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Yes: Fly From Here

Yes is one band that needs no introductions. But this is the re-formed Yes. Some would even be so bold as to call it the 'Drama redux', based on the members who helped make the Drama album back in 1980. Included on this new incarnation are: Benoit David on vocals, Steve Howe, guitars, Geoff Downes, keyboards, Chris Squire, bass, and Alan White, drums. This is Benoit David's first actual studio recording with the band; however, Squire, White, and Howe are foundational members. Geoff Downes played keyboards on Drama. Trevor Horn, who sang on and produced Drama is back to produce this album.

The opening suite 'Fly from Here' was actually recorded by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes, as the Buggles, before the Drama album was recorded. Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn were invited to become members of Yes, and they offered the track 'Fly from Here' to Yes, but it was never included on Drama and was left unreleased until now. The band took the track and dramatically expanded on the song building it into a suite to open this new effort at rebuilding the band from some of the success of the past.

This album for me is a great stabilizing force for the band. For me it's a transitional album. It proves that the band has many more stories to tell and journeys to travel. But it does not rise to the level left with Jon Anderson and the last album, Magnification. Magnification for me was a return to the spiritual, intellectually demanding lyrics which for me were the soul of the band I loved. Since this is only the first album with Benoit David, we do have to give the band a new chance to evolve. If you go back to Yes' first albums you won't find the same level of lyrics you'll find later in their classic monumental albums of the '70s.

So, as fans if we're patient maybe we'll see that evolution in lyrical development on the next album. Or maybe we'll see Jon return. That is the difficult question. Is this the beginning, or just a step to keep the band going? As fans we can only wait for the story to develop. Enjoy this episode because it's a good one, and let the future unfold.

'Fly from Here – Overture' almost sounds like they didn't make any changes to the original here. David even sounds like Horn from the Buggles' version. There is a short break at the end of this overture, leaving open even more mystery. However, once you compare the Buggles' version you can hear the subtle changes. The track is full of those beautiful keys dancing magically before the blasting drums and guitar enter. A familiar sound for those who enjoyed some of the similar sounds on 'Drama'. This overture is all instrumental and highlighted by Downes' keys, White's drum salutes, Squire's power bass, and Howe's lifting chords.

'Fly from Here – Pt. I – We Can Fly' is where I really begin to hear the difference between this and the earlier Buggles' version. David's voice uncoils for the first time on a Yes record, "Along the edge of this airfield…" as Downes' keys trail off and return along with Howe's electric guitar. At times it's hard to tell if it's David or Horn jumping in to sing his song. Squire and the others join David in support on vocals as the band is back and on target as they move past the opening solo section for David. The guitar work is classic Howe with Squire's thudding bass providing the added dimension for all those high notes. White is as solid as he always has been and was working with Lennon back in the '70s. I definitely feel this track would have fit perfectly on 'Drama', but that would have pushed the album towards a double.

'Fly from Here – Pt. II – Sad Night at the Airfield' opens with Howe's acoustic and Downes' keys perfectly. Squire is there to help support well. David sounds closer to Jon Anderson on the opening of this track. With Squire joining him you can almost imagine this combination going well into the future. White helps drive the momentum as the track builds. "Turn this ship around". We'll have to see if this does keep the band going, or if Jon Anderson returns. Anyway, it has been a long time since the last album and many Yes fans have been patiently anticipating their return.

'Fly from Here – Pt. III – Madman at the Screens' returns with Downes' keys, then that guitar blast from Squire and Howe reminiscent of the 'Drama' album again. David sounds very much like Horn at the opening, singing solo. "Sailor beware, there are storm clouds, you must take care. Easy, bring her around". When you're trying to rebuild an epic career for a prog dynasty these words are more than a metaphor.

'Fly from Here – Pt. IV – Bumpy Ride' opens with a keyboard opening and some fancy guitar work from Squire and Howe, before White closes out the opening with a crash of drums and cymbals. More cool keyboard and guitar loop effects before…

Alan White crashes the cymbals and drums and the closing part of 'Fly from Here – Pt. V – We Can Fly Reprise' begins. The choir – like harmonies hit a new peak as everyone joins in to support David as he takes the notes even higher. All instruments are unleashed as the band brings this suite to a dramatic close…no pun intended.

