Released: November 7, 1983
Singles: “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, “Leave It”, “It Can Happen”, “Hold On”
Certified: 3xPlatinum (RIAA)
“Owner of a Lonely Heart”
“It Can Happen”
“City of Love”
In 1983, YES pulled off one of the most successful comebacks in rock history. After the disbandment of the band in 1981, bassist Chris Squire , drummer Alan White, singer Trevor Rabin and former Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye formed Cinema. Not long after, former Yes singer Jon Anderson returned as their lead vocal. Former “Drama” (1980) lead singer Trevor Horn reunited with the band as their producer. Just like that, Cinema became the new and reformed YES.
90125 is a rock-solid and positively creative masterpiece that introduced YES to a whole new audience by replacing their rather difficult to absorb pretentiously progressive sound with more mainstream pop/rock elements. The record is a pure triumph of music engineering and a huge smash for the band – it became their best-selling album of all time and one of the songs even won them a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The record is remarkably fresh, yet so familiar. With Anderson back on track and their new slick 80s rock sound, courtesy of producer Trevor Horn, YES simply wrote history with this album. It was time for a new beginning. Yes, they did lose their progressive-rock roots and if you are looking for some old-school 70s epic experimental sounds you most certainly cannot find them on 90125. However, the record is exciting and influential enough to be named as the definite classic album by YES. Even with a new approach and vision, YES certainly know how to rock!
The #1 single, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” is the ultimate crossover hit. The catchy, radio-friendly and groovy tune sets the tone right from the very beginning with the memorable killer riffs of Trevor Rabin. The song is one of the emblems of the 80s and probably YES’ most instantly recognizable songs. “Hold On” is a hard-rocker that impresses with layered choruses and unique sounding. “Cinema” – the song that got him a Grammy Award has to be one of the most inspiring rock instrumentals of all time. The drumming by White can’t but leave you speechless. “City of Love” is somewhat ignored, despite the powerful bass and heavy guitars. Personally, I often refer to this song as the finest moment from the album. “Leave It” has to be the most bizarre tune of the album and ultimately one of the most unusual radio smash hits. The song combines heavy usage of electronic drums and the typical harmony of YES. In addition, the vocals are quite dreamy and mythical. It’s surprising how weird this song is and yet, you cannot stop playing it.
All in all, 90125 is one of the most intriguing albums of the 80s. YES managed to transform their progressive and cold sound into more MTV-friendly, pop hooks without which the ‘80s would’ve been so different. One thing I wish they were more considerate of is the usage of electronic instruments. Other than that, the record is a successful mash-up of progressive and hard-rock influences suitable for all audiences. It’s a must have!
Owner of a Lonely Heart