Published on 13th January 2018
Mabel Greer’s Toyshop – The Secret
This is an odd but somewhat intriguing album in many respects as this is the latest album from the band that evolved in 1968 to become Yes. They have since reconvened and started to record again, using certain ex-Yes members, and continuing the music they had before Messrs Anderson, Squire and Banks left to form Yes and achieve their subsequent success.
One could quite rightly wonder why they left it 50 years to regroup and reconvene, initially for 2015’s New Way of Life, and I guess we will never get a satisfactory answer to that question, but what is apparent is that this band, as they are now, certainly has something worth listening to, combining ’60s psychedelia and more mainstream symphonic prog to good effect, especially when you add in the significant classical stylings that are apparent in each song.
The Secret is a very good album, opening with the strong Big Brother, Little Brother, its source material coming from Native American music and how they have been historically badly treated by successive governments in the U.S.
Clive Bayley has a good voice, O.K., he’s not Jon Anderson but he has a clear, strong tone with good expression that suits the music on offer here. Max Hunt has done an impressive job with the production and it all sounds clear with fine separation between the instruments, as evidenced on Angel Sent where the band marry the melody line of Beethoven’s Ode To Joy ( from his 9th Symphony) into the closing moments of the song to great effect. This crossover adds real depth to these songs and is used sparingly but effectively throughout, but never detracting from the music, simply making for some very satisfying moments.
Also worthy of note is the song Swan that is inspired Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and William Parry (of Jerusalem fame), although I cannot find any of the Jerusalem theme in the music, apart from the choral voices in the opening.
The final track, The Secret, features an unused guitar line from Peter Banks, who died in 2013, that event being the inspiration for Bayley and Robert Hagger to meet up again after 45 years. Banks’ guitar part is incorporated into the song very effective, also working as a fine memorial to Peter Banks, the somewhat forgotten man of Yes, as the song bring the album to a highly satisfying finale.
This is a very good album and one that certainly grows on you the more you listen to it. I for one am certainly glad to have heard it and look forward to more from this group in whatever form that may take. Well worthy of investigation.
01. Big Brother, Little Brother (8:43)
02. Love’s Fire (5:39)
03. Turning To The Light (7:05)
04. Angel Sent (4:06)
05. More And More (7:06)
06. Swan (5:31)
07. Image Of Existence (6:03)
08. You (6:43)
09. The Secret (6:09)
Total Time – 57:13
Clive Bayley – Vocals, Guitars, Piano
Hugo Barre – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Max Hunt – Keyboards, Guitars, Backing Vocals
Robert Hagger – Drums & Percussion
Peter Banks – Guitar (track 9, appearing posthumously)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 8th December 2017