The new Yes studio album Fly From Here offers some firsts and more than a few unique circumstances. It's the first studio album in ten years, and the first with Benoit David (Mystery) who has been touring with the band since Jon Anderson departure. (David was in a Yes tribute band in Canada.) Oliver Wakeman is gone, although he did help in some song craftsmanship. Geoff Downes (Asia, et al), who performed on Drama, returns to the fold. Trevor Horn also, the vocalist on the same, returns to produce as he did on 90125 (1983) and Big Generator (1987). Soon you'll need a score card to keep track of things. But I digress.
The title track is actually a 30 year old song that Downes and Horn brought to the band when they joined. It has existed in various forms, studio demo, live recording, and a two-part version for The Buggles, a Downes-Horn creation. On this work the song gets the full treatment standing as the centerpiece of the album. Regarding The Buggles once more Life on a Film Set is based on Riding a Tide, a Buggles demo. Are you keeping up?
Perhaps we should get this out of the way first: Benoit David is not Jon Anderson, but he certainly fits the Yes style.
Moving on to the music: as mentioned early, the centerpiece of Fly From Here is the title track. It's nearly classic Yes, certainly before 90125 and Big Generator and, for me, that's a good thing. It's most noticeable in it's core: Sad Night at the Airfield, Madman at the Screens, and the funky rock fusion of Bumpy Ride. The next best piece of progressive music is the closing song Into the Storm. It's bright and accessible with a real rock atmosphere; it's less prog and more AOR melodic rock.
Excepting Steve Howe' delightful instrumental Solitaire, that's good description of the other three songs. The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be and Hour of Need are easily light melodic rock, less prog, and likely to drift by your ears with little consequence. One might call it easy listening Yes fare. And that may be thing that puts off 'older' Yes fans about Fly From Here. Nevertheless, the title track is certainly worth considering the entirety.
The strength of Yes' Fly From Here here is the title track, which will remind long time fans of those classic years. Excepting the instrumental Solitaire and the near prog, more AOR melodic rock, of Into the Storm, the other songs could be a pass.