Fly From Here
I wondered why the first few tunes on Yes’ CD Fly From Here sounded like the Drama era version of the band when Buggles Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn replaced Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson, respectively. Well for one thing, Horn produced Fly From Here, the band’s 20th studio album. And Downes plays keyboards on all but the three songs with Oliver Wakeman. In 1980, Horn and Downes presented a demo of “Fly From Here,” the title track of the new album, just before joining the band. Through various permutations and changes, the song is the centerpiece of the record and one of the band’s longer tunes, clocking in at over 25 minutes.
Singer Benoit David had been singing for a Yes cover band in Canada when he was chosen to replace an ailing Jon Anderson in 2008. To my crusty old ears, David has a fantastically melodic voice, that sounds less like Jon Anderson and more like a softer Trevor Horn. Steve Howe provides some beautiful acoustic guitar throughout the album, as well as some masterful slide on the title track. Chris Squire backs David vocally, as he always did so well with Anderson. Downes leads the way with strokes of his synth and piano, plus his fine compositional skills.
“Life On A Film Set” is a lilting piece, featuring David’s melodic pipes, singing his heart out on another tune written by Downes and Horn. “Hour Of Need” is all Howe, on jangly acoustic and one of the few moments that actually features Oliver Wakeman. The Steve Howe solo classical guitar piece, “Solitaire,” follows and is pretty much what you’d expect from such a musician. We finally get a full-band composition and the first real time Alan White’s copious drum talents are used properly on the closer, “Into The Night.”
Fly From Here is a good album with solid songwriting, tight if not spectacular when it comes to the caliber of players, and a neat Roger Dean cover. One may wonder, with all the outside writers, a new singer and Wakeman leaving why was this CD was even made. There wasn’t a backlog of tunes, judging by the inclusion of so many songs fro outside writers. But the Yes machine thrives on playing. The demand for new Yes music, as much as it may sound like some unfinished drama, is yet another step in an ever-evolving quagmire of pleasing the fans. Without Jon Anderson out in front, it can't possibly be easy.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.