Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XI: Big Generator (1987)

Big Generator marked the end of Trevor Horn’s tenure with Yes as producer. The album continued their trend of the more Pope oriented sound of the previous albums. It had two singles, and reached #17 on the UK charts and #15 on the US chart. During their tour, Trevor Rabin collapsed backstage due to exhaustion from the flu. After appearing at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary, Jon Anderson left the group to form a supergroup with former Yes members Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, and Bill Bruford.


Jon Anderson: Vocals

Trevor Rabin: vocals, guitar, keyboards, string arrangements

Chris Squire: bass, backing vocals

Tony Kaye: piano, organ

Alan White: drums, percussion, backing vocals

The Tracks:

  1. “Rhythm of Love”: this is an excellent opener, with some great keyboards and drums.
  2. “Big Generator”: The keyboards on this are pretty good. This sounds more like a song Duran Duran would have done, though.
  3. “Shoot High, Aim Low”: One of my favorite songs. I like the reverb on the vocals, and the keyboards sound eerie.
  4. “Almost Like Love”: This song doesn’t really work for me. It’s too poppy.
  5. “Love Will Find a Way”: I like this one a lot. The strings are nice. It almost became a duet with Stevie Nicks, but White convinced Rabin otherwise.
  6. “Final Eyes”: I like the acoustic guitar, but this isn’t Yes.
  7. “I’m Running”: This feels more like arena rock than Yes.
  8. “Holy Lamb (Song For Harmonic Convergence)”: This song is all right, but it wasn’t good.

Final Verdict: I like this album, but I’d like to see Yes go back to what was working for them, not trying to sound like they’re imitating New Wave. By this time, New Wave was waning in popularity, so Yes should’ve stopped being something they weren’t.

Grade: C


Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XI: 90125 (1983)

Following the Drama tour in 1980, Yes disbanded and Chris Squire, Alan White, and guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin (formerly of Rabbitt and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) formed Cinema, while Horn and Downes joined Asia. In 1982, instead of Cinema releasing a debut album, they reformed as Yes with Rabin. Both Jon Anderson and Tony Banks returned to the band, marking Banks’ first time recording with Yes since 1971. While Trevor Horn did not sing lead on the album, he remained as producer. Gary Mouat designed the logo and cover on an Apple IIe computer, and it was named after Atco Records’ catalog number for the album. 90125 had 3 singles, and reached #16 in the UK and #5 in the US.


Jon Anderson: vocals

Trevor Rabin: guitar, keyboards, vocals

Chris Squire: bass, vocals

Tony Kaye: organ, electric piano

Alan White: drums, percussion, Fairlight CMI, backing vocals

The Tracks:

  1. “Owner of a Lonely Heart”: This is Years only single to ever top the Billboard Hot 100. It contains a sample from ” Kool is Back” by Funk, Inc, which was stored in Horn’s Fairlight, creating the famous “pow” noises during the bridge. It’s still one of my favorite Yes songs.
  2. “Hold On “: This song has a good rhythm and I like the keyboards.
  3. “It Can Happen”: This was one of the songs that was originally intended for the Cinema debut. It’s a tad overdone, but I like it.
  4. “Changes”: This feels more like an arena rock song than a prog rock one.
  5. “Cinema”: This is a short instrumental that won Yes their only Grammy.
  6. “Leave It”: I don’t like the vocals on this, but the instruments are good.
  7. “Our Song”: This song is a tribute to Toledo. It has some good guitars and bass.
  8. “City of Love”: This song was inspired by Rabin’s visit to Harlem. I like the keyboard work.
  9. “Hearts”: This is a good closer.

Final Verdict: Like the previous album, this feels like Yes is changing their sound too much. Some programs bands at the time, like Rush and Genesis also evolved to fit the 80’s sound, but they still maintained a prog rock sound. This feels like a mix of pop and rock. I do enjoy this album, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who has little familiarity with Yes. It’s not their best work, but I don’t hate it at all.

Grade: C

Ranking the Discography: Yes Part X: Drama (1980)

Drama marks the beginning of a change in Yes’s sound. Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles replaced Anderson and Wakeman. After this album, Horn would continue to be a part of Yes, but as a producer. (Downes also became a part of the supergroup Asia). This is the only album where Horn is a vocalist. Wakeman and Anderson both left the band after attempts to record in Paris and London failed. Two singles were released, “Into the Lens” and “Run Through the Light”. The album reached #2 in the UK and #18 in the US.


Trevor Horn: vocals, fretless bass on “Run Through the Light”

Steve Howe: guitar, mandolin on “Run Through the Light”

Chris Squire: bass, piano on “Run Through the Light”, backing vocals

Geoff Downes:Keyboards, Fairlight CMI, vocoder

Alan White: drums, percussion, backing vocals

The Tracks:

  1. “Machine Messiah”: I like the edge of Howe’s guitar. It has a great rhythm on the bass and guitar. Downes’ keyboards are uniquely different from Wakeman’s playing, but I like his style.
  2. “White Car”: I wish this song wasn’t so short. It felt more like an interlude.
  3. “Does It Really Happen”: White has some good drumming on this.
  4. “Into the Lens”: This is a good mesh of the styles of Horn, Downes, and the remaining Yes members. They almost sound like a different band.
  5. “Run Through the Light”: Of the two singles, this feels the most radio-friendly, but that’s not a bad thing. The addition of bass and piano work very well. It’s probably my favorite song on the album.
  6. “Does It Really Happen”: This is really the only song where the mix of sounds doesn’t really gel for me.

Final Verdict: This is an interesting evolution for Yes, as they integrate the New Wave movement into their progressive sound. I do like Horn’s vocals, but I think he’s better suited behind the scenes. Downes does a great job at modernizing the band, but some of the mixing doesn’t work on the whole. I feel this album is underrated. Overall, I liked what I heard.

Review: B