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Yes Drama album cover
3.78 | 1949 ratings | 183 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Machine Messiah (10:27)
2. White Car (1:21)
3. Does It Really Happen? (6:34)
4. Into the Lens (8:31)
5. Run Through the Light (4:39)
6. Tempus Fugit (5:14)

Total Time 36:46

Bonus tracks on 2004 Elektra remaster:
7. Into the Lens (I Am a Camera) (single version) (3:47)
8. Run Through the Light (single version) (4:31)
9. Have We Really Got to Go Through This (3:43) *
10. Song No. 4 (Satellite) (7:31) *
11. Tempus Fugit (tracking session) (5:39) *
12. White Car (tracking session) (1:11) *
13. Dancing Through the Light (3:16) *
14. Golden Age (5:57) *
15. In the Tower (2:54) *
16. Friend of a Friend (3:38) *

* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Trevor Horn / lead vocals, fretless bass (5)
- Steve Howe / electric & steel (4) guitars, mandolin (5), backing vocals
- Geoff Downes / keyboards, vocoder (4), Fairlight CMI synth (2)
- Chris Squire / bass, piano (5), backing vocals
- Alan White / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Eddy Offord / co-producer (partially)

Line-up for tracks 13-16:
- Jon Anderson / lead vocals
- Steve Howe / guitars
- Rick Wakeman / keyboards
- Chris Squire / bass, vocals
- Alan White / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean with Magnetic Storm (design)

LP Atlantic ‎- K 50736 (1980, UK)

CD Atlantic ‎- 7567-81473-2 (1988, Europe)
CD Atlantic ‎- 7567-82685-2 (1994, Europe) Remastered by Joe Gastwirt
CD Elektra ‎- 8122-73795-2 (2004, Europe) Remastered by Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch w/ 10 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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YES Drama ratings distribution

(1949 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

YES Drama reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by corbet
4 stars Forget everything you've heard, and forget who you think "is Yes" and whether or not you think Yes can still "be Yes" without Jon Anderson. The answer to such questions, of course, is that CHRIS SQUIRE is Yes and that as long as he is in the band, it sure as hell is still Yes! This is not simply "a good album considering the circumstances" (Jon's absence), this is one of the best albums they ever made, and that's not something this die-hard Yes fan would say lightly. After Tormato, the boys seem almost unchained by Jon's absence (to say nothing of Rick), and proceed to unleash one of the most bone-crunchingly progressive albums in their catalog, and without a doubt the best album of 1980. MACHINE MESSIAH manages to redeem "tunes" like Circus of Heaven (Tormato) by being as shamelessly aggressive as Circus was twee, and Chris and Steve's instrumental display throughout the whole album is simply mindblowing. Chris's amped-up basslines dominate the music to a degree not seen since the FRAGILE days (we even get a bass solo!), and Steve's guitars sweep and soar with a metallic edge that is unique unto this album only. In fact, this album gets my vote along with RELAYER for being the most splendorous showcase for Steve Howe's incomparable talent. If you have any doubts as to the progressive nature of this album (1980 remember), just throw on "Into The Lense" and listen to the hyper-rhythmic accuracy of the opening arrangement, and doubt no more. One of my favorite Yes albums.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Not as bad as most Yes purist would have you believe (as for those purist Yes without Jon is No ) . But the Buggles was quite a shock too for me, and the videos as MTV was starting, but this album is now remindiing me of some of those albums in the 90's and is certasinly better than Talk or Eyes. It is clear that the delicate harmonies that Anderson has acustomed us to were notthere anymore andthe group was more technical. This will never be my fave but thjey have made a lot worse from 81 until 95.
Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is one of my favorite Yes albums. The bass line to Tempus Fugit is killer. Machine Messiah is a highlight as well. Steve Howe played some brilliant parts and Alan White's Drumming is powerful. The new approach on keyboards by Geoffery Downes brought Yes into new uncharted territory.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The one without Jon Anderson!

For me "Drama" is one of the stronger Yes albums. The sound is very sharp, with Chris Squire very much to the fore. The Buggles influence is not that apparent, in fact it is interesting to hear the Buggles track "I am a camera" and compare it to "Into the lens", the Yes interpretation of that track. While the two are recognisable as being the same song, the electro-pop of the Buggles is transformed into a decent slice of prog.

"Tempus Fugit" is superb, the song would have fitted in well on "Fragile" or "The Yes album". This track could almost be described as the Yes theme tune (in a "hey hey we're the Monkees" sort of way!), with the anthem chorus lyrics ". . .answers to YES". The long "Machine Messiah" is an excellent piece of prog, in the true traditions of the band. Had Anderson and Wakeman appeared on tracks such as this, I am convinced those songs would have had a much higher profile in the band's history.

Indeed, If this version of the band made a couple more albums, they could well have gelled into an excellent unit. That said, it was good to see Anderson and Wakeman (the latter eventually!) return.

The expanded remaster includes no less than 10 extra tracks, 8 of which are "previously unissued".

Review by Fishy
4 stars If you listen to the album without prejudice, you'll have to admit Drama is a very good progressive rock album even without the distinctive voice of Jon Anderson. Jon and Rick Wakeman left in 1979. Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White recruited Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes as a permanent replacement. This duo was formerly known as The Buggles who entered the charts in 1979 with the massive hit "Video killed the radio star". Fans were worried when the message came in this was the new Yes. They proved to be wrong. I consider Drama as one of the better Yes records, I like it a lot more than Tormato, which lacks the power of this album. From the first sounds of album opener " Machine Messiah" it is clear that the music on this album has a lot more rhythm and heavy guitar chords. The whole album is dominated by the excellent melodic guitar parts of Steve Howe, who shines like a star like he never did on any other Yes album. Maybe some bits refer to the Yes album which can't be a coincidence as it was the first album where Howe played on. But it wouldn't be fair to make comparisons to other Yes releases cause the album really is one of a kind. Maybe it's too bad Yes didn't do another album with this line-up. There's also some pop-influence, especially on "run through the light" which reminds me a bit of the sound of the Police (!). One can hear that most of the songs are based on the bass lines of Chris Squire, being the only founding member of Yes in 1980. But this is no bad thing, it works ands gives the album more power. The keyboards of Geoff Downes seems to fit Yes perfectly, he even enriches the Yes sound with a great atmosphere and new sounds which Wakeman wouldn't use. Trevor Horn tries carefully to imitate Jon Anderson, assisted by the voices of Chris and Steve, sometimes it sounds as Jon, sometimes it doesn't but it isn't a problem as it is still quite enjoyable if you consider this as being a different band. The tracklisting doesn't have a weak spot with most of the songs being quite long. Listening to Drama you can hear the signs of the future of some of the members as it refers to Asia, the next band of Downes and Howe and the next (90125) version of Yes.

The remaster version contains a lot of information, photo's and 10 extra tracks. You'll find two single versions of "Into the lens" and "Run through the light". The first, being a shorter version of the original, the second being an interesting accessible version of the original with different sounds and mixing. Then we have some leftovers of 1979 with Anderson and Wakeman still in the band. Songs which I will not play very often as you can hear it's not nearly finished and uninspired. Most interesting is a Yes version of "Some are born", this would end up later on Jon's second solo album "Song of Seven". You'll also find 3 unfinished tracks with only Steve, Chris and Alan in the line-up. This must have been recorded in the period of time before the Buggles showed up. It's just some instrumental jamming, not worthwhile of checking out.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With Geoff Downes on keyboards and Steve Howe on guitars, one may think this record of the early 80's must sound like the early ASIA albums. Actually, not very much, partly because of the presence of other musicians: Chris Squire on bass & vocals, Alan White on drums and Trevorn horn on vocals. Actually, the tracks are much more progressive than the ones on the ASIA albums. Plus, Downes' keyboards are quite more melodic & rythmic and less floating than his parts made with Asia. Plus, Squire's bass is much more complex and elaborated than Wetton with Asia. The absence of Jon Anderson here is not a negative point, because Squire and Horn produce EXCELLENT lead & backing vocals. After the little convincing "Tormato", it was the time for a change to be made: Wakeman and Anderson's departure allowed to give a completely different sound to Yes, more progressive, and usually it is appreciated in the prog community. The tender & sentimental "Man in a White Car" track is very cute, rather having a symphonic New Age style, your girlfriend should like it! The epic & progressive "Machine Messiah" is very impressive too with its miscellaneous themes involved. Actually all the tracks are at least very good.

My raing: 4.5/5

Review by daveconn
3 stars The loss of RICK WAKEMAN was sustainable, but could YES survive without founding vocalist JON ANDERSON? The decision to replace the veterans with then-minor leaguers GEOFF DOWNES and TREVOR HORN (aka THE BUGGLES) hardly boded well, but "Drama" turned out to be a better album than "Tormato". (Okay, so that was a pretty low bar to clear.) The quintet returns to the aggressive sound of "Going For The One", with CHRIS SQUIRE and ALAN WHITE in particular providing driving rhythms that were not coincidentally conducive to filling spacious arenas. STEVE HOVE, audibly absent on YES' last album, conjurs up enough of his patented guitar magic to please his supporters, while GEOFF DOWNES does a remarkably good job of filling in the arrangements with an array of sounds. TREVOR HORN, asked to fill the biggest shoes of all, does a pretty fair job of emulating Anderson's airiness (albeit by way of Sting). The arrangements don't always support the epic running times, but there are some fine moments on here: "Run Through the Light", "Into the Lens" and "Does It Really Happen?" would have felt at home on "Going For The One". The material does sound affected on occasion (usually when HORN is allowed to take the spotlight), and "Machine Messiah" reveals some confusion over which direction to take: to embrace the portentous rock exemplified by PINK FLOYD's "The Wall" or incorporate new wave and hard rock elements like THE WHO? Critics are likely to note the concessions to contemporary music that "Drama" makes, but it stays true to the band's history, whether it's the self-referential plug in "Tempus Fugit" or the decision to continue with ANDERSON's imagist lyrics. Though it can be viewed as a last gasp or a last hurrah, "Drama" gives the remaining trio a chance to flash their chops one more time. It effectively ends one chapter, and marks the beginning of another... ASIA.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Right I am a huge Yes fan and also a big Anderson fan so when this came out excluding JO I was immediately sceptical. I have to say though that it is a formidable contribution to the Yes catalogue and rocks from Machine Messiah right through to Tempus Fugit. Trevor Horn's vocals are perfect and I only wish they had more time for a couple more studio albums before JO realized the error of his ways and humbly returned to the Yes fold. Into the Lens for me being the highpoint, and to think Trevor Horn went on from here to produce some excellent work with Seal and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.A greay piece of work and best played very loud in the car or at home with no interruptions. I also want to say it is very difficult for most of us to give zero ratings in a genre of music that stands well above other music themes. 4 stars is an accurate assessment!
Review by Philo
2 stars Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman were kicked out of Yes for being unable to come up with ostentatious parts for more outlandish and pompous Yes suites. This sounds rather unbelievable as Anderson was a key figure and an important member of Yes, and Wakeman had seen the band enter a new era and saw them through their, by that point at least, most successful period, broadening their sound which made Fragile and Closer To The Edge classic Yes albums. Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn, (the man with the big goggles) from Buggles were drafted in as replacements oddly enough. Buggles had a massive hit with their futuristic sound, at least futuristic where the late seventies was concerned I should add. They had a huge hit with a track called "Video Killed The Radio Star" which is actually one of my earliest musically memories oddly enough. I have never actually liked the song but have a rather odd fascination with it to some extent.

Drama was the album that emerged from that short lived collaboration. Maybe it would have been better to have released it under a different name rather than the Yes moniker. Yeggles perhaps. At first listening to Horns vocals I thought he sounded just like Anderson, but after a while there is very little comparison but that high pitch was enough and I guess I was looking for that certain squeal made famous by Anderson. Vocally Horn is not as acrobatic and lyrically not as vivid. Though the songs are interesting. "Machine Messiah" has a big riff from Howe and it's not a bad song, but it takes some patience from the passive Yes fan-like myself-to tolerate. Horn's vocals and lyrics have an insular quality to me and while I can float around while listening to Jon Anderson era Yes much of the songs of Drama are very lyrically odd and an obtuse quality while dark and edge ridden. "Man In A White Car" musically sounds like an '80's late at night low budget [&*!#]ty cop show feel about it which is only made interesting by the vocal and lyric, though it is a very short song and I'm unsure if this is a good thing. "Into The Lens" is a ridged affair with a mantra of "... I am a camera, camera camera..." what ever the [%*!#] that means and to be honest I'm not too concerned as from this point on the album tends to dip for me and all concentration fades and fails. But I have to single out Squire's bass playing which is arguably the strongest and most cohesive part of Drama and kept me alert throughout the duller parts.

And while not a complete disaster of an album I feel that Drama is definitely an album for the hardcore fans. It's a diversion from the previous Yes work but maybe an indicator and platform for future work and the addition of Trevor Rabin and the more focused if again experimental 90125 album of 1983. Was it a mistake to exclude Anderson and Wakeman from what would have been a more Yes ish album? While musically this album is more experimental and more heavy guitar wise I fail to see what Anderson and Wakeman did that so poor as not have been involved in this one. The songs are good to an extent but not all together incredible and certainly not as strong of memorable as earlier Yes work, yet more time would have been helpful as I sense a distractive element in the recording and little cohesion in the music of the five musicians. White's drumming is almost invisible to me. Like dumping your longtime girlfriend, meeting someone else but your heart is not quite in it and you know it's inevitable that you will go back regardless is a way to describe this departure from more "traditional" sounding Yes. A curious album.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I thought that YES would die without a unique voice quality of Jon ANDERSON and punchy keys style of Rick WAKEMAN. But when I remember that Wakeman was out during The Relayer album, my next question was: "Would YES be able to create another seminal work without Anderson?". GHuszzhh .. I was wrong! This album was indeed an excellent one! Yes, it was much more rocking with upbeat tempo if we compare to "Close to the Edge" even. This album had made my adrenalin exploding when I first listened to "Machine Messiah" as opening track. What a great track this one is! It has all requirements of a rock tune plus heavy prog elements: dazzling bass guitar play, stunning guitar work, fascinating keys by Geoff Downes and excellent vocal line by Trevor Horn. Listening to this track reminds me to old album of YES such as "Fragile". Even thoug this track is really different with any other classic Yes stuff, but I can smell the nuances of classic YES music. It has a dynamic and changing tempos in a well structured composition. I don't see any problem with Trevor Horn's voice at all. He's a great vocalist!

"White Car" is not an interesting track if it is listened to as a stand alone track. But, when it's combined with the next track "Does It Really Happen", I can see a perfect blend. I think this these two tracks must be enjoyed as one. It's like listening to Genesis "Horizon" - "Supper's Ready" whereby it's unusual to split these two united songs. But, don't get me wrong . "Does It Really Happen" is not an epic track like "Supper's Ready". It is an uplifting track in a rock scene, with some poppy beat. But it's interesting as at that time I had never found YES played this kind of music. Remember, this was the time long before "90125" when Trevor Rabin replaced Steve Howe.

"Into the Lens" is probably a good track to introduce someone new to prog or new to YES music. It has a relatively simple structure, nice melody and close proximity with typical pop music. I observe that the bass playing is great by Squire. It seems not only this track that Squire an important bass line: almost all tracks in this album have a dominant bass. It continues to 5th track with "Run Through the Light" with Trevor Horn voice is close to Anderson. I remember my colleague commented "this must be Jon Anderson" when I spin this CD. He was amazed that there is a singer that has a vocal style is similar with Anderson.

The concluding track " Tempus Fugit" is really uplifting and rocking! It has a high energy in term of melody as well as tempo. Observe the dazzling bass guitar play! Ouughhh ... wonderful man! I really like this relatively short track (by YES standard): "Run like an athlete and die like a dead beaten speed-freak / An answer to all of your answers to- YESSSS!!!".

Friends, don't ever believe your neighbor telling you that without ANDERSON and WAKEMAN, Yes is meaningless. This album proves it! Never hesitate to buy this album! Rating 4.25/5. Too naïve? Nope man, I mean it. GW, Indonesia.

Review by Marc Baum
3 stars Many fans of Yes have a problem with "Drama", because the man with the "golden-angel- voice" Jon Anderson, who made all 70's records from Yes to something very special, isn't on the phone. But Trevor Horn made a good job, the opening "Machine Messiah" is another classic track from Yes, which don't need to stay behind some Yes over-top epics from the 70's (well, it must stay behind, because Wakeman isn't on the keys). The other tracks can't hold this high level, but there are still some great moments to listen to and enjoy. Not really a must-have, but a good additon in the Yes-classic collection.
Review by Guillermo
3 stars In mid 1980 I bought a Rock magazine, and among other things, it had a review of The Buggles` "The Age of Plastic" album. In the Radio I have listened to this song, and I liked it a bit. In the magazine I read that The Buggles were Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn. By late 1980, one friend told me that he had listened to the new Yes`s album called "Drama" and that Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman were not in the line-up. I saw the album in a record shop, I bought it and when I read the credits in the gatefold cover I was surprised that The Buggles were the new members of Yes. "Machine Messiah" is the best song of this album, with an inspired Steve Howe, one of the heaviest songs of the band. The band sounds very solid in all the songs, but for me the White/Howe/Squire trio is in very good shape, and they shine on this album. Geoff Downes`keyboards are simpler and more "modern" than Wakeman`s in those years, but Downes did a good job. Horn`s vocals are good, and in 1980 for me it wasn`t very important that Jon Anderson had left. It is a shame that Horn couldn`t reach in the following tour the high notes in songs sung by Anderson. He forced his voice in that tour, and by the end of that tour he was hoarse (as some concert reviews from that tour said, in the website "Forgotten Yesterdays"). It was until the year 2000 that I have listened to some live recordings from that tour, and it was clear for me that Horn couldn`t survive as Yes`lead singer. But in 1980 I considered him a good replacement. All the songs in this album are good, and Yes did a good job.

Update (11-June-2009): The new version of this album on CD released by Elektra / Rhino in 2004 has 10 Bonus Tracks, 8 of which were previously unissued. The 1994 remastered version sounds good, but this 2004 version sounds much better, with only one change in the song "Does It Really Happen?": there is a section of this song were the keyboards originally had a fade-in. In this 2004 version the fade in wasn`t included. The keyboards don`t start with a fade-in.

In the Bonus Tracks, they included the single versions of "Into the Lens (I am a Camera)" and "Run Through the Light". Both versions are a bit different from the original versions, not only in lenght. Also, there are some instrumental Demos recorded only by Squire, White and Howe which I think demonstrate how the band was trying to find a new style after Wakeman and Anderson left them. Both instrumental songs are simple and tending to a New Wave style. There are two "Tracking Session" versions of "Tempus Fugit" and "White Car", both a bit different than the released versions on the original album. And finally, the 2004 CD version includes songs recorded during the Paris Sessions done in late 1979 with Roy Thomas Baker as producer. Most of this songs are unfinished recordings, lacking in most cases the full line-up`s input, with Wakeman, Anderson and White being the only members full-time present. These songs really show why the "Tormato" line-up finally split after the Paris sessions. While the songs in "Drama" are heavier and more "modern Pop" in style, the songs from the Paris Sessions were more influenced by Anderson and Wakeman, tending more to a New Age / Prog / Pop style than to the New Wave style that the rest of the members of the band were searching as a more updated commercial sound for the eighties. The only exception is "Dancing Through the Light" which sounds like an earlier version of "Run Through the Light" but with a different structure and with a Dance / Pop style and with Anderson`s vocals sounding like sung using a vocoder.

