Yoso is a new melodic, progressive rock band started by former Yes-members Tony Kaye (keyboards), Billy Sherwood (vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards) - who was also the founding member of World Trade - and Totoís lead vocalist Bobby Kimball, thus equaling the magic of Yes with the voice of Toto. The band is completed by two very gifted musicians: Johnny Bruhns on guitar and backing vocals and Scott Conner on drums and percussion. Yoso is much more than a combination of these classic rock groups. The bandís debut album Elements, presents a fascinating combination of the Yes-sound from 90125 (1983) to The Ladder (1999) and Toto, with a very interesting and original sound that represents both of the bandís musical styles. Together with this debut you get a bonus live-CD on which the band plays some old and new classics.
On opening the album, the title track Yoso immediately catches you with a vocal melody line that keeps returning in the song, but also in your head. This should be the first single which has as much potential for a hit as Owner Of A Lonely Heart by Yes. A number of songs on this album have some resemblances with the songs Toto used to play. Path To Your Heart, Walk Away, Time To get Up, Only One and Close The Curtain surely have this touch, including the outstanding guitar solos. The only difference is the fact that the Toto-songs have better balanced background vocals, which I do miss on this album I think. When you have a vocalist like Bobby Kimball in the band, you always have certain similarities with Toto. However, songs like Where Youíll Stay, The New Revolution and Come This Far have a more progressive rock feel in which Tony Kaye shows heís still one of the best keyboard players of the last forty years. To Seek The Truth has some of the best guitar playing of the album and despite the Toto- and Yes-connections, this song has a Genesis- like structure. The last song on the album Return To Yesterday, is outstanding building from an easy opening towards a sublime guitar highlight and then going back to easy again! I really love this piece.
Listening to the additional Live Bonus CD, itís a bit strange to hear some of the original Toto-songs like Hold The Line and Rosanna. The guitar solos, normally played by Steve Lukather, are now played by Johnny Bruhns. These songs are different now, and by Ďdifferentí I certainly donít mean bad, because Bruhns is a fantastic guitar player. If you listen to him playing on To Seek The Truth you know what I mean. Perhaps itís even stranger to hear Bobby Kimball perform on the Yes-song Owner Of A Lonely Heart, where you normally expect to hear Jon Andersonís angelic voice. Again, this is not bad at all, but just different. Yes Medley and Cinema prove that these musicians are a real band, playing very high leveled progressive music. Hats off for that!
I donít know if you could call Yoso a super group, but I think this album is super. Itís a well-balanced melodic progressive album, combining the best of Yes with the majestic vocals of Toto. These guys can be proud of this achievement and Iím sure they will show their qualities live on the forthcoming tour.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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