Talk (1994)

1. The Calling 2. I Am Waiting 3. Real Love 4. State of Play 5. Walls 6. Where Will You Be 7. Endless Dream


Somehow, back in 1994 when this was released, I missed it. No, I didn’t miss hearing it, but I somehow missed appreciating this for being an outstanding album. This is simply one of the best Yes albums ever – even rivaling the albums that came out during the early seventies – which is widely considered by most as their best period. Somehow, others missed it as well. It’s not uncommon for many Yes fans to have the same sentiments that I do – we weren’t crazy about it when it came out, but man, has this thing grown on us.

So how come? Well, it might be a few factors. First, this was the first record after the failed Union experiment. Perhaps fans were still down in the dumps at how poorly that project panned out. So the fact that the band was going back to “YesWest”, i.e. the 80’s lineup, didn’t really appeal to some. Then, there was the fact that radio wasn’t playing the album. We must remember that back in the early 1990s, it was still possible for classic rock groups to get their new stuff heard on the radio. Nothing on this record had the single magic of Owner of a Lonely Heart, or even The Rhythm of Love. Then, they somehow picked one of the ugliest album covers ever. Where was Roger Dean when they needed him?

All of these factors should be irrelevant, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what else it could be. This album has the distinction of sounding fresh and modern, yet still remaining somewhat loyal to the classic Yes feel. With Trevor Rabin leading the charge, the album definitely has a much harder, crunchier feel. This album rocks. You can’t really say that about many Yes albums. Trevor Rabin’s biggest sin seems to be that he’s not Steve Howe, but I can’t help feel refreshed when I listen to many Rabin era albums. Unlike 90125 or Big Generator, this album doesn’t sound stuck in the over-produced 80s. Rabin and singer Jon Anderson are the main writers on this album, and the two complement each other quite well. Rabin sings lead from time to time, and whereas his voice isn’t as distinctive as Anderson’s, it’s definitely more synonymous with the harder edge customary rock and roll sound.

Perhaps the reason that there was no radio airplay was because there really isn’t anything “single” friendly on the record. Maybe the lead off song The Calling could have been trimmed a bit and made a good top 40ish tune, but I’m kind of glad they kept it as is. What’s so fascinating is that all of these songs sound as though they could have easily fit on one of the band’s 70s records had the arrangements and production been slightly different. State of Play sounds as though it might have been a good fit for an album like Going for the One, Real Love has a bit of a Relayer feel, and Endless Dream could have easily been included on a masterpiece such as Close to the Edge.

I would be lying if I said the album was perfect. It’s not, but it’s awfully close. I Am Waiting is a bit lengthy. It really doesn’t deserve an entire seven minutes of CD space, but what the album lacks in time management, it makes up for in creativity and sense of adventure. Most everything else is flawless. Beautiful Anderson singing intertwined with loopy time signatures coupled with modern instrumentation and hard-screeching guitar riffs make this thing a perfect latter day Yes record. And we’ve never heard drummer Alan White pound the skins so hard as he does here.

It was sad to see Rabin go (even though Steve Howe did come back and stay, basically, for good). In 2016, former Yes members Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, and Mr. Rabin reunited for a tour. The gossip was that a new album would follow. Let’s hope it compares to this one. Let’s hope that it gets the respect that it deserves. If you’re a Yes fan that hasn’t listened to this one in a while, go back and give it another chance. It’s a huge injustice that this one took so long to grow on so many.

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