Martin Cooper checks out those processed 80s pop-rock tones of Trevor Rabin-era Yes, with a track that should prove great fun to play.
Vocalist Jon Anderson and bass player Chris Squire, formed Yes inLondon in 1968. They went on to become perhaps the biggest band in all of progressive rock. With a revolving door of almost 20 members over the years (including guitarist Steve Howe and keyboard wizzard Rick Wakeman) they have also undergone numerous changes in style.
They originally disbanded in 1981 but reformed in 1983 with Trevor Rabin on guitar, scoring a US Number 1 single with Owner Of A Broken Heart. This period was by far the most commercially successful in the band’s history, and albums in the 1980s were overseen by super-producer Trevor Horn, who helped add a sense of pop melody to the writing and production. Trevor Rabin’s style of playing was more pop-rock focused and he used a plethora of effects, playing a blend of chugging rock rhythms and riffs, mixed with funk-influenced clean guitar parts and technical but melodic solos. Mutt Lange, whom Rabin used to work for as a session guitarist on Lange-produced albums, introduced Trevor to the band, and this period in their history also earned Yes a Grammy in 1983. Yes continue to tour, playing their biggest songs (with Steve Howe back in the fold) and 2017 sees them being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
It’s the Rabin era of the band that we’re looking at this month, so there is a definite pop-rock flavour to proceedings, and less of the progressive rock that Yes had employed earlier in their career. The track is in the key of C (C-D-E-F-G-A-B), but there is a definite C Mixolydian sound going throughout (C-D-EF-G-A-Bb). Basically that means that even
Bb though the C chord is Major, there’s a note
Bb in the melodies instead of B. There’s also a power chord in the track. The main rhythm part is blended with the keyboards and is heavily distorted and effected (see Get The Tone). The parts aren’t difficult to play, other than some fairly speedy picking and legato on a couple of phrases, but they really do need to be parts that glue into the keyboards, bass and drums together in the mix. So it’s a very guitar-heavy sound, but definitely with the guitar as a part of the whole, and this is what needs to be aimed for. The solo has a harmony line that should also be tried and there are some quite rapid alternate picking phrases along with the longer melody notes.
Rabin’s style of playing was a blend of chugging Rock Rhythms and Riffs mixed with funk
Trevor Rabin: a great solo on Owner Of A Lonely Heart