Archive | September, 2014

YES LOG 1974: INVENT THE FUTURE THAT INVENTS THE HUMAN RACE

30 Sep

untitledRelayer – arguably the best goddamn YES Album ever made, in my expert humble opinion. Spurned by inner rank chaos and Rick Wakeman’s hasty departure following the direction that the band had undergone on Tales From Topographic Oceans, the previous double album of Eastern mystic & Hindu inspired hijinks. All the hostility between the members of the band and Rick boiled down to this: Rick was in dire need of a simple steak & mash dinner and a good german ale to wash it down while everyone else wanted to convert to vegetarianism.

So Maestro Jon had to find a new ‘key’ component to realize his dream of compacting Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace into a twenty-minute plus piece of music called the Gates of Delirium. Jon Anderson met up with a self-taught keyboard player, Vangelis Papathanassiou while vacationing in Greece and pounded out his ideas on a piano to him, even though neither really had the technique to express their ideas but that didn’t deter Anderson from asking him if he would like to fill in Wakeman’s slot. Not comfortable with the assignment, an agreement could not be reached at that time, but later on, Jon Anderson would collaborate with him on four albums together as Jon & Vangelis while Jon took a sabbatical away from the band in the late seventies and early eighties.

So who would be able to fill in Rick’s shoes and become a keyboard rock star and a vegetarian practically overnight?

Enter the Swiss Poodle Spaceman: Patrick Moraz.

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Moraz was recruited after stints showing off his jazz/rock fusion chops with the likes of Refugee and as Keith Emerson’s replacement with the Nice when Emerson went off to form Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Although not much as a soloist in his own right, the band found that he was more than capable of holding his own with his own palate of sound padding with Mellotrons and ARP synthesizers as well as demonstrating his own songwriting chops with Chick Corea/Return to Forever inspired lead lines on Sound Chaser which featured more of that perfect Steve Howe sling shot guitar sound captured in the studio by Eddie Offord.

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To my observation, on the release date of December 5, 1974, this was Yes at their absolute pinnacle; from the war-torn duel between Moraz’s battling keyboards to White’s retaliating drums and percussion in the middle section of Gates of Delirium to the whimsical carnival tranquil atmosphere of the strangely poetic To Be Over, its material that’s far more reaching than any rock band has ever attempted before. And like Tales From Topographic Oceans, it’s also just as equally controversial and divided between fans and critics alike. I felt that this album by the band really clinched the deal for me in getting my creative juices flowing – releasing within me untapped potential. Each lyric line in Gates of Delirium was like a wake up call within me wanting to pursue or formulate story ideas because that’s basically what Gates of Delirium was – a dystrophin fable of debauchery with a glimmering hope of redemption that would still hold true today as a legitimate soundtrack to the Bush Administration’s Iraq debacle. I was so enamored of this album on a late summer day back in 1977 when I had checked it out of the Lake Hiawatha Public Library that it influenced me to write poetry just like the cover painting provided by Roger Dean made Maestro Jon A’s personal poetic guru, Donald Lehmkuhl write this poem for the band on the inside of the album cover:

Snakes are coiled upon the granite.

Horseman ride into the west.

Moons are rising on the planet

where the worst must suffer like the rest.

Pears are ripe and peaches falling.

Suns are setting in the east.

Woman wail, and men are calling

to the god that’s in them, and to the beast.

Love is waiting for a lover.

generations kneel for peace.

What man lose, Man will recover

polishing the brains his bones release.

Truth conceals itself in error.

History reveals its face:

days of ecstasy and terror

invent the future that invents the race.

Donald Lehmkuhl October 1974

Upon voraciously devoured repeated listens, I was motivated enough to write poetry of my own and got some of it published in a newspaper out of Nashville, TN that published nothing but poems back when I was a junior and a senior in high school. I can’t exactly what the title of that publication (without digging through boxes and boxes of shit that my mom sent from New Jersey) was but he does remember that the poems titles were “Wear Your Face” & “the Wicker Field”. I’m sure that the Office of Copyrights in Washington D.C. still has a record of them, but I have the Relayer album to thank for that swift kick in the ass for that brief brush with wanting to become a teen-age poet laureate .

WE now pause for the Wikipedia portion of our program:

Relayer is the seventh studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released in 1974 on Atlantic Records. It is their only studio album recorded with keyboardist Patrick Moraz; he joined in August that year after Rick Wakeman left over differences with Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) to pursue his solo career. Formed of three tracks, Relayer saw Yes experiment with jazz fusion as highlighted in “The Gates of Delirium” and “Sound Chaser”. The album closes with “To Be Over”, a melodic composition.

Upon its release Relayer continued the band’s commercial success. The album peaked at number 4 in the UK and number 5 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart. The closing section of “The Gates of Delirium”, titled “Soon”, was released as a single in January 1975. The album is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Following the release of Yes’s ambitious double album Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973), keyboardist Rick Wakeman decided to leave the band during their 1973–74 tour of Europe and North America. Following his departure in May 1974 Yes auditioned several replacements, the closest being Greek musician Vangelis Papathanassiou. At the suggestion of music journalist Chris Welch the band settled for Swiss-born Patrick Moraz, previously of Refugee and Mainhorse who joined in August 1974 while their new album entered production.

Relayer has the same song format as 1972’s Close to the Edge (a long epic on one side, and two relatively short pieces on the other), but a radically different musical style. “The Gates of Delirium” is a dense, 20-minute piece that was inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It features lengthy improvisations by each member of the band, sometimes clashing intentionally with one another. Featuring lyrics about the futility of war, it remains one of the most musically aggressive songs ever produced by the band. The final section, in which the aggression of the previous 15 minutes is suddenly replaced by a gentle melody and a lyrical prayer for peace, was released as a US single under the title “Soon” in early 1975. “Sound Chaser” is a jazzy, mostly instrumental piece that echoes King Crimson. “To Be Over” is the gentlest piece on the album, and features complex, melodic arrangements of guitar and sitar.

Relayer was recorded at Squire’s home in Virginia Water, Surrey between August and October 1974. It was then mixed at Advision Studios. Engineer Eddy Offord assumed his role who shared production duties with the band.

The recording made use of synthesizers and percussive sounds not found on any other Yes album. Patrick Moraz used equipment which was still in prototype stage (for example, a Vako Orchestron, used for the string sounds throughout the album) to colour the sound effects on the instrumental/collage section of “The Gates of Delirium”. For example, the whooping and wheezing sounds (“electric slinky”) about midway through the track were created by one such synthesizer. Jon Anderson recalled (in the 2003 CD booklet) that he and Alan White would stop by a breaker’s yard on the way to Squire’s house and buy discarded metal parts (brakes, clutches etc.) which were to be used as percussion. This contributes to the dense, concrete music-like sound of “Gates of Delirium”.

THE SONGS / TRACKLISTING

“The Gates of Delirium” (Anderson/Howe/Moraz/Squire/Howe) Total time: 22:56 is a dense piece that was inspired by Leo Tolstoy‘s War and Peace. It features lyrics about the futility of war and a lengthy instrumental middle section portraying ‘battle’ with galloping rhythms, martial melodies, dissonant harmonies, and clashing sound effects. The final section, in which the drive of the previous sixteen minutes is replaced by a gentle melody and a lyrical prayer for peace, was released as an US single under the title “Soon” in early 1975.

“Sound Chaser” (Anderson/Howe/Moraz/Squire/White) Total time: 9:27 is a mostly instrumental piece that echoes the then-popular jazz fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever with experimental and for some moments even funk and disco shades and influences.

“To Be Over” (Anderson/Howe/Moraz/Squire/White) Total time: 9:19 features complex, melodic arrangements of guitar and electric sitar (at one point quoting a theme from Tales from Topographic Oceans (?) – of what, I don’t know), and relatively straightforward lyrics.

Bonus Tracks on the 2003 Re-mastered edition:

Soon (Anderson/Howe/Moraz/Squire/White) Total time: 4:18

Sound Chaser single (Anderson/Howe/Moraz/Squire/White) Total time: 3:14

The Gates of Delirium Studio Run Through (Anderson/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 21:17

All the guitars used on “The Gates of Delirium” are Telecasters, according to Howe; prior to this recording he had generally used a Gibson. On “To Be Over” and the last parts of “The Gates of Delirium”, a pedal steel guitar is used. Squire uses a Fender bass on “To Be Over” rather than his usual Rickenbacker.

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As with most of Yes’ previous albums, Relayer features artwork by Roger Dean. The CD release features two additional paintings by Dean. Speaking about the cover, Dean said: “I was playing with the ideas of the ultimate castle, the ultimate wall of a fortified city. That was more of a fantastical idea. I was looking for the kinds of things like the Knights Templar would have made or what you’d see in the current movie Lord of the Rings. The curving, swirling cantilevers right into space.”

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It’s album cover layout is similar to Fragile with two additional paintings and a photograph of the band inside the fold-out sleeve. The cover was later used in a Pepsi-Cola ad, as the T-shirt worn by Shakira.

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Relayer was released in the UK on 28 November 1974 during their 1974–75 tour of North America and the UK. Its US release followed on 5 December 1974. The album continued the band’s commercial success; it peaked at number 4 in the UK and number 5 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart. The closing section of “The Gates of Delirium”, titled “Soon”, was released as a single in January 1975. The album is certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

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A special promotional only, white label, “banded for airplay” version of the LP was available to US radio stations in 1974. It has the track “The Gates of Delirium” broken into three segments: the opening vocal section, the instrumental “battle” middle section, and the “Soon” final section, with slight fades between each to aid with on-air segues. This was done to try to increase Relayer’s radio exposure, as most radio stations would provide only limited, if any, air time to a 22-minute song.

The critical reaction to Relayer, coming after a predecessor that many felt went over the breaking point, was lukewarm. However, it was still a commercial success.

Relayer was remastered and reissued on Rhino Records in 2003 with three bonus tracks, including a complete studio run-through of Gates of Delirium with partly different or improvised lyrics. While most of the keyboards are not yet present, and some of the structure of the song is different, the complex rhythm track for the “battle” section has the same layout as in the finished version. This was released again 10 years later (on 2 December internationally and 24 December in the US) as part of the box set The Studio Albums 1969-1987.

In November 2014, Relayer will be reissued as CD/DVD-Audio and CD/Blu-ray Disc packs on the Panegyric label, featuring a new stereo mix and 5.1 surround sound mix by Steven Wilson as well as bonus tracks and special features. This will be the third Panegyric Yes album reissue after Close to the Edge and The Yes Album.