Review by loserboy
4 stars 1980 was not only the turn of a new decade for YES but it also started on a new note with Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman leaving the band to pursue a different direction. Enter new wave, punk and Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn of the BUGGLES and by most critics YES were all but dried up. However they did the unthinkable with "Drama" and that is put out a very good lively album with a certain 80's kick and yet 100% YES all the way thru. So without going into the story of YES (many other have documented this better than I) lets chat a bit about "Drama". Horn does a great pseudo-anderson -like interpretation with Squire and Howe helping with background harmonies which for many might actually fake you really into believing Jon Anderson is actually singing. As you would expect the bass and drum interplay are clever a deep sounding with great flare. Howe's guitar work is choice as is Downes keyboard work. The songs are very memorable with TEMPUS FUGIT rising I suppose to the tops (Machine Messiah also for me). Overall perhaps not quite at the level of "Close To The Edge" but still a very solid album and one I think too many people discount.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I found this actually as a quite pleasing album! When I first heard this record as a teenager, I was unaware of the events in the band's history, and I must admit that I didn't even first notice that JON ANDERSON had been replaced with TREVORN HORN on this one. (!)Also though I like YES, I don't have any strong emotions towards it's cult members, so Jon's nor Rick's absence isn't a blasphemy to me.

The opener "Machine Messiah" is one of my most favorite YES songs. It has quite heavy riffs (at lest by YES standards), and it's interesting to hear some proggy tunes being done with the aestethics of 80's sound. The following "White Car" is also funny, as it's so short (under two minutes). Rest of the four songs are not so imaginative, but I think they are still OK and hold some fine moments and feelings in them.

I managed to listen through a remastered CD of this album with some bonus tracks, but none of them sounded very interesting. I recommend this album for those interested of YES or alternative 80's music, but this album (or it's line-up) divides the views strongly, so I think it would be wise to give it a listen before spending your hard earned money for it. After this album YES renewed their style with the album "90125", and sadly they moved to a direction that didn't create nearly anything that would please my tastes.

Review by Matti
4 stars Most controversial of Yes albums - for obvious reasons. I mail-ordered this on vinyl in 1987, in the midst of hearing the whole Yes catalogue little by little. Was I aware of it being Anderson-less, I don't even remember. But I liked it the way it is. I came to like much more many classic Yes songs such as And You And I or Heart of the Sunrise, but Drama has survived as one of my most important vinyls. All songs are quite strong - especially I like 'Run To The Light' and 'Into The Lens'. They have that lovely eerie feeling! It gets pretty close to sounding ridiculous as Trevor Horn sings "I asked my love to give me she-e- e-e-elter" but with the interesting rhythm arrangement and Downes' tasty keyboard texture it's just grrreat. The sound of the album is one-of-a-kind in the whole prog history. __________ I borrowed the CD with 10 bonus tracks and also they showed me a brand new side of Yes. There are tracks with Jon and Rick still around that may not be any gems, but quite OK compared to Tormato anyway. But the most interesting thing were instrumental tracks by Chris, Alan and Steve. Hey, it sounds almost like The Police! And remember it was 1980, why should they close their ears completely and try to sound the same as in the old days? The booklet gives a nice historical view. When Jon had returned to Yes he understandably was against playing any Drama material in concerts, but when they did include bits of it, the audience responded very warmly. There is no reason for any Yes fan to hate Drama. Just ENJOY it!
Review by Proghead
4 stars One of those albums I was taken by surprise. This album has been often maligned thanks to the absence of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. In their place was both guys from the BUGGLES (as in the hit "Video Killed the Radio Star", which became the very first video MTV ever played, by the way), Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn. To be honest, I thought this album was better than "Tormato". They were no longer inflicting me with such infantile crap as "Circus of Heaven" here, and the band was going for a harder-edge approach. Plus it's nice to see Roger Dean return and give us some artwork, as he did here. Also I much preferred Geoff Downes synth sound to the crap synth sounds Wakeman was using on "Tormato" (definately not Wakeman as he was earlier on). Downes tended to use a lot of Minimoog and Solina, as well as polyphonic synths, which were starting to be commonly used at this point. It's nice to see the band in 1980 not abandoning progressive rock here.

The opening cut, "Machine Messiah" is a perfect example of what I'm talking about, a song that goes through different changes and moods, with Moog solos and atmospheric passages. There's no doubt that Horn was trying to imitate Anderson here, and the vocal harmonies are still unmistakable YES, despite the absence of Anderson. "Man in a White Car" is a short interlude that leads us to "Does it Really Happen". This is a prime example of the band exploring more '80s sounds, but reluctant to leave the '70s behind. Many of the vocal harmonies remind me of the dreaded ASIA (which I have never been keen on, and unfortunately the group Downes moved on to after YES, as well as Steve Howe), but I still prefer this over ASIA. There's this driving beat, courtesy of Alan White. I still have problems with "Into the Lens", especially the enunciation of the word "cam-e-ra" over and over. The last song, "Tempus Fugit" is without a doubt the high point of the album, showing YES was still able to deliver the goods when so much was going against them: it was 1980 and Jon Anderson was absent.

I notice some AOR tendencies in this album, but that's not 100% surprising. In my opinion, this is a lot better than what many other prog rock bands were giving us by 1980. It also brought a temporary end to YES. Trevor Horn would later go on producing (including with the reunited YES, this time with Trevor Rabin, and the far more mainstream "90125"), and of course there was the formation of a group called CINEMA with Trevor Rabin, but once Jon Anderson and Tony Kaye stepped in, they had to call themselves YES once again, and well, all was history. Downes and Steve Howe teamed up with Carl Palmer and John Wetton to form ASIA, which I have never been too keen on ('80s nostalgia buffs often go for this band, but for me I thought they were simply overly-commercial). There was even an aborted project called XYZ (standing for ex-YES and ZEPPELIN), I believe involving Alan White and Jimmy Page.

"Drama" really isn't that bad of an album. You'd obviously want to try the albums they did from 1971-77 first before you come here, but there's still excellent stuff here.

Review by Progbear
4 stars One of the most controversial items in the Yes catalogue: the Yes album without Jon Anderson. The Yes album that doesn't sound like a Yes album.

When Wakeman and Anderson both left the band in quick succession, I'm certain few could have predicted that their replacements would have been Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn, who had previously recorded as the futuristic art-pop duo the Buggles ("Video Killed The Radio Star" was their big hit).

Surprisingly, the duo are more than up to the task. Downes seemed to own one of every keyboard available circa 1979 and knew how to use them, so he more than holds his own when compared to Wakeman or Moraz. Horn, while certainly no Anderson, has a pleasing vocal timbre and fits the music well.

It's Howe and Squire who are the real show here. Unfettered by Anderson's airy conceptualism or Wakeman's classical leanings, the two are given free rein to fill the album with wall to wall guitar and bass riffs. "Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit" are probably the finest examples, both brimming with some of Howe and Squire's most over-the-top (in the best sense of the term) playing.

Most of the lyrics have a futuristic, sci-fi feel to them, which is quite different from Anderson's mix of Eastern spiritualism and folksy English whimsy. As a result, the album has the feel, not so much of a Yes album, but a progressive rock project that just happens to feature Howe and Squire. If you go in with these expectations, you will not only not be disappointed, but even quite pleased with what you hear.

Review by Zitro
4 stars Rick Wakeman gone!? Jon Andersone gone !??!?!? Two Members of a pop band joining Yes!?!?!?!?!?!?!? This album then must be a disaster then!!


This is an excellent album in which Steve Howe, and especially Chris Squire are at their best, and have plenty of space to show how great musicians they are. Alan White also plays drums efficiently. What about the buggles? Well, Horn is a good singer who can make a good Anderson impression, and Geoff Downes is an excellent keyboardist whose keyboard playing is better Than what Wakeman did in Tormato.

This album is even more accessible than The Yes Album in my opinion. The tracks fuse pop with prog, making the music complex while being melodic and easy to ears. "Tempus Fugit" for example is a Great rocker song with a very memorable bass line that I liked at first listen. Other highlights of the album are:

_Machine Messiah : A mindblowing mini-epic that sounds similar to Dream Theater! Yes experimented with heavy metal in parts of the song, like the dark distorted introduction of the song. Other sections are more poppy in sound, and one section is just Good ol' Yes playing an energetic riff in the keyboard and later in the bass which makes you rewind to listen to it again! This song sounds very much like The FLower Kings

_In Through The Lens: This is a pop song melded with prog instrumentation. The melodies are what's poppy here, but sometimes the instrumentation can be complex and highly interesting.

This line-up presented such refreshing, and strong music that it is a shame they disbanded shortly after the album was complete. In this album, you have the chance to hear how great Yes would have been without the singer. With these accessible and solid songs, the band could have been more popular in the world.

My Grade : B

Review by horza
1 stars This was the album where Yes lost the plot!! I know because I was there and saw the band on this tour (oh dear). The Buggles, and video ,may have killed the radio star but Yes surely did'nt have to recruit The Buggles to replace the vocalist and the keyboards player. Trevor Horn was never really going to be a replacement for Jon Anderson and whoever dreamed this up made a monumental error in my opinion.None of the tracks are particularly memorable and the only good thing about it is the album cover.Give it a miss.
Review by arcer
4 stars Drama is a criminally underrated Yes album. Just because it doesn't feature the 'classic' line up, many automatically dismiss it as a bad record, mostly without ever giving it the time of day. The songs on it are some of the strongest Yes ever recorded. My own perception of it is that Yes had tried to go 'pop' with Tormato and it was a pretty hideous failure. The songwriting constraints the band put on themselves, plus the obvious internal divisions that were developing couldn't possibly result in anything other than a curate's egg of a project, although this particular egg had very few good parts. Fast forward to Drama and you have a band reinvigorated by the arrival of two new members, both enthusiastic fans of the band who appreciated and understood Yes' modus operandi. However, both new boys brought with them a pop sensibility which Yes had struggled to find on Tormato. The result is a 'proper' Yes album feasturing all the elements they did so well, with the added bonus of some strong hooks which nevertheless were in keeping with the creative thrust of 'classic' Yes. Machine Messiah, Does it Really Happen, Run Through the Light and Tempus Fugit are all superb songs, far better than any composition on Tormato. Just listen to the way the band attacks material like the coda of Does it Really Happen with energy and aggression. It was something sadly lacking on the uninspired and uninspring Tormato. Here the enthusiasm is palpalble. Yes, there is something slightly cynical in the band's use of Horn the Yes fanboy and his own studied pastiche of Anderson, right down to inflection and his attempts at writing in the style of Anderson. But any annoyance caused by this calculation pales when that huge church organ kicks in backed by electric and bass guitars and the assembled members sing 'cables that carry the light to the satanic mills'. It rocks. Drama also benefits from the Trevor Horn production ethic. It's lush, many-layered and very cleverly done. It really enhances enjoyment of one of Yes' more 'lost' gems. People are way too snobby and puritanical about the merits of Trevor Horn's Yes (as they are about 90125 era Yes). Both bands made some excellent music. Drama deserves a less prejudicial listen than most are willing to give to it. It deserves to be considered up there with the best of the first 10 years of Yes and is certainly a more complete album than either of their first two efforts, which don't seem to suffer from any 'not the classic line-up' concerns. Give Drama a chance and it will reward bountifully.
Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm even going to jump on the Drama bandwagon for a bit. At the urging of a friend, I picked up Drama a few weeks ago and I think it's a brilliant disc! I think purists have a hard time getting passed the fact that Anderson isn't singing lead (Wakeman wasn't a big deal because this was...what...his second time exiting the band?); however, if one can look past that, Drama is a great Yes disc.

If anything, I think the biggest change is the sound of Steve Howe on Drama--especially at the very beginning of "Machine Messiah". I had to double check the liner notes to see if that was, indeed, Howe.

It might be easier for a purist to now give it a listen, given that Anderson has come back and remained with Yes (even with that classic lineup) subsequent to Drama. Just for me personally, I'm really glad to have it in my collection. My only complaint is how short it is.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yes meets Video Killed the Radio Star? You might have thought that if you only saw the lineup of this album, which featured two members of The Bugles. This album, titled Drama, is also the only Yes album to not feature vocalist and frontman Jon Anderson, although Trevor Horn does a nice job trying to sound like Jon (and for the most part succeeds). Throughout the 36 minute of the original album (the Rhino remaster has around 10 bonus tracks), the listener is taken through a variety of different moods and for the most part this album is a huge success with many of the tracks being brilliant. In the end, though, this album is really divided amongst Yes fans because some fans can't fathom a Yes album without Jon Anderson and yet some like this album because it was daring and was a major improvement over Tormato.

The album opens with one of my absolute favorite Yes songs (in my top 3 easily) in Machine Messiah. The song that showed Yes dabbling in heavy, almost metal like atmospheres is also the best on the album. The 10 minute epic goes through a range of emotions, but the most memorable sections are those that involve the opening riff (which is reminicent of a Pink Floyd riff from The Wall). Geoff Downes is spectacular on this piece with some nice dynamic soloing that is complimented greatly by Howe's spectacular noodling and ascending runs up the fret board. Squire and White also are superb in the rhythm section and Trevor Horn has some nice vocal parts in the song as well. White Car is a short but sweet track that has some nice epic keyboard work with a nice acoustic guitar in the background as well as an interesting lyric and vocal part. Does It Really Happen? has some great bass work from Squirel, but fails to truly captivate me in the end, it seems too much like filler and it could have been a condensed piece.

Into the Lens is a quirky piece that goes through a range of atmospheres and in the end it comes off quite well. The chorus is a bit silly but the band seem to play well and really show off their cohesiveness and their overall talents. Run Through the Light has Trevor Horn playing the bass role (and he does a rather simplistic job) and Chris Squire gets a shot on lead vocals and piano for the piece. It's the weakest piece on the album easily and I'm not too impressed by it. But fortunately, the next piece would redeem all the downfalls of the piece. Tempus Fugit ends the album with some spectacular riffing that reminds me a bit of the frenetic runs in the middle instrumental sections of Rush's Xanadu. Add some great harmony vocals and some nice lyrics that are really upbeat and reminicent of Jon Anderson lyrics and you have yourself the closer of the original album. The bonus tracks are really ok at best, but they're not really important to me as I want to really talk about the original album itself. Most of the songs, though, are from sessions with Anderson and Wakeman before they both went AWOL.

In the end, Drama would bring the most drama to Yes fans. An album without Jon Anderson? Could it be done? Well it was and for the most part it was largely successful although Run through the Light hurts the overall score, the rest of the pieces are really good and if you're a fan of Yes I recommend this album highly. Yes in the 80s is something that everyone wants to forget (mainly for 90125 and Big Generator) but everyone must remember that before Rabin entered the group, they had one last strike at gold in Drama. 4/5.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars First time I heard “Machine Messiah” I thought – dang, is this some sort of collaboration with Black Sabbath or what? And why is Jon Anderson leaning on Chris Squire so much for vocal support? Boy, little did I know…..

1980 was such a screwy year for music that I’m not sure how many people were even completely up-to-date on which bands were still around, who had joined or been kicked out of what, and what was still worth listening to. Even the old guard progressive bands that were still churning out music were making concessions to the tastes of the listening public to one degree or another (by the way, I don’t recall ever using the term ‘progressive’ back then, but I digress). More still were the bands that just seemed to either fade away or go into hibernation (ELP, Pink Floyd, Argent, Supertramp). I can say having been there that style was hugely important to many of the people who made decisions about music and which of it got recorded and which didn’t. And old codgers who made lengthy, radio-unfriendly dope-smoking music back in the early 70s (and whose members couldn’t be cleaned up and made presentable for MTV videos) were not considered stylish.

So in today’s more ‘enlightened’ era we could be more understanding that some of musicians were willing to go to rather extraordinary lengths in order to keep their bands’ banners sailing. Some were more extreme than others (again though, I digress). Yes wasn’t as bad as some, and as I sit here today and listen to Drama more than a quarter- century later, I am rather surprised to find that it has held up across the years far better than most of its contemporaries, and even better than Tormato and possibly Going For the One. Go figure…..

So – Anderson and Wakeman get fed up in France or wherever while the band is recording their next album and quit. Considering the state of affairs of the band and of the music industry (and the fact that all of the remaining members had other options), you kind of have to give them credit for sticking it out and moving forward with the record. While the addition of Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn from the Buggles probably caused many old fans to lapse into apoplectic fits, both of them were long-time fans of the band and I think in the end they both acquitted themselves well and showed respect for the band’s legacy in their contributions. It’s just – “Video Killed the Radio Star” is a pretty huge steaming pile of s-… “baggage” for them to have brought with them, especially considering its role in MTV and new-wave history. Water under the bridge now I suppose…

So the faux-metal “Machine Messiah” turns out to be a decent enough tune, particularly Howe’s guitar work and Squire on bass (Squire seems to recognize the importance of his role in retaining the ‘classic’ Yes sound here, and really outdoes himself throughout the whole album).

“White Car” doesn’t sound anything like Yes, but it’s only a minute long so no worries.

Squire and Alan White kick off “Does It Really Happen?” over the top of Howe with another rhythm that’s quite a bit heavier than most of the stuff Yes had done prior. Also, Horn brings his vocal register back down to mortal range, giving the band an overall sound that is creepily similar to what Asia would sound like about a year later. I really don’t feel strongly either way about this one – it’s an okay tune, sounds sort of like Yes, but probably a bit closer to Tormato than most of the rest of the album.

On the other hand, “Run Through the Light” would have fit right in on 90125. This is the sound the band would have in concert for at least the next several years, even after Anderson returned. It’s a well-produced track, nice keyboard arrangements with plenty of variety and very little wasted motion; very complementary vocal tracks, and Howe’s guitar solo is really pleasant (hopefully ‘pleasant’ is what the band was going for). The one thing about this track is that it sounds incredibly stuck in 1980 – there were a couple dozen other bands at the time that could have done this song and it would have sounded almost identical. I suspect this is mostly due to the keyboards, but am unfortunately not a musician myself so wiser folks than I will have to figure that one out.

“Into the Lens” is just stupid. I guess this is Horn trying to be cute, singing about being transformed into a camera and viewing the world through the lens. Whatever. This was a Buggles tune to begin with, and it would appear in an even more cheesed-up format on the Buggles’ Adventures in Modern Recording album a while later under a different title. There’s yet another version on the re-mastered Drama CD that came out in 2004.

This leaves “Tempus Fugit”, kicking off with keyboards instead of guitar for about the only time on the album, although Howe and Squire make their presence known almost immediately. This is probably my favorite on the album. The staccato vocal stylings of Horn are as close to the sound Anderson made famous as possible, without actually being accused of plagiarism (Squire helps quite a bit as well). The keyboards here are not particularly complex, and they aren’t on most of the rest f the album either. But as I said before, there’s little wasted motion, and Downes can maybe be forgiven a little new-wave cheesiness in exchange for not engaging in self-indulgent pompousness like Wakeman was prone to do. I think it would have been cool if the band had taken the time to break down some portion of this song and explore it further, but it’s still a good listen, energetic and well-played.

So I think the band is really trying to pull something off here, although only they know exactly what. The Buggles boys breathe some new life into the band’s sound, although fans have to decide for themselves if the tradeoff of new-wave inspired keyboards, shorter radio-friendly songs, and sometimes vapid lyrics were worth the cost.

In 1980 I dismissed this album pretty quickly, but mostly I’ll admit because of the reputation of the Buggles, not because I actually spent much time listening to Drama. Today, I think this is a good album. Just barely, maybe even just okay. But it’s a little better than just a collector’s item, so I’m inclined to say it’s a three-star album, but on a less sun-shiny day I may revisit this down a notch.


