Sound — 7
The sound of the album disresembles it's predecessors, Relayer and Going For The One, and sounds more like (production wise) Tales From Topographic Oceans. Chris Squire's bass is lacking some "oomf", instead replaced by a "boowop", not necesarily a bad thing, a change, but thankful it lasted only one album. The other four members (Jon Anderson-Vocals, Steve Howe-Guitar, Rick Wakeman-Keyboards, and Alan White-Drums) don't really sound that different. It is widely accepted that this album lacks when compared to others, but that's not to say it has some outstanding moments.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are just as good as ever. An interesting thought though, is Onward, it seems to be a love song, which is strange, as the only love song previous (1969-1977) is Time And A Word, and that is not even directed to anyone. Jon Anderson sounds as good as ever, and seems to sound the most enthusiastic about the record. The lyrics fit with the music universally. 01. Future Times/Rejoice - Future Times is the only song on the album to be penned by the whole band. Contains a great Wakeman solo. Rejoice, a relativley short Anderson composition, not as good as previous song. 02. Don't Kill The Whale - the only moderatley successful single off the album, a good song, with good solos (Wakeman, Howe, Anderson). 03. Madrigal - harpsichord is the prominent instrument, and wonderfully done. Howe plays an acoustic, and Squire only provides backing vocals (though the album liner says he played bass pedals as well, but are difficult to hear). Nevertheless, a good song. 04. Rlease, Release - one of the stand out tracks, containing masterful solos by Wakeman, White and Howe respectivley. Squire's bass in the prechorus is essential. 05. Arriving UFO - a lesser song. Has it's moments, but nothing special. 06. Circus Of Heaven - another let down, not a bad song, but nothing to write to home about. 07. Onward - different from usual Yes material. A love song from Squire to his then wife. Despite it's idiosyncracies, it is actually one of the best on the album, especially Howe's motif. 08. On The Silent Wings Of Freedom - the best song of the album. Squire's bass line is omnipotent, worthy of Top 10 Yes songs. The longest track on the record, 7:46.
Overall Impression — 10
Certain qualities are missing on this album, like certain distortion from Steve Howe, and a crunchy bass from Chris Squire, but it remains a good album nonetheless. Release, Release; Onward; and On The Silent Wings of Freedom are the best songs of the album, and should be included in setlists and compilations everywhere. Despite a lack of enthusiasm from the band, it is still one of their better albums. It marks the end of the "Classic" era of Yes, as Anderson and Wakeman left a year later (only to return some years after). If it were stolen/lost, I would swear vendetta/throw a tantrum, and then kill and retrieve/purchase a new one immediatley. Although it is the last and least of the Classic era, it still places it above all others. Do give it a chance.