Yes, Fly From Here, 2011

Yes - Fly From HereWhat do you call a band, that exchanges band members like other people change underwear, and still manage to sound like nothing ever changed at all? Well, the obvious answer of course is Yes. Here joined by the great Benoit David (Mystery, check them out!) on vocals and Geoff Downes (Asia) on keyboards. And wait, Trevor Horne is producing…. So we have part of the Drama line up back (an underrated album if you ask me). Or is this an upgraded version of The Buggles? Madman At The Screens sounds like an amalgam of those two. So is it a question of ” the more things change, the more they stay the same” ?

Well the easy part is saying yes (pun intended). After all, it is rather uncanny how much this sounds like the band, no matter what incarnation of it. Yet, I cannot say this is not viable. The only man to be part of all things Yes, Chris Squire, is still a part of it (duh!). And Alan White on drums and Steve Howe on guitar are of course no strangers to the band and the sound either.
Most important, I really like listening to this. I like that it is comfortable, without becoming predictable. They are just so damn good at what they do. It never feels like a cash in, it is much to playful for that. Yes are known for their musicianship, so no exceptions here. Their sound is bigger than who is on board I guess, so if you liked them in the past, you will dig this surely as well. For me, I like this any day of the week!


Classic: Yes, Fragile, 1972

yes - fragileIt is a little step from the previously discussed classical guitar work to this, the Fragile album album by Yes. After all, it is about the same instrument opening this wonderful album. I have a remastered edition, which does full justice to the musicianship and the timeless sound of this classic.

That first song, Roundabout, is of course one of the more known tracks from Yes and this album in particular. It can also serve of a perfect example what Yes is about. After all we hear trademarks like classical guitar and electric guitar solo´s (Steve Howe) lightning fast keyboard wizardry (Rick Wakeman), angelic vocals (Jon Anderson) and also heavenly vocal harmonies. And let´s not forget the masterful bass playing and drumming, courtesy of Chris Squire and Bill Bruford.
The various members of the band all get their moment to shine. Tracks like Cans And Brahms, We Have Heaven, Five Per Cent For Nothing and The Fish were purposely recorded for that very reason. But we also get prime symphonic tracks like South Side Of The Sky and Heart Of The Sunrise. Or that brooding track Long Distance Runaround.

Yes knew how to keep things fresh and tie in the fans. So they not only excelled at their instrument of choice, but also managed to write and record numerous classic albums. This being one of them…

Yes, Drama, 1980 (2004 remaster)

yes - dramaAhh, a controversial album among the Yes fanbase. Must confess I never really understood why! Trevor Horn sounds a lot like Jon Anderson, and musically this is typical YES. Or is it just because the little big man isn´t the one singing? Mmhmm, lets see.

The album is very recognisable, melodic, well crafted, well executed, housed in a Roger Dean painting, great singing from Trevor and Chris. Maybe a little less esotheric. But I prefer it above Tormato every day of the week. So it must be me 😉

This remaster has no less than 11 bonus tracks. Some of which are heavy bootlegged. Of were, as of this release I guess. From the original album I love all songs, so no favorites there. The bonus tracks feature single versions of Into The Lens and Run Through The Light. (BTW, Trevor Horn did another version of Into The Lens, together with keyboard player Geoff Downes, on the second Buggles album called Adventures in Modern Recording. They called it I Am A Camera, which is the subtitle here.) But in my opinion they add little value to the original album.

Other bonus tracks are session recordings. This leaves us with 6 other unreleased songs. Have We Really Got… is a studio jam at best. A rough sketch of what could become a song. Same applies to Song no 4.  No lyrics or vocals, just instrumental.  Dancing Though The Light is Run Through The Light but in a strange dance like fashion. What were they thinking here?

The remaining 3 songs are taken from a 1979 recording session with Jon Andersson and Rick Wakeman present. As the booklet so nicely states, something wasn´t feeling right, so they left… Still, these songs are recognisable Yes material. Just rough, but keep in mind they were working on this material at the time. Being a Yes afficionado myself, I did enjoy hearing these tracks. And as this remaster is available at a bargain price, you should get it if you don´t already own it on CD. I think the 6 songs that form the original Drama release are worth it!