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Steve Howe — Anthology

The release of the excellent new Steve Howe Anthology happens today (March 10, 2015):

All told, Anthology takes in 36 years of music and 16 albums and is assembled, for the most part, in chronological fashion.  Rhino promises that Howe’s six-string prowess is on display via songs like “Pennants,” “The Collector,” “Maiden Voyage” (one of many featuring his son Dylan on drums), “Curls & Swirls,” and “King’s Ransom” from his most recent proper solo effort, 2011’s Time.  Anthology also features two Bob Dylan covers (“Just Like A Woman” and “Buckets Of Rain”) that might come as a surprise to those who only know Howe for his majestic progressive work. Also included are several tracks off Motif – Volume 1 , the 2008 collection of re-recorded highlights from the Howe discography such as “Devon Blue” and “Diary Of A Man Who Vanished,” a song that first appeared on The Steve Howe Album.

While culled primarily from Howe’s solo albums, Anthology goes back as far as 1967 with the psychedelic “So Bad” and also represents a pair of compilations.  “Sharp On Attack” has been pulled from 1988’s Guitar Speak, a now-out-of-print release which found Howe contributing a track alongside other hard-rocking guitar greats like Rick Derringer, Phil Manzanera, Leslie West and Ronnie Montrose.  A rendition of Yes’ “Mood for a Day” has been taken from 1993’s Symphonic Music of Yes, with Howe playing alongside the English Chamber Orchestra. …

Steve Howe, Anthology (Rhino, 2015) …

CD 1

  1. “So Bad”
  2. “Lost Symphony”
  3. “Pleasure Stole The Night”
  4. “Pennants”
  5. “Look Over Your Shoulder”
  6. “Surface Tension”
  7. “Sensitive Chaos”
  8. “Running The Human Race”
  9. “Desire Comes First”
  10. “Luck Of The Draw”
  11. “Maiden Voyage”
  12. “Walk Don’t Run”
  13. “Momenta”
  14. “The Collector”
  15. “Just Like A Woman”
  16. “Buckets of Rain”

CD 2

  1. “Distant Seas”
  2. “Curls & Swirls”
  3. “Meridian Strings”
  4. “Simplication”
  5. “Rising Sun”
  6. “Westwinds”
  7. “Ultra Definition”
  8. “Ebb And Flow”
  9. “Dorothy”
  10. “Sketches In The Sun”
  11. “Diary Of A Man Who Vanished”
  12. “Devon Blue”
  13. “King’s Ransom”
  14. “Bachians Brasileiras No. 5 (Aria)”
  15. “Beginnings”
  16. “Mood For A Day” – with The English Chamber Orchestra
  17. “Sharp On Attack”

CD 1, Track 1 included on Mothballs, RPM Records, 1994
CD 1, Tracks 2-3 from Beginnings, Atlantic SD 18154, 1975
CD 1, Tracks 4-6 from The Steve Howe Album, Atlantic SD 19243, 1979
CD 1, Tracks 7-8 from Turbulence, Relativity ZK 90885, 1991
CD 1, Tracks 9-11 from The Grand Scheme of Things, Relativity 88561-1163-2, 1993
CD 1, Tracks 12-14 from Quantum Guitar, Resurgence RES130CD, 1998
CD 1, Tracks 15-16 from Portrait of Bob Dylan, Eagle EAGCD087, 1999
CD 2, Tracks 1-2 from Natural Timbre, Eagle EAGCD166, 2001
CD 2, Tracks 3-4 from Skyline, Inside Out IOMCD113, 2002
CD 2, Tracks 5-6 from Elements, Inside Out, 2003
CD 2, Tracks 7-8 from Spectrum, Inside Out IOMCD215, 2005
CD 2, Tracks 9-12 from Motif,Vol. 1, HoweSound, 2008
CD 2, Tracks 13-14 from Time, 2011
CD 2, Track 15 TBD
CD 2, Track 16 from The Symphonic Music of Yes, RCA Victor CD  09026 61938 2, 1993
CD 2, Track 17 from Guitar Speak, IRS CD IRS-42240, 1998

7 Shows from ’72 (“something of a holy grail”): The “source code” for Yessongs on Yes’ 14xCD Progeny

Ever wonder what happened to the missing Yessongs source reels?

