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Yes Union album cover
2.52 | 1220 ratings | 78 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Would Have Waited Forever (6:32)
2. Shock to the System (5:09)
3. Masquerade (2:18)
4. Lift Me Up (6:30)
5. Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day (5:18)
6. Saving My Heart (4:42)
7. Miracle of Life (7:30)
8. Silent Talking (4:01)
9. The More We Live - Let Go (4:34)
10. Angkor Wat (5:24) *
11. Dangerous (Look in the Light of What You're Searching For) (3:39)
12. Holding On (5:24)
13. Evensong (0:52)
14. Take the Water to the Mountain (3:10)

Total Time 65:03

Bonus track on 1991 European and Japanese releases, and on 2003 Arista remaster:
15. Give and Take (4:29)

* only on CD editions

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / lead vocals
- Trevor Rabin / lead vocals & guitars (4,6,7,9), producer (4,6,7)
- Steve Howe / acoustic (3) & electric guitars, backing vocals, producer (3)
- Chris Squire / bass (4,6,7,9), backing vocals
- Rick Wakeman / keyboards
- Tony Kaye / keyboards (4,6,7,9), backing vocals
- Bill Bruford / drums
- Alan White / drums (4,6,7,9), backing vocals

- Jimmy Haun / guitar (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Jonathan Elias / synthesizer & keyboards & additional vocals & producer (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Alex Lasarenko / synthesizer & keyboards (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Jim Crichton / synthesizer & keyboards (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Sherman Foote / synthesizer (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Brian Foraker / synthesizer (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Chris Fosdick / synthesizer (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Rory Kaplan / synthesizer (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Steve Porcaro / synthesizer (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Gary Barlough / synthesizer (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Richard Baker / synthesizer (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Jerry Bennett / synthesizer & percussion (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Tony Levin / bass (1,2,5,8,10)
- Billy Sherwood / bass, guitars, keyboards, vocals & co-producer (9)
- Allan Schwartzberg / percussion (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Pauline Cheng / Cambodian poetry reading (10)
- Gary Falcone / additional vocals (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Deborah Anderson (Jon's daughter) / additional vocals (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Ian Lloyd / additional vocals (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Tommy Funderburk / additional vocals (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Michael Sherwood (Billy's brother) / additional vocals (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Danny Vaughn / additional vocals (1,2,5,8,10-14)
- Mark Mancina / programming (4), co-producer (7)
- Eddy Offord / co-producer (7,9)

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

CD Arista ‎- ARCD-8643 (1991, US) W/ 1 extra track not on LP
CD Arista ‎- BVCM-37387 (2003, Japan) Remastered w/ 1 bonus track

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

(1220 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(14%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (31%)
Poor. Only for completionists (17%)

YES Union reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by daveconn
4 stars In a fascinating twist, members of YES past and present combined their efforts under a single banner for "Union". Made up of material slated for a second ABWH album and new songs from the existing YES outfit of RABIN, SQUIRE, WHITE and KAYE, the collective work of both factions yield a tour de force. Only the most jaded critics could have found "Union" a disappointment; these fourteen songs far exceed anything that the individuals involved, solo or otherwise, have recorded since "90125". The record has something for everyone: arena-scale rockers that outperform anything on Big Generator, complex arrangements that succeed where the first ABWH album failed, and individual contributions that ooze with atmosphere. Producer JONATHAN ELIAS proves to be as invaluable as TREVOR HORN once was, cowriting much of the material and adding state-of-the-art production that matches PETER GABRIEL's Us in its environmental ambience. But the real story is YES; STEVE HOVE's inspired guitar licks (including another acoustic solo piece, "Masquerade"), BILL BRUFORD's off-kilter drumming, the decision to allow TONY LEVIN's bass to fill the same space as CHRIS SQUIRE once did, TREVOR RABIN's dead-on hooks, and JON ANDERSON's voice paired once again with SQUIRE. "Union" really does represent the best of both worlds. Where "Big Generator" sounded mechanical, "Union" feels organic; where the ABWH experiment lacked direction, here it is focused like a high-powered laser. Each of the fourteen tracks is a miniature treasure for fans, but even so some moments rise to the top: "Lift Me Up", "Saving My Heart", "Miracle of Life", "Silent Talking", "I Would Have Waited Forever", "Shock to the System" and "Dangerous (Look in the Light of What You're Searching For)" belong with their best tracks from the '80s and '90s. If YES seemed to take its heritage lightly with "Drama", "Union" settles the score with fans. As a further treat, the entire lineup supported the album with a live tour.

"Union" remains the perfect postscript to the YES story. Note that the CD and cassette add "Angkor Wat", a tribute to the Cambodian landmark similar to Vangelis' "The Little Fete", and the JON ANDERSON composition, "Take the Water to the Mountain."

Review by Proghead
2 stars Basically an album that falls under the "buy it only if you can find it for dirt cheap" category. This is truly YES at their low point. It seemed like in '90/'91 ANDERSON, BRUFORD, WAKEMAN & HOWE wanted to record a followup to their self-entitled 1989, and Yes-West at the same time wanted to record a followup to Big Generator. But since ANDERSON was involved in both, he decided to have both projects fit one album, and it fell really flat on its face. None of the music is unlistenable (at least there is none of that calypso nonsense like "Teakbois" from the ABWH album, which is a plus), but nothing really sticks out to me. "Lift Me Up" received radio airplay, because it stuck with the pop formula the Rabin-era band had been following since 1983. Of course, this was one of the Yes- West recordings of "Union". Same for "Saving My Heart" which also received minor radio airplay, but here the band explored reggae. "Ankor Wat" is one of the ABWH cuts, and tends to have a more New Age-feel to it, I guess that had something to do with the fact that Rick WAKEMAN was turning to the world of New Age on his solo albums at that time.

The album was doomed to be a disaster and not too surprising that WAKEMAN referred to this album as Onion. Even "Tormato", not usually regarded as one of their better albums, seems like a masterpiece compared to this. As I said, only buy "Union" if you can find it for next to nothing.

Review by Guillermo
2 stars In late 1990, ANDERSON, BRUFORD, WAKEMAN, HOWE were recording songs for a new album. It seems that some record executives had the good idea to make this album with more songs oriented to Radio playing, to make this second ABWH album more successful than their 1989 album.It also seems that someone wanted to have YES in this label, so they contacted Chris Squire`s YES line-up (without Anderson) to secure more commercial songs for this album. So, YES left their label and agreed to add some new songs with Jon Anderson as lead vocalist. YES joined ABWH`s label, and they released this "Union" album in 1991. As I read in two interviews in the website " FAQ", one with guitarist Jimmy Haun (in ), and one with ABWH`s producer Jonathan Elias (in ), it seems that the label, the producer and Jon Anderson were not happy with the sound of the ABWH songs. Personal relationships between the ABWH members were not very good, so the producer and the label suggested to Jon Anderson to bring outside musicians to replace some of Howe`s guitars,and also some of Wakeman`s keyboards. So, this is the reason why many additional musicians were listed in the ABWH songs (in a similar way as Pink Floyd`s "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" album). Jimmy Haun replaced many of Steve Howe`s parts (in the interview, he says in which minutes and seconds of each song in the C.D. he replaced Howe`s parts!). He was asked to play "classic Steve Howe`s sound of the 70s", so he did the best he could. In my opinion, the ABWH songs are good, but the first time I heard the album I asked myself "where is Wakeman?". Haun did a very good job, and he really sounds like Howe. The best ABWH songs are:"I would have waited forever", "Shock to the system" and "Silent Talking". I think that Chris Squire`s YES`s songs are better, because they sound more "authentic", because apparently they didnīt use additional musicians. This is a good album, but with a lot of compromises done to be released. One for collectors/fans only. Bruford said in interviews years later that this is the most embarrassing album he has recorded, and that he toured with YES in 1991-92 "only for money". Howe was surprised and angry when he knew that many of his guitar parts were replaced, and Wakeman said that he couldnīt recognize his keyboard parts in this album. Wakeman calls this album "Onion" because it made him cry every time he listened to it. The Cassette and Compact Disc versions of this album have two ABWH bonus tracks not available on the L.P.:"Angkor Wat" and "Give and Take" ."Give and Take" was also released as the B-side of the "Lift Me Up" single. There is also another C.D. version which doesn`t include "Give and Take", but it includes "Angkor Wat". One day I listened in the Radio to one of Steve Howe`s albums (I think that it was called "Turbulence", and it seems that it also was released in 1991) and I heard some guitar melodies which Steve also used for the songwriting of some songs in "Union". "Give and Take" is one of those songs.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Too many cooks spoil the broth as they say. A nice concept but unfortunately it falls flat on it's face too often to redeem itself. I believe Open Your Eyes is worse than this, wow that must be really bad. There are some highlights here however like ' Miracle of Life' and ' Silent Talking'. Collector item -yes, otherwise it is recommended you do a detour around Union.
Review by Fishy
3 stars Not as bad as many might think. It is clear the album lacks a general idea in music and lyrics. In fact, it is nothing more than a compilation of some ABWH recordings and a little bit of 90125 Yes. In 1990 ABWH was working on its second album, Yes was still in the recording process of the first album without Jon Anderson. It would have been an important album. This band had to proof they deserved the Yes name. After several phone calls between Jon Anderson and Chris Squire they decided to have the music of the two projects united on one album and to call it Union. But the album doesn't sound as a union at all. You can hear two different bands. The information in the booklet says the total amount of players is 8 on the album : Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford, Alan White, Chris Squire, Tony Kaye and Trevor Rabin. In fact it may be 20 or more. After the recording was finished, producer Jonathan Elias invited some friends to record some of the parts again. Most of the time you're not even listening to members of ABWH or 90125 yes. Those session musicians like Steve Porcaro may be very talented, still.a forgery is a forgery. The idea of using session musician instead of Yes people is repulsive, never heard of the producer again. Let's pretend we don't know all of that and judge the the music on what we hear on the record.

"I would have waited forever" is a good opening track and "Shock to the system" an ideal second one, it reminds me of "City of love" from 90125. This music was intended to appear on the second ABWH album but does sound a lot more powerful than the ABWH of the first album : lots of guitars, less keyboards, slightly commercial stuff. "Shock" was one of the few songs to be played live in the union tour. Listening to the commentary of some band members, this can't be a coincidence. Wakeman recalls himself throwing this album out of the window when he played it for the first and only time. The songs aren't bad but the band uses conventional formula of short tracks with predictable verses and choruses. I suppose there was some pressure from the record company to write plain songs. What's left is the confusion of 4 virtuoso musicians playing their own part in their own way at the same time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as we know only Yes can do it right so it's still enjoyable. Tony Levin is playing the bass on all of the ABWH music. I always found his style of playing very suitable for Yes maybe because he played a lot with Bruford in the past as the rhythm section of King Crimson and some other projects. To add the complex style of Howe to it, must be a good thing. At the time I was expecting a lot of this Yes for the future. Unfortunately this was the last albums these guys were involved in a Yes project.