Review by fuxi
4 stars I agree with all the reviewers who heaped praise on this album; I really enjoy it much more than TORMATO or even GOING FOR THE ONE. The only thing I find disappointing is the absence of any great or truly symphonic guitar solos by Steve Howe. Many people appreciate Steve's contributions to the album, but why didn't he grab this opportunity to play another epic solo just like that wonderful guitar 'cadenza' from 'Sound Chaser'? It seems that, after RELAYER, Steve's visionary days were long gone. If there's anything visionary about DRAMA, it probably stems from Chris Squire. But, most of all, this is simply a fun, radio-friendly album.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars What a drama ! Jon is gone (but hopefully will come back). Rick is gone (but hopefully will come back). Howe / Squire / White ensure that the YesFoundation is still defended. It was quite a challenge for the Buggles (specially in the live sets) to enter the YesWorld. Incidently, I was quite a fan of the Buggles in the late seventies (their first album "The Age Of Plastic" being a great electro-pop album), but I only discovered they were part of Yes ages after the release of "Drama" (in 1999 to be precise). I was quite curious to discover the mix of styles. I have to recognize that this is not such a bad effort as one could have expected. The opener "Machine Messiah" is a very good YesSong (like they will not produce for a very long time). Great guitar and bass playing. The highlight of the album and a true YesGem. I am not sure about the 1'21" of "White Car" : Yes has always been effective on long tracks, so really they could have skipped this one. "Does It Really Happen" shows where Yes is going to head to : FM rock oriented music. Although this one is not as bad as what they will release later on. Still, a very average YesMoment. The influence of the Buggles is obvious with "Into The Lens" : an extended rendition for "I Am A Camera" from the second Buggles album "Adventures In Modern Recording". It is not as poppy as the original, but still quite outside the YesRepertoire. This "cover" is quite good and is my second best here (after "Messiah"). In the next track "Run Through the Light" Horn sounds at times as Jon : it is absolutely stunning ! This song has a catchy chorus, good rythm and great guitar. Another good song. "Tempus Fugit" is another Buggles orientated song : a good rocking tune with, again, a great guitar work from Steve (he will definitely raise the level of this work).

The original album is quite short, but the remastered CD edition will almost double that lenght. None of the tracks though sound as they are achieved and should only be considered for what they are : essays for most of them.

Four of these bonus tracks were recorded in 1979 with the tradtional lineup (including Anderson and Wakeman). Bizarrely enough "Dancing Through The Light" sounds quite poppy and electronic as if the Buggles were waiting around the corner...The sound is quite poor. "Have We Really Got To Go Through This" being the poorest one (an uninspired rocking instrumental) together with "Song No 4" (another instrumental, quite jamming track - where are you Jon) ? An interesting bonus is "Golden Age" : although FM oriented and poppy at times, some orphans can discover what Yes should have been with Jon during that period (actually nothing better than what we can get on "Drama"). The very Wakemanesque "In The Tower" is my favorite bonus here : Jon is (as usual) great and very emotional, keys are superb. A great melody. Definitely, if extended to a normal YesLenght it could have been a great track. "Friend Of A Friend" has a good rocking chorus and is not bad at all.

The other bonus tracks consist of the single versions for "Into The Lens - I Am A Camera", and "Run Through The Light", one unreleased track from the "Drama" sessions : "Have We Really Got To Go Through This" (as usual, you will understand why it remained unreleased when you will listen to it). Alternate versions for "Tempus Fugit" and "White Car " won't enrich your YesCollection either. As some reviewers have mentioned, the core of the future Asia sound is there. Still, this YesAlbum (not The YesAlbum), is a quite decent one. Try and get hold of the remastered version for ""Golden Age" and "In The Tower". Three stars.

Review by Chris H
4 stars Oh man, Yes witout Jon Anderson!?!?! How can this be of any worth? That's what virtually everybody that hasn't heard this album thinks. "Drama" is a fine effort by Yes, and Trevor Horn adds a bit of a darker twist on the band with darker lyrics and voice, while Chris Squire (the only REAL Yes member) stays as sturdy as ever.

The album starts with the longest track on the album, "Machine Messiah". Excellent vocals and rhytmic interlays make this song one of the broadest songs Yes has released in a while, generally speaking. "White Car" is or is around one of the shortest songs Yes has ever released, and although there is barely any substance in the song (only one verse), you just simply cannot hate it because there is nothing to hate here. Nice touch, but nothing of stand-out value. "Does It Really Happen?" is a fast, loud, upbeat song and one of my favorites. Very nice vocal work again.

The second side is kicked off by "Into The Lens". This is the spot where you can finally start to hear the Buggles influence, and this is carried all the way through this side. The whole "I am a camera" lyric gets a tad annoying after a while, but Steve keeps the song fresh by playing better than he's played in in the last ten years. "Run Through The Light" has one of the WORST intros in Yes's history, what with the keyboard popping and the horrible lyrics, but I must say it really does pick up when Steve kicks it into gear. Seems to be a theme here huh? Well anyways, "Tempus Fugit" is the final song, and this could have easily been performed by the 1971 Yes line-up with it's heavy bass lines and powerful lyrics. One of the top Yes songs in my book.

So all in all, you can obviously tell through this album that Jon Anderson is clearly not the heart and soul of Yes. Chris Squire is and Steve Howe is his wingman, with Squire's powerhouse bass lines on this albums and Howe's metallic riffs. One of Yes's finest releases on their career, and the best studio album from 1980-present.

4 stars, worth your time and money!

Review by NJprogfan
4 stars This album in the YES canon is like a breath of fresh air. After the over-hyped and praised 'Going For The One' and the unbalanced and ugly 'Tormato', the band was running out of steam and ideas. Out went two beloved members and in came a couple of young turks. Right from the get-go we get the most ominous beginning of a YES album ever. "Machine Messiah' starts the album just right for me, dark and menacing, the newbies aquaint themselves well inside the YES 'machine'. Fast pace with fine vocals by Trevor it has an 80's sheen akin to RUSH's polished prog, but with better guitar. From this super beginning we delve into a too short for my take but beautiful nevertheless song, 'White Car. It' could have been a superior track if stretched out to a full length, it's the only gripe I have with the album. Now, if you have the remastered RHINO edition, go to tracks 13-16 which are done by the band with Anderson and Wakeman. What cracks me up is how they sound like 90's YES as oppose to late 70's YES. It kinda re-enforces my tired, old YES equation. The balance of the album just has a lode of energy, it's infecteous and renewed. I'll take this line-up over any that comes after, even though I enjoy 90125. 4 fresh stars!
Review by Chicapah
3 stars After the train wreck travesty that was "Tormato" there was nowhere for Yes to go but up, even if it meant shaking up the esteemed board of directors. The potent magic spells they had once cast like sorcerers were long gone and to have kept the same boys in the band at that point would have been counter productive to say the least. Exit stage left co-founder Jon Anderson and the extraordinary keyboard virtuoso Rick Wakeman. I have to confess that I surprised myself recently when I listened to "Drama" for the first time in probably ten years. Maybe it was because I had felt so badly betrayed by their aforementioned previous fiasco or because Jon and Rick had hit the road but, for whatever reason, I had developed a rotten attitude towards this album that, frankly, was unfair. Don't get me wrong now, it's no "Fragile" or even "Tales from Topographical Oceans" by a country mile but it is so much better than "Tormento" that, in comparison, it's a freakin' masterpiece of progressive rock.

They really weren't doing themselves any huge favor by starting things off with what sounds like the soundtrack for a cheap monster movie on "Machine Messiah." It might be right for Black Sabbath but it's just not Yes music. Fortunately they get past that and take you into some very clean vocal harmonies on the verses and things get better in a hurry. The instrumental segment is exciting and even includes the sound of a cathedral organ, a Yes trademark. Geoff Downes is no Wakeman but his performance throughout the proceedings is better than average and he never overplays his hand. And, as far as the subject matter goes, if they were worried about HAL taking over in 1980 they would have been terrified to know that by the end of the century there would be a PC in almost every home. So much for warnings. "White Car" is one of the shortest songs in the history of this group at 1:21 and it passes by so quickly that it's hard to form an opinion about it one way or another. I do get the impression that it's about Jon Anderson because of the lyric "I see a man in a white car/Move like a ghost on the skyline/Take all your dreams/And you throw them away." Evidently they weren't ready to make nice just yet. "Does It Really Happen?" is next up and it features a very solid thematic idea built on top of Chris Squire's galloping bass riff. There's a tasteful vocal break in the middle and Chris shines in the spotlight on the way out. I never have figured out what "It" is that they're singing about. "Into the Lens" is the best song on here. With a staccato beginning grabbing you by the lapels it flows directly into an excellent melody and a round of high quality vocalizations. It's an incredibly tight track and drummer Alan White is his usual exemplary self. The creative arrangement and state of the art production (from Eddie Offord) are a welcome throwback to much better Yes days. Singer Trevor Horn's not a bad vocalist but his ridiculous phrasing on "Run Through the Light" marks the first instance where I truly miss Jon Anderson on this album. The chorus is decent and Steve Howe's guitar comes riding in like the cavalry to attempt to save the tune but for me it remains the low point. "Tempus Fugit" is an uptempo rocker that literally sizzles. Howe and Squire set the pace for the band to follow and the harmony work is spot on. It even has some interesting lyrics with "If you could see all the roads I have traveled/Towards some unusable last equilibrium/Run like an athlete/And die like a dead beaten speed freak/An answer to all of the answers to - Yes." Speed freak? Those aren't your normal Yes lines at all.

Okay, so it's not in the same universe as their best but it was definitely a step forward. I avoided listening to "Drama" because of preconceived notions but when I take it in without bias I find that it certainly doesn't deserve the horrible rap it often receives. With the return of Roger Dean's fantastic cover art, more group focus and renewed enthusiasm for their work Yes went a long way towards redemption with this project. I give it 3.5 stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yes remembers how to rock.

Machine Messiah! The heavy opening sounds like the Star Wars Imperial Walkers heading towards you from the horizon! This song is an example of where Yes could have headed instead of the Rabin schlock albums of the 1980s.

Is Yes without Jon really Yes? Who cares? If they can pull off an album like Drama without him it was a worthy avenue to head down for at least a spell.

I don't know the band inner dynamics, but if I were guessing I'd say that Chris, Steve, and Alan saw the chance to have some fun with Anderson and Wakeman out of the picture. And they decided to ROCK out for a change. Drama rocks and you can hear the evidence most directly in Chris Squire. The bass comes right outta your speaker and takes a swing at you. I sense a collective sigh of relief by these guys at the chance to make a less "Cosmic Jon" and "Ego Rick" kind of record.

All of the songs work well for me. While "Machine Messiah" and "Into the Lens" are my favorites there isn't a bad song here. Even the much maligned "White Car" is fine for what it is, just a brief musical daydream. Not every idea must be taken to the standard rock length or the standard prog epic length.

And the new guys? I'm not saying they are better than those they replaced but for the kind of record Drama is they worked perfectly. They are musicians who were capable of balancing the equally important needs of bringing in freshness and spontaneity while respecting the Yes sound and audience. That's a damn tall order when you think about it and they did an admirable job in my opinion.

The Dean cover art is back thankfully and while this line-up could not last it was an awfully fun one-off. Thus, 3.5 affectionate stars for the last good Yes album.

Review by ghost_of_morphy
3 stars Actually, I logged on to PA today to review Chris Squire's Fish Out Of Water. That's going to have to take a back seat though, as I read Evandro Martini's review of Drama on the front page, and I found that I have something to say about this album.

First, a little historical perspective. If you can remember back to when this was released, you will remember two things notable about it. The first was the shock of having the Buggles replacing Jon and Rick. Mr. Martini's review gives a good perspective about how Yes fans received this. They were dissappointed and felt it was a poor mix, but they still hoped against hope for the best. There was a lot of fear that the Buggles would have Yes churining out pop like "Video Killed The Radio Star." Oddly enough, when this was realized on 90125, Yes fans were far more accepting of it.

The other thing you should remember is that songs from this album received significant airplay. Yes was finally getting something besides Roundabout played on stations that weren't album oriented. This album did not break out like 90125, but it did lay the groundwork.

Nowadays, Yes fans give Drama more credibility as a Yes album, after suffering through the YesWest years and things like Union and OYE.

Machine Messiah: An energetic mini-epic where the Steve, Chris, and Alan show their chops and the high point of the album. This is the old Yes that we know and love cranked up on caffeine. The only weird thing here is the lyrics. I can't imagine Jon ever penning anything like this. This is one of the very few songs that I hope Yes plays live again before they dissolve into history.

White Car: This is Downes' feature piece, a bland, slow tempoed keyboard number. Few fans lament Downes' leaving Yes. This piece shows why.

Does It Happen?: A rocker that shows off some great work by White and Squire. Yes usually gets it wrong when they drop into straightforward arena rock, but here they are just dipping their toes in the water and the song works. Not memorable, but not something you'd skip over, either.

Into The Lens: A Horn song given a Yes workover, which in this case means adding a lot of DRAMA. Another good one, with plenty of nifty riffs by Steve and Chris.

Run Through The Light: The album's low point. I usually skip over this song. It's a song that sounds like it doesn't know what it wants to be and ends up being bland, along the lines of It Can Happen on 90125.

Tempus Fugit: As with the opener, Yes puts on another up tempo performance of technical wizardry. Downes' finest moment is here. You won't mistake him for Wakeman, but you might mistake him for Kaye. The difference between this song and the opener is that the vocals and the lyrics are on par with what you would expect from Yes.

I'll give this one three stars. It's good and you'll be happy you heard it, but it's only a must hear for fans of Yes.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

I am very amazed by the cult status this album is getting through the ages. Reading some critics, it's like DRAMA is up there in the nirvana of the best YES albums. While there are some good parts on it, it cannot be compared on the same level with the early 70s releases and that has nothing to do with the departure of JON ANDERSON.

The new singer, TREVOR HORN of Buggles fame does a relatively good job at replacing ANDERSON, especially on the track MACHINE MESSIAH as in some parts, you could think that it is the former singer who is on duty. This album is definitely better than TORMATO, it seems the remaining members have refocused on what is YESmusic; no attempt at getting into the top 40, Just trying to play pleasant YESmusic. I guess as soon ANDERSON left, STEVE HOWE called ROGER DEAN and asked him to bring back the YES spirit on the cover artwork. Always (almost)a good sign when you see a ROGER DEAN design on a YES cover!!!!

The main opus is of course, a 10mn epic named MACHINE MESSIAH, a kind of hard rocking HOWE showmanship; This is by no means THE GATES, but after TORMATO, believe me it's good!!and it sounds like good old YES, the YES we used to love! Sadly some signs of the future are also present like ''Does it really happen'' which could have found a space on any RABIN-era albums, not bad, great SQUIRE bass, but that's already 80s sounding. Actually my second fave of the album is the one where HORN thinks he is a camera ''Into the lens'', good hooks, good melody,not overcomplicated, but pleasant. STEVE HOWE plays old STEVE HOWE again not like on TORMATO where he is trying too hard to sound like STEVE HOWE. He is himself again on this album, i guess the tensions with ANDERSON and WAKEMAN on Tormato were gone at this time.

The album ends with 2 decent tunes ''Run through the light'' and the fast ''Tempus fugit'' with a great HOWE again. I am not mentionning CHRIS SQUIRE as he is superb as usual. GEOFFREY DOWNES (of future ASIA fame) is doing a good job as well, definitely more discreet than WAKEMAN, but he plays some tasty parts throughout the album . But STEVE HOWE is defintely the man here!

A nice decent album; not a masterpiece but a definitely great improvement over TORMATO! 3 stars means a good album, right??? so let's go with 3 stars.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
5 stars Not only did Rick Wakeman leave Yes in 1979, but so did their lead singer Jon Anderson. Chris Squire recruited vocalist Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes from the new wave band The Buggles to replace them. The Buggles? Yep, that's right. And what is so surprising about it, is that this new lineup's 1980 release of Drama was the most progressive output the band had made since Relayer. But it's not as surprising as one might think. True, the Buggles were into making that synthesized new wave music that became popular in the early 1980s, but both Downes and Horn were long-standing fans of Yes.

Drama is vastly underrated. I repeat, VASTLY underrated. Going for the One saw Yes move away from their three-songs-an-album days, and Tormato saw their transformation into mediocrity. Yes, there was some good material on those two albums, but much of it was uninspired. Drama is more or less a mix of the best of those two albums and their classic period. Clearly Downes and Horn breathed some fresh new air into a group that was deep in the doldrums.

Squire's bass playing on this album is phenomenal, on par with his work on Relayer. Steve Howe's guitar work on this is also fantastic and complements Geoff Downes on the keys. The production on this album is also significantly better than the previous two and that may have been a result of bringing Eddie Offord back as a co-producer.

Trevor Horn's voice takes a little getting used to, especially after hearing Jon Anderson's voice since the band's first album in 1969. Horn can't compare to Anderson. But if you let his voice sink in after awhile, you'll find he's quite competent at singing this style of music. His voice is actually quite similar in tone to Chris Squire's voice.

Unfortunately, this was the last incarnation of this new lineup and Yes would split up in 1981 with Downes and Howe joining Asia, Horn pursuing music production, and Squire and White pursuing other projects (like the XYZ project with Jimmy Page). As I said before, this one is often overlooked and is a vastly underrated gem. A masterpiece to my ears and the last real prog rock we would hear from Yes for quite some time. Five stars.

Review by Melomaniac
4 stars If there is one band that has had as many highs and lows, it must be Yes. Prog fans usually refer to Close to the Edge, Fragile and Relayer as their Golden Age, but often disagree as to their appreciation of other albums. Some consider Tales from Topographic Oceans a masterpiece while others think they went over the top with it. Tormato and Going for the One are usually looked upon in puzzlement, whereas Big Generator, Union and Open your Eyes are laughed at.

Which brings us to Drama.

An oddity in the Yes discography, the line-up that recorded it only recorded this one (like the line-up for Relayer which included Patrick Moraz). So here we have Trevor Horn handling vocals and Geoff Downes playing keyboards instead of Anderson and Wakeman. But the Yes sound is still very much intact. If one thing, the album has a heavier sound than anything previously recorded by the band, and to my ears, this is definitely not a bad thing.

Opener Machine Messiah is among my favorite Yes songs (and the only one on which I will elaborate a bit). It has an energy to it rarely heard in previous Yes recordings. Howe's guitar work is very diverse from beginning to end, boasting heavy riffing at times as well as moody acoustic passages. Downes proves himself to be a very suitable and competent replacement for Wakeman with nice textures and beautiful melodies. And had I not know Horn sang on the album, I would have EASILY mistaken him for Anderson. Not only does he sound like him, but with Squire's support vocals to carry him it sounds as if the vocal duet that recorded all previous Yes offerings is still intact. I suppose Squire wrote most of the vocal melodies and harmonies.

As for the rest of the album, a few words can be used to summarize it : consistent, modern (for the times), interesting and a good load of fun to listen to. Those who snobbed this album because Wakeman and Anderson were no longer in the fold truly missed out on something ; Yes' best album since Relayer, and, also, the best before a long time. Probably the last great prog album Yes recorded. It would have been really interesting to hear what they could have done given another album or two. Instead, Downes went on to form Asia, and Yes went on to record 90125.

Though not a masterpiece, it definitely deserves four stars.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I can't help but think it was this record that brought Jon Anderson back to the band. C'mon Jon, admit it, the boys did an amazing job and popped out one of the best things in Yes' catalog. The fact that it was not as musically intricate as previous Yes outings didn't mean it wasn't a kick-ass release, and one of the best things to emerge from the comatose progressive rock scene in 1980. The group had revitalized itself with a fresh attitude and new take on their style of symphonic rock, even forecasting the bubblegum pop of 90125 but with much stronger material, heavier arrangements, a brighter studio sound and less high school romance than that album, making Drama an exceptional work that was far more consistent than anything they had done going as far back as 1974's Relayer.

