Yes’ Golden Anniversary

From Blogdegezou:

On 3 August 1968, Yes played their first show under that name, having evolved from a succession of Mabel Greer’s Toyshop line-ups. Before that first show, they hired a basement room under The Lucky Horseshoe Café in Soho (now the Wildwood restaurant) and it was from there they set off for their debut.

50 years later, Bill Bruford returned to that room to unveil a plaque on the wall commemorating the event …

More here.   Hat tip to Sean Tonar!

— Rick Krueger

2018: Reasons to Be Cheerful …

… If you’re a prog fan, that is.  Some of what’s in the forecast for the rest of the year:

3.2, The Rules Have Changed Robert Berry’s one-man tribute to and posthumous collaboration with Keith Emerson; released August 10.  Details and a teaser track here.

Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Star Clocks.  I’ll be writing more about Stewart & Gaskin’s music soon; suffice to say it’s some of the best intellipop you’ve probably never heard.  (With Gavin Harrison on drums, no less.) The new album is out August 17; pre-order it and investigate their back catalog at Burning Shed.

The Pineapple Thief, Dissolution.  Bruce Soord and the TPT crew are joined by Gavin Harrison — him again! — as drummer and co-writer.  Released August 31. Details and a teaser track here; check out Sonic Perspectives’ interview with Soord (which hints at a possible 2019 US mini-tour) here.

Soft Machine, Hidden Details.  The pioneer psych/prog/jazz-rock collective is back for a 50th anniversary world tour — and they’re bringing a new album with them!  Three members from the 1970s versions of the band plus sax/flute progger Theo Travis (Robert Fripp, Steven Wilson, David Gilmour) tackle new compositions and a couple of vintage classics.  Released September 9; watch for a Soft Machine retrospective series from me during the run-up. Tour info herepre-order options for the album and a sample track here;

Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin & Rick Wakeman, Live at the Apollo.  The “unofficial” version of the band (albeit one with two “classic era” members plus the musical mastermind of 90125) weighs in for the band’s 50th anniversary year.  Released September 9 in various audio and video formats; details and a teaser here. 

Coming soon from In Continuum: the debut album by Dave Kerzner’s new supergroup, with contributions from: vocalist Gabriel Agudo (Steve Rothery Band / Bad Dreams); guitarists Fernando Perdomo (Dave Kerzner Band), Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact) Randy McStine (Sound of Contact, The Fringe) and John Wesley (Porcupine Tree); drummers Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats), Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard) and Derek Cintron; and special guests singer Jon Davison (Yes) and guitarist Steve Rothery.  Release date TBA; more info here. 

Coming soon from King Crimson: Based on the liner notes in Crimson’s 2018 Tourbox, we can anticipate: a reissue/revamp of the band’s 2001 album, The ReConstruKction of Light; a related, more exhaustive box focusing on the era of the ProjeKcts and the Double Duo Crimson, Heaven and Earth; and a fresh concert set from the current Crims, Live in Mexico. Release dates TBA.  Meanwhile there have been rumblings from Robert Fripp ruling out Europe for Crimson’s 50th anniversary tour in 2019.  Does that rule in the USA?  Stay tuned …

Coming soon from Marillion: deluxe edition of Clutching at Straws (release date TBA); mass market reissues of the Racket Records live sets Happiness is Cologne, Popular Music (U.S. release in September), Live in Glasgow and Brave Live (U.S. release in November).  Clutching rumors to be found in the Lucy’s Friday Questions group on Facebook; live reissue info is here and here.

Coming soon from Steven Wilson: Home Invasion Live at the Royal Albert Hall, with guest appearances by Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree), Mark Feltham (Talk Talk), Dave Kilminster and Ninet Tayeb.  (Oh, and a Bollywood dance company).  Release info for the video TBA;  details here.

Bonus round from the Pink Floyd camp: Nick Mason expects to tour the USA next year with his new band Saucerful of Secrets.  The group’s set of early Pink Floyd classics (from the albums Piper at the Gates of Dawn through Obscured By Clouds) went down a storm in London earlier this summer; they embark on a European tour in September.  More info on the band and Mason’s box set reissuing his solo albums here.

— Rick Krueger

In Concert: #Yes50

Yes at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids Michigan, June 29, 2018

Before this past Friday, I’d seen Yes live three times: back in 1984 on the second leg of the 90125 tour; twenty years later on their 35th anniversary tour, which featured Rick Wakeman on keyboards and culminated with the recording of the Songs from Tsongas video; and at a 2011 club show with Benoit David singing that started rough, then picked up steam to become a genuinely thrilling night.

