Drama, YES‘ tenth studio album, is their first album without vocalist Jon Anderson. In early 1980, after rehearsing music for the follow-up to the tepidly-received Tormato, both Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman departed the band over creative and financial differences.

It was the only album without Anderson and with keyboardist Geoff Downes before Fly From Here in 2011, and is the only YES album with Trevor Horn as lead vocalist; however he was later involved as producer in 90125 and Fly From Here. It is also YES last album before the band disbanded in 1981, before reforming in 1982.


Geoff Downes

Geoff Downes
Trevor Horn

Trevor Horn
Steve Howe

Steve Howe
Guitars, Vocals
Chris Squire

Chris Squire
Bass, Vocals
Alan White

Alan White

Recommended Versions

Dan Hersch & Bill Inglot 2003 Stereo Remasters for Warner Music UK/USA

Close To The Edge
Drama Remastered in 2003 from the master tape of the original mix.
Available as:
HD 24-192 or 24-96 Downloads at HD Tracks, HiRes Audio
Gatefold CD at Amazon
Vinyl LP as per original release at Amazon
MP3 Downloads at iTunes (Standard Edition, Mastered for iTunes), iTunes (Deluxe Edition), Google Play, 7 Digital, Microsoft Store
Streaming at Apple Music, Spotify, Rdio, Tidal
The Studio Albums
This Remaster of Drama is also available as part of the ‘Studio Albums 1969-1987‘ Box Set at Amazon.
The Box Set contains the following remastered albums with bonus tracks: Yes, Time and a Word, The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Relayer, Going for the One , Tormato, Drama, 90125, Big Generator. Each individual album comes in a gatefold sleeve that replicates the original LP packaging.

Isao Kikuchi 2013 Stereo Remasters for Warner Music Japan

High Vibrations
Drama is also available as part of the High Vibration SACD Box Set at Amazon.
High Vibration is a 16 x Hybrid SACD Box Set made for the Japanese fans, containing their first 13 albums on 15 discs plus a bonus disc of extra tracks. All Remastered by Isao Kikuchi at 24-96 & 16-44.1 with a 220 page book in Japanese.
Albums: Yes, Time and a Word, The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge, Yessongs, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Relayer, Going for the One , Tormato, Drama, 90125, Big Generator and a Bonus Disc.
Bonus Disc: Something’s Coming, Dear Father, Roundabout (Single Edit), America, Total Mass Retain (Single Version), Soon (Single Edit), Abilene, Run Through The Light (Single Version), Run With The Fox, Owner Of A Lonely Heart (Move Yourself Mix), Leave It (Single Remix), Big Generator (Remix).



Dan Hersch & Bill Inglot 2003 Stereo Remasters

Drama - by Brian Ives


That had to be what Yesmen Chris Squire, Steve Howe, and Alan White were thinking in 1980 when not only keyboardist Rick Wakeman quit (again) but also singer Jon Anderson.

Their most recent effort, Tormato (1978), hadn’t fared as well commercially or critically as its predecessor, Going For The One (1977). Punk rock and new wave were coming into fashion, and YES – who never had much to do with trends anyway – were regarded as dinosaurs by both the press and younger artists. So the pressure was on when Anderson, Squire, Howe, White, and Wakeman convened in 1979 with producer Roy Thomas Baker, well-known for his work with Queen. For whatever reason, those sessions didn’t work out, and Anderson and Wakeman both bailed, each to pursue solo careers.

Wakeman’s departure wasn’t quite as traumatic; he was one of three YES keyboardists, and this was his second flight, so the band had experienced this before. On the other hand, fans saw him as the definitive YES keysman. When he reupped for Going For The One, it was hailed as a major return to form. How would they take him quitting a second time?

Yet that problem paled in comparison to replacing Jon Anderson. He was the band’s voice. After 12 years and ten albums, he and Squire were YES‘ only remaining founding members. More than that, to fans both men were (and, in the new millennium, still are) the twin pillars. What would YES mean without Jon Anderson singing? And why did he leave?