This new energy is heard immediately on 'Machine Messiah', shining power-prog with a near-perfect arrangement and studio timbre. Steve Howe is brilliant, liberated from his usually restrained style with a welcome rock bravado. Chris Squire, clearly the leader here, turns in perhaps his best single performance on record, Alan White sounds like Heaven, keyboardist Geoff Downes and vocalist Trevor Horn fine replacements for former members. Squire's baby 'Does it Really Happen?' is great fun with a kickin' bass line, reverberating vocals and nifty guitar work, and love song 'Into the Lens' charms, has Howe's blistering lead and Downes' fine keyboards. The mix and fidelity again impress on the striking 'Run Through the Light', White's drums never sounding fuller, a solitary mandolin underneath holding it all together, followed by the spectacular 'Tempus Fugit' of which not enough good things can be said.

The fact is that Drama holds more power and resolve in one track than most records have in ten, and with more great moments than many seem willing to admit, it is a must for any respectable collection.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
5 stars Dramatically excellent!

Drama has slightly more of an 80's sound compared to earlier albums, but it is still far, far away from the more commercial 90125 or Big Generator. Indeed, this album is much more in line with earlier Yes albums than what might be expected given the radical changes in the line up. Such vital members as Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman were here replaced by Geoffrey Downes and Trevor Horn of The Buggles of all people! Geoff and Steve Howe would later form Asia. But Drama - thankfully! - does not sound anything like The Buggles or Asia. Drama is still very much a classic Yes album and, in my opinion, an improvement over Tormato, Going For The One, Relayer and Tales From Topographic Oceans.

In many ways Drama is similar to the Relayer album. For both of these albums Rick was replaced by a new keyboard player that only stayed for one album. For Relayer it was Patrick Moraz and here it is, as already mentioned, Geoff Downes. This circumstances left the stable members of the band more space on these albums. Steve in particular takes the opportunity to give his guitars a more prominent place on these two albums. There is a more aggressive sound to both Relayer and Drama with Machine Messiah almost having a Metal sound. This is an absolutely faboulos song!

Just as Steve's guitars take up some of the space left by Rick, the backing vocals of Chris and Steve fill in where Trevor Horn cannot quite fill the shoes of Jon. Trevor Horn has a similar voice to Jon's, so the change is not as dramatic as might be expected. Thanks to the unique and distinctive sounds of Steve's and Chris' guitar and bass sound as well as their backing vocals ensure that the typical Yes sound is still very much here. This proves that Yes is an entity that does not depend on one or two specific individuals. Yes is not just a band, but a type of music!

I didn't always rate this album as high as this, but over time I have grown to love this album a lot. It is another Yes masterpiece!

Review by russellk
4 stars By 1980 it was clear that YES had, for one reason or another, abandoned their trademark sound. No longer did they paint on a vast canvas; no longer did they indulge CHRIS SQUIRE's brilliance with the bass, letting him take the lead; no longer did they have the confidence to take rock in new directions. After the mixed efforts that were 'Going for the One' and 'Tormato', I wondered if YES had had their day.

Well, YES may have abandoned their sound, but TREVOR HORN and GEOFF DOWNES hadn't forgotten it. In fact, they'd written some material they thought the band might like. All this while having extraordinary international success as THE BUGGLES with 'The Age of Plastic' and its ubiquitous single 'Video Killed the Radio Star'. Despite what some elitists believe pop and prog aren't actually diametrically opposed, and there's nothing at all odd in pop artists being able to write prog material.

What was odd was ANDERSON and WAKEMAN's decision to leave the band. 'Musical differences' were cited - ANDERSON wrote material, but the other band members didn't like it - but it was really about money. Despite their success the band were skint, and there were rumours that some members had helped themselves to the petty cash. So HORN and DOWNES were invited to take their place.

The result - and everyone makes the obligatory pun, so I will follow - is pure drama. From the Roger Dean cover to the solidity and grandeur of the material, this is not only a return to form, it is the first consistently excellent album the band had produced since their golden period. The music has bite, it rumbles and roars, it is funky when required, and, with the largest egos missing, is a true group effort.

The fun begins with 'Machine Messiah', a BUGGLES composition given the STEVE HOWE treatment. An appropriate mechanical rumble fades in, heralding a splendid riff. Yes, we get to hear this riff a lot in this epic track, but they do use it well. HOWE surrounds the riff with squeals, slides and snarls, hovering on the edge of discord, the sound echoing the lyrics in true epic style. WHITE thumps the tubs with more vigour than at any point in his YES career, and then it's vocals time. Ah. HORN does a credible job, but I would have been more impressed had he tried to sound like himself rather than JON ANDERSON. Of course, part of the resemblance comes from SQUIRE's backing vocals. There is some nice interplay between DOWNES, SQUIRE and HOWE in the middle of the track, building up for the genius moment at 5 minutes when they bring back the main theme in staccato version, slowed down - ah, majestic. Listen to HOWE's guitar snarl like a cat. There are so many great things about this I could fill up a page: I love HOWE's slightly flat notes on the third run through of the theme, suggesting the machine struggling for birth. Classic stuff. Nothing ANDERSON could have supplied would have had the compelling intensity of this material. A great finish rounds off this essential track.

'White Car' gets ignored, but I think it's a wonderful track. DOWNES sets us up for a single vocal phrase, the titular white car at 1:01 - possibly the cleverest song fragment on record. Then it's on to 'Does it Really Happen', a SQUIRE/HOWE/WHITE composition markedly better than any of the material we'd seen from them for a long time. A great bass lead brings us into a series of chord stabs and it's away into a track strongly reminiscent of 'Siberian Khatru', especially the funky riff at 0:54. DOWNES does a fair job on the keyboards (check out his work at 3:30, for example) as the track rocks on, and HORN's nascent production values are clear in the excellent balance between the drums and other instruments, heralding the 80s sound. The final treat is the coda following the hard stop. Impossible to fault, and greatly enjoyable, this track succeeds where tracks like 'Going For The One'. 'Release Release' and 'On the Silent Wings of Freedom' don't.

'Into the Lens' is a BUGGLES number owing more, perhaps, to SUPERTRAMP than YES: the line 'I am a camera' with its two-note keyboard accompaniment sounds like ROGER HODGSON. For all that, this is an excellent track, if perhaps a minute or two too long. 'Run Through the Light' is more of a song fragment, slightly underdeveloped compared to the rest of the album. 'Tempus Fugit' rounds off the album in self-referential style: 'Yes!' they sing. Respect for a band able to extract the urine from themselves.

An essential listen for those who thought prog had died by 1980, and for those who argue prog and pop go together like oil and water. Drama succeeded beyond my fondest hopes, and despite the improbability of it all, stands up well against the band's catalogue. 'An answer to Yes' indeed.

Review by TGM: Orb
3 stars Review 67, Drama, Yes, 1980


For 1980's Drama (my only post-GFTO Yes album, and probably going to stay that way for a while...), Yes has an odd line-up. The Yes nucleus has been reduced to the virtuostic Howe and Squire, and the excellent White, and added to that are The Buggles - a pop duo responsible for Video Killed The Radio Star -, comprising Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn. The obvious, but unfair, question is whether they can replace two of the golden era Yes-men, Wakeman and Anderson.

In a stroke of genius, they don't even try. Geoff Downes' keys are not a Wakeman imitation. The atmospheres of Wakeman are left behind in favour of slightly harder and more blunt work. While the man isn't an obvious choice for favourite keyboardist, he holds up his side well. Trevor Horn's vocals, similarly, are more than just aping Anderson, they change much more unexpectedly than Anderson did, and handle the harmonies with grace. Nonetheless, both fit in very well with the core parts of Yes, and the resulting album is well-balanced, surprisingly strong and at times mindblowing.

Machine Messiah dispels all fears of a weak effort. Led in by an astounding guitar-bass riff, with Howe splintering away savagely, and then moving onto various sorts of soulful backing for the harmony vocals, acoustics, synths, organs, guitar, but always with a feral edge from Howe lurking underneath. A solo section, including a superb bass solo, leads back to a return of the bass riff with awe-inspiring choral mellotron and a completely gritty guitar part. This somehow turns to a mellotron and acoustic atmosphere, with Horn's vocals again taking an oddly reverent spot, and then it jumps up into a hugely positive section, with an uplifting burst like classic Yes, and a positive solo, which then again leads down to the acoustic and keys echoing the bass riff in an ambiguous manner. More chaotic guitar-work leads us out. An absolutely phenomenal, spiritual track, complimented by a suitably Yes-ish spiritual lyrics, and, most importantly, making full use of a range of dynamics. Classic Yes, and I don't say that lightly.

White Car, lasting less than a minute and a half, is a somewhat odd track. Focused very much on a keyboard riff, with all sorts of small percussiony and acoustic things appearing. Trevor Horn provides a brief vocal, which is suitably interesting, and Downes concludes it with a moog solo. Nice.

Does It Really Happen opens with a kicking bass rhythm and White on top form, as well as some keyboards foreshadowing later vocal melodies. Howe's guitar leaps introduce the vocals, which have an absolutely killer chorus. The second, two words at a time, vocal section works well, with Downes stabbing brilliantly on the hammond behind it. The band manages to convincingly take an unbacked rendition of the chorus with a clever use of the harmonies to prevent it feeling redundant. The conclusion echoes the opening with a phenomenal bass performance from Squire, who is essentially guitar-heroing with a bass.

The eight and a half minute Into The Lens finds it slightly harder to really click than the preceding numbers, though it probably has the strongest vocal performance so far. Downes takes a pretty strong initial piano-synth lead, which he later relinquishes to Howe's parallel-to-the-vocal swirls, and the entire band takes their turns at leading and backing. There's another showcase for the soloing talents of the band-members, as well as their ability to move back to something which initially seems like the previous chorus/verse part, but musically isn't. Though I have no objections to any of the individual performances, with Howe in particular blistering away quite neatly, but the song as a whole somehow seems a bit too trite for a bit too long, with too much random movement. Very indicative of the direction Howe and Downes would take on Asia, and overall a good song, but not quite reaching the heights of the previous pieces.

Run Through The Light is another damning indiction of my love for pop songs. After a moody keyboard opening, the vocals come in with the brilliant 'I asked my love to give me she-e-elter/But all she offered me were dreams/Of all the moments spent together/That move like never-ending streams', and everything simply takes off, with a surprisingly strong performance by Horn (especially since he was competing with Squire's riveting work elsewhere) on bass and as all sorts of manic depravity and brilliant stuff turns up unexpectedly without a moment's notice. Howe is again superb, and the vocals and lyrics... and the whole song... it's just too catchy. Great song.

The closer Tempus Fugit is widely regarded as a highlight of the album, but I don't really agree. Aside from the slightly too silly 'Yes', it is simply jumpy and uplifting consistently. Not a note of ambiguity, not much variation of the tempo. The bass riff is pretty much run into the ground, and the piece just feels like it's a kid who's had a bit too much helium. This griping aside, the lyrics are brilliant, and every individual part is solid, it just lacks the soul-wrenching use of tempos and dynamics that made classic Yes to me.

Now, we hit the bonus material. The single edits are passable material, with Run Through The Light emphasising the piano a little more, and adding in a couple of odd variations. Have We Really Got To Go Through This features a lot of Howe's soloing, and is pretty good from that angle, but otherwise not that interesting. Satellite is another meandering instrumental, and, while a good example of the players reconciling their prowess with the style, it's simply not inspiring. Yes aren't, in my eyes, cut for pure instrumentals. A Tempus Fugit tracking session is a bit pointless, even if it sounds a little less excessive than the end return. The one of White Car is slightly more interesting and lyrically extended.

Dancing Through The Light is an amusing dance version of Run Through The Light, but predictably far less catchy and compelling. Golden Age is rather better, with a decent Anderson Vocal, as well as an unintrusive backing that works some of the time, even if Wakeman's tone feels a bit out of place. Not a lost gem, but not terrible, either. Into The Tower opens with a rather good duet between Wakeman's organ and Anderson's vocals, before White adds himself in to add some rock elements. Far better than most of the other bonus we get on here, actually an album-quality track. Friend Of A Friend is also quite strong, with good performances from Squire and White, it's a shame that the synth tones again feel slightly odd, especially on the longer notes. So, as a set of bonuses, pretty mediocre, but there's some good stuff in there, and the album's ending isn't so absorbing that the bonuses will break the mood.

So, overall, this is a very good and distinctly progressive album. The gut-wrenching Machine Messiah is unmissable for anyone who is even slightly interested in Yes, and I feel that Jon Anderson's presence isn't much missed. In addition, it's pretty consistent, with only the last couple of tracks letting down at all for basically undefinable reasons, and Squire is on full throttle throughout. Four stars, essential listening, matching up to a couple of the classic era albums in quality, in my opinion.

Rating: Four Stars Favourite Song: Machine Messiah or Run Through The Light. Should be the former, definitely, but I have no taste :p

Edit: slipped to a three... not a fan of Tempus Fugit, really, and there are only two real stone-cold classics here... so on the ratios with the current economic climate, I'm dropping it to three.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
5 stars The last great work by Yes so far!The 80s had been started,but Yes is still amazing band.One of Yes' most remembered work for me.It is full of hits and pleasant songs.This is the first and only album without Jon Anderson and I think this is crucial for the lack of acceptance fro this album.Despite the missing Jon and the missing progressive rock at that time this album still has some success and I can tell you why...Because this album is a superb one!With this two men from the Buggles,Yes change its sound with little new wave elements and it works.Here is one of the greatest Yes' songs - Machine Messiah.The last things I want to tell about this album are the mixture between new wave and hard rock,instead of solely progressive rock.Moreover,the experience,routine and skills which make Drama one of the best Yes' albums and last great of them,instead of missing Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman!
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's very sad to see how this excellent album is misunderstood and underrated by the Jon Anderson fans, yes it's true that Trevor Horn is not Jon...But what about that?

I always believed that the weakest link in YES was Jon's voice, well in Drama we have the chance to listen the band after the infamous Tormato and with a new vocalist, the results couldn't had been better, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes gave YES another life after almost every reasonable fan believed the band was dead and buried, sadly this new breeze lasted only one album.

Drama begins with the outstanding Machine Messiah, in my opinion the best track the band released since the last classic era album (Relayer). It has everything, solid vocals, fresh keyboards. excellent guitar, impeccable rhythm section and dramatic changes. For more than 10 minutes, the bands proves that they can play fantastic music without Anderson and Wakeman.

From the powerful introduction we can notice this guys are giving a fantastic performance, everything is in it's place and when they reach the first climax, a sudden change makes the song flow with a natural sound, enhanced by Horn and perfectly backed by Chris Squire, at last we are in front of a solid band and not only a group of talented musicians with huge egos trying to prove how great they are in comparison with the rest.

At this point the changes happen almost every minute, from fantastic guitar sections to an unexpected Baroque keyboard passage, don't need to say more, an underrated gem.

White Car is a very short but pompous filler between two powerful tracks, despite this fact, not bad either.

Does it Really Happen is another highlight, again from the vibrant start, the band proves they are better than ever, despite the Popish vocal sections, the song presents almost every element required for a good Prog track, not as strong as the opener, but good enough.

Into the Lens (I Am a Camera) is another excellent track that received harsh comments because it had airplay and even an MTV video, and something an average Proghead doesn't forgive is commercial success. I won't say it's a masterpiece, but it's an excellent track that has a much more complex structure than expected for a song in the 80's.

The interplay between White, Squire, White and Downes is perfectly natural, as if they were playing together for decades, what really surprised me because I thought they wouldn't survive Tormato, but here they are, giving an excellent performance.

No YES album would be complete without a softer track, and Run Through the Light provides this necessary relax, even in the faster sections, this soft atmosphere and paused tempo is prevalent, nice track even when a bit too simple in comparison with most of the material in Drama.

Tempus Fugit is simply brilliant, Geoff Downes does an amazing organ intro and carries the weight of the song, while an unusually strong Alan White makes the perfect companion. Even when the track is frantic from start to end, there's time for every member of the band to give it's best.

Even when my CD has several bonus tracks, my review will be limited to the original material, because that's how the band released the album to be listened, and they did such great job, that I don't feel necessary to change it.

The only thing I regret is that this project was so short, this lineup should had released more albums, probably would had save us from the Rabin years, but that's just guessing.

Four stars without any doubt.

Review by MovingPictures07
4 stars I avoided this album for months because of the Anderson-lessness that was told to me repeatedly. Being the huge Jon Anderson fan I was at the time (and still am), I was therefore really afraid to hear what it would sound like without the angelic voice of Jon. Still, I gave it a shot. I am so glad I did.

1. Machine Messiah- Right away, the band shows you that they still have it, with or without Mr. Anderson. Downes does a wonderful and unique job on keyboards, often too overlooked, and Horn's vocals are spectacular. Howe, Squire, and White are no slacks either. This track is one of the most powerful tracks Yes have ever recorded, and it is extremely enjoyable. Perfectly crafted. 10/10

2. White Car- Overlooked interlude. Horn's voices are good. It's definitely not a typical Yes song, but it's not skip-worthy either. It's actually good, despite it being very short. 7/10

3. Does It Really Happen?- Squire's bass on this song. That's all I have to say. Especially at the part when he goes all Bass Hero is absolutely stunning and very enjoyable. This track is crafted extremely well, great overall performances from everyone. This has to be another underrated Yes song that hardly gets the mention it deserves. 9/10

4. Into the Lens- I AM A CAMERA! Despite the repetition of that line, this song actually works. Downes and Horn really fit in well to create another unique and well-crafted composition. The keys are of particular note on this one. Squire shines once again. 9/10

5. Run Through The Light- This is an alright ballad... but it never hit me too much. It really brings down the album a bit for me. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, it's just a bit too on the sappy/soft side and lacks the punch of the songs that preceded it. I sometimes skip it. 5/10

6. Tempus Fugit- Pretty good song. Again, Horn and Downes fit well here, Squire's usual awesomeness, Howe and White both keep us as well. The musicianship is a given. This song tends to be a fan favorite, but I can't really see THAT much of the appeal, as I prefer Machine, Lens, and Does It Really Happen. However, this is still a pretty good song. 7/10

Much better than I expected and a uniquely good album in the Yes discography. Don't go for this first, but it is a pretty good addition after you're acquainted with Yes's masterpieces and other better works.

Review by ProgBagel
4 stars Yes - 'Drama' 4 stars

I just can't consider calling a band without Jon Anderson Yes..So coming into this album I took an approach of this album being a band that had members of Yes and the Buggles.and man, was I impressed!

The absence of Rick Wakeman has been experienced before, and the band pulled out one of their best works as a response. This album also is leaps and bounds over their last work with Wakeman, maybe they just ride on a higher mental level without him.

The replacements were vocalist Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes on the keyboards. Although Anderson's and Wakeman's are impossible shoes to fill, they shed some new and needed light into the band. The songs got considerably catchier and had a few short accessible numbers. The opener however, has been a staple of Yes 'Machine Messiah', which serves as one of their most innovative pieces, encapsulated by some really heavy, nearly metal guitar parts by Steve Howe.

Yes did have some collateral before this album was made. Eddie Offord returned to the producer position and the ever important Roger Dean was back doing the artwork, and one it is one of his best works.

Putting the poppish lyrics and vocal melodies aside, the compositional structure ranks up there with some of the top Yes albums. The ending 'Tempus Fugit' features Alan Whites and Chris Squire's defining moments.

