YES — Big Generator (review)

YES — Big Generator album cover Album · 1987 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Prog Zone
Review - #24 (Yes - Big Generator)

Big Generator is the twelfth studio album by Yes which was released in September of 1987 by Atco Records. After completing a worldwide tour in support of their previous album, 90125, the band began working on their upcoming album, Big Generator. The band's previous album saw them change directions towards a more pop-oriented and commercially accessible sound when compared to their previous progressive works. That change in sound only continues on this album. Big Generator has been said to not have been an easy album to make; recording began at Carimate, Italy, but internal and creative differences resulted in production to resume in London. Trevor Rabin has said this remains to be one of the most difficult albums he has ever made due to the creative differences he had with vocalist Jon Anderson about the direction the band was moving in. Eventually, the album was completed in Los Angeles in 1987 by Trevor Rabin and producer Paul DeVilliers after Trevor Horn left as the role of producer. Big Generator received several mixed reviews from music critics when it was released, and the album reached number 15 on the Billboard 200 and number 17 on the UK Albums Chart. In April of 1988, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling one million copies in the US. Similar to 90125, the album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Group with Vocal. The line-up on the album is exactly the same as 90125, it contains Jon Anderson on vocals, Alan White on drums, Trevor Rabin on guitar, Tony Kaye on keyboards, and Chris Squire on bass. This album featured more contributions from the entire band when compared to 90125 such as keyboardist Tony Kaye having an influential role in writing numerous tracks. However, releasing three years after 90125 this album does not reach the same heights as its predecessor. Nevertheless, there are some truly brilliant moments found here which are mainly discovered on repeat listens.

The album opens with Rhythm of Love which commences some interesting vocal harmonies. Not too long after, the song shifts into a more straightforward pop-inspired track. While still nice, it doesn't go too far beyond that. Rhythm of Love contains some solid vocals and a driving rhythm section in addition to some pleasant keyboards from Tony Kaye. The next track, Big Generator, is surely one of the weakest moments found on the album. I wonder why they chose to name the album after one of the weakest tracks. I guess titles like Holy Lamb or Love Will Find A Way don't roll off the tongue as well. This is one of the album's three tracks credited to the whole group. It developed from a riff by Squire and Rabin, originating from a specific tuning Squire had on his 5-string bass which helped to create the song, which involved contributions from Alan White on drums. Besides the dreadful chorus, there are actually a few nice moments uncovered on this track. The transition found at the three minute and eighteen second mark is something I always happened to appreciate. In addition, the enchanting vocal harmony at the three minute and fifty five second mark is quite well composed. However, it doesn't go on for nearly as long as I would have hoped. Shoot High, Aim Low is up next and practically clocks in at seven minutes. It is the second group composed track and was one of the songs recorded in Carimate. It features reverb that was captured naturally around a castle's acoustics, rather than reverb added electronically in the studio. Both Trevor Rabin and Jon Anderson complement each other incredibly with is exceptionally tranquil track. Alan White's drumming is sparse yet impactful. The track contains a few progressive rock tendencies and is an overall solid moment on the album. Definitely the best found on side one of the album. Almost Like Love begins with a solid enough instrumental section but deteriorates considerably when Jon Anderson's vocals are introduced that are almost like rap. This track feels as if the band needs to take a breather and consider what they are actually doing. Trevor Rabin once said that the track did not quite work as well as he wanted and in the end, he wished it was not included on the album.

Love Will Find A Way begins side two and is solely credited to Trevor Rabin. He had initially worked on the music and lyrics with singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks and was close to recording it with her. However, Alan White heard the song and suggested Yes record it for Big Generator. This is a terrific pop-influenced track that takes the listener on a journey back to the 80s. I truly feel like this could have been an even bigger hit then it already was. It begins with strings and eventually transfers to Trevor Rabin playing a riff on his guitar. The melodies are exceptionally catchy and contain wonderful vocals from Trevor Rabin. Not to mention, Trevor Rabin's guitar throughout is somewhat straightforward at times but fits effortlessly. Final Eyes is yet another lengthier track that nearly reaches the six and a half minute mark. Trevor Rabin has stated that he enjoyed working on the production and arrangement for this track, but deemed it a remarkably challenging song to make due to the numerous changes found throughout. The vocal harmonies are actually fairly beautiful while Tony Kaye's keyboard work is simple yet brilliant which adds a bright atmosphere to the track. Final Eyes is without a doubt one of the highlights of the album in addition to the upcoming track, I'm Running. I'm Running begins with a Caribbean style arrangement that is full of energy. It is the last of three group-written pieces and contains numerous transitions into very diverse arrangements. In addition, the track goes past the seven and a half minute mark which makes it the longest piece on the album. After the five minute and twenty second mark the music presented is truly up the par with anything Yes made in the seventies. The arrangements are complex and without a doubt progressive with a breathtaking vocal buildup near the end. Unquestionably the highlight of the album! The last track, Holy Lamb, is a terrific closer. Jon Anderson's vocals are beautiful as ever and still give me the same stunning impression as when I first heard it years ago. In addition, Trevor Rabin provides some wonderful guitar playing which builds up especially near the end. I sincerely wish they would have extended this song which fades out right when it's getting good. However, it does seem to be a bit out of place on an album which feels so eighties throughout. Nevertheless, it is a solid track which ends the album wonderfully.

Big Generator is an overall solid Yes album that seems to be overly criticized due to its undeniably eighties sound. However, the somewhat weak side one brings down the album from receiving anything higher than good, but non- essential. There are several superb moments found all through the album, but they are interspersed with moments of questionable quality. A mixed bag, but still recommended for any Yes fan who enjoyed their previous album. There... in the heart of millions!

- π˜›π˜©π˜ͺ𝘴 𝘳𝘦𝘷π˜ͺ𝘦𝘸 𝘸𝘒𝘴 𝘰𝘳π˜ͺ𝘨π˜ͺ𝘯𝘒𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘳π˜ͺ𝘡𝘡𝘦𝘯 𝘧𝘰𝘳 π˜—π˜³π˜°π˜¨ 𝘈𝘳𝘀𝘩π˜ͺ𝘷𝘦𝘴 (http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=2545079)
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