Yes, “Cinema” from 90125 (1983): YESterdays

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“Cinema,” Yes’ Grammy-winning opener of Side 2 on 1983’s 90125, is still an oddity for the world’s greatest progressive rock band. The song, which won in the best rock instrumental performance category, has the distinction of being one of only a handful of instrumental songs by Yes. It was originally performed and recorded live by Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire, Alan White and Tony Kaye in AIR Studios in London.

White and Squire absolutely smoke, as they provide a progressive edge to Rabin’s whammy-bar lead guitar. Kaye adds modern-sounding synthesizer textures, supplemented by programmers Dave Lawson and Jonathan Jaczalik. Indeed, Kaye’s chordal approach reaffirms why his contributions during the Trevor Rabin era – while limited in the studio – worked so well.

Taking a name the fledging group used before the return of Jon Anderson, “Cinema” is also interesting because it comes from the much longer (and yet-to-be-released) epic Yes developed, called “Time.” The theme from “Cinema” is also part of the opening to the song “Make It Easy,” which appears on the Yes Years box set and features a Trevor Rabin lead vocal.

There’s even a more fleshed-out version of the song on Rabin’s 90124 solo album, which gives still more hints of the song’s origins and what might have been.

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; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at
Preston Frazier
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  • Creaulx

    I personally can’t hear this without anticipating “Leave It” as the last chord rings out. Great track from what is arguably one of their best albums.

    • Preston Frazier

      Tune in next week!