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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Open Your Eyes

Review by Gary Hill

Yes fans are pretty well divided on this album, many find it to be a sell out of Yes` musical principles, while many others find it good, but not great. There are still others who find it to be a very fine effort. I am in the latter group. Although I do not find it to be a complete masterpiece, I really like nearly all of this album very much. I find that a lot of the album reminds me of Tormato and Drama, two Yes albums which have always held a cherished place in my heart. Yes said that this album would be more "radio friendly". I`m not sure what that means to them, but I find that it is more in the direction of late `70`s radio programming (ala Styx and Kansas). I don`t find this to be a bad thing, but rather, combined with a good number of classic Yes stylings, and vocal arrangements in the style of 90125/Big Generator Yes, it is a very fresh approach, and quite listenable. The lineup for this album is Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Billy Sherwood, Chris Squire and Alan White----augmented by several sidemen, most notably the keyboardist who has been touring with Yes, Igor Khoroshev.

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Track by Track Review
New State of Mind
This song is a very good blending of `70`s Yes with `80`s Yes style. Some interesting instrumental work with the type of vocals which were typical of `80`s Yes. Interestingly enough, the opening guitar tone to this song, makes one think that Trevor Rabin is in the band, and there are quite a few Beatlesque moments here.
Open Your Eyes
This is far better than the rendition that the band were doing on this tour. This song does a very nice job of integrating the classic Yes sound with the late `70`s AOR sound of the Styx and Kansas genre. I also hear quite a bit of Chris Squire`s Fish Out of Water album and some Asia in this song. I feel that this is a strong number.
Universal Garden
This track is very good. It starts with some wonderful (and rather intricate) acoustic guitar work, and actually seems to have a Going For The One sort of feel in places. The song contains a very nice guitar break that is followed by a section that harkens to Jon Anderson`s solo material.
No Way We Can Lose
This song pretty much disproves it`s title. It is basically this lineup`s take on Saving My Heart, and certainly the weakest song on the album.
Fortune Seller
The first bits of guitar to this track sound as though they could have come directly from the guitar strings of Trevor Rabin. Once this section of the intro ends, some a cappella vocals and funky bass take the song to the verse section. From here the song really becomes a perfect marriage of classic Yes and Rabin era Yes. Solid musicianship, including some wonderous bass work and signature Steve Howe guitar stylings, and quirky changes, meld seamlessly with the strong vocal harmonies which featured prominently in `80`s Yes. This one features a segment which is quite similar to the ending segment of 90125`s Hearts, and a fine organ solo. This is one of the best tracks on this album.
Man in the Moon
From one of the best tracks on the album to one of the worst. This is basically nothing more than a pop ditty with some extremely silly lyrics. The arrangement here does have some rather interesting moments(including a Beatlesesque instrumental break), though.
My favorite track on this album, this one begins with a beautiful acoustic guitar section. This is a beautiful love song featuring a feel very much in the style of the heavily underrated Tormato. The bass sound to this track calls to mind Drama. This really seems as though it could have been where Yes would have gone had the band not dissolved after the Drama tour and reformed under the guidance of Rabin. Wonderlove contains every bit of charm that Tormato and Drama possessed and features a break very much in the mode of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. This song should go down in history as a Yes classic.
From the Balcony
Definitely bearing Steve Howe and Jon Anderson`s signatures, this one is a nice acoustic guitar/vocal song, but it does get a bit tedious.
Love Shine
Love Shine is definitely a good song, in the vein of Rabin era Yes. Only two things really stand out to me either postive or negative, both lyrical. On the negative side, the line "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7" is annoying and silly. On the other hand, I find the line "I won`t dream again until I dream with you" to be rather clever.
Somehow, Someday
A rework of the Jon Anderson song O`er, from Promise Ring (which was a rework of the Jon Anderson song Boundaries from Animation). Somehow, Someday is not a bad song, but I really prefer Boundaries to either of the other versions. I`m also not sure that Boundaries (although a fine piece of music) was really great enough to warrant rewriting and re-recording once, let alone twice.
The Solution
There are quite a few interesting things going on in this song. It definitely contains an Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe sort of feel in many places, and I hear the "round and round and round" section of Rejoice from Tormato. There is some piano work on this tune that really sounds like Rick Wakeman`s stylings, and some fine guitar work. This song really leaves me wishing it was longer.
Hidden Song
There is a hidden track after the end of The Solution (I call it "Bird Song"), which I wish had been left off of this album. It was a good warm up for the live shows (for those who missed the shows, this was used basically as the intro to the intro music-----ran just before Firebird Suite), but on the album it is an annoying waste of space, and it is by far the longest song on the album.
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