The Relayer CD/DVD-A and Blu Ray editions will feature studio run throughs of all three tracks, singles, alternative album mixes, whilst the Blu-Ray edition will also feature additional instrumental versions and needle drop mixes. It is slated for release on November 4th to commemorate the 40th anniversary release of its’ original release date.

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Relayer, upon first listening cemented my loyalty to the band. Funny, when I originally checked the album out of the library, I mistakenly thought it was a radio show drama or a science fiction dramatization. I used to check out a lot of radio shows back in my central junior high school days to listen on my half-sister’s phonograph player.

1974: When this album was originally released I could still remember long lines at the gas pumps just to get gas and you could get it on even and odd days depending on what number your license plate number ended on..

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Bye-bye Tricky Dick, don’t let those helicopter blades cut you in the ass on the way out when you officially resigned to public embarrassment of lying after you got pinched and impeached real good. And a generation of cutthroats were not far behind you. Look at laughing boy Karl Rove today.

I was in fifth grade class. My first and only male teacher in elementary school was named Mr. Curnow.

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My favorite television shows back in the day were Kolchak: The Night Stalker (remade as The Nightstalker for ABC in 2005) and Planet of the Apes (already remade, fucked up, and put out to pasture by Tim Burton), a show that I had to battle for viewing supremacy to watch because my half-sister insisted on always watching Little House on the Prairie until my mom had to intervene and decreed that we had to take turns alternating on Friday nights. The Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family didn’t help matters either, but that was ok – they were both cancelled eventually.

Marvel Comics jacked up a nickel to twenty five cents.
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One major fickle about this nickel hike was that all the stories decreased in page count from twenty-pages to a lousy seventeen pages to make room for more ads (we also supposedly had a paper shortage back then also which was proven to be nothing more than Republican Jedi Mind tricks) – but Marvel somehow made up for it when they started to release Giant size quarterly titles featuring the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man (actually it was nothing more than a larger version of Marvel Team-up), Defenders, Master of Kung-Fu, Conan the Barbarian, and The Man-Thing at 50 cents for double the pages – which featured a main story that ran thirty-fives pages in length plus reprints and inventory stories. They made my fragmented family’s frequent car trips up to Rhode Island or Boston bearable when my stepfather would take him to visit his equally demented family (more on this tomorrow recounting the time when my step-cousin stayed with him during the time when Yes’s next album, Going for The One was released).

Line up: Jon Anderson- vocals, Steve Howe- guitars and backing vocals, Chris Squire- bass & vocals, Alan White- drums and percussion, Patrick Moraz- keyboards.

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I would wind up seeing the incredible sobbing (I’ll explain later in a blog centered around 1994’s Talk album) keyboardist extraordinaire Patrick Moraz on tour with the Moody Blues for the Long Distance Voyager album with my high school childlike soul dreamer gal pal Linda Freeman (now Yarosh) in the summer of 1981.

Favorite all time line (Jeez, and they are so many of them too): The pen won’t stay the demon’s wings, the hour approaches pounding out the Devil Sermon. – Gates of Delirium (words and music written by Yes)

 

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YES LOG 1973: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A GIANT DOUBLE ALBUM UNDER THE SUN

29 Sep

untitledIt was in the summer of 1978, when I first laid my roving perfunctory all-seeing eye of Agamotto and picked up a cassette copy of Yes Tales from Topographic Oceans while I was spending my pre-high school summer vacation at Laguna Beach, California. Yes, it’s hard to believe that once upon a time that I was once a teen age Orange County fledging, living the hang ten surfer life but I wasn’t one to back himself up into a Beach Boy corner and pluck his guitar to the tuning fork of Good Vibrations on a hatchback of a Woody. I spotted the ‘pink’ cassette at a store in Laguna Beach called The Record Shed, that was located along the Pacific Coast highway not too far from a bookstore named after Ray Bradbury’s most famous book, Fahrenheit 451. Once I plunked down a $1.99, I made while babysitting some army officer’s bratty kids that my Aunt Megan set me up with I made my way up the hill from the beach to her cottage (My other aunt lived out in Westminster otherwise known as New Saigon these days) and probably didn’t emerge from her guest room for days on end with nothing but smoking Marlboro Reds and the cassette player I brought out from New Jersey.

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I never heard anything like this before, but I doesn’t necessary remember if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but yet it had a profound effect on me enough to go seek out exploratory forms of music.

On December 1973, Yes had probably released their most ambitious project yet some heralded by the die-hard fans as an instant masterpiece but others such as critics and record shop keepers derided it as complete garbage. Fortunately that last bit of bad karma turned out to be unsubstantiated, as Yes’ double album opus, Tales From Topographic Oceans went soaring to the American charts to number 1 – without the release of a hit single. In fact, even though the band released a double album the grooves could only fit one song per side.

What? One song on one side of a record?

What gives, you may ask? Most of today’s audience are so pacified on kiddie porn music like Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, or Katy Perry- how could they rip off people back then with a double album with nothing but four songs? Wouldn’t that mean, you’d have to flip the vinyl every five minutes or so?

Well little atom ant acolytes the answer is real simple. Each song was close to or over twenty-minutes long. That means that you could put on one of these songs on in your portable CD player at work – leave your desk to go out to lunch and when you come back: the song will just be finishing up. A good way to establish a good employee/employer working relationship, don’t you think?

The bulk of the material on Tales from Topographic Oceans stemmed from singer Jon Anderson’s acquisition of a new age book called the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda – another religious charlatan who could very well have been the predecessor to L. Ron Hubbard’s scam tactics. He also bilked money from naive people to pay him all sorts of money by setting up bogus retreats on the shores of California beaches called the Self Realization of Fellowship. Nevertheless Anderson found some merit to Yogananda’s method of astral traveling physics and spirit channeling that he and guitarist Steve Howe wrote under candle lit sessions a four-part movement built around the Schastic scriptures covering various aspects of religion and life.

The band itself was looking to extend its musical horizons, and they branched into other areas on this double album: witness Anderson monotonic Gregorian chanting that opens the title track, The Revealing Science of God – Dance of the Dawn (now that’s one scary title for a rock n’ roll song ) before the rest of the band slowly enter in as keyboardist Rick Wakeman lets a repetitive descending motif loose with his minimoog. Alan White and Chris Squire were headed in rhythmic and percussive territories never explored before on vinyl as they conjured rhythmic tribal spirits on both The Ancient (Giants under the Sun) and Ritual Nous Sommes Du Soleil. However it was the quasi-philosophical lyrics and the pretentious direction that the band seemed to be headed that made Wakeman want to take a powder. Wakeman got so disillusioned with the tour and the music that Wakeman took to eating curry as a joke on stage in order to piss off Steve Howe during his guitar solos (listen for Howe reprising a few themes from Close to the Edge on Ritual) while slouching behind Roger and Martyn Dean’s specially designed stagecraft. Also Wakeman was all hogwild on the side with Newcastle’s Ale and trying to drink for England’s entire football league at the time. Much to the rest of the band’s chagrin, Wakeman, on his twenty-fifth birthday left the band in a huff and concentrated on his ever increasingly popular solo career. Rick Wakeman already a record contract with A & M records where he delivered such stellar selling classics such as the Six Wives of Henry the VII (which was another album that I had inherited from my Aunt Megan because she didn’t like it), Journey to the Center of the Earth, and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table which ultimately proved too taxing for Wakeman to take on the workload of an entire orchestra and a shitload of ice skaters that led him to have an early heart attack later at the age of twenty-five.

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Maestro Jon would have to find a replacement to tickle the electronic ivories. But, more on that tomorrow. Now let’s fill up some solid space with some wiki fun facts:

Tales from Topographic Oceans is the sixth studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released in December 1973 on Atlantic Records. It is their first studio album recorded with drummer Alan White after Bill Bruford left in 1972 to join King Crimson. Originally presented as a double album with one track on each of the four sides of the LP, its concept is based on singer Jon Anderson‘s vision of four classes of Hindu scripture, collectively named the shastras, based on a footnote in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.

Tales from Topographic Oceans was a commercial success; it is the first album in the UK to earn a gold certification based on pre-sales alone. It topped the UK album chart for two weeks and peaked at number 6 in the US. The album is noted for the divided reception it received, and the disagreements it caused within the band, resulting in keyboardist Rick Wakeman leaving to pursue his solo career after the supporting tour.

Although supporters argue that Tales From Topographic Oceans does have many beautiful moments that reward repeated listenings, the album is often held up as an example of all that is felt by many to be wrong with 1970s progressive rock. It has been described by some reviewers as directionless, pretentious, and self-indulgent. A couple of years down the line, the album was often referred to in a derogatory manner by several of the punk rock bands that emerged at least partly as a reaction to what was perceived as the out-of-touch and atrophied nature of much ‘dinosaur‘ rock music at that time. Whatever the consensus is, Tales From Topographic Oceans’s unconventional nature truly challenged their audience (and continues to), and separated the true believer from the casual fan.

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The idea for the album’s concept came about in March 1973 in Anderson’s hotel room in Tokyo during the Japanese leg of the Close to the Edge tour. He was looking for a theme for a “large-scale composition” for an album and found himself “caught up in a lengthy footnote on page 83” of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda that described four classes of Hindu scripture, collectively named the shastras. Anderson was introduced to Yogananda’s work at Bruford’s wedding reception by Jamie Muir, then the percussionist for King Crimson, on 2 March 1973. The footnote Anderson found refers to the phrase “shastric rules”, as Yogananda explains:

Pertaining to the shastras, literally “sacred books”, comprising four classes of scripture: the shruti, smriti, purana and tantra. These comprehensive treatises cover every aspect of religious and social life, and the fields of law, medicine, architecture, art, etc. The shrutis are the “directly heard” or “revealed” scriptures, the Vedas. The smritis or “remembered” lore were finally written down in a remote past as the world’s longest epic poems, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Puranas, eighteen in number, are literally “ancient” allegories; tantras literally means “rites” or “rituals”: these treatises convey profound truths under a veil of detailed symbolism. (It also serves as a double entrad as a pretty mean hand job, if one is perusing the massage parlors along the streets of Santa Monica)

When their tour progressed to the United States in April 1973, Anderson described the concept to Howe who took a liking to the idea of four “interlocking” pieces of music based around the concepts the scriptures spoke of. Anderson and Howe went on to hold “candlelight writing sessions” in their hotel rooms, completing the basics of the vocals, lyrics, and instrumentation after a single six-hour writing session that ended at 7:00 am in Savannah, Georgia. Anderson described the experience as a “magical” one, “which left both of us exhilarated for days”.

