Album Reviews

Issue 2024-030

Duo Review

Yes — Talk - 30th Anniversary Edition

54:55, 44:58, 63:07, 69:45
Yes - Talk - 30th Anniversary Edition
CD 1 — Talk: The Calling (6:52), I Am Waiting (7:22), Real Love (8:42), State Of Play (4:58), Walls (4:52), Where Will You Be (6:03), Endless Dream: Silent Spring, Talk, Endless Dream (15:42)
CD 2 — Talk Versions: The Calling - Special Version (8:08), The Calling - Single Edit (4:40), The Calling - Radio Edit (5:59), Untitled - Rabin Instrumental (2:53), Endless Dream - Demo (9:26), Where Will You Be - Instrumental (6:35), Walls - Instrumental (5:16), Endless Dream (Excerpt) - Instrumental (1:58)
CD 3 — Canandaigua, New York, 19-06-1994: I Am Waiting (7:44), The Calling (3:07), Rhythm Of Love (4:58), Hearts (8:14), Real Love (10:23), Changes (8:43), Heart Of The Sunrise (11:18), Roundabout (8:36)
CD 4 — Canandaigua, New York, 19-06-1994: Cinema (2:37), City Of Love (6:47), Make It Easy (1:54), Owner Of A Lonely Heart (6:21), Rabin Piano Solo / And You And I (12:03), Where Will You Be (8:21), I've Seen All Good People (6:54), Walls (6:43), Endless Dream (18:02)
Geoff Feakes

Originally released in the Spring of 1994, Talk was the third and final studio album from the so-called Yes-West line-up of prog rock doyens Yes. Unfortunately, from a commercial perspective, it failed to capture the mood of the times. 10 years earlier, the same line-up enjoyed a surge in popularity following the release of the Owner Of A Lonely Heart hit single and their best-selling 90125 album. Despite the presence of founding members Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Tony Kaye and the long-serving Alan White, the commercial appeal owed much to singer-songwriter and guitarist Trevor Rabin and producer Trevor Horn.

The 1987 Big Generator album was the result of a protracted gestation period and as such, failed to fully capitalise on the success of its predecessor. During the on and off recording process, the two Trevors went their separate ways and Rabin assumed control of the band's artistic direction. Anderson absconded to form ABWH, and the much maligned Union album followed in 1991 although the subsequent tour featuring an 8-man Yes was a far more satisfying event. When the dust settled after much to-ing and fro-ing, Yes-West reassembled for possibly their finest album.

Talk was released on the newly formed Victory Music label and like Big Generator, spent a long time in preparation and production. Rick Wakeman was scheduled to contribute but had to bow out due to overlapping commitments and the 5,400 miles that separated him from the California based Rabin and co. Talk was released with very little fanfare and as such, slipped under the radar of many potential buyers. It also received dismissive reviews from the music press and its sales potential was not helped by Peter Max's rudimentary cover artwork.

Despite the shared writing credits, Rabin's imprint is all over Talk in terms of sound, style and compositions. In addition to guitars, keyboards and vocals, he is responsible for the production and (early 90s) cutting edge digital recording. His playing and arrangements for Endless Dream and Anderson's atmospheric Raga-influenced Where Will You Be are particularly impressive. Probably the album's standout track however is the soaring I Am Waiting featuring a stately Mark Knopfler-flavoured guitar hook.

The rest of the band are by no means bystanders. Anderson co-wrote the songs with Rabin and is in fine voice throughout, especially during I Am Waiting, hitting the high notes with effortless grace. Squire's bass is not as prominent as it could be in the mix (which seems to favour guitar, vocals and drums) but nonetheless his presence is felt particularly on the opening song which he co-wrote. He also harmonises with Anderson and Rabin during the punchy State Of Play. White lays down a stomping John Bonham-inspired drum pattern on Real Love and his syncopated rhythms drive Endless Dream. Kaye's Hammond organ embellishments hark back to the early Yes albums, especially during the opening song The Calling.

Both released as singles in 1994, The Calling and Walls boast memorable tunes resulting in regular airplay on American radio and respectable success on the Billboard rock chart. The latter was co-written by Roger Hodgson of Supertramp fame. The concluding three-part Endless Dream veers from the high drama of the opening theme to the anthemic midsection and the hymn-like finale. It's Yes' finest epic since Awaken back in 1977 and almost exactly the same length.

