"For most fans, Yes without lead singer Jon Anderson is a horror thought. But as history has shown, Anderson did leave the band after the tour for the "Tormato" album, with keyboard wiz Rick Wakeman in tow, and they were replaced by the duo known as The Buggles---vocalist Trevor Horn, and keyboardist Geoff Downes. Their only album with Yes, 1980's "Drama," is a surprisingly good album. While no one on God's given Earth can sing like Jon Anderson, Trevor Horn sings close enough (albeit in a *slightly* lower register), and he takes Anderson's place at the mic just fine. These days, Trevor Horn may be to Yes what George Lazenby is to the James Bond movies (i.e. he only made one, *and* he was filling a very large pair of shoes), but give the guy some credit: he was good! Geoff Downes, meanwhile, is a more than capable keyboardist for this classic English rock outfit, and he & Horn slot in alongside Chris Squire, Steve Howe, & Alan White very well."Drama" is a very short album---just 35 minutes---but in those 35 minutes is some great Yes music, the highlights for me being "Does It Really Happen?," "Into The Lens," and "Tempus Fugit," all top-notch, first-rate Yes rockers. Seriously, with all due respect to the great Jon Anderson, I would've been quite happy if the "Drama" line-up of Yes had decided to continue. And they might have---by all accounts, they were received quite well by U.S. audiences on the tour for the album. Unfortunately, British & European audiences were not so kind, and, subsequently, Trevor Horn got cold feet about continuing on as the group's frontman. Well, I can't really blame him. Yes broke up after the "Drama" tour was finished, with everyone splitting up to work on other projects---Horn becoming a producer, Howe & Downes forming the supergroup Asia, and Squire & White teaming up with Trevor Rabin for a project (hint hint), and it looked like Yes were finished for good. But come 1983, Yes roared back to life, with Jon Anderson back in the fold, for the smash album, "90125." But in the process, "Drama" has been sorely overlooked. I hope more Yes fans will check out this unfairly underrated album, and find out for themselves just how really good it actually is. Even without Jon Anderson, it's still Yes to my ears."
Excellent Job in "Expanding and Remastering"
Paul Allaer | Cincinnati | 03/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The "Drama" album will always be somewhat of an oddity in the Yes catalogue, for no other reason that it is the only album in Yes' 35 years that does not feature leadsinger Jon Anderson. If, however, you can get beyond this, you will discover that "Drama", much like its predecessor "Tormato" is actually a lot better than belies its reputation.The "Expanded and Remastered" version of Drama (16 tracks; 79 min.) starts of with the original 6 tracks of the album. Among the best tracks: "Machine Massiah" is a return to the 10 min. epic tracks of earlier in their career, albeit with the guitars much more upfront. "Into the Lens" is an 8. min. romper (and later was redone as "I Am a Camera" by the Buggles). "Run Through the Light", a minor hit, is a super-catchy power-ballad.The bonus tracks go from the unnecessary (single versions of "Into the Lens" and "Run Through the Light") to the mildy interesting (instrumentals "Have We Really Got to Go Trough With This" and "Song No.4 (Satellite)", to the fascinating last 4 tracks. Those tracks are from the Roy Thomas Baker (famed for producing Queen era-"Bohemian Rhapsody") sessions with Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman from the Fall of 1979 that eventually were abandoned. It gives a nice insight to what might have been the "logical" successor to "Tormato", but assuming that these tracks in fact were the best from those sessions, it's easy to see why the band didn't pursue them. "Golden Age" is the standout song of the four.In all, I cannot give enough compliments to Rhino, which has done an absolute outstanding job not only with the "Drama" reissue, but with the reissue of the Yes catalogue in general. Lines notes, remastering, bonus tracks, it's all here. Even if "Drama" isn't on your top wish list of Yes albums, you'll nevertheless enjoy this particular reissue."
A better album than Yes itself will admit
woburnmusicfan | Woburn, MA United States | 08/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After the lackluster "Tormato" went splat and Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman left the band, Yes made the unlikely move of adding singer Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes from the two-man new wave band the Buggles (of "Video Killed the Radio Star" fame) for this 1980 album. And while Chris Squire has referred to the Horn/Downes era as one of the low moments in the band's history, the one album that came out of it is actually very good. Horn makes an endearing attempt at Anderson's vocal style (though he strains at the high notes) and contributes his excellent production abilities, while Downes makes a credible keyboard wizard. Their new-wave sensibility helped perk up the beats back to rock tempo after the laziness of "Tormato", and by throwing a touch of pop back into the Yes mix, set the stage for the band's "90125" success. "Tempus Fugit", keyed by a tremendous Squire bass line, is one of the great Yes songs of all time, up-tempo and up-mood; in the Boston area, this song got Yes its most radio play since "Roundabout". By rights, it should be on any Yes "best-of" album. "Into the Lens" takes a core pop song (later simplified as "I Am a Camera" on the Buggles' "Adventures in Modern Recording" album) and surrounds it with a repeated, soaring Steve Howe guitar melody over a stutter-stepping rhythm section. "Machine Messiah" is another strong piece that allows both Howe and Downes to shine. "Run Through the Light", a relatively straightforward rocker, and the proggish "Does This Really Happen?" are weaker cuts. "Does This Really Happen?" gives Alan White a chance to play vibes. "White Car" is an excerpt from a longer keyboard piece (played in full on the tour) by Downes. Perhaps it's the lyrics that Squire thinks don't live up to the Yes legacy? Most Yes fans, myself included, have never had any idea what the heck Anderson was singing about -- these lyrics are no sillier than any of Anderson's.
