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Yes - "Drama, 1980 (re-release)"
Rhino Records 1980

After Parisian traumatic moments while composing a new material for "Tormato" successor, Wakeman and Anderson left the band. Well nevertheless fans accepted Wakeman as definitive Yes member, search for his replacement wasn't so shocking as in case of Anderson. Anderson's magic was gone. How will Yes sound without Anderson, was often question by shocked fans. Line up was fulfilled with The Buggles members Geoff Dawnes (keyboards) and Trevor Horn (vox). Changing courses that Yes were dealing with hit another rock giants. Uriah Heep were struggling to survive with release of their "Conquest" (1980) as a record that main reason for it's existence could be understand through lenses of keeping the name of the band alive. And so basically does "Drama", too. From dramatic end of "Paris Sessions", Squire, White and Howe tried to save Yes. And what is even more important from saving the band, "Drama" offers also a splendid music.

"Drama" is fantastic record, underrated mostly because there is no Jon Anderson. Next reason is (sounds funny when looking from eyes of a presence back in time), that bands like Yes were treated in those times as musical dinosaurs out of time. A trendy time of all new stuff that was going on from N.W.O.B.H.M., punk, new waves in pop rock, etc...It is funny, Yes were still in strong touch with all new things, but they were not allowed to mix some trendy stuff because they were a band from end of sixties and therefore treated as a kind of living fossils, that should stick to their old musical frames. Strange kind of masochistic frustrations from press and younger artists. Also early '80ties reinvented King Crimson faced same press attacks.

"Drama" is the rockiest album that Yes wrote between 1969 and 1980. It opens with heavily distorted riff, accompanied with massive drum punching and real "dramatic" refreshed keyboard sound. This is Machine Messiah with sound of special depths, colourful contrasts with Squire's usual irreplaceable pulverizing Rickenbecker in pivotal position. Nevertheless that song reaches its length over 10 minutes, it sound very compact. I mean it has Moulin Rouge or in other words it does not "fall apart" as it was in case of seventies longer epic pieces. You can restore majority of Machine Messiah in your mind very easily. This song captures true atmosphere of a real drama, and therefore it wouldn't be surprise if band chose it for album's title track. Machine Messiah is two-faced song. Motives are switching from those based on majors into dramatic minor ones. A highly dynamic lesson full of powerful and peaceful passages. As usual Yes are drawing those motive palettes on a very fluid way. Versatile keysman Dawnes confirms he was excellent choice drafted by band. Communication between Steve and Geoff reminds in certain passages of Machine Messiah on a Wakeman's era heritage. But on the other hand, "Drama" was merely a true relaxing moment for the whole band, especially for Steve Howe. His guitar fully and freely breathes again. He noodles again far more intense with his classic Gibson ES 175 sound, delivering fantastic collision between his jazzy and rock'n'roll roots that were somehow diminished on "Tormato" (1978). "Tormato" leaves an impression that sometimes Rick and Steve are not so relaxed or on the same page while doing cross firing solos as it was usual for this chemistry on former releases. Geoff's contribution was merely set for building a huge climax with addition of some massive keyboard arrangements that hold together and even widens the whole sound of this band's refreshed face. And Steve got again a huge space for expression of his guitar wizardry. Geoff was very close to all trendy stuff of that era. And Yes developed with his help a true modern sound pattern that other newcomers of a new wave could only dream about. In terms of production and new offered sound Yes were still avant-garde on rock scene.

The other guy was also excellent draft. He contributed magnificently all things he was asked. Trevor Horn faced only one problem. Unfortunately a major problem! He was forced to fill Anderson's shoes, that was too big. And this would be the case in any other search for Anderson's suitable replacement. Trevor had some tremendous ideas that were arriving from his close touches, as in Geoff's case, with all popular things that were going on the rock music. New Yes album gathered songs that all had heads and tails and supreme modern production. Fans as one of best moments on entire record regard powerful closing track Tempus Fugit. Steve's guitar work is here captured in chords that were fashion in beginning of 80ies. Sometimes his new designs in Tempus Fugit accompanied with rocking drum beat reminds slightly on those days hotfooted The Police.

Absence of Anderson was more than just obvious. Well Wakeman's too, but if you have in mind how these "Paris Sessions" sounded, than it was no other solution for Yes to make some major changes. Trevor's vocal rings basically high, and addition of extra vocal harmonies mainly done by Steve and Chris really brought on a "Drama" a nice approximation to how band sounded with Anderson. It would be real catastrophe if takes from "Parris Sessions" appeared on a new studio album. "Drama" undoubtedly saved a day for Yes. Even more! I would dare to claim it is shame that "Drama" line up wasn't able to continue and deliver more than just one album. On this reissue among bonuses appear also four takes from "Parris Sessions" as a direct prove, that Parisian stuff was quite awful.

From all six pieces on "Drama" I surely would vote for Into The Lens. It captures on a best way Yes facing new shapes of things and integrate them in their unique musical language. Song of a huge atmosphere sounds very dramatic especially in chorus with verse "I am a camera..." with genuine addition of Steve's guitar, building special contrasts and strong ambient especially in motive which reminds on a clock's tick tacking. Something's drawing near and it's coming out of the blue. Unpredictable in all senses.

"Drama" is a very special record. Another tremendous record from Yes. The way in which this album rocks it is impossible to imagine Anderson interrupting its rocking drives with his angelic ethereal dreamy approach. I delude myself a bit, cause after three years Yes did exactly something I am trying to proclaim here as incompatible. And after all, what would you expect from a band that carry on through constant perpetual motion full of positive surprises?

Author:   Aleš

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