Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XVI: Open Your Eyes (1997)

With Wakeman gone, Yes was without a keyboardist. Sherwood and Squire began to work on material for a new band they were going to call Conspiracy. New management from the Left Bank Organization suggested that they instead reform Yes, and two new keyboardist made guest appearances, Steve Porcaro and Igor Khoroshev. (Khoroshev would become an official member after this album). Two singles were released. The album was the first album not to make a presence on the UK chart, although it did reach 151 on the Billboard 200. It’s the lowest-rated album on Rate Your Music. For many years, it was not carried by Spotify, but has recently been added.


Jon Anderson: lead vocals

Steve Howe: guitar, mandolin, banjo, backing vocals

Chris Squire: bass guitar, harmonica, backing vocals

Alan White: drums, percussion, backing vocals

The Tracks:

  1. “New State of Mind”: This feels closer to when Rabin was still in the band, and feels too simplistic. It’s not bad, though.
  2. “Open Your Eyes”: This does have some good bass and rhythm, but it still feels bland.
  3. “Universal Garden”: This almost feels like it could work thanks to Howe’s guitar work.
  4. “No Way We Can Lose”: This has some light melodies and a groovy beat, and it seems as if the band is trying to make something work. It’s actually a good song. Khoroshev’s keyboards are a good help.”
  5. “Fortune Teller”: This has a groovy bass line, but it still feels like the band is trying to play it safe.
  6. “Man in the Moon”: This is the most chaotic song on the album,and has no cohesion.
  7. “Wonderlove”: This song kind of works, but it seems to fall flat near the end.
  8. “From the Balcony”: This short track ends before it can even try to be good.
  9. “Love Shine”: This track feels kind of basic again.
  10. “Somehow, Someday”: This one tries to have a rising melody, but once again falls flat.
  11. “The Solution “: This tries to have some good layers, but it doesn’t gel.
  12. “The Source” (Hidden Track): This song starts after a couple minutes of silence. It’s not a song at all, just a mishmash of nature sounds and boring vocals. I kept thinking “now is it over?” several times.

Final Verdict: I really wanted to like this album, folks. But it lacks cohesion, and the band feels like they’re trying to play things too simple. Every time a song feels like it might work, it stops.

Grade: D


Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XV: Keys to Ascension 1 and 2 (1-1996, 2-1997)

(Note: this review will cover only the studio tracks on the “Keys to Ascension” albums, as they have both live and studio tracks. The studio songs were later compiled into an album called Keystudio, released in 2001. Neither of the original albums nor the compilation are on Spotify, but you can find all three on YouTube)

In 1995, Trevor Rabin left Yes to pursue a career as a film composer, and Tony Kaye left as keyboardist. This marked the return of the band’s 70’s lineup, as Rick Wakeman returned with Steve Howe. The first Keys included live performances from the Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo, California, with studio songs added on a second disc. The album reached #48 in the UK and #99 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was produced by Billy Sherwood.


Jon Anderson: vocals, guitar, harp

Steve Howe: 6 and 12-string guitars, pedal steel guitar, 5-string bass on “Be the One”, vocals

Chris Squire: bass, piccolo bass on “Be the One”, vocals

Rick Wakeman: keyboards, vocals

Alan White: drums, vocals

Studio Tracks on “Keys to Ascension”:

  1. “Be the One”: This song has a great bass line and a wonderful keyboard from Wakeman. I love that we’re back to the long songs I love from Yes.
  2. “That, That Is”: While I don’t really care for the title, this 7-part suite has an excellent sweeping feel with some beautiful layering from the guitars. The drumming creates an almost hypnotic rhythm. I think this is the better of the two suites, but I do enjoy both.

Rick Wakeman was very proud of the studio tracks and wanted them to be their own album, but the label intervened and released them as part of the second Keys instead. This resulted in Wakeman’s departure from the band.

Studio Tracks on “Keys to Ascension 2”:

  1. “Mind Drive”: The song starts with bombastic synthwave leading into an excellent acoustic section. The bass line creates a dark atmosphere, with a plodding rhythm.
  2. “Foot Prints”: This song is very uplifting at the start, but it loses its energy at one point. However, Squire does do a good job bringing it back, especially towards the end.
  3. “Bring Me to the Power”: This has a nice funky bass with glistening keys and guitar. I kinda like the drums, but not as much as I did on “Mind Drive”.
  4. “Children of Light”: This has a great trippy feel to it.
  5. “Sign Language”: A nice coda to the album from Howe and Wakeman.

