90125 is the eleventh studio album by the English progressive rock band Yes, released on 7 November 1983 by Atco Records. After disbanding in 1981, following the Drama (1980) tour, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White formed Cinema with guitarist and singer-songwriter Trevor Rabin and original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, who had left in 1971, and began recording an album. They adopted a more commercial and pop-oriented musical direction as the result of their new material, much of which derived from Rabin's demos, with former Yes singer Trevor Horn as their producer. During the mixing stage former Yes singer Jon Anderson, who had left in 1980, accepted the invitation to return and record the lead vocals, and subsequently Cinema became the new lineup of Yes.
|Studio album by|
|Released||7 November 1983|
|Recorded||November 1982–July 1983|
|Studio||SARM and AIR Studios|
|Singles from 90125|
90125 was released to a generally positive reception and introduced the band to a new generation of fans. It reached No. 5 on the US Billboard 200 and No. 16 on the UK Albums Chart, and remains their best selling album with over 3 million copies sold in the US. Of the album's four singles, "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was the most successful and is their only song to top the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Cinema" earned the group a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Yes toured for the album in 1984 and 1985 which included two headline shows at the inaugural Rock in Rio festival. The album was remastered in 2004 with previously unreleased bonus tracks.
In December 1980, the Yes line-up of bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, singer Trevor Horn, and keyboardist Geoff Downes, completed their 1980 tour in support of their tenth album, Drama. While the North American leg was largely successful, the subsequent UK leg received a mixed reaction feedback from the fans, many of whom were unaccepting of Horn and Downes as they had replaced Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman respectively. The group disbanded in early 1981; Horn became a record producer, Howe and Downes co-formed the supergroup Asia, and Squire and White remained together and continued to write material, including their 1981 Christmas single "Run with the Fox". Later in 1981, the two entered sessions with Jimmy Page with the aim of forming a new band named XYZ, but the project was shelved over management differences and singer Robert Plant's disliking of the material. According to White, some ideas that the three had rehearsed ended up on 90125.
By 1982, South African guitarist, singer-songwriter, and producer Trevor Rabin had moved from London to Los Angeles, and sent a demo tape to various record labels with the intent of releasing a fourth solo album. During this time, Atlantic Records manager Phil Carson, a longtime fan and associate of Yes throughout the 1970s, sought new musicians to work with Squire and White, and was introduced to Rabin by producer Mutt Lange, whom Rabin used to work with as a session musician. Carson had Rabin meet and play with Squire and White in London; Rabin recalled the first sessions "didn't sound great but it felt good ... there was a lot of potential". This led to Rabin turning down a solo deal from RCA Records as he wished to work within a group context, especially with a "great rhythm section". The three entered rehearsals for an album using most of Rabin's demos, including "Owner of a Lonely Heart", "Hold On", and "Changes" which displayed a more commercial and pop-oriented direction and less complex in structure than previous Yes music. With such a direction, Squire recruited original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, who had left in 1971, feeling his simpler style of playing was more suitable to their new music. Horn followed suit as a potential lead singer, but after unsuccessful rehearsals, opted to become their producer. The four named themselves Cinema with the intent of establishing a new identity and to distance themselves from their Yes past.
Around six months into the album, clashes between Horn and Kaye resulted in the latter's exit. Rabin saw it as "a mutual parting" as Kaye resisted learning the modern keyboard technology that the band were using, leaving Rabin to handle most of the keyboard parts. Matters were complicated further when management deemed Squire and Rabin's lead vocals not distinctive enough, so Carson suggested the group have Anderson return to sing the songs. Squire got in touch with Anderson, who had returned to England in April 1983 after working in France. They listened to the tape in Squire's car outside Anderson's home due to past acrimony between the pair's wives. Anderson liked the songs and got involved, making minor changes to the lyrics and arrangements. By this time the album had cost £300,000 to make, half of which came from Carson himself. With no more funds left to finish it, Carson flew to Paris and played the tape to Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegun, who had signed Yes in 1969. Ertegun, interested in the prospect of a new album with Anderson on vocals, agreed to pay the remaining costs.