You shouldn't worry too much about the running order of the tracks. It is not recommended to listen from start to finish. Some tracks seem to work out fine on their own. "Ankhor Watt" and "Take the river to the mountain" are great mysterious sounding tracks. Masquerade is the "Mood for a day" of this album, the only acoustic track of Steve Howe. A nice little instrumental track. "Give and take" was the bonus track for the European edition of Union but I've never discovered the American edition without it. Funny enough this is one of the best tracks the band did release in the 90's, not a big deal if you know what would follow later, but anyway. It is obvious Anderson had a big influence on the ABWH tracks and rumours said this was the reason why he left Yes in 1988. "The rest of the band refused to do what he wanted" Squire explained afterwards.

90125 Yes tries to recapture the creativity and hippy ideals of Close to the edge in "Miracle of life". They fail but it isn't a bad song. "The more we live" is one of the best songs of this album. This epic track has an atmospheric sound and would have been a good song to be included on Big Generator. For this song Yes invited Eddie Offord to come along. He used to be the producer of their masterpieces of the seventies "Saving my heart" and "Lift me up" are rather slick commercial eighties music and should be avoid. When combined with the ABWH, the 90125 parts sounds flat and extremely polished.

You'll find a lot of good material on Union which could have worked out fine in a more suitable format. Here we have several formats all melted together in a bad mixture of some good idea's. Can you imagine what could have happened if those 8 people really worked together from the start ? I'm sure it would have been magical. Union has its moments but on the whole it's a missed opportunity.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Though I don't listen to this album much, I like it's music a bit more than the average releases of this band after 1980. The production style is truly shameful, but still the songs like "I Would Have Waited Forever" and "Miracle of Life" are decent compositions. Also Steve's solo "Masquerade" is a good track. But there's still very horrid songs to be heard, if you dare to listen this, so it can't be recommended except to serious fans. Dean's cover paintings are awesome.
Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Why im giving it 2 stars?

Simple, this album is lack of improvisation and creation, it`s only the name of "Union" which makes us get interested of it, more history than music, i mean here we can see the re union of Bill Bruford and Rick Wakeman in the band, besides of Alan White and Tony Kaye, so many members in a marvelous band trying to creat a new sound or new music, but sadly the album is not good. I think the most of the songs has the same poppish or 80`s style of music, and in fact this album has lots of songs which some of them sounds of course a bit proggy but is not the same, if im not wrong this is the Yes album with more quantity of songs , thats not bad when the songs are well done and keep us with the ear on them, but here it simply doesnt happen.

Repetitive sound, not so much creation, nothing new to offer, as the same level (or maybe a bit higher) than the Big Generator album, i could say honestly that these are the less attractive albums that Yes ever created, more if we focus on the expectative of the Union, in fact i have a DVD called Union Tour when they actually dont play but only one song of this CD, that`s a clear example of the unsuccesful movement.

And all those facts make me think that an album like this will never be a masterpiece or a worth addition, i dont like it, it has few but very few nice momets, for that im giving it 2 stars.

Review by ghost_of_morphy
2 stars Once upon a time, the Rabin-era Yes lineup was looking to record an album and Fragile- era Yes lineup was looking to record another album, and one day they looked each other and both bands said simultaneously "Let's team up...."

That's the fairytale version. Something closer to the truth might be that Anderson brought them together to exploit the gimmick above and try and salvage what was rapidly looking like another trainwreck (think the Paris sessions that were never released here) in ABWH.

This is the Yes album that none of the band members appreciated after it's release. Wakeman threw the copy he received out the window. Bruford stated fairly frankly that his participation in the project was primarily to cash in financially. Etc., etc., etc. Most of the blame is put by band members on producer Jonathan Elias, who allegedly edited and/or replaced many of Wakeman's parts, had a session musician replace large parts of Howe's playing, etc., etc. etc. In addition, the record company rushed this project, with the result that many of the tracks sound half-baked, as if they are disjointed parts of songs forced together. I have to give this one two stars, as there is so much that is poor mixed in with a few gems.

On the other hand, this album did produce one of the more legendary tours Yes has done (everybody in the lineup except for Levin participated,) so the experience was not a complete waste.

Here are the high and low points:

I Would Have Waited Forever (Fragile era lineup): A completely forgettable arena style rock probably most notable for the schizophrenic guitar playing. Session musicians strike early!!!! Also, this one pretty much sets the theme for the ABWH tracks, in that there is plenty of poiwer to the song but the instruments do not really merge into a single sound and the music does not combine well to make a unified song. But this is just a hint of what is to come: it gets worse.

Shock to the System (Fragile era lineup): Great work by Tony Levin really punches up this arena rock style song. A passable song.

Masquerade (Steve Howe solo work): Well, we know Jimmy Huan didn't contribute to this one!!!! A really nice guitar solo from Steve. Much more melodic and flowing than most of his solo work, this song really marks out a change in his solo style where he becomes more concerned with the sound than with impressing with technical playing.

Lift Me Up (Rabin era lineup): The best song on the album, I would say. This little anthem (indeed, all of the Rabin era work on this album) takes a more serious tone and strays away from the light pop that YesWest had been putting out.

Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day (Fragile era): Probably the best ABWH track on the album, this one still suffers from what nearly all of the ABWH tracks suffer from: rushed and disjointed songwriting. Still, it creates a nice mood and at least tries to sound progressive.

Saving My Heart (Rabin era): Proof positive that YesWest can sound awful when they stray too far away from pop. This trite little song is in the running for the worst song released by YesWest.

The Miracle of Life (Rabin era): On the other hand, this little gem shows that YesWest could do prog if they really applied themselves to it. The second best song on the album features the brilliant vocals that we expect from YesWest in a catchy song that somehow strangely abandons the usual pop formula. This is probably a good place to stop listening to the album, as we have a lot of crap coming up.

Silent Talking (Fragile era): Another song that sounds jammed together. The first half features a passable bass line but nothing much interesting on top of it. The second half is another vocal extravaganza which just doesn't live up to the standard set in The Miracle of Life.

The More We Live - Let Go: (Rabin era) A dismal atmospheric song with very little happening in it beyond some interesting things in the percussion. Oh well, at least this one doesn't sound like they jammed a few good bits together in a rush. YesWest finally manages to sound like the original lineup in this track, as they were pretty dismal on this ablum too.

Angkor Wat (Fragile era): This track shows producer Elias's influence all over it. The atmospheric world music sound (complete with a reading of Cambodian poetry) is obviously not an ABWH production. And if that's what Wakeman intended the keyboard parts to sound like, I'll eat my hat.

Dangerous (Fragile era): Another piece full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Arena rock without the hook, or progressive rock without the melding of the instruments and music into an interesting whole.

Holding On (Fragile era): Well, if you've managed to listen this far, you might as well listen to this one too. It starts out with same sense of random noise and lack of purpose that the other songs have, but it does manage to build up to a decent ending eventually.

Evensong (Fragile era): A completely pointless piece of filler brought ot us courtesy of master drummer Bruford.

Take the Water to the Mountain (Fragile era): After 90125, both lineups would throw in a "spiritual" Anderson number on just about every album, presumably to connect with their roots or something like this. Holy Lamb on Big Generator is a good example of this. This is the "spiritual" song on Union, and it's one of the worst.

Give and Take: It's a sad comment on an album when I like the bonus track they threw in better than more than half of the songs on the release.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album was supposed to be the second album for ABWH (Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe that turned out to be the new album for YES. It's a memorable album as all members and ex members of two bands (YES and ABWH) reunited here forming this excellent album. Yes, I go with Dave Connolly's rating that this is an excellent addition to any prog rock collection. Unfortunately Geoffrey Downes, Trevor Horn, Patrick Moraz and Peter Bank did not contribute here; so it's basically not a total reunion album. But it's okay, what matters is the spirit for "union" and also the quality of music created.

Composition-wise, this is not exactly any style of old Yes as the music is a blend of Trevor Rabin era, ABWH style also classic Yes style. But for me it's an excellent album. The album opener "I Would Have Waited Forever" (6:32) is an energetic music with dynamic performance by contributing musicians. "Shock to the System" (5:09) is my favorite that has a musical style similar with the opening track. "Masquerade" (2:18) demonstrates Steve Howe's acoustic guitar virtuosity that reminds me to the glory days when he performed "Mood for A Day". "Lift Me Up " (6:30) which features Trevor Rabin on guitar and vocals characterizes the music of Yes "Talk" and it's excellently composed.

The powerful lyric "Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day" (5:18) is one of my all-time favorite Yes track to start my day which usually I followed with hard driving rhythm music like Tom Sawyer (Rush) or Humble Stance (Saga) etc. to cheer up my day. "Miracle of Life" (7:30) is a track a bit complex with great combination of guitar and organ / keyboard. The other track that also inspires me is "Angkor Wat" (5:24) - so tasty and so melodic. I usually repeat this track whenever I listen to the album.

Overall, it's an excellent addition to any prog collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Progbear
2 stars It sounded good on paper: the FRAGILE lineup and the 90125 lineup uniting to make a Yes album like none before! Dual keys, dual guitars and dual drums! If nothing else, it could have been TALES-like prog overkill.

Hypothetically, anyway. The reality of the situation was this was used as an attempt to reconcile the legal wranglings over the rights to the Yes name that resulted in the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe album. The L.A. and U.K. versions of Yes already had demo versions of material they were working on. It's this we're presented with on UNION. Any hopes of Rabin and Howe (for example) playing side-by-side were dashed, in spite of what the "Lift Me Up" music video made it look like. Only Anderson worked with both versions of the band.

Mediocrity runs rampant throughout the album. Mainly the production decisions made to attempt to make recordings by two different bands sound like a unified whole swamped the project. More session players were instated on this album than just about every Yes album that preceded it, including a roomful of keyboardists that included Saga's Jim Crichton and Toto's Steve Porcaro. Evidence that Wakeman and Kaye actually played on the album at all is pretty scant.

Surprisingly, it's the Rabin lineup that comes up smelling sweet. "Miracle of Life" is the most progressive and most exciting song Yes had produced for years. The only song from the ABWH lineup that can compare is "Silent Talking", elsewhere the band are embroiled in sub-"Order Of The Universe" AOR stylings or indulging in sleep-inducing new-age.

Not the worst Yes album ever produced, as many will have you believe, but pretty far below what we know the band are capable of. A damn sight better than the execrable BIG GENERATOR, in any case.

Review by Thulëatan
2 stars The title of this album is in some ways appropriate, and in other ways not at all. 'Union' was an attempt by the fragmented members of Yes in 1991 to bring their respective projects together and create one album that would capture the spirit of members past and present, and cover the breadth of the Yes vision. In this, 'Union' fails momentously. The ABWH tracks in particular feature several additional musicians who make a significant contribution to the sounds on display, which (while far from inept) do further change the flavour of a band who had already fallen quite a distance from their '70s greatness. It definitely is a union of strong musicianship, but it is not really a Yes album; it includes the vision and ideas of various members of Yes, but also the vision of thirty other Americans.