YES membership was always fluid: nine guys had passed through over the years, and the band never recorded more than two studio albums in a row without some kind of roster disruption. To the remaining members this recent development with Anderson was just another change; they would soldier on. Still, his voice and lyrics were so integral that both fans and the still-standing Yesmen had to wonder if this would be one lineup change too many.

Enter The Buggles. The duo of singer-bassist Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes had enjoyed a hit single with “Video Killed The Radio Star,” from their debut album, The Age Of Plastic (1979). Both men were very much in touch with the new wave sound then taking over the pop music landscape. (“Radio Star” showed just how in-touch they were: In 1981 a fledgling network called MTV would begin life with the song’s video, earning The Buggles their own place in pop culture history.) It turned out that both Downes and Horn, who shared management with YES, were fans. They wrote a song to present to YES, and before they knew it, they were somehow in YES. And these new members would inaugurate a band tradition that would continue into the new decade, with each lineup addition bringing a more contemporary edge to the sound.

Despite the latest twirl of Yes‘ ever-revolving door, the band sought to recall certain elements from their past. Eddie Offord, whose name last appeared on Relayer, almost six years before, was called in to produce the new record, Drama, and Roger Dean designed the cover, his first for YES since 1975’s Yesterdays compilation. And, possibly to assuage fans’ collective fears that The Buggles would steer YES toward shorter songs (although a Buggles-free YES would do just that a few years later). they led off Side One with “Machine Messiah,” which clocked in at 10 minutes, 27 seconds.

Drama Front

Eddie Offord, Roger Dean, long songs – all that was well and good. But how did the album sound? For the first minute-and-a-half, it’s a slightly heavier YES, as if they were taking the aggressive edge of Tormato‘s “Don’t Kill The Whale” one step further. OK, so Geoff Downes’ keyboards fit in. Then, at 1 minute, 37 seconds, comes the most crucial moment: the entrance of new frontman Trevor Horn. Wow, you can imagine fans thinking on or around August 18, 1980 (the album’s original release date), he does sound a bit like Jon. The vocals had a familiar ring, not only because of Horn’s similarity to Anderson but also because of Chris Squire and Steve Howe’s roles as backing singers, an infrequently cited component of “classic” YES.

Still, despite familiarity, something wasn’t working. In the past when there was a major membership change (Howe replacing founding guitarist Peter Banks, Wakeman replacing original keyboardist Tony Kaye, White taking over for drummer Bill Bruford), the new blood always brought a fresh instrumental voice; no one had ever attempted to mimic a predecessor. Horn’s vocals did recall Anderson’s, but (especially live) he couldn’t hit Anderson’s trademark high notes. There was also the question of chemistry. Crucial YES members have come and gone over the years (Howe, Wakeman, Bruford, etc.), and the band has survived, often meeting with greater commercial success. But YES history has proven that, lineup notwithstanding, YES are Jon Anderson and Chris Squire.

drama3 2

While that problem might not have been apparent in the studio – as Drama has many great moments – when the band hit the road, it was clear that although they were good, they just weren’t YES. Not that the tour wasn’t successful: They sold out all of their U.S. dates, including a three-night stand at New York’s Madison Square Garden. But the homecoming shows didn’t go so well; the Brits weren’t as open-minded. After the tour Howe held a meeting at his house to determine the band’s future. By the end of the day YES had called it quits.

To this day, many fans consider Drama‘s closing track, “Tempus Fugit,” to be one of the group’s best moments. Sadly, it (and the entire record) is – perhaps unfairly ­- ignored, largely due to Anderson’s reluctance to perform Drama songs live. White and Squire would often throw in a bit of “Fugit” during their “Whitefish” dual solo performance, and the ecstatic crowd responses are revealing.

After the drama of (ahem) Drama, Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes released one more Buggles LP, Adventures In Modern Recording, which featured “I Am A Camera,” a stripped-down version of “Into The Lens.” But by then the duo was drifting apart; Downes appears on only three Adventure tracks. The Buggles were history by 1982. Horn went on to launch ZTT Records, releasing albums by such new wave hitmakers as Frankie Goes To Hollywood and The Art Of Noise. As a producer he worked with a number of acts, including Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, ABC, Tina Turner – and even YES (but that’s a story for another day).

