Review Summary: For the second time during the 90's, Yes fail to live up to their promises.
Though they weren’t doing particularly fabulous in the studio following 90125
, Yes really weren’t making a bad case in the 1990’s commercially. Earlier on in the decade, the newer and veteran band members collaborated on the quite successful Union
tour, even though the album itself did not live up to its promises. The reunion wouldn’t last, and a renewed 80’s line-up would release yet another weak work in Talk
. Utterly unstable as they have always been, subsequent events had both guitarist Trevor Rabin and keyboardist Tony Kaye step away from the group. This however left Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Alan White with some room to reconsider their angle. Undoubtedly to the joy of their fans, the remaining threesome decided it was time to return to the kind of Yes that had built so much respect in the progressive world in the first place: the 70’s kind of Yes.
Luckily enough, both Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman were kind enough to once again join up for the prog party, and thus the classic formation (minus Bill Bruford, that is) was restored. To realize their plans, the five-piece released the Keys to Ascension
albums in ’96 and ‘97, two double lives with new studio tracks on the second disc (a couple of which were hailed as being as good as their 70’s game, these were later compiled on Keystudio
). Wakeman strongly disagreed with this decision, having wanted to create a proper studio release instead, and left frustrated. Again, this reunion proved to be short-lived.
The question was how the band were going to pick up the pieces. Long story short, Squire and White had both been involved in a side-project called Conspiracy along with keyboardist Billy Sherwood; him and Squire reworked some of their compositions into Yes songs, Sherwood officially joined as the keyboardist that the group needed, and Open Your Eyes
, their fifteenth proper studio album, landed in 1997.
To be blunt, it is not better off than Talk
. In fact, it’s a notch below what were at least sparse moments of creativity that its predecessor showed. The work originating from their songs, Squire and Sherwood had the most creative input here, which actually doesn’t seem to change a lot from what Yes had been doing since Big Generator
. It’s still the same overlong pop/rock tunes; a tired formula that loses its appeal after three tracks. New State of Mind
, Universal Garden
and the title track can be called decent (in a generous mood, admittedly), but Open Your Eyes
quickly descents into useless, same-sounding drivel, with the exception of From the Balcony
, seemingly a forced soft break, and the even more dreary nature noises (a nod to Close to the Edge
, perhaps") that make up the majority of the 20-minute closer The Solution
. As if the 50 previous minutes weren’t forgettable enough.
The production is only the final annoyance, the record being overcompressed as was the trend at the time. First from Union
, then from Keys to Ascension
to Open Your Eyes
: twice Yes promised to step up to what we all know they could achieve, twice they failed. At this rate, a real comeback seemed to become a mere dream.
Open Your Eyes’ Yes was:
- John Roy Anderson ~ Lead Vocals
- Stephen James Howe ~ Lead Guitars, Backing Vocals, Banjo, Mandolin
- Christopher Russell Squire ~ Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Harmonica
- William Wyman Sherwood ~ Keyboards, Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Alan White ~ Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
TO BE CONTINUED...