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Yes - 90125 CD (album) cover




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2.97 | 1439 ratings

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2 stars This was supposed to be the debut album of yet another 80s supergroup - Cinema. There was a lot of press and speculation about the Cinema project in the early 80s, so when instead 90125 materialized under the name Yes it was a bit of a surprise. But not nearly as much of a surprise as the music. The band appeared to have followed the lead of fellow 70s stalwarts Moody Blues, Genesis, ELO, Jethro Tull, and the Go-Gos (okay, that's kind of a low blow) by abandoning their progressive sensibilities in favor of glossy, highly synthesized, and danceable music, ready-made for heavy MTV rotation. The result was the band's most commercially successful record to-date, multi- platinum and even with a Grammy award for "Cinema". A truly remarkable, and utterly boring comeback.

I've spent this fall reacquainting myself with the Yes catalog, spending dozens of hours reliving the entire suite of studio albums from the self-titled debut through Magnification, including a number of live albums and compilations. And I have to say that when laid alongside everything the band did up to this point, 90125 pales in comparison to even Drama, which I had thought was the weakest album the band had ever recorded. I stand corrected.

With the possible exception of "Leave It", which I saw the band perform on their 9012Live tour and found to be pretty decent, none of these tracks should be included in any kind of representative sampling of the band's better works. They range from inane and poppish ("Owner of a Lonely Heart"), to awkward ("It Can Happen"), to just bland ("Hearts"). Heck, "Changes" could have been an Asia tune were it not for Anderson's distinctive voice. And speaking of that, Jon Anderson had returned to give the band back its real voice, and those pipes hadn't lost anything in terms of quality, but the lyrics here are simply trite compared to the grandeur of "Gates of Delirum" or "Yours is no Disgrace" (or even "Harold Land"). Gone are the sweeping and complex arrangements that made Close to the Edge, Fragile, and Tales From Topographic Oceans such mesmerizing musical adventures. And while Trevor Rabin was pretty entertaining on guitar when I saw him live in concert, he definitely does not have the inherent artistic ability of Steve Howe (although I'll admit he probably has a more engaging personality, if that is worth anything).

The harmonized vocal arrangements are pleasant enough, but even this isn't enough to raise the bar for this album. Coming off the revenue-generating releases of Classic Yes and Yesshows, this blatantly commercial offering just kind of puts the nail in the coffin of the band as a legitimate progressive band. The group would come back around with Keys to Ascension², but for the 80s at least the operating agenda appears to have been making money. Perhaps instead of 90125 this one should have been called "$60,000,000", which is approximately the amount of revenue the album generated.

Perhaps this is a bit of a harsh assessment, but there is just no way that the simple and rather boring tracks on this album can stand up to the highly artistic and inspiring works the band churned out in the 70s. I suppose fans will want this in their collection (heck, I have it in mine), but beyond that I'm not sure there is any compelling reason to spend any money on this one. Two stars.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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