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ANDERSON, BRUFORD, WAKEMAN, HOWE

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe

Symphonic Prog


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Anderson Bruford Wakeman  Howe Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe album cover
3.16 | 251 ratings | 63 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Themes (5:58)
2. Fist of Fire (3:27)
3. Brother of Mine (10:18)
4. Birthright (6:02)
5. The meeting (4:21)
6. Quartet (9:22)
7. Teakbois (7:39)
8. Order of the Universe (9:02)
9. Let's pretend (2:56)

Total Time: 59:05

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / vocals
- Bill Bruford / drums
- Rick Wakeman / keyboards
- Steve Howe / guitar
- Tony Levin / bass, vocals and stick bass
- Milton McDonald / guitar (rhythm)

Releases information

BMG International

C.D. (U.S.): Arista ARCD85-90126
Cassette (U.S.): Arista AC85-90126
(The catalogue number 90126 was in fact a joke done by the record label in reference to YES` 90125 album, as the members of ABWH said in one Radio Interview in 1989).

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Snow Dog for the last updates
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ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe ratings distribution


3.16
(251 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
37%
Good, but non-essential (34%)
34%
Collectors/fans only (16%)
16%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars "Faute de grives , on mange des merles" says the french proverb . As the real Yes was up to no good , most of the fans fell back on this one, hailing it a masterpiece . OK , this is not bad but have you listened to what BillMeisterBruford is doing here . These drumming percussions irks me and there is this rumour that this was totally electronics but I am no sound engineer and this is only a rumour to my ears. Still, if this is still better than Big Generator , we are far away from the classic era .

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#26595) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yes it is OK but it comes up slightly out of sync in that you have some great prog sounding tracks and then a couple of twee sing alongs from Anderson like ' Let's pretend'. It does have some fine moments especially ' Birthright' and Wakeman's contribution for me is the strong point.I felt the song ' Quartet' was merely an oversale lyrically on their history as Yes. No need to do that the true fans would follow them almost anywhere.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#26601) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars YES came back here, stronger than ever! No more easy pop for teens! There are very good rythmic songs, having a Latino influence: WAKEMAN's keyboards sound like Latin horn arrangements: "Fist of fire"; "Teakbois". There are excellent relaxing songs: "The Meeting" is a beautiful relaxing song, with excellent piano and gentle floating keyboards. "Let's Pretend" is another great relaxing song, full of acoustic guitars and delicate ethereal floating keyboards; ANDERSON sings with his heart. "The Order of the Universe" is the most rythmic rock song here: the guitar sounds like on the "Big Generator" album.

IMO the best song is definitely "Quartet", a delicate & delightful progressive song: mandolin, gentle acoustic & electric guitars, outstanding lead vocals, and the most noticeable: have you heard those symphonic string & woodwind instruments arrangements like? Is it WAKEMAN's keyboards? Absolutely grand! Sincerely, it is one of my favorite songs from YES. Finally, do not forget the "hit" "Brother of Mine", a catchy long song of about 10 minutes.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#26603) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 15, 2004

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It seems that the start of ABWH was an idea by Jon Anderson to record a solo album. His then wife (for whom there is a note in the C.D. booklet:"For Starting the Idea: Jennifer E. A.")suggested to Jon to bring former YES members Bruford, Howe and Wakeman to contribute, but as they went to record some demos, finally Anderson suggested the formation of this band. So, for me this album has a lot of Anderson`s influence from his solo career, with contributions by the rest of the band. For me it was interesting too to listen to an "almost YES`s album" without Chris Squire. As Squire was the only original member of YES who remained from the original line-up in all albums of the band, he was the owner of the name.So, this ABWH band couldn`t use the YES name. This album is interesting for me because it has a lot of influence of "World Music" and "New age" styles. It sounds like YES but adding new sounds like Bruford`s electronic drums, new keyboard sounds by Wakeman (and Matt Clifford, who is credited as "keyboards, orchestration"), and Howe`s guitars (with other guitars by Milton McDonald). It is also good to listen to Tony Levin in this album, as he plays stick and bass guitar, adding his influence to the main "New age/World music" sound of this album. I don`t miss Squire in this album, really. The best songs of this album for me are: "Brother of Mine" (with an "universal" 60s message in the lyrics), "Birthright" (with very good electronic percussion by Bruford), "The Meeting" (a very good religious song, full of atmospheres, with good lyrics, and very good keyboards), "Quartet" (which seems mainly a Anderson/Howe collaboration, with guitars, mandolins, keyboards and also fine percussion by Bruford), "Teakbois" (a very good latin influenced song, with marimba sounds), "Order of the Universe" (mostly a rocker), and "Let`s pretend", co-written with Vangelis, with very good guitars and backing keyboards. After 15 years of being released, I still enjoy this album very much, and for me it was good that this collaboration wasn`t released under the YES name, because it sounds "new" and a bit "different", and it was a good "experiment". As everybody knows, the "Union" album marked the end for ABWH, and this ABWH album is better than "Union", in my opinion.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#26604) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 24, 2004

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This album started the next confusing phase of Yes after their Trevor Rabin driven 1980's career. Compositions look back to their earlier days, but they are not as artistic as their heyday recordings. Roger Dean covers underline this orientation, and some songs are a bit longer than basic 4-5 minute rants they did few years before this. The overall feeling is uplifting and happy. If you are a die-hard YES fan and like over joyful light symphonic progressive rock, this album is for you. I liked more their live album documenting the tour which they did when this record was released, as they play there their older and better compositions along with the new material. Also as a nice anecdote, Tony Levin replaced Chris Squire on this album, maintaining the bass player standards on the highest scale.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#26610) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 03, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album by YES members took me by surprise by the time it was released. With Close To The Edge line-up minus Chris Squire plus King Crimson bassist Tony Levin, what did I expect on how the music would sound like? You bet! I had expected a bit like Siberian Khatru or And You And I or Close To The Edge. But, I was wrong. It was completely different kind of music an through this collaborative effort, Jon, Bill, Rick and Steve wanted to have something different outside the boundaries of YES sound. It's probably similar reason like Asia or GTR where the musicians who were previously engaged with their respective bands try to make other ventures through collaborative project. ABWH has proved that it's a project as their second effort turned out to be a YES "Union" album.

Even though the music of this album is not the same with typical classic album of YES, however, it does not mean that album is not good at all - it's even an excellent one. It kicks off with a multi-part song "Themes" through a keyboard work by Rick followed with relatively fast tempo music in upbeat style featuring Jon energetic voice "Be gone you ever piercing .." Which brings the music into an uplifting mood. It continues with second track "Fist of Fire" which brings the music into a floating beats with dazzling keyboard and powerful Jon's vocal.

"Brother of Mine" was my first love with this album as it was featured nicely in TV commercial with good video clip. The music is really nice: it flows in excellent stream of chords and notes combining piano, inventive guitar fills, drums and transparent voice of Jon. Even though at the ending part the song sounds boring due to repetitive segments but overall this is an excellent track. "Birthright" is truly a masterpiece track that tells the story about Aborigines. It's an energetic song, very uplifting and it has powerful lyrics. This track has many wonderful and memorable segments like the ones with this lyrical verse: "This place ain't big enough for red and white .." or during the interlude part where Howe gives his guitar solo work. Wonderful composition.

"The Meeting" is another memorable and nice track which features Rick's nice piano accompanying Jon's vocal in mellow style. This track has become more memorable because for us, members of Indonesian Progressive Society (IPS), Rick played this tune in his hotel with a piano and all of us sung together. That was during gathering in 24 February 2002 when Rick, Tony Fernandez met with IPS members after Rick's performance in Jakarta couple days before. All of us remember the occasion and we all remember how humble he is that he accepted our proposal to meet him after the show. The Meeting is a masterpiece song. "Order of The Universe" is also a great song.

Overall, this album is highly recommended. You should also have the live record "An Evening With YES Music Plus" by ABWH with Jeff Berlin replacing Tony Levin on bass guitar. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

"I don't believe in Devils. I don't believe in Demons. I only believe in you" - THEMES

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#43817) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, August 22, 2005

Review by horza
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album is superb. I'm sure there must be some reason why they did'nt just call themselves 'Yes' on this outing - whatever the reason its far more interesting than some Yes-product (mainly Drama and Big Generator). The opening track 'Themes' is complex and interesting and leads into 'Fist of Fire' which has an excellent bass and drum backbeat and some excellent synth-work. Anderson's vocals are strong and as good as at any time in the Yes-years. 'Birthright' has touches of Led Zep and Dire Straits about it,bizarre I know,but check it for yourself. Its a fantastic song. Throughout the album, the quality of the instrumentation is second to none. 'Teakbois' is the only weak effort in my opinion, it could be the song of the next Caribbean bid for the Olympic Games (skip this track!!). The last song 'Let's Pretend' is a touching Anderson-ballad and acceptable for all that.

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Send comments to horza (BETA) | Report this review (#54825) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 05, 2005

Review by Snow Dog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions Team
2 stars Great Cover! Dean just seems to get better as the years go by. But that is as it should be. The music within though is less good, but there are some great moments.<>

These moments start with the first track "Themes", as good a song any, it has a wonderful intro, with piano and synth call and answer playing by Wakeman until Bruford enters the fray with his electronic drums, and things get really going. "Order of the Universe" is the other stand out for me and I guess "Fist of Fire" is not bad either. What really ruins this collection for me though is the dreadfully dreary duo of "Brother of Mine" and "Quartet". When you have ten and nine minute songs, you expect, or at least I do, something to happen in them. Sadly for these pair the songs remain largely unchanging throughout. There seems to be build up, but a climax never really comes.<>

The rest of the album doesn't do a lot for me either, but this album is not a disaster. Rather it's an album where expectations are high, but not a lot happens!

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Posted Monday, November 28, 2005

Review by chopper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Is this the great lost Yes album? Well, it's a Yes album in all but name and has all the usual ingredients in the multi-part songs and the Roger Dean cover. I read at the time they were going to call themselves "The Affirmative", which would have been much better. Of course, Chris Squire is not here so we don't get the crunching bass lines, but if you have to replace Squire, then Tony Levin is not a bad choice.

