Happy Anniversary: Yes, BIG GENERATOR

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

32 years ago today, Yes released their twelfth studio album, an LP which found the band continuing the trend toward a more pop-oriented sound but which led to a schism with producer (and former member) Trevor Horn that would take some time to sort out

Produced variously by Horn, Paul De Villiers, Trevor Rabin, and the band as a whole, BIG GENERATOR started with the band in an awkward spot, having been told by Atco Records that they were looking for another “Owner of a Lonely Heart” even as Rabin – the one who was on the receiving end of this remark from the label – had been thinking in terms of moving in a different direction from what Yes had been doing on their previous album, 90125. With the intent of spurring creativity as well as bandmate bonding, Rabin booked the band into Lark Recording Studios, situated inside a castle in Carimate, Italy.

Although a fair amount of the backing tracks for the album were recorded during the band’s time in Italy, they still weren’t done, so Horn – who’d been serving as the primary producer on the album at that point – pitched the idea of shifting locales and heading to London. Three UK studios later, things still weren’t progressing terribly well, and Horn – who was frustrated with the band members battling among themselves as well as with him – left the project, at which point Rabin suggested that they head to Los Angeles, i.e. his base of operations, and with the help of producer / engineer Paul De Villiers, BIG GENERATOR was finally finished.

Although BIG GENERATOR failed to – wait for it – generate the same level of success as 90125, it did hit #15 on the Billboard 200, ultimately going platinum. Additionally, it spawned two top-40 hits with “Love Will Find a Way” (#30) and “Rhythm of Love” (#40), and the album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Unfortunately, however, the album took its toll on Yes, resulting in the band going on hiatus after fulfilling their touring responsibilities and staying dormant (at least under that particular name) for the next four years.