Flashback to 1992: Yes was officially on hiatus after Big Generator. Chris Squire had been searching for the proper vehicle to try out new songs he had co-written with acolyte, Billy Sherwood. The bassist then assembled an ad hoc group (consisting of Sherwood, Alan White, Steve Porcarro (keys) and Jimmy Hahn on lead guitar). The Chris Squire Experiment did a handful of U.S. West Coast club gigs, which met with favorable results and interest. However, the project was quickly de-prioritized in favor of an official Yes "In-the-Round" re-"Union" tour later on the following year. "Conspiracy" is a set of those live songs which include the disc's opening track, "Days of Wonder", "Lonesome Trail" and the original version of "Open Your Eyes" (later seeded to Yes as an unsuccessful single). Other pieces include the original versions of "The More We Live" (one of the high points of the Union album) and "Love Conquers All" (where Trevor Rabin added lead vocal for the Yes boxed set). "Violet Purple Rose" is one of the better new tracks with clever color scheme lyrics which also could have been shaped for a larger band context. Note that these tracks are mostly vocal with minimal arrangements and backing from the line-up and a few support players. Squire's vocal and songwriting are noticeably weak, and are largely reinforced by Sherwood's stronger skills as a multi-instrumentalist. The pop aspect of the composers is heavily weighted in these base tracks as well. This disc could be dubbed "World Trade II" since it predates Sherwood's own project, "Hysteria" by three years. By no means a follow-up to Fish Out of Water, Conspiracy helps to define the development of Squire's closely knit relationship with Sherwood as well as the represent the songwriting shift for the Open Your Eyes album.
Review by Jeff Melton
April 25, 2000