According to Phil Carson, then the CEO of Atlantic Records, Anderson was originally going to name the album Tales From Tobographic Oceans. He claimed he invented the word “tobographic” that was based on one of Fred Hoyle‘s theories of space. He mentioned the title while having dinner with Carson, who noted that “tobographic” sounded like “topographic”. Anderson liked the suggestion and changed the title accordingly.

After rehearsals at Manticore Studios in Fulham, Yes were split in deciding where the album was to be recorded. Anderson and Wakeman wished to record out in the countryside, while Squire and Howe preferred to record in the city. With White having no preference, the band proceeded to record at Morgan Studios, where the country’s first 24-track tape machine, produced by Ampex, was installed. According to Squire, Brian Lane, the band’s manager, proceeded to decorate the studio like a farmyard to make Anderson “happy”. Wakeman described the studio, “There were white picket fences … All the keyboards and amplifiers were placed on stacks of hay.” At the time of recording, heavy metal group Black Sabbath were producing Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in the studio next door. Singer Ozzy Osbourne recalled that placed in the Yes studio was a model cow with electronic udders and a small barn to give the room an “earthy” feel. Anderson recalled that he expressed a wish to record the album in a forest at night, “When I suggested that, they all said, ‘Jon, get a life!'”

Eddy Offord assumed his role as the album’s recording engineer who had worked with Yes since 1970. Production duties were shared by both parties.

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Wakeman took a dislike to the album’s concept and structure from the beginning. He made only minimal musical contributions to the recording, and often spent time drinking at the studio bar and playing darts. He played the piano and synthesiser on the Sabbath track “Sabbra Cadabra“. According to Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, Wakeman refused payment from the band and was compensated with beer for his contribution.

Yes began to produce longer pieces of music on Close to the Edge that features the 18-minute title track. Tales from Topographic Oceans is formed of four tracks, ranging between 18 and 22 minutes. The lyrics were written by Anderson and Howe; all band members made writing contributions to each track.

THE SONGS / TRACK LISTING

Anderson explains that “The Revealing Science of God – Dance of the Dawn” (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) (Total time: 22:37 on the 2003 re-master with a two-minute instrumental introduction restored) is based on the shruti. Speaking in 1994, he said “It’s always delicate to start talking about religious things ‘The Revealing Science of God’ should have just been ‘The Revealing’. But I got sort of hip. A dangerous statement!” According to Howe, the track was originally 28 minutes in length before six minutes were cut. “It was the commercial or easy listening side of Topographic Oceans.” Howe states.

“The Remembering – High the Memory” (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) (Total time: 20:53) is based on the smriti, literally meaning “that which is remembered”. Howe refers to this side as ‘the much lighter, folky side of Yes.

“The Ancient – Giants Under the Sun” (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White – Squire contributed lyrics to this particular track whereas Anderson and Howe wrote lyrics for this and the remaining three sides) (Total time: 18:35) is another word for Puranas, meaning “of ancient times”, is attributed to “The Ancient”. Howe’s interpretation of this side is ‘electronic mayhem turning into acoustic simplicity’.

And finally tantras serves as a definition of “Ritual – Nous Sommes Du Soleil”  French meaning ‘we are the sun’ (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) (Total time: 21:52) described by Howe as ‘trying to drive the whole thing home as a biggie.”

On the 2003 Double CD Re-master

Dance of the Dawn (Studio Run Through) (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) Total time: 23:36

Giants Under the Sun (Studio Run Through) (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White – with lyric contributions by Chris Squire) Total time: 17:18

The album’s cover was designed and illustrated by artist Roger Dean, who had also created the artwork for the band’s previous records Fragile, Close to the Edge, and Yessongs. Each of those albums used a narrative thread which was not carried over for Tales from Topographic Oceans. Painted using watercolour and ink, the cover depicts fish circling a waterfall below constellations of stars. In his 1975 book Views, Dean explains the painting:

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“The final collection of landmarks was more complex than […] intended because it seemed appropriate to the nature of the project that everyone who wanted to contribute should do so. The landscape comprised amongst other things, some famous English rocks taken from Dominy Hamilton’s postcard collection. These are, specifically: Brimham Rocks, the last rocks at Land’s End, the Logan Rock at Treen and single stones from Avebury and Stonehenge. Jon Anderson wanted the Mayan temple at Chichen Itza with the sun behind it, and Alan White suggested using markings from the plains of Nazca. The result is a somewhat incongruous mixture, but effective nonetheless.”

According to Anderson, the album was set to be played on Radio Luxembourg with David Jensen one week prior to its release, but the station somehow received blank tapes which resulted in dead air.

Tales from Topographic Oceans was released in the UK on 14 December 1973 during the band’s 1973–74 tour of Europe and North America to promote the record. Its US release followed on 9 January 1974. The album was a big commercial success for the band. Following a change in regulations from the British Phonographic Industry for albums to qualify for a Gold disc, it became the first record to reach the certification based on pre-orders orders alone after 75,000 orders were made. It topped the UK album chart for two weeks and peaked at number 6 on the US Billboard Top LPs chart.

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At the time of the album’s release, Wakeman expressed a dislike for the record. He criticised Anderson’s understanding of the Shastric scriptures after reading a single footnote. Speaking in 2006, he clarified that his total dislike of the album is “not entirely true”, thinking that there are some “very nice musical moments in Topographic Oceans, but because of the […] format of how records used to be we had too much for a single album but not enough for a double […] so we padded it out and the padding is awful […] but there are some beautiful solos like “Nous sommes du soleil” […] one of the most beautiful melodies […] and deserved to be developed even more perhaps.”

The album was remastered for CD by Joe Gastwirt in 1994. It was remastered again by Bill Inglot in 2003 for an expanded version on Rhino Records, which features a two-minute restored introduction to “The Revealing Science of God” and studio run-through of this track and “The Ancient”. It was released again 10 years later (on 2 December internationally and 24 December in the US) as part of the box set The Studio Albums 1969-1987.

I mostly have mixed feeling about the Tales of Topographic Oceans. Upon repeated listens I sometimes feel that this is the closest thing that I will ever have to a religious experience growing up mostly as an atheist even though that most of the religion that is explored here has been proven false or misguided, so to speak (but yet I don’t go around admitting listening to a twenty-minute plus rock out song with the word God in it – don’t want mislead any Christian rock enthusiasts who may be reading this). Like I said before in the opening paragraph I never heard of it when I was on the cusp of turning ten years old it didn’t enter my life until four and a half years later. The best recollection I have about winter and spring of 1974 is playing with my Mego action figures of Planet of the Apes and watching Star Trek reruns (back when it was really a cult phenomenon) and reading shitloads of Doc Savage and Shadow reprint paperbacks.

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But ever since that summer of 1978, when I eventually came back to Northern New Jersey land I tried to impress a girlfriend at the time (named Diane?) and used to play it to our make out sessions. The girl, not really digging it ripped the tape right out of my tape machine and it unthreaded all over the place – I couldn’t thread the tape back into the cassette, so I took it to a television audio repair specialist who was working in the back of a Foodtown grocery store to see if he could fix it. He said it was a lost cause. So I eventually replaced it with a vinyl version during high school.


Whilst living in San Diego many years later, (circa 1989-1990) I met a woman a decade older than me who was really into this cult of Self Realization Fellowship. I had told her that he had heard of this book through listening to this Yes album so as a gesture towards brainwashing she me a copy for my birthday. Upon reading it, I was quite stunned to find where Anderson drew influences from these weird words in the track entitled ‘Ancient Giants Under the Sun‘ such like Ah Kin, Naytheet, and Gunes Grian. It was all footnoted. I made her a copy of the albums and soon thereafter great harmonic convergence of the G spot finding kind took place between us. But then she backstabbed me and got under my irritable prayer drum skin and got underneath the tunics of another SRF devotee and I immediately took the stupid book and burned it. So glad I didn’t go all out Hare Krishna and shave my head.

Tales From Topographic Oceans – it’s a piece of music that has the ability to send off me into a primordial rage at any given time, but with the 2003 re-mastered version, I have a more tolerable approach to it now. A lot of the melodies and themes are easy to pick up for me on the keyboards these days. I can mostly sight-read it with no difficulty or even recite some of it while I’m falling asleep behind my synths sometimes.  

YES LOG LATE AUTUMN 1972: TOTAL MASS SUSTAIN?

26 Sep

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Pressing on with my long distance runaround diatribes of the studio albums recorded by one of my favorite bands,Yes while I was growing up – all in celebration of lead maestro Jon Anderson’s 70th birthday and generally the band’s 45th anniversary as well.

We now harken back to late autumn of 1972. The sounds chirping birds and cascading waterfalls evoke passing images of animals grazing in a lush green field on a fragile fragment of earth spiraling on a journey to a new home. A new home that can only exist in peace and tranquility until it’s interrupted by a sonic eruption of contentious symphonic bomb bursts that only an evil Phantom of the Opera behind a monster theater organ could concoct is what I’m trying to describe as the masterpiece five-part movement salute to ‘Close to the Edge”. Yes labored long and hard on this ambitious ingenious beloved classic even while they were touring the UK in support of their previous album, Fragile. For a period of three months, the boys would perform a two-hour show and then rush right back out to Advision Studios to set up recording for the 18 and a half-minute title track. Jon Anderson would request that tents to be set up along with cardboard cut outs of animals to be placed all along the sound room to get a certain ambient vibe going to get the band motivated. Needless to say, Maestro Jon A ‘s National Geographic idea got nixed. Nobody wanted to know which of his socks he was smoking that day.

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Ex-Strawbs keyboard player, Rick Wakeman likens the recording process that engineer Eddie Offord utilized when splicing up 30 -40 different sections of analog tape together as putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Even though the band played the title track in its’ entirety in the rehearsal room, Offord insisted that they record the elongated piece of music one minute at a time. The same could be said for the opening of side two, And You and I, where guitarist Steve Howe, practically made the pedal slide guitar, a household name to master outside the arena of glamour bands and tv family pop outfits (this wasn’t your younger brother or sister’s Partridge Family here, folks) .

Nonetheless, persistence and patience paid off in the reward of seeing the album peak at Number 4 in the UK and Number 3 in the US. Sadly, after the mixing of this album, founding drummer Bill Bruford had decided to leave the band while as the band was peaking to its’ infamy to accept an offer from another world renown progressive rock outfit named King Crimson where he would then forge another long-lasting friendship with another popular bass player, John Wetton who in turn would form famous progressive rock super group, U.K. with young Frank Zappa/Roxy Music violinist/keyboardist prodigy Eddie Jobson, before jetting off to form Asia with Geoff Downes and Steve Howe in the early eighties. Bill Bruford would then be replaced in Yes by former John Lennon/Yoko Ono Band drummer, Alan White for the release of their first live three lp, Yessongs and the complimentary 70 mm film of the same name that was filmed over three nights in London’s Rainbow Theater interspersed with some cheesy Roger Dean animation.