A criminally under rated album due to just the mere absence of Jon Anderson. There is a factor of his reluctance to play these songs live also that affects its hindrance. One of the best Yes albums one can come across.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Not a total disaster, but certainly also not one of Yes best effords. In fact, I can hardly see this album as an Yes album at all. Although I must admit that Trevor HornÂīs voice does remind me of Jon Anderson a bit and the vocal arrangements were similar to the trademark Yes sound, the rest is not. It seems that Drama was kind of a transtitional album, or experimental, like so many reviewrs here wrote. An experiment towards pop market maybe? I could barely stand this album at the time: to me Yes without Jon Anderson was not really Yes. I could see Yes without Rick Wakeman (even though the band is much better when he is around).

Geoff Downess keyboards are just annoying here. Please donÂīt get me wrong, I donÂīt have any prejudice against Buggles. I didnÂīt even know about them at the time (though I might have heard their music on the radio around that period). to me they were two unknown faces and I was certain the other members of the band wouldnÂīt chose second rate musicians to join them. But certainly they were no match for Anderson and Wakeman. The Roger Dean cover was great.

Having said that I must say I heard this album again these days to give it a proper review. I still think it is well below their best 70Âīs effords (including the much underrated Tormato). It is not bad. It is just very uncharactheristic. It looks more like some band trying to sound like Yes than Yes itself. The opener Machine Messiah is the best track. It is strong, powerful, creative and convincing. I really like it and I think if the whole album would follow this quality I could give Drama at least a four star rating. Unfortunalty things go downhill from then on. You could almost feel the band a bit lost at the beginning of the new decade. Certainly Drama kind of paved the way to the more commercial Yes of 90125 and Big Generator.

Conclusion: a good album, in parts. And not really a Yes CD for me. If they changed their name it would be a lot easier to take it and appreciate it. As it is, 2,5 stars is the most I can give it.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Even with the shocking (though thankfully brief) departure of lead vocalist Jon Anderson (and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, again), Yes continues being Yes- but this is decidedly Chris Squire's venture more than anyone else's. He tosses in bass riff after bass riff over the top of the rest of the music, and even does quite a bit more lead vocal work. I consider both of those things to be a very good change, but it's sad it took Anderson's absence to make that happen. One major consolation also is that Squire gets his punchy bass tone back after the abysmal sound he employed on the previous album. For once, the guitar and keyboards take a real back seat to the rhythm section. Of course the biggest change comes in the form of two Yes fans, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles. The former steps into Anderson's big shoes, and the latter.into Wakeman's sequined cape. Neither are as good as the ones they replaced, but they do an adequate job, making this album a great acquisition.

"Machine Messiah" The flange-fueled introduction fades in to bring in a dark progressive structure, full of minor chords that ascend up two keys before giving way to an upbeat verse that, yes, sounds like Yes. Geoff Downes is lackluster compared to Wakeman (or Moraz, for that matter), but it seems he doesn't try to be nearly as flashy. Twice, Horn sings over some dark acoustic guitar music after which the introduction in some form returns. Then it's right back to the happy verse music. Now it's no secret that Horn does not have Anderson's range, but it really shows on this track; he reaches for notes and has a clearly tough time getting there. The second acoustic section is far more moving than the one before, leading to the sinister conclusion of the song.

"White Car" For such a short piece, this one is not a throwaway track, even if the vocal melody and the instrumentation are a bit strange. The lyrics actually refer to English musician Gary Numan, who used to tear through London in a white Chevrolet Corvette.

"Does it Really Happen?" This song, in various incarnations, had apparently been around for a while before it finally saw its ultimate place in a Yes studio album. This is, more so than any place else, Squire's moment. Not only does he kick off the song with a killer bass riff, he handles the lead vocal duties as well. I've always enjoyed his voice, and relish each chance he takes that role. Speaking of the vocals, the harmonies are well done, even if a bit unrestrained. While the song is nearly seven minutes long, the fantastic and funky riffs they used throughout begged to be toyed with as the basis for some additional instrumental work.

"Into the Lens" Again, Squire's bass is right up front. This song is very similar to good Supertramp, combining accessible elements with an interesting arrangement. I love Howe's subtle guitar work throughout, even if it's easy to miss on the first few listens. This song does drag on a bit unnecessarily, I think, but it's downright enjoyable. An alternative version appears on an album from The Buggles.

"Run Through the Light" This soft song was always a guilty pleasure of mine, with fanciful keyboard work and a fretless bass courtesy of Horn. This song shows plainly that, while Horn is a capable singer, he doesn't have a wonderful voice. I actually like Squire's vocals on the chorus much more; incidentally the chorus makes me think of The Police. Howe provides a decent guitar solo toward the end.

"Tempus Fugit" Despite being relatively short on the album, this is the second highlight. Squire's bass flies through the music, and the guitar riffs are exciting. The band's name plays a big role in the lyrics, and I've always thought they could do worse than using this song to begin a concert; it's almost like their own anthem, with that repeated line in all its variations, "an answer to yes."

Review by The Quiet One
4 stars NOT a Drama

Drama is one of those albums which have been hated in the time of it's release, but with the transition of the years it's been getting a quite big ''fanbase'', which it really deserved it from the moment it was released. There may be no Jon Anderson nor Wakeman, but have you heard their previous, Tormato? There's nothing good of them in that album, so for me(and many others) it's the same if they aren't here, we have as replacements members from a New Wave band from the time, The Buggles, these members are Trevor Horn(vocals) and Geoffrey Downes(keyboards).

Drama is much of a change for Yes, bringing New Wave ideas set by the new members, plus some Heaviness never heard from Steve. Lead members on this album are definitely Steve and Chris, also notably on Relayer that leadership, in which makes the album guitar/bass-driven, rather than a equilibrated band which every member had time to shine, but you couldn't define which was the dominating instrument in it.

The album blasts off with the well-recognised Machine Messiah, embracing most of the characteristics mentioned before: the unexpected heaviness from Steve's guitar, and the powerful drumming from Alan, and the guitar/bass leading characteristic. The song also features a very dark climax created by Steve's heavy guitar and Geoffrey's keyboards. For those who don't know Trevor's voice, compared to Jon's, well Trevor is lacking of uniqueness, but that's it, he sings fine and suits well for the songs.

White Car is a short, semi-dramatic, gentle tune. Featuring some positive aspects of Trevor's voice, and some well suited keyboards by Mr. Downes. I generally skip it, for lack of strength, could have been better suited in Going for the One, still White Car makes a good song of itself, if only it had been longer...

Does it Really Happen breaks the semi-dramatic tension of the previous track with a killer bass line. The song is a bass-driven rock song with Prog and New Wave encounters. It has a catchy rythm and chorus, but still has a very sophisticated composition, with some instrumental passages, and musicianship, with some classic Yes keyboards(Organ ala Fragile; Moog ala Yes Album) and a bass solo at the end of the song, which definitely shows that Yes' 70's skill is still here.

Into the Lens moves the album into a melancholic mood in it's first 2 minutes which then moves forward to a more powerful rythm and at the same time catchy with it's chorus, which was intended to be a Buggles song called I'm a Camera, so you also got the New Wave influence here, but it's quite subtle. Into the Lens still shows the 70's strong musicianship characteristic as in Machine Messiah and Does It Really Happen: Geof's organ and piano playing, Chris' unpredictable bass playing, and Steve's fierceful guitar playing, reminds me of Awaken.

Run Through the Light is where the new members' ideas come in their entirety, making a sloppy Pop song, with a quite annoying drum sound, yet has some good standpoints as Chris' bass and Steve's few guitar appearances which saves the song from complete slopiness tag.

The album finishes as great as it started with Tempus Fugit, all the characteristics of Into the Lens, Machine Messiah and Does it Really Happen are here making one single song. Fabolous bass work(as always), Wakeman-ish style of playing, powerful guitar riffs and classic Steve solos. Classic 70's Yes, is once again here.

Drama all in all, is as unique as Relayer, maybe not as strong, but the unique points of these albums are there and can't be beaten by any other Yes album. Also these 2 albums, Drama and Relayer, have something in common which I already mentioned at the begining, which is the Guitar and Bass leadership on all the songs, which makes it quite different from the rest of Yes albums. All the musicians here make it feel as if the album was a classic Yes album, from the musicianship point of view, while from the compositions and style of the songs are slightly different because of the New Wave influence; this is just another point in which makes Drama so unique and great.

4 stars because all of the mentioned previously.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Unexpected!

Here is a purchase that I'd put off for a good long time. Even being an incredibly big fan of Yes this album was a completely terrifying one to even consider putting the money in for. Luckily I eventually found it for a good, cheap price at a used record store and finally decided to take the plunge and see what Yes would be like without two of my favorite members, Wakeman and more uncommonly - Jon Anderson. Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat. If you're concerned about Jon Anderson's voice being absent on the album them take your worries out behind the shed and make sure you bring your rifle with you. Most people call Trevor Horn the ultimate ''Anderson sound-alike'' and the album has been slagged many times because of that. But let's face it - if they had a wildly different singer they would get even more flack. Of course, one of the biggest factors contributing to the similar voice is the now much more pronounced backing vocals by Chris Squire, which are deadly familiar.

If you're annoyed by some of the more 'sugar coated' Yes that would come after their classic period then this is probably the album for you. With Howe and Squire left solely at the helm of the project things have taken a turn for the darker. Yes still has that 'beatarific hippy heart' that many journalists have talked about over the years, but on this album there's more cynicism and shadows than ever before. Things can get rather moody on the record, and although it is still a rather feel good and 'upbeat' record, this is probably Yes's darkest to date - and being sandwiched between Tormato and 90125 that will likely come as a surprise to some. Still, right off the top of the pseudo-epic Machine Messiah we're greeted with a riff that could have come from Black Sabbath in the early 70s before moving into more familiar Yes territories. A rip-roaring bass riff from Squire also makes this one a huge standout, not only on the album, but in Yes's discography in general.

The other songs on the album are much in the same vein, but they're all excellent. Somehow this album maintains the classic era pomp but while lending from some of the accessibility that lurks in the shadows of the 80s. The result is actually quite fantastic. White Car is a brief, but incredibly emotional number that opens like a Moody Blues tune with an orchestral backing before Horn almost rips tears from your face with his vocals. I don't know how they're so powerful, they just are. More darker songs also lurk on the album, the next best being the amazing Into The Lens, which is actually slightly annoying the first time you hear it thanks to the repetition of ''camera, camera'', but as soon as the subtleties of the song really sink in it becomes nothing short of amazing. Run Through The Light is short and sweet, but no less punchy - this one is a little more low-key, but still impressive.

And they just wouldn't be Yes without doing some more upbeat stuff, now would they. Sure enough, there's a couple of songs that would have felt more at home in the band's pre-Close To The Edge days that still has a more 'modern' twist on it. Does It Really Happen? is a prime example of this, upbeat and catchy, yet still technically impressive. The other song is the closer of the album, the blistering Tempus Fugit, which is probably one of the fastest things that Yes ever did. Sounds a lot like On The Silent Wings Of Freedom, although more tight. Somehow a combination between Yes's classic sound and their 80s sound doesn't sound too attractive to some, but seriously, give it a chance, it's well worth it.

Somehow this album turned out really incredible, and it's likely the most hideously overlooked in their discography. The reasons are obvious, but proggers really should make a second consideration and hold their breath and buy this album - it is so well worth it. Probably the best thing that they did between Going For The One in '77 and Keystudio in '99. Highly recommended.

Review by lazland
2 stars Absolutely one for the people (like me) who simply have to have every Yes album and associated solo works, but only, I'm afraid, for that reason.

Previous reviewers of the album have, probably rightly, asked us to listen to this without prejudice. Well, I'm sorry, and I have tried and tried, but I find it impossible. Yes can, and have, survived without Wakeman, but without Anderson? No, absolutely not. To me, he is the heart and soul of the band, and it is simply nowhere near the same without him - it would have been better had they called themselves by a different name. I will also never forget the abuse that was heaped upon Horn (the one with the big glasses from Buggles) when I saw the band live on the resultant tour.

Machine Messiah is a very good piece of music, but the rest simply fades into very average, Floydian passages for me, and not even the great musicianship of Howe, White, Squire, and Downes can save it. It is, to me, altogether far too dark and cynical to succeed as a Yes album. I love Pink Floyd, but leave the Floydian cynicism to the masters - I listen to Yes precisely because of Anderson's cheery, hippy, afterlife view of the world.

Regretfully, only one star, because it is only for completionists and is not even particularly important to the history and understanding of the band, given that it was a one album lineup only.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars After the disaster that was "Tormato" both Wakeman and Anderson left the band to pursue solo careers. So naturally you would think this album would be a complete failure. Well something strange happened along the way. First of all Squire, White and Howe went into the recording studio working on songs as a trio when over came the duo known as the BUGGLES who had a big hit with "Video Killed The Radio Star". Interesting that both groups were in the same studio at that time and under the same management. Downes and Horn (BUGGLES) were huge YES fans and soon found themselves actually jamming with the band that were their heroes. It gets really strange when they are eventually asked to join the band. Horn on vocals sounds a lot like Anderson, and I must say that Downes does not disappoint at all on the keyboards, in fact he's very impressive, even playing mellotron on the first track. I just think these two guys brought a renewed energy to the band and freshness. Both Squire and Howe offer up incredible performances here.

"Machine Messiah" is surprisingly heavy when it gets going, even on the dark side. Gasp ! Howe really lights it up here. It settles 1 1/2 minutes in and vocals join in. Often when Horn is singing both Squire and Howe back him up vocally. The tempo picks up a minute later. Nice bass ! I like the instrumental section, especially before 5 minutes. It then settles with acoustic guitar, spoken words and mellotron before kicking back in around 7 minutes. It calms down with melancholic Floyd-like synths after 9 minutes and spoken words. "White Car" is a short but beautiful track.

"Does It Really Happen" opens with some killer bass before drums and a full sound arrive.This is catchy with vocals and synths leading at times. A good vocal section after 4 minutes and I love the bass late. "Into The Lens" is another catchy track, I like the uptempo section with guitar after 4 minutes.The chorus sounds a little too eighties for me though. "Run Through The Light" is another good track, I like the vocals and energy. "Tempus Fugit" opens with guitar with some prominant bass and synths to follow. It's funny but the guitar at times reminds of the style that Lifeson (RUSH) would employ in the mid-eighties.

If your into great bass playing you should own this album,but regardless, I feel it's an excellent addition and worth 4 stars.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After disastrous LP "Tormato" Anderson and Wakeman left the group and guess what! - YES recorded the new album without them called "Drama". At first largely ignored by critics and followers, this LP in retrospective stands firmly and represents one of the best YES works in my opinion.

THE BUGGLES duo (Horn and Downes) brought some new wave blood to the old skeleton made of "topographic oceans", so YES sometimes sounds like THE POLICE with keyboards (even Horn's vocal resembles the Sting's in "Run Through the Light"). But the best compositions are again lengthy tracks. The opening 10-minute "Machine Messiah", with dark and heavy "Sabbath meets Crimson" riff is an excellent example how to make a typical multi-part "progressive" rock track in the old sense and not to sound ridiculous in the early 1980s.

Squire and Howe are brilliant with their instruments and backing vocals, showing that Anderson was not the only key member of the group. Particularly efficient on "Drama" is Squire's bass guitar (famous yellow-white Rickenbacker) which is often a leading instrument. Amazing odd time signatures in excellent "Into the Lens" and leading melodic riff in "Tempus Fugit" are stunning. The latter track is one of the strongest YES ever recorded and it even contains symbolic lyrics - "An answer to all of the answers to-Yes", making it somehow a sort of artistic statement of the group. Unfortunately, the future re-grouping with Anderson (who allegedly refused to sing Drama songs on stage) pushed this album somewhere behind the scene.

It is time now to re-evaluate it and I can freely recommend "Drama" to the non-fans of YES (like myself) who might have been rejected by the inflation of not always successful Anderson's "cosmic" ideas of the 1970s.


P.A. RATING: 4/5

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars Wheeeeeee!!! Listen to those bass lines go!

Yes must have known they were in a big predicament in the wake of this record. And I sort of use the word ''wake'' as an accidental pun because Wakeman is who Yes lost...again between TORMATO and DRAMA. While Yes have and could survive without Wakeman, losing Jon Anderson had to have been a low blow to Yes fans circa 1980, as the voice and creative mind was cospicuously absent for DRAMA. But, lo and behold, the Buggles are here to save the day and give Yes one last prog hurrah!

There are plenty of progheads who don't like the idea of an MTV pop band merging with Yes, or for that matter, any Yes album without Jon. And I'll be honest, it has lost a bit of luster over time, but the sound here is very fresh compared to what TORMATO spewed out. Downes's keyboards don't sound too strange or out-of-place, and the bass has this great phased(?) sound that is brought to the forefront; I'm not an acoustics expert, but I like the DRAMA bass under phase(?) as opposed to the TORMATO swamp water bass.

''Machine Messiah'' is the track of which Yes are trying to win prog fans back with; a heavy guitar thing in the beginning leads to spirals of grandiose keyboard-led passages, sombre acoustic moments, jumpy basslines and the great vocal harmonies Yes is well known for. I must say Trevor Horn does a good job of fitting in, but meshing with Squire's voice so well is something I didn't expect but am glad happened. At ten plus minutes, it should already whet your prog appetite.

The other songs aren't too shabby either, particularly showcasing Downes and Squire. Bass lines are the name of the game on ''Tempus Fugit'' and ''Does It Really Happen'' as both are propelled by them and everything on top is just bonus to me. ''Into the Lens'' has a very theatrical type of sound if ''theatrical'' can be used to describe music. Even as short of a track as ''White Car'' has a little magic to it (courtesy of Steve Howe guitars). Only ''Run Through the Light'' sounds weak as I hear the limitations of Trevor Horn's voice; Horn also plays bass here and it's noticeable as it sounds more like a trombone rather than a typical Squire bass.

Eddie Offord taking engineering range is a huge benefit for Yes as I have recently come to realise how important he was into bringing out the best in the instrumentation, especially the bass guitar. And hey, Roger Dean does the cover for this album, so there's plenty of Yes elements here. The lineup might not be classic, but the sound is; a rare example of how new wave and prog rock can go side by side effectively.

Review by TheGazzardian
3 stars If you were to follow Yes' career, you might expect this album to really blow. Going for the One was good, but it was a step down from the reach that Yes had had with the three albums beforehand. Tormato was a clear step in the wrong direction for most fans.

So when they learned that Wakeman had left the band again - and that this time, Jon Anderson had left with him - could any fans be faulted for expecting that the next album would not be so good? Furthermore, would not the addition of the Buggles (Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes, famous for the track "Video Killed the Radio Star") not imply that this album would go further down the direction that Tormato had gone?

One would think so, yet if one were to still put the vinyl on the turntable, or the cd in the player, or double click on the mp3, one would be very pleasantly surprised. For, from the very first minute of the opening track, Machine Messiah, it is clear that Yes has moved back towards their more 'progressive' sounds. The guitars and bass and drums just sound excellent. And they rock nice and hard.

Having Geoffrey Downes instead of Rick Wakeman probably caused fans some concern, but he was the bands fourth keyboardist (with Tony Kaye and Patrick Moraz each having left their stamp on the band in its past), and Yes had proven by this point that they were somewhat keyboardist-agnostic. No, the biggest concern was the absence of Jon Anderson, who, with Chris Squire, was one of only two remaining band members left. By this album, Chris was the only member of Yes who had been around since the beginning.

As such, Trevor Horn had high expectations to meet. He meets them in the same way that every new member of Yes has done so so far - by integrating his own take into the bands music. For sure, he does attempt to sing on a higher register, like Jon Anderson did (and I have a hard time imagining what Yes would sound like with a singer who didn't), but there is something distinctly Trevor about his vocals, and in the context of this album, it works.

