Thirty Years In The Making, Rock Masters Yes Finally Release New Album
It took them three decades to finish, and in the decade since their last studio album they’ve undergone multiple line-up changes (again) and recruited a front-man who used to play in a tribute band to them.
But Yes are used to line-up changes. Their new album is even produced by former front-man Trevor Horn, and Yes are one of the few bands who have regularly brought back old members time and again. Rick Wakeman left a while ago, and since then his son helped write some of the album, but also left. If you’re an old fan, you’re probably not surprised.
If you are an old fan, however, you’ll also be delighted at a lack of certain surprise you usually get when you listen to a new Yes album: it’s good.
This new album starts with all the parts of its namesake, ‘Fly From Here’. It is a suite that has been built upon a piece originally written for the Drama album in 1980, but that was only ever played live. Back then it was a six-minute piece that Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes brought with them when they joined Yes, and they later recorded for The Buggles, but it never appeared on an album for them, either. It is now, however, as bassist Chris Squire told Rolling Stone in March, “an extravaganza!"
Listening to it as a fully grown rock symphony, though, you can understand why it was always held back until it could be a centre-piece of an album. It kicks off the album, and the overture begins with a piano playing something that sounds like a part of a soundtrack where something has been realized by the lead character, and sounds like something Debussy would have created had he done 80s prog. rock. The rest of the band come in with some bass and electric guitar chords played suddenly, like strikes of thunder, and then all get going.
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The suite is in six parts and navigates crescendos and diminuendos, climatic rises and falls from a chorus of all instruments to musical soliloquies by piano and acoustic guitar, and numerous recurring themes that reward the listener who listens multiple times. When Benoit David’s vocals appear for the first time behind the soft piano falls and softly played notes, you can imagine him staring through the mist, as if a pilot about to pierce virgin territory. At times the piece has you traveling through the mist, at other times you’ve risen above it and look down on it on a Roger Deans-like landscape.