Well, now you can have ’em, thanks to Yes’ Progeny!

Cool details over at

These fall ’72 recordings—the “source code” for Yessongs—miraculously survived, but went missing for decades. Then via a series of happy accidents, relentlessly obsessional fans, clever restoration techniques, and the dedication of the team at Warner Music, the journey from rediscovery to release began… …

Much of The Word Is Live was sourced from Steve Howe’s private collection (the best and most likely source of any further archive projects, so be nice to Steve), radio shows, and what precious little was usable from the Atlantic Records vaults.

This was a frustrating mystery — what about the tapes used for Yessongs? Where were the “hundreds of hours” (according to Yes biographer Dan Hedges) of tapes that Chris Squire reviewed and used to compile Yesshows? The short answer: gone. Lost, misplaced, mislabeled, accidentally erased, destroyed, thrown away, immolated in the 1978 Atlantic Records vault fire… no one really knows. Keep in mind that in the 1970s all of this chronology and documentation was done by hand—there wasn’t an app for that! Regardless of how this came to be or why, the end result was the same… The Word Is Live was limited by usable source material.

Still, as I reviewed the spreadsheets, my eye was drawn to a handful of reel-to-reel tapes from 1972… could these be the missing Yessongs source reels? When I inquired about these tapes in the context of The Word Is Live, I was informed that these reels were off limits for the purposes of the project. It was unclear what was on them, whether they were complete, and of what quality, and whether the tapes themselves were even playable. The cost of repairing/restoring them and then transferring them to a workable digital medium was huge and time consuming. Plus, for all anyone knew, the boxes were labeled “Yes” but the tapes were Donna Summer. Or time and money would be spent only to find out that the recordings sounded horrible, or that the middle eight minutes of Close To The Edge were missing. Any number of hurdles prevented forward motion, and so the tapes were left on the shelf.

Fast forward eight years, and a rejuvenated Yes—touring three of their classic albums, including Close To The Edge—is out there wowing audiences old and new. At the same time, the Yes catalog is receiving its first true remix program, helmed by esteemed prog rock visionary Steven Wilson. This remix effort sent our Rhino heroes back into the vaults spelunking for original multitracks and bonus content. Lurking in the shadows was this collection of open reel tapes, and closer examination revealed eight complete multitrack shows from the fall 1972 Close To The Edge tour—the “source code” of Yessongs. The collection you hold in your hand is something of a holy grail.

Each night is its own journey. You can hear the band progressing, taking different chances, and experimenting with different sounds. There are moments unique to each show—solos, banter, and improv change each night. Even cooler is something that happens at every show—you hear it clearly before each performance of “Close To The Edge”—an audible gasp from the audience as the spotlight hits a large mirrored disc just as the song begins. That moment where sound and vision mesh and the musical journey begins is a hallmark of the live Yes experience, and these recordings put you right in the front row. Despite identical setlists, every song from every show is worthy of repeat listens and scrutiny. There’s something notable in each and every one. …

Patrick Moraz — “Time for a Change”

Patrick Moraz relates a nice little piece of Yes history:

“We had decided to do some writing — starting in 1975, when I was also helping Chris and Steve to record some music,” Patrick Moraz tells us. “We had started to compose and to co-compose and to gather material for what was going to be the album Going for the One, and I was very much involved in the composing of ‘Awaken’ at the time. I even recorded one or two tracks in the very, very beginning — in the early stages of sessions in 1976. I recorded some basic tracks for what was going to become ‘Awaken,’ and other tracks for Going for the One. Unfortunately, those were taken out, to allow Rick to come back to the band.”

