Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Drama - Yes (1980)

Drama has the most unique reputation in the Yes discography.  After 9 previous studio albums, Drama was the first not to feature vocalist and front man, Jon Anderson.  As with other long running progressive rock bands there is usually a “revolving door” policy when it comes to band members.  One of Yes’ keyboardists, Rick Wakeman, has come and gone in the band at least 3 times.  However the departure of Anderson was more significant.  Anderson was one of the founding members and his distinctive voice contributes heavily to the band’s sound and their identity.  Two additions to the group were Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes.  Horn and Downes are most known as the new wave duo, The Buggles, most famous for “video Killed the Radio Star.”  Horn went on to have more success as a producer and Downes branched off with Yes guitarist Steve Howe to form the super group Asia along with John Wetton of King Crimson and Carl Palmer also of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. 

Yes, Drama lineup
(From left:  Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, Alan White, Chris Squire, Trevor Horn)
The album has a very back to basics Yes structure to it.  The songs are notably long, most averaging close to 10 minutes.  The album artwork was also designed by Roger Dean, who has contributed his distinctive art style to other Yes album covers as well as for other bands.  It is also one of the most upbeat entries in the Yes catalog along with some aggressive guitar playing by Steve Howe.  Horn’s vocals are also surprisingly similar to that of Anderson.  The casual Yes listener would be unable to note the difference.  Yet the album is sandwiched between Tormato, an album featuring Yes’ “Classic Lineup,” and 90125, Yes’ most commercially successful album which features “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”  This position in the discography unfortunately causes Drama to often be overlooked.  Most devoted Yes fans tend to ignore the album and its material since Anderson is not present.  Yet the album is a rare gem and deserves more attention and appreciation for the energy and diversity it offers to the Yes catalog.

 Drama tour, 1980

Track to check out:  Machine Messiah

No comments:

Post a Comment