90125

Yes


By the end of the 70s, progressive perennials Yes had simply run out of gas. After the Drama album, Steve Howe and Geoff Downes went on to form Asia, leaving Trevor Horn, Chris Squire and Alan White to their own devices. Squire and White collaborated with Jimmy Page, forming a new band called XYZ (short for ex-Yes, Zeppelin). Page eventually opted out, so Squire and White put together a new group called Cinema. South African guitarist Trevor Rabin stepped in with a batch of songs and a new perspective. Original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye joined shortly afterward. When original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson arbitrarily heard the basic tracks, he wanted in. With Anderson, the sound was unmistakably Yes. Another Yes casualty — Horn — was brought in to produce the music and 90125, the first new Yes album of the 80s, was born. What unfolded from there was to be the band's most successful outing.

The first single "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" was not only a quirky and catchy departure from previous Yes efforts; it was the first and only Number One single Yes would ever chart. Rabin, the song’s author, piped in as a strong and distinctive second voice. His guitar playing was much heavier than Howe's, yet something else altogether — a lot of attack and snarl that defiantly blew smoke at the pretense of the past, and transported Yes into the modern age. Videos of over half the album’s songs — "Hold On," "It Can Happen," "Changes" and "Leave It" — were all over MTV and receiving heavy airplay. "Cinema," the lone instrumental, went on to win a Grammy. Yes supported the album on the road for over two years, releasing a video (directed by Steven Soderbergh) and live EP called 9012Live.

Everything about Yes was a little different. Their staging was less cluttered, more streamline and broken down. Anderson, Squire, White and Kaye sported new looks while the world got to know the omnipotent Rabin. Along with Horn, Rabin introduced such sleight-of-hand studio tricks as samplers and drum machines. Kaye shied away from any Wakemanian keyboarding of the past, employing a number of pre-set gadgets that congruently added lots of sparkle and subtlety to the final mix. Squire certainly maintained his brand of thunder while White juggled his way through a myriad of obstacle courses. Anderson simply seemed to be riding it out. As good as he sounded on everything he sang, Yes — Anderson's Yes — had been radically overhauled, and was out of his grasp. Perhaps for his sake, the 80s lineup wasn’t especially prolific, releasing only 2½ records over the next 10 years. Years later, of course, the classic lineup would reassume throne, playing mostly stuff from the 70s. They do, however, continue to incorporate their only Number One single into the mix — a constant reminder of the success they attained with 90125.

~ Shawn Perry

 

 

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