Fly From Here - Return Trip


Pledgemusic, 2018

REVIEW BY: Ken DiTomaso


Haven’t we been here before? Well yes actually. I reviewed this album back in 2011, but the sordid tale of Fly From Here refuses to end. In case you aren't up to date with Yes, here's a bit of recap: The centerpiece of this album originated way back in 1980 as the original song Trevor Horn offered Yes when he initially joined the band. Yes didn’t record it for Drama but Horn still carried affection for the song with live and demo versions popping up over the years. In 2011 he got the opportunity to turn the song into a grandiose suite for the first Yes album in a decade with temporary Yes front-man Benoit David on vocals. But the story no longer ends there. Whether it was because of fan demand, because Horn wasn’t artistically satisfied with the project, or for some other reason altogether, he decided to return to the album and revise the whole thing. Most notably he redid the lead vocals himself, making this the true return of the Drama lineup which it always should have been. He also remixed it, making plenty of other significant changes along the way.

I feel a little bad for Benoit David. He was a good singer in his own right and proved his worth with his vocals on the original album. And while few would say they prefer him over Horn, it’s still kind of an awkward move to unceremoniously dump all his work out the window. Nonetheless, I prefer this new version, so that’s more of an observation than a complaint. If you're wondering why Trevor didn't sing on this album in the first place considering how close the material clearly is to him, I can’t say for sure. But I’d wager it was most likely because Horn didn’t want to officially rejoin the band and go on tour, which is fair. But now that doesn't seem to matter anymore, and as a result we’ve ended up with two different versions of the same record. Because of this, some may look at the 2011 version as an unfinished product while others may look at Return Trip as an unnecessary revision. Which side you fall on will probably depend on which version you like more.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

My feelings about the quality of the songs hasn’t changed too significantly. The epic title track, “Life On A Film Set”, and “Into The Storm” are still the best songs to my ears. But I enjoy them more than I did before, since the new mix makes the music sound more open and dynamic. It’s well worth the sonic upgrade. The “Fly From Here” suite is dramatically rearranged with sections tightened up, lyrics altered, transitions modified, and new overdubs added throughout, most notably during the keyboard and guitar solos. Horn is in great vocal form too. Yes, you can tell that he’s aged since the last time he sang lead on a Yes album, but that doesn’t bother me. He just feels right singing these songs. He delivers the lines with more attitude and personality than David did which brings the music to life in a way the old vocals couldn’t quite manage.

As far as the other material goes, “Hour Of Need” is extended to over twice its original length which makes it feel more like a fully realized progressive rock song than the pop trifle it used to be. “The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be” doesn’t sound all that different, but the changes to the mix give it more oomph. “Solitaire” remains pretty much the same, but I think we all expected that since it's just an acoustic guitar piece.

The most unusual change to this album is the presence of an additional song titled “Don’t Take No For An Answer”. The song itself is average, but they made the strange decision to let Steve Howe perform the lead vocals. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Steve Howe, he’s a magnificent guitar player. But lead vocals are not among his talents. His singing here is passable, but only barely. Modern production techniques and layered harmonies help him out, but he still sticks out like a sore thumb. I wonder why Horn didn’t sing it since he was already redoing vocals for everything else? Perhaps the song is titled “Don't Take No For An Answer” because that's what Steve Howe thinks when people tell him he shouldn't sing. The song isn't so bad that it actively detracts from the record, and I'll always take an extra track over no extra track any day. But it's the weakest song here all the same.

Yes fans finally got the full Drama-era reunion many of them have been clamoring for, and Horn and the band seem happy to have a version of this album that they can be satisfied with. So it’s a win-win situation for everybody. Well, everybody except for Benoit David I suppose. There will probably always be some fans who prefer the 2011 version, but if you ask me Return Trip is an overall superior experience which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend over the original.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2018 Ken DiTomaso and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Pledgemusic, and is used for informational purposes only.