"Roundabout" off Fragile has few progressive elements compared to most of their '70s output. It even sounds like a straightforward rock song if you listen to the radio edit. The original length? 8:37. Radio edit? 3:27.
"Owner of a Lonely Heart" off 90125 was a catchy New Wave pop rock tune that sounded nothing like the band ever did before then. One of the first mainstream songs to ever use sampling, it was one of the most revolutionary and influential songs of the '80s and the popular MTV video helped introduced the band to a new generation of listeners, many who never knew they were a progressive rock band until then. Play this song to anyone, then play one of their '70s songs, and the listener will think they are two completely different bands. It remains the band's sole number one hit.
Chart Displacement: "Wonderous Stories" is the band's best performer in their homeland, in spite of not becoming a set list mainstay or as remembered as the two entries above on Black Sheep Hit.
Colbert Bump: For some young anime fans, and especially the Japanese audience, their first introduction to the band would be with "Roundabout" appearing as the first couple endings to the 2012 adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
Creator Backlash: Rick Wakeman dislikes much of Tales from Topographic Oceans, in particular the "filler material" they used to spread the album's pieces across four sides of vinyl. He has, however, softened on it in recent years, saying that there is about an hour of really good music on it. He has also said that if the album had been produced in the CD era, it would likely have been better, since the impulse to fill sides of vinyl resulted in the album being longer than it probably merited being (there was too much material for a single LP, which tends to be best suited for about forty to forty-five minutes of content, but not enough for a double LP, which tends to be best suited for about eighty to ninety minutes of content. While some artists, such as Genesis and Todd Rundgren, released longer LPs, the sound quality tends to suffer as a result due to needing to reduce the volume in order to fit all the content on the record, resulting in a higher noise floor). He's also been with the band when they've brought some of its tracks out of the vault (Keys to Ascension contains a performance of "The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)", for example).
Wakeman also disliked Tormato, which influenced the cover choice, and the band themselves have expressed disappointment in its production.
Anderson had a particular distaste for Big Generator, which contributed to his decision to leave afterward. His next album, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, was in many ways a complete departure from everything he felt was wrong with Big Generator, such as single-focused writing and trying to mimic 90125.
Also most of the participants of Union, due to the overproduction, Executive Meddling and replacement of band contributions with that of session musicians and computer editing in post-production. Rick Wakeman famously calls it "Onion" as it brings tears to his eyes and he said that when he first heard it, he chucked the CD out of his limo and only has heard one other time since. He also famously quipped, "The only person that didn't play on this album was my dog". Bill Bruford simply said it was "just awful". The tour supporting Union in 1991 only included up three of its songs in the setlist, and only one, "Saving My Heart", appears on the Union Live album, which wasn't released until twenty years later. It is more a document for fans of the "mega-Yes" lineup of that time than for the Union album itself.
Doing It for the Art: Say what you will about Jon Anderson's lyrical style, hippie persona, and the concept of Tales from Topographic Oceans in general, but it's clear that the group, Anderson in particular, were willing to alienate a large chunk of the fanbase (not to mention Rick Wakeman) to put out an album they felt strongly about. Anderson temporarily left the band after the Big Generator tour because he felt that the writing for the album had been too focused on trying to write hit singles and appeal to the MTV crowd.
Executive Meddling: Rick Wakeman wasn't allowed to compose anything on Fragile for legal reasons note except for, allegedly, the piano bridge on "South Side of the Sky", which went uncredited anyway, which explains why his solo piece on that album is arranged classical work by Brahms. His contributions on followup Close to the Edge were credited as "themes" to get around the contractual lockout.
This is the reason 90125 is a Yes album instead of a Cinema album. Cinema was originally Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire, and Alan White, with Tony Kaye added mainly for live shows (Rabin and Trevor Horn played most of the actual keyboard parts on the album). However, after Jon Anderson joined the fold, Atco Records insisted that the band be called Yes (but then again, consider the fact Squire, Kaye, and Anderson were founding members and Alan White had been the only drummer since Bill Bruford left). Rabin wasn't happy about this, not wanting to be perceived as a replacement for Steve Howe.
