YES LOG 1980: AND THUS CAME A TIME OF BUXOM BLONDES AND GREAT MACHINE MESSIAHS

6 Oct

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I opened up a copy of Rolling Stone one day in early 1980 and felt as if my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach and was itching itself slowly out of my colon. I was in my sophomore year of high school attending art classes and music theory courses. I had met this kid in art class named Chris Gallo. Chris and I got into a fist fight one time over some unfathomable reason. Kids in high school usually get into fights for some discernible reason that cannot be explained over the ravages of time, but I was sure it was for something really trivial something along the lines of like having longer hair (which was usually a anti-social crime back then) or for wearing a Spider-Man t-shirt to class. We did have one thing in common: we both liked Pink Floyd. So Chris’s brother had a spare ticket for the Wall concert out in Long Island Nassau Coliseum to be precise and I was invited to ride shotgun and before we knew it we made up and became friends for a short while until he moved up to upstate New York. Needless to say that Waters and Co performing that double album was a mind numbing experience would be an understatement ( nowadays it’s just a fucking crutch as Waters really has no new material to play), but that’s another blog entry for another time. Before Chris packed up to move, his brother realized that he wouldn’t be needing their pair of Yes tickets which went on sale nearly a year in advance in anticipation of a new album, so they asked me if I wouldn’t mind taking them off their hands. This was in February, mind you and the tickets were dated for September of later that year back at Madison Square Garden.

So having these tickets within my possession, all I had to do was find someone to accompany me. Yet, when I opened up the Rolling Stones to the Random Notes section, I was utterly dumbfounded to find that Yes, currently in the throes of recording their new album in Paris with sleek producer, Roy Thomas Baker whose shoe polish matches the gleam of Top 40 bands such as The Cars, Queen, and Foreigner back then announced that the band would be their losing special spiritual advisor, Maestro Jon Anderson and the curry spitting capeman Rick Wakeman for the second time. I even still remember the mock-up photo showed the two waving goodbyes to their fans.

Wait Jon Anderson? The lyrical central and chirpy main vocalist of Yes leaving? That’s impossible!! How will they survive without their singer who many canonize as the catalyst of the group ever since the band’s formation for over ten years now? How would they function as a cohesive unit? If Ian Anderson had left Jethro Tull or Robert Plant walked away from Led Zeppelin (and they had problems of their own at this period of time), those groups’ future would surely be in doubt.

Citing musical differences going as far back as 1978’s Tormato, Jon Anderson was feeling the deep-rooted neurosis of new wave music angst felt working with Baker, who happened to take one of the demos they were working on titled Dancing Through the Light and managed to make it sound like a ELO disco outtake didn’t help matters much. Chris Squire and Alan White were also on the lookout for outside writing sources to shake things up, and they were listening heavily to a demo submitted to the band by manager Brian Lane performed by a songwriting duo called the Buggles. Squire suggested that the new blood would be great for the band at least from a writing standpoint. Anderson’s response was to get on the first flight back to London, repulsed even by the thought of working with a pair of Wham! wannabees. Wakeman’s feeling was that there was nothing left for him in Yes if Anderson was gone soon followed suit. Like I had said in his last entry of the Tormato album, the bonus tracks on the re-mastered Rhino version represented the worst of those writing sessions and demos. The bonus tracks on the re-mastered DRAMA originally issued on August 18, 1980 reveals the best of the Baker sessions with the nearly 6 minute track, “The Golden Age” being the best song that Yes had never released along with the two shorter but sweet and ominous “In the Tower” and “Friend of A Friend’. From that point, the relationship with Baker and the rest of the group had dissolved and Squire, White, and guitarist Steve Howe went back to work on new material and took Lane’s consideration to task of hiring the duo of the Buggles consisting of singer /songwriter Trevor Horn and session keyboardist Geoff Downes to write and perform on the new record.

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The aforementioned track, Dancing Through the Light recorded in Paris was originally co-written by Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman was slightly rearranged into a brand new song and added Downes and Horn to the writing credits on the reworked version. The title Dancing Through the Light was changed to Run Through the Light and sounded more like a tender ballad until Alan White’s drums explodes like a white star dwarfing a sound that could have been the architect of Phil Collins’s solo hit, In the Air Tonight’ which was no wonder since Hugh Padgham is credited as one of the engineers on this album. Hugh would go on to be the successful producer of many future Genesis‘ and Phil Collins top-selling pop albums such as Abacab and Invisible Touch. Another song, supposedly demoed back in the Tormato days, Everybody’s Song was polished off to become one of the new album’s most endearing tracks, Does It Really Happen?

