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3 stars Strange, They are back in their most "commercial" line-up, but it doesn't seem so bad after all!!

Now We are coming back along with them into the Era of Yes "Drama": the choice of the producer and songwriter as well- Mr Trevor Horn- is a clear idea that is already moving us into a new coloured and melodic world of a linear symphonic pop genre, but it's not a bad choice!!

First of all They keep on playing according to their "suite-format" of the old symphonies ("Fly from here" divided into 6 sections), whose 1st section, "Overture" is an easy but intelligent introduction, including the Benoit David's opening words, with his delicate and clear voice, a lower version in comparison to the vocalism by T. Horn, but a pleasant tone to be heard after all...well, actually I could care less about Jon Anderson missing here, cause He's the best and unique true singer by Yes in their best line-up; nevertheless the output is anyway good!!

In spite of its easy "gait", the whole suite - by taking over the plot of the composition, is slowly growing more and more, even though by means of no particular brilliant performances from the compositional point of view (T. Horn and G. Downes are the "masters" in semplifying the harmony, by increasing the sense of melody)...but the instrumental parts are well played by all the members and you can find some intelligent guitar riffs here, where Mr Howe never does too much to show his skill and He's working here for the balance of the whole composition.

Well it's the first listen to this new album and I might have a more precise and full opinion about it after a repeated listening to it's a bit early to express a definitive opinion, even though it seems to me that the album lacks of something, not the imagination certainly, but something else, if compared to best early Yes albums...nevermind, for the moment it's a "three stars score" as a prog related album, that could be increased time after's a modern product and the new band members don't expect to be the composers of a true prog masterpiece, in spite of a few declarations by Chris Squire, who tells us that the album represents the best of Yes in the seventies and eighties, with a modern turning-point of their music career...well I'm waiting for your opinions in the period between June, 22 and July 2011!!

Report this review (#464553)
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I heard that the "Drama" line-up would return for "Fly from Here" (though Benoit David replaces Trevor Horn on vocals, who is now the producer) I was very excited. "Drama" is one of my favourite Yes albums, and I consider it to be superior to the two albums that precede it, "Going for the One" and "Tormato." Before getting the album I heard an excerpt from the title suite, and this only increased my anticipation. When I finally listened to the entire album, I was not disappointed.

"Fly from Here" resembles "Drama" in more than the line-up. Benoit David sounds more like Trevor Horn than Jon Anderson, and the entire sound is reminiscent of "Drama," yet where "Drama" had a harder edge, "Fly from Here" is softer, taking you through sweeping vistas of themes and melodies that will remain ingrained in your mind long afterwards.

The title track begins with an overture that introduces several key motifs of the piece, predominantly those later heard in "Madman at the Screens." This is truly an exciting start to the album, dynamic and containing contrasting piano and guitar. Here and indeed throughout the album, Squire's bass lines are very strong, which is to be expected of course. At times very Drama-esque snare hits accentuate the rhythm.

In the next section, "We can fly," ambient sound effects and soft piano introduce the first vocals on the album. Benoit has a truly beautiful voice; his accent is fairly pronounced in these first few moments, but this does nothing to detract from the strength of his vocals. As I've said, he sounds like Trevor Horn, only better. His harmonies with Chris and Steve also work very well. Anderson purists may dislike the difference in the sound of the vocals without Jon, but this has never been a problem for me. As much as I like Jon, I'm more concerned with compositional strength, and that definitely isn't lacking here.

As the song builds, picked guitar notes and driving bass emphasize the vocals until the drums join in. I have never been a huge fan of Alan White (I prefer Bill Bruford ? he better matches Squire in skill) but his drumming on the album is surprisingly muted and inoffensive in the mix, and keeps the beat effectively. As in the entire album, rather than being more of a solo instrument ŕ la Rick Wakeman, the piano and keyboards are in much more of a supporting role, but Geoff Downes plays very well and adds new layers to the soundscape. Oliver Wakeman left before the album's completion, but also adds some keyboards to a few tracks, though I can't distinguish between him and Downes.

The main chorus, with Chris and Steve providing strong backing vocals, is very impressive and memorable. Not only is this a testament to the skill of the musicians, but Trevor Horn's excellent production. Trevor creates a very subtle and well-balanced mix that compliments the music perfectly.

The second part, "Sad Night at the Airfield," begins with understated acoustic guitar and vocals, the melody almost melancholic, but soon builds into a plaintive threnody, a tonal shift which completely alters the feel of the piece, and the song continues to alternate between these two themes.

"Madman at the Screens" expands on the themes introduced in the overture with more vocals from Benoit. Along with the vocals, the bass lines and keyboards really carry this section, and it has a more aggressive edge. Concluding the section is the main piano and vocal-led theme from earlier.

"Bumpy Ride" is the most progressive section in the suite, though it is very brief. It strongly reminds me of moments in "Tempus Fugit" on "Drama." Again the earlier theme is reprised, before the progressive tune ends the section.

In "We can Fly Reprise" the chorus from the first section is briefly revisited. The re-emergence of this theme is truly stunning and powerful, concluding the suite beautifully.

For a Yes epic, the "We can Fly" suite is much more focused on vocals over instrumental passages, but this works in its favor and is surprisingly refreshing. Given its beginnings as a Buggles composition, it makes sense that it's more vocal-centric.

Another point worth mentioning is that, to my ears, Steve Howe is less present both compositionally and aurally in this suite. I may be wrong, but it almost seems that his guitar lines are kind of tacked on to the piece. It's like he's along for the ride, but isn't adding a lot. In previous Yes albums he often collaborated with Jon to compose a lot of the songs, so perhaps Jon's absence is detracting from his contributions. Despite this, his playing is, as ever, spectacular.

Continuing the album is "The Man you Always Wanted me to Be" which is much more acoustic and light. Chris sings lead vocals on this track, and sounds quite good, while Benoit provides excellent harmony. While it's not the most amazing composition, the musicianship elevates it to a good track.

"Life on a Film Set" seems to meander and ends before it can really get anywhere interesting. Again the musicians are in top form, but I wasn't thrilled by this song, especially the abrupt ending.

"Hour of Need" begins with excellent acoustic guitar and pleasant vocals. As I haven't obtained the Japan release, I haven't heard the full version of this track, but what I've heard is rather good.

"Solitaire" is an acoustic guitar piece in the vein of "The Clap" and "Mood for a Day" and is easily as enjoyable as those two songs. A delight to hear.

"Into the Storm" is probably the strongest ensemble song aside from the title track - it's more of an upbeat rocker and concludes the album well. The harmonies between David, Squire and Howe are very enjoyable, and there's even a catchy synth riff.

All in all, "Fly from Here" is a strong album, but the crowning jewel is definitely the title suite, and the other material, though good, isn't quite as impressive. The four star rating is primarily for the "Fly from Here" suite. If you're a Yes fan, you definitely should get this album - it's much better than a good deal of their material (Trevor Rabin era, anyone?). Don't let the absence of Anderson dissuade you. If you do, you're missing out on a great listen.

Report this review (#468873)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here we are with a new album of Yes 10 years after Magnification and 30 years (!) after Drama, the last album of Yes without Jon Anderson.

This album was unexpected for me and it's a real pleasure to see that the band is still able to produce such fine pieces of music. Benoit David is a great singer, full of emotion. His voice is more like Trevor Horn's one than Jon's one. And as "Fly from Here" is clearly in the same spirit than Drama, it's a good thing.

Of course, the "Fly from Here" suite is great (Sad Night At The Airfield is the best part) but all the other pieces are very niece too, Into the storm beeing a high point and a powerfull ending,

After more than 40 years in the business, it's remarquable to see that this band is still able to make such an album. A 5 stars album from a 5 stars band.

Report this review (#468898)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars I didn't have high hopes for this, and indeed - it's a bad album by Yes (again). Most Yes fans have been used to bad albums from about 1983 to the present. This is one of the worst I've listened to.

First, the absence of Jon Anderson is well-felt. "Drama" didn't have Anderson on it, either, but at least it had some good rock songs. This album (Fly From Here) doesn't have a single good song.

The title piece, stretching for 24 minutes, is a weak effort by the current lineup. Benoit's voice is lifeless, uninspired and boring. Steve Howe's guitar playing is mediocre, with no standout solo or new technique. Chris Squire's bass work is ok, but he sounds old and slow. Alan White's drum track is so bad, I wish he would be replaced by someone like Gavin Harrison.

Geoff Downes' keyboard parts are second grade, less effective and less impressive when compared to the synth job he did for Drama back in 1980.

Besides the title piece, which tries to be prog but sounds tired and hollow, you have 5 more tracks, all of them pop-rock songs with no meaning or depth.

Disappointment? none. Just a sad, old album from a sad, old band. At least we have the 70's classics to listen to, all remastered and expanded.

Report this review (#468989)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Drama meets The ladder

The Yes albums from the 90s and on are hit or miss albums, some are fantastic, some are?well, not so fantastic. From the first notes on this album I was sure this one would be a keeper. And I was right.

The standout on the album is the six part "Fly from here" suite wich I beleive is among their finest work.

The album doesn't contain so much of the complex symphonic rock, here the melodies and the excellent production that stands out. All of the songs have a beautiful sound and it's probably one of the best produced Yes albums that I have, all of the instruments can be heard and are alowed to take their place in a nice balance.

I have to say that the songs 8-10 (Life on a film set, Hour of need and Solitaire) are just ok, almost fillers. The rest of the songs are definitely great Yes songs. With Benoît David on vocals I must admit that on this album I do not miss Jon Anderson (I do miss him but listening to Fly from here, Benoît David is really good). This is no new "Close to the edge" but it stands well on it's own and is a great addition to the Yes catalogue.

A very good album!

Report this review (#469074)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Best YES album since Big Generator. Actually since 90215. Actually the best since Drama! I don't miss Jon ( I know, what). The lyrics make SENSE and the musical ideas are not mired down by everyone fighting for a solo. In this sense they are what they should have always been, REALLY GOOD SONGWRITERS! It does remind me of the Buggles, but then I liked them. This is relevant YES music for a relevant era, played by relevant musicians who have been hiding good albums within themselves for years. This one speaks to the strengths and downplays their weaknesses. This will never be considered at true "return to form", but for christ-sakes they are all in their 60's. What were they supposed to do? A prog version of "Smile"?. This album does a good a job as any at proving they have more gas in the tank than many of their ilk (the who/rolling stones anyone?) They need to follow it up by playing as many of these tunes in their shows as possible. Yes this means they will have to play longer shows so they can include the crowd pleasers as well as the god-awful "Roundabout" (and for a good version of this, try Dave Gregory's "Tin Spirit" on YOUTUBE for a jaw-dropping version), but it does mean that they have a chance to update their audience YET AGAIN. I love this record!
Report this review (#469638)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I must admit, I had the lowest of expectations for this album. Jon is and always will be the real voice of Yes to me, and despite Drama being a really strong album I just wasn't prepared to accept the fact that they were going to go Jon-less a second time.

After they fired Oliver Wakeman and rehired the Buggles to help with the album I was convinced this band had totally lost it and were going to turn in the biggest turd of their career. Quite frankly, that's what I wanted to happen. How dare you fire Jon Anderson! At first I wasn't even interested in hearing the album.

Am I eating my words now? Yes I am! To an extent though.

Having the songwriting and production talents from the guy who was behind some of the biggest pop successes of the 80's and 90's (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, Seal, etc) has really worked in Yes's favor, and they have turned out some of their most naggingly catchy and memorable vocal melodies that have graced a Yes album in years. That's one thing that's really striking about the album is how strong the vocal melodies are (for the most part, we'll get into the offensive stuff later). Another nice thing, and I hate to admit this, but it's nice to listen to a Yes album where the lyrics make sense and aren't full of ridiculous grammatical errors. The instrumentation is also very much like it was on Drama, uncluttered and tight. Some great unison playing by the band.

The "Fly From Here" suite is really strong overall, which has a darker, more atmospheric feel than most typical Yes tracks. Fans of the Drama album will find a lot to like here. Think "Mind Drive" or parts of "Machine Messiah." It's more a suite of very strong songs rather than a full-blown prog epic, but the songs really sound like they belong together. All are quite stately and dramatic. The "Sailor, sailor beware" section will eat into you like a leach! "Sad Night At The Airfield" is Yes sounding a little like Pink Floyd but that is definitely a good thing, very dramatic and dark song with some astral slide guitar which is very similar to Gilmours slide work. Sounds like it could have been one of the best tunes on The Division Bell. The main chorus of "Fly From Here" is fantastic. Steve Howe's playing is on fire like I haven't heard him in quite a long time. Just the right amount of distortion, plus a nice, sharp attack. Grand percussion fills spaces at just the right moments, and heavenly mellotron choirs make surprise appearances as well. Sounds totally fresh despite it being a major rework of a previously unreleased track, and has just enough of a retro flair to not feel like we're too far from a classic Yes album.

The only downside of it is the wretched piece of circus music called "Bumpy Ride" which does nothing but nearly derail the entire suite - thankfully the end is strong enough to recover it. It's a bizarre section of music, first starting with semi-mild circus music, reverting back to a short ambient section from the main section, then repeating itself again, this time faster and to a nearly hilarious effect. There's some very awkward and unsettling chord changes with Howe's silly "Arriving UFO" effect. When the corny Survivor-style 80s synth brass hits at the beginning of the Fly From Here reprise you may just lose it - all I could think is wow, they've made it through a flawless new epic and NOW they're going to screw it up? Come on! It does finish nicely though, and you still get the general impression that you've heard some really good music. Still, when I hear a Yes epic I want to be wowed for the entire duration. This is the first 20 min plus Yes tune which has sections of music I absolutely cannot stand, which fortunately are brief but I don't like feeling like I'm hearing an interruption when I'm listening to a song that's 20+ minutes long. Thankfully, the suite is indexed, so you can conveniently skip it. I don't know who wouldn't want to.

Unfortunately this is the beginning of an uneasy period of the album where you feel things could fall apart at any minute. Next we have Squire's disgusting, saccharine ballad "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be" which is no better than your typical corny soft-rock fare. "Life On A Film Set" is hit or miss for me, it starts with a very mellow and awkwardly sung section but does gain some energy in it's second half and finishes strong. Again, fans of Drama will like this one, which is also from the same time period.

Now on to Howe's self-penned tunes - "Solitare" is not his best acoustic solo spot, and in fact is downright awkward sounding. The sections of the song sound unrelated and stitched-together and the overall sound is clumsy. Thankfully he pulled out a minor gem with "Hour Of Need" which is a sunny,mellow acoustic tune with a nice chorus. Wouldn't have sounded out of place on The Ladder.

The real bang-up job of the album is the closing tune "Into the Storm" which is the only collaborative effort on the album and features writing credits from not only Benoit David but Oliver Wakeman and Trevor Horn as well. It starts off sounding like a Flower Kings tune (which I'm totally fine with!) in the sense that it has that optimistic sunshiney major-key prog sound we all know and love, with a cute analog synth/guitar unison line and some really firey Howe runs before the multi-layered vocal harmonies kick in. Plus it's got Squire's cool "underwater" bass sound from Tormato. It's instantly lovable. The "Armies of angels are starting to fall..." backed by an appropriately angelic mellotron choir may knock you out of your chair. It ends with Benoit reprising the "Fly from here" line over a cool bass and guitar driven jam. Hands down the best tune on the album. Perfect.

Final thoughts? Lots of really strong material here. Even though it's not as consistant as The Ladder, or it's lesser follow up Magnification, I would have to say already that I prefer this album over those ones already. Although not as consistant, the high points are much higher for me. Unfortunately the few lows are pretty bad, but there's not too many of them. Benoit David is fantastic, overall I'm really impressed with his singing on here. Plus he doesn't belt out the astral high notes as often as Anderson did, so guys with a more average range such as I can actually sing along (and you'll find yourself doing it) in most spots. Yes also does well with a strong producer, they've done some really good stuff when they've been "reigned in" and I think that at such a late stage of their career, outside guidance/writing can be a good thing. Overall my feelings about the album are good. It's not up there with their best, but is easily one of their strongest if not the strongest from their later period (mid 90's and forward) and has a few gems that would be compilation-worthy. For sure worth checking out, and for those still crying the blues about Jon being gone (which was me prior to hearing this) please try to keep an open mind!

Report this review (#470030)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8 years is a long time. So Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman are not here.

I didn,t expect too much about this work.

In the best of cases an album in the level of Drama. ...And vow...this album is in the level of Drama...and similar to it .

I find the music as a mix of Drama,Tormato and The Ladder..

Is very pleasant to listen to this album.... beautiful songs.... of course they don,y have the inspiration of Close to The Edge or Relayer (for Ex.)..but are nice songs ...a kind of mix between symphonic prog with some folk pop prog.

There is an important work of keyboards here so a point to Geoff Downes...and of course Steve Howe and Chris Squire in what we can expect from them.

So in comparison to average work of Yes : 3 stars..but in comparison to my expectations 4 stars.

3,5... but because this is an addition to prog. music 4 finally.

Report this review (#471391)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Anticipating the new Yes record is clearly not something I would have imagined doing just a few years back. Even when the new lineup was in place and the announcement regarding a release date for Fly From Here came out, I was only slightly curious of what Benoît David, Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn could bring to the band.

This was of course until I heard the single We Can Fly, which managed to legitimately revitalize my excitement for the upcoming full length release. The main reason for such a perpetual change came from the fact that the single sounded very much like a comeback to the classic Drama sound that I honestly never would have imagined hearing again on a Yes recording! So how did the record hold up to my expectations?

My initial spin felt very disappointing and I was almost ready to dismiss the entire release all together for its lack of any creative ideas and innovation. Come to think of it, there was very little Symphonic Prog energy here in general. Luckily, I wasn't planning on giving up my adventures in modern recording and carried on listening to it a few more times. These revisits proved to be very rewarding since I now, not only, had good knowledge of the individual compositions but also a much better gasp of the entire recording.

The lengthy Fly From Here suite is clearly the make it or break it moment for these types of side long suite albums (i.e. Tarkus, 2112, Foxtrot) and it wasn't any different this time around. The suite is divided into six parts with first and last serving as an overture and conclusion, respectively. It quickly dawned on me why this multi-part composition needed the overture since there was clearly not much else here that supported the illusion of a suite! Let's be honest here, Fly From Here is really not a multi-part suite as much as a few Downes/Horn songs mixed together into a medley. The transitions feel very rough and, come to think of it, there's really no reason of turning these fine tunes into a medley of any kind.

Suite-related gripe aside, We Can Fly, Sad Night At The Airfield and Madman At The Screens are very nice songs filled with memorable performances from all the players. A few of the melodic progressions feel a bit too safe for my personal tastes, especially the chorus section of Sad Night At The Airfield, but other than that they all have a legitimate reason of being here. Having said that, I feel that Bumpy Ride-section is plain weird, which in retrospect actually makes it completely hilarious! I see it as a Steve Howe trying to re-work the classic Genesis piece Riding The Scree, but you shouldn't really mess with professionals like Tony Banks! Just like the The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway piece, this instrumental pretty much comes out of nowhere and breaks the otherwise very stale progression. The hilarious part is the fact that they decided to add vocals to the end of this track in order for it to make more sense and make it coherent with the rest of the suite.

As for the rest of the album, there's actually not much to talk about here. We do get some lovely lead vocals by Chris Squire on The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be. Other than that, this piece is a complete bore. Life On A Film Set passes by pretty unnoticeably, except maybe for the weird "riding a tiger" lyric. This song will from now on be know as Riding A Tiger! Hour Of Need is another semi-obligatory awareness/message type tunes that would have made more sense on some cause-related album like Save Darfur or Japan Earthquake/Nuclear fund raising compilations. Solitaire is where the band clearly comes out and says - Sorry, but we've run out of material in order to make this a 50+ minute album so we decided to let Steve Howe run amuck with his acoustic guitars. The only saving grace comes right towards the end with the semi-memorable track Into The Storm. This composition is clearly here in order to remind us of the great Tempus Fugit off Drama, except not half as good.

I just realized that I actually enjoy to complain about this album, but to be completely honest here, Fly From Here is really not a bad album! It's not even close to the excellent material of the band's past, still I wouldn't exactly call it a collectors/fans only release either. There is a certain charm to these tunes that will rub off once you've given them a few spins, just don't expect it to be Drama 2.

**** star songs: Fly From Here - Overture (1:54) Pt I - We Can Fly (6:01) Pt II - Sad Night At The Airfield (6:41) Pt III - Madman At The Screens (5:16) Pt IV - Bumpy Ride (2:15) Pt V - We Can Fly (reprise) (1:45) Into The Storm (6:54)

*** star songs: The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be (5:08) Life On A Film Set (5:01) Hour Of Need (3:07) Solitaire (3:30)

Report this review (#471393)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars First-- I like the album. So while this review will contain plenty of ranting, go ahead and give the CD a whirl-- Any Yes is better than no Yes, no?

While I agree that's pretty much the case for me (except for the "Open your Eyes" album), I find that "Fly from Here" has already lost its appeal to me after 10 listens. It's not that it's bad. It's not that there's no Jon. It's just-- yawn. When I heard Trevor Horn / Geoff Downs were brought in to resurrect some unfinished Drama material, I was very excited (a huge Drama fan). I learned that the title track was culled from those 1980 sessions, but now that I'm hearing the material finally fleshed out, well-- I can understand why it didn't make it onto Drama even. This is comparitiively "B" material.

Even Steve Howe seems to be coasting on this CD. It may very well be that his solo offering, aptly named "Solitaire", is the freshest piece of the project. I feel if it wasn't for Chris' counter-punch bass work, and signature harmonies, we'd all be hard pressed to call this a Yes album at all (or maybe even 'progressive' at that). I still think they should have taken Rick W's advice and not released this under the Yes monicker -- MistyriYes would have done nicely.

Speaking of Benoit-- I *like* his voice, and all he's done to help keep Yes music out front and active. I attended three Yes shows with Benoit at the helm, and had to admit he did a fine job. (In fact, the last show late winter of 2011, he pretty much saved it from being a disaster, I thought...) But WHERE IS BENOIT on here??? Where are all the wonderful, epiphanal, soaring vocal moments I heard him perform live on Heart of the Sunrise and Parallels??? Did they keep him at bay on purpose? it's not that he is studio-incapable-- check out his work on last year's "One Among the Living" Mystery release.

Oh well-- i hear that another Trevor is teaming up with Jon & Rick-- This Endless Dreamer can only hope for better.

Report this review (#471487)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars From the moment that I heard that Yes was working on a new studio album, I was stoked. It's amazing, really. Yes has managed to release at least on studio album for six decades now! If it weren't for that darn Fripp (King Crimson) we'd have a prog world record here.

Ok, we've established that I want to love this. Keep that in mind through the rest of the review.

Do you Yes fans remember1979-1980? Do you remember all of the anxiety that we felt with the news that The Buggles had joined Yes? And do you remember the sigh of relief we breathed when we realized that the Drama tracks didn't have the slick, plastic feel that The Buggles brought to their music. Even the tracks that weren't so good on Drama (half of them) didn't suffer from that. Well, if I was choosing a headline to describe Fly From Here, it would be this.


Don't cry. There are worse things than being slick and plastic. But that is my predominant impression of this album.

Chris has been lazy since 90125. There have been a couple of exceptions since (I'm Running is obvious and some of his work on the Keys albums was quite energetic) but he has fallen from prog grace and it's quite evident on this album. Steve has actually gotten better in his post- Asia (well post-FIRST Asia) period and he doesn't collapse on this album either, but I sure wouldn't call this the best work he's done in the last five years either. As for Alan White.... well it took his work on Keys 1 & 2 to finally get me to admit that he was Bruford's peer, despite excellent work earlier in his career with Yes. This album does not reinforce my opinion.

So, on to the substitute teachers.

Benoit gets a thumbs up. Sure, I'd rather have Jon singing lead, but Benoit is quite competent. When I think of all the subs that have been suggested for Jon in the past, I'm quite grateful that Chris & Co. went with Benoit.

Downes is my least favorite Yes keyboardist (unless you count live performances, where Oliver Wakeman barely edges him out.) That said, the Downes that we have on Fly From Here is actually an improvement upon the Downes we have from Drama in most ways. My truly major complaint with him can probably be laid at Horn's door as much as him. I truly can't stand that sharp piano sound he's using in the Fly From Here suite. You can hear it from the very opening bars of the Overture. It's sounds like Schroeder from the Peanuts pounding on his toy piano.

