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Yes

Drama

Review by Gary Hill

In 1980 when Yes found themselves without their keyboardist (Rick Wakeman) and vocalist (Jon Anderson), they turned to their manager Brian Lane to see if he had any suggestions. As it was, he was also managing a group called "The Buggles". That outfit was actually a duo composed of Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, and they were the guys responsible for the hit song "Video Killed The Radio Star". As luck would have it they were also huge Yes fans, and jumped at the chance, they thought, to have their heroes record a song or two of theirs. To make a long story short, they wound up in the band, and Drama is the only album recorded by this lineup.

Drama is an intriguing disc. It is composed of somewhat longer songs than its predecessor Tormato. In many ways the songs here are vast departures for Yes music, but as part of the paradox of this disc, Steve Howe's guitar and Chris Squire's bass work are both featured more heavily than on most of the other music in the catalog. Squire in particular is playing as well as, if not better than at any other point in his career. These factors have always endeared this one to me, and lots of Yes fans. Don't expect Close To The Edge or Tales From Topographic Oceans here, but come into it expecting what in many ways is a harder darker side of Yes, and you will find a treasure.

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Track by Track Review
Machine Messiah
With the possible exception of the Trevor Rabin era, this cut is arguably the darkest and heaviest Yes have ever done. It starts with a very crunchy segment that gives way to a bouncy verse mode. After that segment the musicians take the opportunity to wander out in a prog musical excursion that is very tasty. When the verse section returns it is reworked and revitalized into a more powerful version. They move this into a major jam, with Howe's guitar simply screaming.. After another heavy segment the band pulls it back to a dramatic and sedate movement to carry on. The heaviness and frantic instrumental interplay returns after a time, the group pulling the cut back up. This epic is truly a great song, and could stand side by side with just about any other work in their catalog.
White Car
This is a very short, rather poppy, although a bit strange number, that feels more like The Buggles than it does like Yes. Still it is rather cool.
Does It Really Happen?
This one comes in frantic and is a definite smoking fast paced prog piece. It is another highlight of the disc, and features some of the most frantic and on top of it bass work Mr. Squire has ever done. The man was simply on fire here - especially on the reprise after the false ending.
Into the Lens
Starting with a bouncy keyboard oriented segment, this drops to the sedate for the verse. This one is interesting, but other than some scorching soloing from Howe and Squire, is not that spectacular. A different version, under the name "I Am A Camera" shows up on the Buggles disc that was released after Drama.
Run Through the Light
Another fairly weak cut, it is easy to believe that this one comes from the Downes/Horn writing segment of the band. However, there are demos of this one with Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman on them, so obviously the cut was pretty well written before the duo joined Yes.
Tempus Fugit
Keys start this, and while Howe lays down a bouncy Police like rhythm guitar Squire's bass simply runs like crazy. This is definitely not your typical Yes music, but Squire and Howe are both on fire at times, and the general tone and quirky changes really do work.
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