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Yes - Fly From Here CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.41 | 1057 ratings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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