YES — 90125 (review)

YES — 90125 album cover Album · 1983 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Prog Zone
Review - #23 (Yes - 90125)

90125 is the eleventh studio album by Yes, released in November of 1983. After splitting up in 1981, following the Drama tour, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White formed the band Cinema with guitarist/singer Trevor Rabin and original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye. During the mixing stage of the album, former Yes singer Jon Anderson, who had left the band in 1980, had heard the music the new band was creating. After providing some vocal renditions and his opinion on a few of the tracks he was eventually invited to sing on the full album. At that point, the band that was once called Cinema became the new lineup of Yes. 90125 was a huge success for the band. It reached No. 5 on the US Billboard 200 and No. 16 on the UK Albums Chart; it also remains their bestselling album to date. 90125 holds a special place in my heart since it was the first Yes album I ever heard. After reading about the band for quite some time, I visited my local record store and saw a Yes album for sale on the discount rack. The album was called 90125, not knowing that this wasn't considered to be their "best" I decided to buy it since I was interested to hear how the band sounded. When I got home, I took the record out of its sleeve and gave it a spin, and I was blown away by the bands ability to blend traditional 80s pop rock with progressive rock elements. To this day, I believe it is one of the best pop rock albums released in the 80s. Not to mention, it contains some of the greatest musicians of all time. This album seems to be rated somewhat low on this website due to the fact it isn't necessarily their most progressive album to date, but when looking at the music found on the album, it's exceptional!

The album opens with the bands hit single entitled Owner of a Lonely Heart. This was the track that launched them into the 80s and made them as successful as they were. It contains some wonderful guitar from Trevor Rabin but definitely feels of its time. However, that can be said for the entire album. All the tracks found here contain a similar quality to them that can most likely be attributed to the production. Overall, the instrumental performances found throughout are solid but not as elaborate as the instrumentals found earlier in their career. The next track, Hold on, is an amalgamation of two songs Trevor Rabin had written and combined as they both had the same tempo. It contains some wonderful guitar playing from Trevor Rabin in addition to some time changes that keeps things interesting. It Can Happen is probably the weakest track on the album but isn't awful by any means. The track was written on piano by Chris Squire, with its introduction put together by Trevor Rabin to go with his piano chords. It contains an interesting Eastern-feel initially, but the chorus is where the crux of the problem is. At points, it seems to go on for undoubtedly too long with no real reason for it. Nevertheless, the instrumentation from Trevor Rabin on guitar and Chris Squire on bass are particularly pleasant here. One fascinating part of the album is the intro/outro of Changes, it includes an odd rhythm section that carries it through to the point where Trevor Rabin's guitar comes in. He also provides some solid vocals that at point overlays with Jon Anderson's vocals with great effect. Generally, a solid song and surely the highlight of the first side of the album!

After flipping the album, the listener is introduced to an instrumental track recorded live at AIR Studios called Cinema. The title is a hint towards the groups original name before becoming Yes. It was initially developed as an unreleased 20-minute song entitled Time. However, they decided to include its two-minute opening on the final album. And it is a truly fantastic opening! I sometimes wish they would have decided to include the entire 20-minute track on the album, but one can only hope that it is preformed/released one day. Our Song seems to be the "forgotten" track on the album, however, I happen to really enjoy it. The lyrics to "Our Song" mentions the city of Toledo, Ohio, itself a reference to the band's show at the Toledo Sports Arena on their 1977 tour. Interestingly, this caused the song to receive a lot of airplay in that area. It has a fantastic introduction and happens to be one of my favorites on the album. It is up-tempo and contains plenty of synths. Not to mention, this is probably Chris Squire's best bass work throughout the entire album. The next song is City of Love and it is definitely the heaviest song found here. The heaviness helps break up the flow while containing some powerful melodies and guitar solos. It's an interesting song that comes in at a perfect time to diversify the album. The last song, Hearts, happens to be my favorite on 90125 and it is the closest this album comes to prog. Furthermore, it is the only track on the album to be credited to the entire band. Trevor Rabin came up with the chorus and bridge of the song a few months prior to meeting Chris Squire and Alan White for the first time. In addition, Tony Kaye wrote its keyboard introduction while Trevor Rabin developed a melody from it. Jon Anderson then developed its countermelody. A true group effort! Furthermore, Hearts has some of the greatest vocals from the entire album, especially Jon Anderson. It also features wonderful guitar from Trevor Rabin which is showcased in the surprisingly heavy section of the song found during the four and a half minute mark. In general, it's a great song that I probably revisit the most.

Is 90125 another Fragile? No. Is 90125 another Close to the Edge? No. Most prog bands had completely abandoned their prog sensibilities; however, Yes was able to still hold on to what made them Yes. You will continue to hear prog elements throughout the entire album. This intentional choice by the band is what makes this album truly great in my eyes. If you give it a chance, it's likely to grow on you.

- π˜›π˜©π˜ͺ𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘷π˜ͺ𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘒𝘴 𝘰𝘳π˜ͺ𝘨π˜ͺ𝘯𝘒𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘳π˜ͺ𝘡𝘡𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 π˜—π˜³π˜°π˜¨ 𝘈𝘳𝘀𝘩π˜ͺ𝘷𝘦𝘴 (
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