Last night I watched Yes’ 35th anniversary concert on PBS’ Soundstage. It contained the “classic” Yes line up: Jon Anderson, Steve Howe (who’s looking very skeletal these days), Chris Squire, Alan White, and Rick Wakeman.
I didn’t know a lot about the group, so I started Googling. It seems there’s a great deal of animosity towards Trevor Rabin.
What’s the scoop?
I think Trevor is often blamed for (or at least associated with) the group’s more “pop-ish” sound of the 80’s. At least that tends to be the reason that I usually hear for the anti-Rabin vibe.
Howe was no stranger to pop hits in the same timeframe. He was involved with Asia and GTR, both of whom had big pop hits.
I think it mattered more that Rabin made Yes into a ‘pop’ band, Vs. Howe starting something new that didn’t have the same baggage attached.
I like Rabin and his playing, I just don’t think he really added much to Yes beyond a radio-friendly hit song.
I saw Yes in the round on the ‘Union’ tour, both guitarists. Each had a solo section, Howe did variations on ‘The Clap’, all acoustic. Rabin wiggled his whammy bar for 6 minutes. :rolleyes:
It looked like Howe and Squire weren’t on speaking terms either. Bruford seemed bored, tapping occasionally on an electronic kit. Only Wakeman looked like he was having a good time.
I did like the hits Yes had in the 80’s: “Love Will Find a Way”, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” (see MST3K ep #1008 for a hilarious riff on this song), and “Leave It” (especially the acapella version).
To each his own, I guess.
First off, bear in mind that when Trevor Rabin first hooked up with Chris Squire, Alan White and Tony Kaye, they were NOT calling themselves Yes. They were calling themselves Cinema.
Rabin was the primary songwriter of this new band, and Rabin WAS a more pop-oriented musician than any of the former members of Yes. I suspect that if this band had released the “90125” album under the name Cinema, it would have gotten very little airplay… but Rabin wouldn’t have been vilified by rabid fans of the old Yes.
It was only after Jon Anderson came aboard for some vocals that the idea came up: “let’s call ourselves Yes.”
Personally, I loved the “classic” Yes sound of the early 70’s… but I rather liked “90125.” It didn’t sound anything like the old Yes, but that was okay. The old Yes hadn’t had any real commercial or artistic success in years. Rabin gave them a fresher, more contemporary feel and gave them their first #1 hit ever. How can anyone hold THAT against him?
Now, I saw the “90125” tour, and I concede that Rabin didn’t play the old Yes material anywhere near as well as Steve Howe did. It just wasn’t Trevor’s style. But I think working with Trevor was the best thing that could have happened to Yes at the time.
The part that’s really unfair is that Rabin never wanted to “remake” Yes. I think Rabin would have been perfectly happy if the band had remained Cinema and they had continued without the huge sales. Plus the idea that Yes became a pop band is ludicrous. Just because they had a #1 song means nothing of the sort.
Their style did change it’s true, with that heavily orchestrated with synth sound that seems so 80’s now, but let us not forget that that sound was brought to the table by Trevor Horne who had done very similar things with the Buggles and especially the Art Of Noise(not to mention his own work as lead singer of Yes with the Drama album).