November 1983: When Yes Went Totally '80s on "90125"

Yes 90125 cover art
Photo Credit
(Courtesy of Atco)

Yes was in complete shambles by the time what was left of the band headed into making what would become the 90125 album. The group had broken up after 1980's Drama, with members Chris Squire and Alan White starting a new outfit, Cinema. Featuring former Yes member Tony Kaye and longtime band associate Trevor Rabin, the new unit's studio activities grabbed the interest of former Yes singer Jon Anderson, who would join his old makes while recording. Suddenly, Yes was back together.

This, however, was not the same yes that prog-rock fans revered for such classics as Tales from Topographic Oceans. With Trevor Horn (Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones) on production, the new songs were wildly modern and far more commercially viable than anything Yes had ever done.

This change in direction was most evident on the album's lead single, "Owner of a Lonely Heart." Released a few weeks ahead of the album (the full-length would hit record store on November 7, 1983), the song was a breakout smash at radio and record stores, flying straight to #1 on the Hot 100.

Also driving the song was the innovative music video, a cinematic and conceptual clip directed by the graphic design legend Storm Thorgerson, renowned for his work with the Hipgnosis design team responsible for countless classic rock album covers. Thrust into heavy rotation on MTV, the track introduced Yes to a whole new generation of music fans.

90125 still stands as the most successful album of the band's vast discography, as well as Yes' only chart-topping full-length. There were three more singles from the record: "Leave It," "It Can Happen" and "Hold On." Only "Leave It" would really make a chart impact, climbing to #24 on the Hot 100.

 

 

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