Release Date: Jul 22, 2014
Record label: Frontiers Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Album Rock, Prog-Rock
For an encouraging number of “heritage acts” the urge to prove themselves dies hard. Take Yes, concocting Heaven And Earth four years shy of their 50th anniversary. Only Chris Squire remains from the 1968 line-up: nevertheless, Steve Howe joined before decimalisation, Alan White signed up when the Austin Allegro was still in “development”, and even Geoff Downes was conscripted before the advent of deely boppers.
The last men standing among the major 70s progressive rock bands are no longer the band they once were, with choirboy-on-acid singer Jon Anderson now replaced by Jon Davison. Despite the inevitable grumbling, Davison's been doing a good job on stage, and he captures Anderson's distinctive tones on record, too. Producer Roy Thomas Baker – best known for his work with Queen – gives the album a rich, 70s sound, and the material is solid enough, flavoured with Steve Howe's distinctive, rippling guitar and Geoff Downes' retro keyboard.
The first time Yes worked with producer Roy Thomas Baker was on the ill-fated 1979 "Paris Sessions," a group of recordings that was aborted when Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman temporarily left the band. Different versions of some of the songs ended up on Drama, produced by Trevor Horn, while others appeared on various members' solo records. Heaven & Earth is Yes' first new recording since 2010's surprisingly good Fly from Here, which was helmed by Horn.
It would be nearly impossible to find a band with a more checkered history than Yes. While they've had inconsistencies over their 46 years of existence, they've never wavered in their dedication to unpredictable, bizarre lineup changes, and the drama that comes with them. There's far too much of that to cover in this review, but let's just say that Yes were perhaps the 70's premiere prog rock act, with an incredible run from 1971 to 1974 that still holds up as some the very finest music the genre had to offer.