41B47ZD2QRL copy
Meanwhile, Downes and Howe left YES for Asia, a prog-rock supergroup that also featured bassist-singer John Welton (an alumnus of King Crimson, U.K., Family, Roxy Music, and Uriah Heep) and drummer Carl Palmer (formerly of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Atomic Rooster). Howe split in 1983 to form GTR with ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett (their sole album, 1986’s GTR, was produced by Downes). In the ’90s Howe would rejoin YES – twice – and release a veritable plethora of solo records. Oddly enough, Downes has assumed the “Squire” role in Asia, keeping that flame alight as members come and go.

Meanwhile, Squire and White stuck it out. Indeed, they’ve played together pretty consistently since White first joined YES in 1972. After some aborted sessions with Led Zeppelin guitar god Jimmy Page, Chris and Alan recorded a single on their own, “Run With The Fox.” Eventually the duo would form the nucleus of what would be the YES reunion. And in a few years the flame would reignite, with more ups and downs and a consistently fluctuating lineup. Drama would prove not to be the end of the road for Yes – just one of their temporary stops.

– Brian Ives


Click on the song title to view the lyrics.


Part I

Run down a street
Where the glass shows
That summer has gone
Age, in the doorways
Resenting the pace of the dawn.
All of them standing in line
All of them waiting for time.
From time, the great healer,
The machine-Messiah
Is born.

Cables that carry the life
To the cities we build
Threads that link diamonds of life
To the satanic mills
Ah, to see in every way
That we feel it every
Day, and know that
Maybe we’ll change
Offered the chance
To finally unlearn our lessons
And alter our stance.

Part II

Friends make their way into systems of chance
(reply- friends make their way of escape into systems of chance)
Escape to freedom I need to be there
Waiting and watching, the tables are turning
I’m waiting and watching
I need to be there.

I care to see them walk away
And, to be there when they say
They will return.

Machine, Messiah
The mindless
Search for a higher
Take me to the fire
And hold me
Show me the strength of your
Singular eye.

Part III

History dictating symptoms of ruling romance
Claws at the shores of the water upon which we dance
All of us standing in line
All of us waiting for time
To feel it, all the way
And to be there when they
Say they know that
Maybe we’ll change
Offered the chance
To finally unlearn our lessons
And alter our stance.

Machine, machine Messiah.
Take me into the fire

Hold me, machine Messiah
And show me
The strength of your singular eye.


Trevor Horn – lead vocals
Steve Howe – guitars
Chris Squire – bass
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Alan White – drums


Trevor Horn & YES


I see a man in a white car
Move like a ghost on the skyline
Take all your dreams
And you throw them away
Man in a white car.


Trevor Horn – lead vocals
Steve Howe – guitars
Chris Squire – bass
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Alan White – drums


Trevor Horn & YES


That’s what you say
Does it really happen to you
Does that explain
This is the season for this display.
To take a look
In time to move together

Time is the measure before it’s begun
Slips away like running water
Live for the pleasure, live by the gun
Heritage for sun and daughter
Down to the slaughter up for the fun
Up for anything.

Could this be true
Does it ever happen to you
And can you prove
That wheels go ’round in reason
You take a step
In time,
To move together

Time is the measure before it’s begun
Slips away like running water
Live for the pleasure, live by the gun
Heritage for sun and daughter
Down to the slaughter up for the fun
Up for anything.

You walk, the way
You take, the path
To be, assured
You draw, a graph
The scale, you use
Is all, on black
Be brave, the weight
Will make, the heat
There is, no way
To take-it back.

Time is the measure before it’s begun
Slips away like running water
Live for the pleasure, live by the gun
Heritage for sun and daughter
Down to the slaughter up for the fun
Up for anything.


Trevor Horn – lead vocals
Steve Howe – guitars
Chris Squire – bass
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Alan White – drums


Trevor Horn & YES


Memories, how they fade so fast
Look back, that is no escape
Tied down, now you see too late.
Lovers, they will never wait.

I am a camera

Take heart, I could never let you go
And you, always let the feeling show
Love us all, how you never broke your heart
You lose them
If you feel the feeling start.

