In 1982, over a year after the breakup of Yes, Chris Squire and Alan White formed a new group, dubbed Cinema with guitarist Trevor Rabin (late of the band Rabbitt). Original Yes organist Tony Kaye was invited to participate as Squire felt that Kaye's textural approach to keyboards would suit the band. Formerly a solo artist with three albums to his credit, Trevor Rabin's writing contributions included the catchy riff-oriented "Owner of a Lonely Heart", but Rabin also played a role in the making of music to fit the MTV era while retaining certain aspects of Yes' original style - particularly the vocal harmonies. Originally, the lead vocals were shared between Rabin and Squire, but in early 1983, Chris Squire played Jon Anderson some of Cinema's music at a party in Los Angeles. Impressed with the band's new approach in songs like "Leave It," Anderson was invited by Squire to add his vocals to the new project and Anderson accepted the invitation, resulting in the "accidental" reformation of Yes. Many fans call this lineup "Yes West," because of the band's relocation to Los Angeles and the more American, radio-friendly sound that introduced Yes to a massive fan-base and a reinterest in their older material. Yes made many new and younger fans over the next years with the 90125 album.
To distinguish them from those who prefer the classic Yes (sometimes called "Troopers"), fans of this lineup were often called "Generators," taken from this lineup's second album, Big Generator. However, it should be noted that many Yes fans enjoy both periods of the group's music.
The band's first album since the reunion, 90125 was a radical departure from their earlier sound. It was more visceral, with then-modern electronic effects – attributable chiefly to producer (and former Yes vocalist) Trevor Horn. Yes' most commercially successful album by far, 90125 eventually sold over six million copies and secured a new lease on life for Yes, who toured over a year to support it. The song "Owner of a Lonely Heart" from this album was even a top hit on the R&B and disco charts (and sampled countless times since), and remains a defining song of 80's-era pop. The keyboardist appearing in the video for this song was Eddie Jobson since Tony Kaye temporarily left the band. Jobson has reported on his own website, when discussing why he appeared in the video, that he was first asked to replace Kaye and then to share keyboard duties with Kaye; Jobson declined and Kaye returned. Yes also scored significant hit singles with "Leave It" and "It Can Happen," also garnering a Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental ("Cinema," a short, highly compressed and complex track recorded live in the studio), suggesting that the group had not totally abandoned their musicianship in favour of commercial success – as some fans allege. The popular album also spawned a concert video, directed by Steven Soderbergh, 9012Live, and a live album, 9012Live: The Solos, which included solo pieces from Anderson, Rabin, Squire and Kaye, plus a Squire/White piece.
In 1986, Yes began recording Big Generator. Unfortunately, interpersonal problems (chiefly between Rabin and Anderson) kept the album from timely completion, and ultimately Trevor Rabin took a hand in its final production. Although 1987's Big Generator did not fare as well as 90125, it still sold well over two million copies. Some Yes fans have considered Big Generator more faithful to the vintage Yes sound than its predecessor because of a concentrated effort to record longer songs such as "I'm Running" and "Shoot High, Aim Low" in addition to the more poppy tunes. Trevor Rabin's radio-friendly "Love Will Find a Way" charted moderately well, with the Beach Boys-inspired "Rhythm of Love" barely scraping the Top 40. The 1988 tour ended with a gig at Madison Square Garden as part of Atlantic Records's 40th anniversary celebrations, but left Yes members exhausted and frustrated with one another.
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Jon Anderson grew tired of the musical direction of the "new" Yes line-up and wanted the band to return to its classic sound. Following the 1988 tour, Anderson, asserting that he would never stay in the band purely for the money, began working with former Yes members Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, and Bill Bruford. Some in the group (particularly Bill Bruford) wanted to distance themselves from the "Yes" name. As it turned out, the former Yes members were contractually unable to use the name, as Squire, White, Kaye, Rabin (and, ironically, Anderson) held the rights, dating back to the 90125 contract. Subsequently, the new group called themselves Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, or simply ABWH. The project included Tony Levin on bass, brought in by Bruford after the two had worked together in King Crimson. Appealing to old and new Yes fans, their eponymous 1989 album featured "Brother of Mine", a popular MTV video in its own right, and went gold in the United States. However, they did not all record together as in the early 70s and instead their parts were slotted into place on the album by Anderson. Howe has stated publicly that he was unhappy with the mix of his guitars on the album (a version of "Fist of Fire" with more of Howe's guitars left intact eventually appeared on the In a Word box set in 2001). It is also worth noting that according to Bruford, the four-way writing credit does not reflect the actual writing process and was instead an incentive to have the ex-Yes men take part in the recording sessions. After the album's release, legal battles (sparked by Atlantic Records) soon followed over the title of ABWH's tour, An Evening of Yes Music Plus, the live recording of which featured Bruford colleague Jeff Berlin in Levin's bassist spot, who was forced to sit out for two weeks because of illness. In addition, the live sessions were augmented by second keyboardist Julian Colbeck and guitarist Milton McDonald. The tour alternated between music from AWBH and vintage Yes classics, and each night opened with short solo stints from all four Yes members.