Horn gets a mention here. His producing is evident throughout the album. That's a major reason why I called this album slick and plastic. That's not all bad, btw. Horn has probably done a lot to give us a listenable album. But the word overproduced comes to my mind when I consider the distortions to vocals and percussion. I'm waffling on Horn's contribution here. He PROBABLY was a plus, but I'm not certain.

As for the material.....

The Fly From Here suite was developed from a forgettable song that Yes played live on the Drama tour. Kudos to all invovled for developing it into something much greater than it's beginning.

The Man You Always Wanted To Be and Life On A Film Set are totally forgettable.

Hour of Need would be totally forgettable if it weren't as good as it is. It's a weird track though. Somehow it reminds me of Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Solitaire is a Howe solo. Definitely not a homerun like we had in Masquerade off Union or his earlier Yes solos, but at least a single, and maybe a double.

Into The Storm is not great but it is kind of interesting and it avoids the slick sound that plagues most of the rest of the album.

I've been avoiding this. It's time for a rating.

Ok, I can definitely tell you this. This album is better than Open Your Eyes. It is better than Tormato. It is more consistent than Union. I'm waffling on whether it is better than Big Generator or not at the moment but it probably is. Given that evaluation, I'll say three stars. Good but not essential. But just barely.

Report this review (#472913)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, I've listened to this new offering from Yes about 2 dozen times now, so I guess I can offer a seasoned review. Yes is one of my favourite bands, having personally survived high school in the 70's with a Yes album on my turntable at least once a day and some worn Yes concert ticket stubs in a drawer to commemorate the decade that gave birth to Prog Rock. Time traveling to this century, 'Fly From Here' was immediately likeable, fresh, with catchy hooks and slick production values so I gave it a lot of listening time right away. But many listens later, I find myself unexpectedly tired of the Disk. Maybe the slickness of the whole thing works against its longevity... One thing that has become apparent to me is that it sounds more like a Buggles album than a Yes album. Don't misunderstand me: I like the Horn/ Downes collaborations on their own disks and while Drama isn't one of my favourite Yes albums, it certainly isn't their worst either. No, the overall feel to my ears is that Steve, Alan & Chris are playing Buggles tunes while adding their own personality to the songs. Everyone's individual contributions are fine, although Alan seems to be quite flat and one-dimensional in the mix and I've quite warmed up to Benoit David's voice when he's channeling himself and not Jon. It's also nice to see Roger Dean back in the fold with his creative contribution to the packaging. Although, if it wasn't for the birds - I'd have a hard time relating the cover to the theme of the music inside. Some thoughts on the music: The title track (suite) is engaging enough overall and takes the listener on a journey that explores upbeat melody and atmospheric moodiness. The parts are really strung together thematically more than musically but themes are repeated enough throughout to tie it all together. However, part 5, 'Bumpy Ride' is a huge misstep. My teenage niece came into the room while it was playing and started to do a mocking, goofy dance, ending up falling on the floor in a fit of giggles... That pretty much sums it up for that tune. The last track, 'Into the Storm' starts off promising, with more of a vintage Yes feel but fizzles out at the end. My imagination had the song building to a more dramatic conclusion than the one presented here. The other songs are OK - Not classics, but OK. Maybe the production slickness has taken the edge off the subtle ques and over-the-top majesty in the music that gave Yes its uniqueness to my ears... I don't know... Anyway, I've given 'Fly From Here' an honest rating of 3 PA stars - Good, but non-essential.
Report this review (#472988)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars While I have always been a huge Yes fan,having seen them in concert over thirty times in all of their incarnations over the years,I have not always loved everything they've ever done.I'm not nuts about the Rabin stuff and did not care for Drama all that much.When I heard about the upcoming album I sort of expected another Drama kind of thing and did not hold any high hopes for this album.I am delighted to freely admit that I was wrong.Yes have produced a gem of an album which in my opinion stands with some of the best of their work. I truly believe that this album will appeal to fans as well as new listeners across the board.My first impression upon hearing '' Fly From Her'' was that this is a band that sounds revitalized despite the fact that like me,they are a bunch of old guys [mostly].The music has a fresh young feel to it but at the same time comes across as tasteful,confident and sophisticated.Benoit David is an excellent choice as lead vocalist and can sound like Anderson when necessary but has his own distinct vocal style which stands on it's own and adds something beautiful to the familiar Yes sound.[By the way the harmonies on this album are among the best I've ever heard from Yes]. The musicianship of course is top notch and the great Steve Howe is in peak form as expected. "Fly From Here" suite , may not be "Close to the Edge" or "Awaken" but it is however a gorgeous piece of music which seems to be almost cinematic in content,conjuring images of some sort of spy movie plot or something along those lines.{I can't quite put my finger on it but it's somehow evocative]. I'm not sure that it's the best piece on the album but it sure is close. "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be" is a charming highly likable pop piece sung beautifully by Chris Squire who also penned this tune and has always had a great way with lyrics .A really sweet song. "Life on a Film Set" is equally catchy with a slightly more intense feel to it as well as a bit more of a serious flavour.Beautifully played and sung. "Hour of Need" is one of the top three songs on this album though it is the shortest piece.Starting out with a "And You And I" like short guitar intro,when the vocals kick in you would swear that Jon Anderson was brought in to harmonize on this song.Short,sweet and totally classic Yes is the sound of this tune. "Solitaire" is an acoustic Steve Howe piece and is just perfect.No one plays like Howe,period. "Into the Storm" is the closing piece and is the most rocking song on the album.It is also,in my opinion the other best song on the album.Again beautiful harmonies and perfectly played.This song could have been twice as long and still would have been too short. ''Fly From Here'' is a wonderful album which contains not one bad moment. My only gripe is that it is far too short and is one of those albums you do not want to end.I can hardly wait for their next work and can only hope that it's a double album.Due to the fact that "Close to the Edge' and "Relayer" exist,I cannot rate this five stars,so,four and a half is my rating.This album belongs in your collection.
Report this review (#473072)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars This band used to have a leader or driving force. In 70s it was mostly Jon Anderson in 80s rather Trevor Rabin. There used to be a certain vision in the band, creative force, even though styles and image were changing. I have started to miss this vision and force since Keys to Ascension. This is the logical result of that lack. Fly from Here has already very little, if any artistic integrity. It sounds like anonymous band which, on places, tries to sound like Yes. Resembling a lot Glass Hammer's If, especially the voices (still, Yes creativity is much lower at this point).

Album is generally straightforward, soft and instantly listenable. It's full of simple melodies and with simple structure and progressions, becoming quickly overused. There's nothing to discover more. The band rarely tries to throw us some odd change, but it's like being done just for its own sake, without being organic.

When I hear new recruit on vocals, Benoit David, I imagine a schoolboy who is reciting his poem in front of a class with hands behind his back. He has nice clean voice, but his expression is very flat, lacking confidence (especially when he fills shoes of somebody like Jon Anderson). He has a strange accent, maybe Quebecois?

Steve Howe disappoints me once again; despite I had no big expectations about him. His simple motives he usually repeats once more in higher octave, showing me vacuum of ideas. His electric hippie-jazz guitar, in which he's constantly trapped somewhat doesn't create a good chemistry with the hall effects of Geoff Downes. But keyboard tone and sloppy guitar actually make it sound more like Asia than Yes. Don't expect any signs of fierce from Mr.Howe that you can find on Drama. There is very little comparison to Drama at all imo. But still I'm glad to hear Chris Squire at least on some lead vocals, he reminds us about the spirit of Yes, if rarely.

Album flow is rather uninteresting and very repetitive, especially during "the epic". Yes, themes should be revealed again as the conceptual work goes on, but not like here. There is no tension, no dynamics, no progress. The lowest moment is the instrumental Bumpy Ride, really ridiculous piece, a parody. Sounds like a soundtrack to some outdated computer 2D arcade game.

As a whole package, it's a sweet album for easy listening twice or three times before being bored. Production is really good, crisp and clean, but doesn't hide the extensive lack of ideas. Few melodies might stick in the head for a while, but that's all about it. I'd say fine for collectors and nostalgic fans, who want to hear their icons once more.

Report this review (#473401)
Posted Friday, July 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Mediocre album by a band trying hard to sound like Yes, but not quite managing to do so. Don't get me wrong, its a pleasant enough listen, but its mainly a re-hash of old material and isn't up to the standard that is expected from musicians with such a pedigree. In my opinion, Yes have failed to produce an album with no filler tracks since 1977! In the past, when asked, I'd ALWAYS cite Yes as my favourite band. Now that they've gone on to turn out more fillers than quality music, the balance has shifted and they've dropped down the league table. There's not much to talk about on this CD.
Report this review (#473427)
Posted Friday, July 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Imagine yourself being sixty-plus years old and with a career spanning through four decades and little more, hundreds of tour dates all over the world, twenty studio albums, live records, participations to hundred other projects for so m a n y years and so on...and then put all of it on a table and ask yourself? Can i stop doing this with one way or another? The answer is that you can not! Also imagine that you have produced throughout those years artistic material of -Close To Edge-Relayer-Tales From Topographic Oceans-Drama-Keys To Ascension-Magnification caliber and many other of almost equal caliber or even less and you're still in this game filling stadiums or big halls even if you have production hiatus of a decade...will you still be able to produce another Close To The Edge? The answer is that you can not! Fly From Here is the best a musician can produce after walking a path such as described above, and still feels the hunger to continue and is never satisfied and tries for more... I think it is silly to think that they are doing it for money or for self exposion - they have enough money to feed 3 generations after them and a big piece of it was gained through the years of acme! Fly From Here is a very decent piece of work and it is better than Tormato or 90125 at least - it sure reminds many bits of Asia flavor but this shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone and YES it is very accessible, what's wrong with that...? Also it is very memorable which is an achievement as it has become very difficult to write a nice memorable tune in our days, something with its own personality... I wonder when all of us become, with God's bless, 65 years old, in what kind of mental productivity state are we going to be... Judge, according time and place is the best we can do for this album.... A very, very decent piece of music!
Report this review (#473435)
Posted Friday, July 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was pleasantly surprised by this album.

I am a huge Yes fan, and my favorite Yes era is from 1971 to 1980. The later 1980's stuff after "Drama" doesn't interest me at all really, but I like later albums like "Keys to Ascension" from the 1990's, and "Magnification" from 2001.

This album is almost a mixture of "Close to the edge" and "Drama", in a strange way.

Yes, Anderson and Wakeman is missing from this album, but it still sounds great! I think the titletrack suite is excellent, and the rest of the album is also pretty good. The production is excellent too.

Benoit David is doing a great job on this album. He's got a lot of emotion and spirituality in his voice, very similar to Jon Anderson, which is probably why he was chosen. He's no Jon Anderson, and he's got HUGE shoes to fill, but I think he's doing great on this album. I also think Downes is doing a great job here, using some vintage sounds here and there, like Hammong Organ and Mellotron, miksing them with never keyboard sounds. I know Oliver Wakeman also plays on this record, but I really cant tell on which songs.

Squire's bass is excellent, as excpected, and his harmony singing equally excellent.

Steve Howe plays great guitar as usual, and I especially like his slide-guitar parts. Sounds very etherical.

Alan White also delivers perfect, powerful drumming, as I expected.

The album's not perfect, maybe a little too accesible, given the fact that Trevor Horn produced it, but nevetheless I find it to be a very good album.

4 stars.

Report this review (#473458)
Posted Friday, July 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars We Can Fly - but we can't soar

I've tried to like this album, I really did. I'm not a purist that says Yes without Jon Anderson is not Yes. I love "Drama". But this is a very flawed album. The most striking thing is how lifeless Benoit David's vocals sound throughout. And Geoff Downes is guilty of Conduct Unbecoming a Yes Keyboardist - he does little to bring the keyboards out in front. In fact, Steve Howe is the only band member who sounds like he was enthusiastic about playing on this album.

The album isn't totally bad. It's just... disappointing.

The Fly From Here suite starts out promising. It has that big Yes sound. If only they could sustain this. But then it changes into We Can Fly. David's bland vocals turn into a very mundane chorus. If it wasn't for some nice playing by Howe, we wouldn'y know it was Yes. The best thing I can say about the Sad Night At The Airfield section is that I like it batter than anything on "Talk". Very sad indeed. Madman At The Screens is not too bad. It is a bit reminiscent of I Am A Camera on "Drama". Bumpy Ride is not bumpy at all - but it sounds like Rabin-era Yes. And the finale is just an overblown reprise of We Can Fly.

The Man You Want Me To Be is the low point of the album. This piece of flaccid rock will probably end up as a single getting overplayed on one of those radio station that make office workers insane. You know the ones that I mean. Life On A Film Set begins with a guitar intro that sounds like ELP's C'est La Vie, but builds into something that might have fit on ABWH. A decent song.

Hour Of Need, as others have stated, sounds like Crosby Stills & Nash. This song, too, is saved by Steve Howe's guitar. And speaking of Howe, his solo piece, Solitaire is good, but it doesn't compare to the acoustic solos he's recorded on earlier albums.

Into The Storm is the most Yeslike song on the album. I'll b et it will rock in concert. But here, the vocals are almost buried, and Downes sounds like he doesn't want his keyboards to be noticed.

This album could have been much better. Most of the songwriting is fair. I suspect the producer may be to blame.

2.5 stars.

Report this review (#473661)
Posted Friday, July 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars THEY'RE BACK!

Ten years after "Magnification", and Yes again. and even better. "Fly from here" is not as good as its predecessor, but it is a work strong, well produced, and that is pleasing to many people.

Now, let's get to. "Drama" is back? more or less. David Benoit sings well? Oh ,how he sings. This guy has a voice blessed by heaven. even more rewarding is to see Chris Squire singing again after "Can you imagine" the previous album - he has a great voice!

Analyzing track-by-track:

The title track is a monstrous epic of almost 24 minutes which occupies 50% of the length of the album and is the longest song ever composed by Yes . And, ironically, is not good when the analysis as a whole. Unlike other epics subdivided into several songs, "Fly from Here" does not have a good flow between their parts. See the last two songs, "Bumpy Ride" and the reprise of "We Can Fly", is a brutal cut of a song and another. Nevertheless, they are the two weakest songs on the album. Fortunately this epic has great moments mostly, as evidenced by "We Can Fly," "Sad night at the airfield" and "Madman at the screens."

The seventh track, "The Man You Always Wanted to Be Me" is a ballad sung by Squire that's really cool and deserves attention, while "Life on the Film Set" and "Hour of Need" are two other interesting songs are the shortest of the album (if you consider the title track as one). In fact, "Hour of Need" is higher in the Japanese version, but I had the opportunity to hear it in this version.

"Solitaire" is a beautiful instrumental song of Steve Howe seems to be a cousin of late "Clap" from "The Yes Album" and "Mood for a Day" from "Fragile". Since the last track, "Into the Storm" is another weak moment on the album (I sincerely hoped that this music was dark, as its title, but not - is happy progressive rock, typical of Yes)

4 stars

Report this review (#474942)
Posted Sunday, July 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I caved in and bought the iTunes download available now for the new Yes album "Fly From Here" this morning. I was expecting it to be decent, but two listens on it's actually better than I expected. Not quite classic prog yes, but not quite the more commercial version of the band either. The band made a great move made when they brought Geoff Downes in to replace Oliver Wakeman, because Downes has MUCH more personality in his playing. His Keyboards are all over this record, and it's all the better for it. The epic "We Can Fly From Here" 5 part suite is actually five separate pieces, with a bit of a common theme linking them, but it's certainly not a traditional yes masterwork, though it is good and an interesting work from the current band. As a long time Yes fan I think I can get used to the line-up changes , and even though Jon Anderson is absent, the group have succeeded in adding another true "Yes" work to their catalog, and I welcome it. Now let's hope they play a good chunk of it while on tour this summer !

*** 1/2

Report this review (#474997)
Posted Sunday, July 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'Drama' being my favourite Yes album ever, I had great expectations about its line-up reunion (sort of)...and they were almost fully fulfilled: although I prefer the former, I must say that this later release is an outstanding effort!

Thanks to Trevor Horn's production, its sound is definitely compacter and more solid than the previous albums, and its quality grows with each repeated listening. I belong to the rather infamous "Open your Eyes Appreciation Society", and so I don't care much about suites clocking at over 15 minutes...and I privilege songwriting over technical ability, so I don't complain about the lack of complex keyboard parts. And 'Fly from here' displays some fine songcraft, rich in hooks, opposed to 'Magnification' or the 'Keys to Ascension' pair, for instance.

Talking about David replacing Anderson: his voice is definitely pleasant, a nice compromise between Jon and Trevor Horn.

That said, let's move on to the songs.

The 'Fly from here' suite is definitely the masterpiece of the album: the 'Overture' provides a strong welcome, with its 5/4 theme, suggestive chord progression and powerful orchestration, somehow reminiscent of 'Talk's 'Silent Spring'.

Then comes 'We can fly': if it weren't for David and Squire's vocals, you could hardly tell it apart from an Asia or Buggles number...a GOOD Asia o Buggles number, I mean. As someone pointed out, once in a while the lyrics DO make sense...and this provides some added value to the songs, starting with this one. The vocal harmonies blend together very well and the mood, the chords and even the light chorus outbreak (which will prove useful in its reprise at the end of the suite) define a song that's pleasant to the ears, and easy to be remembered.

The next section, 'Sad night at the airfield', has a Floydesque flavour, mainly thanks to Steve Howe's acoustic picking and electric slides and glides and Geoff Downes' keyboard layers: the melody line is very good, especially in the chorus part. Chris Squire's playing is fascinating and timbrically rich as always, and Benoît David provides a good dramatic delivery, with vocals that from time to time resemble Gareth Jones from The Reasoning.

I consider 'Pt. III - Madman at the screens' the highlight of the album: the irregular rhythm, the strong beat, the unusual chord progression, combined with Horn's production and the vocal orchestration make it the closest connection with 'Drama''s almost a pity that the songwriting credits involve Downes and Horn only...I particularly love the verse, and the bridge (on notes that sound like they were taken from 'Awaken'), ornated by tubular bells! Very well done, folks!

A quieter section leads to 'Bumpy ride', in my opinion the least successful part of the suite: its grotesque structure and the guitar antics it displays have probably been conceived that way to lighten the overall dark mood of the suite, but to me it's a sort of square peg in a round hole. I would have expected a longer section to follow, before the closing part.

The last section is an obvious reprise of the main theme: it starts just like Asia, it carries on just like Asia, and it closes just like Asia, adding little or nothing to the ensemble.

However, the whole is superior to the sum of the parts, and I really consider the 'Fly from here' suite to be one of the best tracks by Yes (and by Asia, btw... :-)) in recent times.

Moving on, we come across a Chris Squire composition: 'The man you always wanted me to be', which atmosphere brings us back to the days of 'Going for the one' and 'Tormato' (and also 'Fish out of water', his 1975 solo album), featuring his first lead vocals on a Yes album. A light ballad, it takes a few runs growing little by little, but in the end it turns out to be a very nice song (though lesser in comparison to 'Onward'), with a noteworthy bass line, especially in the outro (which strongly reminds me of 'Run through the light').

Next up, the second highlight of the record: 'Life on a film set' starts slowly, echoing ancient songs like 'The Court of the Crimson King', with many twists and turns in the rhythm pattern in the second half (introduced by a vocal harmony that sounds like the one from 'Roundabout'), building layer upon layer until the grand finale. Great acoustic guitar landscape by Howe and magnificent bass patterns by Squire, in a track that clearly is a Buggles outtake, but an astounding one!

The following couple of songs have been penned by Steve Howe alone: I'm not particularly fond of his compositions, and as a matter of fact they took more than two runs to grow on me, but I must say that they perfectly counterbalance the other tracks with their light mood. I must also state that 'Hour of need' features the only proper keyboard solo on the whole album (courtesy of mr. Oliver Wakeman), and a nice one. David's vocals sound definitely more like Anderson on this track, and the overall feel once again takes me back to 'Going for the One' and 'Tormato'.

The solo piece 'Solitaire' continues in the tradition of acoustic Howe showcases, without adding anything particular: to be clear, this is no 'The Clap' or 'Mood for a day', but it is nevertheless relaxing and pleasant. I would like to see him performing this live, since the last time I saw him (august 2007 with Asia) he impressed me negatively playing several wrong notes and even playing an entire song in a wrong key throughout...

'Into the storm' seems to me 'On the silent wings of freedom part 2': far from being a downside, this must be the most classic-Yes-sounding track on the whole album, and is easily my third favourite on par with 'Madman at the screens' and 'Life on a film set'. Here Benoît David provides his closest Jon Anderson impression, without hitting the high notes the previous singer was renowned for (and was also often annoying because of), while his bandmates perform like clockwork bringing the album to a suitable ending.

The bottom line is: this is a GREAT album, full 4 stars bordering 4,5! I'm eager to see them live: maybe this time they will finally give us 'MACHINE MESSIAH'!!!!

Report this review (#476218)
Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Fly From Here' (60/100)

At the time Fly From Here was first released in 2011, my Yes fandom had been largely restricted to their classics. I enjoyed Yes' first (and last) bout with singer Benoit David at the time, but admittedly, I wasn't versed enough in the band's lore to fully appreciate the weight of Yes releasing another post-70s album that wasn't crap. To be fair, Yes had only truly slipped on 2.5 albums (Union, Open Your Eyes and the first half of Talk) but they hadn't anything great outside of Magnification either. On a more subjective note, I never shared the enthusiasm most seem to have for the Jon Anderson-less Drama, so another album without him probably would have been met with apprehension, had I only been hearing about it now.

The comparisons between Fly From Here and Drama don't end with irregular vocalists. For one, it's virtually the exact same membership as it was on Drama; one-time keyboardist Geoffrey Downes reprises his role. Although Trevor Horn relinquished his vocal duties to Benoit David here, he returns here as the record's producer. Most importantly, the impressive prog-pop epic "Fly From Here" was largely written by Downes and Horn in 1980. While nothing on Fly From Here reaches the heights of "Machine Messiah" or "Tempus Fugit", it's a far more consistent record than Drama ever was. What's more, to hear a band releasing solid material across six decades is a rare sight. Fly From Here is never excellent, but it's plenty enjoyable.

The most obvious strength in Fly From Here's favour is the twenty minute title suite. Yes have never shirked away from the risk and rewards an epic potentially offers, and even during their otherwise weakest moments (such as Talk), they've managed to do some pretty great things with longform composition. Even compared to their other post-70s epics, "Fly From Here" is irregular. Whereas everything from "Endless Dream" to "That, That Is" and "In the Presence Of" aimed to create a singular, start-to-finish impression, "Fly From Here" is very compartmentalized- three of the parts within could be experienced as self-contained songs outside of their epic context. The upbeat, central theme "We Can Fly" stands as arguably being the most memorable and immediate single Yes have crafted since "Owner of a Lonely Heart". It's pleasantly contrasted by the more in-depth and melancholic "Sad Night at the Airfield" which, in turn, is sent up by the quirky pace and tone of "Madman at the Screens". The whole thing is held together by the overture and reprise, which draw ideas from the three central parts in a fairly satisfying way. The only part of the "Fly From Here" suite that seems out of place is the aptly titled "Bumpy Ride", an instrumental climax composed by Howe that seems intent on giving the epic a proggier flair, but lacks the tact and intensity to properly accent it.

Fly From Here's title piece is among the more impressive statements Yes have made in their post-glory days career, and while it doesn't have the challenging depth or ambition usually associated with a progressive epic, they make the poppier approach work really well in an epic context. Unfortunately- as it tends to be with albums who devote a side to a suite- the half with shorter songs is nowhere near as memorable or imaginative. Everything from "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be" to the would-be "Tempus Fugit" pep-finale "Into the Storm" better-represents Yes as they are in the 2010's. There are signs of promise here, including another great Howe acoustic in "Solitaire", but the songs rarely generate enough momentum to make the music interesting. "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be" has some strong vocal hooks, and "Into the Storm" has more energy in the performance than the song is probably worth, but ultimately, the second half to Fly From Here seems to be content with simple decency. No matter how many times I've listened to the second half of the album, nothing seems to really stick. It's as if that small part of my memory is wiped clean every time I finish listening to it.

Being the major fan of Jon Anderson that I am (I think his Olias of Sunhillow is probably better than any album of Yes'), I have a hard time imagining Yes without their perennial frontman- Trevor Horn offered a fair performance on Drama, but nothing could really replace Jon's space cadet antics. To date, Benoit David is the least compelling vocalist Yes has had, and I can see why they dropped him in favour of Glass Hammer's Jon Davison. Even so, the man's range is gracefully suited to Yes's music; his straight-laced vocals are probably closer to Trevor Horn's example than Anderson's, and from what I've seen of this era's live performances, Benoit didn't seem to have much of a stage presence. He fills the role without really being exceptional, although the relatively lower-register vocals and rich harmonies on "Sad Night at the Airfield" give me the impression that the Canadian singer could have lent a stronger performance if he hadn't been so aware of the boots he was meant to fill.

