Yes – Fly From Here

Yes, being known as one of the most influential and most important bands of progressive rock and also known for their infamous history of ever changing line-ups, released “Fly From Here”, their first new album since 2001. But the band’s current situation actually goes back to the time of ‘Drama’ in 1980, after Jon Anderson, the band’s trademark singer, and keyboard virtuoso Rick Wakeman left the band, just to be substituted by Trevor Horn on vocals and Geoff Downes on keyboards, both known as The Buggles. And it is almost the same today: Anderson and Wakeman left once again, Horn and Downes are back once more, although Horn only produced the new album. Benoît David already became the new Yes singer in 2008.

So what is this new album of well-known prog heroes about? It actually is a very difficult case. Musically, the album comes close to the progressive pop music of such highly controversial Yes albums as “Tormato” (1978), the aforementioned “Drama” or the very successful “90125” (1983), produced by Horn, too. The first half of the album consists of a ‘long track’ which is also the title track, split into six parts. Apart from the rough song transitions all parts show very good song structures and catchy melodies. Especially the parts II, “Sad Night At The Airfield”, and III, “Madman At The Screens”, are so great and very dynamic with the band really giving their best. The songs of the album’s other half all stand alone and are very different in their quality. While “Life On A Film Set” is a fantastic composition with a lot of details and a middle section very similar to some of Porcupine Tree’s pop songs, “The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be” leaves the listener worried. Simple pop music gimmicks like cheesy harmony vocals (“ee-yeah”? Oh no!) make this song banal. Only Chris Squire’s fuzz bass can cut the losses in some way but this song is the weakest of the album. On the other side “Hour Of Need” shows how a great pop song is done. With an acoustic guitar as the driving force and slight but effective synthesizer sounds by Oliver Wakeman (who was kicked out of the band during the recording sessions) this song shows how it’s done. After Steve Howe’s somehow classical acoustic guitar interlude “Solitaire” the band really nails it with “Into The Storm”, a fantastic and quite powerful track with an epic ending that really shows what Yes is all about: bass and drums at full force, layers of keyboard strings in the background and a fabulous guitar solo topping it off.

In the end Yes still know how to surprise their listeners. Although the music is immediately identified as Yes it still is different and new in all moments. Certain elements of modern progressive music are in there as well as the old sound – but still the band could do even more as the epic and stunning, but also powerful and certainly aggressive moments are missing most of the time here. Nevertheless the album is very good the way it is.

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Welcome , today is Thursday, August 11, 2011