"Themes" starts off with a piano riff, then there is a slight surprise when Bruford's drums burst in - he has that electronic drum sound which may put some people off this album. "Brother of Mine" is a good number which I remember hearing on the radio at the time. "Birthright" strangely turned up again a few years later as part of a Steve Howe song from "Homebrew" (and Yes' "Friends And Relatives") called "Red and White". "The Meeting" is a very nice Anderson/Wakeman number.

What can I say about "Teakbois"? - I'd rather listen to "Circus of Heaven" than this horrible cod-calypso/reggae number. This one is best forgotten. "Order of the Universe" picks things up again and is one of the best numbers here. "Let's pretend" is short, gentle Anderson and acoustic guitar number.

Well, this isn't up to the level of classic Yes but should appeal to most fans, except perhaps the die-hard Squire fans. It has a gentler feel than some Yes albums and suffers a bit now due to the rather 1980s drum and keyboard sounds, I would rank this alongside "The Ladder" as a 3 star "Yes" album.

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Send comments to chopper (BETA) | Report this review (#78732) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 19, 2006

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is essentially a modern Yes album without a particularly strong or sharp bass presence. In 1989, John Anderson united with Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, and Bill Bruford to create this album and a subsequent tour thereafter. To fill in the bassist role on the album was (by Bruford's suggestion) Tony Levin, which isn't a bad choice at all to replace Chris Squire. This album, while showing that these men could still create engaging progressive music, was marred unfortunately by bland keyboard tones and some over the top and cliched performances. I don't even really have a problem with Bruford's electric drums on this album (although he did indeed sound better on an acoustic kit). Fans of Yes will surely like this album, as it has all the flare and instrumental prowess as any Yes album, but the modern edge of it makes it new and exciting.

The album opens with Themes, a multi part track that has some great keyboards from Wakeman and a fun walking stick line from Levin. From the get go, you'll notice that Anderson's lyrics aren't as cryptic and dense as his past progressive efforts with yes and his voice has really aged well. Although you'll also hear the over the top keyboard sound that plagues this album as well on this track. Fist of Fire is a more atmopsheric piece with some dated keyboards from Wakeman (which represent trumpets) and some precision drumming from Bruford. Brother of Mine is my favorite track on the album. It has some sincere vocals from Anderson, some great guitar work from Howe, and many complex vocal sections that really bring back memories of the old Yes. The final minutes of the track is arguably the best part of the album. Birthright has some interesting acoustic work from Howe and some underlying atmopsheric synthesizers from Wakeman, and it evolves into a bombastic and grandiose composition with great riffing from Howe throughout the entire thing as well as some overly played keyboards from Wakeman.

The Meeting is a piano/vocal duet between Wakeman and Anderson. It's one of Wakeman's more emotional and melodic performances on the album and it overall comes out very well. Quartet suffers from dated and somewhat contrived keyboards, and yet has some smooth guitar and some wicked soloing from Howe, kind of a let down, really. Teakbois is probably the most ridiculous and weakest track on the album. All it is is a contrived and uninspired reggae song complete with cheesy vocals and percussion, a waste of space if you ask me. Order of the Universe has some solid bass from Levin as well as some great guitar fills from Howe and some solid harmony vocals and lead vocals. Pretty good epic, not bad at all. The album ends with Let's Pretend, a somber and acoustic ballad with some interesting chord progressions and some nice keyboard work, as well as some stellar acoustic guitar work from Howe. It ends the album on a lighter note and really suits the atmosphere.

In the end, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, a one off experiment that could have easily been mistaken as a Yes album, only they couldn't use the name Yes, and there's no Chris Squire. My main problem with this album lies in the keyboard sound, which not only sounds cheesy, but rather dated as well. Still, though, Fans of Yes should like this album as it has 4 classic members of the band and they do still have a thing or two to say in the music. 3.5/5.

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Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This LP was an exciting discovery back in 1989, and I thought that 'prog lives on'....... time has shown it a 'product of its times'...sure, it's a decent recording, and I admire many tracks of the album : mainly side 1 of the LP - any Yes fan should appreciate these tracks, but, in all honesty, side 2 showed a dubious amalgamation of ideals, whilst Quartet was worthwhile, I find the rest of the album quite dull, and I can only give this release somewhere between 2-3 stars, so I round up, out of respect. - 3 stars - because it's certainly more 'progressive' than 90125, and Big Generator......

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Posted Friday, December 08, 2006

Review by russellk
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars So four of the five members of the 'classic' YES reunite. What did they produce?

They produced a competent-at-best album from what sounds more like a YES tribute band. The songs are all well within the band members' capabilities, and there are no surprises. Pleasant listening - but when were these musicians supposed to be pleasant?

The context of this album is well known: the gradual disintegration of the 'classic' YES lineup in the late '70s, followed by the re-made '80s YES as '80s Rabin-rockers. This album signaled a return to the 'classic' period, and I and my friends were excited when first we slapped this vinyl on the platter. But it didn't take us long to realise there are only hints here of what YES were in the early '70s. I seldom play this record, and whenever I do, it still sounds juiceless.

People wishing to explore YES should, of course, begin with the classic albums 'The Yes Album', 'Fragile' and 'Close to the Edge'. The rest of their pre-1981 output is worth a listen. I also believe '90125' should be in your collection, but for different reasons. This, however, should not be.

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Posted Sunday, February 18, 2007

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars If we took a time travel to 1989 just we would find a peculiar situation, YES good name had been butchered by Rabin, Squire and company with two less than mediocre albums, while four men with enough credentials to be the real YES had to use their own names (due to contractual clauses) to play the music they wrote and new songs that even when not in the level of the original masterpieces of the legendary band, were closer to the roots of YES at the end of a weak decade for Symphonic Prog. Two bands with nothing in common except a wild card named Jon Anderson (In the official albums) but two opposite perspectives of music acting almost simultaneously.

Now lets return to the 21st Century and talk about Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe (call them ABWH, Yes East or however you want): I won't dare to say they released a great album but their music is alive and gave hope to many of us who were ready to burn the posters in our rooms after listening "Big Generator".

The album starts with Themes a nice keyboard intro announces a explosion of sounds, maybe a bit confusing and lack of order but pleasant for the ear, one can only ask how Jon Anderson manages to keep that soft voice as the decades pass and even gets more acute. Incredibly the man that gives coherence to the song is one who never played in YES, Tony Levin with his bass is the spine of the track, a few explosions of Wakeman that reminds us of old days but nothing else, still is a breeze of fresh air after several years.

Fist of Fire is how I imagine YES would had sounded in the 80's if Rabin would had never joined, strong and solid but still not brilliant, Steve Howe does a very nice job and Wakeman shows us why he's c0onsiderd the keyboard wizard, but still the coherence is weak, almost as if they had taken the name "ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMNAN & HOWE" too seriously and they were trying to make individual performances instead of a team work.

Brother of Mine is the first track that sounds absolutely coherent, everything is in it's place, Jon's voice is less annoying and the duet Levin - Bruford is absolutely perfect, even Tony in the backing vocals make us forget Chris Squire is not there, very good track with some radical changes and strong melody, 10:19 minutes of good music.

Birthright starts with a nice acoustic guitar intro by Steve Howe but sadly the song never leaves the floor, seems as an introduction never developed only the very short Howe sections save the song from mediocrity, but then something different, Wakeman dresses like Vangelis and makes a very unusual keyboard section perfectly supported by Bill Bruford, just when I was ready to throw the towel on this track, the change made me remember I was before five musical talents, who are able to take a rabbit from the hat at any moment.

The Meeting is a nostalgic piano and vocal based ballad, works well as a reliever, somehow makes me remember more of Rick's solo career in the 80's rather than in Yes, very cute but don't expect more.

Quartet is another good team work in which the band shows their desire to return to the old days, very close to the "Tormato" era but without the cheese, the most interesting feature is how Anderson manages to include fragments of lyrics and names of YES songs, seems like a scream for a reunion and to let the old days come back. Good but not outstanding track.

Tekbois is a terrible song, this guys should had known before recording this tracks that four British classically trained musicians were not placed in this planet to play Caribbean music, they simply don't have the beat and flavor, normally I press the skip button.

Order of the Universe is the song that convinced me to buy the album after watching the video of the making in a friend's house, now we are before a classic YES song, every single member of the band is perfect, the vocal work (In which even Wakeman and Howe participate according o the video) is very solid and it leads to one of Jon's finest moments, 9:02 minutes of solid music.

The album ends with Let's Pretend, another nostalgic ballad that seems as a cry for a reunion, very soft and acoustic, after "Order of the Universe" is the best election for a closer and leaves the door open for a new YES adventure with two simple words "Do again".

Not much more to say about ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE a good YES album (I still consider them as the real deal) but not even close to masterpieces as "Close to the Edge" or even "The Yes Album"

Four stars would be OK for a release that is over the average of the 80's but too much for an album that is bellow the possibilities of the five monsters that formed part of this project (Six if we count Milton Mc'Donald) so I will have to rate it with three solid stars that would be 3.5. if this was possible.

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Posted Monday, May 21, 2007

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe was kind of like a Yes spinoff, or maybe the appropriate word to use would be permutation. In any case, Jon Anderson was feeling artistically limited by the current material Yes had been producing since 90125. He formed a quartet of members from the classic Yes lineup and named the group after their surnames, or for a less mouthful of syllables, the acronym ABWH. The group had also considered the names "The Affirmative" and "No."

The group returned to the classic Roger Dean artwork and long extended pieces reminiscent of their 1970s period. Many Yes fans at the time hailed this as a masterpiece and I myself was quite impressed with this release. Unfortunately for me, I don't think it has aged well. My primary reasons for saying that are the 1980s-like production, Wakeman's prominent use of digital synths over analogue, Bruford's overdone use of electronic drums, and the bass being mixed way too low. The sound is just overwhelmed with Wakeman's synths. I cannot believe they did not take advantage of session bassist Tony Levin's amazing skills. He would have been the perfect replacement for Chris Squire.