Fly From Here is Drama, Part 2. It's the simplest, most succinct way I could describe this album to someone, and expectations they would have towards the album wouldn't be far off. Nothing's as great here as "Machine Messiah", but nothing's as puzzlingly bad as "White Car" or "Does It Really Happen?". Whatever Yes' intentions were with this album, they created a solid release that should keep fans engaged for a few hours, before its immediate charms wear off. Compared to other progressive Yes albums, Fly From Here doesn't have the replayability I would hope for. Regardless, it's solid prog-pop fare, and is probably better than most of us were expecting it to be.

Report this review (#478875)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars A new album from Yes is always something to be celebrated among the prog community. These British legends have released countless undisputed classics in their 43-year history, spawning much critical acclaim and fantastic international sales. Yes simply cannot be ignored, and Fly From Here proves that they are still a force to be reckoned with in 2011. Though it may not rival masterpieces like The Yes Album or Close to the Edge, Fly From Here shows that Yes still knows how to create excellent progressive rock over forty years into their career. Although this may be a tad too commercial for some fans, I'd have a tough time calling Fly From Here anything but a high-quality effort. Newcomers to Yes will want to start with the band's classic albums from the 1970's, but any Yes veteran will want to make sure this ends up in their collection. Fly From Here has really impressed me, and it's very inspiring to see that these 70's juggernauts still can create one of the year's best prog albums!

Anyone familiar with Yes will immediately recognize that the lineup for Fly From Here is nearly identical to that of 1980's Drama. I am quite a fan of that album so it's great to hear that lineup (plus new singer Benoit David) making another album. Fly From Here doesn't quite stand up to Drama in my opinion, but it's still a very strong release. The "Fly From Here" epic that dominates nearly 24 minutes of the album is fantastic, and undoubtedly the highlight of the album. The themes are interwoven perfectly throughout the song's duration, and every individual section is unforgettable. "Sad Night at the Airfield" is probably the best section of this extended track, with its melancholic feeling rivaling some of Yes' best material. The second half of the album is a bit more pop-oriented than the rather non-commercial first half. After kicking off with the rather disposable pop/rock track "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be", the album only gets stronger with "Life on a Film Set" - a truly remarkable prog rock song that manages to cover a wide variety of emotions in a mere five minutes. "Hour of Need" is a mildly enjoyable pop/rock tune featuring some great keyboard playing from Geoff Downes, and "Solitaire" is a great acoustic guitar instrumental from Steve Howe. "Into the Storm" closes out the album with a very strong prog tune, surely among the best on Fly From Here.

As always from Yes, expect quality when it comes to musicianship. These guys certainly know how to play, and although Fly From Here isn't as technically demanding as some of their earlier works, every note played here is professional and tasteful. My only complaint when it comes to musicianship is the fairly uninspired drumming from Alan White - obviously he is a very good drummer, but he doesn't show this nearly enough on Fly From Here. This may be partially due to the fact that he's 62 years old, but I still feel that it's a bit too "play-by-numbers" to sound truly impressive. Despite that minor complaint, the production is (as expected) great. Trevor Horn is a spectacular producer, and Fly From Here sounds crisp and professional.

Fly From Here may not be the greatest thing Yes has ever done in their long and winding career, but it's a high-quality release that satisfies from beginning to end. People who were skeptical about this Yes comeback album may rest assured - I have a tough time picturing any Yes fan who doesn't at least enjoy this album. I personally love Fly From Here, though, and find it constantly in my rotation. Though a tad inconsistent at times, Fly From Here has more than enough quality material to leave me more than satisfied. 4 stars are well-deserved for yet another stellar Yes album!

Report this review (#479829)
Posted Saturday, July 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A cross between Close to the Edge and 90125?

Nah, it's just Drama part two.

This is a good thing, though. Drama was pleasant enough, with some good songs and some unmemorable ones, and this is much the same. The trio that started this project sound as good as ever, and instantly recognisable on their instruments. Downes' keyboards are well- executed but cheesey, tone-wise. This from playing in Asia for so long I expect. Meanwhile, the band's new singer is.... fine, I guess, and Horn's production is as flawless as you'd expect from the mixing-desk veteran.

The side-long epic title-track is divided into sections, with 'Madman at the Screens' being the same as the 'Overture' but with lyrics. These two and the titular section are very good. Like Drama, they have an 80s prog/AOR feel and some catchy yet interesting moments. The 'Sad Night at the Airfield' part is more moody, but I find it unmemorable and it kind of spoils the pace of the rest of the piece. 'Bumpy Ride' and a brief reprise of that catchy chorus provide closure to the piece, and overall I am left impressed. It's very typical of Yes, which is nice in a way, but also very safe, and devoid of any real risk-taking.

The other songs are just okay. Squire's pop thing is neat but adds nothing to the album, same with Howe's. The Buggle-penned 'Life on a Film Set' is in two-parts, but I get the feeling it's trying too hard to be progressive. It's quite interesting to listen to but the lyrics leave me very confused! Howe's acoustic solo piece is great though, and works really well before the final rocker, 'Into the Storm'. It is this last song that really earns Fly From Here one of its stars from me. With watery bass riffs, epic synth lines and quirky guitar, this piece is undoubtedly Yes and undoubtedly good. It has the most energy of all the album and certainly needn't be any shorter or longer. I am surprised that no one else on Prog Archives has yet noticed what the lyrics seem to be about.

Jon Anderson.

I did promise myself I wouldn't mention him in this review, but this excellent song forces him into my mind. Not only does it suffer the most from his absence, but the lyrics are actually addressing him! (I think). Listen for yourself, and you might recognise the links to the current situation between Yes and Jon. It's quite fiery in that respect, making it really edgy as a closer and taking one heck of a risk (and so undoing the non-risk-taking of the title track).

Overall, I like this album. I prefer it to most of Yes's 90s efforts, as a whole album anyway. There are some colourful things to explore but, unsurprisingly, it's hardly in the same creative realm as Relayer or Close to the Edge. Give Fly From Here some love though, because these old men have obviously tried hard and, in at least one song, they have really struck gold. I can't believe they are so harsh to Anderson though.

Report this review (#480133)
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, here we go. A new Yes album, always a big event in the world of prog. Except, of course, this one is of more interest than most, because it contains no Anderson or Wakeman, the former being by far the biggest talking point, given that Wakeman has left the band with more regularity than a serial adulterer.

It is no secret to those reading this that know me well that I adore Anderson's work, and, indeed, he and the band were my introduction to progressive rock music. I did not, and still do not, like Drama, the album they made with The Buggles after Anderson & Wakeman left in a hissy fit in 1980.

So scepticism abounded in Lazland at the thought of this release. I was always going to buy it, simply because I have every studio work they have released, and a fair proportion of their live works as well. But; is it any good? Am I able to put aside my natural hostility to a work without my hero and behave like a professional with dispassionate interest, as a Reviewer on this site should?

Well, I am glad to report that the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes. This album is not a classic release, by any stretch of the imagination, but what it is is a very good piece of work.

The main focus is, of course, the Fly From Here suite, which takes up what would have been a complete side on the old vinyl. Split into five segments which flow into each other naturally, this is a marvellous piece of music, and a hugely enjoyable musical journey. I have summarised my thoughts on the band members below, but the one thing that absolutely screams at you with this suite is the mature and quite exceptional vocal performance of Benoit David, the bloke Squire picked up from a Yes Tribute band. He excels, and he excels, by the way, because he does not on this work try to be something he is not, namely Jon Anderson. There is only one genius by that name, and he is utterly unique. David on this suite manages that quite difficult trick of making a Yes epic come off without at any stage becoming a mere clone. Good on him!

The story of the suite is well told, and, the slightly annoying in places Bumpy Ride aside, this is undoubtedly a YES track, and a damn good one at that. At times, in fact, much to my surprise, it actually soars and takes your breath away, with the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. Parts of We Can Fly (an excellent single in its own right), Sad Night At The Airfield come to mind, but especially the We Can Fly Reprise, which is quite wondrous when it shouts out from the speakers.

This being 2011, and not 1970-odd, the hope that this high standard might be continued into side two is not, I am afraid, realised. It's not awful, far from it, but neither does it come anywhere near to the brilliance of side one.

The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be is, in totality, a Squire creation, including the rather paunchy great one doing the vocals. Actually, I've always liked Squire's voice, and he harmonises with David to good effect on this commercial, but enjoyable, track. It's very upbeat, thanks, I think, to the fact he recently became a father again at an age when most people are moving to their new retirement home.

Life On A Film Set is a very enjoyable track, which builds up very nicely from a deceptively quiet acoustic introduction. Once again, David shines on this, singing wholly within his range, and Downes contributes keyboards that remind one more of Asia than Yes, but no bad thing if, like me, you like Asia.

Hour Of Need is the shortest standalone track, and, for a moment you actually think that you are listening to I've Seen All Good People, transported back 40 years with Howe's unique work. When the main piece segues in, you come back to earth and listen to what is a pleasant, but utterly non essential, ballad featuring more distinctively pleasant vocals and harmonies. This track is probably the closest the album comes in feel to Talk, which, again, is no bad thing.

Solitaire is, I think, the Steve Howe "I Insist upon This Being On In The Contract" bit. It is, of course, very well played. It's Howe, after all, and, you never know, you might get to hear it instead of the interminable Clap at the live shows, but, really, what is the point? It is completely out of place with all else on the LP, and should, instead, have been kept back for his next solo album.

The album closes with Into The Storm. Elsewhere, it has been raved about, but I don't really get it. Perhaps because it reminds me of much which was on Drama, I don't know, but I feel that this is a very weak track, repetitive, and like a McDonald's - thrown away in the bin and forgotten about after finished. I do like the Fly From Here bit at the end, though.

So, how do the chaps acquit themselves?

I've already raved about David. He is the unexpected star of this album, and it is wonderful what a good studio and producer can do with a voice if the terrible live videos on YouTube are to be judged against.

Squire, as ever, plays a mean and thundering bass, and his vocal harmonies, and lead on one track, are as good as they ever were.

Howe is, well, Howe, He plays superbly without ever really breaking into a sweat. I actually think he could have contributed a lot more to this if he had felt minded, but as it is, you feel he is doing it by the numbers. Being Howe, this is still superb musicianship, but I think he could have done far more.

Downes struggles to be heard at times, but when he is, he is what he has always been - a very good keyboard player who, regrettably, comes nowhere near the virtuosity of Wakeman or Moraz. I like Downes in Asia; I just don't think he is a good Yes keyboardist, and Igor was a far better one when Rick was off sulking.

As for White, if it wasn't for the fact that he is mentioned on the credits, I wouldn't have thought he even appeared on this album. Quite how such a credible and important drummer could be so silenced in the mix is quite beyond me. Was it him or the production? Well, given that Trevor Horn has done his customary bang-up job in the studio with this album, I can only imagine it is the former. Very strange, and a great shame, because the rhythm section of the band has always been one of its absolute strengths.

So, how to rate it? Well, the suite is excellent, and worthy of four stars in itself. Whilst the rest isn't quite so bad as to warrant a poor rating, neither does it come anywhere near the main course.

So, three stars for this. A good album which I would happily recommend.

There: I've done a "good" Yes review without Anderson. Time for a long lie down, methinks!

Report this review (#480386)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am in always of mode of excite when a new Yes album is due to be released. The last few have left me crying bitter tears of heartache, but this new one is in aspects of being very very great indeed. Two of the first things you will notice is that Ian Anderson is no longer on vocals and Rack Wickman is no longer the keys player. Instead we are transported back in time with Geoff Hurst from the Buggles back on keyboards, and his partner Nicky Horn being in the producers chair. The new vocalist is Benwah David from the band "Mystery" and the Yes tribute band "Notes From The Edge"

So what is the music like? for the most part absolutely excellent, especially on the near 24 minute epic "Fly From Here" with some nice quirky beats on the beginning and Steve Howe bringing to mind Miss Senior in quite a few places. What i like about this epic is that it doesn't try to be overcomplicated like a Goats Of Delirium" or indeed "Notes From The Edge" What we have here instead is nearly 24 minutes of very listenable Prog which almost has a summery feel about it, and would probably go well listened to on a hot summers night out on your patio with a bottle of chilling wine. The suite makes me feel happy and i like feeling happy!

"The Man You Always Wanted To Be" unfortunately suffers from reminding me of Johnny Kissack threatening me with a knife at a funfair when i wouldn't give him a cigarette.......It just has that kissacky musical feel to it, but don't get me wrong it is still better than most of what passes for music these days, and indeed in parts brings to mind bald bouncing scousers. "Life On A Film Set" is another high point with all that well loved Yes quirkiness and again Steve Howe tipping his hat to Miss Senior in a way he hasn't done much for a very long time. The Clark James styled vocal at the beginning brings chills to my spine.

"Hour Of Need" and "Solitaire" are really the songs which totally let me down - "Hour Of Need" like "To Be Over" is a bit too chinese sounding in places for my liking, and surely with "The Clap, Mood For A Day" etc, Steve Hackett is beginning to overegg it with "Solitaire" "Into The Storm" ends the album in rocking "Our little Shaun" fashion and i dare anyone not to enjoy this little treatie of a track.

The whole band are on excellent form, and Bewah David does a fine job in filling those big bossy boots left by Ian Anderson. My advice would be to merrily hop and skip along to your nearest record store and gleefully buy this great album.

For fans of Yes, Jon Anderson and The Buggles.

Report this review (#480595)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars 'Plummet From Here' more like

Yes's latest studio release is quickly becoming their most overrated album to date. Yes have now achieved the admirable goal of releasing albums in six consecutive decades, a feat which is certainly not accomplished by many. However, the album in question is nothing to shout about.

In my mind - and I'm sure in the minds of many other prog fans - the name Yes has always been synonymous with cutting-edge prog rock. They were a band who released a string of the most high quality albums a fan could ask for in the early 70s. Almost inevitably, that unique talent seemed to fade over time, until we began to hear albums like 'Union' and 'Open Your Eyes' in the 90s. Unfortunately, 'Fly From Here' continues the trend of disappointment.

You see, since the 'Keys To Ascension' albums of the mid 90s, Yes have been practising a musical genre of what I like to think of as 'prog lite', i.e. music that is generally poppy and 'easy' in sound, but includes the bare minimum of prog hooks and odd time signatures to be considered progressive. Such music is generally unsatisfying, and there is usually at most one song on the record that could be considered good. Albums like 1999's 'The Ladder' made me believe that Jon Anderson was responsible for this kind of music, having mellowed in his old age.

Before joining Yes on vocals after Anderson's bout of respiratory failure, Benoît David was the lead singer of the Yes tribute group, 'Close to the Edge'. As much as I lamented the loss of Anderson, I couldn't help but be intrigued to see if this new shot of 'youth' (he is 45 after all) would make the rest of the group realise that their 'prog lite' output of the last decade was not the Yes that people wanted to hear. For this reason, I eagerly anticipated this release, to see if David would give Yes some balls again. This couldn't have been further from the truth.

You see, this is prog lite with a passion to sound bland and uninspiring. The Yes logo over the beautiful Roger Dean cover is all an elaborate mask to hide the mediocrity that awaits the unsuspecting listener. What's more, this new line-up have the cheek to entice us with the prospect of a 20+ minute track in the hope that it may be the real prog we've been yearning for all these years.

On the album cover, the two black cats can only mean one thing: the return of Buggles Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes to the fold. If anything, this gives us even more false hope as we mainly remember 'Drama' as the triumph that succeeded 'Tormato'. There is certainly no Machine Messiah on this disc though. Horn and Downes are responsible for most of the writing on this album, making the authenticity of this disc questionable as a Yes album. It is sufficient to say that Horn and Downes leave a distinctly Buggles-esque impression on the album, which in turn removes the Yes sound from it.

The album opens with the 24-minute suite that is Fly From Here. Those hoping for a new Close to the Edge or Gates of Delirium will be bitterly disappointed. This new form of Yes fall into the predictable trap of sticking wholly different songs together to make one suite, forming a truly incohesive track. Those wishing to point out that tracks like Supper's Ready, A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers and Nine Feet Underground were formed in a similar way, should be informed that whilst those tracks had interesting and complex parts, Fly From Here is a dull affair made up from bland pop songs. The lyrics of the different parts do appear to be linked to each other, but one misses the good old Jon days when lyrics were meaningless and pure sound was paramount.

Maybe the saddest thing about this suite is that the first part - We Can Fly - is actually a good track. It's uplifting and melodic and really quite good as a stand alone track. In fact this was an out-take from a Buggles album circa 1981, which was shelved until it's use for this release. However, the second and third parts of the suite are lengthy pop songs with limited appeal. If you're going to write a suite of music with different tracks in this way, you should make sure they don't sound like stand-alone songs and more like integral parts of the suite. This suite could be compared to Dream Theater's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence which, although boasting an impressive 42 minutes in length, has parts that play out like stand-alone songs, yet again yielding an unsatisfying listen. Another example would be Rush's The Fountain of Lamneth. Really the artist should realise that a suite is meant to be much more than a bunch of songs stuck together.

With Parts 2 and 3 out the way, the suite takes an odd turn at Part 4, Bumpy Ride. Right off the bat, you know something is up when a supposedly 'prog' track is called something like 'Bumpy Ride', and in this case you would be right to do so. Bumpy Ride is essentially a shameful last-ditch effort to sound progressive after realising that in the first 20 minutes, there's hardly any prog to be seen. The music sounds like it has been lifted from a cartoon, and the suite loses whatever sincerity it had had at that point. Needless to say, this instrumental sounds silly and forced, and utterly tawdry when compared to their majestic instrumentals of the past. It is pitiful to hear Yes desperately trying to sound progressive when they were once the masters of the genre. On a side note, it is interesting to wonder how a Yes cover of Mohombi's Bumpy Ride would sound: 'I wanna boom bang bang with your body yo', lengthy instrumental in 11/8, 'We're gonna rough it up before we take it slow' etc.

The suite ends with a reprise of the We Can Fly section which would have sounded great only if the rest of the suite had. It simply does not follow on neatly or effectively from Bumpy Ride. It's painful to see Yes clearly failing at the suite format, but it provides a good example to future generations of proggers about what's good and what's bad. To pour salt into the wound, Fly From Here is now Yes's longest track, beating The Gates of Delirium by nearly two minutes. Of course, this 'record' is a hollow one, as Fly From Here should be seen as a few pop tracks stitched together, instead of a fully blown prog suite like Gates.

Do you remember when Yes wrote and released tracks like Heart of the Sunrise and Close to the Edge? Back then, Yes had balls. Unfortunately, the selection of shorter tracks on this album go to show that this is absolutely not true any more. For example, The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be is as bland and uninteresting as it's name suggests. Hour of Need is also quite underwhelming in nature. Howe's solo piece Solitaire is pleasant to listen to but completely forgettable.

Life On A Film Set is a bizarre composition. There is a progressive element to this song, as the sound of the song changes halfway through, but the entire thing is brought down by the repeated lyric 'Riding a tiger'. What does it mean?! It sounds like some awful metaphor, and the constant repetition makes the song feel asinine. On top of this, the musical themes in the second half are overused and grating.

This leaves Into The Storm, another more progressive affair. Strangely enough, this track is as close as the album gets to sounding like the true Yes, but this is certainly not a song to shout about. To me, this song doesn't feel fully realised, as there are parts where the band could have sounded amazing, but instead choose to sound average. Essentially, though there are no particular flaws to this track, there is nothing about it that makes me want to hear it again.

I cannot finish this review without commenting on the newcomer, Benoît David. As a singer, he holds up pretty well on this album. Here's a man who has made a profession out of singing Yes songs, so it's only natural that he should sing them well here. However, besides his voice, I don't really feel his presence within the band in the way that you can feel Jon and his crazy mysticism. Despite being a credited as a full-time member, he merely acts as a session musician here. He doesn't seem to have had much impact on the band himself, despite taking away what Jon had there. In all honesty, I feel sorry for the guy, because it must be a dream come true for him to be the lead singer for Yes, but on the other hand he's made a lot of hardcore fans angry and, with this album, has nothing to show for it. Still, he is not the cause of the low quality of this album as most fans would have expected, and for that he should be grateful.

If this were any other band, I would consider this a 2 star release, as it is still listenable. However, 'Fly From Here' loses the extra point because of the fact that it is a Yes album. Fans of Yes aren't buying this because they think it's going to be a load of second-rate pop songs. People are still hoping for the Yes's return to form: their second coming if you will. After a gap of 10 years, you would really hope that Yes could do better than this. Throughout the album, it feels like the band haven't really put in the effort. This album is so awful, that 'Tormato' seems great in comparison, because at least you could hear Yes putting in the effort to please the listeners, even though it was misguided. I personally have egg on my face for believing that Yes could sound great again, and it is going to take a strict diet of the band's classic albums to wash out the taste of this travesty. 'Fly From Here' is a disappointment, and I recommend that you don't waste your money on it.

Report this review (#480808)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars YES, Anderson and Wakeman are not on board. YES, Horn and Downes are back. YES, there's a Roger Dean's cover. Does it make this album a Yes one? My answer is YES. First of all, the so called epic is not a suite but 5 songs tied together with some sort of continuity. That isn't per se a bad thing, but the transitions are somewhat forced, which prevents the parts from flowing as they should in a multipart song. Benoît David's voice is hafway between Jon's and Trevor's, which IMO is a good thing, because it still sounds like Yes. Squire's bass gets more presence than Howe's guitar and White's drums are kinda buried in the mix, but I think that it helps the music (in Drama he often sounded like a hard rock drummer). As for the songs, the highlights (the prog ones) are We can fly overture, parts 2 and 3, and Into the storm. The songs are simpler but have catchy hooks, and the lyrics are comprehensible. Some call this album Drama II, but im my opinion this is more of a group effort than merely a follow up resurrected from the vaults. A solid 3,5 stars.
Report this review (#481283)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars It's difficult for me to even start to describe the way I feel after listening to the new "Fly From Here" album by Yes. Yes has been my favorite band of all time and despite the constant changes in the band's line-up they remained on the top of musical creativity .Over the years Yes attracted musicians possessing unparalleled talent and creativity (if not an unparalleled ego ) . Each of them brought along certain changes and new endeavors into band's realm sparkling endless debates among band's fans , but at the end of the day Yes remained on the top of the game. Not any more. Is that Yes ? The band who recorded Close To The Edge and Relayer ? The band who's inspiration and creativity seemed to be coming from above ? I remember the time when Yes fans were reeling after the Trevor Rabin "reinvention" of Yes' sound,but looking from the perspective it wasn't all that bad,it was rather refreshing and enticing.What happened to the band now is simply saddening.They can call themselves Yes and that is what they will be perceived of in the realm of copyright lawyers , but for me personally this album is the last nail in the coffin of my once the most favorite band. Real and loyal Yes fans were always ready to forgive their favorite band little quirks every now and then , because everyone knew that after Don't Kill The Whale or Arrival Of The UFO something great will definitely find it's way into the world out of the recording studio, but this time it's different,this is the mediocrity in it's worst incarnation. I propose the alternate tittle - The Shadow Of Yes (The Deceit )
Report this review (#481296)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars 3.5, really. I was quite surprised by Yes latest release. Granted, i had very little expectations on this one. First and foremost I´m and always was a big Jon Anderson fan. To me it is inconceivable to hear yes without him. Second, I was never a big fan of Drama. So I was not happy when I heard abou t his sacking and Wakeman´s leaving. And not really thrilled when I heard the Drama line up was back. Well, not completely. Geoff Downess was back on keyboards alright, but Trevor Horn is not the singer this time. But i was not that interested anyway. However, several friends talked endelessly about this record. So much so I decided to give it a shot. And I was quite surprised by how good it came across in the end.

Ok, this is not even close of their best stuff of the 70´s. But I found Fly From Here quite refreshing and inspired, something the latter Yes studio albums were not. The overall music is different, but charming. Steve Howe is the one that shines the most here, with his trademark guitar licks and solos soaring all the way through the CD (yet, not even him is overwhelming). The rest of the band sounds a bit subdue, but maybe this is what the new music asked for. I was surprised how discreet the once so flashy Downes is now. Still the music is quite good, even if much less bombastic than we would expect. I was totally blown away by the title track six part suite: it is one of their best songs ever and I loved Benoit David´s voice. He surely sounds a lot like Jon Anderson, but nothing here seems forced or unnatural. It looks like he is just that way and it works wonders here. I guess I had to change my mind about not swallwing Anderson´s departure. If you can´t have him, then I must admit David is next best thing.

