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Yes - Drama CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.77 | 1543 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
4 stars After the ho-hum response that divided YES fans on "Tormato," the pressures of being one of the biggest prog bands of the 70s had clearly taken its toll. The music was becoming more of a chore in keeping up with the current trends instead of making the music that inspired the band in the early 70s, so exit stage left both Jon Anderson AND Rick Wakeman (again). Ironically it was Anderson and Wakeman who were the most enthusiastic about making a new album after "Tormato" but when the creative juices failed to gel they split leaving the continuation of the band in question. I mean really. YES without Jon Anderson? Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White were having none of the band breaking up business and set out to figure out a way to keep it going. The ushering in of the 80s couldn't have been more different than a mere ten years earlier when progressive rock was just beginning to blossom. By this time heavy metal, disco and pop were in and even country was having a comeback.

As the YES destiny would have it, the remaining YES members serendipitously were recording in an adjacent studio of The Buggles members Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. The Buggles had become the cutting edge band in the new world of music of new wave and MTV and their famous track "Video Killed The Radio Star" was not only the very first video to ever appear on MTV but also hit #1 in the UK. Chris Squire happened to own their album, they all hit it off and the next thing everyone knew was a totally unforeseen new incarnation of YES. Ironically after two albums that eschewed the artistic album cover talents of Roger Dean, the new wave YES actually solicited his return to create an album cover for DRAMA, their 10th studio album. So Trevor Horn took up duties on vocals, a tall order indeed but despite not reaching the heights of the mighty Jon Anderson does a veritable mimicry that keeps the vocal ties to the past while allowing the music to go places no YES fan had ever anticipated.

Wow. What a trippy album this is. No, not trippy like whoa! this is so lysergic man! but trippy like whoa! this sounds like YES but it also sounds like lots of other things. This is one of those YES albums that really divides the fans. Some love it and some hate it. I happen to love it however i wholeheartedly concede that this does not come close to their streak of early 70s masterpieces which progressively rocked the world and changed the very fabric of space-time. This is different in every way. This is a one-shot exploration into a monstrous hybrid of old YES and contemporary influences with a healthy dose of 70s kickbacks as well. YES was humble in that it realized it needed to evolve into some new beast to be relevant. I totally admire this about them. For better or for worse, they were having none of the stuck-in-the-early-70s syndrome and found a new way to let their talents stand out.

The first track "Machine Messiah" actually reminds me of a slightly new wave version of Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine." It has acoustic guitars and lyrics that totally bring that classic to mind, however Geoff Downes keyboards take it to a new level. A great way to start the album. After a 10:27 intro track the contrast slaps you in the face with the 1:21 "White Car," which is a strange little interlude of synth and vocals. "Does It Really Happen" has some classic Squire bass lines going on with some new wave guitar of Steve Howe. While Steve does his best to be modern on the guitar duties, it's actually his excellent lead guitar fills that keep this grounded to the classic YES sound since they are ever so unique and unequivocally YES sounding. This track has a "Blue Collar Man" feel from Styx on the keyboards. "Into The Lens" is another lengthy track that could rightfully qualify as progressive new wave. Nice bass line and staccato backups. For the longest time i only remembered this song under my own invented titled "I Am A Camera." Great instrumentation here and one of my favorite tracks on the album. "Run Through The Light" sounds to me like a Yes meets The Police track. Doesn't quite sound like Sting and company but very much drifts into their territory of the day. "Tempus Fugit" is a Latin phrase that means "time flies." My next favorite track. I love the bass line, the guitar and the lyrics which includes the band's name as an integral part of the chorus.

Another testament to the brilliant members of YES comes alive on DRAMA. While the album cover is a little weak compared to their others, i really dig the music on this one. I get an excellent musical enjoyment experience out of it but because of the fact that they are trying so hard to copy other sounds rather than creating them, it does not deserve the highest of honors that their earlier material does. DRAMA displays a band which was searching for new avenues in musical exploration and despite not taking the lead in coming up with new musical ideas, YES does an EXCELLENT interpretation of current trends while adding just enough classic touches to please the open-minded fan of their glory days. This may not be better than the output from 1970-74 but this is actually better than "Tormato" and almost anything that came out from the 90s on. In short, DRAMA is a delight that will please anyone who loves both YES at its progressive rock heyday and the better prog pop phase of the band.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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