Yes’ Geoff Downes Talks Drama Rarities and That Album’s Defining Moment

Here’s an excerpt from a longer, exclusive interview that will appear in a new project we’re working on very soon!

When we sat down to talk about the amazing Topographic Drama tour with Geoff Downes recently, we couldn’t help but observe that some of the great music from the Drama days is a thread that weaves through decades of Yes. Drama was clearly under appreciated when it was first released. But it has only grown in stature each passing year, and today stands comfortably amongst Classic Yes’ finest works. Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn helped re-engergize and refocus Yes and propel the band forward.

Yes Live At Madison Square Garden Ad
An advertisement for Yes at Madison Square Garden in 1980

“Into The Lens” aka, “I Am A Camera” and “Fly From Here” were great Buggles contributions to Drama. Both appeared later on Buggles releases. And of course, “We Can Fly,” originally an outtake, became an album centerpiece for Yes years later. Were those songs that and Trevor Horn were you working when you were in the process of recording a new Buggles album just prior to joining Yes?

Yeah, we put them into Yes. Both of those songs were songs that Trevor and myself had been working on. “I Am a Camera” became Yes-ified and became “Into The Lens.” “Fly From Here” also became Yes-ified. We did a recording of that, but it never really much more than a backing track at that point. We did play at live when went out on the first Drama tour.

And you played it live at Madison Square Garden in New York for a show that was also broadcast on the radio!

That’s correct, yeah. And it’s not a bad recording of actually. I mean, it’s not a great recording technically, but in terms of the performance.

Machine Messiah” was much more of a group collaboration than those songs were. We all had different bits that we put in. That’s why for me, and I think for all of us, that’s a defining piece of the Drama album. Because that encompassed all of the great Yes playing along with the modern writing that Trevor and myself were doing. Certainly, Trevor’s lyrics were very contemporary — not so much in how yes had been previously associated with very almost ethereal lyrics. These were much more hard hitting kind of lyrics.

They’re more direct but still very poetic.

Yeah, I think so. The other thing about the Drama album is that I think it propelled Yes into another decade, literally.

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Also See

Drummer Alan White on Yes’ Epic Masterwork, “Tales From Topographic Oceans”

Is “Topographic Drama” Yes’ Best Ever Live Recording?

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