What 'Union' does offer is some solid, highly polished, and fun rock music. The wealth of musicians playing on the album gives each track a very busy, multilayered feel, every minute containing an abundance of energy in the form of guitar fills, underlying keyboard chords, and vocal harmonies. On pieces like 'Shock To The System', this results in an otherwise straightforward hard rock song being transformed into a relentless mini-epic, where choruses pile upon choruses, the guitars never let up, and Jon effortlessly breaks into a quite beautiful quiet bridge section with Steve Howe on acoustics. At other times, as on 'Dangerous', it doesn't really work and the ideas clash, leaving us with a piece that jumps around incoherently and never really finds any conclusion.

Lyrically, the band remain interesting, and the tracks are full of the classic Yes spiritual optimism and empowerment, but also unwelcome doses of plain love songs here and there. Trevor Rabin's effect on the material further veers the band into bland hair-rock territory, with his charmless Top 40 voice and 1D guitar riffing, and tracks like 'Life Me Up' and 'Saving My Heart' would surely only be fit for the Baywatch soundtrack, were they not saved by a few interesting changes in instrumentation and Jon's vocal parts.

The best pieces on the album would be Steve Howe's accomplished 12-string guitar solo 'Masquerade', 'Silent Talking', and 'The More We Live - Let Go'. 'Angkor Wat' is also a standout piece - even if we can't be sure that's Wakeman on the synths, this one is full of atmosphere and evokes some of that mystical air Yes could once produce so easily.

An enjoyable and energetic rock album, but little more... and a grand opportunity wasted.

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars Union : I quote "A combination so formed, especially an alliance or confederation of people, parties, for mutual interest or benefit". I guess that it was especially their interest AND their benefit to produce this album. It could have been the best of both worlds, but in these dark times, Yes (whatever the combination you might think of) did not produce great stuff for a veeeeeeeeeery long time. This one will not be an exception : boring songs, poor melodies, no charisma, no feeling. So ? The only average song here is the opener :"I Would Have Waited Forever". Apart from that, lots of supermarket / FM music ("Dangerous" being one of the worst example). Avoid this one by all means. It follows "Big Generator" another Yes album studio I rated one star. Two in a row ....and more to come (unfortunately).
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars This will be one of the most difficult tasks I ever attempted, trying to make a coherent review of an incoherent album as "Union". Even Rick Wakeman said about it in the interview posted on the Creem Magazine:"I always call it "Onion" because every time I hear it, it makes me cry. It was an absolute pile of junk because, basically, they wanted to get us out on the road really quick so they left this complete moronic twat to mix it. And, of course, it was the early days of computers, so he just basically wiped off things that Steve did, that I did, got his mates on, and it was a joke. It was an absolute farce of an album."

I wouldn't go so far as Rick, "Union" is not a pile of junk, it's only an absolutely non transcendental and boring album, recorded for the worst reasons (most surely to finish with that Yes West v ABWH contest) and to gain a lot of money with a successful tour.

Just imaginem they tool a POP band like YES on those days and another Prog band called "ABWH" you place 4 songs from the first one and 10 from the other with totally different members (Except Jon Anderson) and call it an album, it's doomed to failure, specially because the producers who made this "Union" possible, apparently told Steve Howe, Bill Bruford and Rick Wakeman that at the end of the tour there will be no place for them in Yes...Nothing can be more anti-climatic.

But lets go with the album, the best I can say of it is that UNION sounds like Yes, but without a single memorable moment except maybe "Masquerade" which is a nice acoustic ballad played by Steve Howe.

I expected that the ABWH tracks would be much better than the YES WEST songs but there's no substantial difference, All are anodyne, boring and predictable, it was so evident even for the producers that they included only two UNION tracks in the successful tour, one from each lineup.

"Shock to the System" Starts with a heavy guitar intro until the band enters with Jon Anderson sounding more acute and annoying than ever before, typically product of ABWH but with less imagination that in the first album, not even Bruford and Wakeman's efforts can save this boring AOR sounding track.

Strangely (Because it's a YES WEST) song, "Lift Me Up" sounds more pompous and Prog than most of the other tracks, it's hard to accept it for me, but Rabin sounds better here than Steve in "Shock the System", Squire backing vocals are very good dissimulating the extra sweet Anderson's voice (Did Chris placed more effort in hi songs than the one he puted in the ABWH), good but not outstanding song except for the chorus that is carefully worked.

Won't even care to review the rest of the album because it's more of the same, no surprises, no imagination, no anything, just an excuse for a successful tour with 8 YES members, but nothing new or even remotely interesting to offer. So I won't nbore the readers writing more of the same.

Three decent tracks out of 14 is not enough to save the album from being a total mess.

If there was a 0 stars option, I would rate UNION with 1 star because of the above mentioned tracks, following this logic, I should rate it with 2 stars being that the minimum rating is 1 star, but I don't believe it's a fan/collectors item because I talked with lots of fans and they all agree with me that the promises of 8 YES members making an album was a fantastic dream that turned into a nightmare.

The talent and the skills are present, nobody can deny this, they continue today with their successful stage career, but the imagination was left out, talent without inspiration and heart means nothing

One star, maybe 1.5 but no way I would rate this less than mediocre album with 2 stars, sorry to the fans and for those who haven't bought it yet, better save your money and go with an earlier stuff.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

Another controversial YES album that don't get too much love these days! You would think at first that 8 members of YES together would produce something great! But the problem this is not an UNION, not even a reunion as two different bands are recording separately pieces of music put assembled together on one CD under the YES banner.

WE have here the members of ABWH meeting the then-current YES line up, the only common point is JON ANDERSON singing for everybody. CHRIS SQUIRE is not even playing bass for the ANDERSON-BRUFORD-WAKEMAN-HOWE songs. This honor is left to TONY LEVIN. The relationship between HOWE and ANDERSON was not that great at the time either (always in trouble with his guitarists, the ''poor'' Anderson) , so another guitarist is brought to the fore to play some HOWE parts; that's a very complicated story.

I saw them live at this time in MIAMI and the 8 members were actually playing together and the show was awesome if i remember properly. They were on a turning round stage, like that everyone of them could be seen from the crowd as to not hurt any feelings or better, egos of some of the musicians . I recall the arena (15000 people) was sold out, so i guess YES was still a big draw back then.

A big surprise for all the old fans like me was the return of ROGER DEAN artwork on a YES sleeve; at least it kept us young!!what a beautiful cover once again!So what are we going to hear on this CD; a mixed bag of everything. Commercial RABIN songs are of course present with 4 songs (that's it), not great, not bad, even cheesy like ''saving my heart''.

The meat comes with the ABWH tunes -10 of them- and are also the more interesting. I do like a few like ''i would have waited forever'', the hard rocking ''schock to the system'' without HOWE, ''Angkor wat'', the beautiful SQUIRE-penned ''the more we live''. Yes , if you give yourself the time to get into this album, you may find some unexpected treasures like also MASQUERADE, a nice HOWE acoustic tune .

This is by no means a YES masterpiece, but the diversity of the album makes it interesting and fresh and yes, there are prog moments. ''Angkor wat'' or ''i should have waited forever'' is as good YES as it gets.

So 3 stars for UNION!

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
1 stars If you thought Big Generator (or 90125 and maybe even Tormato) was bad, Union leaves behind an awful aftertaste. Chris Squire and Jon Anderson apparently came back to friendly terms at some time in 1990 and an idea occurred to assimilate Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe with the Rabin version of Yes, all under the name Yes of course. Both groups were working on material presumably for new albums.

The end result of all this was the album Union, released in 1991. Union basically contains the songs both groups were working on at the time. Anderson added his vocals to material Yes had done and Squire added bass and backing vocals to some of the ABWH material. Then a lot of session musicians were brought in to finish them up, I believe at the behest of producer Jonathan Elias. Elias apparently also had free reign over much of the material (particularly the ABWH stuff).

So we have eight members of Yes on this album. Eight members! Plus session work from bassist Tony Levin. You'd think this was a dream come true until you gave it a listen. It is the most uninspired collection of nonsense, filled with layers of digital synths and electronic drums. Nearly all of the ABWH material sounds unfinished. There is less material from Yes, but all of it too makes me want to skip each track. The only fairly decent song on here is Shock to the System, the rest is very poor. I guess quite a few people blame this on Elias as he had control over how many of these songs took shape, but if the members of Yes (whom many have criticized this album) would have stopped this from being released until they had something worth releasing, they are just as much to blame. An embarrassment to the Yes catalogue. Completionists only. One star.

Review by 1800iareyay
2 stars When I stumbled upon this release, the all-star lineup thrilled me, which in and of itself was a harbinger of doom. "Yes is finally going back to prog" I thought. Oh, how wrong I was. Union is simply a mix of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe and the then-current lineup of Yes. After constant legal wrangling between the two, a union seemed the perfect way to settle the squabbles and maybe put out some music that the fans could really get behind. Instead, we got Union.

The courtroom battles simply spilled over into the studio. Chris Squire, the founder of Yes, barely even appears, as the rest of the members involved had probably had enough of his rampant ego by this point and decided they'd rather let Tony Levin handle most of the bass parts. Despite the stunning amount of talent involved, label executives and the band itself crippled the group by producing a more song-oriented poppy album. The band is in such a egomaniacal quagmire that rarely does anyone shine. Occasionally, a song will have a good moment despite the band's efforts. This rare occurrences remind me of two arguing friends who refuse to speak to each other. Then, without thinking, they spark up a conversation before remembering their feud and parting once more. Howe gets in a very good performance on Masquerade, but the only player that consistently stands out is unsurprisingly the only player who was not a member of Yes. Session man Tony Levin leaves the others to their petty bickering and lays down some impressive lines, even if the songs they appear on are awful. Just goes to show what might have happened if the rest of the band had cared more about music than money.

This is by no means the worst Yes album. That dubious honor belongs to Open Your Eyes, an album that makes Big Generator look like Fragile. However, this is yet another stinker from the band, and things wouldn't improve until the excellent return to form Keys to Ascension and, later, The Ladder. The occasional moment of accidental unity and Tony's solid playing throughout make this only slightly interesting to fans, which is more than I can say for Open Your Eyes and Big Generator.

Grade: D-

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars I heard that Wakeman has referred to this one as "Onion". You know, it might have worked if only they had included Patrick Moraz and Peter Banks.

This really isn't that bad of an album. I got into it when it was fresh and then I saw them on the tour. (A crappy outdoor venue I might add.)

The first couple of pieces are a bit too commercial, but then comes in Masquerade, a rather nice acoustic piece by Howe. Lift Me Up starts of with promise, but then goes back into commercial territory. Miracle of Life's not too bad. Silent Talking may be one of the real gems on the album apart form Howe's solo piece. More We Live/Let Go is nice, too. The extremely short Evensong is interesting, prog, yet only 51 seconds. Take the Water to the Mountain, which wraps it up, is quite good, too.

There's some dense and intense moments offered on Union. Not a Yes masterpiece, but really not a piece of crap.

