Yes – Fly From Here

January 01, 1970




Yes’ 1980 album Drama is a unique footnote in the history of the British prog rock group. Most
notably, it was Yes’ first record without original singer Jon Anderson, who at
the time left the group along with popular keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Secondly,
it marked the debut of Buggles’ vocalist Trevor Horn and keyboard player Geoff
Downes as new members of Yes, joining guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire
and drummer Alan White. Drama became
the only studio album to feature that particular line-up; afterwards, the group
went on hiatus until it made a comeback three years later with 90125, featuring the smash hit “Owner of
a Lonely Heart.”


While not a classic compared to Fragile and Close to the Edge,
Drama nevertheless is one of the
band’s superb efforts. The presence of Buggles members Horn and Downes, fresh
off the success of “Video Killed the Radio Star,” infused a New Wave
sensibility to the band, making the music sound tighter and focused. It was a
harbinger of the band’s sleek, pop-friendly sound throughout ‘80s, evident on
records such as 90125 and Big Generator.


Three decades later, the influence
of Drama can be heard on Yes’ new album Fly
From Here
. And like Drama, this
latest work does not feature Jon Anderson but rather another new singer, Benoit
David, whose previous experience was fronting a Yes tribute band. Other than
that, Fly From Here virtually
features the original Drama line-up, including
Trevor Horn, who this time serves as the album’s producer.


The centerpiece of Fly
From Here
is the 21-minute-plus title track, which is divided into five
parts with an overture-just like the old Yes albums.  One of those segments, the soaring and
uplifting “Fly From Here Part II: We Can Fly” is sure to be of historical
interest to die-hard Yes followers. Originally titled “We Can Fly From Here,”
the track never appeared on Drama, but was performed on tour and later released on the 2004 boxed set The Word Is Live.


Certainly there are moments on Fly From Here that is ‘70s Yes – among them the driving finale
“Into the Storm.”  But Fly From Here also carries some of the
accessible elements that characterized Drama,
such as the turbulent “Madman at the Screens” and the quirky “Bumpy Ride.”
Those aforementioned tracks were written by Horns and Downes, hence the Buggles
influence. There is also the gorgeous “The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be,”
which features a rare lead vocal by Squire, as does another tune, the
shimmering ballad “Hour of Need.”


Not surprisingly, the collective musicianship of Yes as
heard on Fly From Here continues to
impress, such as the lovely Steve Howe guitar instrumental “Solitaire.”
Newcomer David may not be the most captivating or charismatic singer compared
to Jon Anderson, but he does a very capable job of filling some big shoes. Not
only David sounds like Anderson
at certain moments with his high and gentle voice, he also recalls the singing
of Drama-era Trevor Horn as well.


As Yes is now in its sixth decade, the prog rock band shows
on Fly From Here that it can still
make music that is fresh and lively. 


DOWNLOAD: “Fly From Here Part I: We Can Fly,” “Hour of Need” DAVID CHIU


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