Open Your Eyes (Yes album)
|Open Your Eyes|
|Studio album by Yes|
|Released||24 November 1997|
|Label||Eagle Records (UK)
Beyond Music (US)
Open Your Eyes is the seventeenth studio album by progressive rock band Yes, released in 1997. It is the first album to feature Billy Sherwood as a band member, and the only one on which he is the main keyboard player.
Following the 1996 reunion of the mid-late 1970s "classic" lineup of Yes (and the release of the two live-and-studio double albums Keys to Ascension and Keys to Ascension 2), keyboard player Rick Wakeman had left the band once again, throwing future tour and album plans into jeopardy. In order to sustain momentum, the band was obliged to come up with a new workable lineup as well as new sources of song material.
Already an established engineer and progressive rock musician in America, Billy Sherwood had previously been involved with Yes as a backup keyboard player and guitarist on the Talk tour (as well as being considered as a potential new lead singer during Yes rehearsals circa 1990). More recently, he had worked as engineer and producer for part of the Keys to Ascension project. He had had a strong working relationship with Yes bassist Chris Squire since the late 1980s, when the two had begun work on a duo project called The Chris Squire Experiment (later to become Conspiracy). Yes singer Jon Anderson was impressed by some of the early Conspiracy material and became interested in singing on it, in part because of Yes' need for new material. Consequently, Sherwood, Squire, Anderson and drummer Alan White began working on several Conspiracy songs together with the aim of transforming them into Yes songs. Sherwood has said the band was falling apart after Wakeman's withdrawal and that he led on songwriting activity to keep the band going, working with Squire, White and Anderson. Guitarist Steve Howe (at the time, the band's only UK-based member) was not practically involved for most of the process and made his contributions to the album at the end of the sessions (and mainly as a player). By the end of the sessions, Sherwood was formally inducted into Yes – he would play second guitar and sing harmony vocals on tour.
Although Sherwood played the bulk of the keyboards on the album, two other keyboard players were involved. Steve Porcaro had played keyboards on the title track when it was a Chris Squire Experiment piece, and his parts were retained for Yes' rendition. Russian keyboardist Igor Khoroshev performed on "New State of Mind", "No Way We Can Lose", and "Fortune Seller". Khoroshev was hired as the band's keyboard player on the tour promoting Open Your Eyes (on which he also played percussion and sang backing vocals) and would be a full member by 1999's The Ladder, on which he was featured more prominently.
During the touring supporting the album, only "Open Your Eyes" was played every night, while "New State of Mind", and "From the Balcony" (the sole Anderson/Howe joint contribution, in terms of writing and concept) were played live a few times on the tour dates. The album cross-references other recordings related to the band. Versions of "Open Your Eyes" and "Man in the Moon" later appeared on the eponymous Conspiracy album (which was delayed for two years because material was co-opted for Yes and Sherwood's entry into the band). The song "Somehow, Someday" incorporates the first verse melody and lyrics from the song "Boundaries" on Jon Anderson's 1982 solo album Animation. The cover of Open Your Eyes also references the band's 1969 debut album. Billy Sherwood had wanted the album to be titled Universal Garden but the rest of the band outvoted him.
Release and reception
Open Your Eyes received mixed to negative reactions from critics and fans upon release. Many criticized it for its overproduction and found it lacking in trademark Yes qualities, though others praised it for its upbeat nature. It is the worst-rated Yes studio album on music reviewing sites such as Rate Your Music and ProgArchives. Stereogum ranked it 32 out of 34 in their countdown of Yes' discography, saying it "is slathered in the most dismally begging-for-airplay keyboards imaginable, and written at a child's level of musical sophistication. It's hard to even believe this is a Yes album." However, music portal Ultimate Classic Rock ranked Open Your Eyes 13th out of 21 in its list of best Yes albums, praising the album for paying tribute to the band's 1970s works while also "point[ing] the way towards a possible future for the band, one that eschewed resting on their laurels."
Some band members later revealed their discontent with the finished album, with both Anderson and Howe claiming that the album was too rushed to incorporate their ideas and suffered as a result.
While the album was a commercial flop, only reaching No. 151 in the US while missing the UK charts completely, the title track and "New State of Mind" received substantial airplay on mainstream rock and classic rock radio upon release.
A limited edition surround sound version was also produced [BYCD3075]. This came with a cardboard slip case and blue CD, not seen on the standard release. Although not true 5.1 surround, the aim was to produce a wider sound field from just two speakers and in that respect it does have some limited success. It was the first attempt by Yes at surround sound until the subsequent DVD-A release of Magnification [8122-78250-9]. The album was reissued in 2006 as part of the box set Essentially Yes.
All tracks written by Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Billy Sherwood, Chris Squire, and Alan White.
|1.||"New State of Mind"||6:00|
|2.||"Open Your Eyes"||5:14|
|4.||"No Way We Can Lose"||4:56|
|6.||"Man in the Moon"||4:41|
|8.||"From the Balcony"||2:43|
|11.||"The Solution" (song ends at 5:26, ambient hidden track begins after two minutes of silence)||23:47|
- Jon Anderson – vocals
- Steve Howe – electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, vocals
- Billy Sherwood – guitar, vocals, keyboards except on 1, 2, 4 & 5
- Chris Squire – bass guitar, vocals, harmonica
- Alan White – drums, percussion, vocals
- Additional musicians
- Igor Khoroshev – additional keyboards on "Fortune Seller", "No Way We Can Lose" and "New State of Mind"
- Steve Porcaro – additional keyboards on "Open Your Eyes"
- Produced by Yes
- Recorded by Billy Sherwood
- Mixed by Billy Sherwood and Randy Nicklaus
- Mastered by Joe Gastwirt at Oceanview Digital Mastering
Open Your Eyes (Eagle EAGCD013) reached No. 151 in the US during a chart stay of one week.
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- Ewing, Jerry. Vox, February 2008. Albums. YES - Open Your Eyes P. 77
- Yes at RateYourMusic.com
- Yes at ProgArchives.com
- Yes Albums Ranked Worst to Best. Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved on 13 October 2016.