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Revisiting 90125, Big Generator and Talk

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    Revisiting 90125, Big Generator and Talk

    In light of recent disappointments in Yes studio releases (see Heaven and Earth and The Quest) I thought I’d revisit the 3 full albums that YesWest created. Much to my surprise, I’m enjoying them more now than I ever have. It starts with the vocal tour de force of Anderson, Squire and Rabin. There’s really no comparison to Davison, Howe and Sherwood. Jon, Chris and Trevor are heavyweights, real pros, who give a girth and depth to the music that is so sorely lacking right now in Yes. I think I’m also appreciating the sheer power, drive and snap of some of the arrangements from that YesWest period. I was never crazy about them going more in a pop direction and paring down the Yes noodling but I couldn’t help but move my head to the music while listening to these three albums on long trips I’ve recently taken. One of my major gripes with YesWest was what seemed to be the minimization of one Chris Squire. For the first time, however, I am hearing in part, how deceptively good he is on some of the YesWest material. Rhythm of Love is a good example. It’s a totally different tone for him with the five string Tobias bass but his low down, burp gun groove is the underpinning that makes that song move. I think what I’m getting off most on is the uptempo nature of a lot of that music. It’s just a breath of fresh air to hear Alan bashing the drums, Rabin making ungodly squeals on his Frankenstrat and Jon finding the rock grit somewhere beyond the strains of his choirboy vocals.

    Do I wish they had explored more in the vein of Cinema, I’m Running and Endless Dream? Hell yes, they barely scratched the surface of what they were capable of. They were trying too hard to please the marketplace and stay relevant in it. Still, it’s been really nice to listen to a more supercharged Yes and find a new appreciation for a period of the band that I’ve never really been crazy about.

    #2
    Big Generator was my first Yes album so I guess it must have done the job on me. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been a second Yes album, or a third or a fourth or, like, ninety-something bootlegs downloaded from Yessongs.nl.
    “Well ain’t life grand when you finally hit it?”-David Lee Roth

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      #3
      90125 worked at the time. I wasn't a big fan but it didn't annoy like it does now.

      Sadly the main thing I hear now is the tricks. The studio clever cleverness and the rush to embrace the new tech has, ironically, dated it. The trickery overshadows the performances with the exception of Rabin and Anderson. And even they risk become subsumed in studio layering and ZTTing on stuff like Leave It. And Chris realised he could get major income whilst phoning it in.

      The only thing that stands out as a bona fide Yes song is the fantastic Hearts which hints that this line-up could have produced a more worthwhile album.

      Big Generator I've had more than enough years and spins to make up my mind about. But haven't.

      It's OK - theres a couple of catchy songs, a couple of decent efforts, but...it's pretty invisible. It's resolutely failed to make any dent on my consciousness. Meh.

      Talk is interesting. It's somehow the most sterile studio product yet the most organically Yes album produced by YesWest. It's not perfect, but it is the only one I can still put without bailing after a couple of tracks. It showed promise.

      Viewing Talk through the lens of Jacaranda (an album I really dislike but with some great playing and flavours) I'd love to have heard this album with some of those less rock stylings, embracing a little more "Howe-y" eclecticism. Plus it was originally slated to feature Rick. It could have been even Yes-ier.

      Still pissed off at ARW. I had hopes for that album.



      Last edited by RelayerI; 12-31-2022, 01:32 AM.

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        #4
        I love them all, as I've previously discussed, so I can't really speak to revisiting them as I listen quite often. And my devotion to BigGen is also something I've noted here.
        Rabin-esque
        my labor of love (and obsessive research)
        rabinesque.blogspot.com

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          #5
          A bit like Luna I listen to all three fairly regularly so am not revisiting them as such. Hearing 90125 through my bedroom wall being played by my brother was my introduction to Yes. And Big Generator was the first Yes album I bought. So I have a special fondness for the Yes West line up even though I was to subsequently hear Yes albums that I preferred.

          On a related note, very excited by the prospect of a new album next year by Rabin. Had given up hope but it looks like it is going to finally see the light of day!

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            #6
            Hearing any of the three full YesWest albums that were released gives me so a lot of joy anytime I listen to them. From the more pop driven songs like "Owner of a Lonely Heart" to the more prog driven songs like "Endless Dream", the albums and the songs are some of my favourites of Yes, period. Even though Rabin thought that he had done the best he could for the album after Talk, I do think that it would've been really interesting to see him stay in the band for longer. Maybe Rick would've joined too and we might have got a prog focused Rabin albums than the ones we've got. Jacaranda is excellent in terms of having an unusual style from Trev and I think that it could've fit very well with the sound of Yes. I'm very excited for his new album as well.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by luna65 View Post
              I love them all, as I've previously discussed, so I can't really speak to revisiting them as I listen quite often. And my devotion to BigGen is also something I've noted here.
              I’m not necessarily gonna argue that they are better records, but they are such playable records to me. I play 90125, Big Generator and Talk more often than I play Topographic or Relayer because I can listen to them in basically every situation or setting except for a funeral or something and get something positive out of the experience. They are just so full of energy and joie de vivre and it is contagious.

