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The Yes Family Tree

PROG mag (Issue 40) has a great poster to help you keep track of the sprawling epic that is Yes! Click to enlarge:

New Yes Album: Heaven and Earth (July 8, 2014)

The new Yes album is called Heaven and Earth.

It will be released on July 8.

The band has announced their 2014 summer tour:

Yes will perform 1971′s Fragile in its entirety as well as every track from 1972′s Close To The Edge, followed by an encore of the band’s greatest hits and material off their new studio album, Heaven and Earth, which is due on July 8.

Bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, keyboardist Geoff Downes and singer Jon Davison will kick off the tour in Boston on July 8.

The 35-show run is currently scheduled to come to a close on August 24 at the Greek in Los Angeles.

YES Tour Dates – Summer 2014

JULY 2014
7/8 Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, Boston, MA
7/9 Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY
7/11 Toyota Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, CT
7/12 NYCB Theatre at Westbury, Westbury, NY
7/13 Newport Yachting Center, Newport, RI
7/15 Warner Theatre, Washington DC
7/16 Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, Hampton, NH
7/18 Seneca Allegany Casino, Salamanca, NY
7/19 Tower Theater, Philadelphia, PA
7/20 Carnegie Music Hall, Munhall, PA
7/22 Meadow Brook, Rochester Hills, MI
7/23 Hard Rock Live Northfield Park, Northfield, OH
7/25 Overture Hall, Madison, WI
7/26 Copernicus Center, Chicago, IL
7/28 Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
7/29 Louisville Palace, Louisville, KY
7/30 Symphony Hall, Atlanta, GA

8/1 Seminole Hard Rock Live, Hollywood, FL
8/2 Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, FL
8/3 Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, Orlando, FL
8/5 Bayou Music Center, Houston, TX
8/6 Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie, Grand Prairie, TX
8/7 Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland, Kansas City, MO
8/9 Paramount Theatre, Denver, CO
8/10 TBA
8/12 Ikeda Theatre at Mesa Arts Center, Mesa, AZ
8/13 Legends Theater at Route 66 Casino, Albuquerque, NM
8/15 The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
8/16 City National Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA
8/18 Humphrey’s Concerts By the Bay, San Diego, CA
8/19 City National Civic, San Jose, CA
8/21 Tulalip Amphitheatre, Tulalip, WA
8/22 Spirit Mountain Casino, Grand Ronde, OR
8/23 Thunder Valley Casino Resort, Lincoln, CA
8/24 The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

The 35-date summer tour will feature YES performing–in their entirety–1971’s groundbreaking album FRAGILE for the first-time ever and a repeat performance from last year’s tour of 1972’s CLOSE TO THE EDGE, followed by an encore of the band’s greatest hits and material off their new studio album, Heaven and Earth, which is due on July 8.

Kicking off July 8 in Boston, the tour will then stop at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall July 10 before making its way throughout the Northeast, hitting Wallingford, CT, Westbury, NY, Newport, RI, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and more. Among their many tour stops, YES will perform in Detroit, Madison, Chicago, Nashville, Louisville, Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego and San Jose before wrapping August 24 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. …

During the encore on the upcoming tour, the multi-platinum progressive rock band–bassist CHRIS SQUIRE, guitarist STEVE HOWE, drummer ALAN WHITE, keyboardist GEOFF DOWNES and singer JON DAVISON—will also perform material off HEAVEN AND EARTH, their new studio album, out July 8.

Currently the band is touring Canada with their three-album concert tour.

I just saw their magnificent show in Vancouver and will post a review soon.

Review preview in brief: Yes is still stunning live. Catch them if you can!

Yes: Live in Vancouver (March 20, 2014)


I was at the amazing Yes show last night in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Note the Vancouver skyline outside the QE Theatre in the show poster above.)

The concert was superb! A dream come true!

An awesome display of guitars rotated through the hands of Steve Howe and Chris Squire and Jon Davison during the show. This was a revelation to me, because when I listen to the albums I have never imagined all the changing guitar models throughout the songs! It was so much fun to see this live.

My review and recollections will appear soon on Progarchy. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from a Victoria newspaper about the preparations for the Canadian tour. Victoria was the first stop of the tour and Vancouver the second:

Esquimalt has been rehearsal headquarters for classic rock band Yes as it prepares for a cross-Canada concert tour that starts tonight in Victoria.