So, all in all, an interesting, but uneven experiment. If you can get past the commercial bits, there's something decent here to listen to. And frankly, the commercial bits aren't all that bad.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A Union Pacific, but still on separate tracks

Rick Wakeman famously prefers to call this "Onion", because it makes him cry. I reckon that's a bit harsh, but it is really two shorter albums by different bands, rather clumsily melded together to form a whole.

"Union" was made by the two Yes factions which existed at the time, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe on the one hand, and Squire Rabin Kaye etc. on the other. While Anderson provides lead vocals throughout, the only other person who crosses over between the two is Chris Squire, who adds vocals (but not bass) to some of the ABWH songs. It is therefore easy enough to spot which track are by which combination but for the record the ABWH tracks are 1,2,3,5,8,10,11,13, 14, and 15, the Rabin/Squire Yes tracks being 4,6,7,9. The bassist on the ABWH tracks is Tony Levin, although he is playing in a session capacity only and not as official band member.

As can be seen, this is therefore a Union largely in name only. In retrospect, the album may have been afforded a better continuity if the tracks by each of the bands had been kept together, instead of the rather haphazard mishmash we have here. In terms of quantity, the balance is very much in favour of ABWH whose work constitutes about two thirds of the total time.

All that said, the first two tracks, "I would have waited forever" and "Shock to the system" may be by ABWH, but they have much more in common with the style of music Yes created with Trevor Rabin. Only the slight lengthening of the instrumental passages differentiates these songs from those on "Big Generator". Steve Howe slips in a brief solo acoustic spot with " Masquerade" which serves as a pleasant intro to the first Squire/Rabin Yes track, "Lift me up". If you enjoyed the sound of the aforementioned "Big generator", this will appeal too, indeed this track is similar to the title track of that album.

"Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day" sees ABWH reverting to the type of music which dominated their sole album in that name, the music remaining pretty straightforward and largely devoid of the true prog sounds we hoped for.

In all, and I know that it may be considered sacrilege to say it, I prefer the Rabin/Squire Yes tracks to the ABWH songs. There is a vitality to the New Yes numbers which is lacking in the AWBH ones. It appears to me that ABWH are running pretty much on empty, hence the "Union" of the albums. The music by the two factions actually fits together reasonably well here, the bands perhaps sub-consciously moving towards each other. While this is far from being a classic album by any form of Yes, I do feel it is often subject to too much criticism. As Yes albums go, this one is best described as adequate.

The tour to promote Union appears to have been much more successful than the album, with even Wakeman proclaiming it to be on of the most enjoyable he has participated in. The YesYears DVD which was recorded around that time gives an excellent insight into that period.

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars While not as absurdly horrible as it is lampooned to be, Union's uneven quality (songwriting, performances... you name it) and generic accessibility of sound definitely make it one of the final Yes albums for newcomers to investigate... although not THE last!

While the history and idea behind Union is actually pretty cool, the music suffers from a severe lack of energy and originality-- not to mention the proficient magic that graced the group's classic albums. Essentially, we are given here a rather large set of nice little artsy-pop songs; some are catchy, and some outstay their welcome very early, depending on the listener's preferences. While I forgive these pioneering musicians credit for changing with the times and adapting their style, I CANNOT forgive the general malaise of blandness with which they play throughout Union. The songs may be finely crafted, but the players don't seem to care much. Anderson sings his heart out, but his voice just isn't suited well for serious pop music (90125 is so cheesy it doesn't count), and Howe's guitar-work is about as uninteresting as it's ever gotten (with the big exception of his solo on Masquerade, which is actually pretty good). Rabin's guitars have a little more gusto, but are just bland and kind of annoying. I almost gave this one a single star, but I do have a weakness for the very occasional FM power-chorus anthem.

So, fans of the REAL Yes will be weeping after the very long, agonizing experience of listening to this album, but listeners who like squeaky-clean, feel good sing-alongs will be satisfied.

At least the cover is cool.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Quite a shock indeed.

Yes's Union is an album that takes a lot of criticism from fans and general listeners alike, but it not for no reason. This album may not be quite as bad as it's often made out to be - as in some kind of terrible nadir that will make your ears bleed with excessive listens - but it still is one of those albums that should simply be avoided unless you really want to know what all the (anti)fuss is about. But believe me, if you buy the album you will be shocked. This, really, is not Yes and it's not ABWH and it really isn't a combination of both. What is does sound like though is 8 super-egos not wanting to put aside their differences and all trying to cram all of their ideas into each and every track without putting thought into where each of the ideas should fit. The album is a mish-mash of everything you could possibly think of from Yes, and that just doesn't work.

Now, there are a few problems with this album that most progheads will pick up on right away. First off, listen to the first 3 seconds of the album where Jon comes in a-Capella and shouts ''I would have waited forever!''. The poppy harmony in even this short amount of time will undoubtedly set off alarms in most, if not all, prog fans that decide to give this album a spin. While the rest of the song is not quite as bad as expected we come to one of the biggest problems that the album has. Somehow, with all those musical geniuses in one room the album became very poppy. Even more so than in their Big Generator days, the songs are simply structured and Jon's voice dominates as though the rest of the band should be wearing a full leather suit. Take for example the poppy-boppy Saving My Heart which has Jon repeating that chorus so many times that it's just painful.

Another problem with the album is that it is far too long. If you don't like the album you have to sit through a lot of it. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is Yes's longest album to date. Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, but there are actually enough modest songs that they could have made an album more to the length of Close To The Edge and gotten away with a fairly ''good'' album. Had the album been made up of 30 minutes of modest instead of 30 minutes of modest and 30 minutes of blah it might have even turned out a lot better. However, with the two bands struggling for power over one another it's likely that this would have never been possible, they each wanted to have as much as possible in there.

As for style of the album, what we have here is something very unique... However, it's not the good kind of unique. Ever heard of symphonic-soft-rock? Me neither, but that's probably the best way to describe the music on the album. Kind of like Air Supply meets Yes, now there's a scary thought. Some songs like Miracle Of Life have quite a catchy chorus that's ultimately let down just because the rest of the song is so forgettable - and when have you ever listened to a prog album just for the catchy choruses? Unfortunately the album is all about the hooks and it forgets something that has always been so key to Yes, the instruments!

While there may be two instrumentals on the album they're both unfortunately short. Granted, they're likely the best tracks on the album, but they don't last long enough to really make up for any of the album's downfalls. Masquerade is a great Howe track reminiscent of (although maybe not comparable to) his older works with the band, and makes for a great follow up to the admittedly very good Shock To The System and later on Evensong makes for a good percussion piece.

What else is there to say about the album other than - it's got a nice sleeve. Yessir, that Mr. Roger Dean certainly knows how to make an appealing cover, even if it's the best part about the album. A true brother sleeve to the ABWH album, they even have a similar banner across the top. It's just too bad that this album wouldn't be a real follow-up for ABWH nor a come-back for Yes. Okay, so there's some enjoyable music on here - but it's really not enough to make up for some of the other stuff on here. If you're looking for the Yes of old you're very much in the wrong place - Go back about 14 years or skip ahead another 5.

I won't call the album poor since it's not unlistenable, but I will say - if you're not a big Yes fan then don't buy this album. 2 reunions that didn't work out of 5. Only recommended for fans who want all the band's albums and people who like a poppy edge. Or for those who just want to see what's up with the album.

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars This album should really be filed under ‘Various Artists’ instead of as a Yes studio album. All Yes fans know the history, so there’s no use pretending this is anything remotely approaching the ‘reunion’ of the classic and seminal seventies lineup of the band.

One really has three options for reviewing this album (aside from ignoring it altogether). First, it can be considered as a proper Yes album, in which case it would get low marks indeed for the heavy use of outside musicians and the fact that none of the tracks features the entire lineup of Yes alumni who supported it with a worldwide tour from 1991 through 1992. A second approach is to view this as a collaboration of sorts involving various Yes members, some previously written and/or recorded music that could be attributed to various Yes members, and a whole host of meddling producers and record executives. That’s probably the most appropriate synopsis. And the third option is to consider this record solely on the basis of the quality of music on it, regardless of who actually recorded what (and when). That would be the most objective choice, but as a hardcore Yes fan that’s not really an option for me.

Truth be told I actually like some of the songs here. At least Jon Anderson sings on every track, and although he doesn’t seem to be very inspired or his usual regal and spiritual self most of the time, he can still carry a tune like few others in the business. And the guitar work is superb everywhere on the album, but here’s where things start to break down since except for I Would Have Waited Forever and Silent Talking one cannot be certain the man playing is Steve Howe and not stand-in guitarist Jimmy Haun.

Rick Wakeman has famously referred to this album as “Onion” because he has said listening to it made him cry, and because he claims to not have been able to even figure out where his keyboard parts actually made it onto the final product. And as far as I know Tony Levin and Billy Sherwood played bass on the entire album, not Chris Squire.

The only song I can bring myself to listen to is the Anderson/Wakeman-penned “Angkor Wat”, not because it’s all that great, but because at least it sounds like the Yes I grew up with and not the one Jonathan Elias created behind a mixing board and in a record label boardroom.

Otherwise I can’t hold a grudge or judge anyone who finds this to be a palatable, or even good album. It probably is that. But it takes more than the band’s logo on a Roger Dean cover to make a true Yes album, and in this case neither of those things should have been attached to the project. Two stars because a lot of fans (myself included) have collected this one, even though that probably only encourages record label types to continue this sort of behavior. Shame on both of us.


Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Squire Kaye White Rabin

While Tony Kaye, Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire and Alan White was working on a follow-up to Big Generator, Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe was working on a follow-up to their latest album (that was released under the name 'Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe', since the Squire/White/Rabin camp owned the rights to the name 'Yes' at the time).

The idea that came about was that of a Union between these two versions of Yes. And what a great idea it was! It features eight people! The material is a mix between the two camps and this seems to have spurred them all to write better songs. Great rock songs like Shock To The System, Lift Me Up and Miracle Of Life, great pop melodies like I Would Have Waited Forever and Saving My Heart, instrumentals like the beautiful Steve Howe solo piece Masquerade.

The most surprising for me are the Trevor Rabin songs. I did not like those Yes albums that Rabin worked on before very much, but here even Rabin's songs are great. Especially Lift Me Up, which rocks harder than anything from 90125 or Big Generator. Rabin also does a lot of vocals which gives the album more strengh and diversity than usual.

The tracks Angkor Wat, Dangerous (Look In The Light Of What You're Searching For), Holding On, Evensong and Take The Water To The Mountain are perhaps not too interesting in their own right. But since the running time is so long it is ok. The closing track Give & Take, on the other hand, is again a great song, tying the album together in a nice way.

It is really strange that so many tend to dislike this album so much. I agree that it has some weak moments and it probably could have been better if they recorded it more as a unit instead of sending tapes to each other around the globe. However, Union is a very good and very underrated album (much, much better than 90125 and Big Generator and almost as good as the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album) and a must for all serious Yes fans!

Four stars from me!

