90125 marks a departure for Yes from it's various seventies incarnations. First is the personel: Jon Anderson returns from his brief "vacation", Tony Kaye replaces Rick Wakeman on keyboards, Alan White and Chris Squire remain the rhythmic backbone of the band, and a new face takes the helm. South African guitar master Trevor Rabin joins the band and truly redefines Yes with his catchy melodies, creative production, and bone-crunching guitar work.
The album opens fittingly enough with Rabin's catchiest riff, and one of the catchiest of the eighties: "Owner of a Lonely Heart." Though this tune is very radio accessible, it serves as a metaphor for the remainder of the album. 90125 is a synthesis of Yes' cosmic themes of the seventies, and the new, streamlined sound of the "80's Yes". The synthesis continues on "It can Happen" capturing the usually hopeful fruits of Anderson's lyrics as well Rabin's pop wit. It must be noted, however, that the other three members of the band musn't be neglected. Squire sounds stronger than ever on 90125, finding Rabin an appropriate "rocking complement" to his usually remarkable bass work. Tony Kaye, though not a virtuoso like Wakeman, offers a style of his own. More sparse and less pompous than Wakeman, Kaye's organ work serves as a solid background from which the songs can emerge and evolve. Finaly, Alan White takes advantage of the new Yes sound to rock on Zepplin-esque numbers like "City of Love" and "Hold On".
The most remarkable song on this album, however, is not a 3-minute pop bit, but rather the finale, "Hearts." A monumental piece by Anderson, "Hearts" brings Yes back to its glory days of "Close to the Edge" but reminds its listeners that this is a new band and in a new direction. 90125 marks the beginning of a new era in Yes music.
***** Stars out of five