Word of God says that this is how Union was sabotaged. Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe were recording their second album in Montserrat, while the official Yes were recording the followup to Big Generator in Los Angeles, while looking for a replacement for Jon Anderson (Billy Sherwood and Roger Hodgson were considered candidates). ABWH's label, Arista Records, wanted more commercial material, and felt it would sell more copies if ABWH were called Yes. Arista approached Yes to contribute material for ABWH. Trevor Rabin reluctantly sent Arista demos of "Lift Me Up" and "Saving My Heart" for Jon to sing on. Squire and Billy Sherwood sent "The More We Live—Let Go". Meanwhile, Squire sang backing vocals on ABWH's project (with Tony Levin still supplying the basswork). Arista assembled all of the Yes and ABWH recordings, plus a Bill Bruford/Tony Levin instrumental, a Steve Howe acoustic solo piece, and "The More We Live" into Union. Adding to the meddling was producer Jonathan Elias, who, as Arista wanted the project completed on schedule, changed guitar and keyboard parts Howe and Wakeman recorded for the band, and added myriad session musicians from L.A. to finish off Howe, Wakeman, and Bruford's playing without even any input from them. That's right, Bill Bruford was replaced by session musicians. Justified by the fact that Arista was in a financial rut following the Milli Vanilli controversy that caused one hell of a backlash.
After Union, the record label Victory offered a contract to record Talk only to the members who had been on the hit eighties albums, 90125 and Big Generator. They then made sure an epic length song ("Endless Dream") and an old song by Rabin, "Walls", appeared on the record; the latter, much to Rabin's chagrin. In a bit of poetic justice, the label folded shortly after its release.
Fan Nickname: Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe is also known as "Yes (Not Yes)", a play on the group Was (Not Was).
Franchise Killer: Drama subverted this when the band came back for 90125. Union played it straight, killing their commercial success, and all their studio albums have since been released on indie labels, though they're still an in-demand live act and several of their albums have still charted in the UK and elsewhere.
Genre-Killer: Tales From Topographic Oceans soured a lot of critics and fans on progressive rock as a whole.
Wakeman and Steve Howe also played on Lou Reed's first solo album.
Bill Bruford's original stint in Yes can be seen as this for those familiar with work with King Crimson, on top of solo work.
Trevor Rabin has had a decent career in scoring, doing the soundtracks for films like Armageddon, National Treasure, Con Air (alongside Mark Mancina), and Remember the Titans. "Titans Spirit" from the last of these has been recycled for NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games and Barack Obama's acceptance speech after winning the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Rabin is part of producer Jerry Bruckheimer's Production Posse at this point, having scored or co-scored thirteen of Bruckheimer's films. In total, he has more than forty film score credits, though some were collaborations with other composers. He's taken a break to focus on Yes with Anderson, Rabin, and Wakeman, though.
Talk has only ever had two CD printings (the initial release in 1994 and a limited re-release in 2002; the latter reformats "Endless Dream" as one track and adds an extended mix of "The Calling"), which means getting a CD of Talk involves finding a used copy or paying inflated prices for the scarce amount of new ones. And if you want to Take a Third Option and buy the mp3 version? It turns out Talk has never had a legitimate digital release, and is not available in full even on streaming sites like Spotify (some of the album used to be available, but as of September 2014 it's vanished entirely). However, the album did receive a 2-disc vinyl reissue in 2015 that's slightly easier to find.
The original version of Fly From Here (not the Return Trip remix, which is much easier to find) is actually harder to find on CD than Talk, and Return Trip is the only version available digitally. Both the original Fly From Here and Return Trip were also released on vinyl but are quite rare and expensive.
Steven Wilson's 2017 remix of Relayer does not feature the infamous percussion rig used in the 'battle' section of "The Gates of Delerium". Apparently, it was recorded directly overtop of the final finished master, and thus was not available as its own separate track for proper remixing. Either way, this trope is mostly averted, as the blu-ray version of this album includes both the 2017 and original versions; and pressings from other years are still in circulation.
