The prog rock world learned a simple lesson in the early Nineties: A Yes divided against itself cannot stand. It was a nutty time for the once-mighty prog band. Frontman Jon Anderson left the group and teamed up with other former Yes members to form Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe. The “Owner of a Lonely Heart” lineup was none too pleased by the defection, and the world faced the almost unimaginable prospect of two Yesses recording and touring simultaneously.
For months, the world held their breath while this prog-tastrophe loomed. Thankfully, much like the Cuban Missile Crisis, cooler heads prevailed at the last minute. The two projects simply merged into one super Yes and began recording an album called Union, even though they had two drummers and two keyboardists. They had more than enough members of Yes to go around, yet the inexplicable decision was made to bring in additional guitarists, keyboard players and even another percussionist. It was madness. Absolute prog madness.
Another lesson was learned from this project: Too many members of Yes spoil the prog broth. The album simply wasn’t very good. “I call it the ‘Onion Album,'” says Grand Prog Keyboard Wizard Rick Wakeman. “Because every time I hear it I cry.”
The tour posed even more difficulties. The 1970s Yes guys like Steve Howe and Bill Bruford weren’t going to be thrilled about playing Eighties pop songs like “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and what the hell were they going to do with so many different players? In the end, everybody was basically equally unhappy with the compromises. Still, the tour carried on all through 1991. (Here’s video of Super Yes playing “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”)
When Yes reemerged in 1994, it was the Eighties lineup again. They’ve been in a state of chaos ever since, changing singers and keyboard players like most people change their underwear.