Favorite lyrical line: Gold stainless nail torn through the distance of man/As they regard the summitSiberian Khatru (Anderson/Howe/Wakeman)

Close to the Edge

Close to the Edge is the fifth album by British progressive rock band Yes. In June 1972, (U.K. release. September 13th was the US release) just as recording ended, drummer Bill Bruford suddenly left the line-up, forcing Yes to find a replacement before starting a new US tour.

Close To The Edge set a trend for Yes of including a single epic song significantly longer than the others which was followed in the later albums Relayer (which featured “The Gates of Delirium”) and Going for the One (1977) (which featured “Awaken”).

The religious influences introduced by Jon Anderson which later formed the basis of Tales From Topographic Oceans are already evident in the music and lyrics of all three tracks on Close To The Edge. Renewal and repetition are other main themes; the title track starts and finishes with the same sound effects of running water and birds and in “Siberian Khatru” there is the repetition of two-word phrases.

Released three months into its supporting tour, Close to the Edge was a commercial and critical success for the band. It peaked at number 3 in the United States and number 4 in the United Kingdom. “And You and I” was released as a single that reached number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album is certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies.

After rehearsals at the Una Billings School of Dance in Shepherd’s Bush, the band returned to Advision Studios to record their next album. They were joined by audio engineer Eddy Offord, who had worked on Fragile (1971) and served as their sound mixer for its tour. Production duties were shared between Offord and the band. According to Bruford, he came up with the album’s title to describe the state of the band at the time, as he had with Fragile. Bruford recalled “a cheap black velour settee at the back of the control room” where he slept one night as Squire was “poring over a couple of knobs on the desk, and jerking awake a couple of hours later to find him in the same place, still considering the relative position of the two knobs”

Offord made the band’s road crew “build a huge stage in the studio” to make the album sound “more live”. In one incident, after the band decided to use a particular edit of a track, the group found out the studio’s cleaner put a piece of tape in the rubbish. Following a “desperate hunt for the missing section” in the bins outside, the piece was found.

THE SONGS / TRACK LISTING

Side one of the album is occupied by its title track, of which Anderson and Howe share composition and lyrical credits in four separate movements: I. The Solid Time of Change, II. Total Mass Retain, III. I Get Up, I Get Down, and IV. Seasons of Man. With a running time of 18 minutes and 43 seconds, (Total time: 18:43) it is the longest song the band had recorded at the time. The track was assembled in pieces throughout, as Bruford described, “in ten, twelve, sixteen-bar sections”. Anderson based its theme and lyrics from reading Siddhartha by German novelist Hermann Hesse. Reflecting on the song’s lyrical content in 1976, Anderson noted the concluding verse is a dream that he had “a long time ago about passing on from this world to another world, yet feeling so fantastic about it that death never frightened me ever since”. Wakeman’s organ solo was originally a section written by Howe for the guitar, but he thought it sounded better on the organ.

Side two opens with the ten-minute track “And You and I”, also in four movements; I. Cord of Life, II. Eclipse, III. The Preacher, The Teacher, and IV. Apocalypse is written by Anderson, Howe, Bruford, and Squire (Total time: 10:08). The spiritual influences introduced by Jon Anderson are already evident in the music and lyrics of all three tracks on Close to the Edge. The most notable movement is the first movement of the song in which about 2:50 into the track, there’s a distinct change: Anderson sings a sharper melody, accompanied by a second vocal track by Anderson harmonizing with himself, plus Chris Squire and Steve Howe providing a counter-melody and alternate lyrics, with their voices fed through a Leslie Speaker. To this day, Squire and Howe both claim they don’t know what they’re singing about that it just sounds sane.

In “Siberian Khatru” (Anderson, Howe, Wakeman) Total time: 8:55 there is the repetition of two-syllable words and phrases. The album closes with “Siberian Khatru”, the only track where Wakeman receives a writing credit. Anderson described the track as “just a lot of interesting words, though it does relate to the dreams of clear summer days”. Other than that, there are plenty of interview tapes that are in my possession where it doesn’t fail that some clown will ask, “What does Siberian Khatru” even mean?” and no one in the band has a definitive answer. It’s just a simple little phrase that Anderson pulled out of his collective cosmic-minded ass.

The edition I used for research of today's entry.

The edition I used for research of today’s entry.

 

On the 2003 remaster of Fragile and newly re-released on the 2013 5.1 Surround sound edition (DVD-A and Blu-Ray) of the Close to The Edge package remixed by Steven Wilson there is the full version of the cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” which is the probably the most intensified cover songs of Yes’ entire career other than the neat Beatles and Byrds covers the first two albums. (Check out the live box set, Yes..and the Word is Live released on Rhino Records in 2005 for more cool covers of Little Rascals and Beatles songs) – and sadly it wasn’t included in the recent 2014 live bill (would worked great for a second encore, guys. Seriously)

This version is worth a repeated listen or two simply because:

The song was rearranged by the progressive rock band Yes in 1971. Yes added elements typical to progressive rock, such as changes in time signature and long instrumental segments, while dropping the song’s original repeat and fade ending. At one point bassist Chris Squire quotes “America” from West Side Story in the intro. The complete Yes version clocks in at ten and a half minutes. This recording first appeared in 1972 on the sampler album The New Age of Atlantic and was later included on the compilation album Yesterdays in 1975, the box set In a Word: Yes (1969–) in 2002, and on the 2003 re-issue of their album Fragile. An edited version of this recording lasting 4 minutes was released as a single and hit #46 on the pop chart. It also appeared on the Yesyears boxed set and its condensed version Yesstory, along with The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection. The edited version was also included as a bonus track on the re-issue of Close to the Edge. A live version of the song was included on 1996’s Keys to Ascension.

What I want to mention is that it sounds absolutely gorgeous coming out of six surround speakers mounted in Harry Perzigian’s Brentwood condo ceiling. Wilson pushed up every fader possible to hear WHAT the hell was going on in the background with Rick Wakeman’s electric piano buried in the mix. Well, not anymore it’s not as well as Steve Howe’s slingshot guitar towards the end of the long solo panning across the room.

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The album’s sleeve was designed and illustrated by English artist Roger Dean, who had also designed the cover for Fragile (1971). It marks the first use of the Yes “bubble” logo. Some of the photography used was shot by Martyn Adelman who had played in The Syn with Squire. On reflection of its artwork, Dean said: “There were a couple of ideas that merged there. It was of a waterfall constantly refreshing itself, pouring from all sides of the lake, but where was the water coming from? I was looking for an image to portray that”. The answer to that deft defying cliffhanger would later continue on the triple lp live set entitled ‘Yessongs” to be released in May of 1973.

In 1987, Close to the Edge was reissued by Atlantic Records on compact disc in the United States and Europe. Another issue of the album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt in 1994. In 2003, the album was reissued again on disc in an expanded and remastered edition by Rhino and Elektra Records. Included were two previously unreleased tracks: an alternate version of “And You and I”, an early run-through of “Siberian Khatru”, and Yes’s 1972 single “America” with its b-side, an edit of “Total Mass Retain”.

A promotion-only version of the LP was distributed to US radio stations that featured the title track split into shorter segments. This was done to increase radio exposure as most radio stations did not want to air an 18-minute song. Most of the segments were in the range of 3 to 5 minutes and all were marked on the record to assist disc jockeys.

In 2013, two new remasters of the album were released. Steve Hoffman of Audio Fidelity Records conducted a remastering in both CD and Super Audio CD formats. For the Panegyric label, Steven Wilson used the original multi-track recordings to produce a “2013 stereo mix”, a 5.1 surround sound mix, and an “original stereo mix” from a flat transfer of the LP, in both a CD and DVD-Audio and CD and Blu-ray Disc package. Bonus tracks include single edits, an early rough mix of “Close to the Edge”, and instrumental versions of the album’s three tracks. On 2 December that year internationally & later on 24 December in the US, the 2003 remaster was reissued as a part of the box set The Studio Albums 1969-1987.

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Once recording for the album was complete, Bruford left the band on 19 July 1972 to join King Crimson. His replacement was Alan White of the Plastic Ono Band and part of Terry Reid‘s group. As he played on Close to the Edge but left before the subsequent tour, Bruford was contractually obliged to share album royalties with White, and claims that Yes manager Brian Lane enforced a compensation payment of $10,000 from him. White had one full rehearsal with the band before the tour, which saw the band play a total of 95 concerts in the US, Canada, the UK, Japan and Australia.

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From this moment on, I don’t any repressed memories of those early seventies. 1972 was not such a bad year for my fundamental growth. Oh sure, there were spurts of right upper cuts from my stepfather when I was bold enough to wax my eight year old political stance (even Richard M. Nixon was no friend of mine when I was just starting out in the 3rd grade) that I wished out loud that I was old enough to vote for George McGovern and some schmoe should put a freaking lead capsule right into Nixon’s throat right there and then. When I had cajoled this out loud to some other kids outside during lunchtime recess – some little fat fuck named Anthony with warts all over his face and hands ran up and stabbed me right in the palm of my hand with a No 2 pencil. My mom had to check me in the hospital that day to make sure I didn’t get any lead poisoning. Did you know that Superman could even die from lead poisoning?

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The syndicated sci-fi tv shows such as U.F.O and Starlost (a lost child abandoned by Unca Harlan Ellison ) were on my tv hit parade back in those days.

I was in love with this facsimile of a newspaper back then too. The Monster Times.

I had this issue when I was eight years old.

Comic books were only 20 cents. Jack Kirby’s Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth was a perennial favorite of mine along with Luke Cage, Hero For Hire and Combat Kelly & the Deadly Dozen.

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It was also the dawn of days of prepubescent chubbies when I used to love to look up the mini-skirt of my third grade teacher, Miss Kirkpatrick during class nap time while my classmates and I were sacked out on blankets and pillows on the floor as she would tiptoe through us. But I had to pretend I he was asleep for the entire time as she walked by and then squinting one eye to achieve total mass retain of her tan pantyhose and whatever brightly colored frilly she was wearing underneath them that day. This was a skill that could not be simply be applied anywhere else and to think,  a skillful espionage tactic that he once learned way back in the third grade can still be utilized on the gritty streets of Los Angeles to this very day (plenty useful for glass elevators and shopping mall escalators too).

High vibration go on looking up the skirt of my third grade teacher during early afternoon naptime.

High vibration go on looking up the skirt of my third grade teacher during early afternoon naptime.