The British rock group, famous for the hits Roundabout, I’ve Seen All Good People and Owner of a Lonely Heart, rented the Archie Browning Sports Centre on Monday and Tuesday so that its eight-person crew could stage a dry run of the two-and-a-half-hour concert.

“They all live in different parts of the world, so they have to get together to jam,” said production manager Joe Comeau, who oversees the band’s stage show. “It’s a chance for the band to work through the kinks.”

It’s unusual for a touring act to have space on its schedule for a full-scale rehearsal even for a single day, let alone two. Days off are usually spent travelling instead of rehearsing, but these practices were necessary, Comeau said.

They come on the heels of a six-month layoff for Yes. Though it was time-intensive to set up the band’s gear, it gave everyone involved some peace of mind heading into a series of concerts. “It’s the longest break we’ve had in a long time,” Comeau said.

Various band members and Yes crew were in action Monday morning, but the curling rink at Archie Browning didn’t get into full swing until Tuesday, when drum, guitar and lighting techs began readying gear for the full band’s arrival.

Yes members Alan White (drums), Steve Howe (guitar), Chris Squire (bass), Jon Davison (vocals) and Geoff Downes (keyboards) were all present for a full practice by late afternoon Tuesday and ran through the concert in its entirety.

The real thing will be unveiled tonight during the band’s inaugural Victoria performance, the first of 10 dates in Canada on the Grammy-winning band’s Triple Album Tour. The band is scheduled to perform three records, The Yes Album (1971), Close to the Edge (1972) and Going for the One (1977), front-to-back tonight.

In an earlier interview with the Times Colonist, White preached the need to practice while in Greater Victoria.

Though various members have been with Yes since 1969, the band doesn’t like to leave anything to chance.

“You’ve got to tighten things up,” White said. “Some of these songs, we haven’t played for six months. We need to get in the mode.”

Joe Comeau strings Steve Howe’s 1955 Fender Telecaster for practice sessions by rock band Yes at Archie Browning Sports Centre in Esquimalt. by Mike Devlin, Times Colonist; Photo: Darren Stone.

Yes is Still Epic

It seems to me the headline (“Yes: ‘No Epics’ on New Album“) gets the story wrong:

Drummer Alan White shed a little light on the new music during a recent interview, sharing his satisfaction with producer Roy Thomas Baker’s work behind the boards. Looking back on a botched attempt to record with Baker in the ’70s, White called it “A blessing in disguise, because it wasn’t turning out like we wanted it, but this one is. Roy’s doing fine. He’s doing a great job. He’s getting some great sounds on the instruments.”

Baker’s getting those sounds the old-fashioned way, too. As White put it, “We spent quite a while getting the drum sound right. Roy is quite meticulous about which microphones get the right sound. We were using about $50,000 worth of microphones on the drums alone.”

As for the songs, White added, “It’s all fresh music. Everything on the album was conceived within the last year or so. No epics on this album. There are some longer pieces with intricate parts to them, but there are some shorter tracks too which are right to the point.”

Well, that just sounds like it is more 90125 and less Topographic Oceans. So what!

90125 is one of their best albums. So… no reason to panic, Yes fans!

By the way, I find it annoying that the sensationalist headline makes White into the official spokesman for Yes.

How misleading.

At least the original story has a less misleading (although equally sensational) headline.

Speculation mode:

Perhaps the songs from the 70s’ Baker sessions may give us something of a taste of what is in store?

All of the songs associated with the Paris sessions have eventually surfaced, in one form or another. Two (“Tango” and a song once known as “Flower Girl” that was retitled “Never Done Before”) found a home on the 2002 In a Word box set. Four others — including “Dancing with the Light” and “In the Tower” — were part of an expanded remaster of Drama, the 1980 follow up to Tormato. “Everybody Loves You” was later reworked for Anderson’s 1980 solo album Song of Seven.

Additional material from the subsequent Drama sessions also made up the lengthy title track for Yes’ 2011 project Fly From Here, though White says this Yes new album will include all new songs. Don’t look for a similar suite of songs, either.

“It’s all fresh music,” White confirms. “Everything on the album was conceived within the last year or so. No epics on this album. There are some longer pieces with intricate parts to them, but there are some shorter tracks too which are right to the point.”

The title of that one song is actually “Dancing Through the Light.” There is also “Golden Age” and “Friend of a Friend.” These are all great bonus tracks on the Drama reissue.

