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Yes - Open Your Eyes CD (album) cover

OPEN YOUR EYES

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

2.06 | 998 ratings

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Prog Dog
3 stars Yes is one of the greatest bands of all time, but here we have an album that in some respects can be held up as an example of how NOT to produce this legendary band. It is overwhelmingly positive and uplifting with song titles like Love Shine, No Way we can Lose, Wonderlove, and New State of Mind...but does it open our eyes to who Yes really is?

This album supports my thesis that Yes are at their best in an analog tape-based studio like back in the 70s, where options are limited, forcing the band to make key decisions that uphold only the fundamentals that make Yes 'Yes'.

And what are those fundamentals? One essential would be Chris Squire's bass, which on this album gets softened and squashed back into the mix instead of being like a massive stone boulder integral to the Yes sound that it is. It needs to be a foundation- along with the drums, for the rest of the band to build up and out from. The drums are not too bad sounding but seem to lack oxygen and space at times.

Another fundamental to the Yes sound is Jon Anderson's vocals which are largely great on this album and I can't find much to fault with them (as with almost anything he has done in his long career). There does seem a lack of leadership from the keyboard department though, and after some research this is self-explained. Several people are credited on keyboards including Igor Khoroshev, Jeff Porcaro of Toto, and mostly by Billy Sherwood (who was tasked with the heavy load of recording and mixing as well). Not that the keyboards weren't interesting and tasteful throughout the album but you can sense the effect this had on the album as a whole. By the conclusion of the album Sherwood was officially part of the Yes line up.

Another Yes hallmark are the multi-part complex harmonies and backing vocals. There are plenty here, maybe even much more than usual and done thicker than usual as well, like on the opener New State of Mind.

The Open Your Eyes album is undeniably ambitious and heart-warming. There are loads of great Yes moments. I enjoy Steve Howe's work on this album which is refreshingly varied and diverse as he happily pecks away at his guitar. In fact I'm surprised Steve made out as well as he did on this album. Really, Open Your Eyes is a Trevor Rabin- appropriate album. It could have benefited from his powerful Van Halen-like tones blasting from stacks of Marshall amps- a vibe Steve Howe has mostly avoided- except for the Yes Drama album of course (which ironically foreshadows and predates the Rabin-dominated 1980s Yes). The story is that Howe and Anderson came into the album late, as Squire and Sherwood had worked out much of it already according to Wikipedia). Open Your Eyes is a rather playful pop prog rock album. In many respects this album doesn't lack anything- much was brought to the table, but there are no side-long epics, or any longer songs in fact. It has an abundance of great melodies and Yes-y ideas but unfortunately they don't get to shine to their maximum potential.

Love Shine is great example of a song with fantastic potential but again, the vision was not carried through. The back up 'shine' vocals sound like they're coming out of a closet, and the synth bass line is so squashed it's almost inaudible. The song sounds rather two-dimensional, yet compositionally-speaking there's some truly inspiring sections and Howe is shining. Overall it's a really great tune that suffered an unfair fate.

Man in the Moon is a total anomaly on this album, and a real skipper, or should I say run fast and far in the opposite direction when you hear it playing. It is the worst- the very worst song under the Yes moniker ever produced.

It's not a total face plant, but certainly when you ponder the potential that was there, it's a real hair puller. Don't hurry to hear this album if you haven't, but for Yes super fans/ complete-ists it's an essential part of their history and needs to be appreciated for what it is. Maybe someday the album will get a total remix and remaster as it so deserves.

Prog Dog | 3/5 |

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