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PROG MAGAZINE – YES’s 90125 goes under the microscope.

I would never have believed that Progressive Rock as a musical genre would ever have its own magazine during the late 70s and into the 80s when Prog seemed to have become virtually extinct, but I have mixed feelings about “90125: THE BLUEPRINT FOR A NEW PROG ERA”, with reference to the YES album of that name (originally the title was going to be ‘The New Yes Album’ but, instead ended up as the Atco label reference number). The reason I say this is because I am not convinced that the brilliant prog that started to appear in the 1990s would have used this album as a blueprint at all.

YES had disbanded in 1981 following the 1980 tour to promote “DRAMA” to which American audiences were more responsive than those in the UK, who were not easily convinced that TREVOR HORN and GEOFF DOWNES were a good substitute for JON ANDERSON and RICK WAKEMAN. CHRIS SQUIRE and ALAN WHITE had formed DRAMA (STEVE HOWE and GEOFF DOWNES had formed ASIA, with prog rock royalty JOHN WETTON and CARL PALMER which was a massive commercial success: I must admit buying into it at the time, being pretty much starved of anything remotely progressive, but the music has not aged well).

Eventually the new YES emerged with the unlikely addition of South African guitarist and songwriter TREVOR RABIN. TONY KAYE (exiled from YES in 1971) returned, only to leave six months later after a dispute with producer TREVOR HORN over keyboard technology: Rabin would take over some of the keyboards and drummer Alan White added a Fairlight CMI.

Anyway 90125 became a massive international hit, largely thanks to lead-off track ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ (and the return of JON ANDERSON as singer). The album reached an astonishing #5 on the US Billboard chart selling over 3 million copies and #16 in the UK.

Putting it into perspective the ROLLING STONE albums guides I’ve seen gave it a *** which is probably about right, although side one is pretty strong with ‘Hold On’ and ‘It Can Happen’ (my favourite as I recall, with added sitar). Better was to come with KEYS TO ASCENSION (1996) and THE LADDER (1999). Opinions, please?

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