Review by russellk
1 stars YES has had a variety of lineups in its history. Most fans distinguish between the YES of the 1970s and what they call YESWEST of the 1980s, when the band relocated to America and their music supposedly became more radio-friendly. On this album the two YESes come together - sort of. Well, actually, they don't. The two units never really worked together, even though they had JON ANDERSON in common. But what makes this album a complete dog's breakfast is that the various contributions were then taken and heavily modified by producer Jonathan Elias. He infamously erased many of the band's contributions and replaced them with session musicians. So what we have here is part YES-by-numbers, part YES-by-remote-control and part YES-tribute-band.

Honestly, there's little point in talking about the songs, as they are without exception insipid, juiceless things. Honestly, I would have waited forever for an album with passion and fire. Hearing this for the first time was a distinct shock to the system, as this disjointed effort masquerades as a genuine YES album ... you see where I'm going. Look, plenty of stuff tailored for the radio isn't done only for the money, but this sure was. Or how else do we explain the result? The kindest thing I could say is that the members were stretched thin, many absorbed by other projects, and this album didn't receive the attention it deserved. But another, darker voice says the band didn't have to bow to studio pressure, and had they done their job properly maybe Elias wouldn't have been tempted to replace their efforts.

Except for the purposes of review, I'm not sure anyone I know has listened to this album twice.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
4 stars What a strange album!We have so much things in this album.The end of Yes West is already fact;we have an union really - it is between Yes West and ABWH;we have really very controversial album;we have eight-person Yes;almost all former members of the band preform on the album (so much great musicians);for me it's really hard to review this album,because I grew up with this album.This is the first Yes' music I've ever heard.I know this music much earlier than all of the classic albums and when I became interested in Yes again it was very strange for that this is not the ultimate Yes' music.I am emotional linked with this album and I'm not sure,whether I can review it objectively.Probably no...For me this is really creative music and I believe that it is the best Yes' album since 1983 reunion of the band.It contains some great hits like Shock to the System,Lift Me Up,Saving My Heart and many more.It also contains first shared lead vocals for Yes.I think it's the seventh best album for Yes(after Relayer,Close to the Edge,Fragile,Going for the One,Drama and Tales from Topographic Oceans)!4 stars for me!!!
Review by lazland
2 stars ONIONS....OR...I'M OFF PART 3

Following the deserved success of ABWH Part One, the gang reassembled for part two, whilst Yes West floundered somewhat, especially in their efforts to get Roger Hodgeson on board with lead vocals, on hje rather understandable premise that he was the only vocalist they could find with a similar pitch to Anderson's. Of course, he refused.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, some Atlantic record company executives though that the world was utterly fed up with two versions of Yes (even though only one was active), and the public would queue up for miles to purchase the glorious fusion of the two versions of the band. A marvellous idea in theory that didn't come anywhere near in practice (in common with most theories).

Wakeman to this day describes this as Onions because it brings tears to his eyes thinking about it, and even listening to the album on a good set of headphones, it's not difficult to see why. For some unknown reason, his contributions to the album are edited to the point where the once mighty lord of all prog keyboardists is reduced to the listener having to strain to hear his parts. Of course, he left soon afterwards, for the third time (although people were starting to lose count).

Is the album as bad as many make out? Probably, but the great shame is that there are enough signs there that show that it could have been fantastic. Without concentrating on each track, there is some decent stuff here.

I Would Have Waited Forever starts off marvellously, but lacks overall focus. Masquerade is an absolutely fantastic acoustic piece by Howe - I wish he played this more often live than the usual fare of The Clap. Silent Talking starts off as a mess of a track, and when Anderson sings It Doesn't Ring True, you realise he probably hasn't sung a truer line. However, after the Howe solo intro to the main body of the song, it is heavenly, with Howe and Anderson reminding us all of the reason why we listen to them in the first place.

The Yes West pieces don't come out badly at all. Miracle of Life, especially, is a great track, being a throwback to the trick they played on 90125 of mixing commercial stuff with prog roots. Anderson and Rabin especially shine in their vocal interplay. The More We Live.. is somewhat similar, but with the difference that Squire is absolutely to the forefront vocally. It is certainly true that Kaye can be heard more than Wakeman on the ABWH tracks, and he provides good backing on this track.

Take the Water to the Mountain is a great track, which features Anderson in finest soaraway vocalist mode.

The rest of the album, though, feels like what it is. A disparate collection of over produced and edited tracks from what were in effect two different bands forced together for commercial reasons. As I write this review, I am listening to Angkor Wat, which should be a glorious fusion and collaberation between Wakeman & Anderson, but which, instead, just sounds messy, the album's principle fault.

After this finished, the resultant tour was, surprisingly, a massive success, with Wakeman & Rabin especially gelling. However, the inevitable breakup soon followed the tour, with Bruford (who excelled on the first ABWH album, but was barely heard on this), Wakeman (for the third time now), and Howe (who stated in an interview with Guitar magazine that No, I'm no Yes man!) all leaving.

Many of us thought that this album marked the end of the the band we loved, on an exceptionally low point. In fact, it marked the end of an era for the band, with a new wave to follow.

Two stars - a shame, but all it deserves.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars So many claim Open Your Eyes was Yes's worst output; I have to disagree. Union holds that dishonor. Not only is the music all over the place ("directionless pop" maybe?), but the lyrics are ridiculously lame. Why this album is called what it is I'll never understand; instead of blending as a massive amalgamation of Yes past and present, there's just a bunch of songs recorded by various members of Yes (I suppose the former possibility could have conceivably been an even more incoherent disaster). One can clearly determine which guitarist is on board on each song, for instance. This is one instance of too many cooks in the kitchen. Even master Tony Levin gets involved in this effort as a leftover from the ABWH sessions

"I Would Have Waited Forever" An explosion of vocals introduces a busy but almost purposeless arrangement. The layers of vocals are almost ludicrous and make it difficult to focus on anything. The guitar and bass riffs finish the song wonderfully, but (thankfully) bear no relation to what came prior.

"Shock to the System" Gritty 1980s pop music is the best way to sum this up (think Michael Jackson at his peak). Take away Jon Anderson's vocals, and perhaps Steve Howe's guitar, and this is indistinguishable from the pop-rock prevalent of that time- Paula Abdul could have had a hit with this one.

"Masquerade" It is unfortunate the highlight of the album is a Howe solo piece, performed gracefully as ever on a hearty twelve-string guitar.

"Lift Me Up" This is a solid rocker with some progressive metal leanings courtesy of Trevor Rabin, and is very close to the music from Big Generator.

"Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day" Softer synthesizer and Anderson's voice begin this one. After the introduction, the nondescript, junky rock takes over, and I find myself staring out the window every time I hear it (which is why I don't drive while listening to this album). Howe's spectacular guitars (reminiscent of the build in "Turn of the Century") are the only saving grace of this song.

"Saving My Heart" Rabin struts his stuff with his screaming guitar, but does over one of the goofiest musical backdrops I've ever heard from Yes.

"Miracle of Life" Take what could have been a very good instrumental and add some absurdly unfitting vocal arrangements, and that's what this is. The vocals just needed to be different, and this would have been a top piece of music. Tony Kaye's keyboards are a great aspect of this song, giving it some vintage flavor. Chris Squire also sounds more like himself on bass, and the drumming of Alan White is clear and powerful.

"Silent Talking" Aside from the silly electronic drums of Bill Bruford, this is an interesting piece of music, particularly with Howe on deck. Again, the echoing vocal work of Anderson "doesn't ring true," and once more I would have preferred it if this were an instrumental, especially in light of Rick Wakeman's excellent keyboard additions.

"More We Live / Let Go" 1980s percussion and synthesizer mixed with lyrics like "You and I can change the world" and "all we need is just to believe in ourselves" make me recoil in terror that a band like Yes could come to such a place in their careers. On a positive note, Squire's vocals are always welcome, and they work well alongside Rabin's even cleaner voice.

"Angkor Wat" Glittery synthesizer and Anderson's vocals go together for this more pensive track. His inflections, though, make me think of Sting singing with The Police. Something about this song, however, reminds me of very early Yes, which featured Anderson's lonely voice instead of an army of vocals.

"Dangerous (Look in the Light of What You're Searching For)" Here is another funky pop-rock track in the vein of "Shock to the System" Janet Jackson should have been handed this number, and that's that. Okay, that's not that: The old hip-hop percussion and the singing of "mmm" is one of the most terrible things I've ever heard.

"Holding On" An applause is due to Levin for his powerful bass performance on this track, and Anderson's convicting vocals for once do not sound ridiculous. This song is nothing special, but is pretty okay.

"Evensong" Here is a brief but beautiful piece of music with Wakeman's keyboards and Bruford's percussion.

"Take the Water to the Mountain" A New Age but soothing track, Anderson's vocals sound pleasant with the surrounding washes of music, and none of it sounds so obtrusive. Still, there's nothing particularly excellent here.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Union is definitly something odd in the Yes discography. Kind of a frankenstein project ajusting pieces where they did not fit and so on. The combination of two different line ups under the same title is indeed strange (Jon Anderson being the only real īunionī between the two). At the time I refused to hear this record at all and simpy forgot about it for years. This very idea seemed to be the last nail in the coffin of progīs best band ever. I was too fed up with the groupīs 80īs output to even bother listening.

It all changed when my brother in law travelled back to USA and gave me a bunch of his CDs before leaving town: Union happened to be among them. When I put it on I found that the music inside was not that bad. In fact it sounded better then a lot of their latest works. I discover it was more pleasant if I decided to forget whoīs playing in what track and listen to it as a whole (union?). Well, even if they still have not much to say (the lyrics are quite silly, but I can live with that), I liked the final result. At least the playing is great and the songwriting is good (sometimes very good). Of course you canīt compare this CD to their classic stuff of the 70īs (Tormato included, you radicals!), but it is still purely Yes. And the cover is beautiful.

All in all, a decent record. Simpler songs, but they work. Since I had no expectations at all, it was a nice surprise. Those guys are really fantastic, even under strange circunstances. 3 stars.

Review by TheGazzardian
2 stars It pains me to give so many negative reviews to my favorite band, but unfortunately, for about fifteen years, they weren't producing the same music they were before. Instead, they redefined themselves in the context of the new musical landscape, a movement that was prompted by the inclusion of new guitarist, Trevor Rabin.

It seems that, while he was in the band, they were unable to record albums at the same speed that they had previously. This album was probably partially delayed by Jon Anderson leaving to create Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, basically an entirely second lineup that was unable to use the Yes name.

If you, as a record company, see a key member of your band going off and making albums with other former members of the band, you might get nervous. So why not coerce him back into the band, using the idea of a large 'union' between his version of the band and the existing version as enticement?

Unfortunately for fans, who must have been super excited to see Yes uniting in their biggest lineup ever, that is what happened here. In a sense, fans still got the best of both worlds, for this album was basically a mishmash of an unfinished ABWH album, and an unfinished YesWest (as the Rabin lineup was occasionally called) album. But there was no real union going on here. The two bands did not really interplay, other than Jon Anderson singing vocals on all the tracks.

You would think, with 9 talented musicians, the band would be happy, but this album also features several sessions musicians. Many of Steve Howe's guitar parts were actually re-recorded by someone else! Rick Wakeman makes very little appearances as well. This was partially due to the release schedule and other band members having solo careers.

