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YES Update: "Heaven and Earth" album review (2014)  

"Heaven and Earth" marks the first appearance of vocalist Jon Davison on a Yes album and surprisingly he takes the lion's share of creative responsibility with credits for writing or co-writing 7 of the 8 tracks. Chris Squire indicated that the recording took place over a period of 3 months when more than 5 months would normally have been allowed. The result is a song-based album with a commercial leaning that is unusually laid back for Yes and sees the band largely suppressing their characteristic quest for musical adventure in favour of a more straight forward approach. The return of Roy Thomas Baker as producer appears to have been a questionable choice when his earlier work on the aborted Yes Paris sessions in 1979 didn't suggest a good fit and it's hard to escape the feeling here that more intensive work on the arrangements and material would have been beneficial. Tellingly the band co-opted ex-Yes man Billy Sherwood to do the final mix instead of Baker.

"Heaven and Earth" isn't the complete wipeout claimed by some critics but it also isn't as strong and refined as the band's previous effort "Fly From Here". Yet the closing track 'Subway Walls' written by Davison/Downes is an impressive piece of Yes music with great energy, spontaneity and playing from the entire group. It's as though for the first time on the album the band as a whole was totally engaged, proving that Yes can still deliver the goods when everything properly comes together. Also notable is 'The Game', a very catchy melodic track by Squire/Davison/Johnson with tasty guitar from Steve Howe that could be a potent single if shortened with snappier production.