The European edition of the album also included “Give & Take”, which was the B-side of “Lift Me Up.”
Union is the poorest rated album in the Yes canon – and with good reason. “With the exception of Peter Banks and Trevor Horn, virtually all the major contributors to Yes in its various incarnations over the previous 23 years.” BE “This was an album that couldn’t possibly have met the expectations inherent in the array of talent involved. The material is reasonably solid, and under ordinary circumstances this album would have been considered just fine, if not exceptional.” BE
The album grew out of record companies pushing for a merged effort between the two factions of Yes that emerged in the ‘80s. Yes enjoyed a career revitalization in 1983 with 90125, an album which featured singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and guitarist Trevor Rabin, the newest member of the Yes family. However, after two albums, Anderson longed for the more classic Yes sound and reunited with old band mates Steve Howe (guitar), Rick Wakeman (keyboards), and Bill Bruford (drums). That collective released an album in 1989 under the banner of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe since it was the other lineup which had the rights to the Yes name.
In 1990, that collective began work on a second album. At the same time, the Squire-helmed Yes was heading back into the studio as well. “Bowing to record company pressure to resurrect the Yes banner, Squire and Anderson came up with the idea of merging both projects, which resulted in the 1991 album Union.” WK However, rather than being a merger of everyone, it was essentially a second ABWH album with four cuts from the other Yes lineup tacked on.
As for those four cuts, “The More We Live was the product of a new writing partnership between Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood, who had briefly been considered as replacement for Jon Anderson in the Rabin-led version of Yes. The song featured extensive (but uncredited) vocal and instrumental contributions from Sherwood.” WK
Among this lineup was the “Trevor Rabin/Chris Squire-composed Lift Me Up [which] seems a forced exercise in heaviness.” BE It did, however, give the album its most successful song, landing on top of the album rock chart.
That song, “Saving My Heart and Miracle of Life were largely demos: Rabin had been planning to record them properly and was taken by surprise that they were used as they were (with vocals from Anderson added).” WK
Meanwhile, ABWH had collected demos for an album that was to be called Dialogue. “The only surviving piece to make it onto Union was Take the Water to the Mountain. Both the main riff of I Would Have Waited Forever and the 9/4 riff in Silent Talking can be heard on Steve Howe’s solo album Turbulence, released about the same time.” WK
Two other Squire/Sherwood pieces, “Say Goodbye” and “Love Conquers All,” were demoed for the album but were not used. “The former appeared in a re-recorded version on the second World Trade album, and the latter was on Yesyears. Both original demos are on the first Conspiracy album by Squire/Sherwood.” WK
“Masquerade was a solo piece Howe had recorded some time before, included at the last minute when the record company requested a solo guitar piece from him.” WK It is “one of the most beautiful classical guitar showcases of his Yes career” BE and “earned the album a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.” WK
Among the ABWH material, “I Would Have Waited Forever shows off the group’s vocalizing (by Chris Squire and Jon Anderson) at its most melodic.” BE while Without Hope You Cannot Start the Day “seems more like a composed-by-numbers piece than a truly inspired song.” BE “Evensong was a version of Bruford and session bassist Tony Levin’s duet from the ABWH tour.” WK
None of the material here would rate alongside the better (forget the best) tracks from any of the group's 1971-1974 albums. Perhaps the defects revealed the real purpose of this album, which wasn’t so much to make a definitive statement by any of the participants, but rather to show the flag of the reunited band, which it did.” BE
The album “was supported by a massive tour that filled arenas with at least two generations of fans.” BE Both the fans and the band praised it as one of Yes’ best tours. WK The album was the last studio effort by Yes to go gold, but was “not as well-received” WK as previous albums from the band.
“Wakeman, Bruford, and Howe would depart the sprawling line-up in 1992, returning Yes to its 1983-1988 line-up. Union would be the final Yes album with Bill Bruford, and would be the last album with Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman until their return in 1996.” WK