"Union" and reunion
Meanwhile Yes were working on their follow-up to Big Generator. The band had been shopping around for a new singer. Ex-Supertramp vocalist Roger Hodgson had rejected the post. Hodgson enjoyed working with the group but thought it unwise to attempt to pass off the music as Yes. The band had been working with songwriter Billy Sherwood of World Trade. Arista, ABWH's new label, encouraged ABWH to seek outside songwriters, and Trevor Rabin ultimately sent a demo. Predictably, Arista sensed the commercial possibility of a Yes re-union. This would lead to the end of Yes having new albums released by Atlantic Records after more than 20 years of their initial recording contract. Throughout early 1991, phone calls were made, lawyers soothed, and agreements were struck, with Yes West joining ABWH for the Union album. Each group did its own songs, with Jon Anderson singing on all tracks. Chris Squire sang background vocals on a few of the ABWH tracks (with Tony Levin doing all the bass on those songs). A world tour united all eight members on one stage in a short-lived "Mega-Yes" line-up of Anderson, Squire, Howe, Rabin, Kaye, Wakeman, Bruford, and White. The album was clearly a somewhat forced combination of the music from the two line-ups, since none of the songs on Union featured all eight members at once; two-thirds were actually ABWH compositions, while Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire contributed four songs (including a Billy Sherwood collaboration). Nearly the entire band have publicly stated their disliking for the finished product because of producer Jonathan Elias's secret involvement of session musicians after the initial sessions. (Bruford has disowned the album entirely, and Wakeman was reportedly unable to recognise any of his keyboard work in the final edit, and amusingly threw his copy of the album out of his limousine. He has gone on record as referring to the entire venture as "Onion" because it makes him cry when he thinks about it.) However producer Jonathan Elias later stated publicly in an interview that Jon Anderson as the associate producer knew of the session musicians and even initiated their contributions, because of the hostility between some of the band members at the time (notably between Anderson and Howe and Wakeman) and none of the work getting done.
The Union tour itself featured tracks spanning the band's entire career, and it was one of the highest grossing concert tours of 1991 and 1992. The album itself fared well, with approximately 1.5 million sold worldwide.
When the tour was over in 1992, Bill Bruford and Steve Howe recorded an album of Yes instrumental music reinterpreted by an orchestra for RCA Victor, which featured Jon Anderson's vocals on two of the songs. Entitled Symphonic Music of Yes, the album offered new presentations of Yes songs. String arrangements were done by David Palmer, and the record was produced by Alan Parsons. After the release of this album, Bill Bruford chose not to remain involved in future Yes possibilities. Jon Anderson began writing with both Howe and Rabin separately but eventually the former was not asked to be on the next album by the record label (Victory Music), which had approached Rabin with a proposal to produce an album solely with the 90125 lineup, to which Rabin initially countered by requesting Wakeman be included. By 1993, Wakeman's refusal to leave his long-serving management meant he also could not play on the new album, which by then was well into production (Rabin and Wakeman have both expressed regret that they never played together on a Yes album - excepting the patchwork of Union - although Rabin did guest on Wakeman's Return to the Centre of the Earth album in 1999).
Yes were back to their popular 1980s lineup of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Trevor Rabin, Tony Kaye, and Alan White. In 1994, Yes released Talk on Victory Music, one of the group's poorest selling releases. Neither the record label nor US radio stations provided much promotion for "The Calling", perhaps their strongest single since "Owner of a Lonely Heart." (David Letterman heard the song while driving and immediately sought to find the "new band" and have them appear on the Late Show, which they did on June 20, 1994, just days into their Talk tour, performing "Walls" from Talk). Some of the fruits of the band's work with Roger Hodgson also appears on the album. On the 1994 tour, guitarist/vocalist Billy Sherwood, who co-authored Union's "The More We Live" with Squire, joined as a sixth member. The Talk tour featured an innovative sound system via which fans at a concert could listen on their portable FM radios turned to a specific frequency to hear greater dynamic range and stereo effects during the concerts. By the end of 1994, Tony Kaye, Trevor Rabin, and Billy Sherwood left, with Rabin going on to become a highly successful film score composer and Kaye retiring (he subsequently came back out of retirement, providing Hammond organ on several tracks on the Sherwood-produced Return to the Dark Side of the Moon in 2006 and then working on further projects with Sherwood).
