YES — Drama (review)

YES — Drama album cover Album · 1980 · Jazz Related Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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!

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