Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 

Yes

Union

Review by Gary Hill

The great experiment - at the time of this album's recording there were essentially two versions of Yes out and making music. The first was the Trevor Rabin "Yes West" lineup (consisting of Rabin, Chris Squire, Alan White and Tony Kaye - Jon Anderson had left the group, but been working his way back into the fold) and Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe (the splinter group of one of the most classic lineups). Apparently the decision was made since ABWH was working on a new album, and Rabin and company were going to do the same, to merge the two projects into one. Understandably this is really not a consistent album at all. It does have some strong material (at least one of those high points coming from the Yes West camp, who only contributed four songs to the collection), but most of it is mediocre. In many ways it seems like ABWH had forgotten how to compose progressive rock that had any spirit or substance. Much of their material seems to go through the motions, yet not really grab the listener. This is an entertaining album, but certainly not one of the first holes to fill in that Yes collection. Rick Wakeman has been quoted as calling this one "Onion" because it makes you cry. I wouldn't say that it's that bad, but it definitely has a few stinkers and nothing that really is strong enough to make up for them.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
I Would Have Waited Forever
This cut from the ABWH camp is a cool heavy free form number with a great arrangement. It features some smoking guitar work. This wouldn't qualify as "classic Yes", but it's pretty darn good, feeling a bit like a cross between the styles the band did on Tormato and Drama.
Shock to the System
Another from the ABWH guys, this one is an almost funky riff driven hard edged rocker that feels more like Yes West than it does this lineup. Howe finds plenty of chances to scream over top of this one.
Masquerade
Steve Howe earned a Grammy nomination for this acoustic guitar solo. It is an intricate and pretty piece.
Lift Me Up
This one is the first in the set from the Rabin incarnation of the group. For some reason this one comes across like a merging of the Rabin songwriting and the ABWH sound. It's actually one of the stronger numbers on the album.
Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day
This is one of my favorite tracks from the album. Starting in a very dramatic and powerful way, this has a killer texture. It runs through in this style for a time, then explodes into another movement, sort of a slapping rhythmic structure with some heavy crunch. This also includes a somewhat accessible pop rockish segment. It's another from ABWH.
Saving My Heart
This reggaeish pop rock number is only made tolerable by the vocal arrangement. Otherwise it's a classic example of why Rabin's songwriting is not consistent with the "Yes" sound.
Miracle of Life
Another from the Rabin camp, this one is actually quite cool. It starts with a fast paced riff driven segment, then drops back for a brief interruption to acapella. Then it's right back up to where it came from. They work through this mode for quite a while, lacing various textures overtop. Then it drops to a bouncy rocking segment that makes up the verse. A song about the perils of the dying ecology of the ocean, this one is quite dramatic and dynamic. It is one of the highlights of the disc and gets quite powerful.
Silent Talking
This one is another from Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe and it starts atmospheric, then a staccato riff driven segment emerges, punctuated aft first by stops. This is a bit off-time anyway, make it feel slightly off-kilter, but in a good way. This dynamic number is one of the proggier ones on the album and both Howe and Wakeman find the opportunity to show off a bit.
The More We Live - Let Go
The final track from the Yes West guys, this slow moving composition has a killer texture. It isn't exceptionally flashy, but simply a great mood piece, and another of my top tracks from the disc.
Angkor Wat
Much in the vein of ABWH's "Birthright", this is more or less a mood piece. It's pretty, poignant and rather cool, but doesn't really go anywhere.
Dangerous (Look in the Light of What You're Searching For)
This one, although done by Howe and company really feels like it should been from Rabin and crew. It's a hard-edged rocker that just isn't all that interesting.
Holding On
This fast paced progish number is alright, but definitely not great. However, the jam that takes the piece later definitely elevates just on the sake of the powerful energy and majesty it conveys. This segment is one of the highlights of the album, but, alas, is not a large enough section of the track.
Evensong
This brief instrumental is a textural duo between Tony Levin and Bill Bruford.
Take the Water to the Mountain
Much like 90125 and Big Generator, this one ends with a song that feels like an Anderson solo composition. This is a bit generic, but has an interesting world music/chat section at the very end.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
Return to the
Yes Artist Page
Return to the
Bruford and Borstlap Artist Page
Artists Directory
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2018 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com