The band reformed the 1970s lineup of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Alan White, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman for a three-night live performance in the California town of San Luis Obispo in 1996. As the band formed a brief contract with CMC International Records, the resulting live recordings were released, together with new music, on the Keys to Ascension albums. Keys to Ascension 2, in particular, featured 48 minutes of new music. The band was disappointed that the new material was not released as a single studio album, which had the working title of 'Know.' The new studio cuts from those two albums were later reissued on a single CD called Keystudio. Wakeman left the group yet again before the release of Keys to Ascension 2 after a Yes tour was planned without his input, and because of his frustration over the decision to bury the Keystudio studio tracks on redundant live albums.
Yes live performance June 1998.
Billy Sherwood immediately rejoined Yes on keyboards and guitar. Open Your Eyes was released in 1997 and used some material originally intended for a project by Squire-Sherwood that was subsequently called Conspiracy. The band would release this and future releases on the Beyond Music label to ensure they have more of a say in packaging and titling the albums. Only the title track and one other, "New State of Mind", received any radio airplay. The tour that followed featured only a few pieces from the new album, and mostly concentrated on the revival of early Yes material such as "Siberian Khatru". The return of Steve Howe to the touring Yes, along with a heavier emphasis on 1970s-era Yes music, was considered an exciting development by many fans. The tour also featured keyboards from Russian keyboard player Igor Khoroshev, who had played on a few of the Open Your Eyes tracks. Khoroshev continued to work with the band for the following album The Ladder. This would be the last album that record producer Bruce Fairbairn would work on before an untimely death.
Many fans were reminded of the band's 1970s sound, largely because of Khoroshev's keyboards. His work was classically-oriented and also included sampling large sections of music by British techno group The Prodigy. Sherwood's live role was limited to backup vocals and backup guitar, with a few notable spotlight moments for guitar solos in Rabin-era songs. Howe refused to duplicate Rabin's solos, citing that his style would not fit those solos. The 1999 tour resulted in a live DVD of the performance at the Las Vegas House of Blues. "Homeworld (The Ladder)", a track from The Ladder, was written for Relic Entertainment's Homeworld real-time strategy computer game and was used as the credits and outro theme. It is interesting to note that the band have stated that they wrote the song not because they were requested by the game's developers, but because they liked several aspects of the game itself.
Turn of the Century
Sherwood, finding Yes's internal politics uncomfortable, left the band before the 2000 Masterworks tour, which featured a revival of the Moraz-period extended piece "The Gates of Delirium" (from the album Relayer). Khoroshev was fired from the band after the tour amidst a cloud of controversy over his backstage conduct including a sexual assault charge, just before the recording of the 2001 orchestral release Magnification. The band was not only backed by a 60-piece orchestra, but specific parts and arrangements were written by notable film composer Larry Groupé and performed by the orchestra, sounding as if the orchestra was a permanent band member. On tour, however, the band hired keyboardist Tom Brislin to augment the orchestra since the orchestra alone could not faithfully reproduce some of the classic Yes keyboard material.
Fans who felt they were short-changed in 1996 were delighted as Rick Wakeman announced his return to the group on April 20, 2002, and a world tour for Yes followed, including a return to Australia after more than 30 years. The lineup enjoyed a somewhat revitalised presence in the public consciousness, especially during the celebration of their 35th anniversary in 2004. Reacting to an online survey of popular Yes songs to play, the band added "South Side of the Sky" to the touring set list, a surprise given that it was rarely played before, even on the original Fragile tour.
This revitalisation showed itself during a show in New York's Madison Square Garden. Near the end of the song "And You and I" where Howe finishes his pedal steel part, before the last few acoustic notes, the band was overwhelmed with thunderous applause. It lasted so long that by the time it subsided, the roadies had already removed Howe's guitar - Wakeman then had to play the last bit with Anderson singing.
In later legs of the tour, the band performed some songs in acoustic style towards the later part of the tour, after doing a live-via-satellite concert as part of the Yesspeak documentary premiere.
On November 11, 2004, for one night only, Trevor Rabin, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, and Geoff Downes performed "Cinema", and "Owner of a Lonely Heart" at the Prince's Trust concert at Wembley Arena, which was a tribute to former Yes vocalist/producer Trevor Horn. It remains somewhat unclear why Anderson did not perform that night, although since Horn was being honoured that night (the other acts that played that night were all produced by Horn), there may have been a desire to emphasise Horn's role rather than Anderson's. One report said that Anderson needed time to rest, under doctors' orders, and that Wakeman declined to join in because of Anderson's absence. Whatever the exact reason, fans of the 90125 era were delighted to see Rabin perform with the group for the first time in ten years, and, as on the Union tour, the audience was treated to guitar solos by both Rabin and Howe.