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Ah, to be young and tactile again. It would so invigorating to turn back the hands of time once again. Believe it or not – Yes, Close to the Edge was not an album that I eased into right away, it was another of one of those record club orders that got you 11 albums for a dollar back in the 77-78 era while I was still in middle school. (one trick I learned from grade school older classmates – bucking the system of the record club. Send a dollar and have it mailed to your neighbor’s address rather than your own – because who actually goes through their obligation deal of buying 8 additional records at regular price?) maybe because I was spoiled with Tales From Topographic Oceans and Relayer of which I will get into hot and heavy next week.

Again, like the 5.1 surround sound remix of the Yes Album also carving a niche in Steven Wilson’s finely tuned ear belt, this is another new-found appreciation for the work. My late best friend, Harry Perzigian said this was the album that got him to worship the band and we had listened to this edition for the first time on his state of the art stereo (his dvd player was particularly novel for its fantastic dts playback) and interestingly enough he really enjoyed the job that Wilson had done, but thought that the studio run through should have been kept shrouded in mystery. “There’s a reason why bands keep certain thing unreleased (yeah, explain that to the Paris sessions), there’s a lot of flubs on it. Anderson didn’t even have all the lyrics to sing yet. It’s exactly the meaning of having a skeleton in your closet.”

And when Jon Anderson is heard belting out on the studio run through during the opening of the second movement of the title track:

“Total Mass Sustain”

We both looked at each other with what the fuck looks on our faces.

Until Harry broke into a snicker and said to me: “jeez – why didn’t he just say Total Mass Shitstain, it would’ve sounded easier.”

Also of note, in the first movement of Close to the Edge, The Solid Time of Change, …there are pauses in the music when everything cuts loose. I mean a couple of dead stop seconds leaving room I guess for Anderson to drop in his traditional chants of DA DA.

Next Monday: memories of Laguna Beach in the summer of 1978 where I first embarked upon my spiritual journey of Tales From Topographic Oceans, although five years later than its’ original release.

 

YES LOG EARLY 1972: TELL THE MOON DOG, TELL THE MONUMENT THAT FRAGILE IS HERE!!

25 Sep

 

 

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Chugging along to make sure this summer goes out with a blast as I finish up dipping my Roger Dean Yes logo designed cookie cutters into a peyote pancake batter to serve up a steaming stack of old cosmic rocking pigs in a blanket classic smorgasbord.extravaganza I’ve got my fingers crossed for that special Fed Ex package arriving from Bogotá to show up any minute now. So here I currently am on a high memory lane by playing a classic Yes album per day.

We have now probably reached the pinnacle in Yes’ young career with their fourth studio release of Fragile– released on January 4, 1972 (US version the English version was released two months earlier) – just a week’s shy of my eighth birthday. Fragile was the bubblegum point where everything about the band practically changed overnight an event that probably wouldn’t repeat its’ pop success until the reformation of the band in 1983 for the 90125 album. The format of the songs spread across the gamut of two to three-minute interludes spotlighting each solo member to 10 minute dramatic epics such as the likes of South Side of the Sky & Heart of the Sunrise composed and performed by the entire band. The addition of Royal College of Music alumni Rick Wakeman whose skills in classical and jazz keyboard improvisations was unsurpassed with perhaps the exception of Keith Emerson, brought a distinctive new sound and palate to accompany Jon Anderson’s celestial crisp choir voice and Chris Squire’s melodic bass playing and the album cover itself was the first to feature the wispy aerial lustrous landscapes of contemporary artist Roger Dean – although his trademark snake bubble logo for the band wouldn’t be making its’ debut until next year’s Close to the Edge.

The most riveting landmark achievement that cemented Yes’s hold in the pop music culture was that the first track off this album, Roundabout became nearly an American FM staple anthem for many years to come as well as their first breakout US single, although the version I had in looping in my preadolescent mind was severely edited down to four minutes.

Roundabout has practically been around long enough since I could do basic arithmetic, read Doc Savage books, and write long-winded aspiring cornball comic book dialogue in hand drawn pamphlets.

Updated Wiki knowledge states:

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Fragile is the fourth studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released in November 1971 on Atlantic Records. It is their first album recorded with keyboardist Rick Wakeman after the departure of Tony Kaye earlier in the year. Formed of nine tracks, four of which are group performances while five are solo features written by each member. It marked the band’s first collaboration with artist Roger Dean, who would design their logo and many of their future covers.

Fragile was the band’s greatest commercial and critical success at the time of its release. It peaked at number 4 in the US and number 7 in the UK. “Roundabout” was released as a single in the US and is one of the band’s best-known songs. The album is certified double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over two million copies.

On 31 July 1971, Yes performed the final concert of their 1970–71 tour of Europe and North America at Crystal Palace Park to support The Yes Album (1971). The line-up during this time consisted of singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Bill Bruford, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and guitarist Steve Howe. Following the tour, Yes started work on their next studio record that was originally conceived as a double album with a combination of studio and live tracks. The concept could not be realised due to the time required to make it. Ideas to have the album recorded in Miami, Florida with producer Tom Dowd also never came to fruition.

Rehearsals took place in August 1971 in what Squire described as “a little rehearsal studio in Shepherd’s Market” in London. Working with Kaye became unsuccessful; he was reluctant to expand his sound, other than his usual Hammond organ and piano, and play newer instruments like the Moog synthesiser. Anderson and Squire ultimately asked Kaye to leave Yes, and found their replacement in Rick Wakeman, a classically trained player of the folk rock group Strawbs. Wakeman joined the group as they rehearsed “Heart of the Sunrise“. Squire spoke about that first session: “That marked the first real appearance of the Mellotron and the Moog—adding the flavour of those instruments to a piece we’d basically already worked out”. According to Wakeman, the basis of “Roundabout” was also put down on the same day.

Recording for the album took place in September 1971 at Advision Studios using a 16-track tape machine. Eddy Offord, who served as a recording engineer on Time and a Word (1970), assumed his role while sharing production duties with the band. Rolling Stone reported the album cost $30,000 to produce.

According to Michael Tait, the band’s lighting director, the album’s title came from their manager Brian Lane who, while on the phone to “some press guy” asking Lane about the new album, “was looking at some photos from that Crystal Palace gig, saw the monitors at the front of the stage and, like all equipment, they had ‘Fragile’ stamped on the back”. Bruford claimed he in fact suggested the title because he thought the band “was breakable” at the time. While the band were recording, Wakeman remembered children being brought into the studio to watch them play.

Fragile is formed of nine tracks; four are “group arranged and performed” with the remaining five being “the individual ideas, personally arranged and organised” by the five members. Squire reasoned this approach was necessary in part to save time and reduce studio costs, as money was used to purchase keyboard equipment for Wakeman. According to Bruford: “There was this endless discussion about how the band could be used … I felt we could use all five musicians differently … So I said—brightly—’Why don’t we do some individual things, whereby we all use the group for our own musical fantasy? I’ll be the director, conductor, and maestro for the day, then you do your track, and so on.'” Wakeman commented on the album’s structure. “Some critics thought this was just being flash. The thinking behind this was that we realised there would be a lot of new listeners coming to the band. They could find out where each individual player’s contribution lay.”

THE SONGS / TRACK LISTING

Side one begins with “Roundabout”, a song written by Anderson and Howe (Total time: 8:30) that has become one of Yes’s best-known songs. Howe recalled the track was originally “a guitar instrumental suite … I sort of write a song without a song. All the ingredients are there—all that’s missing is the song. ‘Roundabout’ was a bit like that; there was a structure, a melody and a few lines.” The introduction was made by recording a piano note played backwards.

“Cans and Brahms” is Wakeman’s adaptation of the third movement of Symphony No. 4 in E minor by Johannes Brahms, (Total time: 1:36) with an electric piano used for the string section, an electric harpsichord used for the reeds, and a synthesiser used for the contrabassoon. Wakeman later described the track as “dreadful”, as contractual problems with A&M Records, who he was with as a solo artist, prevented him from writing a composition of his own.

Anderson described “We Have Heaven” (Total time 1:40)  as a “rolling idea of voices and things”, with its two main set of chants containing the phrases “Tell the Moon dog, tell the March hare” and “He is here, to look around” (from my own aural observation there are overdubs toward the end that repeat “Tell the Monument). His multi vocal layering technique on this piece would later be explored on his first solo album, “Olias of Sunhillow” released in 1976.

Side one closes with “South Side of the Sky.” (Anderson/Squire) Total time 8:02  Wakeman also claimed to have made writing contributions to “South Side of the Sky” and “Heart of the Sunrise” by adding piano interludes, but did not receive credit because of the contract disputes. He was promised more money by executives at Atlantic Records, but claims he never received it. Hey, I believe him, so I say let’s give him the long overdue credit (Anderson/Squire/Wakeman)

Side two of the album opens with Bruford’s track, “Five Per Cent for Nothing”. With a running time of thirty-five seconds, (Total time: 0:35)  it is his “first attempt composition—but we’ve all got to start somewhere”. According to Tait, its original title was “Suddenly It’s Wednesday”, but it was changed in reference to Yes paying off their former manager Roy Flynn with the deal of five percent of future royalties.  Unfortunately, this did not transfer well live on the last tour, I barely observed Alan White even hitting a high hat as Chris Squire, Steve Howe, and Geoff Downes carried the weight of this piece – but Alan White is no Bill Bruford and vice versa, Bill Bruford is no Alan White for that matter.)

“Long Distance Runaround” (Anderson) Total time 3:30 Anderson wrote the lyrics to this song while allegedly remembering his encounters with religious hypocrisy and competition he experienced in attending church regularly as a youth in northern England. “Long time / waiting to feel the sound” was a sentiment toward wanting to see a real, compassionate, non-threatening example of godliness.

‘Long Distance Runaround then segues into Squire’s solo track, “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)”. Total time: 2:39  Tait recalled Anderson calling him “at ten o’clock one night from Advision and said, ‘I want the name of prehistoric fish in eight syllables. Call me back in half an hour'”. Tait subsequently found Schindleria praematurus, a species of marine fish, in a copy of Guinness Book of Records.

Howe performs his solo guitar piece “Mood for a Day” Total time 3:00 on a Conde flamenco guitar. Previous motifs from this piece appear on the studio version of “Clap” on the bonus material of the 2003 remaster and the 2014 5.1 surround sound remix edition.