Moraz ultimately repurposed the work he had done on “Awaken” into a solo song called “Time for a Change,” released in 1977. “When I had to exit Yes at the end of ’76, I started a new album of mine — and I decided call the album Out in the Sun,” Moraz adds. “Maybe I should have called it Time for a Change! It’s a long track; it’s the last track. There were two or three movements that were part of ‘Time for a Change.’ The very beginning of it, the first minute and half or so, reflect what I had actually co-composed for the song ‘Awaken’ itself. It’s a very beautiful kind of piece, which I used as an introduction. What ended up on the record, which is being played by Rick, is completely different than what I would have written.

You can download the entire track “Time for a Change” (9:10) for only $0.99 from iTunes.

“Gravitas”: A mediocre Asia album, but a decent John Wetton solo album

As an Asia album: 6/10asia_gravitas
As a John Wetton album: 8/10

Earlier this year I posted about the (then) upcoming, new Asia album, “Gravitas,” and wrote the following about the first single, “Valkyrie”:

The positives: Wetton sounds great; his vocals are impressively strong and clear at the age of 64. The song itself is quite decent, with the distinctive Asia “sound”: soaring keyboards, big chorus, and lyrics tinged with semi-mythical elements. The negatives: the video is rather (very!) low budget, the song sounds quite a bit like most Asia songs of the past couple of decades, and young Coulson seems underused. What strikes me odd, as I’ve read about this new album, is that while the band members talk about Coulson bringing a harder, even more metal-ish, sound with him, it doesn’t show up in the first single or in the clips of the other eight tunes. And, of course, none of them really sound prog-gy at all. Come to think of it, when did Asia last really incorporate anything obviously proggy in its albums?

Having now listened to the entire album a dozen times or more, I confess to being a bit conflicted. The positives are pretty much as described above. Wetton, who is 65, sounds exceptional; his vocals are strong, clear, and with plenty of nuance and bite, as evidenced on the title track. If anything, my appreciation for Wetton as a vocalist expanded in listening to this new release, especially for the various colorings and emotional nuances he brings to the table. The production, handled by Wetton and keyboardist guru Geoff Downes, is mostly excellent (see below for the negative), featuring lush soundscapes and impeccably crafted waves of vocal harmonies, a classic Asia staple.

In short, the top end—lead vocals, vocal harmonies, and keyboards—sound great.

Unfortunately, the rhythm section and guitar ranges from occasionally agreeable to rather boring. There are times, frankly, when I wondered, “Carl Palmer still plays drums, right? Where, oh where, is the bass?!” Yes, there are a few moments that rise above average (“Nyctophobia”, for example), but overall the drums are so far back in the mix and so generic sounding, it may as well have been Session Drummer Bob Smith behind the kit. The same could be said for much of the bass guitar, with a couple of exceptions, such as a nifty solo-ish section in “Russian Dolls”. Simply put, the bass and drums are often quite pedestrian, especially for players of this caliber; they might as well have been mailed in via Pony Express and then told, “Sit down way back there and play quietly!”

As for the harder guitar sound, I’ve heard heard more rockin’, “in your face” guitar on Michael Jackson albums. Sam Coulson might be the next Joe Satriani, but he rarely gets a chance to show what he brings to the table, and his solos are short, safe, and sadly generic. There is more guitar in, say, “Sole Survivor” or “The Heat Goes On,” than on the entire “Gravitas” album.

Having listened to “Gravitas” several times, I went back and listened to “Asia” and “Alpha”, which established, for me, the benchmark for subsequent Asia albums. Two things stand out: first, the early Asia songs were far more interesting, especially musically, with a remarkable amount of “proggy” elements for such commercially successful albums (of course, the early ’80s were far kinder in that regard, as also evidenced by Yes’s “90125”); secondly, the early Asia sounded like a band that wrote songs as a band and wanted to be a band. The input and influence of Steve Howe and Palmer are readily evident, even if Wetton and Downes were the primary songwriters. And so the songs were far more diverse, ranging from “Heat of the Moment”, with its upfront guitar lick, to the dramatic push-and-pull of “True Colors”, to the deeply longing, semi-epic “Open Your Eyes” (a personal favorite). To sum it up, the songs on “Gravitas” lack variety, suffering from sameness and, in places, some overly long and repetitious choruses and outros.