As the album neared completion, news reports in June and July 1983 indicate that Kaye, though he had played on it, was unsure whether to rejoin. The album was given the provisional title The New Yes Album, a reference to their third, The Yes Album (1971), but the group opted for an alternative to distance themselves from Yes and decided upon its allocated catalogue number on their label Atco Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic. It was 90124 initially, but sleeve designer Garry Mouat said: "Because they couldn't get consistency worldwide with that number, it got changed to 90125. I've still got some rough tour t-shirts and sleeves with the original number."
Following the announcement of Cinema on MTV, the group received threats of legal action from other bands with the same name which prompted a rethink. As the group now consisted of four past Yes members, Carson suggested that they continue as Yes which concerned Rabin as he wished the album to be judged in its own right. But with Rabin persuaded, work began on promotion and rehearsals with keyboardist Eddie Jobson, formerly of Roxy Music and U.K., who appeared in the video for "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and was reported in the press as a Yes member as late as November 1983. However, seeking to consolidate the band's legal identity as Yes, management came to an agreement with Kaye who returned after touring with Badfinger. Unimpressed with the change, citing "political problems" within the group, and having a lack of interest in sharing live duties with Kaye, Jobson left by early 1984.
Recording began in November 1982 at SARM Studios in London while the group was known as Cinema, with Horn as producer; "Hold On" was produced by Horn and Yes. Production was assisted by Gary Langan and Julian Mendelsohn, both of whom also worked on Drama, with Stuart Bruce and Keith Finney.
"Owner of a Lonely Heart" was one of the songs from Rabin's set of demos; its bass line and its hook had been written while he was in the bathroom. When the song was chosen for inclusion on the album, Squire replaced his original bridge. The song features a sample from the horn section of "Kool Is Back" by Funk, Inc. that Horn intended to use on an album by Malcolm McLaren, which he was also producing. The sample was then stored onto his Fairlight CMI and played by White. Rabin had used the same guitar tone for the opening on a session he did for Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which involved panning two guitar tracks left and right and aimed for a sound "as heavy as possible".
"Hold On" was originally titled "Moving In"; the final song was an amalgamation of two songs Rabin had written as they both had the same tempo. The chorus of "Hold On" was retained with its verses taken from "Moving In".
"Changes" was another song from Rabin's demos, with its introduction put together by White. Rabin developed it during a "depressed time", after a potential solo album deal with Geffen Records fell through as they wished for him to join a band and play more "like Foreigner".
"Cinema" is an instrumental track recorded live at AIR Studios. Originally the group developed an unreleased 20-minute song named "Time" and decided to include its two-minute opening on the final album.
"Leave It" developed from a bass line from Squire and a melody from Rabin. When it came to recording the song, the band were not satisfied with the drum sound they were getting in the studio, so they recorded the vocals first. However, one of the engineers had removed the song's click track time references, causing various synchronisation problems. Rabin spent as much as three days re-doing the vocals onto a Synclavier, but it "didn't feel completely right. So we redid the whole thing on top of the Synclavier stuff", a process that took several weeks.
The lyrics to "Our Song" mentions the city of Toledo, Ohio, itself a reference to the band's show at the Toledo Sports Arena on their 1977 tour where the temperature on stage reached 126 °F (52 °C). The song received considerable radio airplay in the Toledo area.
"City of Love" was inspired by Rabin's visit to Harlem in New York City while on his way to a rehearsal with Foreigner. His taxi arrived at the wrong address in a dangerous part of the area. Upon his return to Los Angeles, Rabin started to write an "ominous kind of thing" which came easy to him following the experience, "the idea of waiting for the night to come ... the derelicts came out of the sewers at nighttime to be thugs. Later Jon put his slant on it which made it more interesting".
"Hearts" is the album's only track that is credited to the whole group: Rabin came up with the chorus and bridge a few months prior to meeting Squire and White for the first time; Kaye wrote its keyboard introduction, Rabin developed a melody from it, and Anderson developed its counter-melody.