      “Heart of the Sunrise” (Anderson/Bruford/Squire/Wakeman) (Total time on the 2003 remastered edition 11:27) is a track where Wakeman’s classically trained background came into play; he introduced the band to the idea of recapitulation where previous segments in music are revisited. Several seconds after “Heart of the Sunrise” is a reprise of “We Have Heaven” that begins with the sound of a door being unlatched (“We Have Heaven” ends with the sound of a slamming door). This hidden track is not referenced on the album’s track listing. Original pressings list the duration of “Heart of the Sunrise” as 10:34, thereby omitting the timing of the reprise.

Wait a minute, that would mean that the band didn’t perform the entire Fragile album if the reprise of ‘We Have Heaven” was left off. Seems as if the old boys weren’t as though as we all originally thought.

I remember the moment when I first heard the 2003 remaster and how this reprise just appeared out of a nowhere and I had thought that a nuclear bomb went off on my studio. I never had heard this on my handy-dandy 1977 RCA Record Club edition. Maybe future pressings of the album just decided it was a waste of space.

The 2003 Remastered edition also includes  the full edition ten and half-minute version cover of Simon and Garfunkel s America which would be better justice discussed tomorrow as it is included on the 2013 5.1 surround sound remaster of Close to the Edge.

The total time for the studio run through of “Roundabout on the 2003 remastered edition is 8:35 (probably an extra 5 seconds longer than the original allotted in case of goof ups).

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The album’s sleeve was designed and illustrated by English artist Roger Dean, who would design many of Yes’s future album covers, including their “bubble” logo. On reflection of the design, Dean said: “‘Fragile’ was very literal, really. I think the band has named a number of their albums after their current psychological state, and ‘Fragile’ described the psyche of the band. And I thought about that very literally, painting a fragile world that would eventually break up.” He commented further: “‘Fragile’ was quite a complicated cover because there was a book inside. It was elaborate although it wasn’t one of the most striking of all the Yes covers. I was kind of learning my trade at the time. The main feature on the cover was a little Bonsai world with a wooden space ship flying overhead! It was literally meant to be a fragile world”.

The band had wished for an image of a fractured piece of porcelain; to compromise, Dean ended up breaking the planet into two pieces. This idea of a broken world would continue on the band’s live album, Yessongs. Bruford thought Dean “brilliantly parlayed that idea [one of Fragile] up to the prescient image of the fragile planet earth, with implications of a delicate and breakable eco-system”.

The LP’s accompanying promotional booklet contains two additional Dean paintings; the front cover depict five creatures huddled under a root system; the back cover depicts a person climbing up a rock formation. The inside shows several photographs of the band with an individual page dedicated to each member, with smaller illustrations and photographs of their wives and children. Anderson’s page contains a short poem, while Wakeman contains a list of acknowledgements, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The White Bear pub in Hounslow, and Brentford F.C..

Fragile was first reissued on CD in the United States and Europe in 1990. A remastered edition for CD and cassette by Joe Gastwirt followed in 1994, which includes a reprise of “We Have Heaven” after “Heart of the Sunrise” for a track running time of 11:32. In 2002, Rhino and Elektra Records released Fragile in stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes for the DVD-Audio format (Yeah, but is it a Steven Wilson remix? No? Then it doesn’t count!!). The band’s cover of “America” is included, along with other supplemental features. 2003 saw Rhino and Elektra put out a new remastered CD conducted by Dan Hersch, with “America” and an early rough mix of “Roundabout” as bonus tracks. Make sure to spot the coming in too soon dubs of Anderson’s vocal in the middle and Howe’s acoustic guitar being dropped in towards the end. Hey, anyone in this band is not immune from making a mistake from time to time.

Both my twin aunts, Megan and Priscilla Shannon both split the cost of this four lp set which served as my first introduction to 'Roundabout' by Yes (the single edition)

Both my twin aunts, Megan and Priscilla Shannon both split the cost of this four lp set which served as my first introduction to ‘Roundabout’ by Yes (the single edition)

I still remember the dream there it was the first actual tune that heard the single played on my handheld AM transistor radio that I could happily sing along and snap his fingers (although not in syncopation) during the spring and summer (another one, Billy Paul’s Me and Mrs. Joneswe’ve got a thing going on – comes to forefront of my memory) . When the my half-sister got a record player for her birthday my twin aunts, Megan and Priscilla both pitched in to buy me for Christmas a Kay Tel 4 disc record collection featuring the Superstars of the 70’s to play on it when she wasn’t around. The collection included the Roundabout single, and also featured artists that would instrumental in my musical musings such as Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, Deep Purple’s Hush, Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady, Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Marakesh Express, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Lucky Man, along with others too numerous to mention.

For the longest time, I thought that Roundabout was nothing more than a four-minute song but imagine my surprise when all places, my home economics class in seventh grade, some fellow female classmate (a fat and ugly one too) brought in Fragile as an easy listening day record we could listen to after winding up a seventh period on a Friday afternoon. It was the first time I was ever transfixed by a Roger Dean album cover and when that opening ominous backward recorded piano note (not to mention engineer Eddie Offord’s genius of patching in those phase cancellation effects behind the monitoring board) resonated off of Steve Howe’s gentle acoustic guitar pickings and then to just lavishly explode into a jagged razor-sharp rhythm percussive canon of Bill Bruford’s thumping toms toms with Squire trying to overtake him with a rapid attack of distorted bass lines, I knew I was in for the listening experience of my life – not knowing that the original version of the song clocked in at over 8 and a half minutes! There was a whole middle section I never knew existed with Anderson’s elvish voice chirping something about a sailor who sees the rim of the land and eagles dancing wings flourished by Wakeman’s stoic organ passages that was left off the single (FM radio wasn’t a big thing in my house at the time). I knew from that moment forward that this was a monumental sonic odyssey that would help mentor me along a pathway of experimental music to follow.

So one day back in 1977 I clipped out a RCA record of the month club ad out of a Marvel Comic – I doesn’t know offhand which one it actually was, but it might as well have been this one:

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A Amazing Spider-Man comic I bought with my allowance money and therefore proceeded to order Fragile along with Led Zeppelin II and IV and some long ago forgotten Black Sabbath record with a measly quarter. Within a few weeks they were delivered within a few weeks to my doorstep. My mom didn’t dig the fact that a bill came along asking for an additional two dollars and change for postage and handling which I didn’t see in the fine print but hey ma, those are the fucking breaks. I finally had my first copy of Fragile in my cagey little hands and that was more important than life itself to a budding teen ager.

Favorite tracks: Roundabout, South Side of the Sky, and the magnificent 10 minute jam of Simon & Garfunkel’s America (now included on the remastered version which also incidentally has the demo version of Roundabout with lots of gags and goofs). South Side of the Sky is still one of my favorite all-time Yes songs (the subject dealing with a real Arctic exploration gone awry) – The hormonal middle section with the piano accompaniment was one of the first things that the PP Guru ever learned how to play from his Yessongs transcribed fakebook! The song, a perennial fan favorite has been missing from their set lists for over twenty years has finally now been re-arranged and resurrected to sheer popular Yes Fan demand the wide world over as most recent as the last summer tour when the entire album was performed live (with some computerized enhancements).

Favorite all time lyric: Were we ever colder on that day, a million miles away/ it seemed of all eternity……..YEAH! – South Side of the Sky by Jon Anderson & Chris Squire.

Tomorrow the ground breaking epic fantasy that was copied and pasted unto a James Cameron science fiction movie and was recently voted as the number one progressive rock album of all-time (according to Prog Magazine), Close To The Edge)

YES LOG 1971: LIONS, TIGERS, AND PURPLE WOLF HOUNDS, OH MY!!

24 Sep

    I’m still on a tangent commemorating Jon Anderson’s birthday for the next month or so hopefully not requiring liquid refreshment or giggle smoke that’s needed to balance out my cosmic equilibrium. Nevertheless, I take an hour during each day to listen to the first 21 or so studio albums that the band has done in chronological order and today I’m up to album # 3:

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The Yes Album – released on March 19, 1971. (portions of these fun facts are copied and pasted from Wikipedia. Just so you know)

      The Yes Album is the third studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes, released in February 1971 on Atlantic Records. It is their first album with guitarist Steve Howe who replaced Peter Banks in 1970, and their last in the 1970s to feature keyboardist Tony Kaye. Kaye would later return in 1983 for the multi platinum selling 90125 and hang out for another three albums ending with Talk in 1994.

    The album was the first by the group not to feature any cover versions, which had been a staple of their material until that point. The band spent mid-1970 writing and rehearsing new material at a farmhouse in South Molton, Devon, and the new songs were recorded at Advision Studios in the autumn. While the album retained close harmony singing, Kaye’s Hammond organ and Chris Squire‘s melodic bass, as heard on earlier releases, the new material also covered further styles including jazz piano, funk and acoustic music, with all band members contributing ideas, and tracks were extended in length to allow music to develop. Howe contributed a variety of guitar styles, including a Portuguese guitar, and recorded a solo acoustic guitar piece, “Clap”, live at the Lyceum Theatre, London.

   The album was a critical success and was a major commercial breakthrough for Yes, who had been at risk of being dropped by the record label. It reached number 4 in the UK and number 40 in the US, and is certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over one million copies. The album has been reissued on CD several times, and in 2014 was given a Blu-ray release, remixed by Steven Wilson.

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    The Yes Album was remastered and reissued in 2003 by Rhino Records with several bonus tracks, including a studio version of “Clap”, entitled as Howe intended. In 2014, Steven Wilson, formerly of Porcupine Tree, created a new stereo mix and a 5.1 surround sound mix, available as either a DVD or Blu-ray Disc. It was released on 21 April of this year with bonus tracks including the studio version of “Clap”, an extended version of “A Venture”, and an alternate version of the album with live tracks, single edits, and an extended mix. The Blu-ray version also features an instrumental version of the album, a needle drop sample of the original vinyl release, and additional live tracks.

    Yes had already recorded two albums for Atlantic by mid-1970, but neither had been commercially successful and the label was considering dropping them. They had replaced founding member Banks with Howe, who enjoyed playing a wider variety of styles, including folk and country music, and played a mix of electric and acoustic guitars. Singer Jon Anderson later said that Howe could “jump from one thing to the other, very fast, and very talented.” After some warm-up gigs with Howe, the band moved to a farm in South Molton, Devon, to write and rehearse new material. Howe in particular enjoyed working on the farm, and eventually bought it. Following rehearsals, the band booked Advision Studios in London with producer Eddie Offord and spent the autumn recording. The band enjoyed the sessions, and soon had enough material ready for an album.

    In November 1970, the group was involved in a car accident returning from a gig in Basingstoke. The band all suffered shock, and Kaye broke a foot. He had to do the next few gigs, and the album cover’s photo shoot, with it in plaster.

