Top critical review
Disappointing, all things considered..........
on 14 March 2016
Two different incarnations of Yes, that were making reasonable music separately, try to pool their efforts and amalgamate into one eight-member Union, and the result - as you might expect - is patchy and inconsistent. The high points, which in my opinion are I Would Have Waited Forever, Shock To The System (these two kick the album off, so a good start......) and Silent Talking, are worthy of a Yes album pre-Rabin. The tracks that really sound Rabin-esque, sounding like 90125 out-takes, are Lift Me Up and Saving My Heart, Miracle Of Life also I suppose, are OK but less convincing than the aforementioned songs.
The More We Live is nice, Chris Squire's voice suits it, but the other songs don't seem to be at home. So really only half of the album is really worth listening to. The pinnacle of the Rabin line-up, Talk, is way better. The ABWH album is also better than Union, by a lesser margin than Talk, I was not surprised at all that only one album by ABWH was made. It missed the Squire bass and harmonies, and although some Yes fans hold Bill Bruford on a high pedestal, as soon as Alan White replaced him, Yes sounded stronger and had more power. Just listen to Sound Chaser (on Relayer), to Awaken (Going For The One). So the ABWH release missed Alan White's heaviness too.
Although Bill played on Close To The Edge, which his style complimented well, when he joined King Crimson and Alan White stepped into Yes, it was as if both bands were instantaneously "completed". Their styles fell into the right places at once.
After that we got Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer and Going For The One from the two greatest Yes line-ups, their three strongest albums one after the other. Thanks to Alan White - plus Patrick Moraz playing the keys on Relayer a revelation as well. A new lease of life even though Close To The Edge was so brilliant. And then after doodling around on Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Starless & Bible Black and Red, three very good albums, King Crimson once Adrian Belew and Tony Levin came along released the unbelievable style and sounds of Discipline and Beat into which all four musicians, including Bruford of course, were perfectly placed. Change any one of them, neither of those albums would have worked nearly as well as they did.
So considering the pure calibre of the musicians involved (Levin pops up here too), one can only admit that Union is fairly disappointing.