Yes, “I Am Waiting” from Talk (1994): YESterdays

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Somewhere along the line during our look at the Yes catalog, I mentioned that this series helped me like some albums more than I originally did. Of the four Rabin era albums, Big Generator actually moved down my imaginary listing of Yes albums. By contrast, Talk has favored better.

My initial criticism of this 1994 album was the almost complete absence of Chris Squire in the writing process. This was by design, as Trevor Rabin wanted to include Jon Anderson’s musical input in the songs from their inception. Unlike 90125, most of Big Generator and all of the “Yes West” songs on Union, Anderson was an early creative presence – and that was supported by Chris Squire.

Squire’s bass input is more problematic. His traditionally trebly tones are nearly absent in the mix. On “I Am Waiting,” the second song from Talk, Squire’s work is audible in the mix but seems simplified. The results sound very much like bass pedal or Moog synths. This overly compressed sound doesn’t serve Chris Squire very well. It’s very similar to some of the criticism of the bass – or the lack of prominent bass – in Yes Featuring Anderson Rabin and Wakeman’s live mix.

Yet, there are many positives to the song. Rabin knows how to make his guitar sound perfect every time. His melodic intro over his own synthesizer chords is as delicate as the main guitar theme which follows is powerful. The theme builds on the 4/4 back beat of Alan White, creating an anticipation of what’s to come. The dynamics of the song are not classic Yes, but it’s well above rock fare of the day.

Jon Anderson’s lyrics and vocals are spot on. His lyrics are uplifting, with a sense of urgency and forcefully pleading. The Yes choir’s backing vocals seem more in the vein of Trevor Rabin multitrack, with slight sprinkles of Chris Squire.

At over seven minutes, “I Am Waiting” isn’t a Yes epic of old, or a progressive rock classic. The song, and indeed the album, would have benefitted from more Tony Kaye on organ, piano and a few more solos. It is good Yes music with enough prog elements – like the middle guitar break down – to keep old fans engaged.

I interviewed Jon Anderson a couple of years back, and he mentioned that he always believed progressive rock music was about changing and moving forward. “I Am Waiting” and Talk are good examples of the world’s greatest progressive rock band moving forward. In the case of “I Am Waiting,” I think they do so successfully.

Billy Sherwood and Tony Kaye covered “I Am Waiting” on their Live in Japan album. Though thoroughly rearranged, the song’s main theme is just as compelling in their adaptation.

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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