Tormato was generally viewed as disappointing, and Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson left in its aftermath. Improbably, they were replaced by new wave synth duo The Buggles, who had recently enjoyed fame with the hit ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, shifting Yes further into contemporary new wave territory. Keyboardist Geoff Downes does a fine job; his low key virtuosity is a key component of the album’s compromise between prog and new wave. Trevor Horn also does a good job of filling in for Anderson; his singing is close enough to Anderson’s to ensure a relatively seamless transition.
There is enough of substance on Drama to suggest that the union of Yes and Buggles was a good idea, but it’s disappointing overall. ‘Tempus Fugit’ is the only song that captures Yes anywhere near their prime, with an exciting riff augmented by Downes’ keyboard swirls and a dynamic arrangement. ‘Does It Really Happen’ is the other highlight, based around a funky Chris Squire bass riff, giving Yes more of a pop sheen without ever becoming too uncomfortable. The longer epics drag a little – the metal riffing in ‘Machine Messiah’ doesn’t play to the strengths of Yes, while the “I am a camera” lyrics of ‘Into The Lens’ are distracting.
It’s far from a complete disaster, but Drama is a weird culvert in the Yes discography that you don’t need to explore unless you’re an obsessive or you find it cheap.