not be as classically-minded and sophisticated as Steve Howe (who will always be very difficult to replace), being much more of a hard rock guitar hero - but he's undeniably a more than competent songwriter. Moreover, he's also got a strong singing voice - reminding me at times of such greats as Greg Lake or Steve Walsh - which complements Jon Anderson's higher, airier tones perfectly. As a matter of fact, the vocal harmonies on this album are quite stunning, even though they may not be to everyone's taste (let's not forget that Yes' s third vocalist, Chris Squire, has got quite a respectable voice in his own right) - as shown by "Leave It", another very successful track.

The album's closer, the 7-minute-plus "Hearts", is the one song which could have definitely come straight from their '70s output. It's not my favourite, as I find it a bit heavy going, but it's undeniably a bonus for those who are longing for more 'traditional' fare. I'm also not very keen on "Our Song", a standard Anderson number; while the harder-edged "Hold On" and the intense "Changes" (with a fantastic intro and great vocals by both Anderson and Rabin) are much more to my taste, even though they are a clear departure from the band's more typical style.

Obviously, this review won't make the album's haters change their mind, which is a good thing, as everyone is entitled to their own opinions. As a longtime Yes fan, I clearly prefer "Fragile" or "Close to the Edge", but I've never found this album to be the abomination that it's widely held to be - not to mention that I vastly prefer it to the much poppier offerings of Asia and Genesis of the same period.

Raff | 3/5 |


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