Unfortunatly the remaining tracks are not as strong or remarkable as the first (something very common on any latter-day Yes album), but none is bad. The best is the closer Into The Storm, another fine moment in here. Solitaire is a little acoustic guitar piece. The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be, Life On A Film and Hour Of Need are ok songs. trevor Horn production is very good.

Conclusion: a nice surprise. The music may be different, simpler and lighter, but it is very good anyway. Yes lately was just repeating a formula and it was wearing down fast. This time they made a worthy record. With a little more efford on the songwriting department and some road work with the new line up and I´m sure they´ll come up with something really outstanding for their discography.

A good new start.

Report this review (#481529)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The tension and the waiting are over, Yes have finally released "Fly from here" and it has to be said that in their present form, Yes are better without Jon Anderson. Really, they are. This is perhaps the most Yes-like album that fans have hoped for, but given up expecting. Surprisingly the combination of Downes and Horn are probably more responsible for this happening.

When Yes announced another reunion and a 40th anniversary tour, fans naturally thought that this would be their swansong, indeed, the lack of Anderson on the tour and the inclusion of Benoit David would have reinforced this thinking. But a more exciting revelation at the time was that Yes would return with a new album. Since this time there has been a lot of speculation and some pessimism about the end result. The line up changes continued through the creative process with Oliver Wakeman out and Downes (Asia) brought in. In addition it was hard to predict how Horn would help to reinvent the new Yes lineup. Horn has produced a polished Yes album that can stand proudly with the other classics. Is as good as the classics, sadly, no. But it is the next best thing.

Purists will argue this isn't Yes, there is no Anderson and who is the interlopper who is trying to sound like him? Benoit David has tough shoes to fill, however after listening to the album after a few minutes you realise that David has not tried to sound like an Anderson clone, true there are some shades of his voice, but overall this is a different voice, a worthy replacement. Howe is as classy on guitar throughout and his sound is prehaps the strongest link the album has the old era Yes, the track "Solitaire" reminds us of the beautifulshort interlude classical pieces of the classic Yes. There is the distinctive slide guitar sound there too, a far cry from the Rabin/Yes period. It may have seemed harsh at the time, but the change of Keyboards from Wakeman Jnr to Downes was an inspired move, clearly his songwriting, sounds and direction were the right choice for the project. Squire and White still provide one of the most solid rhythm sections any band has ever seen, and vocally Squire provides more of the familiar Yes sound. 3 stars would be too little to sum this quality release up, 5 would imply the album was a Yes classic, 4 is the ideal. If this was a star rating for the last 20-30 years then this album would indeed be a 5 star effort. If you needed more convincing that you should get this album, look to the cover. The fact the Roger Dean artwork is back on the cover, speaks volumes about the quality and mindset this album has. Breath in, this is the Yes album you wanted.

Report this review (#481825)
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Drama part 2. Fly From Here part 1 ' We Can Fly was the first song that Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes rehearsed with Yes before they became part of the band for the Drama album. They played the song live a few times (it can be found on 'The Word Is Live') but didn't make its way onto the final album. It has been expanded here into a 5 part 24 minute 'epic' (although the individual parts are quite distinct) with the addition of an overture, reprise, instrumental section and a couple of new songs using a similar motif to part 1.Unsurprisingly it sounds similar to Drama, although more on the poppy side as most of the music is from Horn and Downes and this is the Drama line up with new man Benoit David on lead vocals. Horn and Downes have added a more melodic feel to this album that was missing from some of the more recent Yes material. Whether this is to everyone's taste is debatable, especially if you were looking for a return to the progressive epic era of the early 70s.

Of the other material, we have a Squire lead vocal on his song 'The Man You Always Wanted To Be', another Horn/Downes number 'Life on a Film Set' (which is lyrically suspect but has a catchy vocal hook), an excellent Howe number 'Hour of Need' where David's vocals are impressive followed by a Howe guitar instrumental 'Solitaire' which is nice but perhaps a bit disjointed. Finally a band written number 'Into the Storm' is a great ending, with a vocal from the title track drifting in.

Of the band members, Howe and Squire are on good form, Howe in particular contributing some of his trademark soloing, David proves to be a fine vocalist, if perhaps lacking a little in character, and Downes' keyboards help to provide a great overall sound to the album. Only White is strangely subdued here, with very little in the way of drum fills.

Overall this is my favourite Yes album since Drama and a very pleasant surprise. After the recent upheavals and the loss of Anderson, I wasn't expecting much but now I can't wait for the next one.

Report this review (#481845)
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
mystic fred
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As good I would have expected, "Fly From Here" sounds very much Drama era Yes, with more than a nod in the direction of their symphonic predecesors, though slightly lacks the impact of Drama and the adventurism of their early albums.

I understand the main theme songs were written during the Drama sessions but never used, they are strong Yes tracks and pleased to see them brought out "into the light" (he he!) here, all the songs are good and up to standard, Fair do's the production on this album sounds magnificent as a good Yes album should on my vinyl copy, no excuse for poor sound in this modern age of state of the art studio technology, though i've heard a few duffers over the last few years.

New singer Benoit David seems born to fill Jon Anderson's shoes, though playing safe he is a good soundalike, he slightly lacks the impact, light and shade of his predecessors but is pleasant enough to listen to, maybe he'll settle in better after a tour and be more confident on the next album.

The other legendary performers sound in fine form, their signature solos, licks and phrases are all there to enjoy again and sound refreshed from their long abscence from each other. Yes has had many trials and tribulations over the years but doubt if we'll see Rick Wakeman back with the band, though i did hear one of his sons Oliver was up for the job and worked with the band on the new album but was dismissed...? ....shame.

Great artwork and flight theme all go together to make a great comeback album for Yes, though the old purist cynics could have a field day criticising it, the guys have stood up well here to keep up their reputations on all counts, personally i am just chuffed to have a new pretty well up to standard Yes album in my hands, the Spirit of Prog is still alive and kickin', show 'em guys!!

Though Fly From Here is by no means a masterpiece, it will remain a worthy addition to Yes fans and Prog fans alike, and the album will remain on my turntable for some time to come i know. .

Report this review (#483135)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Welcome back, Yes. It may not be the best they've ever done, but it is a Yes album. It is way better than all the after- 90125 rock-oriented albums. They seem to return to the Drama-era, which is logical in a way, considering the members and producer present on this album. I read, in an interview with Benoit David in a British magazine, that the band had bits and pieces of songs which they fitted together to create the Fly From Here suite. To me, it is a decent song which shows that, even though the band members are (mostly) all in their 60's, they can still create something respectable and enjoyable to listen to. Less mystical, but interesting none the less. The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be is the weakest point in the album. Life On A Film Set is slightly better. Hour Of Need and Into The Storm are good Yes Songs. I frankly had a doubt when I heard that Yes would make a new album with those band members. It almost sounded as if Asia had a side-project! Thank goodness, it is way better than expected. Let's just hope that the next album will be even better. I've listened to it 6 times in 2 days and, to my joy, it sounds better and better.
Report this review (#483214)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ok This my second listen of the new Yes Cd and lets get a few things straight.

It's not Yes or Time Nad A word because it'd doent have Peter's guitar

It's not the Yes Album because it doesn't have Tony's Hammond B3 sound

It's not Fragile or Close because it doesn't have Bill's drumming style or Rick 's grandiose approach and classical sound.

It's not Tales because it doesn't have Jon lyrics imagery and soaring vocals.

it's not Relayer because it doen't have Patrick 's ecclectic keyboard sound.

I't not Going for the One because becaur it's doesn't have a Roger Dean drawing

it 's not Tormato and thank god for that.

It could be Drama part two and it is just fine

It's not 90125, Big Generator or Talk because Trevor R is nowhere in sight.

I's not Union because Union doesn't count

It's not the Yes I discovered in 1972 but that Yes was far from the Yes of 1969. like the yes from 1977/79 was far from the Yes of 1971/75, The Yes from 1983/94 was far from the Yes of 1980 and so on.

Today's Yes is not the Yes from and other era (well maybe a bit Drama like i said before) it's 2011 Yes.

You see I like this CD for what it is a good piece of music. it may not be covered in the nostalgia we expected but it's still a good listen..

We always praise artist you don't repeat themselves all the time and Yes has been doing this throughout there entire career.

Report this review (#483972)
Posted Saturday, July 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Could be a bit more dramatic

Fly From Here is the first new Yes studio album in precisely 10 years. The exact line-up of the Drama album from 1980 is back with the only exception that Trevor Horn - who did the lead vocals on Drama - having now moved to the producer's chair and new guy Benoit David talking over for Horn behind the microphone (though Horn still provides backing vocals here along with Squire and Howe and Squire even takes the lead on one track).

Many reviewers have emphasised the similarities between the sound of this album and that of Drama and there are indeed similarities. However, Fly From Here sounds a bit like a toned down or even watered down version of Drama to these ears. While Drama is one of my all-time favourite Yes albums (and rated with five stars along with Close To The Edge, Fragile and The Yes Album), it would be unreasonable to expect another masterpiece on the lines of Drama here. And neither did I. Indeed, my expectations for this album were not high. Still, even if good, this album is a bit of a disappointment for me. The comparisons with Drama must be joined by a strong disclaimer: there is simply nothing on Fly From Here like the metallic and heavy Machine Messiah or the frantic Tempus Fugit. Squire, Howe, Geoff Downes and Alan White were on fire on Drama, but on the present album they sound sleepy and lazy in comparison. Fly From Here is an altogether more laidback and less "dramatic" affair than was Drama. The only track on Drama that can give you a good idea of the Fly From Here material is perhaps Man In A White Car.

One of the main aspects of the Yes sound is that bass, guitars, drums and keyboards all "compete" with each other for being in the foreground of the sound. While most other Rock bands rely on a rhythm section of bass and drums and only guitars and lead vocals are allowed into the foreground of the sound, in Yes music every instrument is usually in the foreground including the keyboards, creating a uniquely "loaded" sound that is full of excitement. This was very much true of albums like Close To The Edge, Relayer, Drama and many others. Fly From Here is a bit lacking in this respect. Still, Fly From Here is not bad as such.

Like Trevor Horn, Benoit David too has a Jon Anderson-like voice and with the familiar voices of Squire and Howe in the background, Fly From Here is very much a Yes album vocally speaking and I don't miss Anderson here at all. Still, it must be pointed out that Yes has always been joined by strong personalities with strong musical identities: Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman in the early 70's, Allan White in the mid 70's and Trevor Rabin in the early 80's, etc. all of them very different from the people they replaced. Howe was no Peter Banks clone, Wakeman no Tony Kaye clone, White no Bill Bruford clone, Rabin no Steve Howe clone, etc. Instead, all of these people brought something new and fresh to the band. Benoit David, on the other hand, is a Jon Anderson clone and he thus seems out of place in this collection of people, talented though he is. If I were in the band's shoes, I would not have opted for a sound-alike but instead for someone who is strongly dissimilar to Anderson - someone with his very own vocal identity, someone with a unique voice in its own right. It would have been very interesting to hear what Yes would have sounded like with a totally different type of vocalist. Still, David does a fine job here.

The title suite that forms the first half of the album is the best part of Fly From Here. The six parts do not form a continuous piece of music like Close To The Edge, The Revealing Science Of God, Gates Of Delirium, etc. but rather are independent songs interconnected by some common themes. The opening Overture is promising comes to a rather abrupt end to leave space for the mellow We Can Fly (that was released as a single). While not weak at all, I feel that the overture could have been developed further and a more smooth transition could have been made perhaps. Squire's distinctive bass lines and Howe's unique guitar sound make it unquestionably Yes, but Downes and White are somewhat relegated to the background. Overall, a pleasant suite for hungry Yes-fans.

The second half of the album is in general less interesting compared to the first half, but the closing track Into The Storm is good enough. Band leaders Squire and Howe get their own individual tracks. The Chris Squire-led The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be is sadly one of the weakest and lamest songs in the entire Yes catalogue and also in comparison with Squire's works outside of Yes (Conspiracy, The Syn and solo). The lyrics are cheesy and every single member is on autopilot. Howe provides an acoustic solo piece aptly called Solitaire. It is pleasant enough but hardly one of his better pieces in the style.

The conclusion is that Fly From Here is far behind Magnification, Keystudio and The Ladder in quality, and is even slightly behind Big Generator, Talk and Open Your Eyes. Indeed, in my opinion, Fly From Here is the least good Yes album since 90125 from 1983 (the only Yes studio album I have rated as low as with two stars) and one of the least good Yes albums ever. Still, a good one from these veterans of progressive Rock.

Report this review (#484284)
Posted Sunday, July 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars It would be so easy to go the "better-than,worse-than" comparison route in reviewing this new YES release, but times have changed, personnel have changed and literally, the members have changed as people (most upward of 60 years). So taken at face value, how is this album? I'll try to express without comparison to all of the YES albums I love and don't love.

The initial listen reveals a pleasant overall produced sound and solid performances. The sound is balanced, the vocals are up front and clean, and it sounds like YES. This is an enjoyable listen.

The songs vary in their intensity and prog-ness, but safe to say that 60% is more of a progressive arrangement and the rest more straightforward (like say, All Good People). Within those arrangements is a more tame sounding group of musicians that have mellowed over time. Steve is no longer grinding his guitar to sawdust, but his arrangements are still great and there are some really nice leads. Chris brings his slightly toned-down Rickenbacker sound, but the climbs and syncopation make this sound like YES. Alan is definitely mellower, but solid as usual, keeping everything accessible. Geoff Downes adds a nice blend of classic keyboard sounds (Hammond Organ and strings) and arrangements that keep the ethereal 70's sound intact. Benoit David sings well and hits the same stratospheric pitches that Jon Anderson and Trevor Horn have laid as the centerpiece of past releases, but he sounds more similar to Horn, which fits well with the Horn/Downes compositions. With Horn singing some background vocals, this makes for a very strong vocal album.

And so the vocals... When Chris Squire is singing with either Jon Anderson, Trevor Horn Trevor Rabin or Benoit David, the sound in uniquely, YES. Fly from here vocals sound like YES. In fact, regardless of who is singing, the vocals work. The harmonies are sweet, well-produced and up-front in the mix. Even those of us who lament the absence of Jon Anderson cannot help but feel uplifted by this album. Vocals are not a problem.

In the new Jon Anderson release, you can hear Jon expressing what he feels to the fullest and wonder whether a classic YES-sounding release such as Fly From Here would be possible with Jon at this moment in time. Not that one couldn't dream, but sometimes there appears to be a divide between Jon's spiritual, lighthearted and open-minded approach to musical styles compared to the more cemented approach of the other musicians to be crossed in order to create a classic YES album together.

So the music. Although you may not be able to tell without having read it, the album is made up of songs written by Horn/Downes around 1980, some odd bits penned by individuals over the years, and the last song on the album being created by the entire group. While this is not encouraging when considering the composers access to well of songwriting creativity, it enforces their ability to take any music and turn it into YES music. As instrumentalists/arrangers, YES are still solid as a rock. As composers...well they've managed to lean on other composers such as the Buggles and Trevor Rabin for material to YES-ify, and as long as they can find that source, there will continue to be YES music.

Jon Anderson's well has certainly not run dry, so I would guess that the next album will be with Jon, if the other members can find a way to work together with Jon's style to maintain classic YES musical arrangements, and if Jon can give a little. There could be more Jon- YES in the future.

For now, there is as much reason to be excited about YES as there has been in a long time. This is a very good album that makes you feel like you feel when you hear classic YES. And that's really what it's all about.

Report this review (#485502)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#486018)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars YES has trouble taking off on its way to Love Beach

Full Disclosure :

I've been a huge YES fan since I first heard The Yes Album back in 1971. Some of my most favorites are Close to the Edge, Drama and Big Generator. I've seen the band live twice with one of the concerts being the Union tour.

Production :

As mentioned by many others this album is somewhat of a throw back to the 80's sound that YES had. I found it a little thin and lacking in the richness of previous recordings much more in line with the Buggles I Am a Camera, which YES did a much better version of. Sure the band draws on the YES conventions of Drama era guitar sounds but overall it feels bland and uninspired. Excessive use of reverb and tremolo on the keyboards to give the dreamy effect wore thin by track 3. Most of the percussion seems lost in the mix except for the snare. Squire's bass gets the best treatment and is the lone star of the rhythm section.


Song Writing :

This is another area where this album falls short. Overall the song writing sounds more like they just went through parts of the Drama and 90210 albums and picked pieces here and there to interject into the songs. Perhaps the well has run dry. It sounds more like a YES version of an ASIA album. And if this is thought of as a follow up to the Drama album, considering the personnel, it pales in comparison. This recording leans far to the pop side of YES and turns its back on the truly progressive music YES is mostly known for.


Originality :

This is a hard one, while YES is most definitely an original band but this particular recording draws too heavily on the segments of sounds and songs of the past to be truly original. But since there are a few key original YES members absent this may explain why. Even though YES has undergone many personnel changes and rotations in the past this the songs on this recording are mostly forgettable as a result.


Performance :

YES are a group of extremely talented musicians individually as well as in group form. They play well enough but for the fact that it all sounds uninspired. Like they're playing music they don't really believe in. I certainly appreciate Geoff Downes as a keyboard player but his work on Drama is far superior, as is most of the rest of the band. I'm not overly impressed with Benoit David's vocals even if he is a Jon Anderson imitator. Most of his parts appear to be heavily overdubbed and harmonized to give a choral effect. The odd times I hear a solo voice I'm thinking it might be Trevor Horn even though Benoit is credited with lead vocals. This begs the question, could YES still be thought of as YES if the vocalist didn't sound like Jon Anderson or is that such a part of the YES mythos that any other vocal styling would necessitate a change of band name? Since the music here is more pop than prog I find the performance to be, for lack of a better term, lazy. There also seems to be a real lack of emotion conveyed in the music which it present in most other YES albums.


General Impressions :

Yes, I did invoke one of Progs most hated albums (Love Beach ) by another of one of my favorite bands at the beginning of this review because for me that's what this recording represents. A complete and total break down of what the band has produced during its varied career. More like an obligation to produce or an expectation than an inspired and creative endeavour. When the last song finally ends I'm left hanging there wondering if there should be more although to be honest, I'm glad there isn't. This album is a huge disappointment given the amount of time since their last recording. While I'm willing to concede they didn't spend that entire decade preparing this album it sounds like they didn't spend all that much time at all on it. YES needs very badly to redeem themselves in my eyes if they aren't going to be relegated to the status of a self tribute band.


Total = 49/100 (49% of 5 stars)


Report this review (#486379)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Amazing new CD from music pioneers "Yes". Fly From Here is the first new album in 10 years. Since 2001's Magnification which certainly had some fantastic moments but also had some of Yes's lowest moments. Well I am happy to say after repeated listening I can finally make an honest review. I will start by saying that this is the first Yes cd in years that just I keep playing over and over again. Like all of my favorite Yes albums they grow on you as you learn the nuances of the songs . There is way too much going on to hear it in one or two listens. I don't care what anyone says about that fact. Upon repeated listening this cd reveals itself as true amazing Yes music..... Trevor Horn produced or over saw the production of this and in the process wrote 50% of the music. He is a very prolific song writer IMO. These compositions on FFH by Horn are out takes from the Drama days and songs he and Downs wrote for Yes in the Buggles era. I had previously listened to all these songs as demos from the Buggles sessions and always thought...Man, these songs would be incredible if Yes recorded them. Well I can't believe it but they now have. Thank you Trevor Horn for bringing Yes out of the dark again. This is definitely the bands best effort in years.It also is the best sounding recording of Yes which is typical of Horn, every instrument and musical moment is clear and dynamic. Top notch production. Despite the fact that Jon Anderson is not the lead singer/guru, the music lacks nothing in the vocal department. This album is full of beautiful lush vocal work. Benoit David stands his ground as the lead singer. He sounds like himself then at times reminiscent of Horn and there are plenty of moments when you swear you can hear Anderson in the Harmonies or that "Yes" sound so to speak. Chris Squire is equally great on his vocal work as well and his bass playing sounds amazing. He really came up with some classic bass hooks throughout the whole cd. What can you say about Steve Howe? He is what makes this music exciting for me.He is always on the edge with his lead guitar fills. Still creating that dark or heavenly sound with his slide or strumming and picking on the acoustics. He does it all here in fine fashion. Alan White may appear to be doing less than the rest but like Ringo was in the Beatles, Alan is to Yes. He plays the song. It is almost magical because he makes it sound so easy and it really isn't. He certainly is a seasoned pro behind the drum kit. He gets a great blend of acoustic drums and triggered percussion. He is rock solid throughout. Enter Geoff Downs. Geoff is the glue to this whole cd pretty much. He lays it down with lush, full, spacial soundscapes like a bed for Squire, White and Howe to lay down in. Sometimes he reminds me of Vangelis if that makes sense. But over all Downs part is big and present. Oliver Wakeman gets credit for playing keyboards on We Can Fly and Hour Of Need. Yey Oliver. A good keyboard player and a good man. Now the songs.... 1.Overture.....a classic way to begin any Yes album. I liked it iright from the start. And it set up a brief compact introduction of what was to come in many ways. This is classic sounding Yes to me. 2. We Can Fly.......Heard it years back and can only say wow. They really made it sound fresh and most importantly, it sounds like Yes. What a great song to debut or introduce Benoit David. Everyone is rock solid but Howe is especially noted on lead guitar through out. 3. Sad Night At The Airfield......Wow...Steve howe plays acoustic guitar so sweet and beautiful and the vocal work that follows is just unreal. Anyone want to argue that this isn't Yes music still? This is the first stand out on the cd for most people. 4. Madman at the Screens.....This song has the classic mix of Buggles and Yes imo....Once you start to really hear it you realise just how rocking and pulsating the groove is. Killer bass by Squire start to finish. White rocks hard and steady. in great support. 5. Bumpy Ride.....this is a quirky little piece that seems to be edited in out of no where.The only wierd part of the album. It has that Torrmato era thing going on but it seems to be abrupt to the flow and equally jarring as it segues back into 6. We Can Fly Reprise....Just what it says it's a reprise of song we get to song # 7. The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be.......At first listen I was thinking oh this is different. Squire sings the lead on the first verse.The chorus and following verses are sung in harmony where Benoit sounds the most like Anderson to me. It is one of those songs that grows on you especially the last 2 minute section where they are singing in classic Yes harmony EEya EEya EEya EEya EEya over this Beatlesque acoustic guitar strumming. Squire is holding it down with a classic bass liine hook and then Howe solos away in counterpoint like we haven't heard in ages. Almost sounds like the going for the one era maybe. A real high point for me after many listens now. 8. Life On A Film Set......OMG this song is just simply amazing. It has Alan whites best drumming on the album and it is complex in signature and moving at a quick tempo. Benoits vocals are just awesome on this song. Very Yes/Buggles sounding music. This is one of Horns songs that I always wanted to here yes do and they just nailed it. Wow what a tune. 9. Hour Of Need......A cool little acoustic tune where Mr Howe plays his Portuguese folk guitar. It is a nice break from the other songs and features some great vintage synth lines from Oliver Wakeman. Once again the vocals sound like classic Yes that any Yes fan would certainly like. The Japanese import has an extended version of this song which has an extensive instrumental intro and outro with some of Alan Whites most featured drum fills and great soloing from Howe. I can't figure out why they left it off the cd.. 10. Solitaire...A great happy, hoppy little solo piece from Steve in much the same vein as Mood For A Day or The Clap. It is a clever arrangement with all the Howe trademarks. Really enjoyable. 11. Into The Storm.........What a perfect song to end the album. This is classic Yes like Release or Tempus Fugit. It is rocking hard and fast from the start. There are some cool synth parts as well as raunchy guitar riffs all filled out with great vocals. Once again if you close your eyes you can hear Jon in there. Sounds like Yes to me. Halfway through this turns into a sound scape where Steve Howe plays some blazing guitar until the end lands us back to where we just flew from............. A truly great album from one of the truly great bands of our time. Too bad for the personal politics and problems they have had over the years. It is too bad that Jon wasn't singing on this. I said that about Drama too. At least we still have Yes around to enjoy and hear new music from after 40 years of playing together in one incarnation or another. As ex Yes member Billy Sherwood quoted on facebook..... "Yes is an amazing band with amazing people and politics. Things are not always what they seem. On with the show...... I couldn't agree more............Get Fly From Here and .......Fly..............
Report this review (#486381)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes' Fly From Here is their best progressive album since 1980s Drama, released with a similar lineup of musicians. The album begins with Fly From Here, a track written by the Buggles (Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes) in 1980. It is one of the best Yes tracks of all time, though it fades somewhat after its initial mastery. The album has many other admirable tracks, including Life On A Film Set and Into The Storm. The production is astounding, completely devoid of the muddiness of many Yes albums. The mood of the album is forbidding and very timely, stately and not at all obscurantist like past Yes albums with Anderson. The musicians play as well as their reputations and the newcomer, Benoit David, sings as beautifully as Horn or Anderson ever did.

