Yes, “Hold On” from 90125 (1983): YESterdays

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Yes’ “Hold On,” written for 90125 by Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire and Jon Anderson, is an unlikely yet enduring deep cut. Constructed using verses from a Rabin track called “Moving In,” this song was polished with additional lyrics on the chorus by Squire and Anderson into a moment of pure rock joy. “Hold On” shows this new version of the world’s greatest progressive rock band at the height of its stadium-rock power.

Alan White’s stadium snare sound kicks it off then, in short order, Squire and Anderson sing in tandem while Rabin provides fine guitar licks. Rabin and Squire team up to provide a tasty rhythm, before Rabin breaks form with a distorted and guitar break played through some sort of envelop filter. White even throws in a weird little time hiccup, adding an extra count to the measure, yet it seems natural and effortless.

Trevor Rabin makes no effort to connect his guitar sound to Yes’ past, and his artistry works – adding a soaring dynamic to “Hold On.” Like the hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” the song embraces some studio keyboard trickery (probably supplied by Rabin, not Tony Kaye) and a fine vocal break down:

Talk the simple smile
Such platonic eye, how they drown in incomplete capacity
Strangest of them all
When the feeling calls, how we drown in stylistic audacity
Charge the common ground
Round and round and round we living in gravity
Shake, we shake so hard
How we laugh so loud
When we reach we believe in eternity
I believe in eternity

These are clearly progressive rock lyrics, even if the music is not as progressive as in their prior records. Yet, Yes is newly invigorated by the material and the vocal arrangements have never been better.

What’s missing is an extended end solo, which was added when the band performed the song live. Given this song’s undeniable power and gravitas, it’s no wonder Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman continues to perform this gem.

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

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Preston Frazier
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