Union (Yes album)

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Studio album by Yes
Released 30 April 1991
Recorded 1989–1990
Genre Progressive rock, pop rock
Length 65:23 (Original Release)
69:52 (European Edition)
Label Arista
Producer Jonathan Elias, Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, Mark Mancina, Eddie Offord, Billy Sherwood
Yes chronology
Big Generator
Singles from Union
  1. "Lift Me Up"
    Released: May 1991
  2. "Saving My Heart"
    Released: August 1991
  3. "I Would Have Waited Forever"
    Released: 1991
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[2]
Tsunami by Roger Dean. Featured on the back cover.

Union is the thirteenth studio album by British progressive rock band Yes, released in 1991.


Union was so called because it brought together the previous Yes album's line-up (Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Trevor Rabin, Alan White, Tony Kaye) and the then ex-Yes members group Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe).

All former Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe members (except Anderson, who was member of both bands) left Yes following the Union Tour, making Union the last Yes album with its original drummer Bruford, and the last album with guitarist Howe and keyboardist Wakeman before their return in 1995.


In 1983, Yes had reformed after their 1980 split and recorded two successful albums 90125 and Big Generator. In 1988, Jon Anderson had departed Yes in order to team up with three other former Yes members Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford, in effect creating a parallel version of the band. Despite Anderson's departure, the remaining members of Yes (under the leadership of Chris Squire) had not split up: as Squire part-owned the band's name, Anderson's alternate incarnation of Yes were forced to use their surnames as the band's name following the threat of legal action. Despite this setback, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe released a self-titled album in 1989 and supported it with a successful tour. The Squire-led faction of the band in Los Angeles, still in possession of the band's name, began composing and recording material as well as trying out potential new members including Billy Sherwood, Roger Hodgson and Bruce Gowdie. In April 1990, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe began initial recording sessions for their second album at Miraval Studios in the South of France, for which the quartet were joined by their bass player Tony Levin.

Bowing to record company pressure to resurrect the Yes banner, Squire and Anderson came up with the idea of merging both projects, which resulted in the 1991 album Union. In the meantime the ABWH material had been extensively reworked under the supervision of producer Jonathan Elias, which involved replacing many of Howe's guitar parts with new ones played by session musician Jimmy Haun. Similarly, with Wakeman unavailable because of his heavy touring schedule as a solo artist, many of the keyboard parts were redone by a variety of players in a variety of studios in Los Angeles and New York.[3] Post-production also involved Chris Squire adding backing vocals to a couple of ABWH tracks, but this would remain the extent of the "reunion" of the 1971–72 line-up as bass parts on the tracks were performed by Tony Levin.

"Masquerade" was a solo piece Howe had recorded some time before, included at the last minute when the record company requested a solo guitar piece from him. "Masquerade" earned the album a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. "The More We Live" was the product of a new writing partnership between Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood, who had briefly been considered as replacement for Jon Anderson in the Rabin-led version of Yes. The song featured extensive (but uncredited) vocal and instrumental contributions from Sherwood. "Lift Me Up", "Saving My Heart" and "Miracle of Life" were largely demos : Rabin had been planning to record them properly and was taken by surprise that they were used as they were (with vocals from Anderson added). "Evensong" was a version of Bruford and session bassist Tony Levin's duet from the ABWH tour. The ABWH project attempted a second, follow-up album that never materialised, and, from the long set of demos called Dialogue, the only surviving piece to make it onto Union was "Take the Water to the Mountain". Both the main riff of "I Would Have Waited Forever" and the 9/4 riff in "Silent Talking" can be heard on Steve Howe's solo album Turbulence, released about the same time (but actually recorded in 1988).

Although the supporting world tour was a commercial and critical success, praised by fans and band as one of Yes' best, the album was not as well-received, resulting in sales figures equivalent to those of the ABWH album (half a million copies worldwide). Union would turn out to be Yes' last studio album to have significant sales, though it did not match the popularity of 1987's Big Generator. One of Union's singles, "Lift Me Up", became Yes' biggest hit on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart, reaching the top spot and remaining there for six weeks in early 1991.

Before Union was released, a preview of a sort was released by the record company to generate interest. It contained significantly different mixes of most of the ABWH group's material, from before the extensive session work present on the album. Besides "The More We Live", two other pieces by Squire/Sherwood ("Say Goodbye" and "Love Conquers All") were demos presented for this album but not used. The former appeared in a re-recorded version on the second World Trade album, and the latter was on Yesyears. Both original demos are on the first Conspiracy album by Squire/Sherwood.

Wakeman, Bruford and Howe would depart the sprawling line-up in 1992, returning Yes to its 1983–1988 line-up. Union would be the final Yes album with Bill Bruford, and would be the last album with Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman until their return in 1996.

Chart performance[edit]

Union (Arista 261,558) reached No. 7 in the UK, and No. 15 in the US during a chart stay of 19 weeks. As of 2014 Union is their last studio album to reach the Top 10.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "I Would Have Waited Forever"   Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Jonathan Elias Jonathan Elias 6:32
2. "Shock to the System"   Anderson, Howe, Elias Jonathan Elias 5:09
3. "Masquerade"   Howe Steve Howe 2:17
4. "Lift Me Up"   Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire Trevor Rabin 6:30
5. "Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day"   Anderson, Elias Jonathan Elias 5:18
6. "Saving My Heart"   Rabin Trevor Rabin 4:41
7. "Miracle of Life"   Rabin, Mark Mancina Trevor Rabin, Mark Mancina, Eddy Offord 7:30
8. "Silent Talking"   Anderson, Howe, Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford, Elias Jonathan Elias 4:00
9. "The More We Live – Let Go"   Squire, Billy Sherwood Eddy Offord 4:51
10. "Angkor Wat"   Anderson, Wakeman, Elias Jonathan Elias 5:23
11. "Dangerous (Look in the Light of What You're Searching For)"   Anderson, Elias Jonathan Elias 3:36
12. "Holding On"   Anderson, Elias, Howe Jonathan Elias 5:24
13. "Evensong"   Tony Levin, Bruford Jonathan Elias 0:52
14. "Take the Water to the Mountain"   Anderson Jonathan Elias 3:10



Additional musicians[edit]


  • AllMusicGuide.com
  • "Top Pop Albums 1955–2001", Joel Whitburn, c. 2002

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Eder, Bruce. Union – Yes at AllMusic. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  2. ^ Eddy, Chuck (13 June 1991). "Yes: Union". Music Reviews. Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 8 May 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Jimmy Haun Interview at Bondegezou