I am a camera, camera, camera

And you, may find time will blind you
This to just remind you
All is meant to be.

Here, by the waterside
There, where the lens is wide
You and me
By the sea
Taken in tranquility.

Taken, taken so easily
To pass into glass reality
Transform, to transfer, to energy.

Taken, taken, so easily
To pass into glass reality
Transformer, transferring energy.


Trevor Horn – lead vocals
Steve Howe – guitars
Chris Squire – bass
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Alan White – drums


Trevor Horn & YES


I asked my love to give me shelter
And all she offered me were dreams
Of all the moments spent together
That move like never ending streams.

Run to the light
Everything is alright
Run thro’ the light of day
You run to the light of night

And every movement made together
Till every thought was just the same
And all the pieces fit forever
In the game.

Welcome to the light
Now everything is okay
Run thro’ the light of night
You run to the light of day.


Trevor Horn – lead vocals
Steve Howe – guitars
Chris Squire – bass
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Alan White – drums


Trevor Horn & YES


Born in the night
She would run like a leopard
That freaks at the sight
Of a mind close beside herself
And the nearer I came
How the country would change
She was using the landscape
To hide herself.

More in the mind
Than the body this feeling
A sense at the end
Of a circular line
That is drawn at an angle
I see when I’m with you
To navigate waters and finally answer to-yes.

If you were there you would want to be near me
Innocence, you could hold all the materials
And though nothing would really be living
It would shock Your fall into landing light
In the north sky time flies fast to the morning
The cold of the dawn it meant nothing to us
You were keeping your best situation
An answer to-yes

(Yes, Yes) And the moment I see you
(Yes, Yes) It’s so good to be near you
(Yes, Yes) And the feeling you give me
(Yes, Yes) Makes me want to be with you
(Yes, Yes) From the moment you tell me – yes

If you could see all the roads I have travelled
Towards some unusable last equilibrium
Run like an athlete and die like a dead beaten speed-freak
An answer to all of your answers to-yes

In the north sky time flies faster than morning
The cold of the dawn it meant nothing to us
You were keeping your best situation
An answer to Yes

(Yes, Yes) And the moment I see you
(Yes, Yes) It’s so good to be near you
(Yes, Yes) And the feeling you give me
(Yes, Yes) Makes me want to be with you
(Yes, Yes) If we wait for an answer
(Yes, Yes) Will the silence be broken
(Yes, Yes) Should we wait for an answer
(Yes, Yes) Do we leave it unspoken

(Yes Yes Yes Yes . . .)


Trevor Horn – lead vocals
Steve Howe – guitars
Chris Squire – bass
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Alan White – drums


Trevor Horn & YES

The 1980 North American Tour Book

Chris Squire

For over a decade now, Chris Squire has been tailed wherever he goes, at home, in the streets, shops, restaurants, on tour with YES from Tokyo to Toronto. But this is no cloak-and-dagger story, his tail has been a simple, four-letter word: “Epic”. His admirers use it as a term of praise, his detractors as a cypher for pretension. He himself has said, with a mischievous under-statement, “I suppose that a lot of my music is on what you might call an epic scale.”

As any student of literature will tell you, epic doesn’t simply mean length or size – the reference books talk of “Epic” in terms of being “on a grand scale, heroic, incorporating myth, legend, history.” and “embodying lofty or grandiose aspirations.” Take a few minutes out to apply these ideas to Chris, his playing and his writing, and you’ll be halfway towards understanding this enigmatic giant of the rock bass.

Since co-founding YES 12 years ago, Chris’s playing itself has expressed a profound disenchantment with the lot of the rock bass; a Cinderella among instruments, relegated to hitting it right on top of the beat, four to a bar, providing an unimaginative vehicle for lazy rock’n’roll. Chris’s classical background and jazz leanings told him that the bass was capable of much, much more.

