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Conspiracy - Conspiracy CD (album) cover

CONSPIRACY

Conspiracy

 

Crossover Prog

3.13 | 29 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I really wanted to like this album more than I do. From the moment that Open Your Eyes was released, one of the most common points of criticism regarding it was that some of the album's material, due to the tight time constraints in recording, had come from a Squire/Sherwood side-project called Conspiracy. Of course, the reliance of OYE on Conspiracy material was overstated (Yes did raid an unfinished Conspiracy album, tentatively called Chemistry, for material, but only on two tracks, "Open Your Eyes" and "Man in the Moon"), but Sherwood had definitely had definitely taken on a prominent songwriting role during those sessions, and as somebody who had always liked Open Your Eyes (maybe my enthusiasm for it eventually fell to 85% of its original level, but it never went away), I found myself intrigued at the idea of hearing more of his material. When I eventually bought Conspiracy, which collected much of the material Squire and Sherwood had worked on together during the previous decade (in addition to the OYE tracks, the album also includes "The More We Live - Let Go" from Union and "Love Conquers All," which had made it onto YesYears, as well as nine additional tracks), I figured that, at worst, I would be getting a decent collection of pop-prog/prog-pop, and that I'd like it a little more than most Yes fans did. On my first couple of listens, I didn't think the album was that great, but it didn't seem especially offensive either, and while the various songs weren't really grabbing me, it seemed to me that they at least had the potential to do so with a handful of additional listens.

Well, a handful of additional listens later, most of this material has still refused to grab me, and there came a point where I just had to accept that this is a thoroughly mediocre album, and nearly a bad one. I really like the alternate versions of "The More We Live - Let Go" and "Open Your Eyes" (here called "Wish I Knew"); the problem is that, aside from the mildly nice feelings I have towards the opening "Days of Wonder" (where Chris' vocals in the climactic line of "These are the days / the days of wonder" are a highlight), and the nice feelings I have towards "Lonesome Trail" (which does a better job than many other tracks in weaving a decent synth part in with the guitars) these are the only tracks on the album I like. It definitely doesn't help that, while two of the old Yes tracks are great inclusions, the other two were among the worst songs ever released under the Yes moniker, and they definitely don't improve here ("Man in the Moon" is still based around a cheesy descending synth riff and with the least-deserved strutting swagger a song could have, while the arena-rock ballad "Love Conquers All" still sounds like a reject from Can't Look Away). The remaining tracks, for whatever slight variations there might be in tempo or mood, are all taken from a single mold, and that mold does not make me happy in the least. The band is trying its best to have feet in both the prog world and in the pop world, but the pop aspects are undermined by a continual disregard for memorable choruses or interesting riffs (there's nothing as remotely crisp or driving as some of the better OYE moments; "Wonderlove," for instance, would be the best of the remaining tracks BY A MILE), and the prog aspects are undermined by the general lack of interesting instrumental parts (Sherwood is a decent enough guitarist but he doesn't demonstrate enough personality here to merit lead status). Plus, well, Squire and Sherwood are pretty dull as primary vocalists; I'm not sure if these songs would be much better with Anderson on lead, but having those two relegated to supporting status would be of great benefit in and of itself.

In retrospect, I suppose it's my own fault for coming into this album with any kind of expectations of decent quality, but I really thought that there was a chance that Sherwood hadn't been given a fair shake and that this side project might be secretly ok at worst. Alas, it wasn't to be, and it's the rare case of an album that just kept getting worse the more I listened to it. Now that Sherwood's more-or-less become a footnote in Yes' history, I honestly don't know the target audience for this, and I don't see why anybody other than an obsessive like myself would want to spend time listening to this.

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |

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