Fragile had the band members doing "solo" pieces to record the album quickly in order to pay for Rick Wakeman's keyboards. Subverted in that it's still considered one of the band's best albums.
Bill Bruford has said in interviews that the major reason he formed Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe with his former Yes bandmates was the potential to make far more money than he could performing solo. Subverted when he left Yes after Union a few years later due to feeling artistically constrained, despite the money.
The Pete Best: Peter Banks, who got fired for complaining about the addition of an orchestra on Time and a Word. Curiously, his first name and that of the Trope Namer are "Peter" and their surnames begin with the initial "B".
No Export for You: The Studio Albums 1969-1987, a Europe-only box set of the band's Atlantic/Atco catalog packaged in LP replica sleeves.
Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles were both fans. They tried to submit a song to Yes in 1980, and were asked to join as replacements for Anderson and Wakeman, since both bands had the same manager (Brian Lane). They hadn't even known about the shakeups in the band lineup yet.
Benoît David was lead vocalist for Yes tribute band Close to the Edge before becoming the lead vocalist of Yes. Similarly, Jon Davison has also been involved in a Yes tribute band before his hiring.
The percussion rig of scrap parts being knocked over in "The Gates of Delirium" was an accident.
Literally led to the final cover of Tormato. Hipgnosis had been showing Yes the photographs taken for the cover at the Yes Tor, when the album was still planned to be named Yes Tor, when a frustrated Wakeman threw a tomato at one of the images, annoyed by how poor he felt the proposal was. Hipgnosis ended up incorporating the effect into the final cover, and the album was renamed Tormato.
Drama, thanks to Alan White's foot injury stopping recording, the disastrous RoyThomas Baker sessions, and Wakeman and Anderson leaving the band.
Big Generator took over two years to make due to Trevor Horn leaving production early because he and Tony Kaye weren't getting along, Trevor Rabin becoming I Am the Band and disagreeing with Jon Anderson. Anderson was looking to make a Yes album with the classic 70s style, while Rabin wanted to evolve 90125's sound and score another Top 40 hit. Also, they recorded the album in 3 different studios, all in different countries. They started out in Los Angeles, but they decided to go to Italy to record it in an Italian palace. They recorded "Shoot High, Aim Low" there, then they went to the United Kingdom to record "Rhythm of Love", then ended up back where they started in Los Angeles to record the rest of the album. When Chris Squire was interviewed about the album, he said that he and Alan White recorded their parts on the album over and over during the whole two year period.
After the low sales of Yes and Time and a Word, Atlantic Records was seriously considering dropping the band if their third album was also a commercial disappointment. Yes didn't know it at the time, but The Yes Album was their make-or-break moment...and they passed with flying colors.
Fragile was originally envisioned as a double album with live tracks. This was dropped because of cost concerns and the need to get the album out quickly to pay off the bank loan for Wakeman's instruments.
After the breakup of Yes in 1981, Chris Squire and Alan White tried to form a supergroup called XYZ with former Led Zeppelin members Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Plant quickly lost interest in the project and the band folded. But then Squire and White started working with Trevor Rabin...
Jimmy Page entered the picture yet again when he wanted to collaborate with Bill Bruford in a project he had with PaulRodgers called "The Firm". Bruford had to decline due to contractual and artistic conflicts, but this ultimately left him free to do ABWH a few years later. note Page ultimately recruited Manfred Mann drummer Chris Slade for The Firm.
Vangelis was also seriously considered for a spot in the group after Rick Wakeman left but chose to go solo. He did collaborate with Jon Anderson in the early '80s.
They were reportedly turned down for Live Aid because there was no room on the bill.
Rabin, Kaye, Squire, and White originally asked Trevor Horn (who had already committed to be the producer) to sing on the album that would become 90125. Horn refused (remembering the poor reception from fans he had received on the Drama tour). It was only after this that Squire met Anderson at a party and brought him back into the fold.
