In 1983 the band Yes was for all practical purposes dead. They had had broken up 3 years earlier and all gone their separate ways. While most of the members seemed to still be cordial, there seemed little hope, or even need that Yes ever reform as theirs was a music of a time that had long past its sell by date.
Good prog rock is one thing (and sort of an oxymoron) but when you’re talking about space whales and interstellar trips throughout the galaxy, well, the times they went and did some changing. Which is where guitarist Trevor Rabin comes in.
Rabin, a guitarist from South Africa had been looking for his next creative project when he hooked up with ex-Yes members Chris Squire (bass) and Alan White (drums). That pair had continued to play together after the demise of Yes and were prepping material for a new album under the name XYZ when they came across Rabin as a producer, but the partnership quickly developed into a band that was in the business of expanding.
Changing their name to Cinema, and playing material that had previously been meant for a Rabin solo album, the group recruited ex Yes keyboard player Tony Kaye to fatten up their sound. From there Jon Anderson was slowly brought back into the fold, it became more and more clear that Yes, or some bastardized version of the band was reforming.
Thanks to the help of a nascent network known as MTV, the album first single “Owner of a Lonley Heart” shot to the top of the charts upon it’s release. Bearing little, scratch that, zero resemblance to the Yes of old, 90125 was a collection of poppy, sterile “progressive” rock that was ready for mass market consumption.
With tracks like “Leave It”, “Hold On” and “Changes” the band tried to reclaim some of it’s former glory, but at the end of the day Rabin 80’s-upped the Yes of old and in the process create a curiosity of an album that doesn’t come close to approximating the albums of the bands heyday (Fragile, Yessongs, Close To The Edge), but does manage to exist as sort of a must hear document of a band set adrift from it’s moorings.
That having been said, 90125 actually served as gateway to the rest of the band’s older, better catalog. Hell, I had never heard of them before this album and you have to know, that if you’re coming to visit headquarters, you’re likely to get hit over the head with triple shot of Yessongs at high volume. They rock my freaking world these days. But I can’t deny my roots with the band, and neither can you.
So strap on your bedazzled healing crystals and get ready to take a journey through..wait..that’s the old Yes. Just, um imagine you’re rocking the MTV Top 20 Countdown on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy.
Or if you prefer