Yes
Heaven and Earth


3.0
good

Review

by Divaman USER (157 Reviews)
February 1st, 2019 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chris Squire's Yes swan song is better than you might have thought.

Heaven & Earth is Yes's most recent studio album, and it's probably their last one (unless the Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman version of the band decides to put one out). It's certainly the late Chris Squire's last studio LP. As such, it's a shame that H&E has been so heavily maligned by many Yes fans. All the more so because, really, it's not a bad album.

Here are some statistics. Released in 2014, Heaven & Earth reached #20 on the UK chart, and #26 on the American Billboard chart. Not too shabby, especially since this was the best performance by any Yes album since 1991's Union LP. Yet its average rating here on Sputnik Music is only 1.7 out of 5 stars, which is .2 lower than the band's immensely disappointing 1997 album, Open Your Eyes. Its sole review on this site, written by a staff member whose opinion I respect immensely, rated it at 0.5, and suggested its existence as evidence that Yes needed to be euthanized. So how do we reconcile this respectable chart performance with the enmity that some have expressed towards this album?

"Lo," you might say to me, were you the sort of person who regularly utilizes expressions such as "lo". "Surely you're not claiming that chart performance equals quality?" And you make a fair point. After all, each of Justin Bieber's studio LPs has reached #1 in the American charts, and a quick glance at the Billboard 200 every week makes me want to blow my brains out in despair.

But here's the thing: The first time I ever listened to Heaven & Earth, it put a huge smile on my face, and over these last five years, that smile has remained. Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming it's the second coming of Close to the Edge, or even of Drama. But there's a lot of beauty on H&E, from the opening notes of "Believe Again" through the last throes of "Subway Walls". So why do many Yes fans hate this album so? I believe I can answer that question in two words: Jon Davison.

Jon Davison has been a rock performer/vocalist for more than twenty-five years. Prior to joining Yes, he played bass in the American psych rock group Sky Cries Mary, and he later became the lead vocalist of the prog rock band Glass Hammer. He seems an unassuming gent, who to the best of my knowledge has never serial killed, R. Kelly'd, or even paid his taxes late. So what's the problem here? Simply put, he's a Jon Anderson-sounding dude who stepped into Jon Anderson's old role without actually being Jon Anderson. Yeah, there are other criticisms that have been leveled at Heaven & Earth. It features a gentler, poppier brand of music than had been featured on most prior Yes albums. Most of the tracks on the album are slow- to mid-tempo. Alan White seemed to have lost a step by the time the LP was recorded, and Geoff Downes was never Rick Wakeman, or even Patrick Moraz. But really, these things seem to be minor issues to most. The real burning hatred seems to be reserved for Davison, who many see as a tribute-band Jon Anderson copycat who has usurped the role of the real thing.

Judge to the LP on its own merits, though -- forget it's even a Yes album, and just listen to the music -- and you might find plenty to like here. Downes actually does some of his best work on this project. I love the playful synth pattern he uses on "Step Beyond", and the mild-but-affable pulsing keyboards he uses for much of the LP's opening track "Believe Again". As for Howe, he's still Howe -- you'll hear his instantly recognizable guitar stylings popping up throughout. And he had at least a hand in writing three of the four best tracks here, including the two I just mentioned, plus "It Was All We Knew". As for the vocals, as even many of the album's biggest critics have grudgingly admitted, they're actually one of the best things on the LP. Davison might not have Anderson's power, or all of his range, but his voice is still quite graceful. And his contributions are more than capably bolstered by Squire's and Howe's backing vocals.

Heaven & Earth is not one of Yes's best albums for sure. But then again, you're talking about one of the greatest progressive rock bands that ever existed, so the bar is pretty high there. Listen to it on its own terms, though, and it's actually better (or at least more enjoyable) than most of the LPs I listened to in 2018. Forget it's Yes. Pretend the name of the band is "No", or "Perhaps". Then close your eyes and just listen to the music. If you give it a fair shot, and focus on what's actually there instead of what (or who) isn't, you just might find yourself pleasantly surprised.



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user ratings (243)
1.7
very poor
other reviews of this album
Aaron W. STAFF (0.5)
Say no to Yes....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Divaman
February 1st 2019


4496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is another one of those albums where I just had to represent the opposition viewpoint.

