Monday, November 29, 2010

I'd Love to Turn You On #23: Yes – 90125 (Rhino)

Many think of Yes as the 70's prog-rock band with that fantastic alien world album cover art. As a child of the 80's, my memories of Yes are the “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” video and “Owner” on the radio, in the car, going on long road trips to Disney World with the family. At that age, I mostly disregarded any music earlier than 1980, but hey... Michael Jackson had exploded and Duran Duran captured my musical focus. It wasn't until about 10 years ago that I rediscovered Yes and their classic 1983 album 90125.

The album could very well have been 90125 by the band Cinema, the name that some members of Yes adopted when singer Jon Anderson quit the band a few years earlier along with keyboardist Rick Wakeman. After singer/guitarist Trevor Rabin entered the band for the 90125 sessions, Chris Squire played some of the music to Jon and it was enough for Jon to agree to rejoin Yes late in the album's construction. The nine tracks that ended up on the album are nothing short of fantastic. Again, this was the emerging 80's and synths were gaining popularity fast. Keyboards had almost always been prominent in Yes with Rick Wakeman's magical fingers, but at the time they were part of the prog-rock style. I can hear some of that style throughout the 90125 album, but there is something quite different going on. The pop/new wave sensibilities had influenced the band without taking over and morphing Yes into something they had not previously been.

“Owner Of A Lonely Heart” kicks off the album with a bang with its ultra-catchy verses and chorus, and ended up being the band's first and only number one single in the U.S! In my opinion “Hold On” and “Leave It” rival “Owner” as the best songs on this album full of great songs. With Jon's wonderfully majestic vocal style spearheading them, there is so much melody and intricate excitement going on. I find these songs in my head days after playing the album. A great example of the brilliance of 90125 can be found in the lyrics of “Our Song”: "Music has magic, it's good clear syncopation." Magic indeed. The guitars, keyboards, vocals, even the production by short-lived member Trevor Horn is all top-notch.

I rediscovered Yes as a band (including their 70's output), but this album brings back distant memories of songs from 90125 that I believe hold up very well at 27 years old. The peak of the band Yes is five numbers that are not a zip code of any kind: just
9 0 1 2 5!


No comments: