not right away…

Ah yes the memories flood back, a sweaty changing room, semi-naked teenage boys and the conversation turned to that most important of subjects. Is Supper’s Ready better than Close to the Edge?

This question has haunted the pimply semi-naked teenager since well about 1972 when both songs burst onto the scene in glorious be-flared and pompous fanfare to change the conversation in locker rooms forever, well for brief time anyway.

To this day I still do not have an answer to this question that truly satisfies anyone.

What I do know is that Yes managed to be brave enough to release a live version of their side long track on their triple live album, while Genesis fell at the hurdle and did not put out the center piece of their live show when they came to release their Live album. Maybe this is the difference between both bands, one seemed quite self effacing and lacked the necessary confidence while the other managed to swagger and sway their be-caped way into the hearts and minds of the rock and roll audience. Of course they were also incredibly pretentious and precious which seems to be a prerequisite for prog rock in general.

IMG_3126.JPG1972 was a good year for the good ship yes which was immortalized on the Yessongs triple album. On the road with the combined might of three of the greatest Yes albums behind them. Many however complained of the sound quality. It’s a great collection however. The Progeny Highlights from 72 was released in 2015 which was some may say an improvement in sound quality but lacking in that essential Yes bassiness.

The ultimate question however is Supper’s Ready or Close to the Edge and I have to say I don’t really know the answer to that. Are you feeling like ethereal vocals that makes no sense, or whimsical vocals that make no sense? If you know the IMG_3125.JPGanswer to any one of those things at any one time then you have the answer you need. Until then it’s good enough to know that I managed to wallow in six albums of Yes at the heights of their powers this evening and thats a lot of capes and flares and nonsense lyrics.

If I am going to be nit picky, why wouldn’t I be is the real question I wish that Progeny had a version of Starship Trooper on it because then it would be just about perfect in many ways. However Yessongs does have Starship Trooper so there you go. This however proves nothing and adds nothing to the Supper’s Ready, Close to the Edge question.

The wonder of Tales From Topographic Oceans was ahead of us but in 1972 they were still rocking with long flowing locks of glory and capes, can there ever be too may capes?

Psychedelic so we could see…

Oh how I pretended to hate this record at the age of 19, oh how I vilified the whole thing, complained about the drum sound and joined the anti-Yes army. Screaming at the top of my self-righteous lungs that this was antithetical to the whole Yes ethic. As if I even knew what that meant.

I railed against the drum sound, the peppy uptempo numbers. The orchestrations and the short songs, and shit their are horns. Wikipedia insists the songs are longer than regular pop songs, for fucks sake this is Yes they can do a double album with one song and not break into a sweat. Twenty minutes is just warming up to these guys, what do you mean long, these are just intro’s.

In the strange dark hours of the evening, when alone and nobody could see I would play the record smile and bounce gently around. I really wanted to bounce off the walls in joy but then the Yes purists may figure I liked this poppy side to their symphonic heroes and confiscate my flairs and cheese cloth shirts. IMG_0248

I think it took me a few years to get over  there was no Steve Howe on this or the previous album. Of course to this date the internecine arguments are a little old hat and is it really worth it at this point, obviously old men in flowing robes think so. Determined to argue over who has the keys to the Yes secrets.

So if you want to bounce around to loud 80’s pop music then Big Generator does the trick, it’s surprisingly strong as an album and a nice break from the dense somewhat enigmatic lyrics, and let’s be honest it’s not Close To The Edge, however it took a lot of Yes fans over the edge in it’s day.

I’ve trailed and sailed a silence which nobody knows

Lock a mystical vegetarian hippy away for the better part of a year to record his first solo album. Make him play and write everything on the album himself.

Allow him to be influenced by Tolkien an enigmatic mystic lady and the dude who paints the best album covers ever and what do you get?

oliasWell a concept album about a guy who builds a spaceship to escape the explosion of his planet. This is accompanied by the strumming of guitars the bleeping of synths and the rhythms of the world, or Jon Anderson’s Olias of Sunhillow which along with the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is one of the oddest and most compelling things committed to record and I still have no idea what the lyrics are about never mind how one man managed to compile this thing.

Apparently Mr Anderson went a little crazy making this fine piece of music and I can believe it.

After relaxing and basking in the overwhelming and soothing sounds of this the greatest solo album ever produced by a member of Yes I may be ready to tackle Topographic Oceans again.

I am also overcome with a sense of wellbeing and closeness to the planet. I may even add yoga to my health regime, although I will not become vegetarian, this much I have in common with Rick Wakeman.

 

Don’t surround yourself with yourself…

It’s Yes it’s supposed to not make sense. Don’t worry about the lyrics just dig the music man.

What do you mean you don’t get it? It’s yes.

How many times had I heard that and other statements as Galvin switched to the next Yes album in his hazy bedroom.

His greatest argument was based around the Yessongs triple album and how great it was, listen to the bass man he would mumble as the wah wah peddle hit.

As if that made any difference. In 1973 Genesis released a live document of the band at that time, it was one album that missed off the long song that was central to their show. Yes likewise released a live document of the band that was three albums and included pretty much everything you might see them do live and things you hoped they would not.shows

This did mot make any sense to me as I was a fan of the batwing headdress Gabriel led band while Galvin was enamored of the odd lyrics and capes of Yes. I was a fan of the melody and precision of Genesis while he reveled in the excesses of Yes.

fishThen one afternoon as I gazed at the little girl sat on the strange mushroom shaped rock confronting the fish spaceship it all made sense. They had surrounded themselves with themselves and it was good.

