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Yes - Big Generator CD (album) cover

BIG GENERATOR

Yes

 

Symphonic Prog

2.53 | 1117 ratings

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luckeydoug1
5 stars I first listened to this album with the distinct advantage of knowing very little of early Yes works and therefore not tainted with preconceived notions of what a Yes album should sound like. While I still prefer 90125 as a whole, this album starts where 90125 ends and expands the musical horizons in many ways. This collection of music is not for the casual fan of rock or even 80s music in general. There are many unexpected surprises here and the album as a whole requires a special understanding and appreciation of progressive music. While Holy Lamb is perhaps the most traditional song here, and not bad in its own right, I feel it just doesn't belong here, especially as the finale track. That being said, the rest of the album consists of seven truly outstanding songs. Rhythm of Love starts out with a very classical feeling with gorgeous intricate vocal passages before exploding into a true heart pumping anthem of hard driving drums, haunting melodic themes with interwoven multipart vocals, and spine chilling instrumental passages. Just when you think you've come to terms with what this song is about and where it is going, along comes a totally dissonant organ passage nearly hidden behind the driving energy of drums guitars and vocals, followed by another near classical vocal interaction before resuming the driving rock theme. This song is masterfully constructed and the execution is first rate. This song alone might be enough to give this album its 5 star rating. Big Generator is up next with an intro of multipart jazz vocals that in no way will prepare you for the almost Robert Palmer grunge instrumental section and then just as unexpectantly launches the listener into a gentle, yet driving vocal and instrumental passage before dumping you into the grunge sound again. The true genius here is the bouncing of the vocals from side to side as they sing "moving to the left, moving to the right". Then, suddenly, we get a short bridge complete with Philly horns before melting back to a reprise of the early serene theme. The song then continues to jump back forth, in and out of grunge, Philly, and chorus, before launching into a very jazz like vocal interlude and just as quickly back to the chorus. This song is another masterpiece in combining multiple seemly contradictory themes into a very convincing cohesive song. Shoot High Aim Low is a very slow, almost mystical ballad that gives you a false sense that now its time to relax a bit after Big Generator. But just as you become part of that mystical grove along comes a wild, exciting guitar solo to remind you that this album is anything but predictable. Then it's a return to the slow, yet driving ballad. This is another five star song with a five star performance. Next up is a very rocking Almost Like Love. We get a Philly like start here before the verse takes on a very funky beat accentuated by a very spirited, highly articulated set of lyrics. The chorus is very driving with multiple part harmonies then we are back to that funky verse. This time the chorus blends in to a very lyrical relaxing bridge, then the Philly chorus returns. A short intricate guitar solo quickly ends with a barrage of heavy grunge and once again its time for that hard driving theme again. We are treated to one final short lyrical interlude before the song launches into its chorus theme which repeats as the song fades away. Love Will Find a Way starts with a very beautiful string quartet section before exploding into another rocking anthem. This song may be the most typical rock song in this collection with few surprises and theme changes that typifies the majority of songs here. This is truly an enjoyable straight forward little rocker. Final Eyes starts out as very relaxing ballad with gorgeous multi-part harmonies, over top a nearly acoustic instrumental base. But if the other songs here have shown us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. Thus we are treated to the chorus which is very heavy rock in sprit with a heavily processed vocal lyrics. This quickly changes to a very acoustic like bridge which is augmented with a wild, inspiring guitar solo over the top of a steady drum beat. Suddenly, the relaxing ballad theme returns. But this time it quickly melts into that chorus and rock based bridge again. Another fade is then upon us, this time into a very mystic instrumental before the chorus helps fade out the song. Nothing so far could have prepared us for I'm Running. This is easily one of the most outstanding pieces of music I have ever experienced. (I refuse to call this a song). A very nearly calypso beginning gives way to a very haunting exchange between marimba, guitar and vocals consisting of intricate melodic themes with complex articulation beneath a beautiful melody . A slowly building tension hints that something special is about to happen when the driving drums proudly announce the heart pumping "I'm Running" chorus with solo guitar providing the moving counterpoint. We return to the haunting marimba and guitar texture, but this time the vocals are multipart. Just as quickly the "I'm Running" chorus is upon us again. A quick guitar "duck call" sound is heard just before the Calypso theme returns. This time the calypso theme continues longer with very jazz like solo vocal. The tension and excitement continues with a section somewhat reminiscent of "On Broadway." A moment of silence gives you the impression its over, but the guitars and marimba theme with multipart vocals returns.. Once again the excitement and tension continues to build before the driving but this time unpredictable drum solo again leads to the "I'm Running" theme further extended and explored from the original visit. An extremely short rapid guitar solo extravaganza again brings us back to the calypso section, this time with a banter of jazz vocal exchange. The theme continues, the excitement continues to build instrumentally before we are totally surprised with a Broadway chorus type multipart vocal exchange of melodies and lyrics in a very Dave Brubeck choral like setting. All the while the excitement continues with the addition of an exciting guitar solo, before the multi-part Broadway chorus comes back bigger and better than ever. It then explodes into a grand finale of lead vocal and guitar battling for your attention. Then all is silent. Your heart is beating like it never has before. The pure adrenaline rush continues as you wonder what has just hit you! This song definitely requires multiple listenings in order to fully appreciate the special gift of music that Trevor Rabin and friends have given us here. Definitely a 10 out of 10 with this musical composition. The final song, Holy Lamb, I spoke of earlier. While it is a nice song in its own right, I just don't like it in this setting. The intention here may have been to provide us with a very relaxing benediction of sorts to provide us with a let down both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't ready for this emotional let down yet. I think I'll give I'm Running another listen to in order to get my pulse racing and jeart pounding again. The rating system doesn't allow for a 4.5 so I'll pretend Holy Lamb isn't here and give Big Generator a five star rating.

luckeydoug1 | 5/5 |

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