A tip of the Progarchy hat to our friends in Lobate Scarp for the heads up about this news! (Follow them on Twitter.)

Don’t forget… Yes visits Canada starting next week!

The Cord of Life: Steven Wilson on the Prog Bible

Steven Wilson interviewed about his 5.1 mix of Close to the Edge:

Mettler: Do you consider this one of your best 5.1 mixes to date?

Wilson: There are a lot of magical moments on there, yes. At the same time, I was absolutely terrified to do this mix. It’s almost like rewriting The Bible, isn’t it?

Mettler: Since it is such an iconic album, you must have felt some level of added pressure before you even cued up those tapes in your studio.

Wilson: I did. And the same way The Bible defines the way people live their lives, Close to the Edge has defined some people’s musical taste. For better or worse, you have to realize you could be messing with people’s minds, in a way. So that’s terrifying. But I enjoyed it, and I came away with more admiration for the record than I had to start with – which is no mean feat, because I thought it was terrific to start with.

Mettler: Close to the Edge is one of those benchmark records that I always come back to for a full-album listening experience.

Wilson: It’s a bona-fide A-level masterpiece. I think “masterpiece” is an overused word, but there are some records that deserve being called that, and this is one of them.

Yes in Canada

Yes is coming to Canada:

In March 2014, iconic and Grammy-winning rock band YES bring their concert tour to Canada, unveiling a true classic rock triple-header by performing three of their most popular albums in their entirety, all in one concert: 1971’s THE YES ALBUM, 1972’s CLOSE TO THE EDGE, and 1977’s GOING FOR THE ONE.

Music audiences across Canada will experience the albums – each representing an important milestone in YES’ career which encompasses sales of close to 50 million albums worldwide – performed from beginning to end.

Chris Epting of AOL’s said: “Yes demonstrates why they remain one of the most vaunted and respected musical forces in progressive rock among both fans and players alike… Singer Jon Davison, now a year into his role as frontman demonstrated from the outset that he is more than up to the task… At one time it was about exploration, experimentation and an elegant, seamless blending of many musical styles into one space-age storm that remains inspired, atmospheric and very hard to categorize. This was a feast for the followers; faithful renditions for the many die hard starship troopers that were no doubt reliving many scrapbook Yes memories over the years. But the show was not about mere nostalgia. This is a band that still feels strangely new, simply by doing what they do, pushing the boundaries and presenting songs that, like the wildly colorful and original Roger Dean artwork that represents them, are just beautifully designed and built to last.”

I can’t miss this!

Concert of a lifetime!

I’m going.

And my detailed concert review will be posted right here at

Tom Woods and Progressive Rock: A 30-minute Chat

Tom Woods is one of the foremost political philosophers and commentators.  He's also a proud progger.

Tom Woods is one of the foremost political philosophers and commentators in the United States today. He’s also a proud progger.

I had the great privilege of speaking with one of America’s foremost political commentators yesterday, Tom Woods, about progressive rock.  It turns out that Tom is a huge progger.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I think we’re both the younger brothers of Neil Peart.  We really had a field day talking about CLOSE TO THE EDGE, SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND, THICK AS A BRICK, PASSION PLAY, IN ABSENTIA, and THE FINAL CUT.

We talked “third wave prog,” too.

Tom was especially interested in the founding and purpose of progarchy.  And, for what it’s worth, Tom is as smart and insightful as he is kind.  A true gentleman.  Here’s a link to our show yesterday.  Enjoy.

“The Episode of the Year”: Woods and Birzer talk prog.

Also, in September, Tom talked with Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.  Also worth checking out.

Here’s the link to Tom’s website:


closeIf you have any free time today, check out the excellent symposium re: the re-release of a number of Yes albums over at the Dutch Progressive Rock Page.  DPRP is always great, but this is spectacular, even for their very high standards.

Andy Tillison, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, and David Elliott’s guest reviews are especially good.  Not surprisingly.

And, our own lovely progarchist, Lady Alison, also contributes rather lovingly.  Lovely, lovingly.  Lots of love.

Transatlantic Covers a Yes Classic: And You and I

Nice to wake up to this, this morning.  A beautiful rendition of a Yes classic.  Morse’s and Stolt’s voices especially add to the atmosphere of the song.

Transatlantic’s new album out late January, 2014 (Insideout).

