Yes, “Lift Me Up” from Union (1991): YESterdays
Co-written by Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire for an unnamed Yes project, “Lift Me Up” wasn’t just the first non-Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe song to appear on 1991’s Union. It was also the closest to the sound that made the world’s greatest progressive rock band so popular on the rock and pop charts.
Producer Trevor Rabin scaled back some of the excesses that appeared in the previous Yes album, 1987’s Big Generator, and created a song with Chris Squire with a current, socially relevant theme regarding the plight of the homeless.
Unlike the Jonathan Elias-produced songs on Union, Yes plays all their own instruments. The song kicks off the Alan White’s programmed drum followed by touches of synth drums and angular Rabin guitar. Washes of synth and Squire’s melodic bass support the song’s main theme. Rabin’s guitar solos build and build to a very satisfying release.
Vocally, “Lift Me Up” is mostly Trevor Rabin’s show, with Anderson sprinkled in to make it sound like a union. Squire’s vocal presence is also evident. Of all the “Yes West” tracks, this one may be the strongest – though three of the four tracks included in Union are quite good.
It’s easy to see why Arista Records picked “Lift Me Up,” above all the other Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe material, as the first single. It’s also easy to see how the song became a No. 1 Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock song, and earned a place in the band’s canon as one of its most popular songs.
I wonder how the Yes Union band felt about lip syncing for the accompanying music video, when the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe contingency probably didn’t think this was a song fitting of Yes.