It’s no wonder that he names such people as Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius as admired kindred spirits (although on cannot resist tagging on the comparison with other, non-funk, bassist like Miroslav Vitous, Eberhard Weber and Niels Pedersen). In the way he plays and the role he gives the instrument in his compositions, Chris is responsible more than anyone else for the emancipation of the rock bass. He rescued it from the shadows of “The Rhythm Section”, expanded its sound, broke the chains of the fretboard and brought the bass stage-front, to a point where it is now a major voice in the sound-mix, both live and in the studio.

You only have to listen to this rarified solo album, “Fish Out Of Water”, or such Yessworks as “Starship Trooper”, “The Fish” or “On The Silent Wings Of Freedom” (to mention a few that come easily to mind) to hear how he makes the bass sing, roar, fly and kick. He has given the bass a majestic and charmed voice.

And that’s what they, he and we mean by “Epic“.

Alan White

You’d be hard pressed to name a band that demands so much of its drummer as YES does. Chances are, in fact, that you’d have to move into jazz or the “avant-garde” to find that name. By the nature of the music, ninety percent of rock bands simply require a steady rhythmic base, veering from 4/4 at its own risk, and allowing little room for for individual ability to shine. YES presents the pinnacle of the other ten percent.

Alan probably knew what he was letting himself in for, but when he joined YES in 1972, shortly before the mammoth Yessongs tour, YES presented him with a list of requirements extending way beyond the normal call of duty. YES needed someone who could provide a basic layer of rhythm, keep his end up alongside Chris Squire’s challenging bass, grapple with some of the wickedest themes known to man, change course at a second’s notice, rock at YES‘ customary high altitude and provide a percussion backdrop for the elegiac side of Yesmusic. A job many aspire to but which few can fulfil…

It’s a paradox that for so highly-developed and perfectionist a unit as YES, chance or fate plays such a large part in its existence. As with the arrival of Geoff and Trevor, the band found themselves minus a member and with a world tour looming, and Alan just appeared in their studio one day.

His empathy and standing as a drummer’s drummer ade it patently clear he was the man for the job. Previous alliances with numerous super-names and not-so-super-names gave him an impeccable grounding in all manner of musical styles. He also brought with him an impressive set of muscles – courtesy of his beloved hobby of sailing. (A word of warning: he sometimes mentions that he’d like to take a year off and sail off into the sunset. Your petitions should be sent…)

In Alan you witness the perfect marriage of technique and emotion. Whether it’s on his unclassifiably diverse solo album, “Ramshackled”, or post-“Yessongs” YES albums, rock, jazz, funk, reggae, classical percussion and YES‘ fiersome rhythm are cooked up by the deft yet powerful hands of what might be be described as the World’s First Vertical Take-Off Drummer. And this year Alan adds another feather to his cap; you’ll be hearing him supply backing vocals to the songs from the new album, “Drama“.

Trevor Horn

Six months ago and a few thousand miles across the Atlantic Trevor Horn, with the aid of Geoff Downes, unintentionally scandalized the British music scene. How? Simply by joining YES.

Trevor’s Vocals, along with Geoff’s keyboards, had until then been known as the distinctive sound of The Buggles, a studio band that had produced two hit singles of perfect plastic pop. How dare these two hack purveyors of ear-candy defile a band of YES‘ legendary status, the fans and critics raged. If they had taken the time to investigate their backgrounds, their detractors would hastily changed “defile” to “complement”…

Trevor’s first instrument was the double bass. His father, a professional double bassist himself, trained the fledgling rhythm-man in the complexities of that instrument, his tutelage enabling Trevor to join the Youth Orchestra of his home town, Durham, Yorkshire.

As often happens, the call of rock’n’roll was too great, and Trevor began playing bass with various semi-pro rock bands. Simultaneously, he was developing an interest in studios and sound-recording techniques. This interest almost developed into a profession, with Trevor co-founding a recording studio in Leicester, England, but wanderlust struck before the studio was finished.

He moved to London, pursuing his interest in the more complex aspects of music through session and production gigs, and it was during this time that he met Geoff Downes. Finding that their ideas coincided to an amazing degree, they went on to form the infamous Buggles, and found themselves with number one hits in Australasia and across Europe.