It was great to join fellow Progarchist Bryan Morey at Grand Rapids’ hot new club, where I’ve recently heard Marillion and Utopia, to catch Yes barnstorming through “Mitchigan” (Steve Howe’s onstage pronunciation) on their 50th anniversary tour. As Bryan mentioned in his review, they brought an excellent show to town — well structured and paced, showing off each band member to best advantage, wowing listeners with great ensemble playing and building to an encore that was tons of fun. My personal impressions follow:

Continue reading “In Concert: #Yes50”

Yes at 50 – Live at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI – 6/29/18

Yes, Live at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 29, 2018

Setlist:
Set 1
Intro: The Firebird Suite
Close To The Edge
Nine Voices (Longwalker)
Parallels
Mood For A Day
Leaves Of Green
Fly From Here, Part 1: We Can Fly
Sweet Dreams
Heart Of The Sunrise

Set 2
Perpetual Change
Does It Really Happen?
Soon
Awaken (featuring Alan White)

Encore (featuring Alan White and Tony Kaye)
Yours Is No Disgrace
Roundabout
Starship Trooper

Players: Steve Howe (guitars), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Jon Davison (vocals, assorted instruments), Billy Sherwood (bass, backing vocals), Alan White (drums), Jay Schellen (drums), and special guest, Tony Kaye (keyboards)

Last night was my first time seeing Yes, and I got to see them with fellow Progarchist Rick Krueger and a couple of his friends. In the grand scheme of things, I’m a newcomer to Yes’ outstanding music, having started listening to them about five or six years ago. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to see Chris Squire live. Steve Howe was near the top of my list of people I wanted to see live, and I’m happy I had that opportunity last night. The show was amazing. The band was tight, and it was  difficult to tell the difference between their live performance and the albums. The biggest difference was the bass actually boomed, unlike on the original recordings. Just looking at the setlist, you can tell this was a very long show. It started at 7:30pm and ended a few minutes shy of 10:30pm, with a 20 minute intermission. We got our money’s worth, to say the least.

Continue reading “Yes at 50 – Live at 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI – 6/29/18”

Tom Timely’s “The Elf King”–a Prog Masterpiece?

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Just a smidgeon of confidence!

Tom Timely has written, produced, and released a single under the title, “The Elf King.”  Unfortunately, at the moment, it seems only to be available as a Facebook video. Here’s hoping Timely will move it to Youtube.

 

Somewhat astoundingly, Timely begins his video with “Introducing A Prog-Rock Masterpiece,” all in Tolkienian, Elven script.

Indeed, he writes on his Facebook post:

My new song! Remind yourself of an earlier time over and over…until it becomes your reality. Think of the things you could do if you had the key to unlock the past….You could change things! Some call it nostalgia, I call it the key. Check out my song and see if it takes you back.

So, kudos to Mr. Timely for possessing so much confidence.  His pronouncement of “introducing” a “classic” reminds me of the founding father Benjamin Franklin when he wrote, rather proudly, that he possessed the virtue of humility.

Some things, simply put, cannot be bestowed on one’s self.  Anyway, I’ll just take this as Mr. Timely’s enthusiasm.

The single, “The Elf King,” is quite excellent, introducing us to some very Yes-ish bass, combined with Kansas and Genesis-like keyboards throughout much of the song, though harpsicord is the first instrument the listener hears.  I can’t quite place the voice, but Timely (I’m assuming it’s Timely on vocals) has a Styx-like feel to me.  While the entire middle and sections sound very reminiscent of Tony Banks’s work on Gabriel-era Genesis, the song itself seems to have been a long, forgotten part of Leftoverature.

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Since I’ve referenced Yes, Genesis, Kansas, and Styx, you might very well get the opinion that this is pure nostalgia prog.  Heck, even Timely himself admits the element of nostalgia. Yet, this song is definitely more than a sum of its parts, and no one of the bands mentioned above could’ve written this song as is.  Thus, there’s a real genius in the way Timely pulls all of this older pieces together into a new whole.

I have a feeling Timely might very well have introduced a masterpiece. What say you???

 

 

Flashback Review: Yes Live in 2011

I wrote this review as a Facebook note in 2011 — my first online year of “too many concerts” (but not my last), when I heard Yellow Matter Custard, Yes, Bob Seger, Rush, Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, U2 and Paul McCartney live.  The following is unedited, except for a couple of cosmetic fixes (the occasional snark is still intact).  I think of it as an appropriate appetizer for my next Yes show, coming at the end of June! — Rick Krueger

Yes, The Orbit Room, Grand Rapids Michigan, March 20, 2011

Over the last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that rockers should rock as long as they want to rock. Maybe it’s because I’m pushing 50, but I have fewer & fewer problems with icons from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, etc. touring endlessly. In fact, my favorite moment on the Crossroads 2010 DVD is a shot of Hubert Sumlin (guitarist for Chicago blues legend Howlin’ Wolf) sitting in a chair, an oxygen tube in his nostrils, jamming away & happy as a clam. Let it rock, I say.

