Yes - 1987 Big Generator

ALBUM: Big Generator
SERIAL: 90522-1
YEAR: 1987
CD REISSUE: 1990, Atco, 90522-2


LINEUP: Jon Anderson - vocals * Chris Squire - bass, backing vocals * Trevor Rabin - guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, string arrangements, production * Tony Kaye - organ, fairlight, emulator, synclavier, rack mounted synthesizers * Alan White - drums, Percussion, backing vocals

Additional Musicians: Jimmy 'Z' Zavala - harmonica, horn * Trevor Horn - horn, production * Greg Smith, Nick Lane, Lee Thornburg - horns

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rhythm Of Love * 02 Big Generator * 03 Shoot High Aim Low * 04 Almost Like Love * 05 Love Will Find A Way * 06 Final Eyes * 07 I'm Running * 08 Holy Lamb


I'll admit it, the two Yes albums from the mid 80's are a couple of favourites. Reintroducing the same line-up from the stellar '90125' period, the 'Big Generator' recording sessions would prove to be a nightmare to fulfil to the end product. There were many protracted issues, and it took two years to get a new album containing just eight tracks to the market. What the hey? It become obvious after the event that singer Jon Anderson wasn't particularly comfortable with the Trevor Rabin influence and where Yes as a band were going. Still, for what's worth, 'Big Generator' has some tremendous moments, and would feature a couple of tunes that would make its way into the Billboard singles charts, the last Yes album to do so incidentally. The song styles on the album vary greatly. Some which feature Rabin's bombastic guitar work, others which are cinematic soundscape oriented.

The Songs

'Rhythm Of Love' is the album's lead-off, and is an immediate winner. Pumping bass lines, a sound reminiscent of '90125' and melodic vocals culminating in a memorable chorus. The title track 'Big Generator' is a brash track, harsh sounding even. Scat like vocals, raw guitar power from Rabin, and a cacophony of synth parps makes this an interesting listen. A fan favourite for many is the 7 minute beauty of 'Shoot High Aim Low', with its eerie soundtrack like quality permeating throughout. A slow glide mostly, this one sounds distant and ambient in places, and is great listen. 'Almost Like Love' is full of contrasts. The big up-tempo chorus offsets the jazz/fusion like verses. Rabin's guitar work keeps it all together, though for me personally, it's not one of my fave Yes tracks to be honest. 'Love Will Find A Way' on the other hand is sensational, the wide chorus guitar melodies from Rabin are sublime, the whole thing is pitch perfect, and is one of the songs of 1987 for me. 'Final Eyes' is similar to 'Shoot High Aim Low' due to the cinematic quality of the sound, and appeals greatly because of that. Just what the inspiration behind 'I'm Running' is unsure. Someone described it as a musical Mexican circus, and they wouldn't be far from the truth. It's a strange one that's for sure, but go beyond the odd moments, this one has some depth on the verses and bridge which puts it in the good category. Anderson's spiritual causes come home to roost on the finale 'Holy Lamb', an atmospheric (there's that word again!) piece that features more 'rock' than a flight of angels at a CCM convention.

In Summary

The album would do moderately well in 1987's sales figures. The album would rise to #15 in the Billboard charts and spend a total of 30 weeks in the charts. Two singles 'Love Will Find A Way' and 'Rhythm Of Love' would make the lower reaches of the top 40, but in comparison to '90125', it paled somewhat. After the 1988 BG tour, the band would dissolve, with Anderson forming Anderson Bruford Wakeman And Howe, while Rabin would join up with Elektra Records for his excellent 'Don't Look Away' solo album. Despite the strains of the BG recording sessions, everybody kissed and made up for 1991's 'Union' album and consequent mega tour featuring eight members of Yes before egos, bank accounts and creative differences got in the way again. Don't these guys ever learn?
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gdazegod August 21 2011 2172 reads 12 comments Print


