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YES Update - "Fly From Here" album review (July 2011)  

"Fly From Here" (released July 2011) is only the second Yes album recorded without Jon Anderson and features the lineup of Squire/Howe/White/Downes/David with production by Trevor Horn. The digipak fold-out cover design by Roger Dean showing a green landscape is impressive in his usual what we might now call "Avatar style". Intriguingly, the rotund bird of prey in the foreground appears to struggle for flight while the basic composition resembles Roger's 1973 album cover for the band Greenslade.

The Yes sound this time around bears some similarities to the "Drama" album from 1980 but its now smoother with less explosive aggression. New vocalist Benoit David handles the material capably while the standout performance is the superb guitar from Steve Howe, even if he's sometimes mixed too low for full effect. A highlight is the expansive 23m 49s 'Fly From Here' suite based around 'We Can Fly', a song already well known to many Yes fans having been played live during the Drama tour but never recorded in the studio. The primary writing credits here are surprisingly surrendered to the returning ex-Buggles Horn/Downes with additional contributions from Chris Squire and Steve Howe. Another memorable piece is the group-written 'Into the Storm', possibly the most typically Yes-like track with its opening urgent, intricate interplay. The elegant 'Hour Of Need' by Steve Howe and his adept solo 'Solitaire' provide a pleasing contrast.

Overall "Fly From Here" is a very competently made album but it's still bound to cause debate. Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman are not truly replaceable in Yes. The album falls short of being magical or spiritually uplifting and the incisive instrumental solos that can take the music to an even higher level are too few. These missing elements are important characteristics of the best classic Yes music but even so, "Fly From Here" contains enjoyable music that's a cut above most rock albums being released in 2011.