SCRATCH beneath the surface of arguably the world’s best-known prog rock band a little and it’s no surprise it has taken 10 years for Yes to tender a new album.
The band formed 43 years ago returned with Fly From Here earlier this year and are back at Sheffield City Hall on Wednesday without inimitable vocalist Jon Anderson.
His respiratory illness was one of the factors that meant a gap of a decade since the last studio album, Magnification. Out of action for a number of years, the rest of the band decided to recruit Benoit David as lead vocalist, something that later caused some controversy as a fully recovered Jon was willing to return to the band.
Other manpower changes included a tour return from keyboard player Geoff Downes, replacing Oliver Wakeman who had filled famous father Rick’s shoes over the last couple of years.
In fact, the new album had its origins back in 1980 when Geoff was part of the band with fellow Buggles member Trevor Horn, reveals drummer Alan White.
One of only two members of the band to have enjoyed an unbroken run in the line-up since he joined in 1972 – the other being bassist Chris Squire who founded Yes with Jon in 1968 – says: “The track Fly From Here was never released on an album and we only played it on tour. Trevor and Geoff had it in mind as a Buggles single, but we decided to revisit it, especially as Geoff is now back in the band and Trevor has returned as producer.
“The album took a while to make. It was Trevor’s idea to make it more of a concept and develop the track into a suite.”
Then this is a band that led the progressive rock movement, and indeed defined the genre with thought-provoking and ground-breaking albums such as Fragile, Close To The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, Tormato and Drama.
The sound of the new album is reminiscent of Drama which was recorded when Horn and Downes had temporarily replaced Jon and Rick Wakeman. One of the reasons could be – apart from the original track being written at that time – that Canadian singer Benoit sounds much like Anderson.
“I think so too,” says Alan. “He’s fitted in well. He’s had big shoes to fill and he’s done a good job. Jon’s Jon and always will be but Benoit’s handled it all well so far.”