“Gravitas” is, as an Asia album, rather mediocre; it has some good moments, but is lacking. Those good moments are due mostly to Wetton’s singing and Downe’s keyboards. Lyrically, there is a singer/songwriter quality here that also suggest this is more of a Wetton vehicle than a real band effort. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but I miss the interplay and band-oriented sound of earlier Asia.

Battle Sounds on the Definitive Edition of Relayer

The mystery of the missing battle sounds!

Definitive edition, or not?

You decide…


Shakira reviews the new Steven Wilson mix of Yes’ Relayer


Shakira signals her approval of the new Steven Wilson mix of Yes’ Relayer by wearing the appropriate T-shirt.

I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive. But here’s what’s in both the CD/DVD-A and CD/Blu-Ray versions:

CD (both versions):
NEW 2014 STEREO MIXES by Steven Wilson from the original multi-track tapes
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
Bonus tracks (Mixed & produced by YES and Eddie Offord):
4. Soon (single edit)
5. Sound Chaser (single edit)

NEW 2014 STEREO MIXES: LPCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
NEW 2014 5.1 SURROUND MIXES: 24/96 MLP Lossless/dts 96/24
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
ORIGINAL STEREO MIXES: Flat Transfer from original master LPCM Stereo 24/192
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
1. The Gates Of Delirium (studio run through)
2. Sound Chaser (studio run through)
3. To Be Over (studio run through)

1. Soon (single edit)
2. Sound Chaser (single edit)
3. The Gates Of Delirium (Studio run through)
1. Sound Chaser (Live from Cobo Hall 1976)
2. Sound Chaser (demo version)
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
NEEDLE-DROP 1: Original UK vinyl transfer: LPCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser
3. To Be Over
NEEDLE-DROP 2: US promo album vinyl transfer: LPCM Stereo 24/96
1. The Gates Of Delirium (Part I)
2. The Gates Of Delirium (Part II)
3. The Gates Of Delirium (Part III)
4. Sound Chaser (Part I)
5. Sound Chaser (Part II)
From the “Official Site”:
BLU-RAY: NTSC, all regions, LPCM playable in all Blu-ray players & Blu-ray drives
DVD: NTSC Region 0 hybrid DVD-A, compatible with all DVD players & DVD-rom drives
Both sets are presented in a mini vinyl replica gatefold card sleeve (with protective inner sleeves) with the original artwork expanded, restored and approved by Roger Dean. The booklet features new sleeve notes by Sid Smith along with rare photos and archive material.

relayer relayer-wilson

Re-Entering the Universe


Well, it has been exactly one year since I first joined Progarchy, and what a positive experience it has been. In celebration, I have decided to briefly give another shout out to my friend Dennis Lee Askew of the band Universe, one of my favorite American prog bands.  I very much enjoyed reviewing his first album in an earlier post.  Dennis recently issued a new album (pictured above) containing some songs from his first album and a few others previously unreleased. If you enjoy the sounds of psychedelia, space rock, acid rock, and prog, you will enjoy this album. It is a superb blend of Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues with some Yes added for good measure.  My two favorite songs on the album are I Am, which is keyboard driven and definitely has an early Pink Floyd vibe, and The Axiom, which features a cool synth opening and some great guitar work. You can support Dennis and his work by visiting his website and purchasing the album.

Goodbye Thomas, Hello Billy: Behind the Scenes Drama with Yes


Steve Howe has revealed in a radio interview that Yes wasn’t getting what it needed from Roy Thomas Baker on the production of Heaven and Earth, so they had to turn to Billy Sherwood, who left his stamp especially on the vocal mix:

“We got into it, and it was OK,” Howe tells WMGK‘s Ray Koob. “You know, every producer’s got a certain style. Roy’s method was pretty much about the sound. It wasn’t so much about the construction of the songs, like Trevor [Horn, producer of 2011’s Fly From Here], who worked very hard on that. So, Roy kind of let us do most of the music, and twiddled with a lot of knobs. But, I tell you, in the end we really did have to bring it back to Yes Central — because, in a way, I don’t think he was as familiar with our mixing style as say Billy Sherwood, who ended up doing that for us. Well, we did it with him; it was a collaboration. So, we had to kind of pull it back to Yes Central. It was all fair in love and war.”