The album's logo was designed and created by Garry Mouat at Assorted Images on an Apple IIe computer, and a variant would be used on Yes's next studio album Big Generator. Trevor Rabin's 2003 album 90124 uses the same cover design with colour and text variations.
"I became involved as I'd worked with Trevor Horn when he set up the ZTT record label…" Mouat told Classic Rock. "At that point the band were called Cinema. The original design was similar to the eventual sleeve, but with the elliptical grey Y on its side and without the stick, to make it a C. But when Jon Anderson came back, they reverted to Yes… I know some fans think that sleeve was inappropriate, but Yes wanted something completely different to the Roger Dean works, and were interested in using modern design technology, as it fitted the new techniques they were using."
90125 was released on 7 November 1983. It reached No. 5 in the US and No. 16 in the UK.
Four singles were released from 90125; "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was released a month prior to the album and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. In 1984, "It Can Happen", "Changes", and "Leave It" reached the top ten on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks.
In 1985, "Cinema" won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance and 90125 received a nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
A review in The Morning Call considered 90125 one of the band's best releases, calling it the "missing link" between the popular earlier albums The Yes Album (1971) and Fragile (1971). It described Kaye's keyboard parts as "dreamy" and at times "a contemporary rock attack", favouring this style over the more flamboyant approach adopted by former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The "stalwart" rhythm section of Squire and White "hasn't lost anything", and named Rabin as "the biggest surprise" of the group who "adds a much needed gutsiness". The review compared "Cinema" to a Jeff Beck track. In a review for the Los Angeles Times, Terry Atkinson noted the prominent role of Rabin in the group but believed it falls short of the band's previous albums because of Anderson's reduced input into the songs, or a lack of the "old inspiration". Atkinson only names "Hearts" touches on the "monumental yet warm" music Yes had made in the 1970s, specifically "Awaken" from Going for the One (1977). Nonetheless, Atkinson wrote the album is "densely dynamic" and liked the "catchy" and "full of unexpected turns" on "Owner of a Lonely Heart", and wrote the simpler tracks "Our Song" and "Changes" allowed Yes to change their sound "without too seriously damaging its reputation". He concluded with 90125 being an "enjoyable, only somewhat disappointing". J. D. Considine gave a mostly favourable review of 90125 for Rolling Stone magazine. He points out "Owner of a Lonely Heart" sounds "too hip, too street-smart for a band whose idea of a pop song was once something as rococo as "Roundabout", yet credits the band's reinvention to Horn's production with "flashy pop sensibility" and his handling on the group's vocal harmonies. He thought "Cinema" and "Our Song" showed Yes displaying "old tricks" with such "overblown" tracks, though praises the record as a whole for its accessibility. BAM magazine praised 90125, thinking Yes' "dramatic rise from the ashes of rock's touring heaps" had created "some of the year's freshest, most un-dinosaur-like music" with its "stunning blend of pop, synthetics, fusion and classical music".
Critic and author Martin Popoff thought 90125 is the band's most "successful and sociable album" of their entire catalogue, comparing "Owner of a Lonely Heart" to a song by The Police. He declared the record "a rich album experience with legs". In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Paul Collins gave the album four-and-a-half out of five, calling 90125 "a stunning self-reinvention by a band that many had given up for dead" while complementing Horn's "slick" production work and Kaye's "crisp" synthesisers on "Changes". He also cites the vocal arrangements on "Leave It" and the "beautifully sprawling" "Hearts" as high points on the record, which "nary has any duff track".
