Lauded as the fathers of prog rock, Yes’s latest offering, Fly From Here, marks their twenty-first studio album and their first in ten years. The band has been through some major changes since their self-titled album. Are still recognizable as what they once were, or have they charted new directions after their latest break?
Not all debut albums burst onto the music scene, clamoring for attention and breaking charting records. However, in the short time that I’ve done this weekly column, this is the probably the debut album that interested me the least. They rather amateurishly jazz up The Byrds’ psychedelic “I See You,” adding an unnecessary and inexpertly-done guitar solo in the middle and seemingly forgetting the words to the entire first verse. They also cover The Beatles’ “Every Little Thing” with similar results: an interminably-long introduction that dumps us, after almost two minutes, into the guitar riff to “Day Tripper” for six bars before finally getting into the meat of the cover. Things get better after this, finally. Still, if I had produced this song, I would have probably chopped off the first two minutes and the last one and a half minutes.
The rest of the album, sadly, is pretty forgettable. It will take two years, one more album, and one personnel change before the band finally finds their footing with The Yes Album and their first major single, “I’ve Seen All Good People.”
Fly From Here
Yes’s latest lead singer, Benoît David, originally fronted for the Yes tribute band, “Close to the Edge” (so, you know, at least he knows the major songs in the catalog so he’s not completely lost on tour). This leaves the bassist Chris Squire as the only original member from 1968. (Yes, that’s the right year.) You’d think, then, that, in listening to these two albums back-to-back, there would be a substantial change in sound.
No. No, there isn’t.
The title track comes in six parts and, I think, tells the story of a man who’s lost a lot but willing to keep on trying or something. (I may have stopped paying attention at around the third minute of Part 3.) I seriously think the band broke this track into six parts so that they could trick people into listening to the whole thing.
Musically, this album is… prog rock. Yes has been doing this for forty-some years now, and has the genre down pretty well. No song really stands out, despite the fact that I really, really, REALLY wanted one to, even if it was just BAD.
Verdict: I think you should avoid both of these albums. If you think you like Yes, either get The Yes Album or one of the many Yes box sets available. I recommend Highlights: The Very Best of Yes.