July 20, 2012
Ah, the smell of fresh vinyl. If you came of age during the CD era you probably never had the experience or joy of the odor of a freshly opened vinyl album. It was memorable and should be experienced by all music lovers at least once.
Vinyl has been making a comeback lately with annual sales now in the millions of copies. Open Your Eyes, by Yes, has just been reissued as a double vinyl LP. It returns on 180 gram heavy-weight vinyl, which has enhanced the listening experience. The sound is crystal clear and if a person possesses a good stereo system, record player, and most importantly a quality needle, then the sound of a record can be the equal of a CD.
Open Your Eyes was the 17th studio album by Yes. The band at the time consisted of singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, and keyboardist Billy Sherwood. Steve Porcaro and Igor Khoroshev also provided keyboards on several of the tracks.
The album is sometimes underrated in the vast Yes catalogue. It contained simpler and shorter songs for the most part. It was also not as cohesive as many of their past releases as the music travelled in a number of directions, which in some ways gave it some charm.
“New York State Of Mind” and the title track were guitar-based and Steve Howe’s solo on the first found him at his creative best. “Universal Garden” was typical Yes as the synthesizer foundation found the band in familiar territory. Harmonies have always been an important part of the Yes approach and on “No Way We Can Lose” they shine. “Wonderlove” was the oddest song on the album due to its quirky structure, but was a prime example of the band experimenting with their sound. Sometimes simple is best and “From the Balcony” is just Howe’s acoustic guitar and Jon Anderson’s vocal.
There are no surprises with this reissue except for the format. The music is upbeat and interesting, but readily available on CD. It all comes down to whether a person wants to collect or experience the music on vinyl.
The music is spread over four sides so don’t forget to turn the records over every now and then.
Article first published as Music Review: Yes – Open Your Eyes [180 Gram Vinyl Edition] on Blogcritics.
June 6, 2011
Every time I have listened to Open Your Eyes, and I have to admit, the times have been few and far in between down through the years, I can’t help but think Yes should have taken more time and put a little more thought and effort into its creation.
Rick Wakeman had left the band again due to a disagreement concerning their Keys To Ascension 2 album. The band was planning a tour and decided to quickly record a new album to promote while they were on the road.
Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood had been working on a project together. Jon Anderson became interested and the music became a full-fledged Yes project. The result was Open Your Eyes. Other than being a weak album, it also had the misfortune of being released shortly after the second Keys To Ascension album, which only served to focus attention on it being one of the poorer Yes studio releases.
It was more pop than progressive rock and the emphasis, for the most part, was focused on the harmonies rather than the instrumental creativity that was always at the core of the best of Yes’ work. The songs also had an eclectic feel as they never settled into one style. Add that to a lack of creative depth, and you have the makings of a disappointing album.
There are basically two songs that are interesting. “Universal Garden” features some creative guitar interplay between Steve Howe and new member Billy Sherwood. It is one of very few Yes tracks to feature two guitars rather than the keyboard/guitar match-up. The album’s best track is its simplest. “From The Balcony” is basically Steve Howe’s acoustic guitar and Jon Anderson vocal. It proved that when in doubt, keep it simple.
Unfortunately the above two songs do not an album make. It was tracks such as the plodding “New State Of Mind” and the half-hearted “Man In The Moon” that were representative of the rest of the album.
Open Your Eyes is not up to the usual Yes standards, as the music does not just reach out and grab you. Groups like Yes, who have been around for decades, will issue a weak album now and then. In the long musical journey of Yes, this is one album best avoided as there are many better stops.
Article first published as Music Review: Yes – Open Your Eyes on Blogcritics.