Which different bands give us as many alternatives to ponder “what if” as Sure do? It might be argued that we’re within the very lucky place of truly realizing the solutions to a few these questions, nevertheless. In relation to 2011’s Fly From Right here, they might be as follows:
What if Fly From Right here had been recorded by the identical line-up as 1980’s Drama? What if Oliver Wakeman had completed off his writing and performing contributions to the Sure album which appeared instantly after his keyboard tenure within the band?
Trevor Horn famously (and considerably controversially) eliminated authentic singer Benoit David’s contributions and re-recorded the lead vocals. That accomplished a brand new model which is, at the very least in its lineup, kind of like Drama II. Dubbed Fly From Right here: Return Journey, the reworked challenge was issued in 2018 to coincide with Sure’ 50th anniversary, full with the addition of Steve Howe’s “Don’t Take No for an Reply” and a brand new Roger Dean cowl, complementing the unique paintings.
Maybe much more thrilling was the sudden and surprising announcement in 2019 that three of the songs which the band have been engaged on in 2010 had been completed off by Oliver Wakeman and launched in a package deal together with a Wakeman/David tune referred to as “The Reward of Love” and the beforehand launched live performance recording, In The Current: Dwell From Lyon.
So, ultimately, this era produced some extremely entertaining and fairly various Sure music however let’s get again to the so-called “Fly From Right here Suite,” which opens the album of the identical identify.
It’s in six sections – “Overture” after which components I-V labelled “We Can Fly,” “Unhappy Night time on the Airfield,” “Madman on the Screens,” “Bumpy Journey” and “We Can Fly Reprise.” In complete, the piece is sort of 25 minutes lengthy, and it’s an indication of actual confidence that Sure have been ready to create one thing on this scale. Maybe a few of that confidence sprung from the re-union of the band with Drama-era members Trevor Horn (as producer) and Geoff Downes (who took over from Oliver Wakeman on keyboards), each of whom have been previously with the Buggles.
The suite relies on a Horn and Downes demo from their pre-Drama days which noticed the sunshine of day on the 2020 re-issue of the Buggles’ Adventures in Fashionable Recording, solely a short while earlier than Fly From Right here. There are additionally a few recordings of the Drama line-up enjoying the unique tune reside in 1980, one in all which appeared on 2005’s The Phrase Is Dwell, the fabulous Sure field set.
Whether or not you assume this can be a correct Sure epic (like Chris Squire did) or not, there’s no denying that it’s a outstanding feat to increase the tune which was initially in two components into the “Fly From Right here Suite.”
The atmospheric “Overture” part begins with Downes’ piano sound steeped in reverb and seemingly within the distance. The sample is repeated extra clearly after which once more, however this time with the remainder of the instrumentalists including quick, spiky, loud chords. The scene is ready for the exploration of the themes within the later components and, on this method, it’s certainly an actual overture – just like the opening music to an opera earlier than the principle motion begins.
The sound is brilliantly produced and it’s a delight to have an actual keyboard participant again after the orchestral adaptation of the Sure strategy on 2001’s Magnification. Geoff Downes’ multi-layered, elaborate flip helps the piece to spin on rapidly and really satisfyingly into “Half 1: We Can Fly.”
“We Can Fly” is without doubt one of the tracks on which Oliver Wakeman provides some extra keyboards, though selecting out which components are him is unattainable, actually for me. The opening soundscape conjures up an airfield with the mild noise of plane engines, earlier than Downes leads off with a piano determine.
Then we get our first style of Benoit David’s lead vocals. Regardless that he was solely with the band for a short while, it’s nice to have this efficiency from him. He sounds assured and sings with an exquisite tone – notably within the excessive sections. Trevor Horn has identified how a lot work he needed to put in to assist Benoit sing within the studio, however isn’t the top product extra necessary?
It’s additionally improbable to listen to Steve Howe’s hovering electrical guitar within the background, symbolizing, maybe, plane within the distance. Chris Squire provides very typical, rhythmic bass patterns. There are pretty inventive touches added in how the heart beat is suspended, after which the verse swings in once more – this time supported by a full drum rhythm and band accompaniment.
