Heaven & Earth (Yes album)

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Heaven & Earth
Studio album by Yes
Released 16 July 2014
Recorded 6 January–14 March 2014 at Neptune Studios
(Los Angeles, California)
Genre Progressive rock, soft rock
Length 51:29
Label Frontiers
Producer Roy Thomas Baker
Yes chronology
Fly from Here
(2011)
Heaven & Earth
(2014)

Heaven & Earth is the twenty-first studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, first released on 16 July 2014 on Frontiers Records. It is their first album with singer Jon Davison in the band's line-up. It was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, who first worked with the band on recording sessions in 1979, and mixed by former member Billy Sherwood.[1]

Upon its release, Heaven & Earth peaked at number 20 in the UK, the band's highest chart performance since their 1994 album Talk.[2] It also entered the US chart at number 26.

Production[edit]

Album title[edit]

About the name of the album, guitarist Steve Howe stated, "In a way, the parallel of saying ‘Heaven And Earth’ is the same as saying good and bad, yin and yang, up and down, left and right. They’re two extremes, but I think the way Roger and I liked it was that in fact the Earth is a physical place where you can measure stuff and you can do quantum physics. [...] But Heaven is an unknown place of no particular destination as far as anybody knows. And yet it doesn’t matter whether you’re totally tied up in a religious belief or whether you’re spiritual in a way. That doesn’t require religious commitment — it just requires awareness to the fact that there’s obviously something out there that we don’t know about. [...] it sums up the dualistic quality of the known and the unknown and the more you look at the known the more you see that there’s even more unknown than you knew before."[3]

Recording[edit]

Heaven & Earth is the first album recorded with singer Jon Davison (pictured here in 2013) in the band's line-up.

From 6 January to 14 March 2014, the band recorded a new album, their first with new lead singer Davison, in the Los Angeles area with producer Roy Thomas Baker.[4] This recording is Yes' first association with Baker since their aborted recording sessions in Paris in 1979, something bassist Chris Squire described as "a very enjoyable experience" and Baker someone "really good to work with".[5] In January 2014, the band's Facebook page released images of the band rehearsing in the studio with Baker.[6] On 7 March 2014, Downes tweeted that he had completed keyboards for the album.[7]

On 5 March 2014, former Yes member Billy Sherwood announced in a post on his Facebook page that he would engineer the backing vocal sessions, which started the day after. He also confirmed that at least Squire and Howe would also sing backing vocals in the album.[8] In an April 2014 interview, Davison announced that the recording just finished right in time before they had to leave for a tour (i.e. the U.S. & Canada Spring 2014 tour starting on 19 March 2014), stating "we were just kind of throwing everything in at the last minute [...] We just ran out of time and had to get on the road". He also announced that there would be 8 tracks, plus a bonus track (an acoustic version of "To Ascend") in the Japanese release.[9]

The album was in the mixing stages in March 2014[5] and then again in May 2014.[10]

Composition[edit]

Unlike the previous studio album Fly From Here, which was partially based on older compositions by Downes and producer/former member Trevor Horn, Heaven & Earth is made of new material only.[11] For his first album with Yes, Davison was fully involved into the songwriting process; Squire stated: "he contributed very strongly to [the new album] in terms of writing, both musically and lyrically. [...] [He] has brought in an interesting quality of songwriting and lyric writing. He has pretty much written all the lyrics for this album".[5] Describing Davison's songwriting skills as "excellent", Howe positively compared Heaven & Earth to Fly From Here in terms of songwriting process: "Benoit [David] wasn't a writer, really. That's why Trevor Horn was involved in writing [...] Jon is really excellent."[12] About writing and recording his first album with Yes, Davison himself commented "I thought it might be [a lot of pressure] but it turned out not to be at all. I got to know them really well and [their] composing styles and patterns and pace."[9] Davison travelled into various different places in order to meet all the other members separately and compose the songs with them.[9]

Steve Howe stated "Heaven & Earth has a freshness and different stance from many records we've done before. Hopefully, that freshness will be enjoyed."[12] In another interview, he discussed the fact that there wasn't any "epics" (very long songs) in Heaven & Earth: "We have some larger pieces and some of them are quite substantial. I think that's the kind of album it is — it isn't about eating up the time with one big concept, it's more about having different flavors and spices in our music that kind of show off each other. If having a track that leans one way is then followed by a track that leans the other way, at least we're not just doing eight tracks that are all the same."[3]

Describing Heaven & Earth as "an accessible but still adventurous album", Squire discussed the length of the songs: "there are three that are on the longer side, 9-, 10-minute sort of long songs. So it's definitely got the Yes stamp of arrangement on the album, there's no doubt about that." He also commented Davison's work as songwriter: "Jon's done a pretty good job. He worked with the other four of us on a couple of tracks each, and we've come together at the end of the album with some very strong music."[13] Howe stated that although most the songs were written and composed in collaboration, some of them were written by him or Davison alone.[3]

