Album Review : Yes – Fly From Here – Return Trip

Perhaps the oddest Yes release of them all is Fly From Here – Return Trip, from 2018. It’s not an album I listen to often, but I gave it another airing on a recent car journey. I can honestly say I don’t know what I make of it even after several listens now. It is an alternate version of 2011’s Fly From Here. The original album has been remastered and remixed and there seems to be obvious overdubs from band members.

The most striking change is that singer Benoît David has been totally exorcised from the album to be replaced by Trevor Horn. Oliver Wakeman had been removed from the band during the earlier recording sessions to make way for a returning Geoff Downes. On one level that is understandable as the main title track is based on the Drama era song Fly From Here that wasn’t used in 1980, although it was played live then.

The obvious thing is that the album isn’t really that radically different from the original. Benoît David and Trevor Horn’s voices aren’t that startlingly different. Horn’s voice is probably stronger but David edges it on emotion. Some of the keyboard and guitar work sound different too, although some of that may be down to the remix.

The production on the latter album is much more the slicker though and it perhaps makes for a smoother listen. You can argue that the original album is a warmer listen, and doesn’t suffer as the second album does from being a bit too pristine. Rough edges are interesting sometimes!

There is one big flaw I think with both versions of the album. At at time when Yes could have adopted a more modern progressive approach to keep up with the Steven Wilson’s, Anathema’s, and Opeth’s of the modern prog world, they adapted a song in Fly From Here that was itself around thirty years old. The twenty-odd minute title track isn’t bad, but it is made up of a series of tunes that don’t flow as seamlessly as in other of the band’s epics. The other tracks are for the most part classy pieces, mostly gentle in nature, that don’t quite catch fire.

So, I have no idea what to make of this album. It’s not bad as such, I certainly have worse in my collection, but I find myself thinking as I listen “is there any point to this album?”. That leads me to wonder how much faith the band themselves have in this and all their more recent albums. Songs from the bands core 1970’s output still dominate their concert set lists. Apart from the likes of Owner Of A Lonely Heart and Machine Messiah other tunes rarely receive an outting. Perhaps it is time to change that now.

Track List:

1. Fly From Here – Overture (1:53)
2. Fly From Here – Pt I – We Can Fly (6:00)
3. Fly From Here – Pt II – Sad Night At The Airfield (6:41)
4. Fly From Here – Pt III – Madman At The Screens (5:16)
5. Fly From Here – Pt IV – Bumpy Ride (2:15)
6. Fly From Here – Pt V – We Can Fly (Reprise) (1:44)
7. The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be (5:07)
8. Life On A Film Set (5:01)
9. Hour Of Need (6:45)
10. Solitaire (3:30)
11. Don’t Take No For An Answer (Previously Unreleased) (4:20)
12. Into The Storm (6:54)

Trevor Horn / lead & backing vocals, keyboards, producer
Steve Howe / guitars, backing vocals
Geoff Downes / keyboards
Chris Squire / bass guitar, backing vocals
Alan White / drums
With:
Oliver Wakeman / keyboards (2,6,9)
Gerard Johnson / piano (7)
Luis Jardim / percussion

Released: 25th March 2018 Remix/Remaster of Fly from Here (2011)

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