This is a joint effort between Chris Squire (Yes) and Billy Sherwood (Ex-Yes, Circa, World Trade), and thus it sounds very Yes-like. I am of the firm belief that Squire’s voice is underestimated and an integral component of the Yes sound. It is his voice that comes forth clearest when they all harmonize together and is a major reason why he has been the constant element as Yes changed line-ups throughout the years. Sherwood was with the band through the late nineties and was a major factor in keeping the band going through this time.
Years ago, Chris released a solo album Fish Out of Water that was hailed as the best of the five Yes solos that came out at the time during Relayer when they were all releasing solo recordings. It is a pure joy to hear Squire take lead vocals on the Conspiracy album, as this is the closest we’ve come to an actual solo record since 1975.
Conspiracy starts strong with “Days of Wonder,” a rollicking number that brings forth a strong melody and great musicianship. Some other excellent songs are “Lonesome Trail,” my personal favorite “Violet Purple Rose” and the plaintive “Red Light Ahead.”
Billy Sherwood’s contributions cannot be denied. His biggest input into the Yes machine was during the making of the Open Your Eyes album. Unfortunately this was deemed the worst of the entire Yes catalog by most progressive rock fans. Conspiracy is a much, much stronger release than that recording, which leads me to believe that he wasn’t as responsible for the poor nature of that album as many believe.
Other than the original tunes penned by Squire and Sherwood, we also have some songs they wrote for their other bands. “Say Goodbye” from Billy’s band World Trade, Yes’ “The More We Live,” “Open Your Eyes (inexplicably titled here “Wish I Knew”) and IMO the best song from Open Your Eyes, “Man In the Moon.”
If you enjoy the later Yes periods as I do, Squire’s Fish Out of Water, or any of Sherwood’s solo projects like Circa or World Trade, this is an album that should be in your collection.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on June 23rd, 2010