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Big Generator

Review by Gary Hill

Talk about contrasts - for my money, this album opens with the worst piece of drivel the band have ever produced in "Rhythm of Love". I truly despise the song and cringe when I hear it. However, the rest of the disc contains the strongest material that the Trevor Rabin era Yes ever produced. Granted this is very much nothing like the sound that had come to be expected of the band in the 1970's. On the other hand, much of this material is very quirky and creative, and really rocks. I always skip "Rhythm…" when playing this one, but it's the only disc from that period that I still listen to at all. Just check out the hard-edged weirdly jazzy tones of the title track or the odd prog rock take on "La Bamba" that makes up "I'm Running", and I think you'll see what I mean.

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Track by Track Review
Rhythm of Love
In my opinion this pop drivel with its Beach Boys like vocal arrangement is the worst cut Yes have ever recorded. I can't stand it.
Big Generator
Moving from the terrible to the sublime, this cut starts with an intriguing vocal section, then a cool, psychedelic and jazzy mode emerges. They drop it down to a sparse arrangement and the heavy weird, but oh so cool sounds return for the chorus. This has little in common with old-school Yes, but the arrangement is quirky and the number is very good. Indeed, this is arguably the bast track that the Rabin lineup ever did, but it was will probably send many prog fans running with its heaviness. There are moments in this dynamic and awesome track that defy explanation or comparison - you simply have to listen.
Shoot High Aim Low
This balladic number has a great atmospheric texture, and the vocal trade off between Rabin and Anderson works quite well. This one is another high point of this lineup. Rabin's solo is remarkably spot on and meaty.
Almost Like Love
A frantic percussion segment starts this and drives it frantically. It comes in with a fast paced, rubbery prog instrumental intro, then drops to the verse that feels both mellow and balladic, but also has a fast driving texture. The early harder segment makes up the chorus, and the group alternate between these two modes. This is another real winner, and the band throws in a screamingly fast instrumental break later.
Love Will Find A Way
Of the singles from the Rabin era, this was always the one that grabbed me. It really seemed to work pretty well. It starts with a string section then moves to a strong guitar picking mode that serves as the basis for the chorus. The verse here is sung by Squire over an almost funky line.
Final Eyes
Another strong piece from the strongest of the Rabin era albums, this one comes in balladic and the band gradually builds it up. This is a dramatic and dynamic piece, and it works quite well.
I'm Running
OK, this one is weird, but cool. It is essentially a prog rock take on "La Bamba". Among the unique elements here is a duck call - yes, a duck call. This starts with that "La Bamba" segment, then xylophonic keys and an acoustic guitar provide the backdrop for the verses. The chorus is based in a faster, expansive sounding segment. After the second chorus that duck call signals the return of the "La Bamba" section, this time with vocals constructed as a bridge. This cut, as odd as it may seem, features some very cool prog changes. It has some of the most old Yes-oriented elements and strongest segments of the disc - talk about contrasts! This is very cool.
Holy Lamb (Song For The Harmonic Convergence)
Like 90125's "Hearts" the closer to Big Generator is another cut that feels like an Anderson solo composition. It is another slowly building balladic number with its share of moments, it's just not all that special.
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