Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XX: Heaven & Earth (2014)

With Benoît David fired from Yes due to his respiratory issues, Yes had no vocalist. The late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins recommended Jon Davison, who would begin his tenure as vocalist with this album. It would also be the last album for Chris Squire, as he died of leukemia a year later. This album is not on Spotify.


Jon Davison: vocals

Steve Howe: guitars

Chris Squire: bass

Geoff Downes: keyboards

Alan White: drums

The Tracks:

  1. “Believe Again”: One of the good things about Davison is that his vocals sound very similar to Anderson. The guitars sound nice, but it kind of falls apart during the choruses.
  2. “The Game”: There’s some excellent guitar and keyboards on this, but the rhythm sounds basic.
  3. “Step Beyond”: There’s some unnecessary layering on the vocals during the verses, and the keyboards sound awful. Things slightly pick up during the chorus, but not enough to save the song.
  4. “To Ascend”: This song isn’t excellent, but it’s better than the songs that led up to it. The guitars and keys sound cool, and the rhythm is better as well.
  5. “In a World of Our Own “: The keys and guitar sound great on this, although White still doesn’t quite sound good.
  6. “Light of the Ages”: This is the best song on the album, with some excellent guitar and bass. The rhythm is better than it’s been up until now.
  7. “It Was All We Knew”: The guitar on this is all right, but Downes’ keyboards sound a little strange.
  8. “Subway Walls”: Squire’s bass is excellent on this, making me wonder what he’s been doing this whole album. It’s a good song overall, but not enough to save the album.

Final Verdict: This album is a real disappointment, and I was hoping I’d enjoy it. While Davison sounds like a good fit, the bass and rhythm is overall lackluster.

Grade: D


Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XIX: Fly From Here (2011)

Fly From Here was the first album without Jon Anderson since Drama. It instead features Benoît David on vocals, and Rick Wakeman’s son Oliver Wakeman. (This is their only album with Yes). David was previously in a band called Mystery, and was also a member of a Yes tribute band called Gaia (later renamed Close to the Edge). Jon Anderson was diagnosed with acute respiratory failure. Squire had seen videos of Close to the Edge on YouTube, and saw how closely David resembled Anderson’s vocals. Rick Wakeman was unable to participate, so he recommended his son instead. Trevor Horn, who had produced for Yes during the 80’s, gave David guide vocals to follow. Halfway through the recording, Oliver was replaced by Geoff Downes. Wakeman left with his tracks, which he included on his album Cultural Vandals. David also had respiratory issues of his own. Squire was unsympathetic towards him, and he was replaced by Jon Davison, who would eventually become a permanent vocalist.

In 2016, a new version of Fly From Here was released, called Fly From Here–Return Trip, this time featuring Trevor Horn on vocals. The original version of the album is no longer available for streaming, however I was able to find it on YouTube. Although I listened to both, I prefer David’s vocals to Horn’s, so I’ll be reviewing the original instead.


Benoît David: vocals

Steve Howe: guitars, backing vocals

Chris Squire: bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on “The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be”

Geoff Downes: keyboards

Oliver Wakeman: additional keyboards on both versions of “We Can Fly”, “Hour of Need”, and “Into the Storm”

Alan White: drums

The Tracks:

  1. “Fly From Here: Overture”: The opening to the 6-part suite starts with some very sharp pianos and crunchy guitars and some pumped drumming.
  2. “Fly From Here, Part I: We Can Fly”: This is where we first hear David’s vocals, and they sound somewhat similar to Anderson. The overall sound reminds me of Drama.
  3. “Fly From Here, Part II: Sad Night at the Airfield”: The song shifts to a somber tone. I like the piano and chorus, but the guitar feels wrong, as if it doesn’t match the production.
  4. “Fly From Here, Part III: Madman at the Screens”: The melody from the overture resumes, and I kinda like how the band mixes the sounds.
  5. “Fly From Here, Part IV: Bumpy Ride”: Bumpy is a good name for this interlude. It’s got kind of a messy feel.
  6. “Fly From Here, Part V: We Can Fly (Reprise)”: The reprise has a faster tempo with the piano and drums. I wanted to like this suite because I like Yes’s suites a lot. But the song was all over in the place, especially in the middle sections.
  7. “The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be”: This has some good melodies on the guitar, but feels kind of simplistic compared to the suite.
  8. “Life on a Film Set”: This song goes back and forth, particularly in the middle. This was one of the best songs.
  9. “Hour of Need”: The album continues to show some late improvement, with some good variation on rhythms from the bass and keyboards.
  10. “Solitaire”: Howe flies solo on this and shows off some nice solos, providing a good interlude before we get to the closer.
  11. “Into the Storm”: The closing song has a steady beat, ending the album on a high note.

Final Verdict: This album was all over the place, and not in a good way. There isn’t much synergy, and as much as I tried, I felt this album was overall average. I do feel that David was done dirty because his version is much better than Horn’s, and you won’t find that version on Spotify.

