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YES – TALK (1994/2024) 4 x CD, 2 x LP, 1 x White vinyl, 1 x CD

Let’s talk about “Talk”. Well, for a start, the artwork was light years away from Roger Dean’s, a sign of the times perhaps. The line-up was Jon Anderson, Tony Kaye, Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire and Alan White. It reached #20 UK and #33 US and was recorded in Trevor Rabin’s home studio, by four Apple Macintosh computers linked to an IBM machine and released on his own Victory label, which would shortly became bankrupt.

‘The Calling’ was a strong vehicle for the three-part vocals of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Trevor Rabin and Rabin’s power guitar chords, with a slight countrification in the guitar sound; it made #3 on the Billboard Rock chart. ‘I Am Waiting’ is a personal favourite of Anderson’s; Squire played a big part in the writing of ‘Real Love’ with its topical Stephen Hawking reference. The screeching guitar on ‘State of Play’ was inspired by the siren of a passing emergency vehicle, with strong triple vocal harmonies and a quasi “hip-hop groove” (I have grown to rather like this song). ‘Walls’ was a co-write between Anderson and Rabin and Rodger Hodgson of SUPERTRAMP who declined to replace Anderson in Yes in 1988 and is a perfectly good song within its 80s context. The final (anthemic) track was the closest to progressive rock as we had come to know it, a three-part creation, much of it originating in Rabin’s orchestrations for film scores.

“Talk” got some rather unfavourable reviews at the time. For prog rock fans, hearing a Yes album recorded for the first time digitally as opposed to on tape was a sonic shock, although reflecting upon it now, it was very much of, and yet beyond, its time. Firstly, one must remember Anderson was working with VANGELIS at this time and producing some of the better music of the era. It is the same with Yes. Rabin was a different kind of guitarist to Howe, but any criticism because of this was unjustified because of the many different aspects he brought to Yes music. These were still great musicians: even Squire got used to the new ‘digital’ sound of his Rickenbacker bass and, although Tony Kaye’s contribution (Hammond organ only) was disappointingly minimal, Rabin assured us he was involved in a much broader capacity. It was very much a guitar-based album though, which perhaps did not fit in with the expectations of some Yes fans.

I do think this 30th anniversary release is over the top in terms of its add-ons: how many radio-edits, instrumental versions and demo versions can one take? Also, it seems to be forgotten that Yes fans’ pockets are not bottomless, and the price of CDs and vinyl have risen out of all proportion. However, two of the CDs are of a 19/06/1994 ‘Live Canandaigua’ show: for diehard classic Yes fans please note that old classics are mostly avoided although ‘Heart of the Sunrise’, ‘Roundabout’, and ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ are all present and correct.

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