This remastered version adds 10 bonus tracks, which are interesting but don't provide any hidden gems. "Have We Really Got to Go Through This" and "Song No. 4" are backing tracks Howe, Squire, and White wrote before Horn and Downes arrived. "Go Through This" sounded pretty good on tour after lyrics/vocals had been added, but here they both sound like the half-finished pieces they are. There are practice runs through "Tempus Fugit" and "White Car" and single versions of "Into the Lens" and "Run Through the Light". The biggest find is 4 cuts with Anderson and Wakeman from an aborted recording session with producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen), in which the band goes farther down the "Tormato" road. The tracks sound tinny and weak compared to "Drama", but, who knows, big "Tormato" fans may turn out to love them. One of the cuts is an early take of "Run Through the Light" that sounds more techno than the version with the Buggles.
(1=poor 2=mediocre 3=pretty good 4=very good 5=phenomenal)
Yes finding a way through the new wave
allismile0 | Washington, DC | 03/08/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Outside of all the interesting facts that make "Drama" stand by itself in the Yes catalog (including the subraction of Jon Anderson/Rick Wakeman and the addition of Buggles Geoffrey Downes/Trovor Horn)Yes was in need of an overhaul, and "Drama" proved to be an energized change. "Going For The One" and "Tormato" had some monumental moments mixed in with things that would have been outtakes on earlier albums. They were a progressive rock band but they were not progressing as much as they had in the past and the staleness show.
Although from listening to some of the fascinating bonus tracks included here from the "Paris sessions" it sounded like Yes (including Anderson/Wakeman) were looking to change their sound a bit, but the melodies were still a bit tired and world weary. The sessions were scraped.
"Drama" was still very much a Yes album but with one decided difference- it had a raw energy that had not appeared on a Yes album since "Relayer" (interestingly, that album had an outsider come in and shake things up as well). I'm not saying that the song writing was more inspired than on "Going For The One" or "Tormato", but on "Drama" everyone sounds like they are excited to be playing the music and you feel it. Steve Howe especially sounds rejuvenated by the changes and plays about as intensely as he did on "Relayer".
For the most part there really aren't any duds on this album (although the first thirty seconds of "White Car" sound like the intro to a seminar on self improvement). "Machine Messiah", "Does It Really Happen?" and "Tempus Fugit" are the standouts for me. While "Into The Lens" seems to have an interesting mix of progressive rock and new wave.
The sound of the re-mastering is immaculate, and bonus tracks prove interesting. There are plenty of worthy Yes albums that I would recommend way before this one. But if you are curious but nervous about later Yes albums due to their reputation I would go for this one because of its exciting energy and consistency."
Good remastering. Bad bonus (Jeffrey W. Richman is my hero.)
myxoplik | United States | 04/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Pop this CD in, hold on to something grounded, and get ready to be blown away ...for the first 50 minutes. The remastering is impressive. Rhino's "Drama" finally adds the balls & punch that this album always deserved. Unfortunately, the bonus tracks add a punch to the balls. Ow.With 10 extra tracks, how could they go wrong? Here's how: the bonus tracks (excluding fluff single edits, demos and incomplete instrumentals) are yanked from an entirely different session that featured Anderson/Wakeman and was colored by Queen's producer. It's an unsettling mix of prog, pop and disco all mushed into one amorphous blob, and we see exactly why the definitive Yes lineup needed to take a break post-Tormato. As curios, these tracks may interest and amuse the Yes enthusiasts. But I'm afraid they throw a damper on the 6-song powerhouse masterpiece known as "Drama". From the opening grind of "Machine Messiah" to its manic swansong "Tempus Fugit", this album is like an unstoppable freight train that barrels across an unreal landscape."Drama" itself is unlike any other Yes album; the closest thing would come 16 years later when that rhythmic vitality and indefatigable power would resurface with "Mind Drive" (Keys to Ascension 2).When Tempus Fugit (song #6) ends with its magnificently catastrophic crescendo resolving into the syncopated harmonies fading out on "Yes, yes, yes..." I just want to die in my own broth. That's how affecting it is. But hark! Rhino doesn't let it end there. Enter 30 minutes of blah. In this case, LESS WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE. But Jeffrey W. Richman said it much more concisely than I did..."