Every time I have listened to Open Your Eyes, and I have to admit, the times have been few and far in between down through the years, I can’t help but think Yes should have taken more time and put a little more thought and effort into its creation.
Rick Wakeman had left the band again due to a disagreement concerning their Keys To Ascension 2 album. The band was planning a tour and decided to quickly record a new album to promote while they were on the road.
Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood had been working on a project together. Jon Anderson became interested and the music became a full-fledged Yes project. The result was Open Your Eyes. Other than being a weak album, it also had the misfortune of being released shortly after the second Keys To Ascension album, which only served to focus attention on it being one of the poorer Yes studio releases.
It was more pop than progressive rock and the emphasis, for the most part, was focused on the harmonies rather than the instrumental creativity that was always at the core of the best of Yes’ work. The songs also had an eclectic feel as they never settled into one style. Add that to a lack of creative depth, and you have the makings of a disappointing album.
There are basically two songs that are interesting. “Universal Garden” features some creative guitar interplay between Steve Howe and new member Billy Sherwood. It is one of very few Yes tracks to feature two guitars rather than the keyboard/guitar match-up. The album’s best track is its simplest. “From The Balcony” is basically Steve Howe’s acoustic guitar and Jon Anderson vocal. It proved that when in doubt, keep it simple.
Unfortunately the above two songs do not an album make. It was tracks such as the plodding “New State Of Mind” and the half-hearted “Man In The Moon” that were representative of the rest of the album.
Open Your Eyes is not up to the usual Yes standards, as the music does not just reach out and grab you. Groups like Yes, who have been around for decades, will issue a weak album now and then. In the long musical journey of Yes, this is one album best avoided as there are many better stops.