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Classic Yes, with a bonus

Tormato
Tormato (Expanded and Remastered)
By Yes

Atlantic / Rhino Records: 2004


Drama
Drama (Expanded and Remastered)
By Yes

Atlantic / Rhino Records: 2004


90125
90125 (Expanded and Remastered)
By Yes

Atlantic / Rhino Records: 2004


This review first appeared in the Spring 2004 issue of Turbula.

These are the last three albums from what is generally considered Yes' classic period (late 1960s-early '80s); they are also the last three to be reissued by Rhino in their Expanded and Remastered series, thus bringing it to completion.

The remastering portion isn't noticeably different from the original LP or earlier CD versions. Yes always had about the cleanest production available. Hardcore audiophile fans may notice an improvement or at least a different sound; most of us won't be able to tell the difference.

What makes this series of interest to most Yes fans is the Expanded end of things, the inclusion of tracks not previously available – especially (on "Drama") some of the never-heard 1979 Paris session that Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman recorded shortly before quitting the band.

"Drama" was, of course, the most controversial of all Yes albums in that lead singer and band co-founder Anderson had left, to be replaced by Trevor Horn – best known as frontman of the Buggles ("Video Killed the Radio Star"). But Steve Howe and Chris Squire – the guitarist and bassist as key to Yes' sound as Anderson's vocals – remained, and there were some very good songs on this 1980 release.

Once Anderson rejoined the band in time for 1983's "90125," the songs from "Drama" basically disappeared from the band's live set – so having the album reissued with the single versions of "Into the Lens" and "Run Through the Light" also included is a treat for those intrigued by this single instance of an Anderson-free Yes.

And as mentioned, there are four tracks from the unreleased 1979 sessions that Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman did with the band (rounded out by Howe, Squire and drummer Alan White – the supposedly "classic" Yes lineup) before leaving. "Dancing Through the Light" sounds more like The Cars than Yes – probably not a surprise given that The Cars' producer, Roy Thomas Baker, handled the '79 sessions. But "Golden Age" is a prototypically Yes song – melodic, meandering, mystic, while "In the Tower" contains a majestic vocal by Anderson that's undercut by Wakeman's overbearing organ work. "Friend of a Friend" is probably the strongest of this lost session – it could have been an outtake from either "Fragile" or "Close to the Edge."

"90125" was Yes' best-selling effort, spawning hits like "Changes," "Owner of Lonely Heart," "It Can Happen" and "Leave It." The Expanded and Remastered reissue contains nothing as revelatory as those lost tracks included on the reissue of "Drama" – simply the single versions or outtakes of songs already on the original album. Still, if you're looking to replace your vinyl copy with a digital version, might as well get the additional tracks.

"Tormato," originally issued in 1978, was probably the least-liked album from Yes' classic period after "Drama." It was dark, even by Yes' prog-rock standards, and didn't have any radio-friendly hits on it. The Expanded and Remastered version might not do anything to make fans like the original release any better, but it does contain nine bonus tracks, including several songs not before available. True fans will want this disc just for those.