This is a great example of a Prog album and the best thing going at this point in music history. I have spent very little of my life listening to Magnification or the Ladder, but I will spend a good dose of it listening to this album frequently and with great devotion.

Report this review (#486417)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars First let me start with a few comments. I've been a Yes fan since hearing "Every Little Thing" back in 1970. While the "best Yes" may be Jon, Steve, Rick, Chris & Bill in my humble opinion, all versions have been better than 97% of all other bands. As for this album Beniot David has a great voice, and having listened to Jon Anderson's two newest releases I am not sure his voice is powerful enough to lead a band like Yes any longer, but I do miss Jon's lyrics. Rick is missed in the orchestrating aspect of the music, the bridges between the different sections of the suite "Fly from Here" might blend better and more coherently with Rick at keyboards. That said this is still a beautiful piece of music when looked at objectively. If compatred to " Awaken" then yes it lacks a little, but so does 99.99% of all other music. Steve plays beautiful throughout although a little subdued, Chris and Alan are very tasteful as well, it is clear that age, maturity has mellowed their music but there is nothing wrong with that. I wonder about Horn/Downes writing credits for 60% of the album since Yes were recording a full album before the contacted either, and had finished a full albums worth of recording with Oliver Wakeman before Downes came on board, what happened to all of that music? The album doesn't have the aggressive drive of the "Classic" Yes or the jazz influence but still a beautiful work. "Hour of Need" is a beautiful song, why does only Japan get a six plus minute version and the rest of us get about four minutes. Only "Life on a Film Set" leaves me a little wanting, the rest will be in regular rotation for a long while. All in all a tremendous work and better by far to me than anything I've heard from any of their original 70s prog contemporaries. If you need aggression & heavier music, well thats what Porcupine Tree and Riverside et al are for, but for shere beauty it hard to find one better.
Report this review (#487990)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars YES is back! I have to say that I was surprised to hear that this new album was coming out a few months ago since it's now been 10 years since their previous effort, Magnification. After an absence that long, I quite honestly never expected to hear anything new from Yes again.

I guess the question you may be asking is, "Do I WANT to hear something new from Yes?" After all, most of the 80s and 90s did not give us much to look forward to. However, starting with parts of the Keys to Ascension, then (after a brief detour to record what is probably the worst Yes album ever, Open Your Eyes... oh yes, your time is coming), The Ladder and (especially) Magnification, by the late 90's/early 00's Yes seemed to be having a little bit of a creative renaissance.

Well, for me the answer is a resounding YES! To my ears Fly From Here is the best album from the group since Drama.

Speaking of Drama, yes, the title suite does sound somewhat similar to that album. Overall though, "Fly From Here" is a bit less dark than Drama in sound and lyric. Although like a lot of suites "Fly From Here" tends to be more a collection of songs than a single, epic-length piece of music, I find it does hold together well both musically and thematically.

The stand alone tracks on the second half of the album may not be as good as the title suite, but only slightly. I found Squire's "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be" to be very positive and I although the lyrics to "Life On A Film Set" were a bit repetitive, I enjoyed the music on that track as well.

Howe's two tracks were also very enjoyable. I liked the vocal harmony on "Hour of Need" and the short instrumental was a nice change of pace.

"Into The Storm" was a good album closer and I'd say it was probably the highlight outside of the title suite. Again, it reminded me a bit of the Drama album, but with a much more modern sound that was influenced by something like Spock's Beard.

I supposed I should also make mention of the new singer, Benoit David. He's fabulous. He sounds like a cross between Jon Anderson and Trevor Horn to me and I liked both of their vocals. The only thing I guess I can really say is that it may have been neat if they had gotten someone who sounded completely different from Anderson, but I can understand why they didn't and David's voice works perfectly with the material recorded on Fly From Here.

Don't get me wrong, this album is the classic 1970s albums (nor do I think it tries to sound like them). What I can say is that in terms of the quality and enjoyment I got from it, Fly From Here is the best Yes album of the past 30 years.

Report this review (#488091)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not the best Yes for me.......but each to their own. This is a pleasant album; I think I should be clear on that score from the start. Highlights for me are Trevor Horn's production, Benoit David's vocal performance and Steve Howe's guitar work. Awesome! But unfortunately for me the sum of the individual parts is not greater than the whole and the album - having listened now half a dozen times - doesn't inspire me or motivate me to listen again with anticipation of something that is special. Because new Yes albums WERE special once upon a time.

Track highlights for me are 'Sad Night at the Airfield' (beautiful melody and harmonies) and 'Bumpy Ride' (the most progressive they get on this album) and yet the much lauded long track 'Fly From Here', divided into 6 parts (two of which I've already mentioned) is no more than seperate songs that segue quite awkwardly into each other rather than a long track exploring sounds, textures, moods and progression. 'Madman at the Screens' is promising yet is far too repetive and screams of 'Machine Messiah' light. It's all rather sterile. And I've never understood why Steve Howe - however great a guitarist the man is - feels compelled to deliver what is a solo piece of work on a Yes album. He's done it before with 'The Clap' and I guess at least with 'Mood for a Day' on Fragile, all Yes members of the time were guilty of the same. But here, for what is undoubtedly meant to be a team effort, Steve's solo work 'Solitaire' stands out like a sore thumb.

Had this album been released under the umbrella of another group, I think I might have responded more positively than I have done. Three stars is not a bad result yet the reason it doesn't get more is for the simple fact that as a Yes album it doesn't stand up to the brilliance of previous works. 'Magnification' - now ten years old - was awesome. Yes were still experimenting and the resulting album with orchestra and subsequent symphonic tour was worthy of five stars, so I'm not simply harkening back to the glory days of the early 70s. But 'Magnification' had Jon Anderson stamped all over it and 'Fly from Here' does not. I'm not saying that Jon's songwriting would make all the difference, but on past evidence Jon delivers what I regard as something unique to the Yes stable and no-one has managed yet to fill his shoes. Yes remain a class act but the edge has been lost for now.

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Posted Friday, July 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars If nothing else, one of the things 2011 will be remembered for is the year that a bunch of classic-era prog acts decided to release new albums. What is possibly the most highly anticipated of them all is Fly From Here, Yes' first album in a decade. While the anticipation was met with skepticism at the lack of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman, the album is generally pretty good, and is a fine release from the boys.

First off, let's cover the two changes to the lineup: Benoit David on vocals, and Geoff Downes on keyboards. David is a good Anderson clone for the most part. There are a few times when I get so into the music and his voice that I completely forget that it's not Anderson and I really don't have a problem with that. He's a good singer, and fits in with the rest of the members, and that's good enough for me. Downes on the other hand is a bit of a different story. His keyboards are mainly reserved to the background, with his handful of leads being less than memorable; one of them being pushed extremely far down in the mix and the other sounding not quite Wakemany enough to get away with it. I enjoy Downes' contributions to the atmosphere, but the lack of more solos is pretty apparent.

The other members all play their parts, with Steve Howe being the strongest on guitar. In general, the music is softer and at a slower pace than the Yes I'm used to, but the composition remains strong. Yes manages to sound like Yes, but without quite harking back to the sound of the 70s. Having not heard anything since Awaken, however, this could just be their 80s or 90s sound in a new era. Regardless of what decade this music sounds like, it's really nice to listen to, even if the band does show their age a bit.

The focus of the album is the 6-part titular suite which gets things off to a good start. It doesn't approach the grandiosity of the epics from yesteryear, but it's consistently good. Even though the subsections are very distinct with only a few lyrics and motifs being shared between them, it still manages to feel like one song. The transitions between them are also quite rough, which is the biggest disappointment of the suite. The individual tracks are all solid, with a lot of good ensemble play and vocal passages. The harmonies are my favorite part of the whole album, and it seems like the band has retained this aspect of their music the best. While the penultimate section is pretty goofy, the final reprise is pretty satisfying and concludes the suite really nicely.

The next three songs are much shorter affairs, and are the low points of the album. They all have a couple of decent moments, but overall are quite weak when compared to the opener. The "good" thing about this is that the trio is right in the middle, so you're at least not left with the mediocrity as a final thought. The last two tracks are really good, and come at a time in the album when it really needs it. The first, Solitaire, is a beautiful classical guitar piece by Howe, and the second is a really energetic song that reminds me the most of classic Yes. These two close out the album with a bang, and leave me with a great feeling.

Even though I don't care for the three tracks in between the opener and Solitaire, there's still a good amount of really solid music to be found here. Of course, if you put this album up against Close to the Edge, you're never going to like it for what it is. However, if you manage your expectations you'll find that Fly From Here is a really good album, and a strong 2011 release that proves that the band has still got it.

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Posted Friday, July 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 10 years is a long time between releases. Their last effort,The Ladder, has become a comfortable friend of mine over the past decade, one that I visit occasionally and always find enjoyable. So, 10 years later, Yes has replaced Jon Anderson for whatever reason with Benoit David, whom I knew absolutely nothing about, brought in Geoff Downes on the boards and flash-backed to the 90125 era with Trevor Horn on vocals. Being a fan of 90125 and the original Asia album, I had hope for this new matrix. And the new Yes delivers for the most part. Benoit David has vocal qualities that are most pleasant, and while being close to Anderson's, are distinctive and unique enough to stand on their own. And with Trevor back in the lineup, the vocal harmonies are the best aspect of this release and would be 5 stars material independent of the rest of "Fly From Here". Geoff Downes brings a smoother, less in your face, keyboard presence to this, which some Yes fans may not like. But this is a more mature lineup that is not looking to make another 90125. The music is great overall, with many Yes signatures to the body of the work, but it is not as hard edged or as progressive as Fragile or anything from that Yes era. At times I can hear traces of the Yes Album in this, and also some early Asia - like influences float to the surface too. Steve Howe has some ethereal 12 string acoustic playing interjected into the 5 part "Fly From Here" suite and a stand alone piece that is like acoustic opiates to your ears. And Chris Squire contributes his usual brilliance across the album also, not only playing bass but with his smooth vocalization too. And I always welcome Alan White on Drums. A great drummer, who in this occasion, stays away from electronic drums and synth - induced percussion and just sounds solid and true. No doubt, this hybrid lineup of Yes has strong merit. And after listening to Benoit David sing , I would have no qualms about spending the money and effort to go see this lineup in concert. And it's so good to see these old stalwarts of prog re-energized and making great music again. No, this isn't Close To The Edge, part 2, and I wouldn't expect that. But as a stand alone product from the Yes kingdom it is wonderful and keeps bringing me back for more and more.
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Posted Saturday, July 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars The Buggles strike back.....It was about time

Since 1980 when the band released the excellent "Drama", I heard the phrase "YES is back" several times, sadly all of them were huge disappointments. First came the terrible "Rabin" years that almost destroyed the good memories I formed through years of listening the band. Then came "Union" and several boring albums, including the average "The Ladder" which gave me some hopes but was only a mirage.

Now after a decade of concerts, heard the same phrase again, but this time with three novelties, Jon Anderson (who in the later years was more annoying than usual) was replaced by Benoit David, the return of the amazing Geoff Downes, and with him came Trevor Horn, who rescued the sound of "Drama" that I liked so much.

Even when "Fly From Here" is not a masterpiece in the level of "Close to the Edge" or "Relayer", we are before an excellent album that pays tribute to the original sound of the band but adapting the band to a new century with original arrangements and imaginative compositions.

As everybody who knows me suspects, I'm not a fan of Jon Anderson's voice, but he is one of the symbols of YES, so I was afraid that "Benoit David" would try to please the older fans trying to be a clone of Jon, so it was a relief when discovered that he tried to sound like nobody else except "Benoit David", and does a great job. Of course the addition of "Trevor Horn" backing vocals help to create solid choirs and boost the lead vocals.

But what impressed me more is the ability of the band to sound more cohesive than ever, specially the interplay between Howe and Downes, who sound as if they had been playing together by decades and not only some months.

The music is really good and the arrangements even better, plus is great to have lyrics that sound a bit coherent for a change, so there's little to complain about "Fly From Here".

It's true, this is not the YES we are used too, but it's a second chance for the former BUGGLES, who collaborated in the creation of the last YES great album in decades, and only received a good bye after saving YES with the release of "Drama".

Now, if we want to be extremely honest, we must admit even when the "Fly From Here"suite is extremely good and the beautiful "House of Need" reminds me a bit of the "Your Move" entrance, we must accept the best days of YES as composers are behind them, but at least this release gives us a bit of hope that we will see our long time heroes finishing their long career with one or two more good albums instead of aging as a band making cover versions of themselves on stage.

In the 70's, I would had rated "Fly From Here" with no more than 3 stars,. because it pales in comparison with the real YES masterpieces, but in the XXI Century, when they took the risk of releasing a good album, I can't give them less than 4 stars, because it's a new beginning for an old band.

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Posted Saturday, July 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Remember when Yes played progressive music?

I've always loved Yes. Grew up in the 70s idolizing the band, especially Steve Howe, and even enjoyed the later Drama phase, minus Anderson, in its own way. In fact, I've bought every Yes album released and still enjoy many of them from time to time. The period from 'The Yes Album' to 'Going for the One' remains my favorite, but I've found something to like on every album since. Listening to a new Yes album was often both exhilarating and challenging, with repeated listens necessary for the beautifully complex musical forms to fully blossom and engage. That was the hidden joy of progressive music and half the fun.

But times change. If I'd never heard of the current band, I'd say that the music's certainly more interesting and accomplished than most contemporary rock hitting the waves. And there's some solid musicianship here, too, especially Steve's acoustic work.

Unfortunately, when compared to some of the other progressive (symphonic) rock coming out these days, especially from northern Europe, this release sounds surprisingly simplistic and tame to me. A few listens and time to move on. In contrast, the Flower Kings' most recent ('Sum of No Evil') is just one example of current prog-rock that both maintains and expands the genre in fresh, inspiring, even challenging ways. For me, sadly, 'Fly From Here' doesn't even come close.

I wish the guys well, though, and expect that they'll find an audience to connect with their current offering. After all, with 40-odd years of Yes in all its varieties, Yes fans differ greatly. 'Fly From Here' is a recording that seems sure to highlight those differences. The good news for fans like me is that other contemporary groups, like the Kings, are stepping up to fill the void. Head over to the 'progarchives' site and such to check out some great options that, IMO, far exceed 'FFH's' ability to tug at the beautiful memories of Yes' golden progressive era.

But we're all Yes fans here, aren't we? I guess in the end it's just a matter of discovering what Yes means to each of us and choosing Yes music accordingly. Not a bad legacy at all for a band that has given so many of us such great joy through the years.

Report this review (#489768)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ten years is a long time. Still i have been following this band since i was 11, that is since 1980...the year they released "Drama". So this, to me personally, seems like full circle, in a odd way..a very odd way. The thing is i am a HUGE fan of YES. They are my favourite band and "Relayer" and "Close To The Edge" are my favourite albums ever..the greatest masterpieces of Rock, period! But having said,that i must say that i have always been capable of judging their input free of preconceptions and fanaticism. So, on to the review and let´s make this fairly quick and painless. It is not a masterpiece but it´s definitely a strong effort. It is, to me, their best studio offering since, erm, "Drama" (it´s on par with that work), with the exception of the studio pieces of "Keys To Ascencion" (or "Keysstudio" if you which) that i adore! The epic is quite consistent, although i find "bumpy Ride" doesn´t fit well, despite being too Horn-Downes sounding. Howe and Squire excell on this song and throughout the album, as does musicianship all around. Benoit David is a good singer and although i would love to have Anderson back i find him a worthy addition. The other songs are all good, particularly the excellent "Into The Storm" (my favourite track) and "Life On a Film Set" (again a Horn-Downes sounding piece). All in all, quite a good work, but ocasionally patchy and hurried. Not a brave effort, as i would love to see again from the band that released the 70s classics but by no means anything to regret.
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Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not happy about the politics, Trevor Horn will never be part of Yes in my eyes. This, however, I will put aside.

'Fly from here' is a likeable effort, playing to the strengths of Yes' style, but it doesn't challenge the genre with anything new or adventurous.

Ignoring Steve Howe's guitar solo, I make it that there are basically 3 songs here, 'fleshed out'. The tone and feel of the music stay the same throughout, which is probably a good thing, as it creates a flow. Thankfully, it doesn't have Trevor Horn's name on the musical style, despite him writing most of the material!

When I play this over in my head I think of Jon Anderson singing, because Benoit David is, after, all only substituting for JA in a sound sense. BD has certainly done an adequate job.

Altough Yes' sound, I can also hear what I'm missing. Despite JA's gentle approach to the world, I admit I get a kick when he 'kicks ass' with his music. And it is that 'angst' that I miss.

Having moved on now to something else musically, I surprisingly find that I've quickly forgotten what I thought I liked about the album in the first place! So it hasn't got staying power.

I DO like the last track though, and it's a fitting finale to a Yes album.

For me, the album was worth making, although it may disappear into the 'also-rans' of the Yes catalogue soon enough. Then again, some of the albums that appear to be LESS popular among the 'archives community, I really like.

So, definately not as good as 'Talk', 'Union', 'Tormato' or 'Anderson, Bruford, Howe and Wakeman'. They're all at another level.

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Posted Tuesday, July 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Let me make it crystal clear straight away. This is an excellent Yes record! Besides ABWH (I know it's not a Yes album'.), KTTA 2 and Magnification their best album since the seventies. We cannot expect a new masterpiece in the class of Fragile, CTTE, Relayer or GFTO. How can we do that without the signatures of Jon, Rick, Bill, Patrick and Eddie who all in one or more ways were vital for those records? It doesn't even have tunes like Machine Messiah, Tempus Fugit nor the production capabilities of Eddy from Drama.

How can I then rate this higher than Drama? Well, we get new signatures with the excellent voice of David, nice and relaxed tunes that are better than all the rest of the Drama album, fantastic production from Trevor that is probably the best since GFTO.

Much is already said on the individual songs and I will only recommend that you buy the cd and enjoy the production!

What needs to be improved? Steve and Chris are too relaxed. It doesn't rock and you're sitting listening to an album that don't shake you, nor provoke in complexity. Do we need it? Are Yes still relevant? Yes!

I have the following pleas: Steve and Geoff: Please focus your artistic capabilities on Yes! Forget the MOR music of Asia and leave that boring stuff to Mr. Wetton. None of the Asia records comes even close to this! Challenge each other and go into the studio next time and soon with the mindset of enjoying your musicianship and challenge us! Chris: Take your phenomenal improvising bass playing on stage into the studio; combine it with the magic of Trevor's production and songwriting. All: Have fun and make a new record soon to keep the momentum in the band!

I'm already looking forward to the next record but before that watching them live in Europe this Autumn!

My rating is 4!

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Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Let's face it; does a band like Yes really stand much of a chance these days for gaining consistent critical acclaim from the prog community in general? When you've released such pivotal albums as Close To The Edge, Relayer, The Yes album etc, unless you replicate them or better them (virtually impossible) then you're simply not going to win universal praise. Now Whilst Fly From Here is never going to trouble those albums in best Yes album polls what I can say it's a very good album, their best in fact since Drama. Yes may have released a few better tracks than most of the material on here since then, Homeworld and Mind Drive to name a couple, but for sheer consistency this one wins over everything post 1980.

So their best since Drama, coincidently (?) their last and only other album without Jon Anderson. Not surprisingly, Fly From Here is going to/getting a lot of parallels drawn with that album, not least because it reinstates the Buggles duo of Geoff Downes on keyboards and Trevor Horn, though this time in purely a production capacity. The biggest and most controversial change is of course is the replacement of Anderson with Benoit David, a former member of a Yes tribute band as well as vocalist with Mystery. It has to be said that despite my feelings that Anderson can't be replaced he does a fine job and was chosen because of his similar vocal register to the great man.

Musically Fly From Here comes across as a more natural successor to Drama than 90125 which practically reinvented the band. It lacks the power and punch of Drama being a more light and airy and melodic affair but in places it kicks ass as on Into The Storm and in places on the title track, the six part piece that incidentally began life as a shorter song in the original Horn/Downes days. It's no rival to Close To The Edge of course and is more a series of short songs revisiting established themes in places but what it lacks in musical drama (no pun intended) makes up for in some strong hooks.

Perhaps not in keeping with the overall feel of the album The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be, with Chris Squire on lead vocals turns out to be a melodic highpoint and a very acceptable rock ballad. Life On A Film Set is quite diverse for its short length but perhaps the albums high point is closer Into The Storm which captures the band in rocking mode with some strong hooks too.

Naturally for a band of Yes' ability they turn in a good performance with some particularly pleasing playing from Steve Howe including a solo acoustic piece, Solitaire. I was also pleased with Squire's bass work and Downes along with drummer Alan White do what's required without particularly excelling.

Overall Fly From Here is a very welcome return for Yes and whilst not a classic is a better album than I ever thought they'd make again after the disappointment of most of the previous post Drama albums. Those still pining for the old Yes can go and listen to the new Wobbler CD, the rest of us can just enjoy them for what they are now. Enjoyable stuff and worthy of 3 ˝ stars.

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Posted Tuesday, August 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Yes' 20th studio album (counting Keys to Ascension I and II as two separate releases) bears a lot of striking similarity to their 10th studio album, Drama. It is one of only two yes albums that does not feature Jon Anderson (the other being Drama). It features the Buggles. Its release has been pretty controversial because of the vocalist, and the reception has been mixed. The band seems to be aware of these similarities, because the two black cats from the Drama album are featured on the cover here as well. It's a nice throwback (and this is probably the best Yes cover art since their classic Fragile to Relayer covers).

For me, the album doesn't really do one thing or another - certainly, nothing in it is so bad as to make me cringe and wish I hadn't heard it. This is not Open Your Eyes again, this is an album that is genuinely enjoyable. But neither is it an album that moves me to great heights or spellbinds me with it's musical majesty, the way the best Yes music from the past has.

It can be very easy to be disappointed by such results, especially considering this album was ten years coming (the last album the band released being 2001's Magnification). But truthfully I don't know what fans were expecting - Yes has not been the Yes they were in the '70s since, well, the '70s. What a Yes release is or means no longer has a simple set of parameters like Rickenbacker bass or Steve Howe solo track. Yes is a band that, for better or worse, has greatly diversified, in many directions that are not quite that similar to their '70s output. So to come into this album with the expectations of...anything, really, just demonstrates that you have pretty much missed every Yes release after Tormato.

One thing about this album that will receive a fair amount of flack is that it is both named after and based around a track that Yes played in their '80s tour, Fly From Here. It was a track that Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes (aka, The Buggles) brought with them when they came into the band back then (unlike most of Dramas tracks, which were pretty fleshed out before The Buggles entered the band). In fact, it was originally meant to be on the album, but due to time constraints (since they already had to scrap the material from when Jon and Rick were in the band), they weren't able to record it before the album was due. Well, they performed it live, it was relatively well received (certainly no classic, but fun and pleasant nonetheless), and then The Buggles left Yes and they never got to record it in the studio. The '80s version could be heard in the The Word Is Live boxset.

Does this story sound at all familiar - a band creating a studio release out of a track they performed live but never got to put to tape properly before? It should, because Magma's E-Re, which came out two years ago, did just that and was rather well received.

Fly From Here was a bit less fleshed out when it came to the table, though. Unlike E-Re, Yes has not really performed anything from the Drama era since - well - The Drama Era. Jon Anderson refused to perform it live. But three years ago, when Jon could not tour and the band welcomed Benoit David to fill his shoes, they took the opportunity to play some of the material that had been, to date, ignored. The fans loved it.

Let's face it, Yes are not getting any younger. They had the chance to record this track, and they went for it while they could - they expanded it, and honestly, they didn't do a bad job. It's certainly not an epic in the sense of Gates of Delirium, Awaken, or Close to the Edge. It's a suite of related songs, and I think even the band is aware of this (it's the only 20 minute piece they've released so far split into separate tracks on the CD).