Okay, so we have an album that really is not what it was promised to us to be. But if the music is good, who cares, right? Well, this album doesn't have a a lot of good music. The poppy songs are the cheesiest yet, with lyrics like "I would have waited forever for you to come into my life", or "Saving my heart for you, do what you want to do, there's a place in my heart for you, this time I'm watching you. Until the blood in veins runs dry, I'll be there to testify." (Well, at least this time, we know what the music is about, no Khatru here!)

The music isn't all bad. Without Hope, You Cannot Start the Day has a cool dark feeling to it. Shock to the System rocks pretty hard. Masquerade is another great Steve Howe solo track (and features no sessions musicians). The More We Live - Let Go is a pretty successful pop song, and Angkor Wat has a really cool feeling, if it doesn't quite translate into it being a good song.

The truth is, however, that almost all the good songs were played live during the Union tour (which I've heard, unlike the album, was actually amazing and the band really enjoyed), and from the bootlegs I've heard, they sounded much better live. If the record company were to release a live album from this era, it would be a better purchase than this album.

My final words? When Rick Wakeman first heard this album, he threw it out his limo window because it was so bad. He has since referred to it as "Onion" because it makes him cry. It still has some good tracks, but unless you are a fan of Yes, it won't be worth wading through all the poor tracks to get to them.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Union is the 13th full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act Yes. Itīs a bit of an odd collaborative effort which features eight former and present members of the band collaborating in different constellations plus Tony Levin guesting on bass on some of the tracks.

Let me say from the start that itīs very audible that the title of the album isnīt very suiting for the content. The album gets off to a good start though and after the three first songs I was actually thinking that this could be a pretty solid album ( nothing like the classic albums by the band of course). From song four Lift Me Up everything starts to go wrong though and the good start to the album is soon forgotten. After the 65:25 minutes long playing time is over Iīm quite exhausted and itīs such a pitty because when Yes decides to play some progressive parts they really shine. Too bad those parts drown in AOR tinged sugary pomp pop/ rock most of the time. Of course itīs professional and well composed but itīs not very interesting to these ears. An aquired taste for sure. The biggest problem is the inconsistency of the material though. Itīs too obvious that the songs were recorded by two different constellations of the band and as a consequence the album sounds fragmented.

A 2 star rating is the most Iīm prepared to give for Union and my impression is that this album should be regarded as one of the low points of Yes discography. Enter at your own risk.

Review by thehallway
1 stars Oh god......I feel sick!

So, continuing the fruit and vegetable theme that began with 'Tormato', 'Onion' is suitably rotten, painstakingly bitter, and makes the former seem almost sweet.

We've all seen the ratings. We've all heard how less is more and therefore how more is considerably less. We've all seen the 8 then-members of Yes publicly express their hate and embarrassment for being associated with this album (apart from Trevor Rabin, who of course wrote half of it, making it AMAZING). And most importantly, we've all heard each other cry when listening to the 14 never-ending songs.

Perhaps I'm being harsh. Let me just put the record on and have a liste- oh, I wasn't being harsh at all.

This is more than a Union, it's an orgy! The initial eight musicians seem to have minimal input (because they hated each other's guts of course) and so, adding up the list of underpaid session musicians on Wikipedia, we actually have: 13 keyboard players, 4 guitarists, 4 percussionists, 3 bassists, 2 drummers, and an ESSENTIAL 14 vocalists! And of course, none of these people were in the studio at the same time. That pretty much sums it up.

Oh I almost forgot; the content!

...silly me, there is none. This is 100% filler. Even Roger Dean is having a day off! And you'll need one too if you sit through all 70 minutes of Union. I Bet you wish you hadn't thrown 'Tormato' in your compost bin now!

Review by progpositivity
3 stars Even people who don't agree on much of anything can temporarily unite in the opposition of a common enemy. Such is the case with the much maligned Yes album "Union". With such a varied set of songwriters and overabundant cast of musicians, it was inevitable that nobody would get everything they wanted. Unfortunately, some participants got almost nothing they wanted by the time all the rerecording and remixing was complete. Despite the procedural shortcomings and hurt feelings, however, too many cooks in the kitchen didn't spoil the entire album for me as a listener. From a strictly musical perspective, I'll take Union over Big Generator any day of the week. Of course it is stylistically schizophrenic. What else should one expect from one-point-five albums joined together by a common lawsuit? Even so, to my ears, Union marks the beginning of Trevor Rabin's return to a position of healthy respect for the classic Yes vibe. He would take his "lessons learned" during this period of time and apply it to his leadership on the "Talk" album, departing from his tenure with the band on a high note with "Endless Dream". And one more thing... "Shock to the System" still rocks my world.
Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars I have to confess that I'm a fan. I like almost everything the YES and relatives have done so this is probably why I like also this very underrated album. I don't think it's so bad. The only one which didn't do anything for me is Big Generator and Union for me is far better.

Regardless all the discussions about vegetables (Onion), production overdubbings and members unsatisfaction (Howe and Wakeman mainly), this is not too different from ABWH, also because that lineup was ready for the second album, but also the tracks from the western side of YES are everything but bad.

I can understand the disappointment of some fans for the pop side of the band, but nobody can pretend that YES can release something like Close to the Edge at the end of the 80s.

The album lacks of continuity, but if you don't consider Anderson, this is effectively a compilation of two different bands so it couldn't have been different.

Songs like "I Would Have Waited Forever" and "Lift Me Up" are a bit commercial, but commercial doesn't always mean "bad". There's some weak moment, but in the end it's a standard YES album, not too different from TALK that has a far better rating on PA. I think what makes Union different is the presence of Jon with both the lineups. In some points the album sounds more like one of Jon Anderson's solos (which I usually like).

I also had the opportunity to be at one of the gigs of the Union tour. It was really better than the ABWH tour of one or two years before. The YES are one of the few bands which didn't have a big fall in the 80s like others did. Union closes that decade in a decent way and even if non- essential it's still a good album.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars What a mess this album was.

A record company executives dream (not the one that includes piles of cash, the blood of a tortured artist, and several donkeys) this album was marketed as the uniting of the two versions of Yes at the time, Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe and Yes-West, the Trevor Rabin led group. ABWH had been in the studio recording their second album, and the other Yes was in the process of trying to regroup, when this "union" was established.

The big mistake was bringing in Jon Anderson's friend Jonathan Elias as the producer. Just listen to his only preceding non-soundtrack album, "Requiem for the Americas: Songs from the Lost World", to hear what a mess he can make of things (Charlie Sheen? Really?). Elias thought he knewn better than these talented prog musicians, and cut out most of Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman's parts, replacing them with blandness played by his own hired hacks. The result is an album that rivals the worst in the Yes catalogue, "Talk" and "Open Your Eyes".

There are a few minor good moments. Silent Talking, based on a piece from one of Howe's solo albums, could have been a great song, but it gets ruined about halfway through, by digressing into a lame arena rock chorus. The More We Live - Let Go is pretty good as well (not surprisingly, this was produced by Eddie Offard). A few other moments here and there make me listen for a bit, with an indication that the music might get better. It doesn't.

Review by colorofmoney91
1 stars Union follows the '80s cheesy pop style that Yes had used in their previous two albums. Anyone who hasn't heard this album really isn't missing anything at all. I actually consider this album to be worse than the two previous albums for lack of anything meaningfully progressive and even less memorable moments than Big Generator had, which was only one song. The album cover is much improved over the last two albums, but of course that isn't enough for me to offer up more than a one-star rating. I feel that the overall songwriting on this album has also regressed. To me, it sounds kind of like an '80s pop version of Relayer, which is to say this album sounds quite gross.

This is another album by Yes that can easily be skipped over. I don't know if anyone could find much to like about this album, but I'm sure there are such people.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars The clash of two bands on one directionless album.... A real shock to the system

Announcing to the world...... this is the worst album of Yes.

More incoherent than Tormato, and even noisier than Big Generator, and less accomplished than Talk.

The best parts were mixed out by a bitter sound mixer who had no idea how he was destroying the product. It would have been half decent if Wakeman and Howe were allowed to indulge in some virtuosity but they are mixed out of the recordings. Producer Jonathan Elias should be lynched by the prog community for deliberately replacing Wakeman and Howe's solo prowess with inferior so called session musicians. There are dozens of musos not even related to the Yes membership, and way too many vocalists creating a hyper soundscape of saturated noise. The usually brilliant Bruford all but disappears. Anderson does his best on vocals to resurrect some decency and shines on a few numbers, such as Shock to the System. I can't think of a single high point, though Masquerade is Howe at his best, but the album is certainly so bombastic and bad at times it is laughable.

The idea must have sounded good on paper to reunite the two Yes lineups. The incredible success of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe must have made the other Yes members sit up and take notice. So the idea was to reunite both Yes's and have a massive tour. This they did with varying degrees of success. The almighty dollar would be enough to entice the members to get together. Can you imagine the excitement at the time, the tabloids, the fan expectations? It should have worked. The problem is the album is terrible. Due to the pungent stink of this album the fans were understandably less than enthusiastic about the tour. Even the band members were condoning the album, Wakeman famously calling it "Onion" as it made him cry, because he hardly recognised his keyboard work. There was a good reason too as it was replaced and under mixed throughout by that mixer. It would make any respected fan cry as Yes continued to release abysmal albums. This may be a warning to all other bands out there who would consider reuniting after members had split. It cannot work as there are two directions and two genres attempting to merge. As in business the merger always drowns out one party, in this case Rabin's rabid band of mercenaries were poisoning and stifling the unmitigated talents of ABWH.

Bruford is also quoted as stating the album was the worst thing he has ever been associated with, an embarrassment. No wonder as Bruford is virtually non existent here, even replaced at times, surely the unforgivable sin of prog. It did not help either that the old Yes members were informed that after the tour and album they would be out. So that in itself is testament to the fact that the very heart and soul of Yes was being systematically amputated; wrenched out of existence to make way for a new improved Yes, the progressive being replaced by the regressive.... and commercially viable. Prog was never meant to be viable to the masses but of course it was all about the money. Roger Dean even left this one alone.

I guess now this album stands as a monument to how it all broke down and it is really an essential part of the history of Yes; that is the decline of Yes. Having said that this album is definitely not worth owning unless you are one of these people who have to have everything Yes created. Even then Union is the epitome of what happens when great minds refuse to think alike.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It was so tempting with its pretty and retro Roger Dean art, stunning roster of players, titillating samples leaked on FM radio. We wanted it to be good. How could it not be? The math added up, it should have worked.

And it's not that Union was a bad album-- there are some truly excellent passages and the studio sound is, of course, pristine. It's not even that there's too much of it. Fourteen thematically unrelated cuts spanning over one hour ~ the ear gapes, the mind reels, the palate becomes taxed ~ but it is progressive rock, after all. That's entirely legal. No, that's not what suppressed Yes' 1991 release. It is a clash of flavors. Or as they say in the culinary arts, "flavor profiles". Mexican and Malaysian food could be great together; On the other hand, the combination might not work at all. At moments we do get the feeling most of these fellas never even saw each other while this thing was being cobbled together.

