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Yes - Fly From Here CD (album) cover




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3.41 | 1100 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Could be a bit more dramatic

Fly From Here is the first new Yes studio album in precisely 10 years. The exact line-up of the Drama album from 1980 is back with the only exception that Trevor Horn - who did the lead vocals on Drama - having now moved to the producer's chair and new guy Benoit David talking over for Horn behind the microphone (though Horn still provides backing vocals here along with Squire and Howe and Squire even takes the lead on one track).

Many reviewers have emphasised the similarities between the sound of this album and that of Drama and there are indeed similarities. However, Fly From Here sounds a bit like a toned down or even watered down version of Drama to these ears. While Drama is one of my all-time favourite Yes albums (and rated with five stars along with Close To The Edge, Fragile and The Yes Album), it would be unreasonable to expect another masterpiece on the lines of Drama here. And neither did I. Indeed, my expectations for this album were not high. Still, even if good, this album is a bit of a disappointment for me. The comparisons with Drama must be joined by a strong disclaimer: there is simply nothing on Fly From Here like the metallic and heavy Machine Messiah or the frantic Tempus Fugit. Squire, Howe, Geoff Downes and Alan White were on fire on Drama, but on the present album they sound sleepy and lazy in comparison. Fly From Here is an altogether more laidback and less "dramatic" affair than was Drama. The only track on Drama that can give you a good idea of the Fly From Here material is perhaps Man In A White Car.

One of the main aspects of the Yes sound is that bass, guitars, drums and keyboards all "compete" with each other for being in the foreground of the sound. While most other Rock bands rely on a rhythm section of bass and drums and only guitars and lead vocals are allowed into the foreground of the sound, in Yes music every instrument is usually in the foreground including the keyboards, creating a uniquely "loaded" sound that is full of excitement. This was very much true of albums like Close To The Edge, Relayer, Drama and many others. Fly From Here is a bit lacking in this respect. Still, Fly From Here is not bad as such.

Like Trevor Horn, Benoit David too has a Jon Anderson-like voice and with the familiar voices of Squire and Howe in the background, Fly From Here is very much a Yes album vocally speaking and I don't miss Anderson here at all. Still, it must be pointed out that Yes has always been joined by strong personalities with strong musical identities: Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman in the early 70's, Allan White in the mid 70's and Trevor Rabin in the early 80's, etc. all of them very different from the people they replaced. Howe was no Peter Banks clone, Wakeman no Tony Kaye clone, White no Bill Bruford clone, Rabin no Steve Howe clone, etc. Instead, all of these people brought something new and fresh to the band. Benoit David, on the other hand, is a Jon Anderson clone and he thus seems out of place in this collection of people, talented though he is. If I were in the band's shoes, I would not have opted for a sound-alike but instead for someone who is strongly dissimilar to Anderson - someone with his very own vocal identity, someone with a unique voice in its own right. It would have been very interesting to hear what Yes would have sounded like with a totally different type of vocalist. Still, David does a fine job here.

The title suite that forms the first half of the album is the best part of Fly From Here. The six parts do not form a continuous piece of music like Close To The Edge, The Revealing Science Of God, Gates Of Delirium, etc. but rather are independent songs interconnected by some common themes. The opening Overture is promising comes to a rather abrupt end to leave space for the mellow We Can Fly (that was released as a single). While not weak at all, I feel that the overture could have been developed further and a more smooth transition could have been made perhaps. Squire's distinctive bass lines and Howe's unique guitar sound make it unquestionably Yes, but Downes and White are somewhat relegated to the background. Overall, a pleasant suite for hungry Yes-fans.

The second half of the album is in general less interesting compared to the first half, but the closing track Into The Storm is good enough. Band leaders Squire and Howe get their own individual tracks. The Chris Squire-led The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be is sadly one of the weakest and lamest songs in the entire Yes catalogue and also in comparison with Squire's works outside of Yes (Conspiracy, The Syn and solo). The lyrics are cheesy and every single member is on autopilot. Howe provides an acoustic solo piece aptly called Solitaire. It is pleasant enough but hardly one of his better pieces in the style.

The conclusion is that Fly From Here is far behind Magnification, Keystudio and The Ladder in quality, and is even slightly behind Big Generator, Talk and Open Your Eyes. Indeed, in my opinion, Fly From Here is the least good Yes album since 90125 from 1983 (the only Yes studio album I have rated as low as with two stars) and one of the least good Yes albums ever. Still, a good one from these veterans of progressive Rock.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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