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Drama - Remastered and Expanded

Review by Greg Olma

This is the bastard child of the Yes family. Many Yes purists don't acknowledge its existence with even Jon Anderson refusing to play any of the material live. Well the good people at Rhino Records don't feel the same way; and thank the Lord for that. They remastered almost the entire Yes catalog and Drama received the same treatment as the others. Not only has this album been remastered, it has also been expanded to almost twice its length with 10 bonus cuts tacked to the end. Some of the bonus tracks are not that necessary, like the single versions, but it is a Yes complete-ist's dream come true.

Why this album was panned in 1980, I'll never know. The music was exciting, the playing was spot on, and it did still have some prog elements. Trevor Horn does not sound that different from Jon Anderson. Why was Genesis able to continue (and get more popular) after the loss of their original singer? Sure, there were pop elements mixed in with the progressive stuff but back in 1980, this was unique and exciting. This was a few year's before Marillion came out with "Kayleigh". This is a must buy for any Yes fan. If you have the old CD, then pick this one up for the bonus tracks. Your speakers will thank you.

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Track by Track Review
Machine Messiah
The first thing that will hit you is the heavy guitar sound. Even though there are Asia sounding parts, it is still very much Yes with Trevor Horn sounding like Jon Anderson. About 9-minutes in, there is a part that sounds like it was part of "Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd. This was a great way for Yes to ring in the new decade.
White Car
Pop keyboards start this song that is so short, you have to ask yourself "why?". At a 1:21 minutes, it almost seems pointless. Maybe this was their way of poking fun at all of the punk bands who played 1-minute songs. It reminds me of a Buggles throw-away.
Does It Really Happen?
A nice little bass intro starts this track. Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn make their presence felt in the songwriting of this piece. It leans a little in the direction of prog but with new wave updating. Trevor also sings this one in a Jon Anderson style but not in a high voice.
Into the Lens
The beginning of this cut could have easily fit on 90215. The verse is very Yes while the chorus is Buggles. Yes fans should have loved this song (back in 1980) because it contained progressive parts and it was one of the longer songs on the disc.
Run Through the Light
Again, Yes decide to mix old with the new by updating their prog sound with new wave. This track is heavily keyboard oriented and Trevor goes back to sounding like Jon Anderson. It'snother great cut that was disregarded because of who was in the band.
Tempus Fugit
This is the tour de force of Drama. To my ears, musically, this could have easily come off of Fragile. Trevor Horn may not sound like Jon on this song but he captures his essence by phrasing things like Anderson. I can only hope old Yes fans will give this a listen because they will enjoy this "tip of the hat" to their roots.
Bonus Tracks
Into The Lens (I Am A Camera) (Single Version)
This bonus cut starts off half way through the original version then jumps to the second verse. It is almost 5-minutes shorter and is really only for the complete-ist.
Run Through The Light (Single Version)
Being only 11 seconds shorter, one has to ask "what was the point?". Sure there are some guitar parts that are different but generally not that different to consider it a radio friendly cut. Again, this is only for the complete-ists.
Have We Really Got To Go Through This
Some parts of this track are unmistakably Yes while other parts almost have a country feel. This is a very odd instrumental and you could only imagine if they had put this out on the Drama album. People already were not too keen on the direction. There is also a weird guitar tome throughout the song. Alan White's playing is more in line with Charlie Watts than his usual progressive leanings.
Song No. 4 (Satellite)
Another instrumental that resembles the previous one, it is interesting to hear but I'm glad they decided not to try and finish this with lyrics and put it on Drama.
Tempus Fugit (Tracking Session)
This is called a "tracking session" but it is more like a rough demo as the recording is noticeable more raw. Not only are the lyrics different but at times, they are unrecognizable. This is not the kind of track you would go back to and listen to over and over again but it is a rare glimpse into the recording process of Yes.
White Car (Tracking Session)
This cut is a little more "finished" that the previous track. There are differences between the album version and this one but aside from the lyrics, the differences are small. Again, this is not something that is vital listening but it is a unique experience being a fly on the wall during the recording session. These two "tracking sessions" can be compared to some bonus material on movie DVD's. You might watch a making of featurette but I doubt it will be viewed as often as the main movie.
Dancing Through The Light
This one and the next three are from the famous "Paris Sessions" with Roy Thomas Baker. These tracks were recorded in Paris towards the end of 1979 when Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman were still in the band. This cut is definitely trying to take a stab at this new music called "new wave." They ditched the prog stylings that made them famous and instead, decided to become followers instead of leaders. "Dancing through the light" are the only lyrics to this song and you would be hard pressed to notice that it is Jon Anderson singing. Based on this cut, I can see why Rick Wakeman left.
Golden Age
I almost thought I was listening to a Styx song when this track started. Once the cut gets going it is a bit more Yes like but Dennis DeYoung could have sung this one, and it would have been a hit for Styx.
In The Tower
Rick Wakeman finally makes his presence felt on these sessions. He starts off this cut in promising fashion with a church organ sound but you can quickly notice that Jon sings as though he is going through the motions. Of all of these "Paris Sessions" tracks, this one really shows the Roy Thomas Baker influence. You can hear a bit of Queen in there.
Friend of a Friend
This is more like it. Yes finally throw caution to the wind and decide to be themselves and not trend followers. I realize this is a demo but the guitar is way too lost in the mix. This could have been a rockin' tune if they had just decided to stick it out and record a full album. If you listen closely, there is a keyboard pattern that finds its way onto "City Of Love" on 90215.
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