Eddie Jobson (ex-Roxy Music, Jethro Tull, UK and Frank Zappa keyboardist/violinist) was recruited to join Yes in 1983 after Tony Kaye (who had recorded some of the keyboard parts as a special guest) had finished his studio work on 90125. Jobson and Kaye rehearsed with Yes for the 90125 tour, and Jobson participated in the filming of the "top of the skyscraper" part of the video of "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" (though he was largely edited out later), but some personal and musical differences led Jobson to leave the band.
Supertramp's Roger Hodgson was also considered as Yes frontman when Anderson went off to form Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe in the wake of Big Generator. The band ultimately decided to merge back with ABWH, but not before he wrote some songs with the band, which is why Hodgson has a writing credit on "Walls".
"Love Will Find a Way" was originally written for Stevie Nicks.
When Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, the band formed by those ex-Yes members which was Yes-in-all-but-name, they were nearly going to (somewhat humorously) call themselves "No". "The Affirmative" was also mooted. As a jab to the official band, they released the ABWH album under the catalogue number of 90126!
The album that became Union started off as a second Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album, tentatively titled Dialogue, or We Make Believe. However, "Take the Water to the Mountain" is the only piece from Dialogue that ended up making it intact onto Union, with the rest of the tracks remaining unreleased until Jon Anderson finally included some of them in a rarities collection in 2006.
Legal issues (and Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman's health problems) kept the reunited "Classic Yes" Anderson-Howe-Squire-Wakeman-White lineup that toured in the mid-2000s from recording a new album. By the time they got to record a new album (Fly from Here), the line-up changed considerably.
Oliver Wakeman intended to contribute heavily to the writing of Fly from Here before he was booted out for Geoff Downes, who contributed to the title track of that album. By the time it was finished, "Into the Storm" was the only piece Oliver contributed to that remained, although he actually played on parts of the title suite and "Hour of Need" as well. Interestingly, although Benoit David was largely mixed out of the Return Trip remix, Oliver's contributions were kept intact. The 2019 From a Page EP (Which consists of several tracks from the Fly from Here sessions not used on the album) also features Oliver on keyboards.
Several outtakes have been released through the years which reveal quite a lot about the group's writing process. "All Fighters Past", a fragment included on the 2015 remix of Fragile, reveals that a segment of "The Revealing Science of the God" dates back at least to the sessions for Fragile. It's only a fragment because apparently the group reused tapes of material that they didn't feel was satisfactory, which makes one wonder what was erased in the studio. A rehearsal of "The Revealing Science of God" included on the 2003 remaster of the album (inexplicably not included on the 2015 remaster) also reveals that the same segment got a Triumphant Reprise in the rehearsal. The band cut it in the final version, but it feels like a loss. (Word of God says that the original version of that particular song was over twenty-five minutes long.) Jon Anderson has expressed a desire for awhile to re-edit Tales from Topographic Oceans for concision, but one wonders whether there was other material left on the cutting room floor that would have improved the album.
Similarly, "South Side of the Sky", as revealed on the 2015 remix, had a radically different arrangement when the band was rehearsing it. There was a cheerful acoustic guitar/organ passage in the instrumental midsection that got removed because it didn't fit with the mood of the song, which makes sense, but the band doesn't seem to have reused it later, which is a shame, because it's rather charming.
In 2018, the band released Fly From Here - Return Trip, an alternate version of the 2011 album which among other edits and remixing, features Trevor Horn on lead vocals instead of Benoît David. The album thus could be seen as an exercise in What Could Have Been for the Drama lineup had they not disbanded after its tour.
At one point (see the bottom comment), although nobody knows how serious the offer was, Yes asked Robert Fripp to perform on one of their albums. Whether or not this was an offer to be their permanent guitarist after Peter Banks left the band is unknown, but Fripp said no. This may have spurred Jon Anderson providing the vocals to "Prince Rupert Awakes" from the Lizard suite.