Grade: C

Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XVIII: Magnification (2001)

During the tour for The Ladder, Igor Khoroshev became repeatedly involved with female security guards, leading to misdemeanor charges. This caused him to be fired from the band, and they were once again without a keyboardist. After an online vote, they chose conductor and longtime Yes fan Larry Groupé. The album was produced by Tim Weidner, and orchestral arrangements were recorded by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. The cover was designed by Bob Cesca, although it still retained the iconic logo. This was the first time since Time and a Word that an orchestra was used. The album charted at #71 in the UK and #186 in the US. This was the last album to feature Jon Anderson. It was also their first album to be recorded digitally, using Pro Tools.


Jon Anderson: lead vocals, MIDI guitar

Steve Howe: acoustic and electric guitars, pedal steel guitar, backing vocals

Chris Squire: bass, lead vocals on “Can You Imagine”, backing vocals

Alan White: drums, percussion, acoustic piano

The Tracks:

  1. “Magnification”: the title track starts with light and airy guitars, then a rumbling bass before the wood winds and percussion kick in. We hear some beautiful violins throughout the song. The song has great energy.
  2. “Spirit of Survival”:’The song starts with isolated vocals, before some acoustic layers. This is followed by a great bass and drum beat before the song enters full swing. The violins are a beautiful effect, with a great guitar solo at the end.
  3. “Don’t Go”: This has a bouncy feel as the guitars and violins play off each other.
  4. “Give Love Each Day”: This song has a great dramatic violin section before Anderson starts singing. There are gentle chords that build to a powerful chorus.
  5. “Can You Imagine”: This is the only song sung by Chris Squire, with Anderson on backing vocals. Despite this being such a short song, it still has time for some good vocals and guitar, with some nice violins and piano.
  6. “We Agree”: This has an intricate acoustic melody, with subdued vocals that allow the violins and percussion more presence. It has some nice production.
  7. “Soft as a Dove”: This has some nice wood winds at the start, before violins carry the song into a strong midsection.
  8. “Dreamtime”: The violins give this a very dreamy feel, with some nice dramatic ambience.
  9. “In the Presence of”: This suite starts with some beautiful vocals, building into White’s drums. The opening calms down after Howe has an excellent solo, then we get another beautiful melody. The song shifts to a slower tempo, but with an intense orchestra. This was one of my favorite songs.
  10. “Time is Time”: The album’s closer has a gentle feel with beautiful melodies and vocals. It’s a great way to calm things down. 

Final Verdict: For such a late entry in the band’s history, this shows the band can still experiment with a new sound. The orchestra is not a mere gimmick, rather it is a new dimension, allowing the band to create beautiful sections for each song. It really made me wish I could have caught the band with its orchestra. The production is well done, and I think this is far too underrated.

Grade: A+

Ranking the Discography: Yes Part XVII: The Ladder (1999)

The Ladder is the only album to have six members, and the last album to feature Igor Khoroshev. The album is dedicated to its producer, Bruce Fairbairn, who died during the final sessions. It reached #36 on the UK chart and 99 in the US. The album had 3 singles. While I like the Roger Dean artwork, I don’t much care for the square Yes logo.


Jon Anderson: lead vocals, percussion

Steve Howe: guitars, mandolin, koto, backing vocals

Billy Sherwood: guitars, backing vocals, tambourine, shakers

Chris Squire: bass, backing vocals

Igor Khoroshev: piano, Hammond B-3 organ, Mellotron, synthesizers, backing vocals

Alan White: drums, percussion, backing vocals

  1. “Homeworld (The Ladder)” : This is a wonderful opening track, with some excellent keyboard and guitar arrangements and a groovy rhythm. It was used for the PC game of the same name.
  2. “It’ll Be a Good Day (The River)”: This features Howe on a Japanese guitar called a koto. It’s got a good bassline, with a nice airy sound.
  3. “Lightning Strikes”: The rhythm is kind of all over the place on this one, but I like the bass.
  4. “Can I? ” : I wasn’t sure what to make of this interlude.
  5. “Face to Face: Khoroshev has some good keyboards on here, and the rhythm from Squire and White. Howe has a killer guitar on here.
  6. “If You Only Knew”: This felt a little out of place for Yes.
  7. “To Be Alive (Hep Yadda)” : I like the sitars and guitars and it’s got a chugging drum line from White.
  8. “Finally”: You can tell Yes is more willing to experiment again on this album, and this has a nice groove.
  9. “The Messenger “: The song has an almost reggae feel, which makes sense because it’s about Bob Marley.
  10. “New Language “: This is my most favorite song on the album. The opening guitar and keys start it off nice before it hits an intense vibes.
  11. “Nine Voices (Longwalker)”: This is simplistic closer, ending on a gorgeous note.

Final Verdict: This really feels like the Yes I love, with some nice long tracks. Granted, none of the songs go over 10 minutes, but they’re all well done. This is an album with few flaws.

Grade: B