Steve Howe, Trevor Horn, and Geoff Downes all left Yes after Drama, with Howe and Downes forming the progressive rock super-group Asia. After an attempt to team up with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, Chris Squire and Alan White recruited 19 year old South African Trevor Rabin to form a new band Cinema. Eventually, both Tony Kaye (last in the group in 1971) and Jon Anderson signed up, and the new album was an official Yes product, named after its catalogue number. To make matters even more complicated, Trevor Horn signed back up as a producer.
Rabin is the driving force on 90125; he wrote most of the material, and was the lead vocalist until Anderson was bought in at the eleventh hour. The big hit was opening track ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’; its blaring riff isn’t very reminiscent of seventies Yes, but the track is infectiously catchy and sets the pattern for the remainder of the album. There are still traces of progressive rock remaining; sitar features in ‘It Can Happen’, while ‘Hearts’ has an epic chorus that takes a long time to arrive. Other highlights include the a capella introduction and vocal layering in the chorus of ‘Leave It’; with Anderson, Rabin, Squire, and White all strong singers, this version of Yes was even stronger vocally than the classic lineup.
90125 doesn’t bear much resemblance to 1970’s prog Yes – it’s simply an enjoyable pop album.