Of course beggars can't be choosers and any new music by this beloved brotherhood was welcome, but if these eight masters of their craft had focused more on making a real record ~ a thoughtful and distilled version of this music while tossing out anything irrelevant ~ we might've gotten something good. Very good. Like Drama was, or 90125. Occasionally taking their production cues from what Genesis had done so eloquently and successfully in the eighties, the extended Yes family does make a strong effort in what I suspect a few of them felt was their best recording in a long time. Steve Howe's great riffage and some sweet group vocals save 'I Would Have Waited Forever', a prime example of prog's answer to the lovelorn Van Hagar sounds of the time. Acoustic solo 'Masquerade' earned Howe a Grammy nomination for best rock instrumental, but Squire/Rabin/Anderson pieces 'Lift Me Up', 'Without Hope..', and 'Saving My Heart' are increasingly cloying and sugary, typical of the stuff Rabin and Anderson were pitching to the market.

Thankfully like a deep breath after drowning is Trevor Rabin's 'Miracle of Life', a perfectly good prog/pop bit with fine performances followed by equally good ABWH number 'Silent Talking', and Squire's brilliant and infectious 'The More We Live-Let Go' is one of his best songs and a highpoint here. Somehow extraneous 'Angkor Wat' and crappy 'Dangerous' made it to the final cut and though fractured, 'Holding On' is what could've been another tiny piece of a much better, cohesive record. A couple lukewarm attempts at Gabriel-esque World music for 'Evensong' and 'Take the Water to the Mountain' finishes this exasperating release.

What can one say about the Union period. It was a promising but ungratifying phase. Maybe it's why Rush has been able to survive intact all these years: There's only three of them.

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Union' - Yes (37/100)

I can't rightly decide whether Union was a good idea in concept or not. The idea of teaming up the 'classic' Yes with the fashionably poppish '80s Yes is about as high concept as you can get in prog without spiralling into bombastic operatic narrative. While it probably sounded like a great way to merge the merits of both eras on paper, the album itself give the impression that it was a misguided decision at best. Rather than capitalize on the 'best of both worlds' as Union was no doubt supposed to, the strongest suits of Yes' prog and pop halves alike have been dulled to make room for one another. As is the case with every less-favoured Yes record, there are a few worthy gems, but it's not enough to compensate for Union's lack of focus and appalling inconsistency. If any one of the past four albums hadn't convinced someone that the glory days were indeed over for this band, Union should have been the final nail in the coffin.

Much like the album, I too find myself torn between sides. Part of me would like to see Union in a positive light. After all, given time and patience, I was even able to find some things to love about the unpopular Big Generator, and there are just enough hints of the 'old' Yes here to have piqued my interest. On the other hand, even compared to the band's 80s material, Union feels sloppy. Whether they're attempting to bring out the proggy side of their sound or opting for lighter fluid pop anthems, the music sounds like it was out of a compromise. Regardless what idealistic notions paved the way for Yes to pull this 'all together now' gimmick, every defining problem on Union is a cause of the decision to merge rosters. Looking at the performance credits on the album is enough to give anyone a headache; Trevor Rabin, Alan White and Tony Kaye (for example) are responsible for tracks 4, 6, 7 and 9, and their earlier counterparts are responsible for the rest. Instead of a real union, the band is just as segregated as ever; the only difference is that they're stuck on the same disc together. Yes' have proved a clichéd expression true- it turns out there is such a thing as too many cooks in a kitchen.

Although moments like the introductions to "Lift Me Up" and "Miracle of Life" showcase the instrumental fireworks of the proggy Yes, it's ultimately clear that the poppy constructs of their 80s material paved the sound here. Even the two aforementioned tracks revert to a fairly recognizable AOR format once they get the technical flash out of their systems. While I'm a defender of 90125 and even Big Generator, with Union the songwriting has taken a general turn for the worse. "I Would Have Waited Forever" is a fun song that would have fit well on Big Generator. "Shock to the System" is easily the best song on Union, featuring strong melodic hooks and an interesting groove. "Masquerade" is a solid classical guitar piece from Howe, and "Angkor Wat" (curiously left off of the original pressing) is an exotic ambient track that sounds like it could have been pulled out of Jon Anderson's solo career. Also, even though it's not even a minute long, the interlude "Evensong" (by guest bassist Tony Levin) is a pint-sized gem. Of course, it's little more than wallpaper ambiance, but it's still one of the best surprises the album has going for it.

The bad songs on Union are a lot easier to spot than the good ones, and there are plenty more of them too. While the classic roster at least offered "Shock to the System", the Rabin side of this musical debate doesn't have a single musical success here. When I was reviewing Big Generator, I remember condemning it for having the worst song yet of Yes' career with "Almost Like Love". Union offers several songs that make "Almost Like Love" look favourable by comparison. "Saving My Heart" is seriously one of the worst songs I've heard in ages; saccharine cheese and a god-awful chorus have a way of turning a song sour. "Dangerous" is not quite as bad, but it's pretty close, sounding like a less-fun, shallower version of the Ghostbusters theme, and as much as many Yes fans have been quick to sing the praises of "Lift Me Up" and "Miracle of Life" for their proggy intros, the songs themselves resort to the same mind-numbing AOR crap the rest of the Rabin material here is plagued with. I was a fan of Trevor Rabin's refreshing approach on 90125, but by this point, it's clear he was just as creatively exhausted as the rest of them.

Rather than work together, it truly feels like the two Yes's are trying to duke it out on Union. Like two warring nations continuing to fight after they've both been nuked, or two swordsmen duelling long after limbs have been hacked off, neither side is anywhere near their best, but it's nonetheless clear that they aren't compatible. Were it not for "Shock to the System" and a handful of others, I might consider Union a downright horrible album. Maybe there was a way a so-called union could have worked between the two eras, but this album sure as hell is nowhere near it. To date, Union still counts as one of the most disappointing albums Yes have ever done, and I don't suspect anyone's mind is going to change anytime soon.

Review by Progfan97402
2 stars I remember very well in 1991 hearing of a new Yes album. In 1989 I knew about the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe album, and the local radio station would play "Brother of Mine". It sounded like a modernized, updated version of a progressive Yes. At that time I wasn't sure why they couldn't be called Yes, until I discovered it was because Chris Squire wasn't present. Two years later ABWH and Yes West were working on their followups, only to think these two projects should make a new Yes album. Let's just say this album is a huge mess. I can at least say the album is pretty listenable, but where's the inspiration? I remember "Lift Me Up" and "Saving My Heart" getting radio airplay, these were the Yes West cuts (the ones with Trevor Rabin), although the latter is a bit of a mistake, Yes and reggae doesn't go together (but isn't as cringeworthy as the Calypso-influenced "Teakbois" off ABWH, which would be an infinitely better album if that song was thrown in the trash). Most of the songs really failed to leave an impression on me, but I kinda liked the ambient "Ankgor Wat" (obviously an ABWH track, sounds like Rick Wakeman had just picked up a Korg M1, because it sounds like one here). Way back in '91 I thought all eight members played together, they didn't. It was simply Yes West and ABWH tracks, with Chris Squire participating in it all. Rolling Stone wasn't exactly kind to this album, gave it a * 1/2 star rating, the one part I remembered of that review was they felt they should have included Peter Banks and Geoff Downes (maybe also Trevor Horn, but I don't remember) because "eight isn't enough". The other annoying thing is they felt they needed to cram as much music as they could on one CD, because it's 1991, and no one was interested in vinyl (it was available on CD and cassette, and even vinyl) so obviously it because a bit tedious to listen to. Rick Wakeman called this "Onion" because it brings tears to his eyes every time he hears it or is reminded of it.

While I was never a fan of Yes-West, it's actually rather good pop/rock, much like Genesis was, because they did make some solid music, even if you might not go for the more commercial approach (Genesis was much the same, although I started developing less tolerance for '80s Genesis after hearing the Gabriel-era material), but on Union it wasn't much of a "union", and making great songs seemed to gone awry. This is one where I could agree on the Rolling Stone review. Luckily I bought this on cassette, for cheap. Two stars because most of the material isn't particularly cringeworthy, but isn't too remarkable either.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The album "Union", the 11th in Yes' studio discography, was ill fated from the beginning. It was a bad idea in the first place to dismantle the band ABWH to join the members with what was then the current line up for Yes. The band ended up with 8 members and countless session musicians and other guests being involved in putting an album together that was originally supposed to be 2 separate albums. Then there was the fact that there was so much dissension among both bands. No wonder we ended up with such a messed up album.

Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford had already recorded parts for the songs that were originally going to be on the new ABWH, but the producers and the label both thought that there wasn't any hit material from the music they had recorded, while Wakeman and Bruford both thought they had recorded some of the strongest material they had done in a long time. Some session musicians were hired to edit the material already supplied and Wakeman said that by the time they had finished editing and manipulating the material, that he didn't even recognize it anymore. Bruford said that the album is the "?most dishonest title that I've had the privilege of playing drums underneath?". All of the other band members have agreed that this was the most disjointed and inauthentic album Yes has ever produced. This is what happens when businessmen think they know better than musicians. Sure it sold well, but that was because of the band's previous reputation.

So, in the end, is it really as bad as what people make it out to be? Maybe about half of it, is my answer. There are some salvageable tracks on this album, but there are others that are just mediocre, not necessarily terrible, just so-so. Since most everyone has experienced this album for better or worse, I just want to summarize the tracks. I'll get the lesser tracks on the 1st side out of the way. I find there is just too much similarity in "I Would Have Waited Forever", "Shock to the System", "Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day" and "Saving My Heart". These tracks may have been great intensions that got flattened down to mediocre songs by the corporate machine, and they sound too much the same to me, overly rocked out.

On the better side of things, "Lift Me Up" was penned by Trevor Rabin for ABWH to use on their now defunct album and feels more real. "Miracle of Life" has that hard progressive edge of "90125", some tricky and changing rhythms, and probably the best track on the album. "Masquerade" is a guitar solo that highlights Steve Howe's guitar mastery. "Silent Talking", is reminiscent of the ABWH and older Yes sound, especially since it was credited to all four musicians from that band, but was probably changed to some extent for this album.

I find that "More We Live/Let Go" is a hidden treasure, not necessarily a typical Yes track as it is more of a down-beat track, but the shared vocals and harmonies are the highlight that packs an emotional wallop as it continues. It's a track that tends to get buried on the 2nd half of the album after the pomp of the rest of the album.

After that, things tend to be weakened. "Angkor Wat" sounds like something off of a lesser Jon Anderson solo album. It is actually ambient sounding, which is fine, but it meanders on too long. "Dangerous" is another mediocre rock song that tries hard to be more than what it is and ends up just fizzling out. "Holding On" is forgettable. "Evensong" is a short track written by Bruford and Tony Levin, who was going to join ABWH as their bassist, but it's short and over quickly before you even notice it. "Take the Water to the Mountain" is another Anderson solo style track which ends everything in a lackluster way. The European and Japanese versions had a bonus track called "Give and Take" which doesn't add or take away anything from the album.