So, line-up changes aside, how does the album play? This is, in my mind, the most successful marriage of Yes' classic sound and New Wave. It was inevitable, given the time period and the inclusion of the Buggles, that some New Wave sound would creep into this album, but it does so with much success. Songs like "Run Through the Light" and "Into the Lens" both sound distinctly Yes-like, despite the fact that they also fit well in the '80s time period. The band succeeded in this department more than they would in their other '80s albums.

Unfortunately, the songs here are not quite as strong as on Yes' prior albums. Tempus Fugit and Machine Messiah are definitely the standouts here. Honourable mention must be given to Does it Really Happen?, which has some funky stuff going on and is perhaps the catchiest track of the album.

I consider myself lucky that I was able to hear this album before I knew anything about Yes' lineup. It was actually the third Yes album I heard, after 90125 and Relayer, and it fit nicely between the two. For my non-proggified ears, it was much easier to digest than Relayer had been, but so much more than 90125 had been, so I spent a lot of time spinning this disc.

Overall, this album is better than Tormato but worse than anything else Yes had done since The Yes Album. It would also be the best thing they would release for 15 years.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars On Drama, Yes has recovered from their Tormato. However I find this to be an album that is difficult to enjoy, mostly because of the inadequate singing. I don't particularly miss Jon Anderson, but Trevor Horn's and specifically Squire's less remarkable voices are distracting. They also show a limited talent for creating really memorable melodies and harmonies. The sound of the band is slightly modernized, a bit darker and tighter then usual and marks a move to the sound of 90125, but the music is decidedly more traditionally progressive.

Machine Messiah opens with a warlike march, heavy on bass and guitars and keyboards in typical Yes fashion. Geoff Downes proves himself to be an adequate keyboard man for Yes, certainly compared to how Wakeman butchered Tormato. Machine Messiah is an interesting song but suffers from a number of poor vocal lines.

White Car is a nice little ditty that opens up for the next prog epic Does It Really Happen. That man Squire sure knows how to spin a bass guitar riff, the main theme is simply brilliant, catchy and groovy. The vocal lines are awkward again, while the chorus grooves and the middle part is anthemic, the verses are grating at best.

Into the Lense is another song that tempts us with lots of potential, but apart from some splendid instrumental sections, the vocals remain too predictable. After the disappointing track Run Through the Light, the album ends in style with Tempus Fugit. I think this song would have been very suited for Sting's voice. Yes meets Police.

With a bit more feel for vocal melodies and harmonies, material like Machine Messiah, Does It Really Happen and Into the Lens could have turned out to be classic Yes, and this album could certainly have become a general favourite amongst prog audiences. 3.5 stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Drama" is the 10th full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Yes. The album was released through Atlantic Records in August 1980.

A couple of major lineup changes had taken place since the ill-received "Tormato (1978)" album as both lead vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboard player Rick Wakeman left the band in 1979 after some not so successful sessions that were meant to have become Yes next album. New faces in the lineup are ex-The Buggles members Trevor Horn on lead vocals and Geoff Downes on keyboards. Iīm sure the fans must have been in shock when they heard of this new constellation but any fears of how the impact of the inclusion of two pop musicians in the lineup would have on Yes music turned out unfounded as "Drama" is widely considered a great Yes album with the "right" trademark Yes sound.

The album opens with the impressive "Machine Messiah". Now thatīs what I call a progressive rock song. Great technical playing, multible parts and innovative songwriting. For fans of an act like Dream Theater this is simply mandatory listening. This is what your heroes listened to when they were kids. The same can be said about both "Does It Really Happen?" and especially "Into the Lens". "Tempus Fugit" is also an excellent technical and progressive rock track. The short "White Car" track works well as an atmospheric variation. The only song Iīm not too fond of is "Run Through the Light". Itīs by no means a bad song or anything like that but itīs just the least interesting track here with itīs more easily accessible sound.

The musicianship is as always outstanding. Great performances all around. New vocalist Trevor Horn has a pretty strong voice not too far removed from the distinct vocal style of Jon Anderson, so Jon Andersonīs absence from the album isnīt a problem. The rythm section which consists of bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White needs a special mention here as they are on fire. Simply outstanding playing and great innovative ideas. Guitarist Steve Howe plays much more structured on "Drama" compared to his more loose style of playing on earlier albums. I think it suits the music well on this album. New keyboard player Geoff Downes does a great job. I enjoy Rick Wakemanīs playing on earlier albums by Yes but he isnīt missed here.

The tight and dark production on the album suits the music perfectly.

"Drama" is an excellent progressive rock album by Yes and considering that it was released in 1980 which was generally not a friendly year for progressive rock itīs actually quite the achivement IMO. A 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

Review by JLocke
4 stars As much as I hate to admit it (especially in light of recent Yes events), Jon Anderson's departure during this era of the band's career was shockingly the best thing for the band. While Anderson had continued to become more and more pretentious and out of his mind when it came to song composition, lyrics and concepts, the rest of the band began to break away. After the slight disappointment that was Tormato, Anderson, along with keyboardist Rick Wakeman, decided to leave the band. For Wakeman, this was not his first (or even his last) time departing from the dysfunctional monster that is Yes, however nobody thought that the band could survive without their mastermind. Make no mistake . . . in many ways, Jon Anderson IS Yes, and I certainly have great disrespect for the band for how they are currently treating him (the year is 2010 as of this writing), but despite all of that, I cannot deny that Drama, Anderson-less or not, is one of Yes' most magical albums.

For some reason, everything that led to this record's inception happened at the right time, and it worked out. Chris Squire had this batty idea to bring in the Pop group called 'Buggles' to fill the musical and creative void left by the departure of two of the band's key figures. Surely this was madness. The only thing these new guys had been successful at in terms of their own music prior to this experiment was getting their song to be the first video played on MTV. ''Video Killed the Radio Star'' is a far cry from ''Gates of Delerium'', I think you'll agree. And yet, what resulted from this extremely odd pairing turned out to be a bright light in the hazy darkness that was the band's output around this time. The previous album hadn't been all that well received, and the Rabin-era records to follow would make some of the most drastic changes Yes ever saw. So how can it be that this album, caught in between these two lesser- enjoyed eras, is so amazing? And without the band's original frontman and songwriter to boot? I have no idea, but believe me . . . it is.

''Machine Messiah'' is one of Yes' darkest and most mature works, in my opinion. Apart from the majority of content on Relayer, I don't know of any other material the band has done that matches the intensity of this. The opening riff is distorted, heavy and borders on Metal, not kidding. However, the lighter, more melodic sound Yes got famous for is also mixed in here and there. The changes between the dreary and the hopeful attitudes are pulled off very successfully, and I'm telling you, this is one of the most Progressive songs in the band's catalogue. It goes in every direction, is full of technically impressive musical changes that keeps the listener on their toes. Trevor Horn and Chris Squire harmonize incredibly well, and the moments when Horn is heard singing solo for the first time, it is clear that he has what it takes to take on this type of music vocally. No, he's not quite as good at it as Jon Anderson, but he's a damn good mimic, and considering how Anderson's style isn't all that easy to replicate, my hat goes off to Trevor Horn for even attempting it. The fact that he goes beyond merely attempting and actually succeeds as the vocalist is even better.

At 5:46, the song takes a dramatic turn, featuring some truly stirring guitar chords that are much more in line with Pink Floyd than anything on the Yes front up until this point, but again, the guys truly left no stone unturned when it came to musical style, and yet never once does this album lose direction, and this song in particular shows just how good the band was at writing and performing darker music. It actually makes their catalogue all the more diverse and interesting for it. And when the vocal harmonies come in at this point, it moves me every time. I honestly am baffled by it, but this song is one of my favorite Yes pieces, and I'm one of the biggest Jon Anderson fans you're likely to find. His absence isn't felt at all, and I blow my own mind in saying that, but that's just how it is. Some nice recapitulation of the earlier moments and a final reprise of the song's strongest section, and it ends, very much holding my attention and wetting my appetite for what may come next.

''White Car'', not even a minute-and-a-half long, is the first to truly showcase Trevor Horn's vocal ability, and despite its insanely short length, is not a bad track in the least. It's just the right length and serves the music well.

''Does It Really Happen?''. Wow, what a dynamic bass line from Chris Squire! The rest of the ensemble breaks in soon enough, and after a small breakdown, the first truly memorable riff comes in around forty seconds in. By a minute in, however, this track pulls back the veil and reveals what it really is: an eighties pop song wrapped heavily in Prog trappings. Nothing at all wrong with that, but it is the most metallic-sounding song on the record. For some, that might be too wide of a departure from the classic Yes sound, but for people who only like good music, trademark style be damned, then you'll still like this one. However, it IS probably one of the lesser tracks on Drama, all things considered.

''Into the Lens''. Originally a track that Geoff Downes had lying around called ''I Am A Camera'' it doesn't really take off until a little over a minute in, but it surely does shine once given a chance to develop a bit. This is really not traditional Yes at all, but it is still very progressive and ever-changing. I think I haven't really mentioned Geoff Downes' abilites yet. Let me just say, the man is brilliant. Probably my second-favorite 'alternate' keys man the band had, just behind Patrick Moraz. Downes is an amazing player, and he brought a lot of new technology and he really steals the show so often on this record, it's mind-blowing. This song in particular, though. benefits greatly from the synthesized soundscapes and melody lines from Mr. Downes. 3:20 brings some truly remarkable vocal melodies into the picture, and then only twenty seconds later, the band is frantically chugging forward into borderline Metal territory again. As I mentioned earlier, despite this constant weaving in and out of various musical territory, the songs never lose their way, and are always brilliantly written and concisely performed. This is another great song, and is the second-longest song on Drama. Much like the album's opener, it's got everything-- time signature switch-ups, amazingly well-executed merging of genres and a whole lot of impressive playing.

''Run Through the Light'' starts things off wonderfully again. Nice synth-y atmosphere, clean guitar melodies and Trevor Horn singing what is quite possibly the most beautiful melody on the whole record. This album as a whole is just as top-notch as the two largest tracks, and in some ways, I find myself anxiously awaiting this song to arrive whenever I spin this album. It is certainly a more modern song, but is probably the best example of 70s-meets-80s Drama has to offer. It just also happens to be really damn good.

''Tempus Fugit'' is most likely the most well-known track off of this record. It's quite aggressive and effects-heavy, especially for Yes music, but oh wow, how catchy and fun! Chris Squire is playing his Bass through a flanger, and it gives his bass lines a very unique, spacey quality. As far as I know, he still incorporates his bass lines from this song into his live version of ''The Fish'', but I could be wrong. Anyway, it's a great, punchy way to end an amazing (if more than a little unlikely) Yes recording. This is probably my second-favorite song, with ''Machine Messiah'' being my first.

A truly remarkable effort that is just as enjoyable to listen to as anything out of the classic Yes era, at least to my ears. Even though Jon Anderson is Yes to me in so many ways, it's undeniable that Dram, for whatever reason, is one the band's best studio efforts. And I mean, this thing impresses on all fronts; lyrics, melody, composition, performance, and Roger Dean even came back to paint yet another gorgeous album cover. So even though this is a bit of a controversial release for the Jon Anderson diehards (of which I consider myself to be one of them), I still hold it as one of the strongest Yes works. By all accounts, it shouldn't be; the ingredients are all wrong. And yet, here I sit, giving Drama a four star review. What a surprising world we live in, aye?

Surprisingly happy listening.

Review by thehallway
4 stars 'Pleasantly surprised' is 90% of people's response to this album. And when you play the opening epic 'Machine Messiah' for the first time, it's easy to see why. The introduction would have been suitably shocking for Yes in 1980. Howe and Squire deliver some heavy riffing that initially sounds more Floyd or Zeppelin than Yes. Then, making the audience's jaws drop even further, the vocals come in. After the first sentence, a rewind is required to make sure it isn't Jon Anderson singing, because Trevor Horn voice sounds incredibly close to his. The track then launches itself into a fast-paced progressive workout that becomes increasingly Yes-like. After 10 minutes, you feel guilty that you dismissed the line-up before hearing the album. It delivers everything a prog-head could want, something that Yes fans definately wouldn't have anticipated after their favourite two members have left the band and been replaced by a pair of electro pop noodlers.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album fails to match or maintain the 'pleasant surprise' of it's opening track. For the remainder of side 1, the influence of The Buggles becomes more apparent, resulting in two throw-away tracks. 'Into the Lens' is better (probably more input from the Yes-men, although I don't want to make assumptions) but occasionally lacks energy and is structurally unsure of itself; the frequent pauses and changes in direction make for a sloppy progressiveness that unlike 'Machine Messiah', DOESN'T bring back memories of 'Fragile' et al. After some more 80's Buggle-filler, the album ends with another 'pleasant surprise'. 'Tempus Fugit' is energetic and catchy, yet interesting and almost written like a "mini prog epic". The self-referential cries of "Yes!" add to the fun.

So Drama isn't as 'dramatic' as some Anderson purists make out. It is nice, certainly better than people expected it to be (perhaps in awareness of this, the band called back Roger Dean to paint the cover), but only the first song manages to wow me. Wisely, Howe's guitar and Squire's bass are punched to the forefront a bit (I don't care much for the keyboard work of Geoff Downes; he delivers what is required of him but never goes beyond this) and the sometimes struggling vocals of Horn are backed up with Chris' harmonies. If you were expecting [&*!#], then as I said, this album is a 'pleasant surprise'. But if you were expecting 'Drama', then it's a bit of an anticlimax.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Drama from Yes released in 1980 is a very big inprovement over Tormato, who was for me a good album but less intristing then before. This early '80's album is one of the best band ever done, even for some purists the Yes is no Yes without Anderson. They took Geoff Downes from The Buggles, for the vocal duties and to me was a shock in good way, he seams to be almost alike with Anderson in tone of voice. He done a very good prestation here , not to mention that the rest of the musicians are in top form. The album sounds fresh , with very strong ideas, captivating bass lines, excellent guitar parts and above all a solid musicianship and strong arranmgements. To me this is among my fav Yes albums ever, not a single weak moment here as many pretend to be. Every single piece is a winner with catchy and complicated progressive elements, strong vocal, what else a very solid album all the way. Excellent release, better then many of the albums from that period, from progressive rock zone of course. 4 stars easely, among the best they ever done, with a lot to offer, and one of my fav albums aswell.Recommended

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I really like just a few Yes albums (mostly from their classic period), so I can't count myself as band's fan. Possibly it helps in case with "Drama" - I don't care too much who is vocalist on this album, and about line-up as well.

More important for me is I really like this music! Opener " Machine Messiah" is one between some Yes best song ever. Compositions are great again, Trevor's vocals are quite similar to Anderson's, and I can't feel problem with that.

Musically (including vocals) this album really continues classic Yes evolution, and some more modern keyboards sound only gave another chance to the band to find their place in musical scene of 80-s. But at the same time band on this album very successfully balances on the ground of progressive rock, almost never crossing the border with synth-pop, etc. And it is serious experience, we all perfectly know how later line-ups will bring band into electronic pop mud very soon.

Even if absolutely different from classic line-up, this band's album is for me still one of the last their great album, and the evidence they could have much better future as well.

Very recommended release for every fans of best Yes works and just lovers of symphonic prog of high quality.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Yes met the new decade with another lineup change and a strong studio album release. I guess that if someone would predict that Yes members would collaborate with a New Wave band, fans would have dismissed that though completely. But here we are 25 years later acknowledging that same fact!

The Buggles, consisting of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, had just release their hit record The Age Of Plastic and it only took the new Yes-lineup a few month to assemble and release a new album. The creativity was definitely on top with Drama, even though a few of The Buggles-outtakes did help along the way. Of course, this album can't be discussed without acknowledging the fact of Jon Anderson's absence from the lineup. This and the overall sound of Drama makes it difficult for me to consider it a continuation of the classic Yes sound, but that minor concern doesn't make this album any less enjoyable!

Geoff Downes dominates the sound of this release with his ultra-modern keyboard sound and so Chris Squire and Steve Howe had to take on supporting positions for a change. I always liked Machine Messiah and consider it one of the best compositions ever recorded, even though I hesitate calling it a Yes classic, especially since the composition has not been performed once Anderson rejoined the band. Tempus Fugit is another great show stopper that once again showed that the great skill of Chris Squire's arrangements. Finally we also have Into The Lens, which I previously heard in its original form off The Buggles second record Adventures In Modern Recording. There it was called I Am A Camera and even though it did catch my attention there, I still have to admit the superiority of this symphonic take.

Drama might be considered a side note in the history of this band, but it hardly makes it any less enjoyable. As I previously mentioned, Yes was always a band that managed to successfully recruit new talent to the band and this album only further proves this point. A great record, well worth exploring!

***** star songs: Machine Messiah (10:27) Tempus Fugit (5:14)

**** star songs: White Car (1:21) Does It Really Happen? (6:34) Into The Lens (8:31)

*** star songs: Run Through The Light (4:39)

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars As everyone else says, "This is probably one of Yes's most underrated albums." The addition of New Waver's THE BUGGLES's Geoffrey Downes and Trevor Horn gives the band a transfusion of new life (as well as a pre-written song in "Into the Lens"). The vocal harmonies have never been better. Steve Howe has never been better. The band's power and pace is present from the album's opening measures of "Machine Messiah". Yes, songs like "Man in a White Car," "Run Through the Light," and the New Wave-y, straightforward "Does It Really Happen?" are oddities for Yes, but they are experiments that prove offsetting for the other heavier songs. Plus, they are previews of the ASIA to come. "Machine Messiah" (9/10), the awesome "Tempus Fugit" (9/10) and "Into the Lens" (9/10) are Yes classics--songs for the ages.

4 stars. Still Yes and still excellent addition to any prog lovers music collection.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars After the disappointment of "Tormato", it seemed that Yes was headed in the same direction as their contemporaries, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Genesis (to name the most prominent of the proggers who watered down their sound in a grasp for relevance in an industry that had suddenly turned against artistry). Then came the news that Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman had left, and Yes had filled their posts with The Buggles, a new wave duo with one successful album. I feared for the worst.

But my loyalty to Yes outweighed my horror, and I purchased "Drama" shortly after it's release. What a surprise! It wasn't bad. It was actually much more proggy than new wavy. How did the record company executives allow this?

Chris Squire and Steve Howe sounded rejuvenated. They both played their axes on this album with power and joy. And while Geoff Downes is no Rick Wakeman by any means, he does a fine job of keeping up in some energetic and complex arrangements. Trevor Horn, while having a high pitched enough voice to still make the songs sound like Yes, seems to strain at times. But his voice has a tone more like Squire and Howe's voices, and makes the harmonies blend better than on any previous Yes album.

The only really down point (but not really terrible) is Run Through The Light, where Squire moves to piano, and allows Horn to play fretless bass. While Horn is okay as a bass player, his style is much more mundane than Squire's.

It would have been interesting to hear this group continue, but it wasn't to be.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars Thinking to a Yes album without Jon Anderson is very difficult, but I have to admit that Trevor Horn's voice is very similar and being he backed by the familiar voice of Chris Squire, I don't feel Jon's absence as I could have expected.

Wakeman is missing, too, but also in his case Geoff Downes doesn't sound so different, just not so fast.

"The Machine Messiah" is an unusual track. It seems a Genesis song played by Yes, even with Howe playing as usual.

"White Car" is a short song and the one on which the change in the lineup is more evident, as it sounds like a Camel song and the voice seems that of Colin Bass.

The album's highlight is "Does It Really Happen?". It's a pop song from the 80s but at the same time is probably the most progressive moment of the album. This song alone is already a good reason to buy this album.