    Howe mostly used a Gibson ES-175 semi-acoustic guitar and a Martin OO-18 acoustic for recording, though he did attempt to play a variety of styles with the two instruments. Kaye’s main instruments were the Hammond organ and piano, including a solo on “A Venture”. Kaye had previously played the Hammond M-100, but for this album used the B-3, a move which he saw as “a turning point”. He was otherwise disinterested, however, in the variety of electronic keyboards that were becoming available. This proved to be a problem with the other members of the band, and Kaye thought his style conflicted too much with Howe’s. He left the group during rehearsals for the follow-up album in mid 1971, to be replaced by Rick Wakeman

Other fun facts to note from an earlier Wikipedia entry:

  • The “democratic” balance of the band — with each virtuoso member making his own significant contribution — is seen here for the first time. While other bands were hiring orchestras to provide their songs with a fuller sound, Yes had the talent and the musicianship to be their own orchestra.
  • Steve Howe appeared with the band for the first time and played a very prominent role throughout. His solo acoustic song, Clap (forever renamed “The Clap” by Anderson’s mis-introduction on the live track) has always been a concert favorite of the band and their fans.
  • The band began to explore longer songs with Yours Is No Disgrace, Starship Trooper, and Perpetual Change, foreshadowing the many album-side-length tracks that followed on Close to the Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans and Relayer.
  • The Yes Album is generally considered a classic ’70’s rock album and a highlight of the band’s long career with songs such as “Starship Trooper” and “I’ve Seen All Good People” still staples of classic rock radio.
  • The Yes Album (Atlantic 2400 101) reached #7 in the UK. It also reached #40 in the US during a chart stay of 50 weeks.The Yes Album was remastered and reissued in 2003 with several bonus tracks.

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The Songs/Track Listing

Yours Is No Disgrace” (Anderson/Bruford/Howe/Kaye/Squire)  originated from some lyrics written by Anderson with his friend David Foster. This was combined with other short segments of music written by the band in rehearsals. Howe worked out the opening guitar riff on his own while the rest of the band took a day’s holiday. The backing track was recorded by the group in sections, then edited together to make up the final piece. Total run time: 9:41

Howe’s solo acoustic tune, “Clap” (wrongly written as “The Clap” in original album pressings), (Howe) was influenced by Chet Atkins and Mason Williams‘ “Gas”. The piece was written to celebrate the birth of Howe’s son Dylan on 4 August 1969. The version that appears on the album was recorded live at the Lyceum Theatre in London on 17 July 1970. Total run time: 3:17 Total time 2014 studio version: 4:04

The spacey, electronic-sounding effect in “Starship Trooper” (Anderson, Howe & Squire) was achieved by running the guitar backing track through a flanger. Anderson wrote the bulk of the song (mostly a two chord shuffle of E to A major), while Squire wrote the “Disillusion” section in the middle. The closing section, “Würm” is a continuous cadenza of chords (G-E♭-C) played ad lib. It evolved from a song called “Nether Street” by Howe’s earlier group, Bodast. Total time 9:29

* “Disillusion” evolved from an earlier song “For Everyone”, live recordings of which later appeared on Something’s Coming: The BBC Recordings 1969–1970 and The Word Is Live) 2005 box set.

“I’ve Seen All Good People” (Anderson/Squire) is a suite of two tunes. Anderson wanted the piece to start quietly and develop, leading into a large church organ sound, before moving into the funky second movement. The band had difficulty recording the initial “Your Move” section, which was resolved by making a tape loop of bass and drums, over which Howe overdubbed a Portuguese 12-string guitar, miscrediting it as a “vachalia” on the album’s credits. Gnidrolog‘s Colin Goldring played recorder on the track. Total time: 6:26

Anderson wrote “A Venture” (Anderson)  in the studio, which was arranged by the rest of the band. Kaye played piano on the track, contributing a jazzy solo towards the end. Howe played a guitar solo on the original recording, but it was left off the final mix, which faded out just as it started. The song was never played live by the original group, but an arrangement was worked out when Yes decided to play the whole album live in 2013. Total time: 3:21   Total time 2014 Extended version: 4:45

The lyrics for “Perpetual Change”  (Anderson/Squire) were inspired by the view of the countryside from the farm in South Molton. The middle of the track features a polyrhythmic structure, where two pieces of music in different time signatures are playing simultaneously. A riff in 14/8 pans to one side of the stereo while a chorus in 7/4 appears on the left.. Total time: 8:58

Hmmm, 1971.

1971.

Let’s see. 1971.

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No sir, I don’t think I can remember 1971 all that clearly. You see, back then I was so traumatized by the Amazing Spider-Man # 100 – that would be the issue in which alter ego Peter Parker was dropping so much acid that he grew six arms out the side of his hips, that I had to undergo through some serious shock therapy when I was still in first grade. I also contracted a serious case of speech impediment when I had trouble pronouncing my ‘th’ sounds, and was sent off to a speech therapist, because I was starting to sound like such a sissy reading my Dick, Jane, and Sally books out loud in class. And then there was that time when I stood out in the middle of a rain storm waiting for the bus to take me to school and when I arrived to class, my pants was all soaking wet and then the teacher made me wear a big sheet of cardboard as a makeshift dress.

The view of Lake Hiawatha School in Parsippany, NJ as it stands today as a view from my mom's house.

The view of Lake Hiawatha School in Parsippany, NJ as it stands today as a view from my mom’s house.

 

I know, too much information, right?

I didn’t get to listen to the Yes Album until he was visiting his aunts Megan and Priscilla out in California in the summer of 1978 when they had friends in Newport Beach who had it in their collection and I listened to it while getting in my initial foray into the giggle weed social sect.

Not one of my favorite Yes Albums per se, I’m afraid to admit. Damn, I used to get sick and tired of hearing Your Move performed in concert, but yet, for all intents and purposes it is a single solitary album of transition. Peter Banks was replaced by Steve Howe who was a powerhouse on all stringed instruments and styles. It’s Tony Kaye’s finest keyboard performance before he got sacked (the other members didn’t like seeing him playing with one hand all the time from what I’ve been told) and Eddie Offord took to the helm with his brilliant engineering skills. The album opens with a ‘picking up from we last saw our heroes’ cliffhanger of sorts, i.e., the western movie inspired motif once introduced on No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed on the last album with Yours is No Disgrace. Some dabbling with a Robert Heinlein sci-fi book serves as the inspiration behind Starship Trooper, which is still regarded as a popular show closer. My favorite tracks are A Venture (which sadly I didn’t get to see performed live at last year’s Three Album Tour. Afraid this little minnow got lost in the tumultuous sea of poverty ) and the closing track, Perpetual Change.

However, now with the Steven Wilson 5.1 surround sound reissue – there is much more depth and clarity to explore. This edition is one the last albums I got to listen to on my best friend Harry Perzigian’s state of the art studio system at his house at Brentwood just after he died while I was taking care of a few of his affairs and I would probably have given anything to have to possess this version when it was released a mere week before he died. I’m sure he would have gotten a kick out of hearing the original studio version of The Clap which featured Steve Howe trying to work out some acoustic guitar motifs he would later explore on “Mood for a Day” for the next album entitled “Fragile”. Also, if you listen to the “alternative album” version included on the DVD  and Blu Ray, you’d be astonished by the expanded edition of “A Venture” (also included on the CD) which doesn’t fade out on Tony Kaye’s magnificent boogie style piano solo but extends it for a full minute and a half only to end on a glorified Chris Squire bass guitar ending. So, I do now have a fuller appreciation of the hard work that went into the making of this ground breaking sonic achievement. Best line: Death defying, mutilated armies scatter the earth/ Crawling out of dirty holes, their morals disappear– Yours is No Disgrace. (Anderson/Squire/Howe/Kaye/Banks) although we all know that Jon wrote the lyric.

Tomorrow: An art appreciation for the world shattering phenomenon that became “Fragile”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YES LOG 1970: HATE IS THE ROOT OF CANCER?

23 Sep

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YESLOGS: November 2, 1970 HATE IS THE ROOT OF CANCER?

Originally presented in 2005 on http://www.purplepinupguru.blogspot.com

Continuing with my one a day aural vitamin helping of Yes Music in celebration of original singer Jon Anderson’s milestone 70th birthday, Time And A Word was the second album by progressive rock band Yes, released in mid-1970 in the UK (the group’s home country) and November 1970 in the US. This was the last Yes album to feature the group’s original line-up of Jon Anderson (vocals), Chris Squire (bass, vocals), Peter Banks (guitar), Tony Kaye (keyboards) and Bill Bruford (drums). Nearly all of the band’s compositions were written by Anderson for this album with the sole exception of The Prophet which was co-written with Chris Squire.

(portions of this blog were lifted from Wikipedia sources – hence the weird formatting)     

       With the ambitious decision to use string arrangements on most of the album’s songs, Peter’s role as a guitarist was diminished. Tensions within band members increased, and just after the album’s recording was completed in early 1970, Peter was asked to leave, which he reluctantly did. Steve Howe would join the line-up that March, replacing Banks.

    Time And A Word’s use of heavy strings seemed intrusive to some critics, and while the album was received in a lukewarm fashion upon its release (UK #45, Yes’ first chart entry at home), it is more warmly remembered today.

      With the acquisition of Steve Howe, the band would start to compose and routine the music for The Yes Album over the summer of 1970 which, upon its release the following spring, would finally earn the band their success. In effect, Time And A Word marks the end of Yes’s formative, yet musically significant, period.

Time And A Word (Atlantic 2400 006) reached #45 in the UK. It never charted in the US.

                                 Time And A Word was remastered and reissued in 2003 with several bonus tracks.

Jon Anderson‘s decision to use a live orchestra on most of the album’s songs (as he reported in the YesYears video) put him very much at odds with Peter Banks. Tensions within the band increased, and just after the album’s recording was completed in early 1970, Banks was asked to leave. Steve Howe would join the line-up that March, replacing Banks. The album includes two songs Anderson wrote with David Foster, a former band mate in The Warriors.

    Time and a Word’s use of a studio orchestra seemed intrusive to some critics, and the album was received in a lukewarm fashion (UK No. 45, Yes’ first chart entry at home). The opening track contains an orchestral intro to Richie Havens’ song “No Opportunity Needed, No Experience Necessary”, featuring a main theme from the 1958 film The Big Country by Jerome Moross. Also, the track “The Prophet” borrows from Gustav Holst‘s “Jupiter” from the Planets Suite.