Davison stated that they had "a bunch of extra material" that they did not have time to finish in time for the album, including "a big prog piece" mainly written by him and Downes, which could ultimately be used for the next album.[9]

Release and live performance[edit]

Heaven & Earth was released in various territories between 16–22 July 2014. It peaked at number 20 on the UK album chart, the band's highest position since Talk (1994), which peaked at the same spot.[2] It entered the US Billboard 200 chart at number 26, falling to 108 in its second week.[14]

Every night of their Heaven & Earth tour, Yes will perform songs from Heaven & Earth with Fragile and Close to the Edge in their entirety, followed by an encore of their greatest hits.[15]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[16]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[17]

The album received a mixed reaction from critics. In his review for Allmusic, Thom Jurek rated the album two stars out of five. He thought the band lacked the "spirited playing and vigor of rediscovery displayed on Fly from Here", and described the album as a "slick, edgeless, badly executed attempt at adult-oriented pop, and for that, you need real hooks, and none exist here". He did however, praise passages from "Step Beyond", "Light of the Ages", and "Subway Walls".[16]

Chart performance[edit]

Charts (2014) Peak
position
Belgium (Wa)[18] 50
Netherlands [19] 41
Japanese Albums Chart (Oricon) [20] 37
Scottish Albums Chart[21] 18
UK Albums Chart[2] 20
Finnish Albums Chart[22] 45
German Albums Chart[23] 23
Switzerland Albums Chart[24] 29
Austrian Albums Chart[25] 56
US Billboard 200[26] 26
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[27] 7

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Believe Again"   Jon Davison, Steve Howe[28] 8:02
2. "The Game"   Chris Squire, Davison, Gerard Johnson 6:51
3. "Step Beyond"   Howe, Davison 5:34
4. "To Ascend"   Davison, Alan White 4:43
5. "In a World of Our Own"   Davison, Squire 5:20
6. "Light of the Ages"   Davison 7:41
7. "It Was All We Knew"   Howe 4:13
8. "Subway Walls"   Davison, Geoff Downes 9:03
Total length:
51:29

Personnel[edit]

Yes

Production

References[edit]

  1. ^ "YES - HEAVEN & EARTH - preview the new YES album here". Yesheavenandearth.com. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 
  2. ^ a b c "UK Albums Chart". Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Steve Howe Of Yes On Their New Album, 2014 Summer Tour + "Ethereal" Life". ultimateclassicrock.com (by Matt Wardlaw). 5 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  4. ^ lordsofmetal.nl / Interviews / Yes
  5. ^ a b c "An Interview with Chris Squire of YES - March 19, 2014". lithiummagazine.com - 21 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "In the Studio | 2014". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 
  7. ^ "Twitter / asiageoff: See ya Los Angeles! Done my". Twitter.com. 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 
  8. ^ a b "Billy Sherwood announces involvement in next Yes album on Facebook". 5 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Jon Davison (YES) Interview". progreport.com. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Billy Sherwood - Timeline Photos". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 
  11. ^ "Yes: Chris Squire talks about Heaven And Earth album in new interview.". 
  12. ^ a b "Veteran rockers Yes bring classic albums in entirety to Borgata". pressofatlanticcity.com. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "Chris Squire of Yes Talks 'Heaven and Earth' Album, New Singer, Rock Hall". billboard.com. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  14. ^ http://www.billboard.com/charts/billboard-200?page=5
  15. ^ yesworld.com / Yes US 2014 Summer Tour: Fragile, Close To The Edge, Greatest Hits, Heaven and Earth
  16. ^ a b Jurek, Tom. "Heaven & Earth - Yes (Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards)". AllMusic. 
  17. ^ JHall, Tim. "Yes: Heaven and Earth review – a rich, 70s prog-rock sound". The Guardian. 
  18. ^ http://www.ultratop.be/fr/album/3ccf2/Yes-Heaven-&-Earth
  19. ^ http://dutchcharts.nl/showitem.asp?interpret=Yes&titel=Heaven+%26+Earth&cat=a
  20. ^ http://www.oricon.co.jp/prof/artist/40673/products/music/1076781/1/
  21. ^ http://www.officialcharts.com/scottish-albums-chart/. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  22. ^ http://finnishcharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Yes&titel=Heaven+%26+Earth&cat=a. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  23. ^ http://www.fan-lexikon.de/musik/news/deutsche-album-charts-andrea-berg-sichert-sich-die-eins.173631.html. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  24. ^ http://hitparade.ch/album/Yes/Heaven-&-Earth-249074. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  25. ^ http://austriancharts.at/showitem.asp?interpret=Yes&titel=Heaven+%26+Earth&cat=a. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  26. ^ http://www.billboard.com/artist/431615/Yes/chart?f=305 Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  27. ^ http://www.billboard.com/charts/rock-albums Retrieved 3 August 2014.
  28. ^ "Yes (official) - Timeline Photos". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 
  29. ^ Heaven & Earth yesworld 2014-05-26T22:13:24+00:00. "YES - HEAVEN & EARTH - preview the new YES album here". Yesheavenandearth.com. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 

External links[edit]