              I also disagree with folks who sort of put YesWest to one side as this separate, “other” type thing in favor of the various versions of Yes that include Steve Howe. It seems to me that Yes was originally established as a Beatlesque pop band with a strong instrumental side. Sometimes the pop side takes center stage. On some records the instrumental side is more dominant, but there is actually pop on every Yes record, even Topographic and Relayer. The Yes records that “fail” for me are the ones that “fail” at good pop songwriting. So I tend to look at 90125 as a reestablishment and a needed at the time update of the band’s original concept.

              And why does 80s music production get slapped as “dated” while 60s music production that sounds equally “dated” is “timeless classic”? I’ve always felt like that bias was the result of Boomer dominated culture sticking it to Gen X and I love my Beatles in mono as much as I love anything. But 80s music sounding like it’s from the 80s is NOT a bad thing.

              “Well ain’t life grand when you finally hit it?”-David Lee Roth

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                #8
                Agreed. The music may be "simpler," but a good song is a good song. Big Generator is my sentimental favorite since it was the first yes album I bought at the time of release, but I think 90125 is in the top 5 for Yes.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Elizabeth "The Phish" View Post
                  Jacaranda is excellent in terms of having an unusual style from Trev and I think that it could've fit very well with the sound of Yes. I'm very excited for his new album as well.
                  Couldn’t agree more. Every time I listen to Jacaranda I think, why, why, why didn’t we get this Rabin in Yes. I mean, I know why but from a strictly musical standpoint, yikes. That kinda vibe with Chris, Jon, Alan and pick a keyboard player…….I’d prefer Brislin. What a powerhouse Yes album that would have been.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by Frumious B View Post
                    It seems to me that Yes was originally established as a Beatlesque pop band with a strong instrumental side. Sometimes the pop side takes center stage. On some records the instrumental side is more dominant, but there is actually pop on every Yes record, even Topographic and Relayer.
                    This is a very good point. What I love in Yes is that their prog sound most of the time has a quality that makes it not too hard/indulgent to listen to even if the focus isn't in a poppy sound. Their balance of prog with accessibility is what makes me love the band so much, really. And I agree with the "Separating YesWest" point you got there. For me, Yes isn't about who is or isn't in the band or a single established sound. It's more of an idea that comes to fruition with the help of everyone who was in the band and contributed to the music/non-constant sound of the band.
                    .

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                      #11
                      YesWest doesn’t sound dated to me. ABWH, on the other hand…

                      90125 is a brilliant reinvention of the band. Big Gen is a solid album that balances the “new sound” with some longer songs that evoke a bit of the 70s Yes. Talk is a lovely album that nicely blends the 80s production style with a variety of song styles, including an epic-length track.

                      I’m glad they all exist and grateful for that lineup. I don’t wish he had stayed in the band longer, but I do wish ARW lasted longer and played more music from these albums. It would have been nice to get Endless Dream live!

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Enlighten View Post

                        Couldn’t agree more. Every time I listen to Jacaranda I think, why, why, why didn’t we get this Rabin in Yes.
                        Exactly. There's styles, techniques and musical flavours on Jacaranda that would have taken Rabin's Yes way towards the 'classic' band whilst still being it's own thing.

                        I may not like the Jacaranda material but it shows a breadth and depth to Rabin's playing that was sorely missing from YesWest.

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                          #13
                          I’m trying to figure out how folks think YesWest should have been more like Jacaranda when Jacaranda came out 17 years after Talk and 27 years after 90125. In the interim between departing Yes and doing Jacaranda he had developed his career in film scoring and largely moved away from rock music. So I look at Jacaranda as an album encompassing the sum total of Rabin’s musical experience circa 2011. He wouldn’t have been able to make that record or something like it in the 80s.
                          “Well ain’t life grand when you finally hit it?”-David Lee Roth

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Frumious B View Post
                            I’m trying to figure out how folks think YesWest should have been more like Jacaranda when Jacaranda came out 17 years after Talk and 27 years after 90125. In the interim between departing Yes and doing Jacaranda he had developed his career in film scoring and largely moved away from rock music. So I look at Jacaranda as an album encompassing the sum total of Rabin’s musical experience circa 2011. He wouldn’t have been able to make that record or something like it in the 80s.
                            We don't know that.

                            His scoring, experience and growth is certainly a factor, but simply as a musician he was good enough to play in something approximating those styles back in the day.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by RelayerI View Post

                              We don't know that.

                              His scoring, experience and growth is certainly a factor, but simply as a musician he was good enough to play in something approximating those styles back in the day.
                              Agreed. Frum’s forgetting pieces like Sludge and The Cape on Can’t Look Away. He was certainly capable of odd metered insanity, musical bizarreness and cinematic scope back in the eighties.

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