ABWH has some decent material on here. Themes, Fist of Fire, Brother of Mine, and Order of the Universe are all great songs, but they suffer from the same production problems I address in the previous paragraph. The rest of the tracks on here range from silly (or as another reviewer referred to as "twee") to snoozefests. Still, it was one of the better releases from the 1980s and at most I consider it about as good as Tormato in the overall Yes catalogue. Good, but hardly essential. Three stars.

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Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars AWBH is FUN - as long as you're willing to pretend you don't understand English. Is that O.K. with you? And you like classic Yes? So you're not allergic to Jon Anderson's voice? Then let's go ahead.

To be honest, the opening tracks (as well as 'Birthright') still cause me some trouble, as they have Anderson shouting at the top of his range against a background of noisy electronic drums ("Themes") and blaring trumpet-like synths ("Fist") but by the third track ("Brother of Mine") everything finally feels O.K. Back in 1989, when this album was released, I thought: 'Yesss! They're back!' Catchy melodies and irresistible rhythm guitar (not played by Mr Howe, it seems...), Rick Wakeman expertly tickling the ivories, with Howe's lead guitar humming in the background - why, we hadn't had such fun since 1972. (I really like Rick's playing on "Brother": it sounds like an early nineteenth century fortepiano.)

After "Brother of Mine" the album takes a bit of a dive, though. "The Meeting" would have been an acceptable ballad, if it weren't for Wakeman's Richard Clayderman-style grand piano. (When will Wakeman learn to leave out those kitschy echo-effects?) But we're soon on the way up again. "Quartet", with its lovely acoustic opening, finally puts Steve in the spotlight. And catchy melodies are back again, most definitely . Within the scope of a single song we're treated to one memorable tune after another - sure beats TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS! Next, on "Teakbois", ABW&H let it all hang out. It seems that a couple of other reviewers thought this track a lapse of taste, but I find it tremendous fun. And then, finally, in "The Order of the Universe", we are given a gorgeously cinemascopic guitar-and-synths opening... until those vocals set in: "The Order of the Universe! The Order of the Universe!"

Sorry, I'm afraid we can neglect the problem of Jon Anderson's lyrics no longer. Let's stop pretending we don't really know the English language. Any thirty-five year old who writes things like: "So up this universal combination of the word I'll try so hard to fulfill my belief. Take me, I'm a love you" is a little daft, don't you think? Oh, I'll admit SOME of Jon's lines sound memorable... For example, I simply love the way he sings: 'We have walked the path of all the known religions'. And "Birthright" comes across as a worthy attempt to write a protest song. But generally speaking, this album's lyrics are irritating in the extreme.

And why does Steve Howe play so little lead guitar?

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Posted Saturday, August 04, 2007

Review by Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars In order to provide an anchor to my personal rating system, I needed to review my own worst prog album. The criteria for this would include the following: no new or interesting musical contributions, veteran musicians who should know better (I won't hold some poor material against a band that is trying to experiment or find their way), and lots of cheesy and/or irritating parts. Much as it pains me, ABWH has these characteristics in spades.

I liked the cover art. I liked the artists (even with the absence of my favorite Yes member). I liked the extended lengths of songs. Then I heard the music. Tacky synth effects and flourishes, cliched rhythms and melodies, and that's not even including Teakbois. The only one that I liked is the mellow closer, Let's Pretend; unfortunately, it's impossible to pretend that this album happened.

Don't get me wrong--there is MUCH worse music out there. This music is simply generic and cheesy, especially from a prog perspective and considering these musicians' commendable accomplishments (both before and after). Even though it's packaged as a Yes album, I don't feel like I found the "lost" Yes album...I feel like I bought a turd sandwich.

Maybe I just need to hear Love Beach to put things in perspective...

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Posted Friday, September 07, 2007

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The return of Yes sans Chris Squire. Just how integral Squire was to the classic Yes sound is very evident on the projects of ABW&H. What really sterilizes the sound, however, are Bruford's electronic percussion, which sound good with King Crimson; however, they have no place in any incarnation of Yes.

Without Squire, we do have the brilliant Tony Levin on bass and stick. Not a bad replacement and (in my mind) a superior bassist. That's not really an upgrade for Yes, though. As good as Tony is, you miss the dynamic present with Squire.

All is certainly not lost on ABW&H. "Brother Of Mine" is a fine epic with exquisite keyboards by Wakeman, which tend to sound a bit too 80's cheese laden on the first couple of tracks "Themes" and "Fist Of Fire". As the albums longest track at 10 minutes and a bit, it harkens back to the days of early Yes...if it weren't for the blasted electronic percussion! Still, a very good tune that has an all too abrupt ending.

"Birthright" sounds a bit Peter Gabriel-ish via Us, but we are treated with the nimble virtuosity of Steve Howe on acoustic. Probably one of my favorite songs on this disc with some nice keyboard landscapes created by Wakeman.

As beautiful as the past Yes ballads have been, "The Meeting" could easily rank up there and would've worked on Fragile or Close To The Edge. A touching song that is both vulnerable and magical in it's conception highlighted by Wakeman's brilliant piano work.

The low point (and what keeps it from achieving 4 stars) is the salsa tinged "Teakbois". It's so un-Yes that it's laughable and cannot believe it was included. A song lacking in testicular fortitude, to say the very least.

At the very least, ABW&H is not a bad album. It's a bit Yes Lite and could've used better production that could stand the test of time, as with the classic Yes albums like Close To The Edge and Relayer. Those albums still sound fresh; whereas, this sounds a bit antiquated. Somewhere between 2 and 3 stars.

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Posted Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Yes, we did make "Close to the edge".

With four fifths of the line up which made "Close to the edge" present, this is in many ways the forgotten Yes album. That said, although it contains some good stuff, it's not one of their best.

While Chris Squire (the absent CTTE member) was busy redefining the sound of Yes with Trevor Rabin, ABWH were at least attempting to revert to the more traditional Yes style. It may therefore be significant that with Squire missing, the bass playing and the harmonies seem relatively weak here. Squire's place is taken by Tony Levin, his role as a supporting musician being firmly emphasised by the lowly placing of his name. No disrespect to Levin, he is an accomplished and highly respected bassist, but his style is different to that of Squire, and thus less suited to the Yes style.

The rather cumbersome name for this combo came about as a result of the complex ownership of the Yes name which at the time was shared by Howe, Squire and White. As White and Squire were still using the name for their current project with Rabin and former Yes man Tony Kaye, ABWH could not also use the name. Names such as "The Affirmative" and even "No" were reportedly considered before this compromise was agreed upon.

In terms of structure, the album has a reassuringly prog feel, with a trio of pieces around the 10 minute mark, each with sub- sections. The album is however over-lyrical, with Jon Anderson's vocals being the dominant sound virtually throughout.

The opening "Themes" rather ironically has the feel of a Patrick Moraz piece, Wakeman's piano and synthesiser contributions being unusually slurred and jazzy. Bruford's drumming emphasises the jazz aspect of course, as does Howe's unusually loose guitar. The following "Fist of fire" is very much an Anderson song which finds him in chanting mode. Wakeman adds some striking fanfare synths, but the track is otherwise dull.

It is only when we get to the three part "Brother of mine" that things really take a turn for the better. The lyrics occupy two whole pages of the accompanying booklet, an indication once again of Anderson's dominance. Despite its length, the song is actually quite commercial, as evidenced by its use in extract form as a single. It is effectively three independent pop based songs joined together to make a coherent whole. Asia's Geoff Downes, who was also briefly a member of Yes, gets a writing credit on the final part.

"Birthright" focuses lyrically on the impact of the first atomic bomb test on the indigenous population, but becomes slightly confused geographically about the culprits. This and the following ballad "The meeting" are musically pretty unexciting songs.

"Quartet" follows the example of "Brother.." in that it is four disparate songs segued together to make up a longer suite. The second part, "She gives me love" brings into the lyrics a number of titles from Yes' glory days, including "South side of the sky", "Long distance runaround", and "Gates of delirium", but the setting is a prosaic, lightweight song.

"Teakbois" has a carnival atmosphere while benefiting from a slightly more interesting arrangement, but by now you really are wishing that Anderson would sit down for a minute or two! He finally does so for the start of "Order of the universe" but the captivating opening instrumental proves to be a false dawn, and we are soon back into another vocally dominated suite of songs.

"Let's pretend", which is co-written with Vangelis, is a pleasant but undemanding lullaby to close the album.

In all, ABWH flatters to deceive. On the face of it, the wonderful line up is committed to reverting to the prog sound the fans yearn for. In reality, what we have is a Jon Anderson solo album which features some top class backing musicians. A missed opportunity.

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Posted Monday, October 22, 2007

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Who needs a bass player a anyways? (Okay, that's a lie, they did have a bass player, but his name isn't in the title!)

Okay, here we go, the "lost yes album". Some people say "Yay!", many say "Ney!", I say, "whatever, it rocks either way" (That rhyming was unintentional... forgive me). This is definitely a breath of fresh air in 1989, and shows Yes wanting to emerge from their 80s guise. It is, however, unfortunate that Squire didn't want to add himself to the mix, now that would have been a great album (or another "union", who knows). Anyways, he didn't want to put his name in there, and since he owns Yes it had to be called something else, leading to the formation of this band.

enough about nothing, onto the review.