"Into The Lens" is for me the weakest moment. Not absolutely bad, simply I don't like it. Also this song has some of Genesis. I'm not a Genesis fan, so this is not a good thing for me. Jon Anderson has been often criticized for his lyrics. What's good in "I am a camera, camera camera" ?

"Run Through The Light" is a great song, instead. I'm one of those who liked 90125 and this song is very closer to the style used on that album with the difference in the guitar. Howe and Rabin are not the same guitarist and even if they have played live each other's stuff during the years, they can't be confused.

"Tempus Fugit" is the other pop-rock song of the album. As well as Does it really Happen this is a song that has a great impact when played live.

This is not an essential album, but even with the dramatic lineup change is absolutely not bad and thanks to the two highlights is recognizable as a YES album.

three stars.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So this is the 80s? Welcome!

Well, that decade of the 80s has been criticized by several prog rockers (I can count as one of them) because of the tendency of some extraordinary bands to the pop side of music, however, there are a lot of albums that maintained the same progressive, challenging and interesting line, which should be praised. One of those albums is this great one called "Drama".

Sometimes changes aren't that bad, I say this because after the not so good "Tormato", the great Rick Wakeman left (again) the band, but most important, Jon Anderson decided not to appear here, it was the first and last time he did not sing in a Yes album, which is actually an odd thing. But guess what, I actually did not miss him, in fact, that line-up and the change in the musical direction helped the band to re-gain some of the disappointed fans, and actually to get new ones.

Trevor Horn on vocals and Geoff Downes on keys replaced the previous mentioned, and did a great job. Drama is composed of six great tracks, well maybe "White Car" is the only weak thing here but it only lasts one minute and a half. But the other five songs are pretty memorable, tracks that any Yes fan would appreciate, and maybe love.

After compositions such as "Don't Kill the Whale" or "Madrigal", one can thank the band for giving us awesome pieces such as "Machine Messiah", "Into the Lens" or "Tempus Fugit", this last one is particularly wonderful, and one of my personal top Yes songs ever, I love the bass and all the musical offer.

The complexity, odd time changes and rhythms, the different colors, textures and nuances can be appreciated in this album, so please buy it, pay attention to it and recognize that it is really good, don't pre-judge just for being an 80s album or because Jon is not here, no, better get it and I assure you will not regret.

Drama was a pretty nice surprise, and an album that I truly like. My final grade will be four stars. Recommendable for Yes fans and progressive music lovers.

Enjoy it!

Review by colorofmoney91
3 stars Drama marks the entrance of a new vocalist for Yes, Trevor Horn. The change isn't really all that significant or noticeable though, as the vocals are still in the Jon Anderson style. The music here is roughly the same as on Relayer but with more coherence, but all together better and more interesting than Tormato.

Every time I listen to this album, I am never able to pick out any stand out moments. For Yes, this is bad. Usually on Yes albums there are at least some catchy melodies, but everything here is entirely unmemorable. The music flows well enough, but the writing seems to be trying too hard to appeal to both progressive rock fans and pop fans; something Yes would executer far better on future albums. The only stand out track is "Tempus Fugit" which features some of Chris Squire's most solid bass playing. Other than that, I'd say that this album can be skipped without missing much.

Review by stefro
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
Review by Warthur
5 stars Now that Yes have released an album with Benoit David on lead vocals, perhaps it's a good idea to give Drama another look. After all, before Fly From Here it rather stuck out as being the sole Yes album not to feature Jon Anderson - now, it looks like Yes albums without Jon are not going to be quite so unusual.

As a matter of fact, Trevor Horn's singing on this Yes incarnation owes a lot to Jon's delivery, and is a credible replacement for his. And the musical fruits of this brief union with the Buggles are outright intriguing - a very plausible extrapolation of Yes' style into the 1980s, with modern synthesisers and production values adding an intriguing sheen which serves material such as Machine Messiah well.

Whilst some of the songs rely a bit too much on repeating motifs and outstay their welcome a bit at first listen - I'm thinking in particular of Into the Lens and Tempus Fugit - over time I have found that the album grows with repeated listens, with a particular aesthetic and vision excellently developed.

Overall, the album represents a fascinating and potentially new direction for the Yes sound which unfortunately was not followed due to the album's commercial failure. Chris Squire deserves particular credit for his bass work, which is as sophisticated as always, whilst Steve Howe wheels out some of his heaviest and most aggressive guitar playing this time around.

Review by Menswear
4 stars Wake up and smell the coffee.

I like diddly-like this album, it's entertaining, it's rocking at the right places and the keyboard textures are good. Hey, Trevor Horn fooled me alright with his voice (especially in the track Run through the Light) and Downes is more than qualified to wear Wakeman's shoes. This had to be a great lifting for the late 70's Yes, with the ego wars leading the band to the looney bin. So what's the freaking fuss about then?

Yes suffers of the same syndrome that Kiss, Styx, Genesis or Ultravox suffered: the original line-up desease. Who cares if Anderson is not there? Many do. I would not personnally see Geddy Lee leaving and having Jusin Hawkins singing 2112 (although I'm super interested to hear what it could be!). Benoit David showed the world how it's done with dignity and grace, so why not Horn? I'm sad that the critics drawed me away from this decent record for so long, claiming 'it's not what it used to be' blah blah blah.

Pish Posh. If you like Yes you will find lots of goodies inside Drama, even more than some other Yes attempts! The vocals are top of the line, the keys are great, the songs are catchy. I'm sold.

What is this?! Star Trek? We have people quarelling who's better? Kirk or Picard?! Anderson or Horn?

Why not Bosco or Ovaltine?

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yes were a different beast with the absence of Jon Anderson but they survived like any great band even without Jon's enigmatic presence. Trevor Horn may not be as accomplished and powerful as Jon but he certainly gives it his all on "Drama". The classy Chris Squire is here on pulsating bass, and then there is indispensable guitar virtuoso Steve Howe. Drummer Alan White is always wonderful and finally the keyboardist is Geoff Downes. The sound is markedly different with all these lineup changes and as a result it occasionally falls flat. There are still some incredible songs on the album that save it, notably the astonishing 'Machine Messiah', a 10 and a half minute romp with triumphant musicianship and infectious melodies. I first heard this on the brilliant compilation "Yes In A Word" and I have loved it ever since. The melodies and guitar motifs are dark and heavy with some colossal drumming patterns. The bass is perfect here and the harmonies are glorious. It is an outstanding track and definitely the main reason to get "Drama".

The other track on the comp from "Drama" is 'Tempus Fugit' and to be honest they are really the only masterful tracks on offer. Admittedly the album was better than I expected with the absence of the classic members Jon and Rick, so it was a delightful experience to hear this finally after all these years. I had put off getting this for all these reasons. The unknown seldom heard songs on this were the real concern for me so here we go; listening to 'new' Yes.

'White Car' is just a 1:21 running time of music sounding like some classical music fanfare. A genuine throwaway and feels more like a transition. 'Does It Really Happen?' has a fabulous bassline driving it, and I can enjoy the unusual time sig that seems to come in too soon. This one has a proggy rock beat and the vocals are very good, especially the harmonies.

'Into the Lens' is the one that sounds like The Buggles 'I am a Camera' and in fact is virtually the same. It is okay but is a product of the 80s, in the melodies and commercial sound. The instrumental break is excellent, especially Howe's guitar licks, and makes this a worthwhile track to indulge in. 'Run Through the Light' is one I had not heard anywhere but I enjoyed 'new' Yes as I have heard just about everything else Yes have done. The synths in the opening are nice, the reverberated vocals work well, and this is actually an endearing song. Howe has a field day on guitar and the keys are well executed. It is not the greatest song but this still held my interest.

'Tempus Fugit; I always loved from the compilation so it was great to hear this again. It has a really good keyboard soaked intro and such a massive bassline. The musicianship is A class on this track. So that is the original album out of the way and it is not even half as bad as I had heard it was by the Yes aficionados.

Other tracks on the deluxe version include Into The Lens (I am a camera) (single version), Run Through The Light (single version), Have We Really Got To Go Through This, Song No.4 (Satellite), Tempus Fugit (tracking session), White Car (tracking session). These are all decent songs though obvious outtakes and curios as most bonus tracks tend to be. No complaint as its always great t hear these rarities. However the next few songs are of more interest with the lineup of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, Alan White and Steve Howe. The songs include Dancing Through The Light, Golden Age, In The Tower, and Friend Of A Friend. Dancing Through The Light has a ton of keyboard plink plonks and some really terrible production on the vocals that repeat themselves ad infinitum. Golden Age is trumpeting keys and a pumping rhythm and again thin production on the vox, though it;s nice to hear Jon Anderson. In The Tower has a cool Wakeman opening, beautiful vocals of Anderson, but not very memorable. Friend Of A Friend is Anderson and a lot of squiggly keyboard on a straight 4/4 beat in the verses. Not a bad track but needs more oomph in the production as all these tracks do.

Overall "Drama" is actually a decent album, not brilliant by any standards, but nevertheless worth pursuing. It could have been better but this is proggier than some of the other Yes albums to follow. It is much better than "Big Generator", "Tormato" or "Union", and worth a listen to the deluxe version for sure.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Drama" - Yes (51/100)

I hate Drama. I mean, I've just never been able to understand the praise around it. It's not even necessarily because Yes' longtime frontman Jon Anderson was in absentia for this one, though I suspect it may have something to do with it. Even if 'hate' might be a tad too strong of a word to describe my disdain towards their tenth album, it's been made clear to me many times that my view is a rare one, with some of Yes' fans going as far as to call it one of their brightest moments. Indeed, Drama may have corrected many of the issues suffered on the tumultuous Tormato and even spawned a pair of great tunes in the process, but so much of the magic I loved up to this point from Yes (Yes, even including Tormato) seems to be lost here. What we're left with is the semblance of a potentially great record; "Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit" have rightfully gone down in history as two of Yes' better pieces, but everything in between falls miles short of expectations. For all of the things that the band does right on Drama, so much more gets lost along the way.

Especially in the months prior to the album's release, the band and fans were left with a question: could Yes exist without the immortal voice of Jon Anderson? The band had been through a number of lineup changes in the past, but so much of the band's atmosphere and personality came through in his voice, equal parts angelic, innocent and lively. Bringing in a little known New Wave pair called the Buggles (who enjoyed a bit of success with their 1980 debut The Age of Plastic) seems like a big risk to have taken, even now. Regardless, the replacement for Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman (Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes, respectively) made for a decent fit. Horn manages to fill the void left by Anderson well enough; his performance here falls short in virtually every respect when compared to Anderson, but he goes through the motions well enough and without a personality of his own, very much like a stand-in. I've never cared much for Rick Wakeman to begin with, so it's understandable I'd feel more warmly towards Geoff Downes' performance here, who takes a decidedly less egotistical approach than Wakeman did on albums past. It's a nice change of pace, and works well with the album's new style.

It's not the lineup changes or musicianship that's made Drama a failure in my eyes; it's ultimately the songwriting that kills it for me. After Tormato, it was clear there was no going back for Yes to the formula of the glory days. As if Yes were having a crisis of identity, Drama seems to split off down two roads, one echoing their sophisticated prog rock legacy, the other bowing to prevalent New Wave and AOR pop trends. Sure enough, it's the former approach ("Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit") that hopes to save the album. The two tracks have been much talked about, and they always seem to be the pieces lovers of the album point to when attesting to its greatness. Sure enough, I cannot deny that both are great, and both better than anything heard on Tormato- an album I enjoyed more on the whole. "Machine Messiah" feels cinematic in its epic scope and atmosphere, introducing the album and new members on the best foot. I like "Tempus Fugit" even more, which- while not an epic in length- certainly rivals "Machine Messiah" in ambition and sophistication. Chris Squire's bass lines on "Tempus Fugit" are some of the most energetic he's ever played, and Trevor Horn's straight- laced vocal approach even seems to work here.

On the other hand, there are the other four tracks which take the other road, and it's in the area between the start and finish where Drama really suffers. Make no mistake, I have no problem with a more pop-oriented sound, and I even think it could have been great for Yes to turn their style on its side. The pitiful afterthought "White Car" sounds like it's the quirky theme song to a bad 90's shot-on-studio sitcom. "Does It Really Happen?" is sublimely dull, and "Run Through the Light" is equally so, depending almost entirely on melodies and soft, bland instrumentation to get their points across. Only "Into the Lens" feels engaging musically, and even then it's squandered by its sterile sense of style and weak lyrics (more on that later). As great as "Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit" undoubtedly are, two hits and four misses doesn't add up to being a good album, much less a great one. I feel like the dull, kitschy 80's aesthetic they picked up here is a grim foreshadowing for generally weak career Yes would have as a pop act following 90125.

Although Jon Anderson's most shining contribution to Yes was his incredible and distinctive voice, on Drama I'm also left feeling the absence of his lyrics. Though I usually got the feeling Jon was a little too stuck in his own head when writing lyrics, his best stuff could never be criticized for lacking poetic depth or an interpretive nature. While most times it's easy to disregard mediocre lyric writing in the face of the music itself, the lyrics on Drama are so shallow and hokey that it becomes impossible to ignore them. "Run Through the Light" has a promising first verse, but the chorus resorts to heavy-handed rhymes that would make Dr. Seuss groan and choke: "Run through the light / everything is alright . . . run through the light of night." Even worse is "Into the Lens", where Trevor Horn proudly attests to his identity as a creator of photographs: "I am a camera, camera camera. I am a camera [ad nauseam]." One friend defended this stale cheese with the argument that it was all metaphorical. No doubt it is intended as such, but I'd almost prefer Yes to have been writing these lyrics literally. "Into the Lens" doesn't fare so well as a poetic reflection on memory, and would have undoubtedly been more enjoyable had it been about a lovesick sentient camera. Not surprisingly, "Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit" are both spared from the worst of the lyrical nonsense, as both pieces get too involved in the instrumentation to get bogged down by the lyrics. Admittedly, lyrics are rarely a highlighted quality in progressive rock, but with so much of the album's style riding on vocal melodies, the lyrical weakness is impossible to ignore.

On a more positive note, the quality of recording and production here has been vastly improved from the compressed Tormato, and just might be the thickest and brightest-sounding package Yes ever had in their progressive rock period. Most likely due to the induction of the New-Wavey Buggles and their modern, concise approach to recording, Yes really sound like they were brought into the next decade on Drama; the basslines are thicker, the drums fuller-sounding, the guitars and vocals everclearer. At the end of the day, I still think I prefer the more organic or 'vintage' style of production heard in the band's classic repertoire, but the way they recorded Drama goes a long way to set it apart as a 'new' era for the band. As fans of the band should know, this so-called era wouldn't last a year before they finally broke up (regrouping the year after that with "90215"). For better or worse, in the context of the band's career and discography, Drama seems to exist in a transitory period all its own.

Rewind back two years before Drama to 1978: Tormato wasn't a great album; it had issues aplenty, including a faded chemistry amongst band members. By all means, it was the beginning of the end for Yes, but even then, there were plenty of interesting, surprising moments on the album; in a word, it felt spontaneous, wild even! Drama certainly solved many of the more objective issues its predecessor was faced with, but it's somehow resulted in an album that's far less consistently engaging and interesting than before. In smoothing out the rough areas, Yes have created something sterile, occasionally incredible but bland on the whole. I'm only left to wonder what sort of album Yes would have made had Wakeman and Anderson stayed with them for this one. "Machine Messiah" and "Tempus Fugit" aside, Yes' attempt to renovate themselves feels empty.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars I can't believe I haven't reviewed this yet.

Okay, so all the Yes fans know that this is Yes without Jon Anderson. Is that even possible? Damn right it is. I am a huge Yes fan and love and appreciate all of their masterpieces. Yet it astounds me that most people don't consider this a masterpiece, even without Jon Anderson. Honestly, I hardly miss him in this album (though I do miss him now, big time, on the last two albums that were released....ugh!). Drama, however, is amazing and to me it always will be. The band was just as tight as ever, the music is still very progressive and inventive. It's true that a harder edge exists in various places, but that is okay because this album does not demean or insult anything about Yes that had been released earlier. That could not be said about "Tormato" and that was when Jon was still singing with the band. "Drama" was a return to excellence.

"Machine Messiah" is a hard track, with surprisingly loud guitar passages, but with enough inventiveness to let you know that this line-up meant business and they knew what they were doing. The other spotlighted track is "Into the Lens" which even despite it's repeated "I am a camera" lyrics is progressiveness at it's finest. All the tracks on this album are reminiscent of the Yes of the past, maybe slightly more accessible than "Close to the Edge" or "Relayer", but definitely more progressive than anything else in existence at the time.

I have heard this album millions of times and it never wears out for me. All of the best elements of Yes are still there, dynamics, excellent orchestration, challenging music, sound engineering, the best musicianship with driving and innovative bass, amazing percussion and keyboards, timeless music that doesn't sound dated in the least. If the band had decided on a different name, it wouldn't surprise me if this album would have received better reviews. But I listen to it and consider it 100% Yes and still consider it one of their best. I can accept the changes here because the music did not suffer from it, same thing with King Crimson with all of their changes. They progressed with the band line-up changes.

I can preach to you all day about why I love this incarnation of Yes just as much as previous line- ups, but everyone has their own taste in music, I understand that. But I can't deny that this is a masterpiece of progressive music and that I love it. If you are staying away from this album because of what others have said about the change in the band, I invite you to listen and try to forget about any prejudices you might have formed from other opinions. If it helps, try to think of it as another band. Either way, give it a fair shake. Listen to the many textures, the themes, the progressive elements and see if you agree. If not, then at least you tried. If you do like it, then we are both happy.

Always a masterpiece for me. 5 stars because it is deserving of it.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars After the ho-hum response that divided YES fans on "Tormato," the pressures of being one of the biggest prog bands of the 70s had clearly taken its toll. The music was becoming more of a chore in keeping up with the current trends instead of making the music that inspired the band in the early 70s, so exit stage left both Jon Anderson AND Rick Wakeman (again). Ironically it was Anderson and Wakeman who were the most enthusiastic about making a new album after "Tormato" but when the creative juices failed to gel they split leaving the continuation of the band in question. I mean really. YES without Jon Anderson? Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White were having none of the band breaking up business and set out to figure out a way to keep it going. The ushering in of the 80s couldn't have been more different than a mere ten years earlier when progressive rock was just beginning to blossom. By this time heavy metal, disco and pop were in and even country was having a comeback.

As the YES destiny would have it, the remaining YES members serendipitously were recording in an adjacent studio of The Buggles members Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. The Buggles had become the cutting edge band in the new world of music of new wave and MTV and their famous track "Video Killed The Radio Star" was not only the very first video to ever appear on MTV but also hit #1 in the UK. Chris Squire happened to own their album, they all hit it off and the next thing everyone knew was a totally unforeseen new incarnation of YES. Ironically after two albums that eschewed the artistic album cover talents of Roger Dean, the new wave YES actually solicited his return to create an album cover for DRAMA, their 10th studio album. So Trevor Horn took up duties on vocals, a tall order indeed but despite not reaching the heights of the mighty Jon Anderson does a veritable mimicry that keeps the vocal ties to the past while allowing the music to go places no YES fan had ever anticipated.

Wow. What a trippy album this is. No, not trippy like whoa! this is so lysergic man! but trippy like whoa! this sounds like YES but it also sounds like lots of other things. This is one of those YES albums that really divides the fans. Some love it and some hate it. I happen to love it however i wholeheartedly concede that this does not come close to their streak of early 70s masterpieces which progressively rocked the world and changed the very fabric of space-time. This is different in every way. This is a one-shot exploration into a monstrous hybrid of old YES and contemporary influences with a healthy dose of 70s kickbacks as well. YES was humble in that it realized it needed to evolve into some new beast to be relevant. I totally admire this about them. For better or for worse, they were having none of the stuck-in-the-early-70s syndrome and found a new way to let their talents stand out.