Then, as if to prove to themselves and others that their talents extended far beyond the Buggles, they wrote a song for one of their favourite bands – YES. They approached the band with a tape and were awestruck by the enthusiasm that met their material. And it didn’t stop there. Trevor’s vocal and lyric-writing abilities, both self-developed since the formation of the Buggles, gravitated naturally to the front-mike of the YES set.

Geoff Downes

Since his schooldays, Geoff Downes has been exploring and experimenting with a giddying variety of musical styles. Off the top of his head, he can cite such diverse influences and interests as early as Motown, jazz-rock, “Impressionist” modern French synthesiser and turn-of-the-century (!) French Romanticists, especially Debussy and Ravel. An ideal background, it would seem, for someone to fit in with and help develop the rock undertow and elaborate classical-symphonic style of YES.

Unsurprisingly, he was brought up in a home crawling with keyboard players. His father was a church organist and his mother a piano teacher. It was she who took the young Downes through his five-finger exercises, nurturing his talents to the level where he was taken under the wing of the Manchester Cathedral organist for further studies.

If you’re at all surprised by the battered state of the Hammond organ Geoff is playing on this tour, it’s because it is the self-same organ he bought on hire purchase at the age of 16 – eleven years ago – to play at home. This faithful, and amazingly resilient, instrument has accompanied Geoff through the many twists and turns of his career, and it seems only right that it should fly around the world with him on YES‘ various tours.

After a 3-year stint at Leeds College of Music Geoff moved to London at the age of 20, playing with friends and various small bands. One such stint was in a dance band with journalist-drummer Chris Welch (ironically, a champion of YES music since the first album), who adds another riband to Downes’ collection when he says that they played dance and traditional jazz music in working-men’s clubs around the country.

In the late seventies, Geoff’s adept keyboards we much in demand for advertising music jingles. The next logical step was on to the studio producer’s seat, moulding raw young bands. The Buggles, of course, followed – and it was here that YES first noticed, admiringly, his eclectic keyboard style. He can stride like the most soulful jazzer, rock with flair and energy, and pick out the most intricate classical forms. As part of the Horn/Downes package deal, YES knew that Geoff would become a naturally indispensable part of their sound.

Steve Howe

It’s a common ploy of “Serious Music” critics, when faced with rock talent of some moment, to aver that all rock musicians are a lowly, inconsequential breed, and that rock itself tainted with the original sin of having begun as a blues-based dance hall entertainment is incapable of withstanding the ravages of changing tastes and times. Unintentionally – because he never intended to do so and would modestly dismiss the accolade – Steve Howe has knocked that arrogant claim sideways.

Steve cut his teeth on the British rock scene of the mid Sixties, playing guitar with a number of London bands and soaking up the spirit of the burgeoning “progressive rock” movement. Hindsight strongly suggests that he viewed the British scene with an aloof, if not cynical, eye; for no outfit existed then that could hang onto this increasingly personal style of guitar playing. It wasn’t until 1970 that his gaze fell upon a band that could both accept the challenge of his style and, in return, offer him a challenge with its music. You do not win a prize for guessing the name of that band.

Since his debut with YES, on “The Yes Album“, Steve has twisted the dusty metaphor around and proved himself a master of all trades and a jack of none. For once, that hoary old superlative about spanning all musical styles has a chance to live up to its much-abused claims. Steve has blown down the walls confining rock guitar and a composition roaming out to find the time complexities of jazz, blues melancholy, the swagger of r’n’b, the delicacies of classical guitar, the bitter-sweet melodies of soul and the splendour of high Classical Romanticism.

And while admitting a closeness to many rock guitar heavies, he feels a greater affinity with the likes of segova, John (Sky) Williams and Williams’ mento, Julian Bream. Considering how much space classic “hot” jazz consumes in his record collection, we can probably add the legendary Django Reinhardt to that list.

The most important point to Steve’s crossing of the no-man’s-land between these various styles becomes apparent on the first hearing of either his two solo albums or his work with YES. He never falls into that rock’n’rollers trap of lampooning other musics, or producing a poor man’s alternative to them. There sometimes is humour, but it is always tempered by his all-too-obvious respect for other musics and his relationship with them as a composer and musician.

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