What's the music like? It's a great mix of soft and loud, bizarre and normal, Wakeman and Howe. Just listen to the piano intro leading into THEMES. Softly winding aroud until it is then kickstarted by the frantic drumbeat of Bruford which puts the song into true motion, characterized by Wakeman's boards and.... that guy on Bass. Okay okay, he has a name, Tony Levin, maybe you've heard of him? Anyways, Levin plays some great parts on here, but I would prefer Squire anyways. THEMES ends and so begins the Wakeman-riff drive FIST OF FIRE, which is a short powerhouse that would have felt right at home in the "Going For the One" era, and has even landed itself on a Yes compilation. Great song if you like synths. BIRTHRIGHT is a cool song that takes a direct stab at the USA ("this place ain't big enough/for red and white/this place aint big enough/for stars and stripes") and for that I like it. However, the instumentation and melodies aren't too shabby either, making it one of the album's better tracks. THE MEETING is an alright song that's well sung and characterized by Anderson's vocals. Nothing to complain about, yet nothing to remark too greatly about. QUARTET is an interesting little ditty with a fairly random pacing that's one of the first indicators that, hey, were still in the 80s here. Good song, bordering a bit too much on AOR for my liking at parts, but still noteworthy none the less. LET'S PRETEND is a forgettable outro, but THE ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE is a wonderful lost Yes song thats one of the album's highlights. It's heavy, it rocks, its progressive. All around good stuff.

Isn't there a few songs I've missed? Ah yes there is, but that's because they get their own paragraphs...

The album's centerpiece and the main focal point is the epic BROTHER OF MINE. Oh my what a track, but let me warn you, you will not like it the first time around. The Big Dream is a great segment that starts out the song with some low paced work that's brought to life by Anderson's delivery and Howe's floating riffs, this moves on until the song picks up and we eventually reach Long lost Brother Of Mine, a beatarific segment reminiscent of an 80s version of the breakdown on Seen All Good People. This may throw off the hardcore proggers first time around, but believe me, it grows on you.

(Time to take out the trash...) TEAKBOIS is a track I simply cannot stomach. The Hawaii-esque intro to "I'm Running" (Big Generator) was bad enough, but this is awful! The vocal melodies are really all that save this song from making me throw up, and I suppose it does have maybe a minute worth of good music in there. But the track is also seven and a half minutes long! That's way too long for a Hawaiian pop song! I suppose this song is an aquired taste and is love it-or hate it. I, for one, hate it. However, this is the only weak song on the album, so I'll forgive it.

Toss on some sweet Dean artwork and you're ready to go! This is an album I definitely recommend to any Yes fan, just don't expect Yes per se. A great piece of progressive music, and a great addition to anyone's collection. 3.5 stars, not a masterpiece, it has it's flaws, but it also houses some exceptional music. Give it a shot.

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Posted Monday, December 10, 2007

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars While perhaps historically and artistically significant in that ABWH attempts to restore the symphonic feel to Yes' music above their obnoxious flirtations with approachable pop, it utterly and tragically fails on almost every level. Songwriting is decent enough, with several catchy moments (in, say, Long Lost Brother of Mine), but in general is trite and silly given the previously displayed skill of those involved; however, what the hell should I be expecting from musicians that haven't tried ANYTHING new since 1975.

Die-hard fans of Yes will probably be entertained by Anderson's voice (which is very prevalent-- some would say obnoxious), and they might even like Howe's occasional outbursts of tired guitar work (emotionless as always). However, I can't imagine anyone who isn't entertained by synthesized horns and keyboards (which come across like a midi machine) to sit through this release without being utterly fed-up with Wakeman's silly noodling, which is present almost constantly. This album may as well of been just, Anderson: it would have been more honest; the musicianship is simply a yawn-fest.

To be honest, this album is not terrible-- it is simply bland, unimaginative, unchallenging, and unexciting... so what's the point? There are so many more interesting bands out there playing this kind of music that sticking with these sorts of tired releases from the old masters becomes a highly dubious investment.

Fans of Yes' classic output should avoid this like the plague-- it will only make them more frustrated with the malaise that has strangled this amazing band since its hey-day.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 1 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 1

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Posted Sunday, April 06, 2008

Review by ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Some albums age gracefully, some do not. ABWH is in the later category.

If you heard this back in 1989, when the only good prog releases were by relatively obscure bands, you were blown away by it. The classic Yes lineup (minus Squire but with the just as competent Levin) released an album that seemed to show an intention of getting back to their prog roots. Nowadays, when prog is much more easily found, this albums flaws are much more noticeable. Back in the day, though, this album generated considerable excitement. I'm giving it 3 stars to acknowledge the flaws, but parts of this are very good indeed.

Track by track:

Themes (4/5): A great beginning with some really nice work by Bruford. Unfortunately, this was recorded at the height of Bruford's obsession with electronic drums.

Fist of Fire (2.5/5): A nice idea but the execution is marred. This track sounds spacious but empty. It is in desperate need of Steve or Rick adding some complexity.

Brother of Mine (3/5): The single. Pleasant enough, but a little bland.

Birthright (3.5/5): An atmospheric tune with a very nice performance by Jon (not to mention some of his most interesting lyrics post-GFTO.) The music isn't complex, but it's very tasteful. If you like Jon's solo work, you'll love this.

The Meeting (2.5/5): Another song that is very reminiscent of some of the songs that Jon has done solo. Rick puts in some really nice keyboards, but ultimately this one doesn't impress. This is one of those spiritual songs that Jon insisted on adding to albums around this period, and it is comparable to Take the Water to the Mountain or Holy Lamb.

Quartet (4/5): My favorite song off of the album. It has a pleasant and positive sound, and the lyrics that reference past Yes songs is certainly a clever dig at YesWest.

Teakbois (2.75/5): What the hell? This is so far from what anybody would expect from this group of musicians that I have to say that. One part is Latin influenced and the other part is influenced by God knows what but it sure isn't prog. That said, I had to give it 2.75 instead of 2.5 because it is a bit above average anyway.

Order of the Universe (3.75/5): The epic of the album. And I have to resort to a .75 again!!! Why I'm doing that is that I feel that this is rather bland for a Yes epic, which are generally of a very high quality (excepting On the Silent Wings of Freedom of course) yet it is better than Birthright. Good, but not a lot of imagination in it.

Let's Pretend (2/5): Jon singing over Steve's guitar. A throwaway addition.

Again, this is a three star album, but it's surely at the high end of the albums that I have given three stars to.

EDIT: Even now I feel guilty for giving this a three star rating, which inevitably ranks it with the YesWest albums. But I feel that the YesWest albums are underrated and that this one is very much a product of it's time. Sorry. I'm keeping the three star rating, but suggesting that you listen to this ahead of anything except 90125 (where the highs are higher and the lows are lower) and possibly Talk (which is of comparable quality, although of a very different style.)

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Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars File under Yes

Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson had left Yes after the Tormato album in 1978, while Steve Howe stayed on board for another album before he left as well. Chris Squire and Alan White then brought Trevor Rabin into the band as well as original Yes member Tony Kaye (who played keyboards in the band before Rick Wakeman). Soon after, Jon Anderson re-joined and now they were three original members of Yes. So even if they were originally going to call themselves Cinema and not Yes, they decided to do so anyway. However, the album that resulted, 90125, did not sound like the classic Yes albums. It wasn't very progressive and rather commercial music aimed at radio play (which they got with Owner Of Lonely Heart - the worst song ever to bear the Yes name in my opinion).

Around the same time as this dubious version of Yes did a follow up to 90125 that was going to be Big Generator, another band started working on a new album. This band involved classic Yes-men Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson and Bill Bruford. They were not allowed to use the name 'Yes' so they called themselves 'Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe' instead. In my opinion, this band was the real Yes of the 80's in everything but name. They released this very good self-titled album in 1987 that sounded much more like Yes than 'Yes' at the time. Then they toured and performed songs from this new album together with many classic Yes songs and a concert film was shot which is now available on DVD.

These four people, Steve, Rick, Jon and Bill, are among my all time favourite people in music. Whenever they get together they create magic! All four of them have their very own, instantly recognizable sound and musical identity. And not to forget this album again has a very nice cover art picture by the amazing Roger Dean.

The album still has a bit of the typical 80's sound, but it is much closer musically to the classic 70's Yes albums than it is to 90125 or Big Generator. This is the band that really deserved to be called Yes in the 80's, much more so than the line up that made 90125 and Big Generator. Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe is the real Yes of the 80's in everything but name. If you have all the classic 70's Yes albums, and you still want more of Yes, this album is a great addition to your collection together with Keystudio, The Ladder and Magnification.

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Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review by obiter
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I quite like this banal dated 80s pop. quite: not a lot as a famous magician would say.

Is it just me or does Jon Anderson sometimes sound as if he's had parts of his anatomy removed/swallowed a balloon of helium, or the maybe the producer has replayed this at 45 instead of 33? I find myself imagining this album being performed by a Gerry Anderson puppet (although maybe a bit more Team America than Thunderbirds).

Anyway, back to the offering on display. After a couple of forgettable tracks we have Brother of Mine: It's annoyingly twee so give it all the love you ahve never be afraid to show your heart ... oh come on ... there is a special reason ...(I'm sure there is) cue cliché ridden lead break. It's just so formulaic it makes you want to scream. Then you get flashes or perhaps echoes of the Yes we all (?) know and admire. Unfortunately just as the creative juices are released the blanket of inane pop returns. as the pop master assumes control: Whoops, sorry about that folks, we apologise for that brief interlude of quality progressive music, it is now safe to unbuckle your seats as normal muzak has been restored: the band have been give a thorough talking to and will not repeat the same mistake (in the back ground ... Oi Wakeman stop that right now!!!). Sneaky laughter in the background ... it's OK lads he's away-Rick's going to lock him in the cubicle: time to record that one I was telling you about ... it's called Birthright

HELLO. This is sheer class. Maybe it's just the lyrics. Top drawer (fill in your preferred phrase here). Simply worth buying the album for this track. Rick's back smiling: it appears the last cubicle had blocked up badly and the pop master is now retching. Rick eases back and accompanies Jon as he delivers a pleasant song. Quite a relaxing ending designed to put you to sleep at the end of the side leaving your prized cartidge to wear down a couple of more hours.

Quartet annoys me (seems I get annoyed too easily). Why? Well, I wanna learn sounds like quite a few guitary sing-a-longy tunes that were popular at a local church youth group in the mid-80s. Not a good sound. She gives me love involves quite a bit of name dropping or song dropping: gates of delirium, roundabout, awaken etc ... However, what gets my goat is the grammar. I realise this is a personality flaw on my part, but why oh why sing We haven't spoke in quite a while? OK spoken in will sound awkward because of the repeated sound but every time I listen to this it grates. I should get out more.