When I saw Steve after the show in Vancouver, he remarked about his good memories of Vancouver because that was where The Ladder was recorded. Steve is really happy with the sound of The Ladder because of its unique “flavor.”

I think Jon Davison is fantastic and I have come to like Heaven and Earth very much, despite what initially struck me as weird about it — namely, the production! — and this news makes me wonder what the album could have been if Sherwood and not Baker had been involved for the entire process.

I hope they do another album with Davison soon, and with the right producer this time.

Yes — San Jose concert live on the Web tonight


YES – Live at San Jose Civic

On 19 August 2014 – Watch the YES live show from San Jose Civic CA – FREE – exclusively on Yahoo Screen.

Setlist: FRAGILE & CLOSE TO THE EDGE in their entireties plus 2 tracks from HEAVEN & EARTH plus more GREATEST HITS!

Showtime: 11:30pm ET / 8:30pm PT / 4:30am UK
Check the show time in your location here.

If you are in the USA you can watch the YES exclusive live concert for free on the Yahoo Screen App, available on iOS for iPhone, iPod & iPad and on Android.

If you miss the live event, don’t worry, the show will also be available to view afterwards on the same website.

Yes to Forever

Will Yes be the first band to transcend generations?

From an awesome new interview with the excellent Jon Davison:

But even with all the lineup changes, Yes’ music retains a dynamic, unmistakable identity that manages to end up being bigger than its individual players. 
That’s right, and it’s similar to the way classical music works. Long after those marvelous composers, like Chopin and Bach and all of them, passed, and the centuries moved forward, their music lives on. It’s not so much about the personality anymore. And people have a hard time seeing that now, because obviously the members [of Yes] are still alive, apart from [original guitarist] Peter Banks, who passed away last year. But it’s so easy to associate the music with the personality, and that causes a lot of conflict among fans. But ultimately, it’s about the music, and just taking the music forward. And there will always be a Yes. And I’m a lover of Jon Anderson as much as I’m a lover of Chris Squire, but you can’t fight it. And when something has that power to it, it’s beautiful, and beauty transcends all of that personality, and it’s always gonna belong, you just can’t put a cap on it and say, “Well, the original members aren’t doing this music anymore, so it’s over.” That can never be. It just can’t be.

It reminds me of the music of Frank Zappa, who composed so much great material with many different lineups — and many different lineups have performed it.
Yeah, that’s exactly it. Art just transcends so much. And when there’s something beautiful and powerful, it’s going to thrive, and you can’t stop it. Each lineup of Yes reflects a new, fresh kind of flavor, if you will. In the grand scheme and topography of Yes. So I think that’s kept it going. I think that’s kept it really fresh. Even the later albums, with “Open Your Eyes,” and so on, those albums are less popular, perhaps, but there was always a nice freshness there, the music was alive, and I think that has to do so much with the unique lineups that keep evolving.

In a recent article, Yes bassist Chris Squire joked, but in a somewhat serious way, that Yes will be around in a hundred years.
For me, when I hear the classic Yes stuff, yeah, I definitely hear that this is a ’70s band — there’s a lot of aspects in it that reveal that. But at the same time, it’s futuristic music. It’s like this thing you can’t quite pinpoint. It’s, like, way ahead of its time. And I still think we haven’t arrived at the point where, OK, we’ve arrived to the full realization of what Yes is. No, it’s like it’s still in the future, and I think that’s why it goes over so many people’s heads.

It’s definitely rock and roll, but at the same time, it has this transcendental quality that you can’t quite pinpoint.


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