Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yes - 90125

Today (November 14th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of 90125, the eleventh studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes. This one went multi-Platinum in the US (number 5 on the Billboard Album chart) and Canada, and it charted at number 27 in Australia, number 16 in the UK, number 9 in Austria, number 8 in Norway, number 7 in Sweden, and number 2 in the Netherlands.

The band’s line-up shifted a bit with this record. Jon Anderson returned on vocals after leaving the group in 1980. Trevor Rabin came on board with guitars, vocals and keyboards. Keyboardist Tony Kaye also returned to the group after a twelve year absence.

Originally, the record started out as a debut album for a group called Cinema, which was featuring Rabin, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White (the latter two the remains of Yes). Trevor Horn was producing. When Anderson heard the tracks, he suggested they reform Yes to do them.

Side one opens with “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. As the lead single, powered by a music video that hit heavy rotation on MTV, it went to number 17 in Austria and Ireland, number 16 in New Zealand, number 14 in Australia, number 12 in Denmark, number 11 in Italy and Switzerland, number 10 in Finland and Germany, number 9 in the UK, number 8 in Spain, number 7 in the Netherlands, number 6 in Norway, number 4 in France and Poland, number 2 in Canada, and number 1 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Mainstream Rock charts. I have always liked the blend of the guitars, keyboards and drums on this one, with it all tied together by the harmonies on the chorus.

Over two years after the album’s release, “Hold On” peaked at number 27 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. This was likely fueled by the mini LP 9012Live: The Solos. The slower slinky rhythm of this one works very well.

The third single “It Can Happen” went to number 51 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 5 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. The opening has an exotic sounds generated by the keyboards.

“Changes” hit number 6 on the US Mainstream Rock chart in the summer of 1984. This one has another very cool opening, this time focusing on layers of percussion.

Side two debuts with the instrumental track “Cinema“ which won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental in 1985. This was the only Grammy ever won by the band. It originally started out as a twenty minute long track entitled “Time” but eventually got whittled down to the just over two minute version presented here.

“Leave It”, the second single, went to number 56 in the UK, number, 24 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 3 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. I have always liked how this one opens with just the vocals, especially the parts that bounce from speaker to speaker. I often sing along on the first verse too.

The B-side to the first single was “Our Song”; a US Mainstream Rock favorite, it peaked at number 32 on that chart. The lyrics tell of a memorable concert in Toledo, Ohio, back in 1977.

“City of Love” paints the pictures of street-walking ladies in the prostitution profession and the frustrated businessmen who seek out their services. I like how it ends with just a steady instrumental grind.

The closing track is “Hearts”, a song that really reflects more the band’s roots.

Listening to the whole album again after thirty years has brought back a lot of those memories from my early college years. I heard 90125 a lot during 1984. My freshman year roommate Steve brought the Yes album on vinyl back to our dorm room after Christmas break and played it quite a bit. I am pretty sure some of the guys down the hall also had a copy. Of course, the songs were all over the radio stations with videos on MTV, and many of the campus parties also featured tracks in the dance sets too. As such, I never really felt I had to pick up a copy back then.

I am definitely going to fill in the missing tracks from the record on my digital music library, which is mostly side two.


mls said...

I just grabbed my CD copy of this album and will listen to it on my commute today. Like you, I have good memories attached to this one.

I looked up my take on the album and I must admit that it isn't my best effort. Here it is if you want to bother with it.

HERC said...

Looks like I'm in the minority on this one. I'm a fan of Yes; not of everything but of most of their stuff. Not a lot of fond memories linked to the music on this disc. Don't recall seeing the videos or even hearing the songs that much on the radio. Bought the album solely on the Produced by Trevor Horn credit on the back of the jacket. It's still in really good shape because it rarely got played.

Horn's contributions made their music remix friendly and I enjoyed the later mixes of "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" and "Leave It" more than their album counterparts, probably because they sounded more like Art Of Noise than Yes.

And the original Cinema version of "It Can Happen" sung by Chris Squire is most definitely preferable to Jon Anderson's version on 90125.