Yes - 90125
We have talked about the history of Yes up until Close To The Edge in a previous issue of Counting Out Time. So what happened with the band since then... I will only give a brief account of the Yes-history, because, as is well know, it is probably one of the most complicated in the whole of prog.
After Close to the Edge, the double album Tales from Topographic Oceans (1974) followed, with Alan White replacing Bill Bruford on drums. Pushing the direction from the previous albums in terms of even more experiments and long, in some opinions boring, pieces of music to extremes, this was bound to lead to internal problems. Indeed, Rick Wakeman openly admitted he didn't like the album and left after the tour. With Patrick Moraz as a replacement on keyboards, Anderson, Howe, Squire and White made Relayer (1974). After Relayer, the band disassembled to produce solo-albums. But on these albums, members of Yes appear constantly.
Going For The One (1977) saw the return of Wakeman, in my personal opinion the highlight of Yes' work in the 70's, with the song Awaken as the Olympus of emotion in their music. This only to be followed by a deep fall with Tormato (1978) in the same line-up, an album to be quickly forgotten.
Anderson and Wakeman then decided to leave Yes. Squire, Howe and White continued as a trio. Meanwhile, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles (of the hit-single "Video Killed the Radio Star") wanted Yes to sell them a song. In stead, they ended up being the new members of Yes! This new line-up released Drama (1980). Trevor Horne was not to sure of himself on vocals during the subsequent tour, and retired to producing. After that, Yes effectively was dissolved.
Howe and Downes formed a new super-group called Asia with John Wetton (former King Crimson and UK) and Carl Palmer (of ELP). Squire and White joined Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin to form XYZ ('ex-Yes and Zeppelin'). XYZ never released an album. (One piece was recycled by Page in The Firm and another formed the basis to "Mind Drive" on Keys to Ascension 2.) Squires and White were later joined by Trevor Rabin to form Cinema, with Tony Kaye later joining as well. Trevor Horn was originally to have been Cinema's vocalist, but he retreated to producing.
Cinema recorded some demos, re-using material Rabin had recorded as solo demos. Anderson then joined the band, leading to a name change (back) to Yes, under pressure of the money-makers of the record company as one can assume. Finally, 90125 (1983) was released. The title is nothing more or less than the catalogue-number the album would get. Lack of inspiration?
Before 90125 was released though, after most of the album had been completed, Kaye had left the band after falling out with Horn and Rabin. Before Kaye had first joined Cinema, Squire had tried to recruit Eddie Jobson. Jobson had refused then, but, approached again, now agreed to replace Kaye. Jobson jammed with the band a few times, although nothing was ever recorded, and appears in the video for "Owner of a Lonely Heart". However, after a few months, Kaye returned. A suggestion that Yes continue with two keyboard players was rejected by Jobson, who left the band and he was edited out of the "Owner of a Lonely Heart" video, although brief glimpses of him can still be seen.
On its own, 90125 represents a new sound and attitude for Yes. This can be directly linked to one new member, Trevor Rabin. Rabin's sound is much more modern than Yes' previous style. The production by Trevor Horn is fresh and bright and holds up even today, and he doesn't sing (unlike Drama).
The songs are much more mainstream than Yes' music of the past, but it is quite good and still quite complex. What stands out on this album is the Squire/White rhythm section. While they played well together on past albums, this album has Squire playing with more feeling and White pounding out some incredible rhythms ("Hold On" and "Changes" are perfect examples). Emphasis on 90125 has switched from the keyboard to the guitar, and the result is a much louder, harder edge to the music. All this, and the subsequent discussion of the individual songs, are of course purely my own opinion and therefore not open for discussion ;-).
Owner Of A Lonely Heart (Rabin, Anderson, Squire, Horn) - 4:30
The well known hit-single, a number one in America and many countries in Europe. This was, after more than 15 years, the break-through of Yes to the general pop/rock audience. Just try it: ask a random person about Yes, and after a couple of seconds when they admit they have no idea about Yes, mention this song. Faces lighten up and recognition everywhere: aaahh, that complex, yet catchy song!
Hold On (Rabin, Anderson, Squire) - 5:17
Another typical 5-minute-rock tune, with nice heavy pounding Squires/White rhythm section, unfortunately completely destroyed by some redundant rhytmic tricks. The deep Rabin guitar gives this song a somewhat darker, more metal-like edge. This song was also promoted as a single.
It Can Happen (Squire, Anderson, Rabin) - 5:29
This song has a cool sitar-intro with a deep bass pounding. Great vocals on this one! I must admit I really like the special effects used on the vocals and Rabin's voice mixes great with Anderson's. This song is more complex than for instance Hold On and in my opinion the influence of Rabin is less than on the other songs, but maybe I underestimate him. Weird lyrics though.
Changes (Rabin, Anderson, White) -6:19
Changes opens with one of the coolest 7/4 rhythms I know (apart from Oldfields' Tubular Bells, or was that a 9/8 ?). Great stuff. Especially live, this song is a killer. After the intro, the song settles in a more regular rhythm, with the classic rock-song built. This song convinced me of the fact that I like Rabin's voice better than Anderson's.
Cinema (Squire, Rabin, White, Kaye) - 2:16
One of Yes' very rare instrumentals. Since this song has the same title as the original band, and Anderson is not credited, I assume that this is what the band Cinema would have sounded. Supposedly, this was origanally part of a longer piece of music. The hi-hat (or what is this tss-tss sound called?) is really disturbing and gives the idea of almost being out of rhythm.
Leave It (Squire, Rabin, Horn) - 4:14
Cinema flows into this piece. It features some wonderful complex vocals. Apparently, there was an accapella version released back in 1984. It is definitely more "produced", and in style resembles Owner Of A Lonely Heart.
Our Song (Anderson, Squire, Rabin, White) - 4:18
Well, opinions differ on this one. I like it, it has a good vibe. Just another rocky tune with a nice chorus.
City Of Love (Rabin, Anderson) - 4:52
Pounding bass and guitar and a vocal line that is too powerfull for Anderson's frêle voice. This could be catagorized in the Hold on catagory. The guitar solo's in this song are cool.
Hearts (Anderson, Squire, Rabin, White, Kaye) - 7:35
The longest song on the album and obviously a team effort, since this song opens with a more classic piece of Yes-music, in a style that later would be exploited by ABWH. This is, arguably, the best song on the album, combining the best of the two worlds, Yes and Rabin and it provides a great closing to what has become an absolute classic in the history of music, 90125.
Written by Remco Schoenmakers