I hate being so critical of one of my favorite bands, but I can't deny this is a mediocre album, mostly destroyed by the powers that be and a lot of disillusioned musicians. Too many hands were definitely in this fire. But, some say it's the band's worst, which it isn't, and others say that deserves 1 star, which it doesn't. There are some great Yes tracks here, which I've named, so I don't consider it a total wash, but even so, I can only manage to give it 3 stars as the highs and lows of the album even each other out in my mind. I can listen to the album once in a while, and it doesn't completely piss me off the way "Open Your Eyes" and "Heaven and Earth" does.

Review by patrickq
2 stars Union used to be the Yes album Yes fans loved to hate, and to some degree it still is. I would guess that casual fans are probably more forgiving. More than anything else, fans were upset over the process used to create the album. This seems to bleed over into a feeling that the album itself is poor. And while band leader and vocalist Jon Anderson was clearly the mastermind here, blame has been deflected onto producer Jonathan Elias. It's true that without Anderson and Elias, there'd be no Union album, even if the two Yes factions had united for a tour. And from one perspective, we Yes fans have Anderson and Elias to blame for a bunch of mediocre material. But from another, we have them to thank for putting together a collection that includes several strong tracks.

In fact, if Union were marketed as a take-it-or-leave-it, "odds & sods" compilation for fans, I'll bet it's Prog Archives score would be 3.5, not 2.5. Instead, as I recall, it was hyped, as its title more than implies, as a "union" of the eight musicians whose managers had been suing each other just months before. When "Lift Me Up" was issued to radio stations in advance of the album's release, I remember taping it off the radio and deconstructing it with friends. We figured out that Bill Bruford (who was obviously playing the electronic drums alongside Alan White's acoustic kit) and Steve Howe (whose guitar licks we could clearly discern from those of Trevor Rabin) were both on the song! With Anderson and bassist Chris Squire clearly audible as singers, that meant at least three quarters of each faction had played on the track; surely keyboardists Tony Kaye and Rick Wakeman were in there somewhere too! Right?

No, not right. "Lift Me Up" was one of four songs recorded submitted by the Rabin-Squire-Kaye-White band, with Anderson's vocals added later. The other eleven songs were Anderson-Bruford-Wakeman-Howe songs, to two of which Squire added backing vocals in an attempt to make the songs sound more like Yes. Add to this the fact that studio musicians were all over Union like ants on a lollipop dropped in the dirt at the park, and the result is not a union at all. But the felony here is more in the marketing, to which the band acquiesced, and not the music, which is more of a misdemeanor.

There are fifteen songs on the full version of Union, and several are not bad. Anderson-Howe-Elias pieces like "I Would've Waited Forever," "Shock to the System," "Holding On," and "Silent Talking" (the latter credited to Anderson, Bruford, Elias, Howe, and Wakeman) all contain strong, melodic sections, as do Rabin's "Lift Me Up," written with Squire, and "The Miracle of Life," written with Mark Mancina. "Evensong," written and performed by Bruford with bassist Tony Levin, is an nice little number which doesn't overstay its welcome.

Even better than these is "The More We Live - - Let Go," written by Squire and Billy Sherwood, and performed by these two with Anderson singing lead on the verses. (Having cited Sherwood, I'll mention what might be obvious: in addition to the eight official members of Yes, there are significant songwriting and instrumental contributions from several others, most notably Levin, who plays more bass on the album than Squire; Elias, who co-wrote, and is credited with performing on, more than half of the songs, and guitarist Jimmy Haun, who apparently is the primary guitarist on the album.

The standout song on Union is Howe's acoustic-guitar solo "Masquerade," an enjoyable, well-composed, very nicely played piece. As a bonus, it is a near-perfect introduction to "Lift Me Up," which follows "Masquerade" in the running order.

I'm sure that it's been pointed out that there are about forty minutes of good, though not great, songs on Union. Prior to Union - - prior, that is, to the CD age and the expectation that albums should be an hour long, Yes albums were 35 to 45 minutes long (except for Tales from Topographic Oceans). Had Union just contained the above-listed songs, I'd say it was a three-star album. However, this was not to be, as Union goes for an additional half-hour (I'm including "Give and Take" here; the total time of the complete album is about 70 minutes).

I'm not going to drag these songs through the mud, other than to say that in addition to the good 40 minutes, trust me: there is plenty of bad - - and ugly. And while the poorer tracks are more concentrated on the second half, there are low-quality pieces interspersed throughout, which really reduces the listening experience.

So, two stars. In short: two very good songs, an album's worth of decent ones, and an EP's worth of dreck.

Latest members reviews

1 stars And so 1991's Union was born. This is effectively two bands performing on the same album. Jon Anderson rejoined Trevor Rabin's Yes while still fronting the ABWH material. (Squire also provided backing vocals on a few of the ABWH songs.) No song on this album has all eight members playing at once, th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2903105) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Review - #21 (Yes - Union) Union is an album that generally seems to get a negative reception within the prog community, however, I tend to believe that there is more a lot good than bad found here. Union is the thirteenth studio album by Yes released in April of 1991 by Arista Records. The alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#2546715) | Posted by Prog Zone | Saturday, May 29, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The thirteenth album by YES, with probably among most problematic YES albums in the making. YES 'Big Generator' line up (without Jon Anderson) was working on some tracks while on the other side, ABWH was also preparing their second album. In short, with old connection among YES then and past mem ... (read more)

Report this review (#2501463) | Posted by Mark-P | Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Just Scratches 2 Stars. Mostly Bad. Perhaps the 'mistake' that had to occur, this album brought the two Yes camps (Yes-West and Yes-UK) seemingly back together on the same album. In truth, the two camps did not play together - each supplied their separate pieces, with botched additional productio ... (read more)

Report this review (#1696018) | Posted by Walkscore | Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars For a record that has received such harsh criticism from so many directions, not least from several of the band members who contributed to it, I have to say that this is a pretty good hour's worth of music, and one which I enjoyed a great deal more than I expected. Yes, it may be a less "pur ... (read more)

Report this review (#1559342) | Posted by _Mike | Thursday, May 5, 2016 | Review Permanlink

2 stars For the longest time I thought that this was the worst album in Yes's history...until 1997. I know it's an unpopular statement, but I like the Yes West songs MUCH better than the ABWH songs. Although the notes here show the main players, on most of the ABWH songs there are guest musicians who ... (read more)

Report this review (#913351) | Posted by wehpanzer | Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars There's often a lot of speculation about the making of this album and whether or not is was a genuine "Union". Forgetting about all that was involved and the band politics behind the scenes, and despite this reviewer being a huge fan of the old Yes, I quite like the music on this album, even tho ... (read more)

Report this review (#888444) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Saturday, January 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yes - Union Essentially this is the real second Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album with Yes contributing four tracks. With the virtual absence of Chris Squire's forthright bass on the album ? most of these duties are undertaken by drummer Bruford's Crimson colleague Tony Levin. The input by p ... (read more)

Report this review (#569190) | Posted by uduwudu | Thursday, November 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars So there's like, what?, 20 people playing on this mess? And even Tony Levin comes along for the ride...I'm not even sure that this should be included as a true Yes album. This is more like a random agglomeration of songs from different projects and different people all shoved into 1 disc. From ... (read more)

Report this review (#444930) | Posted by mohaveman | Monday, May 9, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The two side of Yes, Howe's Yes and Rabin's Yes in one album? great idea but not good final result. Squire not plays with Howe's Yes andthis is replaced by Tony Levin also if sung 3 songs. These songs (of Howe's yes) are 9 and there are the 2nd ABWH album (i.e. Yes without Yes monicker because ... (read more)

Report this review (#365277) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Monday, December 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I like 'Union'. Always have. It's a combination of Trevor Rabin's 'Yes' and the 'old' school of Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Steve Howe (ABWH). Because I thought that the ABWH album was much better than 'Big Generator', I expected to enjoy ABWH's input on 'Union' more than Trevor Rabin's i ... (read more)

Report this review (#301408) | Posted by sussexbowler | Friday, October 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This might be Yes' best album. I haven't heard all of their albums yet, but have heard the 'classic' stuff, except 'Going for the one'. In the seventies Yes made prog that looked down at your nose; was cold and it's main purpose was to drag songs out to over ten minutes, often to the twenty ... (read more)

Report this review (#284434) | Posted by Brendan | Tuesday, June 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Whoa whoa hold on there! Now I don't pretend to be much of a fan of so-called classic Yes, but I do very much like the Going For The One album, and in my view Union is actually pretty good, although I agree it is patchy. It is far better that he ABWH effort. I would have waited forever - A Ye ... (read more)

Report this review (#279022) | Posted by gingernut | Thursday, April 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Out of what Trevor Rabin called a 34th floor boardroom decision came Union. And it certainly sounds like that. At first listen, its even hard to believe that they all played on this album. Some songs sound like ABWH, some like Yes. There really isn't any overlap, just the occasional bit that sou ... (read more)

Report this review (#201471) | Posted by AmericanKhatru | Monday, February 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Sometime two heads don't think better than one Union was a hope, but after a lot of time that I put it away I can say that Union is a waste of time, why? Simple we got like 2 lineup (the one from ABWH and the other with the reserves - maybe White was a main-Yes, but I'll give that place to Bill ... (read more)

Report this review (#190755) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Friday, November 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Reunion as UNION of ABWH and YesWest. This album features 8 Yes veteran members, fantastic line-up, isn't it? But what a shame result... Some tracks were written almost by ABWH, some by YesWest and completely we have 15 tracks on this one! Freaking record! Yes ahoi!!! But the main thing that h ... (read more)

Report this review (#178259) | Posted by Resurrected | Saturday, July 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I'm a faithful Yes fan but maybe Union is one of the weakest Yes album. However there are some good tracks whch reminds some of the 70's classic Yes and some of the best 80's Yes hits... Obviously this is not enough to make a great album. In fact the "union" proclaimed by the title doesn't wotk ... (read more)

Report this review (#143433) | Posted by progadicto | Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars (Three and a half stars, really.) The band's best album since "Going For the One" as far as I'm concerned. It certainly beats the living hell out of "90125", "Big Generator" "Talk" and "Open Your Eyes". The inclusion of past YES members on this album, especially STEVE HOWE couldn't be mor ... (read more)

Report this review (#109382) | Posted by | Monday, January 29, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is one of the most controversial albums in the history of Yes. The title itself is a lie: there was no real Union as it is actually a mix of songs from Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe (the major part of the album) and from the Yes-West members Rabin, Squire, White and Kaye (only four so ... (read more)

Report this review (#82593) | Posted by eddietrooper | Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I bought this album many years ago. At that moment i did try to listen it many times, it never hook me up. Two weeks ago, i listened to it again, twice!!! What wrong with this album? i cannot say, but it seems that it is very pop, that every member did try to make his own little famous solo or ... (read more)

Report this review (#58315) | Posted by | Sunday, November 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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