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Yes - Fly From Here CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.41 | 1017 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars With the recent passing of Chris Squire, I was inspired to listen to the entire Yes catalog, mostly to remember Squire's amazing talent and his contributions to one of my favorite prog bands. Unfortunately, listening to the entire Yes catalog meant that I had to endure about six genuinely bad albums from the group.

Fortunately, it also encouraged me to spend more time with Yes' Fly From Here, the band's first album after a decade of inactivity after the excellent Magnification. For my, Magnification was a first rate release that re-energized the group... but 10 years is a long time.

Well I'm happy to say that Fly From Here arrives and is actually a good album, even a good Yes album! It is drawn towards the gravity of the band's iconic '70's material in tone and feel. While it doesn't possess that spark of genius or energy, is still easy to enjoy. It's sort of like prog-rock "light"; not bothering to be profound or deep or majestic, instead just being well-crafted and soulful. Is this a disappointment? No! Everything the band did in the 90's is bad. Seriously, after albums like Ladder, Open Your Eyes, and Keystudio there's no where to go but up!

Anyway, the first thing to note about Fly From Here is the rich, warm timbre of the band's playing and the album's production. This album sounds great; every instrument is well-balanced and actually somewhat soothing to listen to. There isn't a single shrill note or over-mixed moment. To me this is a big deal, because I was always turned off by the cartoonish and shrill keyboards found throughout many of Yes' mid-period albums. This warm sound makes even the mediocre parts of Fly From Here easy to like.

The center-piece of the album, the self-titled Fly From Here, is a suite of songs that is representative of the album as a whole: well-played, enjoyable, though not especially daring or creative. The band's musicianship is fine, with Squire and Howe playing especially well together. One thing that keeps this extended song back is that there aren't enough stand- up and shout moments that grab your attention. It sort of drifts through it's 23 minute running time as if it were constantly in transition, filling time with nice tones and melodies but not feeling like it's taking me somewhere. Ironic considering the song is about flying. The mellow second movement is probably the most enjoyable moment of the whole album, with lush keyboard textures and a compelling bass performance by Squire. Again, this extended song is fun enough not to be a disappointment, but still definitely playing it safe.

These comments apply to each of the other songs on the album, though I will say that Chris Squire's vocals on "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be" are great; some of his most mature singing. Howe's guitar is also very rich and sensitive sounding throughout. He doesn't have any dramatic solos, other than his traditional acoustic solo "Solitaire," but his playing expertly enhances the overall effect. This goes for Downes' keyboards, too. Again, no massive moments, but a classy incorporation of texture and mood.

Finally, let's talk about Benoit's vocals. Yes, he sounds a lot like Anderson. Yes, most Yes fans would prefer that Anderson be singing on this album. But is it really that much of a bummer? At this point in Yes' career there isn't much room for growth or experimentation; with the death of Chris Squire we're probably not going to be getting much more from the band, so a little change can't hurt, especially when Benoit sings as well as he does. His vocals are smooth and focused, high in pitch but strong in delivery. That doesn't help the simple lyrics of Fly From Here, but it does make it enjoyable to listen to.

So all in all in Fly From Here we have a strong Yes release that can stand alongside the group's iconic works, maybe not as tall, but alongside none the less.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |


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