(All Album Reviews by Sean)
"Shut Up!" was the shortest review I ever saw for this album. I am sure that was a common exclamation that came from the mouths of more than a few Steve Howe era fans when they first heard this Trevor Rabin era platter.
Rabin was of course the pop wonderboy who inadvertently resurrected Yes and made it a pop entity that ruled 80's airwaves. The first album with him, 90125 was the bands biggest seller ever, spawning the Top 10 hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart". A certain formula evolved from that album that the band would try (unsuccessfully in my opinion) repeatedly for the next ten years or more.
I think their success was a fluke and they were foolish to go chasing after radio play after 90125. But they did and in the process churned out some pretty uneven albums - Big Generator, Open Your Eyes, The Ladder, etc.... Too many tries at a top 40 hit and not enough progressive music, something they were once revered for. Talk too is one of those kind of albums.
Talk is like 90125 ten years later but with some maturity and a slightly stronger emphasis on progressive music. The amazing '91 Union tour had an effect on Rabin that made him more aware of the bands prog roots. I hear that influence at play here. This is Rabin's stab at "progressive" Yes. Of course he can't leave his pop sensibilities alone and more than half of this album suffers from it.
The highlights of this album are "The Calling", with it's Dregs like middle section, and "Endless Dream" the 'epic' of the Rabin era. I say 'epic' because I think it falls short of it's intended goal. Oh yeah, Rabin claims Anderson had tears in his eyes when he finished overdubbing his vocals and claimed this was 'the finest Yes song' he had ever been part of. I think he was just caught in the moment. It's one of the better Rabin era tunes, but it's not an epic anywhere on par with the band's other extended works. That said, it flows better than some of the patchwork epics that would soon follow.
The first three minutes of "Endless Dream" is odd meter riffy heaven. But then it turns to a sound dominated by keyboard pads. More guitar and more interesting keyboard passages would have made it a real winner. Instead it has momentary moments of greatness and lots of padding. Live it was much better, with Rabin playing much more guitar over the padding. Shame it didn't happen in the studio! It had potential it did not completely reach.
The other tracks are all OK, but not incredibly inspired. A nice collection of songs. The best of which are the ominous "Real Love" and touching "I Am Waiting". This was Rabin's first chance at writing with Anderson and their partnership bore some nice pop fruit. Alas, this was to be Rabin's last album with Yes.
Some say Talk sounds more like a Rabin solo album than a Yes record. The production certainly does, I will give it that much. But the other members contribute enough to keep it from being a Rabin solo fest. Just by a hair or two. Trevor went out on the highest note he was capable of delivering, but compared to the great Yes albums, Talk falls short somewhere along the way.
I would only suggest this album to fans of 80's pop inspired Yes or fans of catchy AOR music. Prog fans won't find a whole lot to cheer about here. Still it's a good album for what it is. Just don't expect Close To The Edge or anything like that because this was a different Yes from that.