Final Verdict: I was almost considering skipping these albums because of the live tracks, but I’m very glad I changed my mind, as it was cool to hear the 70’s line-up one last time.

Grades: Ascension 1: A

Ascension 2: B

Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XIV: Talk (1994)

In 1992, Phil Carson, had established a new independent record label called Victory Music, asked Yes to record an album for them. This would be the final album recorded by the “YesWest” iteration of the band, with Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye leaving the band after the tour. Rabin would go on to compose movie scores before becoming a soloist. Two singles were released.


Jon Anderson: vocals

Trevor Rabin: guitars, keyboards, vocals, programming

Chris Squire: bass, vocals

Tony Kaye: Hammond organ

Alan White: drums

The Tracks:

  1. “The Calling”: The album’s highest charting single has some excellent guitar work from Rabin. I love the harmonies.
  2. “I Am Waiting”: Another excellent song from Rabin, with a good bass line and drumming.
  3. “Real Love”: Love the bass and heaviness of this one.
  4. “State of Play”: Some more good guitar and organs here. It has a nice groove to it.
  5. “Walls”: I don’t like this single as much as ” The Calling”, but it’s still good.
  6. “Where Will You Be”: Rabin intended this to be a song on an Australian movie. I love the vocals on this.
  7. “Endless Dream”: Yes, we finally get a long suite, for the first time since the 70’s! It starts with a beautiful piano intro before moving into a great 15/8 section. This song is amazing, and this sounds more like the Yes I know and love. It’s no ” Close to the Edge ” or “Gates of Delirium”, but I love it!

Final Verdict: Why did Spotify take so long to add this to their database? This isn’t the 70’s lineup for Yes, but it’s the closest YesWest has come to that sound while still having a more mainstream approach. It’s YesWest’s best album. Don’t let the terrible logo drive you away.

Grade: A

Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XIII: Union

Union was recorded by an amalgamation of Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, and Howe, and Yes. It’s the only album recorded by more than 5 members. (And the first appearance of Billy Sherwood, who would replace Chris Squire after his death) The album had two singles, and reached #7 in the UK and #15 in the US.


Jon Anderson: vocals on all tracks except 3 and 13, production

Steve Howe: Guitar on 1, 3, 8, 12, and 15, production on track 3

Trevor Rabin: lead and backing vocals, guitar on 4, 6, 7, and 9

Chris Squire: harmony and backing vocals (1, 2, 4-7, 9 and 11) bass on tracks 4, 6, and 7

Tony Kaye: Hammond B-3 organ, piano (4, 6, 7, and 9)

Rick Wakeman: Keyboards (1, 2, 5, 8, 10-12, 14)

Bill Bruford: acoustic and electric drums, percussion (1, 2, 5, 8, 11-14)

Alan White: acoustic drums and percussion (4, 6, 7, and 9)

The Tracks:

  1. “I Would Have Waited Forever”: Howe has a great riff on this song.
  2. “Shock to the System “: Although Howe wrote the opening riff for this song, it was re-recorded by Jimmy Huan with no parts from Howe. It’s one of two tracks featuring bassist Tony Levin (best known for his work with Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, and Liquid Tension Experiment).
  3. “Masquerade”: A brief guitar solo from Howe.
  4. “Lift Me Up”: This is one of my favorite songs. It’s about a homeless man pleading for help. I like the harmony and guitars on it.
  5. “Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day”: This features some great keyboards from Wakeman.
  6. “Saving My Heart”: Rabin felt this song was unsuitable for Yes, but Anderson convinced him to include it on the album. It’s not bad, but not great either.
  7. “Miracle of Life”: Rabin wrote this as a protest of the slaughtering of dolphins off the coast of Denmark. Squire has a good bass line here.
  8. “Silent Talking “: Howe originally recorded this son, but Anderson came in too soon on the second half. Haun was brought in to fix the discrepancies. The song feels messy.
  9. “The More We Live –Let Go”: This is Billy Sherwood’s first appearance on a Yes album, alongside Chris Squire. He and Sherwood would continue writing together from this point. Kaye sounds good here.
  10. “Angkor Wat”: This song is named after the Cambodian temple and features some beautiful keyboards.
  11. “Dangerous (Look in the Light of What You’re Searching For)” : I’m not a fan of this one.
  12. “Holding On”: Howe’s guitar is great.
  13. “Evensong”: This is the second track to feature Levin, who also plays a Chapman Stick. Bruford sounds great here.
  14. “Take the Water to the Mountain”: This has some good keyboards form Wakeman.

Final Verdict: This album could’ve been such a mess with so many people involved. But the result is much better than expected. I think this is a great album.

Grade: B