The odd thing to me is that the songwriting credits for Fly From Here are mostly attributed to Downes and Horn . It was their track to begin with - so this makes sense - but it does kind of challenge fans to accept this as a legit Yes piece. Squire does have credits in parts 1 and 5, and part 4 (Bumpy Flight) was written by Steve Howe.

Anyways, in terms of how well they pulled it off, it's good. It's got catchy moments, some good atmosphere in part 2, and they even wrap it up nicely with the reprise at the end. It's melodic and sounds a bit more like Buggles-Yes than Drama. Again, this can probably be attributed to the fact that a lot of this track was written by The Buggles, as opposed to The Buggles being added to pre-written songs.

"Side 2" of the album (aka, the non-epic tracks) range in quality. Life on a Film Set is written by the Buggles, and while it clearly demonstrates that while what they write may not be as complex as what Yes fans are used to, they are better song writers than Squire and the two non-Yes members who helped him write The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be (the worst track on the album, in my opinion).

The Howe-penned tracks (Hour of Need, Solitaire) are the more chilled out on the album. Hour of Need is probably the second worst after The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be, but it's short. Solitaire is the obligatory Steve Howe solo and it's alright. It's not his best but it has that classic Steve guitar sound, and Steve is one of my favorite parts of Yes so I never complain about the classic Steve guitar sound.

The band did all collaborate together for the last track, and it is a pretty strong one, and even wraps up the album nicely by reprising the Fly From Here theme in the last minute.

One question a lot of fans have come into this asking is, how will Benoit do? The good news is, unlike Horn, he did not try to sing like Jon Anderson. I mean, there's no denying that on Drama, Horn did a great job filling Andersons shoes (as good as you could expect anyone to, anyways), but he failed to really create his own identity in the band. (And attempting to sing like Anderson on tour was more than he could handle). Benoit is singing in his normal singing voice, and it makes it very clear here that Yes are not trying to be what they were before - they are integrating Benoit.

Unfortunately, this is not a case of Yes up until the late 80s, where each new member brought something new to the table and changed the bands sound. Benoit is here singing - doing an alright job at it but really not impressing in any way - but, it doesn't sound like he is pushing the band in any new direction or influencing the writing in any significant way. He's just there - filling in the spots where the words go.

Overall - well, this sounds to me more like a band tying up loose ends than a band on the verge of another creative breakthrough. They wanted to give Benoit legitimacy as a band member by putting him on an album, they wanted to take advantage of recording an album without Jon to finally use that Fly From Here thing they started 30 years ago, and then they tossed on some more songs so it wouldn't just be an EP. An EP with just the Fly From here suite and Into The Storm may have worked better, and given the band more time to build up strong writing chemistry, but that's just my opinion.

This may be the last Yes album, and while it's not quite the send-off Abbey Road was, at least they didn't end it on something along the lines of Open Your Eyes.

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Posted Saturday, August 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars More Drama 10 years later for Yes.

The long awaited Yes album after a hiatus of ten years absence from the studio is one of the talking point of the prog community. I think some may have expected another classic along the lines of 'Close to the Edge' or 'Fragile' but of course that would not happen as Yes have moved onto a new decade of music and now Anderson is once again absent. One of the burning questions is how would newcomer Benoit David stand the test of filling those immense shoes. As soon as I heard his voice I was pleasantly surprised because although he does not have the enigmatic dynamic power of Anderson, Benoit has a strong high falsetto voice that sounds decidedly Yes. Anderson's voice has dissipated over the years most noticeably in the live performance, so it was inevitable he would be moved on. It would have been nice to have Wakeman back on this return but alas it is not to be. Instead it is a return for Geoff Downes and vocalist Trevor Horn joins, and therefore comparisons to "Drama" are inevitable. The lyrics are not as stark as the early Yes catalogue, no mentions of Siberian Khatru's here, instead some provocative uplifting vocals are offered; "Along the edge of this airfield. Altometers reading zero. Nights are cold on this airfield I sit alone and watch the radar, caught in the beam falling slowly into the screen." The epic 20 minute opus title track in sections is a return to form for Yes, not as bombastic as the pieces on 'Topographic Oceans' but more accessible. 'Sad Night at the Airfield' is a masterpiece track, beautiful melodies and very ambient atmospherics.

"The quality of being airborne is a motif throughout 'Fly From Here'" boasts the band's official website. The music indeed seems to be airborne, taking off higher, always uplifting and vibrant. The themes of being borne into flight are reflective of the band becoming born again in this resurgence. Steve Howe excels on lead guitar on each track and the pulsating bassline of Squire can never be under estimated.

It took me a while to get used to the vocals but the harmonies and complex structures are transfixing. I don't think it can be compared to other Yes albums easily as this is a new incarnation of the immortal group. This is a new chapter for Yes and hopefully a take off point for bluer skies. 'Madman at the Screens' is a potent reminder that in order for us to remain grounded we must hold onto what matters, love and emotional stability. The Hammond sounds, strong guitar riffs and layered bright vocals are all positive augmentations. Downes is a great keyboardist and he excels on this track in particular. The epic title track is held together with segments of tension and release, impactful passages of incredible musicianship.

'Bumpy Ride' has a jaunty instrumental section with pulsating motifs and Howe's legendary guitar sound that is unmistakeable. Squire's bass and Alan White's percussion builds to a crescendo, then harmonies drift in, and it segues perfectly into the reprise of We Can Fly, bookending the piece masterfully.

The rest of the album is a series of bright poppy tracks that are no less the Yes style we have heard on their last few albums. Radio friendly with some prog moments. The band have been going some 43 years now so it is understandable that they have progressed from pure prog to a more commercial sound. 'Life on a Film Set', one of the highlights, is a quiet drifting song that builds, Benoit's vocals are nice but not as passionate as Anderson's were. He certainly sings the high parts effortlessly, and the best parts are where he is joined by Downes or is multitracked vocally to enhance the thin vocals. Howe's acoustics are well executed on this track and I particularly like the heavy retro feel and time sig of the middle section, as good as the old years of Yes. 'Hour of Need' is acoustically driven, with soft balladic harmonies, and a solid keyboard motif. 'Solitaire' is reminiscent of Howe sitting in front of an audience kanoodling on medieval style acoustic waiting for the band to come back on. It's been done before on other albums, though he is always well accomplished of course with nice harmonic ring outs and flamenco finger playing.

'Into the Storm' finishes the album in style with a rocking sound, tons of lead guitar licks and strong basic percussion. The harmonies are excellent, high parts are noteable, and it perhaps sounds more like "Drama" than other tracks. It is a fun song, and I guess the band are not into the dark reflective concepts of past years. They are into an upbeat hopeful thematic content that may be mistaken for kitsch commercialism. There are still wonderful prog moments spread throughout, and Benoit is not too bad at all in the scheme of things. It is a better album that perhaps the last 5 albums, but if you listen to 'Tales of Topographic Oceans' immediately after, you may be amazed at how masterful that album is in comparison to this latest release. The complexity, inspired originality and downright bombastic approach has been replaced over the years for this pop prog; really these two Yes lineups are completely different beasts. Those who come to this album may be disappointed if they expect it to be in the vein of the prog giants of yesteryear. I actually had no problems with the vibrant sound as at least there was an effort in producing one sprawling 20 minute epic, if nothing else. Although Downes plays again with Steve Howe thankfully the sound is not like Asia, the members still generate that Yes sound that has made them legends of prog. Anyway, they are back and hopefully this album will lead newcomers to their past masterpieces, namely their albums 'The Yes Album' up to 'Relayer', where they really transformed the face of prog rock. The lyrics of 'The Man you always wanted me to be' perhaps sums up the state of the band these days; "What have we become, what are we running away from, we need to see life in a very different way, learning what to do after all that we've been through, no longer lost we have found ourselves anew".

Report this review (#502856)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think it's rather appropriate that Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes return once again to Yes in a moment when Jon Anderson is not part of the band. Drama once again, in so many senses.

So it's Horn at the helm in production, the old firm Squire, Howe & White providing the nucleus, with Downes returning to handle the keyboards (after Oliver Wakeman either left or was made to leave, hard to say) and the newcomer Benoit David in vocals.

Big portion of the material comes straight either from the Drama era (core of Fly From Here) or from leftovers of The Buggles (Life on a Film Set), with Squire and Howe throwing in some of their solo compositions, with the closer Into The Storm being the only true band composition.

What can we get from these ingredients of internal turmoil, recycling and new beginnings? The answer is: An excellent if a bit flawed album, at least in my humble opinion.

Starting from the songs, Fly From Here is the monstrous 25-minute suite, which is really not a unified composition, but atmospheric excellent compositions strung together by a common theme. The melodies are strong, as is the instrumentation. The only bothering part is Howe's Bumpy Ride which seems out of place and is mildly irritating. Otherwise FFM is something I would call a modern Yes classic. Sounds very much like Drama, but it's no surprise as the core of the song was already composed over 30 years ago.

From the other songs, Squire pop song The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be is rather bland and doesn't really stick to your mind. It's not bad though, just not very interesting. He also sings lead vocals here. Life on a Film Set is originally made for The Buggles, and manages to be more interesting than TMYAWMTB, also sounding very much like some songs on Drama. Hour of Need is a short semi-acoustic Howe song, pleasant but nothing out of ordinary. Solitaire is a Howe solo spotlight, quality as always from here.

It's the closer Into The Storm which manages to sound most like JA Yes, and is also along with the title track the most memorable and strongest song on the album.

Playingwise, the band is superb. Howe dominates the album, and while Downes stays a bit back, his playing is vital to the overall sound. Squire is his typical great self, and the only negative point comes in the form of drumming. White just plays it safe, nothing that could indicate that it's really him there. Kind of reminds me of Deep Purple's Ian Paice who has become indistinguishable from any other drummer in the recent years. It's not a big minus though, as the drums fit to the music. Benoit David is a very pleasant surprise, he manages to retain a Yes sound to the vocals without sounding like Jon Anderson. He sounds like himself, and he has a strong, pleasant voice. Production by Horn is very polished, almost a bit too polished for its own good, but no gripes here.

All in all we are left with two future Yes classics (Fly From Here & Into the Storm), two pleasant Howe songs, one typical Drama era song and one mediocre Squire pop song.

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. Excellent addition while being nothing groundbreaking.

Report this review (#505285)
Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars It it was not for the "B Side", the album would have received a 4.5 stars. Firstly I do not agree with many critics, including Anderson, that the album is dated. It is not dated. Good songs are good songs. I mean in prog rock trends of today, you get to see a lot of simulation of 70's music and you still like it if it is good. Why? The problem with Yes after Talk was its inability to produce an "inspired" album despite having some of the world's most talented musicians. Inspiration is not talent. Its the spirit. I suspect the band lost its inspiration because its members did not have anything new to prove to its audience or did not have any new statements to make musically. May be this is why, the band (with Horn and Downess-- who had long declared themselves as top Yes fans even before doing Drama) revisited its old unreleased music to find the long lost inspiration. and that is not a bad thing to do. They have talents and they needed a music that was heart-felt. The Fly from Here suite is that music. Now the next questions: did they perform well with the Fly from here? is it worthy a progressive rock 20 plus minutes song as a whole? Did it have the yes signature? Is it yet another Yes masterpiece? The answer: its a four-star song. It just falls short of being a masterpiece because overall it did not offer the masterpiece signature. For instance the "bumpy ride" section was a disappointment coming from Steve Howe. Plus there are too many repetitive parts. Nevertheless the suite has enough melodies, beautiful vocals and some great background guitar works that makes you listen to it again and again (well for some time). While I liked the title track, despite its shortcomings, my feelings about the remaining tracks are mixed. The remaining songs are pleasant in general-- none of them are bad. Then again none of them are really great. The closing track Into the Storm had great potentials-- but under-explored. Overall the album's best side is vocals. David is a wonderful vocalist with a lot of natural melody who pumps life into even the most mediocre composition (Hour of Need). But the album is not unputdownable. Still I highly recommend people to hear this album-- its the best after ABHW; and slightly above Talk.
Report this review (#506781)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars For all of the strange twists and turns in the history of Yes, there is nothing, nothing more bizarre than the saga of Benoit David. To understand how we ended up with a Drama semi-sequel in 2011, we have to do a little rewind, and the best place to start is 2004.

After the 2004 35th Anniversary Tour (captured on the extremely entertaining Songs from Tsongas 2-DVD set, which featured a terrific 30-minute acoustic set in the middle: you've never heard "Roundabout" until you've heard "Roundabout" as a slow acoustic Chicago blues), I really believed that Yes was done, and I was ok with it. Everybody went off to do various projects that hadn't been a possibility while Yes was endlessly touring; Anderson did some solo touring, Squire briefly reunited with The Syn, Howe did some work with Asia again, and there was even a strange union of Alan White, Tony Kaye, Billy Sherwood and Jimmy Haun (the guy who subbed in for Howe a lot on Onion, not exactly the best thing to be known for). 2005 saw the release of the Word is Live boxset, but 2006 and 2007 passed with nary a peep from the band as a unit, and I was perfectly happy at the idea of the band, after such a tumultuous history, heading into retirement after having ended on such a freakishly high note with Magnification and the 35th Anniversary Tour.

In early 2008, though there were rumblings that Squire and Howe were cajoling Anderson to get back on the road as Yes, and plans were announced for the band's "Close to the Edge and Back" tour (with Oliver Wakeman replacing his semi-retired father on keyboards). Reading Anderson's descriptions of what he had in mind made me eager to see them again: among other things, he said that he wanted to maintain the presence of an acoustic set, and was thinking about arranging stripped-down acoustic versions of all four tracks from Tales. He also indicated that the band was working on new material specifically for the tour. I was so eager to go see this concert that I purchased a ticket for it for July 18th 2008: this date is significant because I was willing to go see Yes again rather than see The Dark Knight on its opening Friday, and I REALLY wanted to see The Dark Knight.

Then the unthinkable happened: Jon Anderson suffered acute respiratory failure weeks before the tour was scheduled to begin, and was told he needed to take six months off, which of course meant no touring. This did not sit well with the others: there were rumblings that Howe and Squire had been waiting on Anderson for a while, and they weren't ok with the idea of waiting on him more. The band was going to go out on tour somehow, and a singer was needed, Anderson's feelings be damned.

The band's solution for finding an Anderson stand-in was to scour YouTube for clips for Yes tribute band singers. Eventually they settled on Benoit David, a French-Canadian singer (who sounded like a cross between Anderson and Horn) with the tribute band Close to the Edge (and his own band called Mystery). With a singer in hand, the band prepared to tour, but they also seemed to recognize this as an opportunity. When I went and saw Maybe (my pet name for this version of Yes) in December '08, I was fascinated by the feel of the first half of the show: it had a bit of a scampish, "when the cat's away the mice will play" kind of feel to it (the second half felt more conventional, unfortunately). The band actually resurrected Drama material ("Tempus Fugit" in the first half of the show, "Machine Messiah" in the second, making it the only rarity in the second half, aside from a decent new Squire-song called "Aliens are Only Us from the Future"), as well as "Astral Traveller" (which was, uh, almost 40 years unplayed) and "Onward" (which, surprisingly, had only been played in the SLO shows prior to this). I was glad David was there: he seemed almost heroic, taking on the daunting task of filling Anderson's shoes, and I felt he would go down in history as a fine caretaker for the role that would be returned to Anderson some day.

Two things developed that left a sour taste in my mouth. The first was that, while I thought the band would take Anderson's opportunity to explore several nooks and crannies of the band's history that he didn't want to touch anymore, the band didn't bother to expand its setlist any further than it had in that initial tour. The second was that Squire announced the band would be going into the studio with this lineup, which meant that Jon Anderson had just been booted from Yes the same way Mike Pinder had been booted from The Moody Blues in favor of Patrick Moraz almost 30 years earlier. This was cold: at least Anderson had already left the band when the band recorded Drama. I was not thrilled, to say the least.

So the band headed into the studio, with Trevor Horn signed on as producer. In the midst of recording, a couple of other issues surfaced. The first was that the band decided to fire Oliver Wakeman and replace him with ... wait for it ... Geoff Downes. Yup, The Buggles were back together again! The second was that the band was apparently short on new material: according to the credits, one new track ("Into the Storm") was apparently written as a band (including credits from Wakeman and David), but otherwise, the material attributed to the Howe/Squire/White trio consists of a solo guitar piece from Howe ("Solitaire"), an okayish Howe ballad ("Hour of Need"), a ballad co-written by Squire and one of his Syn-mates (as well as another guy), and what appears to be a goofy chord sequence Howe had been messing around with (more on that later). So how on earth were they going to fill out the album? By mining old material, that's how. Serious Yes fans know, of course, that the title track comes from "We Can Fly from Here," which appears on the Word is Live boxset and was actually the song that Horn and Downes wanted to give to the band in the first place (Squire added some contributions to it as well). What they may forget is that Horn and Downes recorded a second Buggles album after Drama, and that there were a few unreleased demos floating around from the Adventures in Modern Recording sessions. Listen to the bonus tracks from the 2010 reissue of that album, and this album suddenly makes sense: "We Can Fly," "Sad Night at the Airfield" and "Life on a Film Set" all originate there, and apparently so does "Madman at the Screens" (though there's no recorded demo for that included there).

The album's big statement, of course, was to take a bunch of those old scraps and build a 24- minute suite, making it the longest Yes song ever if you count it as one track (and I guess it should be). In a way, I find the idea of making this into a suite a little bit silly; I really doubt that "We Can Fly," "Sad Night at the Airfield" and "Madman at the Screens" were originally conceived to go together, and the "binding" aspects of the suite (the "Overture" that's an instrumental version of part of "Madman," the reprise of "We Can Fly" at the end, the brief "See?!! We're still prog!!!" snippet of "Bumpy Ride") seem a little forced. Plus, for all of Geoff Downes' good traits (I may hate the bits of Asia I've heard, but I still love his Drama work, and I sure like me some Buggles), he isn't exactly the ideal keyboardist for arranging a suite that lasts more than 20 minutes. And yet, from having listened to these tracks in order so many times, I find they've become one in my mind, and I have to admit that I ripped them as a single track and only listen to them as such at this point.

I would have to say that I consider all three "main" parts of the suite good, though only "Sad Night at the Airfield" approaches greatness, mostly because of Howe's incredible pedal-steel work and some really atmospheric melody twists. I've always thought that "We Can Fly from Here" was good, but even when I considered it the superior of the two "new" numbers from the Drama shows (and I don't now: why couldn't the band have figured out how to work "Go Through This" into this album??), I felt it was a little underwritten lyrically ("And we can fly from here" is repeated too much in a way that makes it feel like a demo where Horn forgot to finish the lyrics and used this as a placeholder) and not quite as lovely as it intended to be. Still, it's got its rousing moments, and it sure is nice to have a clear recording of the track with Howe's nice rhythmic bits jumping out when emphasized. As for "Madman at the Screens," well, it's a little goofy, but it's goofy in the same quasi-romantic/nostalgic way that I find "Elstree" from The Age of Plastic, and I definitely like it. It's remarkable, if nothing else, how David is able to nail Horn's singing style from old.

So the suite is what it is: not great, but definitely good, and a fascinating attempt to make what is old seem new again. The second half is a little better for me, anyway. I'm not an enormous fan of either "The Man You Always Wanted Me to be" (the aforementioned Squire ballad) or "Hour of Need," but I wouldn't skip them either. "Man" is at worst a pleasant piffle, and while "Hour of Need" is a little too blatant in its use of the "Your Move" guitar sound and a little too tacky in its attempts at social commentary lyrics, it does have some nice singing and a decent melody. "Life on a Film Set" (formerly "Riding a Tide," almost note for note) is really good, though: it starts as a slow, majestic, acoustic ballad with keyboard underpinnings and turns into an up-tempo punctuated by repeated "Riding the tiger" vocal interjections. I'm not 100% sure that's David singing (though maybe Horn just has prominent harmonies/overlays), but whoever it is, I enjoy the performance.

"Solitare" is a perfectly enjoyable Howe acoustic piece: it'll never be as iconic as "Clap" or "Mood for a Day," and I can't say for sure I'd have noticed it in any other context, but it seems like a nice inclusion here. The band probably saved the best for last, though, and it's nice to hear a track that the whole band actually had a part in writing. "Into the Storm" almost starts off sounding like Free Hand-era Gentle Giant, jumping from a brief guitar/keyboard/bass line totally different from what I'd heard from Yes before, then heads into another keyboard sound I haven't heard much from Yes, before settling into the main song, centered around interesting instrumental textures and the best vocal harmonies on the album. There's just something really heartening about the use of David's voice in the "Armies of angels are leading me on ..." parts in the context of all the group harmonies, and there's enough going on underneath the "normal" song parts that, when it transitions into a mostly instrumental lengthy coda, it feels totally natural. Of course, I find myself rolling my eyes a little at the forced "epic sweep" of David singing "And we can fly from here" a few times over the coda, but this bothers me less than it originally did. And to think I once considered this one of the album's low points.

So for all of the craziness that went into making this album, the overall result is something that's definitely well above average compared to the rest of the world, but not especially noteworthy in the rankings of Yes albums. This isn't to say that there isn't a lot of good on this album: there are good songs, and David sounds just fine, and the instrumental parts seem perfectly fine (Howe doesn't force himself upon the sound much, but I don't mind that), and the production is ... fine. And yet ... if you're going to go through all of the absurdity that happened leading up to the making of this album, wouldn't it seem like a good idea to have some more new songs ready first? Plus, well, I'm disappointed that it undoes the possibility of Magnification serving as a terrific swan- song. Still, I definitely like the album far more than not, and I can easily see lots of Yes fans loving it. I would also say, though, that if you like this album but dislike The Buggles, you're a flaming hypocrite.

Report this review (#506916)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Big name does not guarantee musical masterpiece...

An album that was made with some controversies with the legendary line-up involving Jon and Rick but it was promising the return of "Drama" that was really good album. But when I got this album I was disappointed at first spin as I expected something as dynamic as Drama which had 'Machene Messiah' and 'Tempus Fugit' at least the energy. Unfortunately this new album has nothing to do musically with Drama even though the line-up is very close with addition of new singer, Benoit. Having spun the album in its entirety for at least 5 spin, I finally conclude that the album similarity of style is closer to Asia "Phoenix" than to Yes' "Drama". I actually listened to the album reluctantly for full set and usually I stopped at fisth track because the "Bumpy Ride" is so BORING! How come Geoff Downes produces keyboard sound that is so bad, so ugly and so boring like this one? Of course I would not compare with Rick's inventive keyboard solo but at least, give me something like in Machine Messiah or at least like in "Open Your Eyes" (Asia live in Asia). But this fifth track is really a stopper. I usually skip this track because I cannot afford to have my ears went through the ordeal of this keyboard mess. From track 1 right until 4, I have to say the music is good even though there is no energy and seems like the new singer does not blend nicely with the music. His voice is OK even though less power compared to Jon and even Trevor Horn in Drama. As far as he sings with his own style, I am OK with his voice quality. But, once he tries to emulate Jon's angel voice espece\ially when he sings on the opening lyrical verse "The old prop-shaft airliners stand" (track no. 2) does not sound well and it's too much effort to emulate Jon's voice. Just be yourself Mr Benoit .... Don't try to emulate Jon's ....

I might consider this album very good if there were no other prog bands released good albums as well like Pendragon "Passion", Spock's Beard "X", Beardfish "Mammoth", Pallas "XXV" or IQ "Frequency". Meaning what? I would rather love the other albums from other bands than this album by Yes which has good artwork but the music is just mediocre - nothing that really hooks me, musically. On the "Fly From Here" epic that comprises five parts there are many repeat as well. The guitar part at the beginning of "Life on a Film Set" reminds me to ELP's "The Sage". The song is not bad actually, but by the time I reach here I have lost my patient as there has been to energy of the whole album.

