Formed three decades ago by squeaky-voiced singer Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire, Yes challenged pop audiences with cosmic themes and an innovative progressive-rock sound. Virtuoso guitarist Steve Howe's fluid jazz- and bluegrass-tinged melodies complemented Squire's trebly bass lines and drummer Alan White's monstrous cadences. Keyboard whiz Rick Wakeman defected from the Strawbs just in time to lend his classical sensibility to 1972's Fragile
, co-writing such unorthodox hits as "Roundabout" and "South Side of the Sky." Fans spaced out blissfully for a while, but the grandiose nature of it all proved too much, and in 1981, the band called it quits. The breakup didn't last long, though, and by 1983, Yes had recruited guitarist Trevor Rabin and released 90125
. While 90125
was the group's comeback album, it also divided its fans into two camps: Troopers (who dug the old symphonic fare like "Starship Trooper") and Generators (who preferred modern Yes songs, such as "Owner of a Lonely Heart"). Even though Rabin left the group to score movies, Yes has been productive throughout the '90s, in part because Wakeman and Howe (who had formed Asia and GTR) reenlisted in 1996. The restored lineup celebrated with Keys to Ascension
and (minus Wakeman, who bailed again) struck a creative bull's-eye with The Ladder
. The quintet sounded sharp at Blossom on last year's Masterworks tour, which showcased lengthier Yes songs. Don't expect any abbreviated bubblegum hits this time, either. Supporting its forthcoming album, Magnification
, Yes will render its celestial suites anew with full orchestral accompaniment.