Yes, “Run Through the Light” from Drama (1980): YESterdays

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A re-tooled Yes continued to test their boundaries with “Run Through the Light” from 1980’s Drama. New keyboardist Geoff Downes utilized different colors on his Fairlight synthesizer to provide a contemporary feel, while Steve Howe provided a harder edge with his Gibson Les Paul.

Trevor Horn provides one of his best vocals for the world’s greatest progressive rock band. He sings a nuanced yet powerful lead with an uncharacteristically direct lyrical theme. Horn works the upper range of his voice effectively. It’s easy to see how Chris Squire would be convinced Horn could replace the now-departed co-founding Yes frontman Jon Anderson. Furthermore, Horn’s lyrics fit the streamlined and powerful new Yes motif.

Chris Squire, ever the chameleon, plays the grand piano – which fits the theme and Downes’ keyboard textures perfectly. The fretless bass melody is actually played by Trevor Horn. Horn acquits himself very well, playing the slinky lines like a master but the big stick is left to Steve Howe. Yes’ master guitarist shines throughout Drama, and “Run Through the Light” gives him space for screaming leads and aggressive solos.

This is not the Yes we’ve seen in the main sequence of albums. However, this is just as compelling – if not more so – than the band ever was, and may ever be again.

Preston Frazier’s YESterdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the unforgettable musical legacy of Yes. The series runs every other Tuesday.

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