Yes’ Open Your Eyes, the legendary prog-rock band’s penultimate project with Jon Anderson, will be reissued on 180-gram heavy-weight vinyl.
The 1997 album, Yes’ 17th studio project, was also the first to feature Billy Sherwood — a former touring sideman, songwriter and producer with the group — as an official member. Open Your Eyes actually began as an outside collaboration between Sherwood and co-founding bassist Squire (the only member of Yes to remain through its many incarnations), with tracks intended for a duo project that became Conspiracy.
“We clicked musically and personally,” Sherwood told us. “There was lot of laughs, and a lot of good music. It was always very, very easy. Of course, it then became interesting to take the dynamic that he and I created as a writing team, and then go into the Yes mode. For instance, (Yes’ 1999 album) The Ladder had to be written as a band — with everybody putting in their parts. Getting six musicians together — that can work and other times, it can be very confusing and not work. Our dynamic didn’t really have any bearing inside Yes. It was kind of each man for himself. But we always had a symbiotic view, Chris and I.”
Anderson, upon hearing the pieces, reportedly became interested in the project and they became the basis for a new Yes album. Anderson, Sherwood, Squire and White did the bulk of the pre-recording song work, as longtime guitarist Steve Howe was then the only band’s only UK-based member. The group’s sound was also augmented by two additional keyboardists, in the wake of Rick Wakeman’s latest departure from the lineup: Steve Porcaro of Toto fame appeared on the title track, while Russian keyboard player Igor Khoroshev — who later had a brief official tenure with Yes — also performed on “New State of Mind,” “No Way We Can Lose” and “Fortune Seller.”
By 2000, Sherwood had left to pursue solo projects — including Conspiracy albums in 2000 and 2003, called Conspiracy and The Unknown. Anderson departed after 2001′s Magnification, and a decade passed before Yes returned with 2011′s Fly From Here.
Squire recently reunited with Sherwood for a couple of studio tracks, though Squire says he is unsure if a new full-length Conspiracy project can be fit into a busy schedule that already includes both an ongoing tour with Yes and a separate collaboration with Steve Hackett of Genesis fame.
“It could happen. We’ve talked about it, and I believe we have an offer to make a Conspiracy album,” Squire told us. “Of course, at the moment, I’m in the middle of touring the world promoting Fly From Here and this Squackett album is coming out. That’s about as much as I can do at one time! (Laughs.) It’s really easy to work with Billy, and we become very productive once we do start working together. But you’ll have to hold your breath for a Conspiracy thing.”
Link to purchase: http://www.seeofsound.com/p.php?s=SIR4018
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Billy Sherwood, Chris Squire and Yes. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
ONE TRACK MIND: CIRCA FEATURING YES’ BILLY SHERWOOD AND TONY KAYE, “AND SO ON” (2011): Kaye returns to the Hammond organ — the instrument he was featured on during his last album with Yes, 1994’s Talk — as Sherwood sings with an unguarded abandon while deliriously thumping away on the bass. But it’s Jimmy Bruhns, perhaps, who surprises the most – somehow combining both the modern edge of Trevor Rabin’s thundering 90125 riffs with the atmospheric intellect of Steve Howe.
YES – FLY FROM HERE (2011): This album is, in many ways, better than it has any right to be. The band even attempts something it hadn’t in decades — a multi-part thematic suite, and to great effect. As always, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White are compact and versatile, expertly facilitating complicated journeys like “Fly From Here Part III: Madman at the Screens,” which switches back and forth from a crunchy stomp to soaring ambiance. And the new singer acquits himself well.
ONE TRACK MIND: BILLY SHERWOOD, “LIVING IN THE NOW” (2011): Sherwood remains more than the sum of his Yes years. Across the breadth of What Was The Question?, as on his denser concurrent efforts alongside fellow Yes alum Tony Kaye in the band Circa, Sherwood dabbles in the weird impressionism of early Genesis, and the crinkly nerve of Jeff Beck. There are layer upon layer of multi-tracked vocals, straight out of the sun-drenched school of Brian Wilson. And the offbeat yet catchy compositional verve of those unjustly forgotten prog-rockers UK. That’s not to mention the thundering improvisational references to Weather Report.
YES – IN THE PRESENT: LIVE FROM LYON (2011): There was at least one benefit to the departure of Jon Anderson from Yes in 2008: The presence of new lead singer Benoit David immediately opened the door for a rewrite of what had become a very rote setlist. David handles things as well as can be expected on the big Anderson-sung hits here — and that’s really all Chris Squire and Co. were looking for, I suppose. You get a broader sense of what he brings to Yes as it stood then, however, on a churning, metallic fever dream like “Machine Messiah.”