The lyrics on the second side are almost evangelical: a declaration of the creator and the purity of music/soul: all that type of stuff. Hmmm. It's all good but the 80s electronic medium (drums etc) just does not float my boat in anyway.

The Order of the Universe: well, it's OK but, you know what? Dropping all those classic track titles earlier only serves to highlight how good they were, and how not quite so good this is. At one point I almost think Jon is about to start we built this city on rock and roll.

Unfortunately it's a no no no saved by Birthright from a 1.

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Posted Thursday, September 04, 2008

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars No one writing a series of Yes reviews, as I have lately, can ignore this album. This was set in train as a solo Anderson project after he left Yes in a huff following Big Generator, but was persuaded to bring in his old pals by his then wife Jennifer. Legend has it that some of the band members were less keen on the idea than others - Bruford was quoted as saying he was asked to do drums on the project, got off the plane, and then exclaimed Oh no, Not Yes! when he saw Howe & Wakeman.

The band were legally excluded from using the Yes name by Yes West (Squire, Rabin, Kaye, and White), so invented a title that sounded somewhat like a firm of very expensive solicitors and embarked on a hugely enjoyable and lucrative tour with the moniker An Evening of Yes Music Plus.

I really like this album. Not a perfect five by any stretch, but still a huge improvement on Big Generator. Aside from Anderson, who remains my favourite vocalist, I feel that the star is Bruford. He tried out his all electronic set of drums for the album and I think it sounds fantastic.

Themes starts really well instrumentally and Fist of Fire is a pleasant song which doesn't really give much of a clue as to what is to follow. Because Brother of Mine is exceptional, from the first piece of Anderson majestically singing So... right the way through some exemplary ensemble playing by the band. You know from listening to this, in spite of many reservations, just how glad they all are to be getting on and playing together.

I like Birthright. Howe starts it off with a fine acoustic piece, and Anderson proceeds to tell a story well of how the British treated appallingly a set of islanders during the Cold War by relocating them from their home (birthright) because of nuclear testing. This actually became quite a famous High Court case in the UK later.

The Meeting is also exceptional, rightly a favourite live. Wakeman shows us all just how much we have missed him by playing exceptionally sensitive and intelligent piano to Anderson's gentle ballad.

Quartet has a fantastic Howe opening and is a good solid group effort. It is also very clearly a sly old dig at Yes West, who were still floundering without a vocalist.

What follows this is without doubt the worst thing all four have ever been associated with - Teakbois is genuinely shocking, a pale and limp cod reggae piece that deserves to be well and truly dumped into the dustbin of history - if you download this album, take the option of leaving this one out. This track alone takes one star off the overall rating.

The long epic of the album is Order of the Universe, and I really like this track. There is some exceptional lead guitar work, also very complex, by Howe, whilst Milton McDonald also plays very well backing Howe. The track is the rockiest of the album, Bruford plays exceptionally, and the keyboard main sequence by Wakeman is a joy, especially the beginning of the closing sequence which features Anderson's voice soaring la las.

Let's Pretend is the album's closer, a nice ballad.

It is really difficult to rate this album. I still enjoy this, and enjoy even more the video of the concert in America that followed not long afterwards. All four musicians, and their exalted guest Tony Levin (one of the finest bassists of all time), play excellently and there is only really one bum track on it.

It's certainly not perfect, but falls between good and excellent, i.e. 3.5 stars. Certainly much recommended to Yes fans.

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Posted Thursday, March 05, 2009

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars No kidding- this release could have been close to being on par with classic Yes (with Tormato, in the very least), had it not been for one absolutely unpardonable flaw: Bruford's electronic drum kit. Rapid snare hits sound devoid of any velocity-sensitive mechanism. The toms scream "fake," making this feel more like a Phil Collins solo album from around the same time. The cymbal splashes are shallow. And the other percussion is largely annoying (from far-fetched "ethnic" drums to absolutely awful handclaps). Steve Howe's electric guitar parts are generally mixed so low that they become trivial. Master bassist Tony Levin does nothing spectacular at all during this entire album, which is sad, really. Jon Anderson sounds fine throughout most of the songs, but during heavier moments, sounds strained. Rick Wakeman is the highlight of the album by far, but even he isn't infallible, mainly because of a few poor tone choices. This is an album that is hard to rate, because it boasts some very good songs that were, for the most part, poorly executed.

"Themes" Wakeman's gentle piano makes for such a stellar introduction, and then Bruford's horrible heavy electronic drums burst in, and along with some horrendous instrumentation, practically ruin what could have been a great opener. Wakeman and Howe are outstanding though, the latter in a subtler capacity. When Howe does solo, the rhythm section fails him; Bruford's heavy-handed marching snare just gets irritating.

"Fist of Fire" As with the first track, this is largely Wakeman's affair. He employs a squeaky synthesizer lead in between lines, again while Howe assumes a more submissive role.

"Brother of Mine" Soft synthesizer and Anderson's voice floating over it introduce this pleasing track. The rhythm guitar sounds largely uninspired, but Howe's lead compensates for this. Wakeman's piano interlude is fabulous, and with Howe soloing over it, I can't help but think of the middle part of "Turn of the Century." The handclapping makes an appearance toward the end, and the refrain would have been better without it. The ending is arranged superbly, but falls flat as the music just stops.

"Birthright" The brooding synthesizer and percussion, with Howe's acoustic guitar in the fore, attempts to evoke the feeling of an epic battle. I don't personally care for the lyrics, even if they are well-written. However, this song is the sole exception to the Bruford's-drums-sound-horrible rule: His percussive work contributes well to the track instead of harming it.

"The Meeting" Once again, Wakeman shines, doling out an expressive piano piece. Anderson's voice sounds great over it.

"Quartet" The opening of this lengthy piece is one of the most pleasant parts, perhaps because it focuses on Howe's acoustic guitar and mandolin. Levin sounds like he's playing an acoustic bass also. Anderson sounds more natural here (as opposed to some other songs, where he seems to be is shouting). Howe's electric guitar tone is tasteful and clean. The lyrics consist of several nods to the titles of Yes songs ("Long Distance Runaround," "Southside of the Sky," "The Gates of Delirium," and "Roundabout" are four); that said, the words are typical Anderson lyrics, which is to say, either mysterious utterances with deep meaning or indeterminable nonsense. My main problem with this track of course is that it does not flow. The parts themselves are solid and delightful, but they are completely separated rather than musically conjoined.

"Teakbois" This calypso-infused mess sounds completely out of place. Yes would try a similar Hispanic-tinged song on The Ladder, but with much better effect. Even after the Caribbean music subsides, the music drifts around in a sea of awfulness. Even Wakeman's spirited keyboards at the end cannot salvage this unpleasantness. Give me a margarita instead.

"Order of the Universe" Despite the horrid electronic drums, I can not help but enjoy this lengthy track. It could have been far better, however. Howe's guitar is particularly great- mixed too low in my opinion. Wakeman's lively keys hop in and out like a young girl enjoying Double Dutch. The vocal melody initially sounds goofy, but definitely grows on the listener. Overall, this track is very similar to Rabin-dominated Yes; it's one that could have easily fit on 90125 or Big Generator, even though the guitar presence and general style of Howe and Rabin are completely different. While it could be entirely coincidental, the lyrics seem to give a nod to Chris Squire's song "Can You Imagine," which had been recorded during the XYZ sessions with Alan White and Jimmy Page (and which would appear in finer form on the Yes album Magnification). The chimes and gong at the very end go directly into the next and final song.

"Let's Pretend" Howe and Anderson delight with this lovely, if brief, performance. It makes me remember the "Leaves of Green" section from "The Ancient."

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Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Classic Yes line up minus Chris Squire. And Squire was sorely missing here. Ok, Tony Levin is a master of the instrument, but we are talking about (musical) chemistry. Frankly, I was losing my patience with Yes at the time. After a string of essential, strong, classic prog albums in the 70´s, their output in the 80´s was uneven, to say the least. And this album wasn´t going to save them, even if it is far better than most of what they have done a few years before.

What Yes fan wouldn´t want Bruford back to the drums stool? I miss Squire´s trademark bass lines, but you can´t have everythig and I could deal with that. The main problem here is the lack of inspiration, specially at the songwriting department. The strongest cuts are the the first three and I remember thinking how good they were, giving me hoep that they finally made an album worth of their historical importance. However, from the middle to the end they were running out of ideas (or so it seemed) and the LP simply dragged on. Quite the pattern for some of their future releases, I must admit. Their great muscianship could not hide some of the song´s weakness. Still, they at least delivered some good stuff if you don´t try to compare this album to their classics of the 70´s. So my rating would be something between 2,5 to 3 stars. Mostly for fans, but still good enough for the occasional listener.

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Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is well known album by YES in all, but name. I am not a big YES fan even in their classic works, but their releases from late 70-s - 80-s were mostly terrible. This one , even with a bit different line up (and Tony Levin on bass) is really one of the best from that period. Or, in other words, this album is a almost the only one from all decade I can listen and enjoy!

Anderson's voice is in great form (and I really hate his solo new age albums from few last decades!), and the album's cover is Roger Dean's work. Mostly Wakeman keyboards-based, music has some connections with YES music from mid 70-s. For sure, the year is 1989, and Wakeman recorded a bunch of new-age/synth-rock albums from his early-YES years, and for sure you can feel it in his playing on this album. But he is great musician, and he really shows it when playing classic YES -influenced music in modern manner.

Rhythm section is competent, but hardly innovative, or even important. Steve Howe role is quite limited as well. But in whole, music is melodic, well played and arranged and not boring. In some places you can hear open flirt with pop-rock there, but - it's understandable thinking about time of release.

Far not one from the best YES recordings, but possible the best one in last two decades of last century.

My rating is 3+.