A remastered version of Talk occupies disc one of this 30th Anniversary 4CD edition. Disc two comprises instrumental versions, demos and three alternate versions of The Calling. The "Special Version" features an extended instrumental mid-section and was originally a bonus track on the 2002 reissue of Talk. Rabin's Untitled is an improvised jam while the Endless Dream demo featuring a hoarse sounding Anderson bears little resemblance to the finished work. The instrumental versions of Where Will You Be and Walls are essentially the same as those on Talk, minus the vocals.

Discs three and four are devoted to a live show from the Talk tour recorded at the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua, New York on 19 June 1994. It's a soundboard recording, originally released as a double CD bootleg entitled Endless Dream. The band are accompanied by the multi-talented future Yes-man Billy Sherwood providing additional guitars, keyboards and vocals. The sound quality is first-rate and unsurprisingly, the setlist is dominated by songs from the three Yes-West albums. The meticulous arrangements suggest backing tapes were used, particularly the keyboard parts during set closer Endless Dream. Anderson is clearly enjoying himself if his song introductions are anything to go by. Perhaps surprisingly, from a performance perspective, Where Will You Be stands out amongst the new songs.

A handful of Yes classics are included to appease older fans and although the performances are variable, they remain mostly faithful to the originals. A high octane Heart Of The Sunrise is followed by a patchy Roundabout where Kaye's organ solo is spirited but lacks the finesse of Rick Wakeman. Rabin's piano introduction to a suitably grandiose And You And I is a sly nod to the blonde keyboard wizard himself. The vocal harmonies during Your Move are a delight while All Good People rocks hard with blistering organ and piano.

Although Rabin's production values may sound a tad clinical to contemporary ears, Talk skillfully combines his commercial sensibilities and ear for a good tune with the pomp and grandeur of vintage Yes. It is however one of the band's most controversial albums and the Yes fanbase remain divided over its merits. For me, it's a strong contender for Yes' most underrated album, despite the absence of Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman. Curiously, there is no mention of this 30th Anniversary Edition (which is also available as a single CD and a double vinyl LP) on the official Yesworld website.

The release of Talk in March 1994 was followed one week later by The Division Bell. In theory, both albums should have appealed to the same demographic and although they shared the same commercial sensibilities and early 1990's progressiveness, Yes failed to emulate the phenomenal success of the Pink Floyd album. When Rabin left Yes in 1995 to concentrate on film music composition, it left the door open for the classic line-up of Yes to reform. However, Talk remains the most ambitious work Yes released in the 1990s.

Patrick McAfee

Originally released in 1994, this fourteenth Yes studio album was a commercial disappointment. Several circumstances likely played into that outcome, but the most detrimental was the quick bankruptcy of the album's label, Victory Music. As a result, Talk received limited promotion and many potential buyers were unaware of its existence. This newly remastered box-set touts it as the "great lost Yes album" and that assessment is fair. Whatever the reasons for its lack of recognition, this gem deserved a much better response than it received thirty years ago.

Though future releases found the band in a comfortably regressive mode, the YesWest version of 1994 still clearly had something to prove. Talk was abundantly foward thinking. It didn't eschew the classic Yes style, but more so turned it on its ear. The album maintains the same dynamic power all these years later. It is also the most progressive release of the Rabin era.

Highlighted by unsung classics such as The Calling, I am Waiting and the brilliant epic, Endless Dream, Talk is essential Yes. The remaster in this collection sounds fantastic. Improving on the somewhat muddled production of the original release, this update breathes new life into the material and lets individual performances shine.

Though the CD of demos and alternate versions doesn't inspire multiple listens, it includes some fascinating curios. In particular, the Endless Dream Demo, which provides an early, work in progress view of the song. The soundboard recording of a June 1994 concert from Canandaiqua, NY is thoroughly entertaining. Unlike the gimmicky, though still entertaining Union tour a few years earlier, the Talk shows were unmarred by band egos. This lineup was fully committed and their enthusiasm is evident in this live recording. The then new material radiates and the classics are played with gusto.

The band has always expressed their undaunted pride in Talk, and it is warranted. There is a drive, spirit and quality to the album that Yes never again fully recaptured. It would be wholly justified for the Talk 30th Anniversary Edition to give this excellent "lost" album the visibility and prestige that it has always deserved.

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