YES — Drama

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YES - Drama cover
4.23 | 13 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1980

Filed under Jazz Related Rock
By YES

Tracklist

A1 Machine Messiah
A2 White Car
A3 Does It Really Happen?
B1 Into The Lens
B2 Run Through The Light
B3 Tempus Fugit

Line-up/Musicians

Bass – Trevor Horn (track B2)
Piano – Chris Squire (track B2)
Bass, Vocals – Chris Squire
Guitar, Vocals – Steve Howe
Keyboards, Vocoder – Geoff Downes
Percussion, Vocals – Alan White
Vocals – Trevor Horn

About this release

Atlantic ‎– K 50736

Recorded at the Town House, London

Thanks to snobb for the addition

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Prog Zone
Review - #13 (Yes - Drama)

Drama is a perfect name that sums up the backstory surrounding this album. It is the tenth studio album by Yes, released in August of 1980. Both Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman had left due to their dissatisfaction with the direction the other members were taking the band. Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman would enter the sessions and write more material together than they had before, but the rest of the band felt the songs were too light and folk- oriented and started writing more aggressive and direct arrangements. This difference would ultimately cause band members to come to sessions late or not arrive at all. Following a break over Christmas, the band resumed sessions in London and tried to save the crumbling situation. However, despite their efforts both Anderson and Wakeman left in March of 1980. Without a singer or keyboardist, the band eventually decided to enroll the help of Trever Horn on vocals and Geoff Downes on keyboards. At first, this seems like a strange combination. Does recruiting two members of the pop-orientated group the Buggles into the progressive rock band Yes seem like a good idea? Despite preconceptions, this match up would ultimately create an iconic Yes album that would prove to be an album that continues to hold the test of time in their vast discography.

Drama opens with the masterpiece track of Machine Messiah which happens to be one of my favorite Yes songs to date. Cover artist Roger Dean even stated that "Machine Messiah" is one of his favorite Yes tracks, while Downes has said it is "the central track on the album, embodying the coming together of his and Horn's style with Howe, Squire and White." The song begins with an almost heavy metal guitar riff that sets the atmosphere of the entire song. Combining more conventional Yes choruses, heavy metal styling, and incredibly unique dark yet beautiful sections to make this song a true highlight within the Yes discography. The next track, White car was reportedly recorded in only afternoon and is meant to imitate the sound of an orchestra. With the track only being around a minute, it is an inoffensive song that is nice when listening to the album, but it won't be a song you'll find yourself frequently revisiting by itself. Does it Really Happen is a song that originated in 1979 when both Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman were still in the band. Overall, it is a nice song that grooves throughout with good instrumental contributions coming from the entirety of the band. I also must mention the great instrumental at the end of the track right when you think it is over, I only wish it would have gone on for a little bit longer! But I guess that's a good thing. However, this definitely marks a point in which the band seems to try to be more "radio-friendly" but nothing close to what they would do in their next album, 90125.

After flipping the vinyl, you are introduced to the track Into the Lens. It was originally written by Horn and Downes before they joined Yes, but Squire liked it and convinced them to re-arrange it as a Yes track, which he did with Downes. I happen to enjoy most of this song, the only part that I am not the biggest fan of is the chorus itself. The constant repeating of "I am a Camera" can get cheesy and somewhat repetitive. Despite that, I still find it to be a good if not great at points Yes song. With a special mention of some great solos performed by Steve Howe. The next track, Run Through the Light has always had a soft spot for me and seems to be under appreciated by the majority of the Yes fanbase. I believe this is one of Trevor Horn's best vocal performances on the entire album, not to mention some truly great melodies. Despite this track not being necessarily as prog as songs like Machine Messiah or the upcoming Tempus Fugit, it is still a great track on the album that I continue to find myself revisiting. Lastly, we have Tempus Fugit which seems to be the fan-favorite of the album. The song never seems to take a break or slow down, containing a great energy throughout. Speaking of great vocal performances, this is no exception. With a truly excellent bass line carrying the entire song.

Surprisingly, Yes were able to survive despite the departure of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. And not just barely, they did it with style! Drama is a truly great album that takes a new approach to music with the new musicians present. Give it a chance, I'm sure any Yes fan or any fan of progressive rock in general will walk away from this album pleased. You were keeping your best situation, an answer to Yes!

- 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘨 𝘈𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘴 (http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=2537266)
siLLy puPPy
After the ho-hum response that divided YES fans on "Tormato," the pressures of being one of the biggest prog bands of the 70s had clearly taken its toll. The music was becoming more of a chore in keeping up with the current trends instead of making the music that inspired the band in the early 70s, so exit stage left both Jon Anderson AND Rick Wakeman (again). Ironically it was Anderson and Wakeman who were the most enthusiastic about making a new album after "Tormato" but when the creative juices failed to gel they split leaving the continuation of the band in question. I mean really. YES without Jon Anderson? Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White were having none of the band breaking up business and set out to figure out a way to keep it going. The ushering in of the 80s couldn't have been more different than a mere ten years earlier when progressive rock was just beginning to blossom. By this time heavy metal, disco and pop were in and even country was having a comeback. As the YES destiny would have it, the remaining YES members serendipitously were recording in an adjacent studio of The Buggles members Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. The Buggles had become the cutting edge band in the new world of music of new wave and MTV and their famous track "Video Killed The Radio Star" was not only the very first video to ever appear on MTV but also hit #1 in the UK. Chris Squire happened to own their album, they all hit it off and the next thing everyone knew was a totally unforeseen new incarnation of YES. Ironically after two albums that eschewed the artistic album cover talents of Roger Dean, the new wave YES actually solicited his return to create an album cover for DRAMA, their 10th studio album. So Trevor Horn took up duties on vocals, a tall order indeed but despite not reaching the heights of the mighty Jon Anderson does a veritable mimicry that keeps the vocal ties to the past while allowing the music to go places no YES fan had ever anticipated.