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Posted Sunday, August 08, 2010

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Another desperately disappointing attempt by members of the the once great Yes to update their sound and emulate past glories, this spin-off effort from 1988 must surely rank as the genuine career nadir for all involved. For those of you who don't know the full story, Yes started to fragment at the end of the 1970's for a number of reasons. Punk rock, internal tensions, commercial failure and financial difficulties all combined to spell the end for this once pioneering group, with Rick Wakeman leaving in 1975(only to return in 1977 and then leave again in 1978) followed by lead-singer Jon Anderson in 1979. Guitarist Steve Howe would cling on for a brief while, forming one fifth of the line-up for the disastrous 'Drama' album from 1980, which featured the pop duo Buggles(vocalist Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes) along with bassist and group mainstay Chris Squire and long-term drummer Alan White. 'Drama' was an insipid attempt to modernise the Yes sound whilst simulteneously retaining the prog elements of the glory years, and in the aftermath of it's release Howe finally relented and quit, joining up with Downes, ELP's Carl Palmer and ex-King Crimson and Family bassist- and-vocalist John Wetton to form the pop-rock super-group Asia in 1982. The same year would see Yes on their last legs, and Horn would be the next to depart, leaving a nucleus of just Squire and White holding the fort. However, success would prove to be just around the corner, as the remaining twosome teamed up with South African singer-songwriter Trevor Rabin, original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye and a returning Jon Anderson to release 1983's '90125', a streamlined, commercially-orientated pop-rock comeback album that sold over 3 million copies in the USA and became, to date, the most successful Yes album of all time. Thought by many to be finished, Yes were back and they had a brand new audience and a hip new sound. '90125' was followed-up in 1987 by the less-popular but still remarkably successful 'Big Generator', which featured the same line-up, before Anderson would again walk, this time joining up with Rick Wakeman, former drummer Bill Bruford(also ex-King Crimson and Genesis) and Steve Howe, who had left Asia after two successful albums. The foursome de-camped to Air studio's in Montserrat(!), and the result was this synth-heavy catastrophe of an album. Simulteneously, Squire, White, Kaye and Rabin were touring as Yes, and the group, who were used to acrimonious relations, found themselves split from their former band-mates by one mother of an almighty schism. Of course, 1991 would see both groups join up for the very mediocre 'Union' album and tour, but that's a story for another day. 'Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe', with it's tacky keyboards, lifeless melodies and outmoded 'hi-tech' effects proved to be a thoroughly dreadful attempt to re-create past glories with seemingly superior technology. In fact, the album seems much more dated than any of their 1960's or 1970's output, showing just how ill-judged much of the sounds, technique and actual music from the 1980's were. At the same time that ABWH were coining this dreary mess neo-prog bands such as Abel Ganz, who had infinitely lower recording budgets, were writing great albums like 'The Danger Of Strangers', showing that there is no substitute for youthful vigour. Considering Yes have not made a decent album since 1977's 'Going For The One', ABWH is in good company. Those looking for something outside of the classic era Yes albums such as 'Close To The Edge', 'Fragile' and 'Relayer' are advised to look elsewhere for their symphonic thrills and check out the likes of British bands Druid and England, and American proggers Starcastle. Though this album is titled 'Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe' it is very much a Yes product. Asked if the album is any good, this reviewer replies with the emphatic answer: No! No! No! STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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Posted Sunday, August 08, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars It had been far too long since we had a Yes of this magnitude. The "Drama" band was pretty good, but without Jon Anderson, and including The Buggles, it wasn't quite right. The band from "90210" and "Big Genitalia" (Those were the titles, right?) was a place holder, and better than no Yes at all. At least they approximated the classic songs in concert, as best they could.

But on this album, the best Yes lineup, minus Chris Squire, was finally back in all of it's prog glory. The songwriting is good, although there is nothing of the magnitude of Close To The Edge or Gates Of Delirium. They are definitely prog and not mass market pop songs. What raises the songs above many albums is the spirited performance of Rick Wakeman. His flourishes are energetic and inspired. He really seems overjoyed to be back in the band. Howe and Bruford are great, as always, but don't stand out as much as the keyboards.

What's missing is Squire's bass. Tony Levin, as we all know, is an amazing bass player. But he lays low on this album, letting the titled band members take the spotlight. I understand that this is probably what was aked of him, but it leaves a bit of a holen the music.

Still, this is a must for the Yes fanatic.

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Posted Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review by Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe: Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe [1989]

Rating: 7/10

This self-titled album from Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe is a product of Jon Anderson's justified impatience with the dreck Trevor Rabin was putting Yes though during the 80s. The band name, seemingly inspired by an accounting firm, makes it obvious that this album is Yes in all but name. In fact, ABWH is much more Yes than Big Generator is. Although this album often receives negative feeback, I've always considered it to be an excellent release, albeit with a few weak moments.

"Themes" is a strong opener. It starts the album with an excellent piano/synth intro and features excellent vocal work, particularly during the conclusion. However, one of the album's glaring flaws becomes present quickly: Bruford's mechanical and inorganic drum work; the repetitive percussion sounds like a backing track. This is inexcusable, particularly for a drummer of Bruford's stature. "Fist of Fire" is a short, synth-dominated track - nothing too special here. "Brother of Mine" is a fantastic ten-minute song. The first section is particularly excellent; Howe's guitars exude emotion and Anderson is ethereal. "Birthright" continues on this strong path, with classical guitar work and fantastic vocals/lyrics. Wakeman shines during the conclusion. "The Meeting" is an enjoyable Anderson/Wakeman duet. It's a pleasure to listen to, but certainly not the best song Yes has done in this style. "Quartet" is an absolutely wonderful song and is the high point of the album. It's a relaxed song that goes though many movements, one of which pays tribute to classic Yes songs. Anderson and Howe perform some of their best work here. "Teakbois" is by far the weakest song here. This is a lame samba/reggae song with 80s synths and formulaic guitar playing. I don't hate the song (there are some decent synth riffs and vocal hooks), but for the most part it's incongruous with the rest of the album and should have hit the cutting room floor. "The Order of the Universe" opens with a wonderful intro, but the rest is overproduced 80s rock. This isn't a bad song, but it is certainly the weakest mini-epic on the album. "Let's Pretend", a Howe/Anderson duet slightly reminiscent of "The Anicient", ends the album well.

ABWH sometimes sounds overly-polished, and there are some less-than-stellar moments. However, the excellent moments greatly outnumber these, and it's obvious that these four musicians are in their true creative element here. Despite the lifeless drum work and "Teakbois", this album is an impressive achievement, particularly for the time of its release.

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Posted Monday, March 28, 2011

Review by colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I don't care what anyone says. This, in my mind, is Yes. Maybe a Yes minus Chris Squire, but still Yes. I've always found this album enjoyable, because it sounds like a strong mixture of '80s pop influenced Yes and '70s symphonic Yes, which would ultimately become the Yes '90s sound.

This material is very strong, though I'm sure fans of early Yes would still brush this off as too "un-Yes" sounding. Much of the '80s keys and percussion enhancements are still present on this album, but it all sounds like a natural progression from the '80s to '90s period of Yes (I think ABWH album far better than anything Yes would write for the rest of the '90s). Besides in a change of sound, this album marks the beginning of the period where these four men would be writing together again, which is undeniably always a good thing. The music here always give off a imperial or medieval feel, without any good reason. I guess the synths sound like synthesized "behold your majesty" horns, and the filter used on the guitar on "Brother of Mine" sound like horses.

Although I think this album stands out in the Yes/Yes-related catalog, I do agree that only select few might enjoy this. If you're a strict fan of '70s Yes, then you can ignore this album and not be missing much. Likewise, if you're only a fan of '80s pop-influenced Yes material, the music on this album may be a bit elaborate. However, if you maybe (read: oddly) started listening to Yes during the '90s and think that is there best material then this should definitely be included on your music-shelf.

Standout tracks: "Brother of Mine", "Order of the Universe"

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Posted Monday, April 18, 2011

Review by TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album surprised me. What I had heard about it was that this was more along the lines of what many considered the "Classic Yes" sound; after all, wasn't that why Jon had decided to collaborate with three of the Yes-men of years prior despite still being in Yes?

While it does have a bit more in common with that era than the Rabin-era Yes music, a lot of changes have occurred in the Yes-camp. These four artists hadn't all worked together since Close To The Edge, but I'd say this kind of sounds like a combination of Tormato and Big Generator.

The 80s were here and there is no doubt about that on this album. Bill Bruford is happy to use synthetic drums. Rick Wakemans keys have a pretty strong '80s feel. Steve Howes guitar, on occasion, features a bit more of an AOR edge than it ever did in the '70s.

Of course, a change of sound was inevitable. Steve Howe had since been in Asia and found great success there. Rick Wakeman had been doing his own thing for nearly a decade. Bill Bruford hadn't been in Yes for over fifteen years, working on his solo material, in King Crimson, and in UK since those days. Jon had spent his years working with Rabin on the more pop- oriented Yes sound.

When all is said and done, it's actually kind of refreshing, if not what I expected. The songs are enjoyable (Teakbois is probably my favorite), and they don't sound like they are trying too hard to be what they once were (they tried that years later on Keys to Ascension and it earned them only one really great song).

So this is definitely an enjoyable album, giving an impression of what Yes might have sounded like had they incorporated the '80s into their existing sound instead of breaking and reforming like they actually did. It's not as good as their best material from the '70s (and I don't think quite as deep), but still an enjoyable listen.

Chris Squires presence though is greatly missed, both on the bass, and in the backup vocals which just don't sound quite as full.

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Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review by Sheavy
COLLABORATOR Progressive Electronic Team
2 stars I was over at a local used book store that happens to have a ton of other stuff than used books(cd's, movies, video games, and records), and came across this for two dollars. Well of course I had to get it for that price, and with those names on it. The cover looked like a good 70's era Yes type cover, with its vast landscape and towering rock structures, and was happier when I saw Roger Dean had done another cover good enough to hang on the wall.