The first track "Machine Messiah" actually reminds me of a slightly new wave version of Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine." It has acoustic guitars and lyrics that totally bring that classic to mind, however Geoff Downes keyboards take it to a new level. A great way to start the album. After a 10:27 intro track the contrast slaps you in the face with the 1:21 "White Car," which is a strange little interlude of synth and vocals. "Does It Really Happen" has some classic Squire bass lines going on with some new wave guitar of Steve Howe. While Steve does his best to be modern on the guitar duties, it's actually his excellent lead guitar fills that keep this grounded to the classic YES sound since they are ever so unique and unequivocally YES sounding. This track has a "Blue Collar Man" feel from Styx on the keyboards. "Into The Lens" is another lengthy track that could rightfully qualify as progressive new wave. Nice bass line and staccato backups. For the longest time i only remembered this song under my own invented titled "I Am A Camera." Great instrumentation here and one of my favorite tracks on the album. "Run Through The Light" sounds to me like a Yes meets The Police track. Doesn't quite sound like Sting and company but very much drifts into their territory of the day. "Tempus Fugit" is a Latin phrase that means "time flies." My next favorite track. I love the bass line, the guitar and the lyrics which includes the band's name as an integral part of the chorus.

Another testament to the brilliant members of YES comes alive on DRAMA. While the album cover is a little weak compared to their others, i really dig the music on this one. I get an excellent musical enjoyment experience out of it but because of the fact that they are trying so hard to copy other sounds rather than creating them, it does not deserve the highest of honors that their earlier material does. DRAMA displays a band which was searching for new avenues in musical exploration and despite not taking the lead in coming up with new musical ideas, YES does an EXCELLENT interpretation of current trends while adding just enough classic touches to please the open-minded fan of their glory days. This may not be better than the output from 1970-74 but this is actually better than "Tormato" and almost anything that came out from the 90s on. In short, DRAMA is a delight that will please anyone who loves both YES at its progressive rock heyday and the better prog pop phase of the band.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars Yes is one of my favorite bands. At their best the group is incomparable. At their worst, well, they're also incomparable. With that in mind, I held off exploring Drama for years because of two reasons: first, it came out in the '80's, at the tail end of what I consider to be band's weakest albums (Tormato), and second, it doesn't feature Anderson on vocals.

I am very very happy I finally decided listen to Drama. Not only are my assumptions wrong - it's actually one of the band's best albums. It is short, high-energy, precise, creative, and very artistic. There is more feeling and excitement on these all- too-brief 36 minutes of music that can be heard on the band's entire 90's catalog. Every song is a winner and probably belong on the Yes highlight reel. Considering it was made more than 30 years ago, it sounds very polished and modern. It's a great example of Yes blending melodic pop with their ambitious song structures and instrumentals. A lot of this is thanks to the keyboards of Downes, who fills the album with sound and yet somehow manages to feel understated and classy. This is a big change to most albums with Wakeman, whose overwhelming sound came across as comical and contrived.

Trevor Horn's vocals are outstanding. He sings in the same register as Anderson but with a somewhat more mellow feel. I love Anderson but feel that his presence isn't missed on this album. The lyrics may not be as wonderfully cryptic as the band's peak output, but they are still memorable.

Drama is probably one of the best prog albums of the '80's, at least by a "classic" prog-rock group, and definitely belongs in every Yes fans' library.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 76

"Drama" is the tenth studio album of Yes and was released in 1980. It's a unique and special album because it's the only studio album released by the group, until then, without their front man Jon Anderson. After "Tormato", while the group was working to release a new studio album, Anderson left the band due to creative and financial differences. Soon he was followed by Rick Wakeman who believed that Yes couldn't continue without the Anderson's voice. It seems that the really creative differences were because Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White didn't like the music composed by Anderson for the band. They thought that it was very light and soft for the Yes' standards. So, some of these songs appear on the Anderson's second solo studio album "Song of Seven" released in 1980. The fourth last bonus tracks on my 2004 remastered and expanded CD version belong to these songs. It seems that they were right.

The remaining band's members, Howe, Squire and White, had to "carry the piano alone". While working in the studio, they met Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn of The Buggles, who worked in a next door studio. The duo had recently released their first studio album "The Age Of Plastic", and they were having great commercial success because of their single "Video Killed The Radio Star". As they were great fans of Yes, the duo was invited to participate in some sessions to help them on vocals and keyboards, and soon they were invited to join them as band's members.

After the previous collaboration, partially failed, with Hipgnosis, Yes invited again Roger Dean to design the art cover for the album. Moreover, they invited again Eddie Offord who had co-produced the band in the early 70's. Eddie was one of the most famous producers of the time. However, the major part of the production work was handled by Horn.

"Drama" has six tracks. The writing credits of the songs are assigned by all band's members. The first track "Machine Messiah" is the lengthiest track on the album and represents the return of the band to longer songs. The lyrics are similar to Yes' usual style despite they're made by Horn. Still being one of the hardest rocking songs of the band and has sometimes characteristics of hard rock and heavy metal, the song keeps intact the main features of the Yes' sound. In my humble opinion, this is the best track on the album. The second track "White Car" is the smallest track on the album and is also the shortest Yes' song ever. It's a nice song with interesting and good Horn's vocals. The third track "Does It Really Happen?" is a very good track and where we can see more the influences of the two new elements. On this track, the main thing we can hear is the fantastic dynamic bass line from Squire. The end of the song is absolutely wonderful. The fourth track "Into The Lens" was originally written by Downes and Horn, and one year later, it would be part of the new The Buggles' studio album "Adventures In Modern Recording" released in 1981. It was called "I Am A Camera". This is, for me, one of the highest points of the album. It's a song with fantastic individual works of all band's members and is, in my humble opinion, the perfect way to catch a pop song and turn it in a progressive song. The fifth track "Run Through The Light" is also a very good track and is another song where we can see more the influences of the two new elements. It has a more modern musical structure and is probably a clever way of making music in the 80's. The sixth track "Tempus Fugit" is, in my humble opinion, the second best track on the album and is probably the best well known of it. This is the other heavy and aggressive song of the album and it has also a fantastic and dynamic bass line from Squire, which is unmistakable and very unique in the progressive rock.

Conclusion: All we can say is that everything had pointed that "Drama" would be a huge failure. The previous album "Tormato" had partly failed, and so, there was much pressure on the new Yes' album. The exit of Anderson and Wakeman, left the group orphan of two of their most influential members. If the group could survive without Wakeman was obvious, but it seemed to be impossible survive without the Anderson's voice. Finally, the participation of the two new band's members, without great musical experience, mostly POP musicians that coming from the new wave musical movement, it seems to be an impossible thing that can goes well. However, I must say that the test was largely exceeded and that "Drama" doesn't become on a really true drama. In my humble opinion, "Drama" is the best studio album without the classic line up, and I dare even say that "Drama" is somehow a better album than "Fragile", because is a more collective effort and is more uniform and balanced than "Fragile" is. "Drama" has the different but beautiful voice of Horn and has also the new keyboard sound of Downes. Both brought a new sound to Yes. By the other hand, Howe, Squire and White demonstrated fully that Yes could survive without their front man Anderson. They turn it in an essential work of one of the best progressive bands. It represents also one of the best progressive albums of the 80's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by patrickq
5 stars It's true: Yes founder, leader, and lead vocalist Jon Anderson is missing from this album, and yes, he's been replaced by the guy who sang "Video Killed the Radio Star." And yes, they sold concert tickets to fans who didn't know Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman were out of the band. And what emerged when this version of Yes broke up less than a year after they got together? Asia, a corporate, commercial entity which some prog fans view as emblematic of the worst decade of progressive rock - - the 1980s.

But it's also true that Drama dramatically reversed a downward spiral in the quality of Yes albums. Some cracks were evident in Going for the One, but with Tormato, the proverbial wheels came off. Since they didn't progress past the demo stage, it's entirely unfair to judge the next batch of songs - - those which would've been the follow-up to Tormato. (Some of these appear on the 2004 Rhino remaster of Drama.) But there's nary a hint in the "Paris" demos of anything that would've changed the trajectory of the band's material. I'm unaware of any proof of this, but it seems that this material was increasingly coming from Anderson, and to some degree Wakeman.

While both Wakeman and Anderson - - especially Anderson - - would contribute to high-quality Yes material after 1980 (I'm thinking "Mind Drive"), their departure necessarily meant a change in direction, and that change, via vocalist Trevor Horn, wound up impacting the band throughout the 1980s: it's largely due to Horn that 90125 (1983) became their best-selling album.

Anyway, back in 1980, Anderson and Wakeman might've doubted that Yes would survive without them. And while it did, replacing the two best-known members of the band with Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes really only staved off the inevitable for long enough to complete the 1980 tour. That was apparently the most important task for the band; as I understand it, Yes (the band itself, including Anderson and possibly Wakeman) was in substantial debt at the time. So they rushed out a new album and went on tour.

Except on retrospective box sets where there's too much room to ignore it, Drama is generally not included on Yes "greatest hits" albums. To some extent, this makes sense; the single - - "Into the Lens (I Am a Camera)" - - flopped, and the album sold fewer copies than any Yes album in a decade. Plus, without Anderson's vocals, it is anomalous.

But it's also a very good album, more cohesive than Fragile, with a better sound than any Yes album at least since Tales from Topographic Oceans, and with much, much better arrangements than had been the norm. There's less keyboard virtuosity on display; indeed, Downes simply doesn't possess Wakeman's ability to create and play lead parts. But since he's sticking more to rhythmic and supporting parts, Downes's parts almost never conflict with those of guitarist Steve Howe - - which was a distinct problem on Tormato.

Drama is also the Yes album with the best rhythm-section playing in the entire catalogue (with Relayer a close second). Drummer Alan White and bassist Chris Squire are at the height of their individual powers, but are also in near-perfect synch throughout. Horn, an accomplished bassist himself, plays on one song.

Given the strength of the rhythm section, the relegation of the keyboards to more of a supporting role, and the increased in syncopation, it's not surprising that Drama is among the least melodic Yes albums, at least in terms of performance. But it's also true from a compositional standpoint; after all, melodies, countermelodies, and secondary melodies are the forte of both Anderson and Wakeman, and their replacements did not come with equally strong skills in this area. In any case, on Drama, more of the melody than usual is carried by Howe's inventive guitar parts, Squire's bass lines, and especially the harmony vocals with which Squire supports Horn.

Others have provided song-by-song analyses, and I doubt I really have much to add in that department.

I try to be conservative with five-star ratings, but what can I do in the face of such a great album? Drama isn't perfect, and isn't even the second or third best Yes album, so maybe I'm being too indulgent. Nonetheless, five stars. Highly recommended.

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars I love Yes and they are one of the truly great pioneers of the whole genre. I know, I'm not kicking any doors down by saying that but there are albums in their discography that are, rightly so, up for debate. The last album of the 70's ("Tormato") is decidedly one of those. The first one of the 80's is another. "Drama" is one of the underdogs of prog. A seemingly one-off event that sometimes gets treated in a less than amiable way. I am happy to say that most of the reviewers on PA seems to share my point of view.

The Yes of 1980 lacks both Jon Anderson and the maestro Rick Wakeman but boasts both Trevor Horne and Geoff Downes. By what might be surmised when listening to "Tormato" the steam seemed to have left the engine of the band and what remained was a more or less foul smelling puddle of only simmering liquid. Messieurs Downes and Horn seemed to gel perfectly with the three remaining members and obviously shared the same view on which path to take. The result is an invigorated and updated version of the mighty Yes. There is no denying this is Yes. A lot of the ingredients that made their albums so fantastic in the first place remains. Squires bass, Howes guitars and Whites drums. Enter new blood and the result is staggering.

It all begins with some of the heaviest pieces recorded by the band, "Machine Messiah". This is ten minutes of progressive bliss that gives homage to everything that came before but still sounds different and more in tune with the new decade. "Into the lens" is absolutely stunning in it's playful and bass heavy arrangement. Absolutely brilliant. As is the spacey "Run through the light" which offers us yet another of what ought to be a Yes classic. I love the vocal lines and the keyboards that adds such a sumptuous and scrumptious texture to the whole affair.

"Drama" falls very easily down the roadside and seems an anonymous affair and still it ranks, for me, as one of their best efforts. No, it might not be "Fragile" or "Close to the edge" but it is something else, which probably was needed in the light of everything. I love it. Hopefully you will too.

Review by The Crow
3 stars "Drama" is one of the most special albums in the Yes discography since it presented us with a unique and unrepeatable line-up.

The two members of The Buggles, Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes, went on bloc to Yes to create a unique album, which although it is somewhat irregular in its quality, it is interesting from beginning to end.

Downes's keyboards are much more pop oriented than those very classical of Rick Wakeman, and Trevor Horn's vocals, although he has a similar tone to Jon Anderson, when it comes to melodies is quite different. Both members help to create this very special atmosphere that 'Drama' has.

And of course, a special mention deserves the bass of Chris Squire, who was very inspired in this record, as well as the always brilliant Steve Howe.

Therefore, despite being far from the best works of the band and being clearly inferior to "Going for the One" and "Tormato", "Drama" manages to remain as a good Yes album, and a very special one within the large band's discography.

Best Tracks: Machine Messiah, Run Through the Light and Tempus Fugit.

My Rating: ***

Latest members reviews

4 stars Can Yes be Yes without Jon Anderson or Rick Wakeman? Well, this album proves it not only can be but "it really happens to" be! To be fair, the band had already lost Wakeman after "Topigraphical Oceans" and Patrick Moraz stepped in and did very well on "Relayer." Yes, Rick is awesome but he can be ... (read more)

Report this review (#2934654) | Posted by Sidscrat | Tuesday, June 20, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Drama alright...... Without Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman this is barely a true Yes album. Over the years this album has gone up in many fans and critics estimations and is now considered a stone cold Classic by some. For me though it somehow sounds like a facsimile of the real thing especially ... (read more)

Report this review (#2906497) | Posted by Lupton | Tuesday, April 11, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 1980's Drama is a criminally underrated album, and I put at #3 in my personal ranking of Yes's studio output, behind only Close to the Edge and The Yes Album. The desire of Squire, Howe, and White to write and play heavier music is immediately evident. The opening riff of "Machine Messiah" sounds li ... (read more)

Report this review (#2903101) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #24! Yes's Drama is definitely their most controversial LP. How could Yes be Yes without Jon Anderson (or Rick Wakeman, for that matter)?! Without these two core members, it surely couldn't be anything other than Maybe. Right? Yes. No. Wrong. I picked this album up at a local record ... (read more)

Report this review (#2901780) | Posted by Boi_da_boi_124 | Saturday, March 25, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I agree with almost everyone that Yes with Jon Anderson is the superior band. And Wakeman makes it even better. But there's still enough to latch onto here. This is a great effort from this band when they enter the 80's. It trumps 90125 and what followed by a lot. Machine Messiah - This track ... (read more)

Report this review (#2844461) | Posted by WJA-K | Friday, October 7, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Machine Messiah Wow. What a way to open up an album. Who would have thought that perhaps one of the best Yes songs of all time- and maybe even one of the best songs period- would have come from a non-Anderson Yes group. The drums on this track are phenomenally theatrical, the guitar playing is mast ... (read more)

Report this review (#2737636) | Posted by DorKnor | Saturday, April 16, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Out of the fear of disliking an album without the great contribuitions of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman, this record actually turned to be pretty good, with the downside of being very short and that this incarnation of the band only lasted for this album. Geoff Downes replaces Rick Wakema ... (read more)

Report this review (#2649887) | Posted by Putonix24 | Sunday, December 5, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review - #12 (Yes - Drama) Drama is a perfect name that sums up the backstory surrounding this album. It is the tenth studio album by Yes, released in August of 1980. Both Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman had left due to their dissatisfaction with the direction the other members were taking the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2537266) | Posted by Prog Zone | Thursday, April 22, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The tenth studio album by YES, released in 1980 with a major change in the line up. This was the first YES album without Jon Anderson, while Rick Wakeman also decided to (again) leave the band. Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes took respectively the vocal and keyboards sections of the band. This mark ... (read more)

Report this review (#2491347) | Posted by Mark-P | Friday, January 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #52 Jon ANDERSON and Rick WAKEMAN left YES so the band got these two new musicians that were the group THE BUGGLES, well-known for their song "Video killed the radio star" (a song that I'd rather listen to in THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA's version), so this new line-u ... (read more)

Report this review (#2481975) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Wednesday, December 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Drama is Yes's first album without Jon Anderson, the main creative source and unmistakable seal of Yes sound with his unique vocal range. This event raised many doubts about the future of the band, considering that Rick Wakeman also left the group in the middle of the creative process of the alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#2414556) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Sunday, June 21, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album should have garnered more appeal from the Yes fans when the band toured the new songs, despite the handicap of losing their front man in Jon Anderson who most people identify with the sound of Yes. I'm really sorry they didn't because this line-up, unfortunately short lived, deserved ... (read more)

Report this review (#2411063) | Posted by iluvmarillion | Sunday, June 7, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Year of transition, decade of opening so as not to remain in the prog which is dying!! A change of musicians and not the least, yes the voice is an instrument for me... and this album arises, like a hare behind a thicket, let's go! 1. Machine Messiah arrives all of a sudden with a rising intro, a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2312270) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I saw the Yes Drama tour and remember when the original Yes members left the stage to leave Downes and Horn alone to perform Video Killed The Radio Star and other Buggles hits that half the audience booed. I think those guys that booed didn't realize the history they were witnessing. OK Buggles ... (read more)

Report this review (#1947405) | Posted by babylonstrange | Tuesday, July 10, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I love this site but never felt compelled to leave a review. I'm listening to Drama and was searching the web to see what people have said over the years. Interesting. Yes, I was there when it came out and yes, I remember the backlash. This was head and shoulders better than their previous t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1790913) | Posted by cypress | Thursday, October 5, 2017 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Mixed and Disappointing. No band should remain ever the same, and Yes were always innovators, never sticking to the same formula, which is ideal. However, this album leaves a sour taste in the mouth, not (only) because of the change of singer, but because of the compositions. On the one hand, thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1696015) | Posted by Walkscore | Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Before you listen to "Drama", it is important that you lower your expectations: this is a good album, but DO NOT expect a "Yes" album. There can't be "Yes" without Jon Anderson. For those who love "Yes" as much as I do, remember this when approaching this album. Half the songs ("Machine M ... (read more)

Report this review (#1568326) | Posted by uvero3 | Saturday, May 21, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well it's the first time I post a review, but this is also a special album to review. First of all I must explain that i have all yes albums up to the Ladder (most of them on vinyl, as I am 50 years old) and I once travelled from Greece to Bulgaria to see my at that time most favourite band, so ... (read more)

Report this review (#1552529) | Posted by Michalis Tzortzis | Saturday, April 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I'm a hardcore prog fan. I hardly listen to other kind of music. (New bands I like are "metal progers"). "Yes" is my favorite band ever. (the one I love most is called "The Beatles", but that's another story) I love long songs, polyrythms, polyphony and virtuous executions. My top Yes albums ... (read more)

Report this review (#1459091) | Posted by chiang | Thursday, September 3, 2015 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Not as bad as everybody told me Forget the group You knew, this is a new band and on board we only have the semigod Chris Squire (just try to listen Tempus Fugit without drooling all over). New sounds on the keyboards thanks to our friend Geoff Downes. This is a different CD, and surely Yo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1456663) | Posted by steelyhead | Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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