Overall, the good part is that they still can make good music even though it's no longer competitive compared to new offerings from new band. And I am sure when Dream Theater releases its new album by mid of September this year I don't think I will still be interested to spin this new album by Yes even though I am a big fan of Yes. Overall rating of this album is 3-. The other good part is that this album is still much better than Yes "Open Your Your Eyes" or "Big Generator". Keep on proggin' ..!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#513336)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have been a Yes fan for many years. When I knew a new album was going to be released this year I thought it wouldn't be good. I was wrong the album is very good. Maybe is not a master piece but Fly From Here is an album to enjoy, nice surprise considering these old guys have been doing it for such a long time. Even though I miss Jon Anderson is necessary to recognize that Benoit David did an excellent job. One final tribute to Steve Howe and Chris Squire they are still amazing musicians In my opinion Fly From Here deserves 4 stars.
Report this review (#524256)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars YES 2011. 'Fly From Here'. I actually wasn't expecting anything this worthwhile from these guys. Actually, I latched onto YES with their 'Big Generator' release back in the 80's, which was O.K. but too much on the commercial side of things. Wanting to see what all the fuss was about this band's earlier material, I acquired the brilliant 'Fragile' release. 'nuff said (it's even a frad better than 'Close to the Edge' for me). Well, 1999's 'The Ladder' release of theirs showed me they still had the chops to produce some impressive Sympho-Prog, but ultimately filling much of the album with what I consider as clever, musically technical 'Pop' music. Of course, being a BIG fan of the splendid DRAMA album (as well as the 2 memorable synth-pop BUGGLES albums), I really didn't know what to expect with this release, over 30 years on, in an over 40 year career.... I love it !!! I'm also very happy that it got a vinyl release (well, CD just doesn't cut it when it comes to Roger Dean artwork...) First and foremost, new vocalist Benoit David has a very fitting voice for this band, a blend of all - Jon Anderson, Chris Squire & Trevor Horn, as well as himself (obviously) !! And the music on the album hasn't sounded this much 'Yes' since the Drama album. Having mentioned this, some of the material here were left-overs from that 1980 period. Trevor Horn is rather low-key, only contributing extra keyboards and vocals, though his production is beautiful and full sounding, providing justice to all parties concerned. Squire is one of the best when it comes to 4 strings and he is no slouch here, and Howe's guitars stand out majestically. He seems to be having a jolly ol' time. The drums from Alan White are simple for the most part, but his sound is solid and superb, adding the right amount of 'oomph' without straying into un-necessary over-indulgence (I have no problem with flashy ego-tripping, but this music doesn't need it). Regarding the keyboards - I miss Rick Wakeman, though there's a glimpse of his son Oliver on some of the tracks (buggered if he stands out though....). Geoff Downes' style is lush, symphonic and adequate, he uses quality sounds and his skills are impeccable. Without analysing the entire album's set ( I can't add much new without boring you readers, indeed if there are any.....) but 'A sad night at the Airfield' is a magnificent, emotional piece from the get-go, and the final track 'Into The Storm' is quality YES music. The weakest moment would go to to the sympathetic ode 'Hour Of Need', but the rest is satisfying Yes-prog, even if a little lite and safe. Overall, this album means 4 stars to me.
Report this review (#524525)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars What can I say ???

A new YesStudio album after a ten years hiatus. To be honest, I have boycotted their previous live tour when Jon was ejected from the band for their forty years tour. Prices were excessive and the way that the band got rid of Jon (who had some health problems) was just disgusting IMHHO.

So, "Fly From Here" is the new offering from one of the most prominent prog band of all times. Since we can forget about any Floyd, Genesis and probably Tull effort of this kind, I was quite intrigued by this new opus.

"Yes" is even performing an epic like in their glory days... The title track is not bad at all, but it can't compete with the great ones we all love & know (no need to tell you which ones, right)? The instrumental parts are quite all right as far as I am concerned. But, I have a quite mixed feeling about the new vocalist.

I had read that this guy was chosen for their previous tour because he sounded as Jon. Fair enough, but IMHHO he sounds VERY shy. It is true that this album is an attempt to go back to their roots which the previous "Magnification" not the world music combo "The Ladder" were.

What comes after the epic is not really worth mentioning as far as I am concerned. The poppish side of "Yes" during the eighties is resurging (and that's not really what I am expecting). In this respect "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be'' is particularly revealing. Very weak even if Steve is particularly great though on this track.

The sweet & acoustic guitar "Solitaire" is a showcase for Steve and it is my favorite from this album (after the title track). A good mention for the closing number as well to be honest ("Into The Storm").

I will attend their current tour in November. Hopefully, "Yes" will only play "Fly From Here" during their current tour .

This is just an average album which I will raise to three stars for the contribution of this HUGE band to the prog music.

Report this review (#531692)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you look at the booklet you takes the nostalgia. They are there, you see, with white hair and the eyes of those left hanging by a thread: the thread of time. What I do not want to spend. A little 'short-sighted, some' ailments. But they are there to witness that everything passes, less than what is already part of the legend.

Steve Howe granting his guitar and Chris Squire on bass. Alan White taxiing a drum and vibrates theplates and the disc devoted to his mother, 'support in my life'. Geoff Downes is on keyboards, chords and melodies to remember the past. There's no Jon Anderson. It had happened only in 1980, Drama. Never again. Now repeat, gentlemen. Instead of him, with a voice that let us try not to regret too much, there's David Benoit.

The album was released ten years later 'Magnification', and has a decent job. It begins with a suite: "Fly From Here", subdivided into 5 parts from early "Overture". Almost 24 minutes. Things from other seasons. Nice. The part two: "Sad night at the airfield", is a masterpiece, in times like these. "The Man You Always Wanted To Be Me" is a matter of routine, a good piece, well built, but that's all. "Life on a film set" deserves a little 'attention. We can dream up there, remember certain moments that belong to yesterday, now. "Solitaire" is a piece of Howe, who plays almost anything. Track of atmosphere, a little 'a little exotic' away. "Into the Storm" is a classic final. Everyone in the scene. You do the math.

In the words of John Lennon, many years later, after nearly forty years from "Fragile", Steve Howe hopes to have passed the audition, for himself and his group.

Report this review (#554680)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
4 stars I wasn't expecting much about the new Yes album! Maybe because in the back of my mind it would be so much easier like that, cause in the end of the day, if the album wasn't really good, I would be prepared since the beginning. I think it's a good 'strategy' for some releases, specially the big ones like this.

Well, lucky me, I was very wrong in my first thought!

Fly From Here is a very good record! Specially on the 'Fly From Here Suite' (too bad they cut it in pieces) which represents half of the album.

Too much been said about the new singer, Benoît David, and I can understand how the old Yes fans feel about it, not seeing Jon Anderson as the band front man is weird. But you know what? Benoît did a great job, really great, not trying to copy Jon's style and he did some great melodic lines here. We have some 'gifts' on the album like a track where Chris Squire (which I'm a fan) sing the lead vocals (the track is 'The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be') and of course, as he always did, great bass lines all over the place. And we have a Steve Howe solo piece on the album ('Solitaire'), thing that didn't happen since a long long time ago.

Basically we have a very good album, a little bit of old (just the right amount of it) and a little bit of new. That's is pretty good for a band with a 40 years carreer.

I just hope they didn't took another 10 years to release a new album, cause I really would like some more Fly From Here kinda record for the next year, for example.

Report this review (#574664)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Yes have always been one of my favourite bands. Yes the line up changes over the years and changing musical styles have always had an impact on their albums, but even on the worst of YES albums [Open Your Eyes springs to mind] the title track was fantastic and I can still play the album right through and enjoy the disc. This album however has disapointed me. YES fans have waited a long time for this, and the disapointment doesn't just go with the music. When I read in Classic Rock presents Prog that when Anderson was ill and only Wakeman contacted him, it actually made me sad. To think that these great musicians that once produced some of the greatest music around had resorted to this. Therefore I was very sceptical about hearing this album, but tried to be detached from what I felt about the members to what I was hearing. The cover is the best thing about this CD. Yes there is some good playing on here, and Benoit David can sing. Howes guitar is as great as always, but the magic is not there. Drama was an OK album for it's time, but this is just Drama part two. I won't go into a track by track as others have done this. Lets just say that I'm glad I borrowed this album and could give it back. Now where's my copy of Close To The Edge.
Report this review (#581094)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think that this album is a fine addition to the Yes canon.

10 years after the sappy and cod-spiritual magnification made me realise that the band I loved had finally caved in and become nothing more than a Jon Anderson solo project, I have this to rouse me from my slumber. I love Fly from Here. I love the fact that it isn't full of Walt Disney-esque orchestral inteludes, I love the fact that Jon's missus isn't mentioned once. I lvoe the fact that Steve Howe remembered where his distortion pedals were. I love the fact they remembered what 7/8 was. I love the fact that the harmonies aren't just stacks and stacks of Jon Anderson overdubs a la Olias of Sunhillow. They now feature Chris Squire and Steve Howe too.

Drama was the last truly great Yes album. This isn't quite Drama. But it's bloody close. It has all the hallmarks of the 'real' Yes. You know, the ones they tried to reach on Keys to Ascension but were defeated by average production and the cheesiest of cheesy Korg synth presets? Here you have piano, organ, moog, prophets, and a smattering of mellotron.

The suite peaks in the second part, with some transcendental slide guitar, the vocals - Benoit's own vocals - are just wonderful, the band playing within themselves but projecting so much heart and soul. Bumpy Ride nods to Yes rhythmic play of yore, but misses the mark slightly. Some hammond organ and a bit more on the drums, perhaps a bit more drama - for want of a better word - would have made this one fly better.

One word of warning though... the huge wedge of cheddar leading into the fifth part. It's a little bit whiffy. The 1980's were a bad idea for a reason, Geoff.

That said, the other highlights are really quite special. Life on A Film Set is, to my ears, signature Yes. Quirky and very cool, with a resolution from the dark and dramatic to the light, skippier 11/8 figure. A very cool track.

Hour of Need could have been aided with the intro and outro on the Japanese import. It's actually very good and the song itself seems so much less twee, and well.. Anderson with it in situ.

Solitaire is a very nice little Howe piece. It does what Steve Howe pieces do.

Into the Storm has an air of Yours is No Disgrace mixed with On the Silent wings of freedom. It's not as good as the first but easily better than the second. The choruses are outstanding and show off Benoit as an able singer with a character of his own.

Many will take issue with this record for it's personel before they ever hear it. The reviews will be written already. This one is a complete about face. This album SAVED Yes for me. Now, the challenge is to transcend this and make the latter-day masterpiece they owe themselves.

Report this review (#587005)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Fly From Here" is the 19th full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Yes. The album was released by Frontiers Records in June 2011. "Fly From Here" sees quite a few lineup changes as original vocalist Jon Anderson has left the band because of health issues and been replaced by Canadian singer Benoît David and keyboard player Geoff Downes makes a return as Oliver Wakeman has also left the ranks.

With a new vocalist on board you´d think Yes would sound very different from the Jon Anderson led version, but that´s not exactly true. As it turns out Benoît David has a voice that´s very similar to the voice of Jon Anderson. Slightly less hoarse but otherwise very similar, so the music on "Fly From Here" actually sounds unmistakably like Yes. The centerpiece of the album is the six-suite 25 minutes long title track which opens the album. It´s also the most interesting piece on the album as the rest of the album don´t quite live up to the quality of the title track. At least not if you like Yes when they are most progressive and not when they are AOR friendly.

It´s no surprise that the musicianship is outstanding, the songwriting professional and the Trevor Horn production polished, layered and clean. "Fly From Here" is overall a very decent Yes album and allthough it´s not nearly as adventurous as their "classic" releases I think it´s one of the better post 1980 Yes albums. A 3 - 3.5 star rating is warranted.

Report this review (#589884)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars As this was the first album I acquired after becoming employed again after three years of a financial strain I'd prefer not to revisit, it became a soundtrack of hope and happiness for me. With the exception of their bassist, Yes has had different people handling the various duties to create their music; to spurn this album because of some latent Jon Anderson worship would be an unfortunate mistake: Drama was an excellent album and so is this. Trevor Horn has returned, but is on the other side of the mixing console, professionally polishing the music. Newcomer Benoit David has a clear and bright tenor, fitting in with his harmonic elders, and I believe he has done a stellar job on this album. Steve Howe is less noticeable; his electric guitar work takes a mostly supportive role, and he seems to devote more attention to his acoustic responsibilities. Geoff Downes has also returned, and like Howe's, his contributions are largely for buttressing the presentation of the compositions. Alan White, one of the most consistent drummers in rock music, gives each piece exactly what it needs with respect to percussion. And the steadfast Chris Squire stands out both vocally and in the electric bass department, providing vibrant harmonies with the former and a full-bodied punch with the latter (we could call him The Flying Fish on this one). The first six tracks form the centerpiece of the album, a suite containing three superb songs that could each one of them stand alone as 21st century Yes masterpieces. Parts of Fly from Here are indeed the musical descendant of Drama, but elements of the two recent albums, especially The Ladder exist also. Yes may be standing near the end of a long and amazing musical journey, but they are standing- nay, flying.

"Fly from Here- Overture" A distant piano dreamily comes into the fore as a heavy Yes comes crash down upon the chords. The overture introduces themes found later in the suite.

"Fly from Here- Pt I- We Can Fly" Following a quiet piano introduction, the newcomer opens his mouth and utters his first series of satiny notes, so perfect against the cold and empty backdrop. As the music picks up and builds anticipation and hope, the chorus breaks into the happy energy Yes has been celebrated for for almost half a century. Squire joins David in the repetition of the verse to excellent effect. It is fitting that this lost gem from the Drama sessions was cut and polished for a new millennium.

"Fly from Here- Pt II- Sad Night At The Airfield" Howe's acoustic guitar creates a misty atmosphere with light synthesizer whispers. The music and lyrics render sorrowful, lonesome emotions. Squire performs the main theme on his bass, and Howe's distorted steel guitar rips through the thick sound, sliding to high-pitched wails, eventually joining the climactic vocals that wrap this song up perfectly. "Sad Night at the Airfield" is an incredible contrasting section of the suite.

"Fly from Here- Pt III- Madman At The Screens" Returning to the music from the overture, David's stark vocal isn't alone long. Twisting and expanding the first track, this third song contains rich vocal passages and coherent transitions. The thunderous, almost tribal rhythm makes me think of "Dreamtime" from Magnification.

"Fly from Here- Pt IV- Bumpy Ride" Yes already has a tune called "Circus of Heaven." This is "Circus from Hell." This thankfully brief instrumental transition to the suite's conclusion is a painful mix of perhaps "Five Per Cent of Nothing" and the quirkiest section from "Heart of the Sunrise." It's ludicrous and a little embarrassing to listen to.

"Fly from Here- Pt V- We Can Fly (reprise)" Fortunately, the foolishness resolves quickly into the refrain from the first song of the album- an uplifting and altogether appropriate conclusion.

"The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be" I always relish opportunities to hear Squire take on lead vocals. Here is an easygoing and primarily acoustic rock song. Following wistful verses in the Lydian mode, the chorus may as well be a leftover from Fish Out of Water- it's like a modern sister to "You by My Side."

"Life on a Film Set" Perhaps the strangest song on the album, this consists of two distinct parts. The first is a dark, acoustic guitar-led song in a minor key (with the enigmatic line: "You're riding a tiger") and could have perhaps fit on Magnification. The second part is a peppy section in a major key that focuses on the vocals and a dainty keyboard tone from Downes. While neither part is especially unpleasant, the two sections don't fit together at all. "Bumpy Ride" excepted, "Life on a Film Set" may be the weakest track.

"Hour of Need" "Hour of Need" is a lovely acoustic respite with warm vocals, helped by Howe's hoarse bass. The keyboard lead reminds me of The Ladder; indeed, this song would have been at home on that album.

"Solitaire" As he has done several times in the history of Yes, Steve Howe treats listeners to a satisfying solo acoustic guitar piece. This is his most eclectic one stylistically, moving from dusky complex minor chords to sprightly flatpicking, then from Italian-inspired rapidly plucked harmonies to indolent Spanish-style call-and-response punctuated by harmonics.

"Into the Storm" The final track is one of those occasional songs Yes indulges in that I call "Pee Wee Herman prog," because it's easy to imagine Pee Wee Herman doing his dance to it ("I'm Running" from Big Generator and some of the parts of Keystudio fall into this category). Of their Pee Wee Herman music, this is as good as it gets. The music is engaging even in its somewhat embarrassing nature. David does an incredible job singing the song's strongest line about armies of angels. Over a "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" chord progression, Howe takes a lengthy and concluding solo, and as the song comes to an end, we are reminded that we can fly from here.

Report this review (#590063)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Is very nice to hear again to Steve Howe at the front row on a fully new prog rock studio album, this album is classic Yes and at the top of their current skills (compositional / interpretational). I really don`t care if Anderson is in or out, Howe is in it and that is what matters, this is a milestone in the recent Yes History (since 1980 onward), Yes no more will be only when, where, and how Anderson wants (how can i forget about the Frankenstein-esque "Union" instead of a proper 2nd album for ABWH, and then the simply average "prog" rock album named "Talk" with that ugly and childish Yes logo as cover?). Howe is the only Yes member that shines through the album. David, Downes, Squire and White are in fine form, but the album production is intended for Howe to shine among the rest, the steel guitar at "Madman At The Screens" is so emotional, the suite is so well acomplished, the instrumental track fits nicely in the framework, the same to be said about the cover artwork.

Two complains: 1ş The 6:45 minutes version of "Hour Of Need", would have done better than the 3 minutes of the standar CD / LP edition, the former is as prog as "Fly From Here", "Life On A Film Set" or "Into the Storm". 2ş If I can live with "I Know What I Like" in SEBTP, I can live with "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be" here.

So, considering the 6:45 minutes "Hour Of Need" in it...5 stars

Report this review (#607566)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Heavy loads at take off...

Regardless of whether you became a fan of Yes, when they pioneered progressive rock music in the early Seventies or when they reinvented themselves as successful pop-streamlined rock band in the Eighties, you have probably not been satisfied with their output over the last 20 years.

In their attempts to satisfy their artistic ambitions, their customers, their labels and/or to make a living, Yes has meandered between the unexplainable ("Union"), and attempts to revive either their Eighties' success ("Talk"; "The ladder") or their Seventies' heroics ("Keystudio"; "Magnification"). No doubt, there have been enjoyable moments captured during many of these works and most of their albums are still hands down above much of the other musical output that we seem to be blessed with these days.

But, where are we left with their latest offering "Fly from here" and how do we value and opine on a new record from our heroes in 2012? Do we dare to compare the new material to the old? Do we have to? Given our own experiences and expectations, can we even think of an unbiased review or would we want to, if we could? Would we look at "Fly from here" different, if Yes were a band of fresh unknown faces?

Ok, I have no answers to any of these questions, but here are my random thoughts on the new record:

Easy listening, a feeling of airy lightness in the title song (Part 1)

The title song suite is really nice, but they are really more interconnected individual songs similar to the second side of "Abbey Road", rather than a longer composition such as "Close to the edge" or "Gates of delirium")

Love the Hammond organ at the end of FFH Part 3 (very late Sixties; Tony Kaye is still alive somewhere in there!)

Grand entry into FFH Part 5 (think Fifth Dimension meets Nice; "Hey, wait a minute wasn't that one of Mr. Anderson's visions for Yes?!?")

Well produced, clear sound (courtesy of Trevor Horn)

Really happy they still make music (every line up has brought enjoyable moments into my live)

I could easily live without the Steve Howe guitar solo (the term "filler" comes to mind; the solo stuff seemed to make sense in the context of "Fragile" but here it seems to interrupt the flow and feels like an outlier. And believe me, I say this while I am still enraged that Rolling Stone did rank Steve only #69 among the top 100 rock guitarists of all time; "Where they thinking??")

I could easily live without the Chris Squire sung "Man with no use" or something like that and not because I mind his singing but because it is such just a weak and forgettable song (think "Union")

"Drama" lite?? Nah, more like Buggles'-Phase-Yes leftovers revisited in 2012

Just wondering, will I still listen to this record twenty years from now with the same awe that strikes me when I listen to "Tales from topographic oceans" today, almost 40 years (!) after its creation? (Am, I really that old? "What happened to wonders?")

Great energy and drive in last song "Into the storm"; they still have it if they want to...

2.5 Stars

Report this review (#640994)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Since the release of the full-length " Magnification" ten years ago and I was interested to know what my favorite band had created. Prior to the release of the album, I have downloaded it from the Internet. So, that's what impressed me:

Firstly, the name of release - I think most fans of progressive rock were more scared of the album title, than the expected quality of sound. The title refers to the farewell, goodbye, which suggests that this's the last release of Yes. But! After listening to the album, something I did not find any hints on the completion of a career. Mabey I was looking bad? I don't think so!

Secondly, talent will not spend on drink! The quality of new material is very pleased. Level of perfomance is on high position. Benoit David sings very well in studio, by the way,and not too bad,even compared to Jon. It was cool to hear echoes from the "Drama" and "90125". The current sound of the band has some contrast, because there is not usual crossing different motifs,which is not typical for the group. It is worth noting the epic song - Fly From Here - which lasts for more than twenty minutes. Frankly, I like to listen to the parts individually separatly than in a single whole epic. "Bumby Ride" a really good fusion with premise to "classical" period of the band's sound. A full-fledged prog-rock song is only "Into The Storm", which is worthy of finishing an album with its tough and dynamic sound. Cute "Hour Of Need" is a qualitative classic rock with a catchy melody. Instrumental "Solitair" perhaps deserves special attention: an acoustic item from Steve Howe may be a worthy continuation of traditional guitar things of Yes.

To summarize, I want to say that the band has issued not such a poor work, but there's no progressive rock that I'd like to hear and listen. Good, but... non-essential. 3.5/5.

Report this review (#805649)
Posted Friday, August 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I have officially given up on Yes ever doing what they do best, having been such a fan once long ago when I was a relayer close to the edge and fragile. Their reluctance to properly address their core audience is frustrating and ultimately somewhat arrogant in a roundabout way. But it's their absolute right to fish for pop glory and if that's their mission, so be it! I thought having Asia was enough to satisfy the accessible urge but I guess I am wrong. What made this legendary band so special was the mastery of their respective instruments, Steve Howe's majestic technique and feel, Wakeman's boundless expertise and confidence, Squire's instantaneously recognizable über-trebled bass and both Bruford and White's seismic thumping. Sadly, these elements are, for the most part, completely invisible on Fly From Here, with only occasional flirts of magnification. Let's be clear here, I do not hope for a rehash of their glory days but simply, a better expression of their technical talents would be most appreciated, for Squire's sakes! Open your eyes!

All these years I have felt that Alan White was just a notch below the great Bill Bruford, competing like a dedicated athlete, hanging in there with some decent playing. But this is a fine example of his milquetoast offering, as if Alan was utterly bored by the challenge of drumming for a celebrated prog outfit. He is not the only culprit. Frankly, on this recording Squire rumbles only slightly, Downes never was and never will be a Moraz or a Wakeman , so there is really only uncle Steve Howe who does any kind of justice to his endowment. The main refreshment comes from new guy Benoit David who sings miraculously but he will never be able to shake off Jon's spectral voice because nobody can (Hi Trevor! How are you doing?).

That being stated, the opening multi-part suite is largely successful and most welcome but the remaining tracks lack some raw power and fuzzy bliss. Missing are those indescribable elements that make one drool and gag in total awe. What we get is a recording that obviously rests on past laurels and refuses to go one ladder step beyond, playing it safe. Safe and sorry IMHO. The overture has all those Drama-like quirks, playfully attractive and sets the table for the more expressive Part 1, inviting vocal wunderkind Benoit David of French Canadian band Mystery (a clearly superior outfit to the recent Yes) to unleash his vocal contribution to the Yes canon. You can actually hear Squire's famous bass grumbling (but why bury it so deep in the mix later? Trevor WTF?) , Howe shines as only he can , a true master of his guitar craft. Downes does his best to coat some symphonic paint and White plods along rather poorly. Part 2 is the highlight track here , as it has Steve leading the show with some superlative acoustic expression and Benoit's shivering vocal providing some sense of suspense, a gently pastoral melody forging some fond memories of the glory days. Howe unleashes a glowing and spectral electric solo (certainly one of his best ever!) and the overall passion glowingly increases, Squire booming and White pushing it along. If it could only remain along this track until the end! Part 3 refits the initial quirkiness and infuses Benoit's voice into the mix and the music remains interesting and vibrant but it sounds more like the Buggles than Yes, to be frank! Geoff's organ solo is rather lame and lacks balls.

I will not even dare to review the remaining tracks as they are simply fluff of the worst kind, unimaginative, defenceless and ultimately insulting to Yes fans . Nothing new and weak rehashes.

Compare this to Mystery's One Among the Living and Yes' music comes across as a rotting dead corpse, little spark and cotton candy floss. Trevor Horn was once an accomplished musician and innovative producer; he has completely failed the band here.

Guys, its not hard, make a PROG album! Isn't there enough inspiration out there? Ever heard of the Flower Kings? They are from Sweden.

Oh, I give up. No more Yes for me.

Nice cover, as per usual.