'The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be' is the first completely new track we get to hear on the album. Chris Squire leads this time on vocals. It's a classic ballad of reform that will no doubt make many fans top ten lists this year. Then Squire and David sing harmony as the chorus lifts. "What have we become? What are we running away from? No longer lost. We have found ourselves a new". Interesting lyrics. Great Howe soloing with Squire doing a great job on bass in support. White's drums are right on target as always.

'Life on a Film Set' is easily my favorite track on the album. This track more than any other hopefully points in the direction of where this new version of the band may head. For me, this is also the only track which rises to the level of Yes' last album Magnification. The "Riding a tiger" refrain, brings back many memories of the past. The music is exceptional and combines many of the best qualities of both 'Magnification and Drama'. It doesn't have that incredible spiritual quality of lyrics I remember when Jon writes, but the music makes up for what is lacking in spirit.

'Hour of Need' is full of great keys from Downes and great solo guitar from Howe. The vocal harmonies will make you feel like nothing has changed, but the die-hard fan will spot the lack of lyrical development. The music is as perfect as always. These are top notch professional musicians and nothing slides in terms of their musicianship.

'Solitaire' is Steve Howe at his acoustic and electric very best. The track brings back the tradition of including a solo guitar track that used to be common place with this band. With Howe, you know it's gonna be unique and extraordinary and this new track is no exception.

The closer, 'Into the Storm', opens with that classic Squire bass-line and keys, with Howe squeezing out the electric guitar in-between, as the harmonies begin again. A nice pop track to close the album on a happy note. Not the classic epic closers we are all familiar with from the past. Possibly signaling a turning point? Some great instrumental work supported with great harmony singing. "Somewhere a fire is breaking out", but not here, not yet. "Armies of angels" are not enough for me. I need to go back to the spiritual heights of "In the Presence of". Hopefully the next one will take us there.

Track Listing
1. "Fly From Here - Overture"
2. "Fly From Here - Pt I - We Can Fly"
3. "Fly From Here - Pt II - Sad Night at the Airfield"
4. "Fly From Here - Pt III - Madman at the Screens"
5. "Fly From Here - Pt IV - Bumpy Ride"
6. "Fly From Here - Pt V - We Can Fly (reprise)"
7. "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be"
8. "Life on a Film Set"
9. "Hour of Need"
10. "Solitaire"
11. "Into the Storm"

Added: August 20th 2011
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4322
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Yes: Fly From Here
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-08-20 11:11:53
My Score:

Considering that it has been ten whole years since the Magnification album, a new release from Yes was always guaranteed to cause quite a stir. However with all the rather public hullabaloo around the temporary, then permanent replacement of the band's long time singer Jon Anderson, there's an added air of expectancy and pressure to Fly From Here. The debate over whether Yes tribute singer and frontman of the band Mystery Benoit David should be in Yes at the expense of Anderson has been covered over and over, so rather than continue that here, I'll just say that David does an excellent job on this album. It may be slightly odd to hear someone with a very similar voice to Jon Anderson, right down to the phrasing and vocal melodies, leading Yes through their music, but there's absolutely no denying that he has the talent and skill to deserve his shot.

Opening the album with a six part epic, which harks back to the style of the band's glory days while still being reminiscent of their "The Ladder" album is a rather clever move, leading to a gently accessible progressive-rock-pop hybrid that should satisfy followers of almost every era of the band. Having re-found his fire with the reformed Asia, Steve Howe continues to deliver guitar work that sounds fresh and vibrant, leading from the front and ever so slightly dominating the punchy, rounded keyboards. In the higher register David is ever so Anderson like, however during "Part II Sad Night At The Airfield" of the "Fly From Here" suite, he reveals more of his own voice, using a deeper delivery to illustrate his versatility and more individual character. In fact the music really does benefit from an aspect that his predecessor just doesn't possess and I have to say that while I remain a huge fan of Jon Anderson era Yes and his solo work, I'd be hard pushed to suggest that this album lacks in any way from his exclusion. It is also refreshing to hear the band given the opportunity to explore new lyrical ideas. Musically the six parts of "Fly From Here" are beautifully poised and contain an atmosphere that the band have failed to express for many an album, while still having lyric lines and musical motifs that are hugely memorable and stylish.

