Reviewed by MJBrady on 19 Aug 2002
1997's Open Your Eye's, has the ever prolific, and sometimes enigmatic progressive rock pioneers, again fielding some upstart talents to reinject the bands often criticized lack of creative writing energy that was so very much present in the bands glory years, certain albums had come since, and some showed flashes of brilliance, yet never recapturing the magic of their seemingly immeasurable legend. With the addition of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/writer, Billy Sherwood, who had been creating some music with his World Trade group, that was more reminding of vintage Yes, than most of the recarnated variations of the band. Along with Sherwood, is the use of keyboards by commitee, with Igor Khoroshev, and ex-Toto keyman Steve Porcaro, gilling the vacant position. Guitarist Steve Howe is back, and the longtime stable of Anderson, White and Squire, are holding down what has become the bands trio of necessary ingredients. One thing that dominates this cd, are the vocals, they have gone to great lengths to recapture the beauty of their group vocals, and singing in memorable melodies. Musically, the band is still avoiding the complexity, and show of virtuosity heard in the bands earlier music. But the cd is definetly moving away fo the pop tendacies that had seeped into the mix during the 80's, and shows an earnest attempt at redefining the glorious Yes sound loved by so many a dedicated fan. Sherwood is a natural for this band, his work with World Trade proved he has a true loyalty to the bands heritage. His voice mixes perfectly with Jon's and Chris', this trio of voices brings such a lush and full range of harmonic possibilities, and as I mentioned before, really is a stand out feature of this combination. Again, as has been a constant with the bands past efforts, the lyrical content is both positive, and globally insightful, it seems as if the past mystical astrophysical philosophies of Anderson, are firmly planted in the foudations of his fathers religious influences, and why not, with a band that has a name like Yes, being positive should be part of the bands forte. As has been the case with many of Yes' releases in the past decade and a half, this cd probably was one that either the long time fans loved or hated, as the legion of true Yes-heads are a divided bunch. Myself? I always seem to find the good in the bands many chameleonic formations, as the fact that are prolifically recording and touring, shows that they could argueably have the longest tenure in progressive rock as an active group, I have a heart for th bands music, whether it be the early stuff, the post Wakeman stuff, the Rabin era music, and now the Sherwood era, it all has enough good songs on each recording to make for a good release in my book. There is a lot to like about this cd, the production, the catchy melodies, the instrumentations, and most of all the vocals. While it won't rival the Close to the Edge or Fragile/Relayer material, it seems as they are getting closer to that kind of epic writing, and furthur away from the more simplistic musics that had given the band a bit of a bad rap in the hard-core progressive rock community.