3 departing mosquitoes

Report this review (#827021)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fly from here is a very nice progressive piece with enough catchy moments to keep the listener interested. I have always liked Geoff Downes keyboards better than some of the other musicians who used to play them. A very nice piece is "Bumpy Ride" by Steve Howe... it actually feels like a bumpy ride... A bit of fun never harms... I really start liking the suite more and more.

The man you always wanted me to be is as far as I am concerned the weakest track of the album... A bit pathetical lyrics and music that is not what one could call progressive... A minor start for side 2.

Hour of need is quite an attractive song with very nice vocals and subtle guitar.

Life on a film set starts beautifully on acoustic guitar. It is a bit monotonous but, hey, then out of the blue there's the acoustic guitar again backed up by Downes lovely keyboards playing a happier tune. The feeling overall is a bit sadder... The vocals are great!

Solitaire makes me think of such guitarists as Duck Baker, Stephan Grossman, Dave Evans, Davey Gragham or Dan Ar Bras... It's the "Mood for a day" of this album. What a guitarist!!!

Into the Storm is a rougher track that rocks and swings. Squire really is doing it again on bass!!! Alan shows he is a darn good drummer, Benoit David sings well and Geoff still is my favorite keyboardist with yes.

Someone wrote "the cats are back"... Trevor producing and Geoff playing??? I prefer dogs but these cats I really like. A 3.5 that I will make a four.

Report this review (#827310)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars All right... I'm not really in the mood to go through each song, so I'm going to sum all up by giving a general review:

In a dark era like this one we're living now (mainly for those who were born in it and didn't experience other decades, just like me, born in 1992) in which Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry et caterva are the ones who lead the charts all over the world, if a band (or solo artist) releases something that goes the opposite way, not thinking about money/fame/success/sleeping with fans, I think we should just not be hypocrites, recognise its effort and give this band the credit it deserves. For instance: I was amazed by Space Revolver, by The Flower Kings, simply because it was released in 2000, but sounded like a 70's Prog album.

Now imagine if this band we are talking about is... YES ! Wow, come on... we've been expecting a new album since 2001 ! I was filled with sheer joy when I first heard Yes was going to release this "Fly From Here" album.

I first listened to it soon after it was released, in July 2011. I adored it. It made me feel like Prog wasn't dead after all, and this is really something to a Prog fan ! I thought about listening to it again, but I simply forgot it and carried on with my life. Today, more than one year after, I've had the chance (and desire) to listen to it in the morning: wow ! The same feelings ! I knew the only way to show my appreciation was to write this review.

This is really something great, people. We have Squire, Howe and White as the "original" members, plus Downes, who played in Drama, Oliver Wakeman, who bears a strong resemblance to his father (not only physically, but also in his way of playing; sometimes, I just thought it was Rick playing those synths !) and Benoît David, the then-new vocalist whom I had the chance to see live with Yes in São Paulo in November 2010.

I'm not even going to say "I wished Anderson was the singer here", because we all know this is "past" now. I do hope they reunite one day, for I prefer Jon over Trevor, Benoît and Jon Davison, but this is what they had at the time and it's fine to me: he is a very accomplished singer and I do like his voice and vocal style !

Besides, I didn't know what to expect from this record regarding the sound of the band, but I have to admit that I was surprised by this "very new Yes sound". Not as good as old Yes, but, at the same time, very different from the "new Yes" (Open Your Eyes, Keys to Ascension, The Ladder, Magnification...). Also, this is nothing like Drama to me. People call it "Drama 2" or say they are very similar (maybe because of the line-up Squire/Howe/White/Downes and Horn at production, but I guess the different singer and the contributions of Oliver helped making this one not so close to the one from 1980. I would even say this album is more pleasant to me than Drama, although I rated it 4-stars too).

Furthermore, I really hope the guys from the band enter the studio, at least, once more, probably next year, as Squire confirmed in interviews !

To conclude, I can only add that giving this album a 5-star rating would be very unfair to The Yes Album, CTTE, TFTO, Relayer and many other 5-star albums out there in the Prog world, but it surely deserves a 4-star rating, as it is an excellent addition to any music collection. By the way, I also gave 4 stars to Magnification, the previous album, once it is great as well, but with a small difference: I like all the 6 songs from this one, whilst some in Magnification feel just like "album-fillers" to me (from it, I "only" truly like the title-song, In The Presence Of, Don't Go and Can You Imagine; the others have some good bits on them, but are not great at all).

So... buy this album and enjoy it, for this is what we have now in Prog world and that's the Yes from the present; if you don't like it, pick your Close to the Edge or Selling England by the Pound and pretend you're still in the 70's !

Report this review (#831209)
Posted Sunday, September 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Despite the fact that I've given both Magnification and Fly from Here three out of five stars, one is clearly better than the other. I'm happy to report that it is the new one. For most of us, it just isn't Yes without Jon Anderson, but unfortunately medical problems aside, Jon Anderson's voice just isn't what it was. You could sense it on Magnification, but it was much more evident on the Live from Montreux DVD from a couple of years later. Benoit David, lead singer of Mystery and a Canadian (Woop!), has done as good a job as you could hope for filling in on the album and more than likely exceeds Jon Anderson as he was on Magnification.

I doubt I'm alone in the sentiment, but I think the absence which is more acutely felt in the case of Fly from Here is Rick Wakeman. Geoffrey Downes just doesn't have the personality of Rick, or even Patrick Moraz who ably filled in on Relayer. The keyboards tend to be flat and drawn in the style of new wave rather than the intricacy demanded of symphonic prog. Perhaps it isn't all him though, the album, like Magnification, bears the marks of 80s overproduction which has become the hallmark of post core-era Yes regardless of membership. The genesis of the album was in fact in the minds of producer/collaborator Trevor Horn and Downes and started life prior to their initial involvement with the band in the early 80s rather than any of the main members of the band.

That said, it would sound petty and hypocritical of me to continue to talk down Downes and Horn's contributions, as the main suite for all its faults and quirkiness is one of the most interesting things I've heard in a while. It does suffer a bit from bookending, where the beginning and end are the most complete and powerful parts of the work. Besides, the bad parts can't possibly be all their fault, because some of the dryer sections bear an eerie familiarity to the utterly disappointing collaboration between Yes bassist Chris Squire and ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Squackett.

Pleasantly enough, the suite is not the only good track on the album. The succeeding tracks are about 50/50 hit and miss. The acoustic Hour of Need and Solitaire are both being quite good. The progressive power-pop of Into the Storm and Life On a Film Set, being a mixed bag of forced over complexity and striking simplicity are so-so. Don't believe that's possible, listen to Life On a Film Set and see how many times Benoit says "riding a tiger." Believe me, it's no "I get up, I get down."

All in all, I'm left in a very similar position to where I was when I heard Rush's 2007 comeback album Snakes and Arrows, generally satisfied and mostly optimistic. This is a lot to like here, you have to wade a bit, but it's there. More importantly, the band shows some real creativity and a serious desire for Yes to be a going concern and not simply a touring legacy act. For that, I say the three out of five and the bump in preference over the down-swinging Magnification are deserved. It's just a shame that M. David has apparently suffered a similar condition to Mr. Anderson and was forced to leave the band for his health. It would have been nice to see what some time and chemistry could have done for any potential future releases.

Report this review (#845538)
Posted Friday, October 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars YES are acutely aware of their audience and the expectations that accompany the release of any new album. Even before the release of FFH, the commentary was already abuzz with hopes, and in some cases demands, that the band deliver 'Close to the Edge II'. It was never going to happen as YES are not 'that' band anymore but what YES have delivered is a kind of compromise that should make just about everyone happy. There's no doubt that the audacious compositional style the band developed in the 70s is absent but FFH offers hints of that 'broad canvas' past we all so fondly remember. I like some of the moods on FFH and the tonal colors we've come to expect from YES are still evident; gentle acoustic passages, clever syncopation and the use of non-conventional time signatures, majestic and commanding sonic landscapes and, at times, even some attractive songwriting. If this is all that YES set out to achieve then we should roundly applaud them for they have achieved that with room to spare. On the other hand, if YES set out to record 'Close to the Edge II' (and I don't think they did) then they fell well short of the mark. Prog purists will have to be content with this latest offering from YES. It's a good but certainly not great album from a band we have come to expect (perhaps unreasonably) considerably more from. Perhaps it's because YES were so truly fabulous in their youth, before the money became so important, that we cling to the hope that one day they will return to form. My advice is to let it go and look elsewhere.
Report this review (#868870)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars For the second time in their history Jon Anderson is not in a Yes studio album, and for many fans the band is not the same without him as one of the composers and of course as their lead singer. The band has been criticized very much since Anderson had to leave the band in 2008, because this time there were serious health problems that didn´t allow Anderson to do long tours with Yes anymore, and the band chose to continue without him, replacing him first with Benoit David (who sings in this album) and later (curiously due to health reasons by Benoit David himself) by Jon Davison. Before Anderson left the band, Rick Wakeman, for health reasons too and advised by his Doctors, left the band, also because he can´t do long tours too, as Yes wants and maybe needs to do mainly for financial reasons, and he suggested his son Oliver to join Yes as their keyboard player, a thing that he did for some time. Chris Squire and Steve Howe in interviews said that they waited 4 years for Anderson´s health to fully recover, but unfortunately for Anderson before their planned 40th Anniversary tour he had serious health problems and finally he had to leave the band. I understand that they need to work to survive and that they need to have members who are healthy enough to tour. But Squire himself some 3 years ago also had health problems which forced the band to cancel some tour dates. Anyway, Yes has to continue working as a band for tours and albums, maybe more for financial reasons than anything else, in my opinion, not matter what some fans might think about it. So, the fans have the choice: to still follow Yes as a band, or not. Of course, I think that without Anderson the band is not the same anymore, the same as ABWH didn´t sound totally as Yes without Squire. While working together they sounded fully as Yes, musically and lyrically Anderson and Squire separately don´t have the same vision and sound for the band, even if some elements are common to their individual styles as musicians. "Drama" was a very good album, having elements from both The Buggles (Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn, who in 1980 respectively replaced Wakeman and Anderson ) and Yes (contributed more by Squire, Howe and White). But the Yes´sound was the dominating factor in that album, which sounds more Progressive in style. For this "Fly from Here" album, it seems that Squire and Trevor Horn thought that they still had some unfinished business from the "Drama" album days, and they "resurrected" an old song which only was played on tour by the band in 1980, called "We Can Fly From Here", composed by Horn and Downes. Initially the plan included Oliver Wakeman in the recording of the album, but maybe Squire and Horn thought that it was a better business and musical idea to bring Downes to the line-up again (with Oliver still appearing a bit in the album), which more or less was a reunion of the 1980 line-up, because Horn now acted only as a producer and songwriter contributor (althought he also contributes some keyboard and vocal things to the album), leaving the lead vocal parts to Benoit David, who is a very good singer, in my opinion, but as Davison and Horn, he doesn´t sound as Anderson enough to identify Yes as Yes only for the sound of their lead singer. The "We Can Fly From Here" song was expanded with several parts with contributions by Squire and Howe to make it a long Yes song of more of twenty minutes in length. The song sounds very well. And this song and the others in the album (2 by Howe and one by Squire) are good songs, very well played, arranged and recorded, but the predominant sound of the album is like an updated version of the sound of The Buggles combined with Squire and Howe´s vision and sound of how is the Yes´ sound, or at least, their Yes´ sound. Of course, Alan White is a very good drummer, but he only received (like Oliver Wakeman) one songwriting credit in this album. So, in conclusion, this album is very good, very professional in sound and arrangements, with a very good production work from Horn, but it is not one of my favourites from Yes, because it is not a very Yes´ album at least in a full musical style.
Report this review (#868960)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Why all the great reviews? I am a Yes fan myself but a bad album is a bad album. This album as a whole sounds like a band that ran out of ideas-long ago. To prove my point, they pulled the title track out of the moth balls stretched it out a little and re - recorded it. Yes was back at their old tricks again, screwing around with their line-up which at this point in their career is as ridiculous as it is unwanted. The Yes men sound old on this record. There are some nice atmospheric parts but the super weak "Bumpy Ride" section of the title suite is an example of old proggers unable to prog anymore. What an embarrassment "Bumpy Ride" is. The goofy music matches its goofy title. I do like "Sad Night On The Airfield" but the lyrics to this so called epic are pretty lame. "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be" and "Hour Of Need" are weak slower songs that leave no impression, especially in progressive circles. "Life On A Film Set" is a terrible song. I want to gag when this slow rent Jon Anderson wannabe sings "Riding The Tiger!" "Solitaire" is a nice Steve Howe piece but is a long way from his older acoustic tunes. "Into the storm" isn't that bad compared to the rest but is weighed down by Geoff Downes cornball keyboard sounds that dominate this record.

Collectors only.

Report this review (#920557)
Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Yes, Yes are back with a strong album! "Fly from here" is Yes' nineteenth studio record and was released in 2011. On this record participate Chris Squire(bass, vocals), Steve Howe (guitars, vocals), Alan White (drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Benoit David(lead vocals) and Trevor Horn(vocals). Yes has a new singer and I think that is good. David has a strong and high voice and not too similar with Jon Anderson's. On later years I think Anderson's voice lost its sharpeness and strength so this new member really gave something to the music.

The first track(s), the title "Fly from here" is an amazing piece of Yes music. Unfortunately the whole almbum doesn't match this song. "Fly from here" has wonderfull passages, symphonic melodies and a strong theme. It is little more catchier and poppy than the seventies' Yes but it is more symphonic and better than the eighties' Yes. Here meets different styles and the track is very varied. Even if it is long it could have been longer. "Solitaire" is an acoustic gitarr piece played by maestro Steve Howe and that is ear candy for me. A really strong song which I relate to other acoustic Yes works. The closer "Into the storm" is also a very strong track with great vocals and a very exhilarating sound. A good final.

What lowers the rating from four to three stars is the other tracks. I don't either like the voice of Chris Squire we can hear in "The man you allways wanted to be". That is a boring song that is a shame for this record. "Life on a film set" is okey but not especially much more. The tracks feels a little lame though. "Hour of need" is also okey but in my opinion rather gooey. So as a conclusion I think Yes still has a lot to give the symphonic listeners but this record isn't fantastic as one.

Report this review (#975347)
Posted Monday, June 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars A big surprise to know YES were coming back with a new album. Another surprise to see Jon Anderson not in the lineup, Benoit David instead. I thought it was not going to be that good as it really is. FLY FROM HERE really surprised me more with the excellent album they've created. The first theme FLY FROM HERE is a real progressive song, a complete suite honoring the name of the album. The rest of the songs are adequate for a YES fan, adequate for a YES song, adequate for a good listening. Geoff Downes creating excellent atmospheres and keyboard passages, Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White, as usual, magnificent. And Trevor Horn and his strange appearance after a long time not knowing about him. I liked the album, not to the height of RELAYER, CLOSE TO THE EDGE or FRAGILE, but far more superior than other albums they have made.
Report this review (#1005842)
Posted Friday, July 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars If there was ever an album which would stand or fall based on how it met people's expectations, YES's 'Fly From Here' is the one. Well, until PINK FLOYD's 'Endless River' comes out, I guess.

So, how does one listen to the first new album in a decade from YES, indisputably the poster group for Prog Rock? Because that first listen really matters: it colours one's subsequent approach to the music. Get it wrong and it might be years, if ever, before the music makes sense.

You set aside expectations as much as you can. You refrain from doing your research: don't read about it in advance, don't even find out which of the twenty or so ex-YESsers are actually playing on the album. Don't read reviews...

Er. But seriously, do you really need to be told you need to listen to this with an open mind?

I listened with a closed mind, sadly. Listening for nothing but any echo, however faint, of that insane period in the early-mid 70s when YES were possessed by mad music-lovin' space alien prog gods with power and funk and glory and beauty. I never actually heard the music on the album. I listened for the absence, not the presence, of music - and so, of course, I heard it. Absence. It wasn't until I heard them live in Auckland that I actually 'heard' the album, or at least the 'Fly From Here' suite, because it snuck up on me: I was there to listen to the classics, so had no expectations.

So what do we actually have here, as opposed to what we don't have?

First, a genuinely powerful epic long-form classic. It's a little simpler than I'd like but it is classic symphonic prog: intro-main theme-variations-breakdown-reprise. The titles of the subsections make this explicit. Second: a series of five rather dispensable rock tracks redolent of 80s rock. Third: excellent musicianship by three of the band members. SQUIRE plays well, even vigorously at times: his work on the title track is superb, reminding me more than a little of this bloke I remember in a 70s band - can't quite put my finger on it... HOWE and DOWNES use their instruments mostly to add solidity and colour without ever being outstanding. BENOIT DAVID, sadly, is a disappointment. He's a small grey speck almost completely obscured by the long shadow of JON ANDERSON. His voice is apologetic rather than commanding. Selected for his similarity to ANDERSON, DAVID struggles to impose himself.

But the worst criticism must be leveled at the drum machine... hold on, it says ALAN WHITE played on the record. Surely not? WHITE single-handedly (well, it sounds like he's playing with one hand and no feet) rips a star off the rating for this album. Imagine if the band had used a drummer interested in syncopation, who could inject a little bit of funk, or swing - who worked with SQUIRE to counterpoint the melodies. That's all we needed here to make these songs pop from the speakers, but we don't get it. The drumming is insipid. I imagine when they fished WHITE out of the cryo- revival unit they didn't notice the red lights blinking. Listen to his work on the final song, 'Into The Storm'. The chaps are really trying, bless them, funky Tormato-era bass, melodies tripping over themselves, and WHITE's flat rock-by-numbers snare-on-the-third-beat drumming. And I am deliberately targeting his best performance on this record: for the worst, listen to the lettuce-limp 'Hour Of Need'. No, don't.

'Fly From Here' is a genuine entry in the YES canon. I think it represents a nice freshening of their late 70s period, and the eponymous six-part suite is worth the price of the record.

But don't take my word for it...

Report this review (#1283998)
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Team
2 stars With all the upheaval in the band over the last few years, I was surprised to see a new Yes album. Of course 'drama' is nothing new where this outfit is concerned, and it looks like that is exactly what they were after. "Drama" was the only other Yes album without Jon Anderson, so I guess they decided to go back to that plan on "Fly From Here." They stuck with their live replacement vocalist Benoit David, but again the call was made to Trevor Horn (his old Buggles partner Geoff Downes is still a fixture in the band).

I am a fan of this particular Yes collaboration and hoped it would bear some good new ideas. Unfortunately it seems all they wanted was to turn the clock back to 1980. Short of the existence of an actual time machine, that is pretty much what they did. The "Fly From Here" suite was written at that time and the production sounds very similar. Benoit David may be new, but let's face the fact that he has previously been making his living as a Jon Anderson impersonator.

The music isn't bad. It's quite nice actually and may have spawned a good follow up to "Drama." The problem is that the inspiration came over 30 years ago. When these guys were cooking together back then, they may have honed it into something very special. Now it is merely an echo of the past. Once again "Fly From Here" is not a bad album, but it's not remarkable either. I know this will be another in my collection that rarely gets heard.

It's time for Yes fans to get in touch with reality. The band has been out of gas for quite a while now and this latest release proves it. Even with bringing in a new singer and one old friend, they still had to use decades old material. There obviously weren't enough new ideas or good ones. Yes also used to be the type of band that could wow you with instrumentation alone. That has also faded. So here is yet another very listenable, tame, latter day album that only makes us yearn for the past. I think I'll put on "Tales From Topographic Oceans" now.

(This review was originally written in 2011)

Report this review (#1322224)
Posted Tuesday, December 9, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars Okay, so I am admittedly a huge fan of Yes and I even gave "Drama" 5 stars which I still and always will believe it deserves. So, with the return of Trevor Rabin and Geoff Downs (both from the "Drama" lineup) and the long standing band members Steve Howe, Alan White and Chris Squire, I thought we had something that would really work here. But wait, who is this Benoit David? Why isn't Trevor singing lead this time around? Oh well, it's bound to be another great album like "Drama" right? Even without Jon Anderson? It all worked before!

Not this time. This sounds like Yes cover band. Oh wait a minute, it almost is! The lead singer here sounds like a poor man's version of Jon Anderson, he sounds like a cheap imitator. Even with the amazing musicians who are Yes regulars sound like they are forcing everything. Everything about this album screams out Imitation Yes.

Okay, so we do at least have a 24 minute multi song suite, so that looks interesting, right? Don't be fooled. It is a song that was already demoed to be a song by The Buggles (Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes new wave band) and it was rejected from any original track listings on any of their albums. So how in the hell did they think it would be worthy of a Yes album? Do you know what it sounds like? It sounds like a Buggles song.

I can't help but be disappointed here. This album just lacks emotion and heart felt dynamics. It sounds like a bunch of amateurs trying to copy a progressive rock formula. The only thing going for it is the sound is well produced, but that is all wasted by having to listen to a plastic sounding imitation. No originality here either. Everything just sounds like a poor rip off.

I don't like being so negative, but I hold some very high standards for a band I have loved throughout the years, a band as hugely influential as Yes. This album is a shame for me, it makes me hesitate to admit my love for Yes. But, Yes afficianados will understand, I'm sure. Yes is still one of the best, just not in this incarnation. This isn't Yes, it's only a bad imitation. I wish they would have released this under The Buggles moniker. At least then everyone would have expected the results, not that it would have made them any better.

Where is the band that I loved so much? This gets 2 stars only because the production is great, the rest of it is awful.

Report this review (#1373081)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2015 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars With the recent passing of Chris Squire, I was inspired to listen to the entire Yes catalog, mostly to remember Squire's amazing talent and his contributions to one of my favorite prog bands. Unfortunately, listening to the entire Yes catalog meant that I had to endure about six genuinely bad albums from the group.

Fortunately, it also encouraged me to spend more time with Yes' Fly From Here, the band's first album after a decade of inactivity after the excellent Magnification. For my, Magnification was a first rate release that re-energized the group... but 10 years is a long time.

Well I'm happy to say that Fly From Here arrives and is actually a good album, even a good Yes album! It is drawn towards the gravity of the band's iconic '70's material in tone and feel. While it doesn't possess that spark of genius or energy, is still easy to enjoy. It's sort of like prog-rock "light"; not bothering to be profound or deep or majestic, instead just being well-crafted and soulful. Is this a disappointment? No! Everything the band did in the 90's is bad. Seriously, after albums like Ladder, Open Your Eyes, and Keystudio there's no where to go but up!

Anyway, the first thing to note about Fly From Here is the rich, warm timbre of the band's playing and the album's production. This album sounds great; every instrument is well-balanced and actually somewhat soothing to listen to. There isn't a single shrill note or over-mixed moment. To me this is a big deal, because I was always turned off by the cartoonish and shrill keyboards found throughout many of Yes' mid-period albums. This warm sound makes even the mediocre parts of Fly From Here easy to like.

The center-piece of the album, the self-titled Fly From Here, is a suite of songs that is representative of the album as a whole: well-played, enjoyable, though not especially daring or creative. The band's musicianship is fine, with Squire and Howe playing especially well together. One thing that keeps this extended song back is that there aren't enough stand- up and shout moments that grab your attention. It sort of drifts through it's 23 minute running time as if it were constantly in transition, filling time with nice tones and melodies but not feeling like it's taking me somewhere. Ironic considering the song is about flying. The mellow second movement is probably the most enjoyable moment of the whole album, with lush keyboard textures and a compelling bass performance by Squire. Again, this extended song is fun enough not to be a disappointment, but still definitely playing it safe.

These comments apply to each of the other songs on the album, though I will say that Chris Squire's vocals on "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be" are great; some of his most mature singing. Howe's guitar is also very rich and sensitive sounding throughout. He doesn't have any dramatic solos, other than his traditional acoustic solo "Solitaire," but his playing expertly enhances the overall effect. This goes for Downes' keyboards, too. Again, no massive moments, but a classy incorporation of texture and mood.

Finally, let's talk about Benoit's vocals. Yes, he sounds a lot like Anderson. Yes, most Yes fans would prefer that Anderson be singing on this album. But is it really that much of a bummer? At this point in Yes' career there isn't much room for growth or experimentation; with the death of Chris Squire we're probably not going to be getting much more from the band, so a little change can't hurt, especially when Benoit sings as well as he does. His vocals are smooth and focused, high in pitch but strong in delivery. That doesn't help the simple lyrics of Fly From Here, but it does make it enjoyable to listen to.

So all in all in Fly From Here we have a strong Yes release that can stand alongside the group's iconic works, maybe not as tall, but alongside none the less.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#1458972)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2015 | Review Permalink

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