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Yes - Open Your Eyes CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.06 | 992 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Conspiracy theory

In terms of overall sound and structure, this album is really the follow up to "Big Generator" consisting as it does of similar sounds and shorter songs. For many Yes fans, this is a poor relation to their classic works, bearing little resemblance to the lengthy prog masterpieces and intricate performances of yore. The fact that this album came out around the same time as "Keys to Ascension 2" sent mixed messages to fans of the band. The "Keys to ascension" albums emphatically indicated that the classic line up was back together and committed to returning to the long prog tracks of yore. "Open your eyes" implied a completely different direction.

The album started out as a collaboration ("Conspiracy") between Yes bassist Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood who then joined the band. Sherwood effectively replaced Wakeman who left again before "Keys to Ascension 2" was released. While primarily a guitarist, he does contribute some keyboard work. Igor Khoroshev, who played with the band at live gigs, is also around; providing keyboards for 3 tracks while Steve Porcaro adds them to one.

Although Steve Howe is still officially a band member here, his contribution is limited, since he only worked on the album towards the end of its recording. Jon Anderson's involvement was greater, as he had been impressed with what he heard of the "Conspiracy" project, and was keen to add vocals. The songs though, although credited to the band collectively, are very much Squire/Sherwood works. Anderson and Howe would later criticise the album as being "rushed" and too focused on the ideas of Squire and Sherwood. Sales of the album were poor, and the supporting tour relied on the classic material to draw the fans in. Few of the tracks from this album have ever been performed live, and those which have, have not appeared on a live album.

So is "Open your eyes" as bad as it is often made out to be by Yes fans? Well yes and no. There is no doubt that this is not the type of music we expect of our heroes. It is lightweight, pop orientated material, with simple arrangements (in Yes terms!). It is therefore necessary when approaching this album to put all expectations to one side, and consider it as a non-Yes, and indeed non-prog album.

The opening "New state of mind" has the feel of an inferior "Going for the one", probably due to the harmonised vocals and wall of sound. The title track I do like. OK, so it is airy and poppy, but I find it uplifting, with a fine vocal arrangement and a catchy hook. Chris Squire comes through strongly on the song, both vocally and through his bass contribution. This number also features on the Conspiracy album, under the title "Wish I Knew".

The songs which follow are all much of a muchness in terms of style, sound and content. They range from the relaxed let's all be friends of "No way we can lose" to the equally schmaltzy "Wonderlove". Only "From the balcony" really breaks out of the mould, and that is simply because it is an acoustic Jon Anderson and Steve Howe duet. The piece had previously appeared in instrumental form on Howe's "Homebrew 2" album. "Somehow.. someday" may sound familiar to those who are acquainted with Anderson's solo albums, as part of the melody is lifted from "Boundaries" a track on "Animation".

After the final listed track, "The solution", the song ends, but the time counter keeps going. We are then treated to a 20+ minute ambient mix (by one of the band's engineers) of extracts from the entire album. It may sound appealing, but there are frustratingly long pregnant pauses between the selected extracts, the piece as a whole being rather pointless. This mix was played prior to the band arriving on stage on the subsequent tour.

For me, while "Big Generator" was by no means a classic Yes album, it had strong compositions which worked well. That is the main difference between that album and "Open your eyes". The compositions here are adequate, but lack the combined strength required to make this a good album. I do actually enjoy it when heard occasionally, but it is one I can just as easily pass by, and not feel I have missed anything.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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