Track listing

Side one
No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed       Richie Havens  4:48
Then                                                                                Jon Anderson 5:44
Everydays                                                                        Stephen Stills  6:08
Sweet Dreams                                                                 Anderson, David Foster 3:51

Side two

The Prophet                                                                     Anderson, Chris Squire  6:34
Clear Days                                                                       Anderson 2:06
Astral Traveller                                                                 Anderson 5:53
Time and a Word                                                             Anderson, Foster 4:31

2003 Remaster bonus tracks
Dear Father                                                                     Anderson, Squire  4:12
No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (Original mix)  4:42
Sweet Dreams (Original mix)                                         4:19
The Prophet (Single version)                                          6:33

Tracks 9–11 first appeared on early West German pressing of ”Time and a Word”, Atlantic/Teldec (GE) (24/4/70).
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         Where were you on November 2, 1970? when Yes’ second album, Time and a Word was first released (in the US)?

        The only thing that springs to my six-year-old mind about 1970 was that it was the year that his Aunt Priscilla had graduated from Trenton State College and I had to attend the ceremony in a suit. Wasn’t much of A Man’s Warehouse double-breasted suit type of guy and therefore raised a tumultuous tantrum about it. It also marked the occasion that when I first referred to my stepfather as a bleedin’ asshole, even though I don’t have a recollection of where I first had heard that terminology having been used before (probably something I picked up from watching Monty Python) Nevertheless, I had achieved in getting another good sore assbeating for my abrupt forwardness (of spurting out the truth).

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     Due to overcrowding at Northvail School in Parsippany, NJ – I was transferred to Lake Hiawatha School for first grade class which was a pretty long walk from my house. One of my bus mates going to school with me was James Vigilante – who went on to become a decorated Gulf War veteran and after a couple more tours of Iraq, he was already established as a pillar of my hometown of Parsippany and had become a highly respected local councilman for Morris County. He was a well-respected individual and comforting voice for the community, selfishly volunteering his time and services for many charity causes. Tragically, he suffered a major heart attack last November of 2013. The town of Parsippany, its’ citizens both past and present continue to mourn him. Some of the lyrics of the title track sort of brings me back memories of him – particularly this line:  When you get things in perspective/ Spread the news and help the world go around.

Time and a Word line-up consisted of Jon Anderson– vocals, Chris Squire – bass, Tony Kaye, organs, the late Peter Banks last appearance on guitar, and Bill Bruford- drums.

This was the first album to utilize orchestral arrangements – a process that the band would not use again until 2001’s Magnification album. Feeling inadequate working with an orchestra was a major contributing factor leading up to Banks’ departure. Since Banks left the band before the street date release of the album, the first edition printing of the album cover spotted an elongated nude woman in some chessboard decorated corridor (probably due to censors), while the American version of the cover already featured Bank’s successor, Steve Howe posing with the rest of the band on the photo cover!!

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Highlights: Cover version of Ritchie Havens’ No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed – complete with a middle section that sounds as if it were lifted from the theme from the long running television western, Bonanza (SURPRISE it actually was!), Jon Anderson’s short and punchy rocker, Sweet Dreams, and the lyrically thought-provoking (a protest of the Viet Nam war?) The Prophet which along with Astral Traveller would serve as the blueprint for more drawn out cosmic rockers like Starship Trooper and Sound Chaser on future albums. Tony Kaye, upped his madman organ playing ante to compensate for the orchestration’s short comings.

Best lyrical line: Just remember when you’re gone there’s someone after you – from the Prophet by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire.

Tomorrow: The stellar success of the Yes Album updated for the recent release of the Steven Wilson 5.1 surround sound remixed edition.

Yes Log 1969 Beyond and Before

22 Sep

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For the next month or so, this blog site is going to be the mother-ship for all my re-mastered YESLOGS. These originally were a series of blogs I started roughly a decade or so commemorating the 2003-2004 reissue series of the entire Yes catalog on Rhino Records culled from all the previous Atlantic/Atco Records labels albums from the first Yes release in 1969 to 1983’s multi-million platter seller 90125 that featured rare and bonus tracks. So in addition to hearing the pops and hisses getting cleaned up, you got a couple of juicy aural enhancements added such as  single b-sides, demos, studio run-throughs, and almost entire unheard of secret albums such as the ill-aborted Paris sessions produced by Queen/Cars/Foreigner’s Roy Thomas Baker, who will be featured in a brand new entry, now that the majority of the band have come full circle in finally legitimately working with him. The reason for wanting to re-master these blog re-mastering is quite simple, they sound quite dated (not to mention they were written under my sex-crazed nom de plume of the Purple Pinup Guru, aka PP Guru) and lots and lots more updated history or behind the scenes gossip has emerged since they were originally posted- but there have been some major changes in the band for the past decade or so, including original singer Jon Anderson’s brush with ill health leading the band to replace him with two lead singers on two separate studio albums, a return of a major keyboard player, a passing of a founding member, and some innovative concerts that are still enabling them to pack the houses the whole world over to this very day. I just happened to have saw them last month here in Los Angeles and to me, they show no signs of ever slowing down

Most importantly, I’m representing these blogs as a testament to one of my all-time idols and a big influence of how I truly see the world through the reading of his words and currently living as a true testament to a tremendous force of creativity – former lead singer and prolific catalyst of the band (not saying that the others were no slouches themselves), Jon Anderson will be turning 70 this late October.

So what better way to acknowledge his achievements through a special series of blogs?

This is the concept of how a Yes Log works: for the next thirty days or so – every Monday- Friday, I will be talking about each Yes studio album in chronological order and whatever special occasion that happened to have occured on each one, and then I’m going to delve into my own personal history in association with each studio release and talk about the events that influence my own life as I was growing up.

Perhaps reading these mostly reprinted entries from my original blog, http://www.purplepinupguru.blogspot.com will inspire those to maybe do their own diary/discography of their favorite band that will inspire them to share and shape events that happened in their own life.

Could be fun, no? Well, at least it will be for me.

There are going some brand new entries scattered in here as well. I haven’t contributed entries such as the Paris sessions of which  bits and pieces of its’ official release had spread across three studio projects: the re-mastered editions of Tormato and Drama, along with the 2002 box set, Yes, In A Word…  . A recent article in Prog Magazine had shed some new light on those aborted RTB sessions and what really happened behind the scenes to the original follow up to Tormato. I’ll also be expanding the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, & Howe portion of the series to talk about the songs that could’ve formed the second album but instead were scrapped for the marvel team up edition of 1991’s Union. Two new entries for the recent released albums of Fly From Here and Heaven & Earth will also be contributed to the new mix. And along the way, there will be a tribute to the passing of my best friend, Harry Perzigian – whom I first met while waiting in line for Yes tickets and a record store signing which I hopefully will make the local news outlets. Hopefully this will all accumulate by the time Jon Anderson’s birthday comes around on October 25. Although it probably would be wise of me if I saved the final two releases until after his birthday since he didn’t have anything to do with them

So without further ado.

YES LOG 1969

Hey,  just curious –  what were you all doing back on … July 25, 1969?

It was the day when Atlantic Records released the first Yes Album. In celebration of the new Yes: And the Word is Live box set being released tomorrow, we’re going to go through a literal trip through time by listening to every Yes studio album in chronological order for the next 3 three weeks and wants to know what the hell were you doing on that day of the album’s release or what were you doing the day that you first sat down and listened to it. The band’s personnel were Jon Anderson, vocals, Chris Squire, bass and vocals, Bill Bruford, drums, vibes, Tony Kaye, organ and piano, and Peter Banks on guitars. Best songs: Harold Land, Beyond and Before, Looking Around, Every Little Thing (tribute to the Beatles- listen to Banks squeaking out the theme to Day Tripper before Anderson starts singing the first verse), and the second edit of Something’s Coming (available on the 2003 re-mastered version, which also has been re-released in 2013 as a box set of all the original first 12 studio albums) which went on to prove that it was hip for young cats like me to be listening to Sondheim and Bernstein.

And what were you doing that day, you may ask ?

 

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         He was probably watching man take his first step on the moon, although it technically happened five days before the album was released.

1969 was also the year that I had enrolled in Northvail Elementary School, in Parsippany, NJ to attend kindergarten classes in the fall. Not one particular shenanigan I pulled particularly stands out other than I let a hamster let loose at my Vail Garden Apartment bedroom and that it ate my drapes and I got a serious beatdown from my stepfather about it.

       untitled           It was also the debut of Scooby Doo. The fall of ’69 however brought us no more Star Trek, but at least our American television sci-fi fix was still being fed one final season of Land of the Giants.

imagesDiahann Carroll was still melting male hearts as the most alluring beautiful African-American sweetheart actress of her era, and one that was real classy to boot, not like that race baiting trash talking with cum on her breath Daniele Watts that we have today.

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And on July 25 1969:

  • Vietnam War: U.S. President Richard Nixon declares the Nixon Doctrine, stating that the United States now expects its Asian allies to take care of their own military defense. This starts the “Vietnamization” of the war.

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Squire formed Yes in 1968 with singer Jon Anderson. Squire and guitarist Peter Banks had played together in The Syn and then Mabel Greer’s Toyshop. Anderson and later drummer Bill Bruford joined a line-up of Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, which evolved into Yes. Keyboardist Tony Kaye completed the first Yes line-up. Their early sets were a mix of original material and cover versions.

Track listing for the first album

Side one

Beyond & Before    Chris Squire/Clive Bailey  4:58
I See You                  Roger McGuinn|Jim McGuinn/David Crosby 6:54
Yesterday and Today Jon Anderson 2:53
Looking Around      Anderson/Squire 4:18

Side two

Harold Land            Anderson/Bill Bruford/Squire  5:45
Every Little Thing (Beatles song)Every Little Thing   John Lennon/Paul McCartney  5:46
Sweetness                Anderson/Bailey/Squire  4:35
Survival                     Anderson  6:23

2003 remaster bonus tracks

Everydays (Single version) Stephen Stills  6:23
Dear Father (Early version #2)  Anderson/Squire  5:51
Something’s Coming Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim 7:09
Everydays (Early version)  5:18
Dear Father (Early version #1)  5:31
Something’s Coming (Early version) 8:02

Sweetness” is featured in Vincent Gallo‘s first movie as a director, Buffalo ’66.

In a news/blog post on 20 September 2010, Bill Bruford commented about the track “Harold Land” – “Harold Land was a hard-bop tenor saxophone player, dead now, but quite why we named a song after him I can’t remember”. The song is about the effects of war on the named character, and bears no relation to the life of the sax player Harold Land.

Favorite lyric line:  Don’t doubt the fact that there’s life within you/ yesterday’s endings will tomorrow’s life give you/ all that dies  dies for a reason/ to put its strength into the Season,   – Survival by Jon Anderson
 

Tomorrow: Time and A Word and 1970.