Like the good old days of vinyl, there is a natural split on this album, with the second half moving into slightly different directions, with "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be" and "Hour Of Need" having a laid back, semi acoustic vibe, offering a starkly altered focus from the smooth, slickness of what has come before. "Solitaire" on the other hand is one of those unmistakable Steve Howe acoustic instrumental guitar workouts and while maybe not quite up to the standard of some of his previous work, is still impressive. Meandering from theme to theme "Into The Storm" is a song that builds and builds through its sections, whisking the listener along as it soars and swoops, while "Life On A Film Set" alternates between film-noire darkness and bright vocal stabs and in truth is the only rather dull track on the album.

I don't think that anyone can or did expect Yes to come out with an album at this stage of their career that was likely to envy their flagship releases, however with Fly From Here, they have shown that they still have the ability to impress and enthral and that some of their more questionable decisions weren't quite as strange as they at first seemed.

Yes: Fly From Here
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-07-10 08:27:12
My Score:

Fly From Here has certainly brought about quite a bit of controversy amongst Yes fans. It's the first album of new material from the band in quite a few years, and of course the first album recorded since the band sacked lead singer Jon Anderson and recruited Benoit David to be the new frontman. Also, former keyboard player Geoff Downes (current Asia), who played in the band back on the Drama album, now has rejoined. If all that wasn't enough, former singer of the Drama era, Trevor Horn, is back producing the band once again (he worked with them during the Trevor Rabin period in the early 80's)-confused?

But let's forget about all that and concentrate on the music contained on Fly From Here. Most importantly, it still sounds like Yes. The opening epic title track suite contains all the traditional Yes elements-Steve Howe's loopy lead guitar, Alan White's rock solid drumming, Chris Squire's acrobatic bass, and plenty of majestic keyboards courtesy of Downes & Oliver Wakeman, who was previously in the band and recorded part of the album before being given his walking papers. David has a very good voice, as most who have followed him in the band Majestic already know, and while he does sound a tad bit like Jon Anderson, he doesn't go out of his way to be a total clone of Jon's style.

Though the lengthy title track is obviously the highlight of the album, and proof that Yes can still put forth a monumental prog epic at this late stage of the game, there are other strong cuts here. "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be" is a catchy slice of pop and prog, as the band sounds a little like Asia on this one, and "Life on a Film Set" is a mellow prog tune that reminds a little of "Man in a White Car" from Drama. Great guitar work from Howe on this one, and plenty of atmospheric keyboards. "Hour of Need" is perhaps the one throwaway here, a decent enough pop song with some catchy melodies and tasty keyboards & acoustic guitar, but it gets overshadowed quickly. Howe's acoustic guitar piece "Solitaire" once again displays his mastery of the instrument, and should be a nice addition to his concert solo spot. "Into the Storm" closes out the CD in grand fashion, an aggressive prog number filled with all the characteristics of classic Yes that we've come to love. The interplay between Squire & Howe on this one is magical, and the layers of vocals from David and Squire really works well.

While Fly From Here might not reach the lofty heights of Yes' classic material or even Drama, it's certainly the best thing they've done in years and a step in the right direction back towards their classic prog sound.

