(All Album Reviews by I.M. Weasel)
In the 1980s, Yes were reshaped from a prog-rock powerhouse to a slickly produced rock and roll hit machine. 1983's 90125 was the first album in the reborn Yes, led by guitarist Trevor Rabin. Big Generator was the second Yes album under Rabin, released in 1987.
It continued the glossy, modern rock approach that 90125 had, but failed to reach the success that 90125 enjoyed. And like 90125, BG is slagged by many of Yes' longtime fans. But those willing to listen to well produced rock and roll will find worthwhile material on this album.
The album starts with one of my favorite songs from the Rabin era, "Rhythm of Love". The song starts out with an angelic, almost Beach Boys-like vocal harmony, then launches full force into this driving rocker. Rabin's shredding guitar solo, and the vocal harmonies are what makes this song a highlight in this era of Yes. Rhythm of Love was also another hit single for Yes, reaching the top 40.
The second song, Big Generator is a fairly mundane mid-tempo rock song, but has an interesting "backwards" sounding main riff. Next comes another highlight in the Rabin era, "Shoot High Aim Low". "Shoot High Aim Low" is a somber, long song with vocalist Jon Anderson and guitarist Trevor Rabin trading off lines in every verse. Rabin turns in one of his better performances here, free of much of the "shredding" style he's known for.
"Almost Like Love" is driven by Alan White's powerful percussion and Chris Squire's rumbling bass. "Almost Like Love" is an upbeat and driving song with rapid-fire vocals by Anderson, but is also a fairly forgettable one.
Next up is another hit single, "Love Will Find a Way". The song starts out with a short symphonic string intro, which I find very refreshing to hear, but then lurches into the main riff of the song, which is really nothing more than a standard Rabin pop song.
The melodies are nice though, but there's nothing to differentiate the song from most of the other pop-rock music of the era. Trevor Rabin also sings lead vocals on this album, and "Love Will Find" a Way is infamous among Yes fans for the dubious line, "I eat at chez-nous".
"Final Eyes" is my least favorite song on the album. While it has some good vocals and interesting percussion and synth noises, the song drags on for much longer than is really needed, clocking in at nearly 6 and a half minutes. "Final Eyes" would work much better as a short 3-4 minute tune.
The second to last song is another standout in the Rabin, and arguably the best song on the album, "I'm Running". The song starts out with a playful riff by Squire, then the band comes in full force in a somewhat off-meter and upbeat riff. This song has somewhat of a "latin" flavor in my opinion.
It also features some fairly tasteful keyboard work by Tony Kaye, who puts in some nice sounding riffs which sounds like it could have been lifted off of any of Yes' early albums. Interesting to note is that "I'm Running" dates back as far as the Drama sessions with Squire, White, and Steve Howe, so that's maybe why this album has such a different epic flavor to it.
Closing out the album is "Holy Lamb", which is a short acoustic interlude that sounds more reminiscent of a Jon Anderson solo song than anything else.
Big Generator, while it has a lot of nice sounding moments, suffers from a case of "sameness". That is to say, aside from a few songs, there isn't a whole lot to differentiate this album from much of the well-produced pop music that was going on at the time. Also, this album is the poster child for those that see fit to bash the Rabin albums; hokey lyrics, overproduced vocals, shredding guitar, and an ugly album cover.
Another big problem with this album, at least from a commercial standpoint, is that it was released too long after 90125. Had this album been put out a year or too after 90125, and maybe had the aid of producer Trevor Horn, a much more satisfying release could have been made.
Despite all that, Big Generator should be of interest to all Yes fans, and to any prog-rock fan in general who is interested in seeing the development of the major prog bands through the 80s and beyond. Chances are, you won't be pleased with this album, but you wont be disappointed either.
(All Album Reviews by Sean)
Another quirky album from Yes. Sort of like an 80s Tormato in some ways. Rather strained is a good way to describe this one and that one too. This was Yes' first attempt to write a Yes album since reuniting in the 80s. The previous album was of course written as a new band's album and then morphed into Yes at the 11th hour. Here they conciously try to make a follow up to their biggest album ever and return to making a 'Yes' album. The results are hit and miss. "Shoot High Aim Low", "Final Eyes" and "I'm Running" are some of the best and most ambitious tunes 80s Yes ever recorded. The rest varies....