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  • Eric
    One of my least favorite Yes albums. Too 'busy' and Holy Lamb' still makes me cringe. Godawful cover art too.
    Reply · · - August 21 2011 14:15:08
  • englandashes
    Just got back from Dorset, and picked up a number of purchases, including Talk, but also the Anderson, Bruford,Wakeman, Howe (i wonder why Howe didn't come before Wakeman?), while I am not a total Yes man, I have enjoyed the ABWH, mentioned in George's review above, especially the track 'Order of the Universe', however the likes of Teakbois' is plain dreadful. Also on other good thing to report, In Boscombe, a new record shop!, which stocks vintage vinyl (Eric ... picked up a couple Three Dog being Suitable... and to complete the Yes picture...Jon Anderson..Olias...with extra pages in gatefold sleeve) as well, finally a step in the right direction after so many have gone to the wall, Boscombe now has 2 good secondhand record shop!, not many other Town's especially in the UK that can boast that, looking forward to next years holidays, hope they both continue to survive!
    Reply · · - August 27 2011 10:08:01
  • gdazegod
    Yes.. we need to plot these record stores on Google Maps, or Google Earth.. or whatever.. Well done Chris.
    Reply · · - August 27 2011 11:59:41
  • gdazegod
    Yes - 1987 Love Will Find A Way
    Reply · · - May 14 2015 14:02:57
  • gdazegod
    Yes - 1987 Rhythm Of Love
    Reply · · - May 14 2015 14:06:46
  • super80boy
    Big Generator gets a bad rap. On its own merit, it's a strong album with quality songs on offer. 'Love Will Find A Way', 'Rhythm Of Love' and 'Shoot High Aim Low' are all stellar cuts with 'Final Eyes' and the title song close runners up.
    Reply · · - August 21 2015 14:04:31
  • Nick C
    Nick C
    For me almost the nadir in the Yes catalogue (Union beats it!..and god knows I've had my issues with Drama and the later post Anderson albums). Basically Chris Squire and Trev Rabin had the Cinema project going on. It would have been dead in the water until Jon Anderson agreed to do vocals on it, but basically he said if it has my vocals on people will associate it with Yes ..long story short 90125 massive Yes album. Big hit on that one...Owner of a Lonely Heart...because Rabin had the main write on that he lords it over this next album....well this album (Rabins attitude in sidelining Anderson led to him Leaving again). Right from the day of release I thought this sounded outdated....I know I bought it that very day, I was so disappointed. Problem was Rabin thinks he threw Yes a did that with the Cinema project. This album though has Rabin through and through....a few good tracks...a few bad...mirrors his solo stuff up to that point (Trevor Rabin, Face to Face, Wolf ..for all the plaudits patchy albums). A zombie album, they play and act like the band is alive but it's more a Trev Rabin solo album ... Rhythm of Love, Shoot High, Love Will Find a Way not bad, far from classic. The song Holy Lamb....I don't get the dislike for it..... or am I just tuned to the Jon Anderson train of thought.....substitute ecology for humanity in the lyrics and it's a fair assessment to where we are now.
    But the big difference is instead of Steve Howe you get a hack guitarist (is that a little too hard on the guy?)... it works for one album, not for another. Rabin <<<<< Howe. Strangely enough the contradictory jerk I am, I love the Talk album 7 years later!! Much as Yes right now miss Anderson, the band back then missed Howe especially on this overly harsh sounding album, both production and songwise. Lord knows what they'll do without the light that was Chris Squire.
    Reply · · - September 05 2015 01:52:26
  • gdazegod
    Were you having a lager when writing this up Nick?
    Reply · · - September 06 2015 03:18:58
  • Nick C
    Nick C
    Hahaha! Nope just a late night, no beer consumed...just couldn't sleep. Right now I'm at work ....hence lateness, or earliness depending how you look at it, of this post (UK time wise) . I might have gone a bit over the top ... especially on poor old Trev Rabin, but it still remains at the bottom of my pile of Yes albums I'm going to play anytime soon. Just an album I never got on very well with, and my copy knows I don't like it, it regularly gives me the Vs as I pass it by for another opus.
    Reply · · - September 06 2015 03:29:11
  • Nick C
    Nick C
    I also never realised how often I use '..' to emphasize a break, I should try and stop that habit and get used to using! Grin
    Reply · · - September 06 2015 04:07:25
  • Explorer
    Don't worry Nick, I love using... to emphasise the point. I try and get one in on every review, it's positively de rigueur don't you know.Onto the album's not one that I would choose to listen to these days, but I find Union mildly pleasing. See, couldn't resist it!
    Reply · · - September 06 2015 07:33:24
  • Nick C
    Nick C
    I know these 'Hitler is disappointed'... mash ups are getting a bit old now...but I couldn't resist. Could this be me???? I've just done it as a clickable rather than embedded...don't want my nonsense clogging up a review! Grin

    Reply · · - September 09 2015 16:06:13


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