The opening of Yes’ show at the Orbit Room, however, was a severe test of that credo. When Chris Squire trundles onstage and has to strap his bass guitar higher than ever before so his stomach isn’t in the way; when Alan White stiffly totters onto his drum riser; when the first two songs (“Parallels” & “Tempus Fugit”) feature wildly fluctuating tempos, slowing down not just from section to section, but from riff to riff — well, you have to wonder, however briefly, if some reunions should be left undone. Add a new lead singer who specializes in slo-mo interpretive movement, jazz hands a-plenty, and Riverdance spins during instrumental sections (on top of a salt-and-pepper crew cut), and the night seemed even less promising.

Fortunately, the music prevailed and the players whipped themselves into shape by the third number, “Yours Is No Disgrace.” Squire & White pounded out a revivified backbeat, Steve Howe unleashed his patented Chuck Berry-meets-country-meets-psychedelia guitar magic, and Oliver Wakeman not only proved a nimble & able replacement for his dad on keyboards, but also won the “longest hair in the band” award. As for Benoit David, that new lead singer — despite a few shaky high notes at the start, he quickly proved able to navigate Jon Anderson’s stratospheric vocal lines with confidence & joy, soaring on his own & locking into tight harmonies with Squire and Howe.

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From then on, the night was pretty much an unalloyed treat. “Soon” (from the album Relayer) was a gorgeous ballad interlude, with lush lap steel playing by Howe and David nailing the stirring vocal. “Close to the Edge” had the last attack of shaky tempos for the night, but also sported solid ensemble playing, Squire shaking the room with his bass pedals, and Wakeman rocking out on all eight on his keyboards. “I’ve Seen All Good People” shone despite a dead mike on Howe’s lute (!) at the beginning, culminating in David-led handclaps & audience vocals. Howe’s solo spot (featuring an unaccompanied version of “To Be Over,” another Relayer track) was mind-meltingly good, both technical & tasty. The heavy “Machine Messiah,” an extended piece from the Drama album, served as a slam-bang intro to Yes’ heavy hitters. “Owner of A Lonely Heart,” “Long Distance Runaround” (with the least extended bass solo I’ve ever heard from Squire), “Starship Trooper” and the inevitable encore “Roundabout” got the all-ages crowd dancing, rushing the stage, singing at the top of their lungs, and motivating Howe to thank everyone for “being such a rowdy, crazy, great audience.”

Have the mighty fallen? To think of Yes (who did their last US arena tour 7 years ago) playing a 1500 seat club is more than a little sad. On the other hand, if they can overcome the obstacles of age, lineup changes, indifferent disc sales, and unpredictable sound systems to play shows with this much intensity and fire, I’d say it’s a good trade-off!

 

 

 

1969: A Blast from the Past

“Well it’s 1969 OK all across the USA
It’s another year for me and you
                                      Another year with nothing to do”  — 1969, The Stooges

I was 7 going on 8 in 1969.  But my brother was ten years older — and Detroit was a prime location to explore rock as it turned psychedelic, then progressive, still with plenty of punk attitude.  Our cousin from Lansing was about the same age as my brother — so they did a fair amount of concertgoing together.

The other day, out of the blue I got a letter from our cousin, reproduced below with my random thoughts interspersed:

Dear Cousin Rick,

I’m sending along a copy of the program from the festival I attended in the south of England summer of 1969.  I thought you might it interesting.

plumpton festival program(Hmmm … The 9th National Jazz and Blues Festival.  Waitaminute: Pink Floyd?  King Crimson?  Peter Hammill performing solo before the first Van Der Graaf Generator album? Yes?  The Who?  Keith Emerson with The Nice?  Not to mention Soft Machine and Pentangle?  And he was there? Doggone straight I find it interesting.  Please continue, cousin!)

I’d seen both The Who and The Nice at the Grande Ballroom in the spring before.  The Who played the entire Tommy opera both times.  The Nice as I remember had some kind of revolving organ at the Grande.  At the Plumpton fest they closed the show on Sunday backed by a large orchestra.  At the final song the stage opened and a regiment of bagpipers marched off the stage and into the crowd.  Those were heady times.

isle of wight 1969There’s also a copy of the Isle of Wight festival flier which I missed as it was the weekend which we were heading home.  Such fond memories.

(Bob Dylan & The Band?  The Moody Blues?  More from King Crimson, The Who and Pentangle?  Stop torturing me, cousin!!!  Actually, no — please continue as I wrestle with envy and wish Doctor Who’s TARDIS was real.)