Power Windows: Rush and Excellence against Conformity

It’s the power and the glory

It’s a war in paradise

It’s a cinderella story

On the tumble of the dice

—Neil Peart, “The Big Money,” 1985



Power Money

It would have been impossible to avoid Power Windows in the Fall of 1985, I being a senior in a Kansas high school, even if I had wanted to.

And, I didn’t.

Every where I turned that fall—in ways far more than any other Rush song since Tom Sawyer—I heard “The Big Money.”  MTV played the video repeatedly (we didn’t have MTV, but friends did), and our wonderful local radio station—KICT95 out of Wichita—had it in constant rotation.  Of course, being a massively obsessed Rush fan since first encountering them in 7th grade detention, I was thrilled to see Rush get so much attention.

Sadly, though, I became overly saturated with “The Big Money.”  It’s the only Rush song that has ever grown tiring for me.  For years, it stood up there with “Stairway to Heaven.”  I just shut both out of my mind, flipped the radio dial when either played.  As Power Windows is one of my all-time favorite albums, this has been rather difficult for me to accomplish.  For nearly two decades, though, I merely started the album with the second track, “Grand Designs.”

Then, on September 18, 2012, at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, standing next to my good friend, Dom, Rush played it as the second track of the Clockwork Angels tour.  Straight from Subdivisions to The Big Money to Force Ten and then, three songs from Power Windows in a row: Grand Designs; Middletown Dreams; and Territories.  Half of the album!  Freaking brilliant.  Poor Dom.  He’s only a college student, and he had to hear my sound byte reminiscences for every track.  I was reliving a huge part of my high school experience.

Seeing “The Big Money” live made me realize why that song is so wonderful.  Alex, Geddy, and Neil brought immense energy to it (and Force Ten, as well—the most rocking version I’d heard from Rush; Alex even played one of his best guitar solos for this song on this tour).  Suddenly, whatever tiredness and reluctance I’d felt about “The Big Money” over the last several decades dissipated at the moment the opening few notes began.  Add video of spinning and printing dollars as well as the Three Stooges, and I was sold.  (Sorry, bad choice of words).  But, really, everything was perfect—the drumming, the bass, the guitar solo.  And, of course, the Austin Powers moment at the end: “One million dollars!”

Now, as of the end of 2013, I’m back in and with those autumn days of 1985.  Let “The Big Money” reign.  I’ve also re-discovered my love of Led Zeppelin 4.

But, the point of the post is not to praise “The Big Money” specifically, but to remember Power Windows.  I’m happy to praise both!  And, frankly, I’ve been offering praise of Power Windows since it came out, but only with the caveat that The Big Money is a weak point.  Now, in 2013, I realize how wrong I was.  The whole thing deserves praise, and one cannot separate any song from the whole.  It is what it is, and it’s a thing of immense beauty.

pw boy

Power Jazz

In Contents Under Pressure (by Martin Popoff), Neil argues that he sees Power Windows and Hold Your Fire as two sides of the same coin, separate from Grace Under Press, but also from Presto.  Certainly, there’s an argument to be made here.  In terms of bass and drums, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, have the most distinctly jazz feel of any Rush albums.  At times, taking the rhythm section alone, the listener might be enjoying a Chick Corea album from the same time period.  In production, though, Power Windows comes across as rather raw power, while Hold Your Fire feels rather lush.  Whatever similarities—and they are many—the albums seem very different to the listener.    Again, as Neil states, the first is an extrovert, while the second an introvert.

As a fan, though, I tend to hear consistent themes in Moving Pictures through Hold Your Fire.  Moving Pictures stresses the need to be an individual against the crowd; Signals warns that being such an individual will cause pain, but is worth it; Grace Under Press deals with recovery from such persecution (sometimes in the hallway, sometimes in the concentration camp); Power Windows deals with excellence against conformity; and Hold Your Fire pleads for restraint in the now comfortable individual looking at those he’s made uncomfortable.

Granted, these themes are, for me, autobiographical, in the sense that I grew up with them, and each album plays a key role in my own understanding of the world.  That is, these themes might not have been intended by Peart, and, admittedly, perhaps I’m alone in seeing them this way.  As I’ve mentioned before, Neil Peart has influenced me as much as anyone in my life—ranging from Plato (I teach western civ for a living, so allow me a little pretense here) to St. Paul to my mother.  Plato-Paul-Peart!!!  The three Ps.