Not to mention.

It’s Yes man!

I ridicule myself for all the things those symbols stood for…

I waited a long time to get the energy up to listen to this. Some of it was the legend of how overwhelming and pretentious it was even though  I am not afraid of pretentious. oceanIt also may have been a badge of pride that I had never heard it all the way through in all my years of listening to Yes.

Sucking it up I placed the first disc on the deck and went with it. It is not that bad but it is not that good, an opportunity missed I think and that may conform to Rick Wakeman’s opinion as well and let’s face it he never ran screaming from the thought of overblown. Maybe his problem was there was no plan for the ballet, of course I bet Jon Anderson has had that thought.

There are some truly stunning moments that at times overcome the legend of the album but let’s face it there was probably a great single album here that was aching to get out.

In a real effort to overcome the 90 minutes or so of Tales From Topographic Oceans I took the well judged decision to immerse myself in the Icicle Works second best album The Small Price of a Bicycle, it does contain their best song with Rapids though.

horseJingle Jangle guitar rock to put their then peers to shame, their major problem commercially was probably that they never managed a consistent sound. Guitars and drums to die for was the signature noise the Icicle Works made but each song often stands alone. They rocked like gods live and sounded like a cross between Crazy Horse and the Byrds on record.

The Small Price of a Bicycle may be their most cohesive effort but not their best, that we save for another day if I find a copy of Blind. It does contain some of their best songs with Hollow Horse, Rapids and Conscience of Kings and Windfall sounds like Ian McNabb was channeling Hank Marvin on speed in the guitar playing.

Never as big as their contemporaries they don’t sound as dated now mostly I think because of that restless nature of their sound even though this was considered a setback at the time it has become a strength. Of course the biggest asset they had was Ian McNabb’s songwriting guitar which was based on a fans idea of what a rock band should sound like.

 

Send an instant karma to me, initial it with loving care

Living in a house with 3 teenage boys can be different, well two are teens and one is almost. There is a constant cacophony of musical styles throughout the house. The Wu Tang Clan clash with Rush, Dizzy Gillespie, Mumford and Sons and Marcey’s Playground. There is no defined musical identity in the house, car or yard. It’s really very refreshing and surprising. The boys have taken Spotify to heart and are eager to experiment with whatever they can hear following suggested lists to the next album or artist ever curious on a musical journey.  And that’s the music they are listening to not the music they are playing.

Of course all this is off-set by Michelle insisting on listening to Jimmy Buffett who may quite likely be the anti-christ when it comes to music, his margarita’s and hush puppies can stop any intimation of dancing. “None of you understand” insists Michelle, “We don’t need to. ” Is the reply. Of course it takes all sorts as evidenced by my affection for Neil Diamond, Shirley Bassey and the Monkees.

It’s a loud happy house most of the time, music, laughter and every night around eight Chris will shout “Are we going to watch something?”

It’s also at times a really messy house, socks at the foot of the stairs, shirts on the back of chairs and feet on the furniture and the dog racing around. My wife is a saint, there is no disputing this.

This week I’ve been mining the darker side of my musical leanings, by that I mean prog rock, post punk and the oddness that is art rock. Actually on reflection it was a pretty eclectic week after all. It’s been different sitting down to listen and appreciate and be still with the music.

So it’s time to get pretentious:

The music this week has been a little on the art rock side, or pretentious shall we say.

Dr John, the Night Tripper with Gris Gris. Louisiana mysticism meets jazz, blues and rock. Not only is Dr John one of the great arrangers of rock but he has a voice that drips with experiences the listener can only guess at, and at times be afraid of. This is the voice of a man wrestling with his demons.

Brian Eno, Here Come The Warm Jets, post-punk before punk, weird shambolic pop sculpture, violent beautiful and just plain out there. Brian Eno is one of the geniuses of pop music and Here Come The Warm Jets announced that to the world, no longer was he the strange man in the corner with Roxy Music but a songwriter using keyboards in ways that others could not even imagine. Of course Ennosification became a description of the sound on albums by Genesis and Bowie and all those post-punk bands thought they had created that strange alien sound. Baby’s On Fire has Fripp’s greatest solo, in fact it seems to be a song based on that solo.

Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted was next. Real post-punk with a big dose of the Fall in place. A piece of it’s time, fun but ultimately a period piece. I think I missed this in the 80’s and while I can appreciate it it does not hold me as something to go back to.

John Cale-Paris 1919, it’s Cale it’s accessible, this makes it different.

New band of the week: Galley Beggar with the album Reformation House, this sounds like it could have been performed by Fairport Convention in one of their many Hey Day’s. It’s a wonderful album hearkening back to the 70’s folk-rock so many including myself love, their website is her:

http://www.galleybeggar.com/wordpress/

The week has ended listening to Van the Man’s Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, this is a bit of a disappointment but everyone is allowed a bad one.

We also rocked out in an early 70’s manner to the wonderful Yes Album by Yes. This is their greatest moment when they still had not reached the cape wearing pretensions Rick Wakeman would bring with him. Released the same year as Fragile it is head and shoulders above that album for greatness, of course there is vague science fiction lyrics and the necessary weirdness of Anderson’s strange personal mythology but it just rocks.

I’m writing this listening to Play by Field Music. Their version of Syd Barrett’s Terrapin makes this worth the cost, although Field Music are one of the great new bands out there to be heard.