The day we arrived in London the Rolling Stones played in Hyde Park celebrating the life of Brian Jones who had just passed.  Couldn’t quite get there but almost.  (Another King Crimson show!!)

I’d like to hear more about your music blogging/reviews.    P.S.  We didn’t arrive at the fest until Saturday so we missed all the Friday acts.  Booo!

Fortunately, the sounds of the Plumpton Festival aren’t completely lost in the mists of time; I plan to direct my cousin to Soft Machine’s and Pink Floyd’s sets online, and send him a copy of King Crimson’s set.

detroit rr revival 1969And talking with my brother later, I heard the story of how he and my cousin somehow got permission to go to the 1969 Detroit Rock’n’Roll Revival (with the MC5, Chuck Berry, Dr. John, The “Psychedelic” Stooges and many more acts) the night before my sister’s wedding.  Maybe I should rethink missing Yes’ 50th Anniversary Tour when it hits Grand Rapids.  Not to mention Wayne Kramer’s MC50 Kick Out the Jams 50th Anniversary Tour and Soft Machine’s world tour coming to Progtoberfest IV

— Rick Krueger

“Close to the Edge” by YES (Second Spring 9)

close to the edge yes
1972.

“The shape of it is perfect,” Bill Bruford once said of the title track of the 1972 Yes album, CLOSE TO THE EDGE.  It’s hard to dispute Bruford on this.  If Yes wrote a perfect track, it is certainly “Close to the Edge.”  Other songs might be more innovative, more melodic, more complex, or quirkier, but no other Yes song matches the intensity of “Close to the Edge.”

In his own recollections of writing the song, Jon Anderson claims to have been influenced by a dream, and the dreamlike imagery is rather strong.  He also believed it to be a comment on the various Christian churches all vying for superiority, with the song actually introducing a “majestic church organ” with a Moog, itself replaced once again by “another organ solo rejoicing in the fact that you can turn your back on churches and find within yourself to be your own church.”

Continue reading ““Close to the Edge” by YES (Second Spring 9)”

Trevor Horn’s Glorious Re-Emergence in Yes: FLY FROM HERE: RETURN TRIP

Yes fly from here return trip
Trevor Horn brings, as always, love and excellence to this rerelease.

Review of Yes, FLY FROM HERE: RETURN TRIP (Pledgemusic, 2018). Tracks: Fly From Here, Parts 0-V; The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be; Life on a Film Set; Hour of Need; Solitaire; Don’t Take No For an Answer; and Into the Storm.

Standout tracks: Madman at the Screen; Into the Storm.

Sailor, sailor beware.  There are storm clouds.  You must take care.

When I first saw the notice that Yes would be re-releasing its 2011 album, FLY FROM HERE, with a remaster and remix by Trevor Horn and with all main vocals provided by  the very same Trevor Horn, I was surprised and a bit skeptical.  Fake news?  Well, there seems to be a lot of that going around these days in the western world.

And, it turned out. . . it was real news.  After I realized this thing was real, I immediately jumped onto Pledgemusic and, well, pledged.

Continue reading “Trevor Horn’s Glorious Re-Emergence in Yes: FLY FROM HERE: RETURN TRIP”

Bill Bruford Tours Again! (Academia, That Is.)

From Bill Bruford’s website:

Further dates have been added to Bill’s series of talks on creativity in music performance … The trip ends appropriately enough in Cleveland, OH, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for this recent inductee. Just to clarify: excepting the R&R HoF, these talks are gently academic in nature and not about Bill or his career per se. He will not be performing, but he is happy to autograph a book and one other item only, should that be requested.

Dates are as follows:

  • March 5th: 5.00-6.30 pm. Rhythmic Music Conservatory, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • March 8th. 7.00-9.00 pm. Rockheim National Museum of Popular Music, Trondheim, Norway.
  • April 10th: 2.45 pm. University at Albany, NY (uptown campus), Performing Arts Center (PAC) B-78. Visitors should park at one of the two visitor lots. Free admission.
  • April 11th: 3.00 pm. SUNY Oneonta, Oneonta, NY. Fine Arts Center M201, Ravine Parkway, Oneonta. Free admission.
  • April 13th: 4.00 pm. Onondaga Community College, 4585, W Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse NY. Classroom (P110) in the Academic II building. Free admission.
  • April 16th: 4.00 pm. University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. Baird Recital Hall. Free admission.
  • April 17th: 7.00 pm. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Watkins Hall, School of Music, Theater & Dance. Free admission.
  • April 18th: 11.30 am. Kelvin & Eleanor Smith Foundation Ballroom C, Tinkham Veale University Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland OH. Free admission.
  • April 18th: 7.00 pm. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland OH. Admission $10.

Continue reading “Bill Bruford Tours Again! (Academia, That Is.)”