Since 2004, Yes has been on hiatus. In lieu of releasing new albums, they formed deals with Image Entertainment and other video firms to release past concert performances, music videos, and interviews on DVD. Howe, Squire, Wakeman and White had all expressed an interest in recording and touring, but Anderson had been firmly opposed because of personal health concerns. Thus, band members have pursued varied solo projects. White has formed a new group, White, featuring Downes. Their debut album, also called White, was released on April 18, 2006. In 2004, Squire joined a reformed version of The Syn, one of his pre-Yes groups from the 1960s.
Plans for a joint tour by White, The Syn, and Steve Howe, which would have included the Yes members (with singer Kevin Currie from White) performing songs from Drama, were canceled. White joined the band for a tour in 2006. On May 16, 2006, Squire announced that he had left The Syn. On the same day, the original members of Asia, including Howe and Downes, announced that they would be reuniting for a 25th anniversary tour, which commenced in September. Anderson and Wakeman toured together in October 2006, and the set list for most shows featured Yes material along with songs from both their solo careers, and at least one ABWH song. In 2006, Sherwood, Kaye and White — along with guitarist Jimmy Haun — formed Circa, a supergroup formally announced in March 2007. On July 30, 2007, the band self-released on Internet their debut album, Circa 2007. Their debut live performance was held on August 23, 2007, at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, at which time the band performed its entire debut album followed by an hour-long medley of Yes songs.
Anderson has also composed some new music with Trevor Rabin. How this music will reach the public has yet to be seen.
In the first half of 2008, Anderson toured North America, Howe toured with Asia, and White toured with Circa.
Close to the Edge and Back Tour (cancelled)
In honour of the band's 40th Anniversary, Yes had announced a 2008 world tour, entitled Close to the Edge and Back. However, the tour was cancelled on June 4 due to Anderson's health problems. Per the press release, "Yes frontman and founding member Jon Anderson was admitted to the hospital last month after suffering a severe asthma attack. He has now been diagnosed with acute respiratory failure and was told by doctors this weekend that he needs to rest and not work for a period of at least six months or suffer further health complications. Upon receiving this news the band has determined that their tour plans need to be put on hold." The tour had been planned to feature Anderson, Squire, Howe, and White, and to also include Oliver Wakeman sitting in on keyboards, in lieu of his father, Rick (who bowed out on the advice of his doctors).
Anderson said the band was preparing four new "lengthy, multi-movement compositions" for the tour which are "very, very different," however, after the weak sales of 2001's Magnification, Anderson has said that "putting together an album really isn't logical anymore" and no announcement has been made as to a release of recordings of this new material in any form.
In the Present Tour and beyond
On stage in Columbus, Ohio.
A separate, North American tour entitled "In The Present" began on November 4, 2008 in Ontario, Canada, featuring Howe, Squire & White, along with Oliver Wakeman on keyboards, and Canadian Benoît David on vocals. David was singing in progressive rock band Mystery and in a Yes tribute band called Close to the Edge. The shows were billed as "Howe, Squire and White of Yes," although many reports and outlets simply referred to the band as "Yes". The tour saw the return of material from the Drama album ("Tempus Fugit" and "Machine Messiah"), "Astral Traveler" from the Time and a word album (not played live since 1971), as well as one new Chris Squire composition, "Aliens (Are Only Us From the Future)".
In the official press release, Squire stated, "This isn't an attempt to replace Jon Anderson, because as we all know, that would be impossible. With Benoît, we are bringing in a talented singer so that we can go out and honour the music of Yes for the fans who have waited for the past four years to see us perform." Squire also stated to the Associated Press that he is hopeful Anderson will be well enough to do shows in 2009. Initially, Anderson stated on his website that he was "disappointed" and "disrespected" by the move and lack of contact the other members have had with him since his illness. Later, this announcement was removed from his website, and Squire has since said that the tour has Anderson's "blessings".
On February 9, 2009, Squire was rushed to a hospital with an unspecified "medical emergency" that required a operation on his leg on February 11, 2009. He required at least a month to recuperate, which resulted in the postponement of the remainder of the scheduled "In the Present" shows, mostly in the Western USA. After this incident, Howe returned to work with Asia.
Squire, Rabin, and White re-united at a benefit reception on 18 April 2009 in Snoqualmie, Washington, playing the music of John Lennon.
The tour resumed in the summer of 2009, with the same "In the Present" band, now simply billed as "Yes". This tour featured Asia as an opening act, with Steve Howe playing with both bands. The 24-date schedule began in Indio, California on June 26, and ended in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on August 2. Meanwhile, Jon Anderson is doing a European solo tour.
Yes announced a European tour scheduled in fall and winter 2009 (from Olomouc, Czech Republic on October 29 up to Gothenburg, Sweden on December 12).