Thursday 27 November 2014

Yes – Open Your Eyes (1997): On Second Thought

In the past, introducing a new voice into the ever-changing Yes dynamic has had one of two effects. It either started the band on a series of quickly realized new directions (as with earlier additions of Steve Howe on 1970’s The Yes Album, Rick Wakeman for 1971’s Fragile and Trevor Rabin on 1983’s 90125) or utterly confused long-time fans. (Think the arrival of Patrick Moraz on 1974’s Relayer; Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn with 1980’s Drama; or Jon Davison on 2014’s Heaven and Earth.)

Time, however, hasn’t been as kind to 1997’s Open Your Eyes as it has to, say, Drama, which has its stalwart defenders these days. (Including, ahem, us.) Yes’ initial studio project with Chris Squire’s protege Billy Sherwood as a full-time member was largely ignored in its time — only reaching No. 151 in America, and failing to chart at all in the UK — and remains so nearly two decades later.

Still, a return to one of Yes’ most notable late-career orphans reveals a project that connects Rabin’s heavily produced hitmaking era with the quirk-filled, Britpop-flavored sounds of Yes’ self-titled 1969 debut (casually referenced, it seems, on the Open Your Eyes cover design, as well) and 1970’s Time and a Word. There still are, to be sure, a few moments when the record betrays its troubled genesis, yet to my ears Open Your Eyes — released on Nov. 24, 1997 — stands on its own within this intriguingly connective context.

Read on...

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