Talk – a YES album music review

I haven’t broken out Talk in a long time. This was the 1994 effort by one of my favorite all time groups, YES, featuring Chris Squire, Alan White, Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye, which was the approximate lineup for the group from the early 80s to the mid 90s. For some reason, of the four albums from this period, this one sticks out to me in a way I struggle to articulate, but I’m gonna try.

I think most YES fans would agree to referring to the period from the early 80s to the mid 90s as the Trevor Rabin period. This includes the following albums:

90125 (1983)
Obviously, this album was an amazing commercial hit but I think it merits critical praise as well. It does a great job of mixing progressive rock elements with 1980s styles and sensibilities

Big Generator (1987)
This is my least favorite YES album. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I don’t like this album. And I love YES. So think on that for a sec, I guess.

Union (1991)
Meh – you know… just kinda meh. There are a few songs on here that are OK… I don’t think this album is much better than Big Generator, but I do think it’s certainly a better album. The Union tour concerts are AMAZING, but the album itself is very meh for me.

Then we arrive at Talk, which, for me, is a step in the right direction for the first time in a while.

Like the previous "Trevor Rabin Era" albums (except Union), this album features Chris Squire, Alan White, Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye. Tony Kaye is credited to playing only the Hammond Organ – all other keyboards were played by Trevor Rabin. And there’s not a lot of organ on this album so far as I can tell.

Which brings me to the point that the "Trevor Rabin Era" should really be called "Trevor’s Way or the Highway Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4." To me, all of these albums sound like Trevor Rabin featuring YES. One of my oldest friends and fellow YES analyser reminds me that many bands "did total makeovers as soon as the 70’s came to an end. More synths, more emphasis on rhythm. The market changed and they had to as well – otherwise, they would have had trouble keeping their record deals. Remember, back then, there was no indie market or any reasonable way for a group to release something without a label." All that is true, but the "Trevor" albums don’t sound like YES from the 70s, AND I DON’T LIKE THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT!

I think the reason that Talk kinda works for me is because it’s the least Trevor-ish of the "Trevor" albums. J just imagine Jon Anderson showed up, read Trevor Rabin’s lyrics and said, "Uh huh – we need to change this so this song is about my wife. And change this so this song is about spirituality and nature. Trust me – songs should not be about any other topic ever."

So in some instances, this album is a lyrical departure from previous "Trevor" albums, but I also feel like it’s a bit of a revisiting of the classic YES style with a modern twist. Apparently, there’s more to it than that. My buddy explains that Talk is sonically different because it was probably recorded digitally back in the days of early digital recording. The first all digital recording to win a grammy was "Living La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin five years later… but I gotta tell ya, my ear is not consciously sophisticated enough to detect such variances. But my buddy is not wrong – this album does sound a little weird, no doubt. I also find some of the mix a little puzzling. Some of Trevor’s licks seem down in the mix but nothing else is happening at that moment, so why not bring those up? I felt like this was an issue throughout most of the album.

Now that Talk is twenty years old and I’m not a kid anymore, I have to ask myself: have my tastes changed since then?

No, not really.

For the most part, I like "I am waiting’ and "Endless Dream" – I like these songs a lot. The rest of the album? Meh, it’s fine. In retrospect, I just don’t dig the "Trevor Rabin Era" of YES nearly as much as what came before or after it. (90215 aside.) Talk isn’t a bad album, but once every five or ten years is probably enough for me.

Now where’d I put Keys to Ascension?

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on July 15, 2014, in music review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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