For me:

  • Moving Pictures: 7th Grade
  • Signals: 9th Grade
  • Grace Under Pressure: 11th (Junior) Grade
  • Power Windows: 12th (Senior) Grade
  • Hold Your Fire: sophomore year of college.

imagesPower Themes 

In terms of wordplay and poetry, Neil is at his best on Power Windows.

In The Big Money, Peart considers the good and the evils of what we now refer quite commonly as “Crony Captialism.”  As with much of this album, the shadow of cultural critic, socialist-turned-libertarian and anti-war novelist, John Dos Passos, hangs over The Big Money.   Dos Passos also called his style “The Camera Eye.” 1936’s The Big Money concluded Dos Passos’s famous U.S.A. Trilogy.  Much like Peart, Dos Passos traveled incessantly, offering a fine cultural criticism over everything he surveyed.

Grand Designs, track two, comes from the final part of the “District of Columbia,” trilogy published by Dos Passos in 1949.  It examines individual genius in line with nature and against nature.  In the conflict of style and substance, Peart is also referencing the grand Anglo-American poet, T.S. Eliot, and his 1925 poem, The Hollow Men.

The third track, Manhattan Project, anticipates the history-telling prog of Big Big Train, offering a rather neutral analysis of the development of the first three atomic bombs.  Interestingly enough for Peart, he continues to harken back to religious language and themes, specially Catholic, referring again and again to “a world without end.”

Marathon echoes a number of other Peart songs, but it does it with extraordinary energy.  A celebration of the battle of the Athenians over the Persians in the Fifth Century, BC, it also, of course, deals with the virtue of fortitude.

Territories offers a scathing criticism of propaganda, nationalisms, and nation states.  In his criticisms and in the clever examples, Peart echoes the anti-statism of Mark Twain.

Taken, most likely, from the famous 1925 sociological report of Muncie, Indiana, entitled Middletown.  Not surprisingly, given the state of sociology in the 1920s, the report considers the every day habits and desires of rural Americans.  In his own Middletown, Peart examines the life of rural America as well as the dreams of those wishing to escape, generally unfulfilled.

Emotion Decter is one of Peart’s most Stoic songs, offering something against both the extremes of optimism and the cynicism of despair.  In the end, in a common Peart theme, man must restrain his reaction toward others, recognizing that one does not need approval of another should integrity already exist in the original act.  A true man judges himself.

The final and most proggish/artistic song of the album is Mystic Rhythms.  Rush ends with wonder at the intense diversity of the world and of all of the universe.

alex and geddy

Power New Wave

Finding a producer for Power Windows proved difficult at first.  After replacing the long-lived Terry Brown (every album up through Signals) with Peter Henderson (Grace Under Pressure), Rush found their third producer in Peter Collins, best known for his work with Nik Kershaw and Blancmange.  Making the connection to Britain even stronger, Rush recorded much of the album at Abbey Road Studios and in parts of London.  They also worked with Anne Dudley of the Art of Noise, who directed the strings.

Though Power Windows rocks with full force throughout almost all of the album (the final track, Mystic Rhythms, being the very proggy standout), it has also a strange New Wave feel to it.  Ok, this needs explaining.  Neil and Geddy sound as though they’re playing in a rocking jazz band from the 1980s, but Alex sounds as though he could be playing for The Fixx.  Alex, like Jamie West-Oram, seems to be creating immense but punctuated guitarscapes.  One of the things that makes Power Windows so effective, is this strange but powerful synthesis of jazz bass and drums with New Wave guitar.  In ways that Drama (some of the same production crew worked on both) attempted to be for Yes in 1980, Power Windows succeeds at bridging prog, rock, New Wave, and jazz.  I think Drama is a fine album (in fact, a favorite), but I think that Power Windows is truly successful at this attempt to bridge genres.  Perhaps, of course, Power Windows couldn’t have come about without Drama first—but an exploration of this would be well beyond the intent of this post.

Suffice it say, I love both.


Power Sources: 

  • Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure (2004).
  • Jerry Ewing, ed., Prog #35, Special Edition (April 2013).
  • Neil Peart, Roadshow (2006).
  • Power Windows liner notes (1985).
  • Jim Berti and Durrell Bowman, Rush and Philosophy (2011).  This book includes an essay by the brilliant economist (and philosopher), Steve Horwitz.

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