Wow. What a trippy album this is. No, not trippy like whoa! this is so lysergic man! but trippy like whoa! this sounds like YES but it also sounds like lots of other things. This is one of those YES albums that really divides the fans. Some love it and some hate it. I happen to love it however i wholeheartedly concede that this does not come close to their streak of early 70s masterpieces which progressively rocked the world and changed the very fabric of space-time. This is different in every way. This is a one-shot exploration into a monstrous hybrid of old YES and contemporary influences with a healthy dose of 70s kickbacks as well. YES was humble in that it realized it needed to evolve into some new beast to be relevant. I totally admire this about them. For better or for worse, they were having none of the stuck-in-the-early-70s syndrome and found a new way to let their talents stand out.

The first track "Machine Messiah" actually reminds me of a slightly new wave version of Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine." It has acoustic guitars and lyrics that totally bring that classic to mind, however Geoff Downes keyboards take it to a new level. A great way to start the album. After a 10:27 intro track the contrast slaps you in the face with the 1:21 "White Car," which is a strange little interlude of synth and vocals. "Does It Really Happen" has some classic Squire bass lines going on with some new wave guitar of Steve Howe. While Steve does his best to be modern on the guitar duties, it's actually his excellent lead guitar fills that keep this grounded to the classic YES sound since they are ever so unique and unequivocally YES sounding. This track has a "Blue Collar Man" feel from Styx on the keyboards. "Into The Lens" is another lengthy track that could rightfully qualify as progressive new wave. Nice bass line and staccato backups. For the longest time i only remembered this song under my own invented titled "I Am A Camera." Great instrumentation here and one of my favorite tracks on the album. "Run Through The Light" sounds to me like a Yes meets The Police track. Doesn't quite sound like Sting and company but very much drifts into their territory of the day. "Tempus Fugit" is a Latin phrase that means "time flies." My next favorite track. I love the bass line, the guitar and the lyrics which includes the band's name as an integral part of the chorus.

Another testament to the brilliant members of YES comes alive on DRAMA. While the album cover is a little weak compared to their others, i really dig the music on this one. I get an excellent musical enjoyment experience out of it but because of the fact that they are trying so hard to copy other sounds rather than creating them, it does not deserve the highest of honors that their earlier material does. DRAMA displays a band which was searching for new avenues in musical exploration and despite not taking the lead in coming up with new musical ideas, YES does an EXCELLENT interpretation of current trends while adding just enough classic touches to please the open-minded fan of their glory days. This may not be better than the output from 1970-74 but this is actually better than "Tormato" and almost anything that came out from the 90s on. In short, DRAMA is a delight that will please anyone who loves both YES at its progressive rock heyday and the better prog pop phase of the band.
aglasshouse
"YES CANNOT BE YES WITHOUT JON ANDERSON!"

No. If you think that, you can just leave.

Jon Anderson, the main vocalist (and percussionist), left the band antecedent to the release of YES' 1978 release Tormato. This left many, MANY people stunned at this, and it was a collective idea that YES was finished. "After all," people said, "no one could replace the great vocalist who had been the soul head of the band during his age."

So after Anderson resigned, the producer of many previous YES albums, Trevor Horn, took his place as lead vocalist. The band, being under ever increasing stress to make a YES album for the ages even with the lack of Anderson.

And In my opinion, they did it. Although perhaps not as "progressive" as say Fragile or Close to the Edge, Horn took YES in a brief direction of progressive hard rock.

The album, starting out with the ten and a half minute epic 'Machine Messiah', comes in with very traditional - heavy metal edge. This song has been voted on boards across the internet as the heaviest YES song there is. The metal shouldn't scare you away from the aspect of the epic not being good old progressive rock. Having a ten minute recording, there has to be fluctuation from sound to sound in order to not bore the listener., and they do it very well. You'd have to listen to the track itself to know what I'm talking about. But TL;DR, this song is my favorite from the album. The album bridges with the slightly unnecessary 'White Car' into 'Into the Lens'. The latter is extremely reminiscent of RUSH's older material, and I think it would be enjoyed by anyone who likes them.

The album does retain, as I said before, fluctuations between prog rock and harder, RUSH-y rock. The prog is, however, undoubtedly YES. The tracks (although they are few), will keep you pretty interested throughout. It is true that Horn may not be able to hit some of the high notes that Anderson could, but to me, this is kind of a relief. High-pitched vocalists have always been a pet peeve of mine.

From a jazz point of view, you will not find much on here. This is less the old jazz-fusion-Anderson era and more, as said before, a progressive hard rock album. I would pick it up though for an interesting listen.

But overall, pick up the album. It is interesting, and important to any fans' YES collection.

Go give it a listen.

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  • stefanbedna
  • lunarston
  • Phrank
  • MoogHead
  • Ponker
  • KK58
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  • Unitron
  • ProgMetaller2112
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