Andre Gardner

Inductee Jon Anderson of Yes speaks onstage at the 32nd Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on April 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

On this week’s Thursday Top 10 Countdown, we looked back at the top rock albums on January 25, 1984. We featured top albums by Billy Joel, The Police, and ZZ Top. We also looked back at how radical “changes” gave Yes their biggest album ever.

Yes Was A Very Different Band In 1980

By 1980, both Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman had left Yes. Taking their place were Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, formerly known as The Buggles. They had scored a huge worldwide hit the previous year with “Video Killed The Radio Star.” The Buggles and Yes shared the same manager, who had the idea to pair Horn and Downes with Yes’ remaining members. At the time, Yes was Chris Squire, Steve Howe, and Alan White. Chris Squire was impressed with what they had to offer and talked the others into adding the two to the band. Since a huge tour had been booked before Anderson and Wakeman left, this new version of Yes quickly wrote and recorded the album Drama, released In August, 1980. Fans were not impressed, and the album did not sell up to Yes standards. A world tour did well over here, but the Brits did not like the new lineup. On bootlegs from a few European shows, you can hear audience members booing between songs. Ouch!

Horn, Downes and Howe ended up leaving Yes right after the tour, with Downes and Howe forming Asia. This left Squire and White in search of new talent for the band. An executive at Atlantic Records received a demo tape of songs by South African singer Trevor Rabin, and put him in touch with Yes’ manager. A meeting was arranged, they jammed a bit, and Rabin was added as a member. The group also brought back Tony Kaye, who they’d canned in 1971, to serve as another keyboardist. The band didn’t fancy calling themselves Yes, so they decided on the name Cinema.

From Cinema Back To Yes

Recording sessions began, with several songs recorded and mixed. Sadly, Tony Kaye and Trevor Horn “didn’t get on,” and Kaye left several months into the recording sessions. Cinema almost brought Horn back in as a vocalist, but he ended up returning to simply co-produce the album. The band played their manager several songs they’d worked on, but were told the vocals were not strong enough. It was then decided to get back in touch with Jon Anderson to see if he’d be interested in returning. He was, after hearing the songs the band recorded, and he went to work tweaking some lyrics and adding his special touch. Unfortunately for Cinema, several other U.K. bands laid claim to that band name, and threatened legal action. To avoid this potential mess, the group reverted back to calling themselves Yes.

90125 And Success

Thankfully, Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun gave Yes the necessary cash they needed to complete the album. The working title was The New Yes Album but, rather than make such a big deal about this lineup, they decided on a clever title. Every album release gets a catalog number and, in the case of this album, the worldwide catalog number was Atlantic 90125. It was the perfect title for the album! The lead single, “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” set the stage for what this new version of Yes would sound like. To many people’s surprise, the song was a huge hit, and became Yes’ first and only #1 single. The album became the band’s biggest, selling over three million copies. The tour to support the album was also huge, with Tony Kaye being asked to re-join the band for its duration.

I saw that tour at The Spectrum on September 9, 1984 and it was fantastic. For one thing, it was in the round, which gave everyone a great seat. The sound was excellent, too, not an easy task at The Spectrum.

Those radical “changes” gave Yes their biggest album, and 90125 tops our Rock Album chart this week.

  • 10. Live From Earth - Pat Benatar

    Pat Benatar’s first live album album also contained two studio tracks, which helped promote the album. “Love Is A Battlefield” was one of new studio tracks added, and the album, Live From Earth, peaked here at #10.

  • 9. Undercover - The Rolling Stones

    To say that sessions for this Stones album were tense would be an understatement. Mick and Keith were musically, and personally, strained, and the result was a hard edged, dark Stones album called Undercover. It broke the 8-album streak of #1 albums for the Stones, peaking at #4, and it drops five to #9 on January 25, 1984.

  • 8. Pyromania - Def Leppard

    Def Leppard tried something new for their third album. They recorded all the parts to a drum machine track, overdubbing the real drums later. That surely worked, for Pyromania stands as the group’s most successful album. It’s sold more than ten million copies and, after peaking at the top spot, was #8 on January 25, 1984.

  • 7. Genesis - Genesis

    After a world tour, and a nice break, Genesis got back together in the studio for their 12th album. They wrote, recorded and mixed the whole thing at their new studio, The Farm, and their self titled effort was their biggest seller to date. It’s #7 on this week’s Thursday Top 10 Countdown.

  • 6. Eliminator - ZZ Top

    Everything came together for ZZ Top for their eighth album. The songs, the videos, the fuzzy guitars! Eliminator was #6 on January 25, 1984, and here’s the one that got it all started.

  • 5. Uh-Huh - John Mellencamp

    After the breakthrough success of American Fool, John Mellencamp added his real last name to his albums and released a killer set called Uh-Huh. While it did’t hit #1 like its predecessor, it still sold well, and peaked at #5 on this week’s countdown.

  • 4. An Innocent Man - Billy Joel

    Billy Joel took most of his musical influences, and wrote a song in the style of each one for his album, An Innocent Man. It got as high as #4 on January 25, 1984, and this one is pure Four Seasons-inspired.

  • 3. Metal Health - Quiet Riot

    How big was Quiet Riot’s third album, Metal Health? SO big that after ten months on the charts, it was still holding steady at #3 on January 25, 1984!

  • 2. Synchronicity - The Police

    Sting told me a few months back that a 40th anniversary Synchronicity reissue was in the works, and that it would contain his original demos. We haven’t heard anything more yet, but we’ll surely keep you posted if we do. In the meantime, that album is #2 on our countdown!

  • 1. 90125 - Yes

    At the top of our chart this week is the 11th studio album by one of our most beloved bands. After a less than spectacular-selling 10th album, the first without their legendary lead singer, they brought him back, added another member, and ended up with the biggest album of their career, selling over three million copies., #1 on January 25, 1984 was 90125 by Yes!

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