Yes: Fly From Here
Posted by Jeff B, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-07-09 22:22:21
My Score:

A new album from Yes is always something to be celebrated among the prog community. These British legends have released countless undisputed classics in their 43-year history, spawning much critical acclaim and fantastic international sales. Yes simply cannot be ignored, and Fly From Here proves that they are still a force to be reckoned with in 2011. Though it may not rival masterpieces like The Yes Album or Close to the Edge, Fly From Here shows that Yes still knows how to create excellent progressive rock over forty years into their career. Although this may be a tad too commercial for some fans, I'd have a tough time calling Fly From Here anything but a high-quality effort. Newcomers to Yes will want to start with the band's classic albums from the 1970's, but any Yes veteran will want to make sure this ends up in their collection. Fly From Here has really impressed me, and it's very inspiring to see that these 70's juggernauts still can create one of the year's best prog albums!

Anyone familiar with Yes will immediately recognize that the lineup for Fly From Here is nearly identical to that of 1980's Drama. I am quite a fan of that album so it's great to hear that lineup (plus new singer Benoit David) making another album. Fly From Here doesn't quite stand up to Drama in my opinion, but it's still a very strong release. The "Fly From Here" epic that dominates nearly 24 minutes of the album is fantastic, and undoubtedly the highlight of the album. The themes are interwoven perfectly throughout the song's duration, and every individual section is unforgettable. "Sad Night at the Airfield" is probably the best section of this extended track, with its melancholic feeling rivaling some of Yes' best material. The second half of the album is a bit more pop-oriented than the rather non-commercial first half. After kicking off with the rather disposable pop/rock track "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be", the album only gets stronger with "Life on a Film Set" - a truly remarkable prog rock song that manages to cover a wide variety of emotions in a mere five minutes. "Hour of Need" is a mildly enjoyable pop/rock tune featuring some great keyboard playing from Geoff Downes, and "Solitaire" is a great acoustic guitar instrumental from Steve Howe. "Into the Storm" closes out the album with a very strong prog tune, surely among the best on Fly From Here.

As always from Yes, expect quality when it comes to musicianship. These guys certainly know how to play, and although Fly From Here isn't as technically demanding as some of their earlier works, every note played here is professional and tasteful. My only complaint when it comes to musicianship is the fairly uninspired drumming from Alan White - obviously he is a very good drummer, but he doesn't show this nearly enough on Fly From Here. This may be partially due to the fact that he's 62 years old, but I still feel that it's a bit too "play-by-numbers" to sound truly impressive. Despite that minor complaint, the production is (as expected) great. Trevor Horn is a spectacular producer, and Fly From Here sounds crisp and professional.

Fly From Here may not be the greatest thing Yes has ever done in their long and winding career, but it's a high-quality release that satisfies from beginning to end. People who were skeptical about this Yes comeback album may rest assured - I have a tough time picturing any Yes fan who doesn't at least enjoy this album. I personally love Fly From Here, though, and find it constantly in my rotation. Though a tad inconsistent at times, Fly From Here has more than enough quality material to leave me more than satisfied. 4 stars are well-deserved for yet another stellar Yes album!

» Reader Comments:

Yes: Fly From Here
Posted by Eric on 2011-07-25 13:28:33
My Score:

A fair review: you acknowledge the weak points of the album while discussing the strong points. I'm really annoyed with people's "THIS IS NOT YES!" comments or comparing this to classic albums like CTTE or Tales. That seems kind of cruel. That was created by a band of wild eyed 20 year olds trying to change the world. This is made by a set of 60 year old guys trying to make great music and keep a career going. They've changed, music tastes have changed and I honestly think this is the best they can do.

The major problems with this album come from what I call the "stickiness" factor. Do these songs stick in your head? Unfortunately, rarely. The "We can fly from here" chorus sticks long and hard but the rest isn't there. Jon has an incredible talent for catchy vocal melodies that the rest of the band doesn't seem to have. All the songs have good melodies, moving, meaningful melodies. Great to hear at the time but they're gone later. The lyrics are a bit weak too but I've never been a major Yes lyrics guy.

I'm actually frankly relieved that Jon and Rick aren't in Yes. That may seem like blasphemy but the ultra dull and uninteresting "The Living Tree" illustrate that Jon and Rick aren't doing anything interesting. I love Jon and rick and they've done great music. This album is better than the Living Tree. I think a more fair way to rate this album is not to compare it to Tales or CTTE but The Ladder or Magnification.

