Yes. Or maybe, Yes?
Yes, the band, released The Quest, their 22nd album last week (Oct. 1) and first in seven years, an 11 song 61 minute record that features one of the band’s best.
Don’t get too excited.
Now which Yes is this? Oh yes. Yes has gone through quite the line-up. For some, hardly resembling the Yes of yesteryear that produced such hits as “Roundabout,” “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Today, Yes consists of none of the original founding members but do have two, perhaps three, that comprised at least one of the classic line-ups.
Guitarist Steve Howe joined in 1970 and first contributed on the band’s third album, drummer Alan White kept time starting in 1972. Both left and came back, enduring through various break-ups. The great bassist Chris Squire died in 2015 now replaced by Billy Sherwood who first joined as a full time band member in 1997. Keyboardist Geoff Downs joined for a year in 1980 before returning in 2011 and Jon Davison has taken up lead vocal duties since 2012.
But another Yes group also tours. Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman (Yes, that’s the name), with original lead singer and co-founder Jon Anderson, keyboardist Rick Wakeman who joined in 1971 with various stints until 2004, and guitarist Trevor Rabin who gets much credit for their album 90125 which remains their biggest to date thanks to “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”
I saw Yes a number of years ago. Styx opened. Styx showed up ready to rock. Yes rolled on as if they had just finished lunch and were the next act up for the town BBQ. Needless to say, I missed classic Yes and I am not really sure about today’s Yes.
The Quest is the first Yes album without any founding members with Squire’s death ending his run as longest serving member who appeared on every studio album. Only one song on The Quest lasts less than four minutes and seven extend more than five minutes.
Yes The Quest Review
The Quest opens with “The Ice Bridge” and quite possibly ranks as one of the band’s best. The bass line immaculate, sweet keyboards and an overall astounding seven minute rock song. Anderson sounds like an early Geddy Lee at times with stratospherically high vocals and the guitars smooth and melodic. A great song. One I could listen to all day.
The same cannot be said for the rest of the album.
The Quest sometimes sounds dated, truly like something from the 60s or early 70s. Rather than bring the era into the modern age just as Greta Van Fleet has done so successfully with the classic rock sounds of the 70s, The Quest just sounds old.
Most of the songs lack a memorable melody and few you’d expect originating from the courtyard of commune or as Muzak in a 1980s office building like “Music to My Ears,” “A Living Island” and “Sister Sleeping Soul.” Slow and often listless, other songs showed promise but lacked depth and/or overall direction like “The Western Edge” and “Future Memories” or “Leave Well Alone,” the longest track at eight minutes, which had some redeeming sections but not enough to stay tuned in.
“Dare to Know” begins like you’re at a high school concert band performance and “Minus the Man” also built in some strings with little success. “Mystery Tour” the shortest of the lot didn’t rise to the excellence of the opening track but a good listen nonetheless (yes!) thanks to the breezy melody that reminded a little of the Beetles. Too bad The Quest didn’t end here, book-ending on a high note. “Damaged World” resembled Styx, very loosely though, and Howe really should have left the lead vocal duties to Davison.
No, I didn’t like the new Yes, but yes, I don’t think I was the intended audience.
Hey man, at least the album cover is cool.
Yes The Quest Songs:
- The Ice Bridge
- Dare to Know
- Minus the Man
- Leave Well Alone
- The Western Edge
- Future Memories
- Music to My Ears
- A Living Island
- Sister Sleeping Soul
- Mystery Tour
- Damaged World