The music swells in the direction of the “We Can Fly” refrain, which is stuffed with phrase portray with the form of the vocal line climbing and falling as if the music have been looping the loop within the air. It’s clearly a pop model of Sure’ music, however the best way through which the texture of the refrain suits with the verse is exquisitely dealt with to supply a spine-tingling sensation.
Howe is featured once more at first of “Unhappy Night time on the Airfield,” with pretty acoustic sounds towards a quiet maracas and keyboard accompaniment. He foreshadows the vocal line which David brings in subsequent. This all serves as an introduction to a giant, cinematic entry by the remainder of Sure for a refrain part.
It’s a tragic tune with some attention-grabbing contrasts within the texture that includes lengthy vocal traces set towards some extra energetic drum patterns. Quiet passages are additionally used for distinction to the cinematic sections and Squire has a few properly judged solos, which intensify the texture. “Unhappy Night time on the Airfield” is actually a second half to the suite, however retains sufficient of the sensation, lyrical and musical content material of the primary half to make it really feel extra like a variation on the theme than a separate observe. The truth is, I believe that is dealt with remarkably effectively all through the suite, with loads of consistency including to the general impression of a homogeneous piece slightly than sections bolted collectively.
Implausible passages of Steve Howe soloing deliver us to “Half III: Madman on the Screens.” Geoff Downes’ distant piano begins us off once more with echoes of the opening of the overture, reminding us how efficient that introduction is in tying all of the actions of the suite collectively: Many of the themes are already at the very least partially acquainted – which is, after all, exactly the aim of overtures in opera and elsewhere.
The preliminary quick phrases of the vocal line on “Madman on the Screens” are an attention-grabbing remedy. It offers the “sailor, beware” part an excellent, contrasting really feel. The lyrics right here, like elsewhere, are categorically not within the conventional Anderson-Sure model. They’re, at occasions, barely jarring however typically don’t detract from the music an excessive amount of for me.
The Sure choir blends very well with David, and he actually sounds very convincing and guaranteed on “Madman on the Screens,” which is maybe stunning as that is his first large-scale recording. It’s participating and compelling music with touches of the traditional Sure sound like Downes’ use of a Hammond organ blended with different overtones of the Drama-era because the observe ends with a reprise of the “sailor, beware” materials.
The following half, “Bumpy Journey,” consists initially of a few alternating rhythmical patterns in differing time signatures, clearly meant to painting the bumps on this specific trip. It’s a relatively quick part, which Sure performs in sometimes tight formation, reminding us maybe of a stunt airplane staff in synchronicity. The rising triple-time sequence is especially efficient, with the bass half as soon as once more completely matching and complementing the keyboard and lead guitar components in the best way solely Chris Squire can handle.
The fabric, notably with Geoff Downes’ decisions of keyboard voice, veers dangerously near a parody of the Drama-era sound however simply manages to avoid wasting itself, primarily because of the technical mastery of the person gamers. Half method by way of the quick “Bumpy Journey,” there’s a dreamy passage of vocals, offering an excellent distinction after which the bumpy trip returns to complete and usher within the “Fly From Right here: Reprise.”
It is a really fantastic second of Sure magic: The “Fly From Right here” theme has been away for simply lengthy sufficient for the listener to neglect about it, then it blasts again in a fantastically dealt with transition. It’s a quite simple machine however dealt with in an excellent trend by the band and producer extraordinaire, Trevor Horn. It’s like returning house as Benoit David sings that vast, catchy refrain as soon as once more. The play out is nice as effectively – with Squire’s repeatedly climbing bass line ramping up the strain earlier than “Fly From Right here: Reprise” lastly dies away.
For me, the “Fly From Right here Suite” is good and completely convincing as a brand new, strong Sure sound. A contemporary (for 2011) Sure epic, which mixes the perfect features of their newer incarnations with new substances and traditional methodology. Some might imagine it’s a pale reflection of previous glories however in case you do, I encourage you to hear once more, with out preconceptions – with out pondering who the singer is, with out wishing it was Rick Wakeman on keyboards (or Igor Khoroshev, or Oliver) and simply benefit from the fabulous music-making.
When Fly From Right here was launched, I bear in mind my pleasure that Sure was nonetheless able to transcending so many obstacles which might have stopped different bands. Quick ahead to 2020, and we’ve had quite a few subsequent “what if” moments – and I’m in little question there are various extra to come back.