I think it holds up and holds its own. The Ladder is probably the ultimate Yes pop album to me. 90125 is very strong to me but it's steeped in 80's rock: not a genre I adore. That album gets by due to the incredibly high level of songwriting and arrangement. The Ladder is similar: a bit too steeped in 90's nonsense, it has such an incredibly consistent level of songwriting that it's an absolute joy. Diverse, catchy, fun: not the Yes of "Roundabout" but honestly GREAT music.

Magnification is the last great set of songs Jon Anderson will ever contribute to this Earth. I have no interest in his new age solo career and having heard the Living Tree I don't think he's got anything left. But Magnification is a very consistent great set, with the addition of an orchestra giving it a unique sound for the band. It's integrated well and completely. Would have made a great swan song and is a great swan song for Jon.

Fly From Here is the most overtly prog out of those albums in some ways. This is neither a good nor bad thing, just a statement. The 20 minute long track, the complicated themes, the keyboard tones. It's not a backward step as some of have said but more of a retrenchment. A solidification of their songwriting abilities and an honest attempt to create music they enjoyed. As much as I love the Ladder, that album did have a stench of "these songs will get us back on the radio!" which can make me squirm. Little here seems destined or even designed for radio.

Title track isn't exactly the most flowing of all progressive epics. It is obviously several smaller songs stitched together in a suite like format. The song does build and has some great melodies: "and we can fly from here" gets stuck in my head constantly. The catchiest moment of the album. Benoit more than holds his own: he does great on this album, proving he's no schlub. He's into the material and seems to care. The band plays very well but, yes, not like they used to which is understandable. Instead of over stuffing the arrangements, the band lets them breathe and the playing seems to compliment the songs. I do miss some of the instrumental fireworks but there's a reason this album gets a four instead of a five.

"The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be" and "In the Hour of Need" are two ballads that represent Chris and Steve's biggest contribution to the album, respectively. They are nice ballads. Well arranged, melodic, probably even a bit emotional for the guy. They lack Jon's more natural way with words but don't suffer majorly. They lack a certain catchiness that Jon may have given them, but they are a nice, relaxing way to spend a few minutes.

"Life on a Movie Set" is an old Buggle's song that works really well in this format. I don't care that it was written by somebody other than Chris or Steve. It's a good tune and the band do it justice. It builds, grows, switches around, does that chant thing Yes enjoys and ends well.

"Solitaire" is a solid Steve Howe song. Not as thrilling as earlier pieces, but a nice change of pace. "Into the Storm" is a good closer. Great harmonies on this one, some interesting changes of pace, some strong playing and an exciting climax. Good way for the band to end the album.

What I like the most about the album is the fact that it sounds different from other Yes albums. Yes is very good at that: the basic ingredients are always there but they create new styles, new atmospheres, melodies and tones with each album. That's very impressive. Some of these albums are weak (Union) others are incredible (CTTE) others are great (Ladder) while some are good (90125). This album falls between good and great, nearly exactly in the middle for me.

Yes: Fly From Here
Posted by Jordan Farquharson on 2011-06-26 19:18:25
My Score:

You keep commenting on the lack of spiritual lyrics. The lack of spiritual lyrics is expected since Jon is not on Fly From Here. The lyrics remind me of Drama since most of the lyrics were written by Trevor Horn. I wonder if the "armies of angels" bit on Into The Storm is Benoit's contribution since he was in a Yes tribute band. He must've studied Jon's lyrics in order to sing them with his tribute band and Yes. I happen to like the "armies of angels" bit. Is your four star rating because you didn't like the lyrics? From your review, I expected five stars. I heard Fly From Here on YouTube and I think it's the best Yes cd since Drama. I didn't miss Jon on Drama on I don't miss him now. I hope Yes will continue with this lineup. Btw, did you know some of Oliver Wakeman' s work was kept on Fly From Here?

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