Unforunately, the stuff that actually counts, was not near as good as I had expected. On the back I thought there was a lot of promise with the multi-sectioned tracks, but this record is far, far from good Yes. Better than what they had been releasing? Definetely. As good as there works from about 69 to 79? Definetely not. It sounds rather cheesy and, I hear too much of the 80's Yes still rearing its ugly head every now and again. The playing is good as to be expected, but this was just a bit more of a let down than what I thought I was getting.

The Six Wives Of Henry VIII album that I got for four dollars however.....

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Send comments to Sheavy (BETA) | Report this review (#466478) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
2 stars This naturally would be a YES album if Chris Squire didn't have the rights for the band name. it marked the re-union of the four members of the classic YES line-ups and the return to more symphonic prog after albums like 90125, Big Generator, or mr. Howe's adventures in Asia and GTR. Not surprisingly AWBH got a warm welcome from prog listeners at the time. Also I happened to buy it on vinyl (with that significant Roger Dean cover art again!), after hearing very uplifting 'Brother Of Mine' on radio. Actually the album was a painful-to-admit disappointment right from the start, and today, many years - probably a couple of decades - since I removed the LP from my shelves, I can say that I don't really miss it a bit. I still remember the album quite well. I think that is somehow revealing, speaking of the nature of the music. The tone is bold and mostly happy.

It has superb Jon Anderson vocals, it has colourful guitarwork of Steve Howe, it has keyboard mastery of Rick Wakeman, and the drumming of Bill Bruford (though sadly electronic in too many places). Tony Levin as the guest bassist is a top musician too, no doubt of that. But something is just missing. It must be the absence of Squire that prevents this album to sound like true YES. Or true anything. I'm not talking only about the sound per se, but rather the compositions. 'Brother Of Mine' probably has the highligh moments of the entire album but even that turns out to be overlong mess. Some other longer tracks are quite pretentious if not totally irritating. 'Quartet' cites classic YES titles in its silly lyrics which sadly lead the blatant music instead of music taking the lead. Here and there the music leans heavily towards the horrible 80's synth aesthetics. 'Teakbois' is a calypso mess which sounds ridiculous. The album ends beautifully with an acoustic, calm and intimate Anderson song 'Let's Pretend' (Vangelis had something to do with it if I remember right).

This phoney album is best to be compared to the notorious Union. It tries hard but mostly fails miserably. Several years later, with Squire in (and Bruford replaced by Alan White) they succeeded better on the Keys To Ascension live/studio hybrids to write new progressive rock of higher credibility. Not that I like them either very much.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#535411) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Just after one of the poorest prog albums (if prog) of the 80s that's IMO Big Generator, after the equally poor output from two of the best prog guitarists called GTR, while Rick Wakeman was releasing home-made newage albums and even the duo Jon and Vangelis was able to release only a half-good album like Private Collection nobody can expect that even four prog monsters plus some Tony Levin can release another Close To The Edge.

Actually the only one very active in composing was Jon Anderson. One can like him or not, but his solo career were proceeding in parallel to the "other YES" one and it's not a susprise if most of this ABWH sounds like a Jon Anderson's solo of that times.

So take a bunch of averagely good songs from Jon's pocket, have them played and arranged by some of the most skilled people available in the surrounding and you'll have something very close to a masterpiece.

The album is opened by "Themes" that's nothing special, but has the typical Anderson's sound enriched by the YES arrangement. , followed by a very good short song like "Fist Of Fire" that's another typical Anderson's thing, but what follows? "Brother Of Mine" can be criticized for the newage lyrics, but from a musical point of view is almost an epic with instrumental parts that leave room for short solos on which the band members can exploit all their skills. Listen to what Howe's guitar does in the background, to how Wakeman's piano supports Jon's singing in the first part of the song. Maybe Bruford has less to do on this song respect to his colleagues, but he's always present with his alternative signatures, we just have to pay attention to him, specially in the first transition when Howe introduces "Long lost brother of mine"... I think this song alone is already a good reason to have this album.

"Birthnight" is more influenced by Howe, at least I feel it as it was. Lyrically it's still an Anderson's song, but all the album is so. This is a YES song, anyway. If you put it in a playlist with Going For The One and give it to a Yes newbie he would probably think that they come from the same album.

At this point we are still on the A side of the vinyl. Not bad isn't it?

"The Meeting" closes the side A, if I remember correctly. A moment for Wakeman. His piano and keyboards support a short song that sounds a lot like Jon and Vangelis, but even though I like the Greek keyboardist a lot, when the piano is played by Wakeman there's a significant difference.

Mandolin and acoustic guitar are the openers of side B. "Themes" is started by a typical Howe's thing. You can compare it with some of the early Howe's solo albums. I think mainly to Turbulence. 80s pop? Absolutely not. It's easy, melodic and solar, but it's Yes music with no doubts and as I have already written nobody was expecting a new Close To The Edge in 1989.

The only forgettable track is "Teakboys". Unfortunately it's since "Song of Seven" that Anderson places salsa or south-american rhythms in general, at least once per album. Bruford has probably some fun in playing this song, but to be honest I have less fun in listening. This is not my pot at all.

Back to Yes music with "The Order Of The Universe". This is the most electronic song. Bruford plays electronic drums and even Wakeman indulges with 80s sounds. It's not Trevor Rabin, also because Howe still sounds like Howe, but this is very 80s influenced. I have to say that if you don't pay too much attention to the sound and concentrate on the notes only, the intro has Wakeman at his best. The rest is quite an appendix to Big Generator, or better to 90125. I consider 90125 as one of the best prog albums in the poor scene of the 80s so I'm not too disturbed by this song and I wasn't actually, even if I dislike Big Generator that's too pop even for a yes fan like me.

The closer is one of the best things of the album. The acoustic guitar is excellent but in some passages we can clearly hear Vangelis that's also credited on this song. The man who was about to become the Yes keyboardist after one of the many Wakeman's leavings is finally playing with the band and I think that he should be credited for the composing of this song, too. This seems to come directly from Short Stories and has the effect to leave the listener unsatisfied. I mean that after this song I'd like to have more of this stuff.

This is not a masterpiece. It's not comparable with any of the early Yes albums (between Yes Album and Tales), but it's one of the few things that a progger can save from the 80s and with just a weaker moment that's the salsa thing. Forgive that song and let it enter your collection if not yet there.

For me it's a 4 stars with an advice: I have liked Union, too. If you totally dislike that album consider this as a 3 stars only.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#536865) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars It should have been a foolproof plan. Put back together the Fragile/Close to the Edge era lineup of Yes minus Chris Squire, get back to the group's prog roots, and put out an album for the joy and appreciation of prog audiences disaffected with the Big Generator's output. And it has to be said that ABWH make a good show of it for their debut album. The inclusion of Tony Levin in the lineup on bass is an inspired choice - his bass style will never be mistaken for Chris Squires, but this helps distinguish the band's sound from classic Yes and takes it into slightly different territory, and I'm sure the band all realised the potential advantages of having a rhythm section who (through their work on three King Crimson albums) were already used to working with each other. And some of the songwriting is pretty good - Brother of Mine has some pretty good passages.

However, there's an issue: the production values are so 80s they hurt, and not in a good way. From Rick's occasionally Casio-sounding keys to Bill's artificial-sounding drums to the cheesy clapping during Brother of Mine, the sound of the album is horribly dated - and probably sounded dated back in 1989, considering that the production values here would be more suited to an early Asia album. On top of that, the mix is really shoddy - the drums are too loud, Steve Howe's guitar playing is too quiet, and Tony Levin's bass performances are often buried entirely. One for the committed Yes fan only.

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Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If there's a more dysfunctional progressive rock band in the world than Yes I have yet to run across them. This group takes the grand prize and the blue ribbon. The fact that the various members are extremely talented has never been in question but we proggers can't help but wonder what musical heights they might've reached had even one of their lineups been able to remain intact for longer than three or four years in a row. Yet if wishes were nickels I'd be independently wealthy so there's no use in contemplating what could've been. They are what they are and they did what they did so be it. I'll spare you the sordid details of their entire career and just recap the years leading up to this fine album by Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. After Yes figuratively took a dump on their fans in '78 with the rotten "Tormato" Jon and Rick took a hike. Chris, Alan and Steve snatched up two of the dudes from The Buggles and put out the half decent "Drama" LP in '80 before folding up the tent. The Yes legacy lay dormant for a while until Chris patched it back together with alums Alan, Jon and Tony along with newbie Trevor to assemble the slick but definitely above average "90125" record in '83 that put them back on the music industry's map. The disappointing follow up in '87 was the weak "Big Generator," after which Jon left and the esteemed ensemble went AWOL again. The MTV-ruled eighties decade wasn't exactly conducive to prog so the band's struggle to survive in that woebegone era is understandable. However, when four of the members responsible for creating the greatest symphonic progressive rock album in history (the still-astonishing "Close to the Edge") decided to co-create once more they were barred from using the hallowed Yes moniker by Chris (the only member to appear on every "official" Yes disc) who held the patent and wasn't in the mood to share. Rather than stooping to sarcastically naming the group "The Affirmative," (something they actually considered briefly) Jon, Bill, Rick and Steve hired respected bassist Tony Levin to fill the bottom frequencies and went into the studio using their well-known surnames as their calling card. This one and only album was the result.

They kick things off with the triple-tiered "Themes." The initial section, "Sound," begins with a delightful shower of cascading notes and then Bill's piercing drums blow the doors open to the funk/rock exposition that is "Second Attention." Within minutes they've established the infectious aura that only this unique cadre of prog legends can conjure up and I'm smiling. The third movement, "Soul Warrior," sports a marching cadence that encourages some peppy interplay to arise between Steve's guitar and Rick's synths. All in all it's six minutes of prog bliss. "Fist of Fire" follows. It's a compact, thud-heavy song dominated by Wakeman's keyboards and Jon's passionate but surprisingly aggressive vocals. It's not as cool as the previous cut but enjoyable. The 10+ minute, three-part "Brother of Mine" is next. "The Big Dream" starts it off with a cavernous soundscape that stretches into the ether behind Anderson's sweet-as-candy voice and Howe's beautiful guitar runs. Other than the memorable namesake chorus of "Nothing can come between us," the second segment is more of the same coloration. At this juncture I must comment that, as much as I admire Levin's craft, I do miss Squire's adventurous bass lines that always add an exciting unpredictability to the band's tracks but I guess with this group you can't have everything. The third section, "Long Lost Brother of Mine," pushes the tempo upwards and Bill gets to throw in some intriguing percussive syncopation to spice things up but it's Rick's stirring, grandiose finale that steals the show. "Birthright" is a highlight. Growling synths and acoustic guitar licks set the stage brilliantly for this dynamic tune but it's the transcendent middle segment that truly thrills and satisfies. It fires on all cylinders.

