Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Trevor Horn Produces New Yes Album

The Jon-Anderson-less Yes keeps chugging along, with a new album set for a July release on Frontier Records.

Called "Fly From Here," the album is named after an old song penned by the other Jon Anderson-less lineup from the 1980 Drama album. Trevor Horn (half of The Buggles with Geoff Downes) sang on that album, and truthfully it is one of my favorite Yes albums. Songs like Machine Messiah, Tempus Fugit, Does It Really Happen? and Into The Lens stand up with anything else in the band's repertoire.

ed note: I found this photo tonight, confirming that Geoff Downes is back in the band for the moment. Not sure who Grandma Jones in the middle is, but that might be Trevor Horn who didn't get the memo that only some of the band is dressing like old ladies for photos shoots.

I am always going to consider the current Jon Anderson-less Yes as slightly bogus, as Chris Squire and company decided to end-run around Anderson and replace him with a tribute band singer while he was ill and couldn't sing. Obviously the band is happy to not be under Anderson's thumb, hence the continued touring and new album.

But to add an interesting twist, Trevor Horn is back as producer! After the Drama tour and subsequent split-up of the band, Horn reemerged to produce the astounding Yes comeback 90125, where Trevor Rabin had replaced Howe on guitar and ushered in a whole new generation of the band. But Horn and the band had trouble on Big Generator, the follow up, and had not worked together since.

From a press release on Yes' website: Horn and YES bassist Chris Squire re-discovered the track FLY FROM HERE which has never been recorded as a studio track. “Chris and I were talking one evening about a song ‘Fly From Here’ that we never recorded,” explains Trevor Horn. “I said I was prepared to spend two weeks with ‘YES’ recording that song. When I arrived in America to record it, I was taken prisoner by the band and only allowed my freedom again in return for producing the whole album. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse!!!”

So, here is the deal. Fly From Here has been released. A live version is on the 3-disc The Word is Live set, released in 2005. Credited to Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes, it's...how do I put this?...shitty.

If that song is the central track on this new CD I will likely pass. But we'll see - I am more interested to see if Howe can still play guitar anymore. His performance at a recent Asia reunion I saw in Portland left me feeling like he has jumped the shark.

Another interesting tidbit is that I have seen three separate reports that Downes is back on keyboards for this album, which for sure makes it more interesting to me. Rick Wakeman's son Oliver has been in the current lineup for the last couple of years. Yes' site still has Oliver listed as the current ivory tickler. But we'll see...

Current Jon-less Yes doing 1980 Jon-less Yes (at a total snail's pace at that):


Perplexio said...

Drama is my favorite Yes album. There's a palpable chemistry between Downes & Howe that I feel was stronger than any other keyboardist/guitarist chemistry in Yes's history. That chemistry of course continued with Asia but the songs on Asia-- as much as I enjoy them for what they were-- were much more prog-pop (or perhaps "Arena Prog") than prog-rock. I thought the material on Drama was much more demonstrative of what Howe & Downes could do when working together at their fullest potential. Horn was a passable vocalist and did well on all of the material on Drama but I could hear the limitations of his range and I had a feeling that he lacked the overall range to handle Anderson's material in a live setting.

Isorski said...

I totally agree - and the production on Drama is nice and full. When the whole band hits some of those runs in unison in Machine Messiah it's pretty incredible. I thought the first Asia album was great but then it seemed that Howe took a back seat and Alpha suffered and was less rocking. Re the vocals on Drama, we are hearing tons of Chris Squire. Listen to Can You Imagine from Magnification - that song would have fit on Drama and is one of my favorite recent Yes tunes. Thanks for the comment!