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Yes - Drama CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 1686 ratings

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3 stars The common perception of many Yes-heads is that the last really decent Yes album was 1977's 'Going For One', which was the last effort from the group to feature the 'classic' line- up of Jon Anderson(vocals), Steve Howe(guitars), Rick Wakeman(keyboards), Chris Squire(bass) and Alan White(drums). 1978's god-awful 'Tormato' featured the same line-up but, with internal tensions, financial discrepancies, changing commercial fortunes and the advent of punk-rock, the old magic seemed to be sorely missing. What happened next has been oft-documented by fans and music writers alike, as Anderson and Wakeman jumped ship only to replaced by, ahem, the pop group Buggles(of 'Video Killed The Radio Star' fame, if you didn't know). The outrage - and giggles - this move caused has seen much ink expended over the years, most of it negative. However, now the dust has truly settled, the resulting album from this briefly-existing line-up can finally be judged on it's musical merits and not on the reputations of it's protagonists, for 'Drama', which saw the light of day in 1980, is in fact the real last great Yes album, a fact overshadowed by the groups extremely lucrative headlong rush into 1980's-styled pop on their 'Drama' follow-up '90125'. Faced with replacing original vocalist Anderson and star-member Rick Wakeman, Trevor Horn(vocals) and Geoff Downes(keyboards) had one hell of a difficult task. Luckily, though, both men were avid Yes fans(hence their appointment to the group by bassist Chris Squire) and their healthy respect for the group's past glories shines through on a collection of clever, catchy, highly-complex and ever-so-slightly pop-edged compositions that easily out performs most of the glutinous crap found on 'Tormato'('Don't Kill The Whale' excepted). Highlights include the metallic-and-electronic synth-prog of ten-minute opener 'Machine Messiah', the pop- tastic Buggles-penned number 'Does It Really Happen' and the highly-emotive 'Tempus Fugit', a track seen by many Yes fans as the best non-Jon[Anderson] track produced by the group. Obviously, 'Drama' doesn't quite reach the heights scaled by 'Close To The Edge' or 'Fragile', yet it remains a vastly underrated set and a welcome anomaly in the Yes catalogue that saw the group open themselves up to an array of new ideas after a decade of indulgent progressive noodling. The strength of 'Drama' lies in it's mixture of old-and-new Yes elements, with the group blending their trademark symphonic style with newer, fresher ideas - including, briefly on 'Tempus Fugit', a brief reggae lilt reinvigorating a band who were desperately short on both confidence and morale. Of course, Yes would never again create an album to match up to their 1970s output, so it is with 'Drama' that we wave goodbye to one of the genre's foremost innovators, and it is thanks to a couple of pop-crafty young upstarts that we have to thank for this most intriguing of albums. Fans may be divided on the merits of this 1980 release but there is no doubting the fresh spin brought to proceedings by Horn and Downes. In a phrase: surprisingly enjoyable. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011
stefro | 3/5 |


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