- 1984 – Atco – CD (remastered by WCI Record Group)
- 2002 – Elektra/EastWest Japan – "Mini LP" HDCD (Japan only; remastered by Isao Kikuchi)
- 2004 – Elektra/Rhino – "Expanded & Remastered" CD (remastered by Dan Hersch and Bill Inglot)
- 2009 – Atco – "Papersleeve" SHM-CD (Japan only; remastered by Isao Kikuchi)
- 2009 – Audio Fidelity – 24-karat gold CD (US only; remastered by Steve Hoffman)
- 2009 – Friday Music – 180-gram vinyl (US only; remastered by Joe Reagoso and Ron McMaster)
- 2013 – HDTracks – 24-bit/44.1 kHz digital download
- 2013 – Atlantic/Rhino – High Vibration box set SACD (Japan only; remastered by Isao Kikuchi)
Yes promoted the album with a worldwide tour that lasted from 28 February 1984 to 9 February 1985, spanning over 110 dates. It was meant to start with a North American leg from January 1984, but the dates were cancelled after Rabin ruptured his spleen after he collided with a woman in a swimming pool and required surgery to have it removed. The American band Berlin were scheduled as the opening act during the first North American leg, but they were dropped from the tour due to a contract dispute. Instead, the band opened their shows with two Bugs Bunny cartoons. The show in Dortmund on 24 June saw the group performing "I'm Down" with guitarist Jimmy Page. In 1985, Yes headlined two shows at the inaugural Rock in Rio festival. This was followed by two sold out dates in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which marked the first time an English band had performed in the country following the Falklands War. Anderson recalled the group were escorted into the country in a private air force jet and surrounded by militia during the entire visit. They had a conference call with the president before their arrival who ensured their safety despite reported death threats against the band.
|1.||"Owner of a Lonely Heart"||Trevor Rabin, Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Trevor Horn||Anderson, Rabin||4:27|
|2.||"Hold On"||Rabin, Anderson, Squire||Anderson, Squire||5:18|
|3.||"It Can Happen"||Squire, Anderson, Rabin||Anderson, Squire||5:25|
|4.||"Changes"||Rabin, Anderson, Alan White||Rabin, Anderson||6:16|
|1.||"Cinema"||Squire, Rabin, White, Tony Kaye||Instrumental||2:07|
|2.||"Leave It"||Squire, Rabin, Horn||Rabin, Anderson||4:10|
|3.||"Our Song"||Anderson, Squire, Rabin, White||Anderson||4:13|
|4.||"City of Love"||Rabin, Anderson, Squire, Kaye, White||Anderson||4:46|
|5.||"Hearts"||Anderson, Squire, Rabin, White, Kaye||Anderson, Rabin||7:36|
|10.||"Leave It (Single Remix)"||Horn, Rabin, Squire||Same as the "Leave It (Remix)" version on Twelve Inches on Tape||3:56|
|11.||"Make It Easy"||Rabin||First issued on Yesyears (1991); performed by Cinema; vocal: Rabin||6:12|
|12.||"It Can Happen (Cinema Version)"||Rabin, Squire||First issued on Yesyears (1991); vocal: Squire||6:05|
|13.||"It's Over"||Rabin||Previously unreleased; performed by Cinema; vocal: Rabin||5:41|
|14.||"Owner of a Lonely Heart (Extended Remix)"||Anderson, Horn, Rabin, Squire||Similar to "Owner of a Lonely Heart (Red and Blue Mix)" on Twelve Inches on Tape. This version begins and ends differently and is 45 seconds shorter.||7:05|
|15.||"Leave It ("A Capella" Version)"||Horn, Rabin, Squire||3:18|
Credits are adapted from the album's 1983 and 2004 liner notes.
- Jon Anderson – vocals
- Trevor Rabin – guitars, keyboards, vocals
- Chris Squire – bass guitars, vocals
- Alan White – drums, percussion, backing vocals, Fairlight CMI
- Tony Kaye – keyboards
- Trevor Horn – backing vocals
- Graham Preskitt – electric violin
- Deepak Khazanchi – sitar, tambura on "It Can Happen"
- Trevor Horn – production
- Yes – production on "Hold On"
- Gary Langan – engineering
- Julian Mendelson – additional engineering
- Stuart Bruce – additional engineering
- Jonathan Jeczalik – keyboard programming
- Dave Lawson – keyboard programming
- Keith Finney – assistant engineer
- Bob Ludwig – mastering
- Tony Dimitriades – management
- Elliot Roberts – management
- Garry Mouat – sleeve production
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||27|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||9|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||2|
|Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)||3|
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||4|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||8|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||7|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||3|
|UK Albums (OCC)||16|
|US Billboard 200||5|
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Platinum||200,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||3× Platinum||3,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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