Digging: Bayside - Interrobang

J() Alexander
February 1st 2019


7913 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This shit so bland.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 1st 2019


17236 Comments


Great review man, I've never listened to this one but between the average and your write-up now I'm really curious. Sure, Anderson's absence is not a good start but I'll give it a shot.

Digging: Common Holly - When I say to you Black Lightning

e210013
February 1st 2019


2616 Comments


This is one of the few albums of Yes I never checked till now. But certainly you whet my appetite. Besides as a great fan of Yes, one of my favourite bands surely I'll checked it, in the right time.

Excellente review buddy, very emotional and very representative of your point of view, the kind of reviews I most like. Pros and cons, nice. Pos.

Davil667
February 1st 2019


3839 Comments


Very good read! And I can only agree, this is quite enjoyable in parts and not half as bad as its reputation.

rodrigo90
February 1st 2019


5866 Comments


Bring Jon back you fucking RETARDS

Zig
February 1st 2019


1892 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

...and Wakeman too

Digging: Gustav Holst - The Planets, Op. 32

Divaman
February 1st 2019


4496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

>Bring Jon back you fucking RETARDS

>...and Wakeman too



lol. You made me laugh, Rodrigo.



Seriously, bring them back where, though? Squire is dead, and Jon and Wakeman are doing their own version of Yes, which is actually quite good (whether or not they ever get any original music out of it.) White is almost retired -- he's physically only capable of playing 3 or 4 songs every night. I wish they were playing with Howe instead of Rabin, but it seems like there's personal stuff there and it's not going to happen.

Divaman
February 1st 2019


4496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Btw, thanks for the kind words, Dewinged, e and Davil.

Jethro42
February 1st 2019


15969 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

No, perhaps.



Edit, relistening to it atm...the first track sounds like kinda Asia...not bad actually. I'll try to go through the album once again.

Jethro42
February 1st 2019


15969 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The first three songs are pretty good, always if you forget they are Yes songs. ''In A World of Our Own'' is awful. ''Subway Walls'' has nice instrumental parts. I bump it up a bit. It's all I can do, 2.5/5

wham49
February 1st 2019


4934 Comments


I am scared to listen to anything after 90210

Heard the first 10 of Union and almost lost it

TwigTW
February 2nd 2019


3825 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice review Diva. It got me to listen and think about this album again (even if it is probably for the last time). I didn't mind that they replaced Anderson with a sound-alike when Jon left the band due to illness. I didn't even mind that they put out a pop-rock album. They've done that before. I was disappointed that the album was so average. I thought these guys could write better melodies in their sleep, but apparently I was wrong. I do like "Believe Again" and "The Game," but that's about it.

JJKeys
February 2nd 2019


1087 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Your point about Sputnik being big meanies rating it so low despite its relative chart success is irrelevant if you look across the board of reviewing sites and other music forums - the album is overwhelmingly panned, and not just because it's Jon Davison.

Divaman
February 2nd 2019


4496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Actually, that's not true JJKeys. Wikipedia describes it as having received "mixed" reviews. There are some people who really hate the album, but there are others who like it, or are at least so-so on it. I happen to be someone who likes it, and who likes it better than a number of other Yes albums. Fripp, who wrote the original review, is clearly in the other camp. If you are too, that's fine. But I wrote the review to say there's more than one side to it.

J() Alexander
February 2nd 2019


7913 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

"There are some people who really hate the album, but there are others who like it, or are at least so-so on it."

That's basically every album ever tho.

Ev1lToaster
February 2nd 2019


185 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great review, far better than that obnoxious 0.5/5 staff review. I don't really like this album but it's really not that bad.

Divaman
February 3rd 2019


4496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

>That's basically every album ever tho.



That's true to a certain extent. This was just a case where I felt there was another side of the story that needed telling. So I told it. Anyway, thanks for the feedback, gang.



TheIntruder
February 6th 2019


437 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I am not a great fan of the album. It represents the fall of a great band. Still, nice review, well justified. Have a pos.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2019


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5 | Sound Off

"0.5/5 staff review"



wasn't even staff or contrib when that was written but ok



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