"The Meeting" possesses a lovely piano intro that's a heavenly display of how sensitive and stratospheric Wakeman's artistry can be at times. The song is a gorgeous example of exquisite arrangement and tasteful delivery. The four-division "Quartet" has lofty aspirations but it doesn't achieve all its goals. On "I Wanna Learn" Steve's delicate guitarisms back up Jon's folksy singing and harmonies suitably. Rick barges in with choppy piano chords to elevate the atmosphere for "She Gives Me Love" while the lyrics pay clever homage to classic Yes song titles. "Who Was the First" has a strong feel rolling underneath but Bruford is relegated to a supporting role to the piece's detriment. "I'm Alive" only confirms that this whole number is basically a Jon Anderson- inspired love fest. While I personally don't find his over-the-rainbow poetics overly wearisome I can sympathize with those who might. "Teakbois" is next and it's an eyebrow-raiser. Its viable Caribbean vibe is not something I ever expected from these guys but it does show they were willing to step out of their comfort zone to see what would develop. It's a fun detour that shines a light on the versatility of Bill and Rick in particular. I especially dig the abrupt changes in the groove they pull off without a hitch. If you're looking for an epic, "Order of the Universe" will do the trick. "Order Theme" is a grand-scale overture that's sure to please any fan of symphonic prog. "Rock Gives Courage" is a driving rocker wherein Jon succeeds in getting up in your face with curious lines like "You don't need anybody in this complicated life!" "It's So Hard to Grow" is a continuation of that forceful mien energized by the number's powerful chorus and strident incidentals. During "The Universe" Bruford stands out by combining acoustic and electronic drums to present an extraordinary, multi-rhythmic tsunami of sound. They close the album out quietly with "Let's Pretend," a short, innocent Anderson ditty augmented expertly by Wakeman's keyboards and Howe's inimitable guitar licks.

Released on June 20, 1989, "ABWH" rose to #14 in the UK and #30 in the US, indicating that there were a multitude of folks in the world that had grown tired of cute videos and big hair rock outfits and longed for the glory days when they eagerly crammed into arenas to hear Yes wow their aural senses with their majestic and awesome compositions. Alas, this foursome only lasted a short time before some suit at Arista decided it'd be a stupendous idea to bring EVERYBODY back and put together the can't fail, ultimate Yes album, "Union." Some family get-togethers turn into fiascos and evidently this one was a doozy because it effectively ended the run of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. (One of these days I'll get around to listening to "Union" but my expectations are low, to say the least.) Nonetheless, ABWH is a darn good prog album, especially considering the sorry state 20th century music was in at the time they made it. Jon, Bill, Rick and Steve had the guts to swim against the inane commercial current and do what they did best to the appreciative applause of proggers worldwide. Their accomplishment has stood the test of time. 4.1 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#1154422) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2014

Latest members reviews

2 stars This is, and most definately is not, a Yes album. Obviously with Anderson, Brufurd, Wakeman and Howe around playing, writing, and singing, it sounds a lot like Yes since it's basically 80% of the classic lineup. But that missing 20% (Chris Squire) is HUGE. Don't take this as a swipe against Tony ... (read more)

Report this review (#904188) | Posted by wehpanzer | Friday, February 01, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I consider this a Yes album. ALthough it certainly does not rank up there with FRAGILE, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, or even DRAMA, it is at least a big cut above the syrup of 90120 or TALK. The biggest weakness on here to me is "Teakbois" which I find just plain annoying and "Lets Pretend" which could have b ... (read more)

Report this review (#749379) | Posted by mohaveman | Saturday, May 05, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I acquired this album when it first came out in 1989. I loved it then as I love it now. I still play it now and again as well. The production is very eighties in style, but I do not find this a bad thing. The song-writing is sublime. I keep this in my Yes collection and I do consider it a Yes al ... (read more)

Report this review (#592873) | Posted by Richens | Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I like this album, the new songs hail back to classic yes and it's always fun to hear old songs done live. My only caveat is Mr. Bruford using only electronic drums. Electric kits have their places and in some spots on this outing are used to great effect, as in the as in the opening cut "Theme ... (read more)

Report this review (#420364) | Posted by bongolong | Wednesday, March 23, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After all those years where this CD went out, here is my view. And I must add that this was the very first CD I bought, even though I also have the vinyl edition ! Is it because of that very first meeting with the new support, that I love this CD ? Or because it is a Yes-alignment ? The opinions ... (read more)

Report this review (#276870) | Posted by Progdaybay | Thursday, April 08, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I quite like this album that was put together by the best Yes line-up that existed, but I do miss hearing Squire's influence on this. However, it is the only thing missing from the classic Yes line-up and so the album itself is still great, but not quite essential. The time signature changes ... (read more)

Report this review (#265977) | Posted by TCat | Saturday, February 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe, well known from some classic Yes albums from the 1970's, made a studio album which couldn't be released under the Yes banner, because in the U.S. there was still another "Yes" being around (Chris Squire, Trevor Rabin, Alan White, Tony Kaye ... (read more)

Report this review (#244613) | Posted by Moogtron III | Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 1989 finds our heroes embroiled in the legalities of what to call themselves ? YES in all aspects but name, Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe ( and Levin ) bring forward a renaissance of the classic Yes sound, updated somewhat with late 80's sensibilities. Hairstyles aside ( S ... (read more)

Report this review (#211341) | Posted by Progfan1958 | Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The other faction of Yes comes together on a good effort on this self-titled album. Yes frontman Jon Anderson collaborates with Yes guitarist Steve Howe, Keyboardist Rick Wakeman and Drummer Bill Bruford outside of the official Yes lineup at the time of Anderson, Rabin, White, Squire and Kaye ... (read more)

Report this review (#189903) | Posted by Isengard | Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Right, this band have to be called Yes and it sounds like classic Yes. But those goddamn copyrights. Here we have real Yes prog creativity, not such as in 90125 or Big Generator, this is more closely to Sympho prog. Yes alived in 1989 with ABWH! Songs a rather good and charmful, such as their ea ... (read more)

Report this review (#178220) | Posted by Resurrected | Saturday, July 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars It's hard to believe that 5 musicians of this caliber (I'm including the amazing Tony Levin) could get together and produce such a dissapointing album. It's not horrible, but it does have a lot of serious flaws. First, the lyrics. As with most of his solo albums, Jon Anderson seems like he took ... (read more)

Report this review (#176817) | Posted by peskypesky | Monday, July 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a difficult album to rate. On the one hand there are really good tracks on it (the outstanding Brother of mine, Birthright, Quartet; somewhat less convincing but still nice are Themes, The Order of the Universe, Let's pretend). On the other hand the shortcomings cannot be ignored. Concer ... (read more)

Report this review (#165777) | Posted by strayfromatlantis | Saturday, April 05, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The boys from Yes delivered a nice sounding album with some nice compositions. Long, lost brother of mine is one of my favorites. Birthright is strong too. The album has some weak points. I especially don't like Teakbois. The album begins with a track that I think sounds too frantic. It's very f ... (read more)

Report this review (#165388) | Posted by Kanda | Sunday, March 30, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars As many others have said, when ABWH came to my attention in the early 1990s, I said, 'Well, maybe the good old sound of Yes has finally come back.' In this album, it didn't really, but the fact that they tried was a good sign for this late 1980s era in prog. The keyboard instrumentation is e ... (read more)

Report this review (#126775) | Posted by prog4evr | Monday, June 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars From the opening track to the last track, this is the long-lost Yes. If Yes had moved in this direction after Drama (I take the pre-Drama evolution as a natural issue, but I can't forgive Yes for 90125, Big Generator, Union, Talk and so on)-- it could make more masterpieces. The opening track T ... (read more)

Report this review (#68855) | Posted by Sharier | Thursday, February 09, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Why must they use those terrible electronic drums? It sounds dreadful and has nothing to do in this music. There is more than enough electronic sound from Wakeman's keyboard and he is playing it with a good effort. You should rather buy the entire YES albums from the 70's before even consider ... (read more)

Report this review (#63134) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 04, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This was my introduction to Yes music and although I admit that it's not as good as "Close to the Edge" or "Fragile" it's one of my favourite albums by Anderson & Co. The singing is superb (the intro to "Brother of Mine" is perfect), Wakeman is in great shape (listen to "The Meeting"). It's no ... (read more)

Report this review (#44844) | Posted by DACE | Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A Yes album by any other name. This 1989 recording has some excellent contributions from each of the named individuals, as well as from the under-credited Tony Levin on bass. Sadly, the whole somehow seems less than the sum of the parts. The ideas just aren't strong enough, and it all ends up ... (read more)

Report this review (#35677) | Posted by turtle | Wednesday, June 08, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The late 80s saw strange events in Yes, bizarre even for this band's wild and wacky history. Singer Jon Anderson left the band in 1988, tired of tension with co-founder bassist Chris Squire, and power moves by guitarist Trevor Rabin. Rabin, while the newest member of Yes, was determined to ... (read more)

Report this review (#26613) | Posted by | Sunday, May 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of my earliest purchases of Yes's music, shortly after 90125, yesterday and classic Yes, coming from a musical background largely focussed on classic rock and art rock (Elton John, Queen, supertramp, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple) I was searching for music that was a bit more challenging, n ... (read more)

Report this review (#26612) | Posted by tuxon | Saturday, April 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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