When first heard initially of the announcement that the remaining members of the Yes had allied themselves with a pair of new wavers, I was enraged and frustrated that the remaining members of my favorite band would ally themselves with a bunch of pompadour sprouting amateurs, who were in no way close to their calibre of musicianship. This alliance had the stink of dry ice to it. I had the prediction that the concert would be cancelled and the album would be permanently shelved – so feeling I had nothing much to lose, by the end of my sophomore year in high school I would get the goddamn ask a very pretty girl to attend the concert with me a date so well in advance that wouldn’t be happening until next fall. And if it all fell apart – the concert and the date cancelling on me– well, it’s no skin off my ski slope nose. It’s probably all doomed to suck anyway.

HOWEVER, I was soon to change my tune – on both counts.

By now, you’re probably asking yourself, do we have go through this – an updated Wikipedia barrage of fun facts? Yes, afraid we have to.

Drama is Yes‘ first studio album without vocalist Jon Anderson. In early 1980, after rehearsing music for the follow-up to the tepidly received Tormato, both Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman left the band over creative and financial differences.

It is Yes’ first studio album without Anderson and with keyboardist Geoff Downes (and has recently rejoined the band full-time and has recorded two more albums, Fly From Here in 2011 and Heaven & Earth in 2014) and the only one with Trevor Horn as lead vocalist. However, Horn was later involved as producer in 90125, Big Generator and Fly From Here. It is also Yes’ final studio album before the band disbanded in 1981, and later reformed in 1982.

Reportedly Anderson and Wakeman were the most enthusiastic about creating a new album, and the rest of the band was lukewarm over the idea, given the relative failure of the last album. This in turn discouraged both Anderson and Wakeman, with the latter at times refusing to leave his room, and both men dejectedly spending time at a local bar. They quit the band soon afterwards.

The remaining members, Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White carried on. Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles (who had recently had a No. 1 hit in the UK with “Video Killed the Radio Star“, and were managed by Yes’ long-time manager Brian Lane) were working in an adjacent studio, and, being Yes fans, introduced themselves. As it happened, Squire owned and enjoyed the Buggles’ first album, and the pair were invited to sit in during rehearsals. They were soon asked to join the band.

Recorded that spring and released in August, Drama featured a harder-edged Yes with a distinct new wave flavour. Roger Dean was commissioned to design his first Yes cover in six years, and Eddie Offord, who had co-produced and engineered Yes’ albums during their 1971–1974 heyday, also assisted with the project.

The writing of all songs on the album is credited to Geoff Downes/Trevor Horn/Steve Howe/Chris Squire/Alan White. However, “Into the Lens” and “White Car” are basically Buggles compositions; an alternate version of “Into the Lens” appeared on the second Buggles album Adventures in Modern Recording as “I am a Camera“. The song is based on Christopher Isherwood‘s Berlin stories. “Does It Really Happen?”, “Run Through the Light” and “Tempus Fugit” were developed by Squire, White, and Howe before Horn and Downes joined the band; Horn added lyrics. The version of “Does It Really Happen?” on the original LP and CD pressings is slightly different from subsequent remasters and collections. At approximately 5:03 into the original song, there is a hard stop followed by a pause and then the keyboards fading back in   The current version return the keyboards at full volume without the fade-in (whoever made that editing snafu ought to be fucking shitcanned!!) . “Does It Really Happen?” and “Run Through the Light” both exist in very different forms, as demos performed by the band with Anderson. “Machine Messiah” was based on another Buggles composition, but with considerable input from Squire, White, and Howe.

The two demo songs “We Can Fly From Here” and “Go Through This” did not end up on the album, although the band did play both of them on the subsequent tour. Live recordings of these songs were released on The Word is Live. “We Can Fly From Here” was eventually expanded into the 20+ minute title track of Fly from Here.

Although all five members of the band are credited for the production of Drama as well as Eddie Offord, the majority of the production work was handled by Trevor Horn: “I spent my [wedding] night in the recording studio, [laughter] it’s true, too” he confessed in a 1980 interview on NBC TV’s “The Source”, “I got married and two hours later, I was back in the studio. [We decided that] for our honeymoon, we were going to spend 2 weeks in Miami Beach. Gradually it became 10 days in Miami, a week in Miami, six days in Miami [pause]… it ended up as three days in Bournemouth and Steve [Howe] came along, we had a good time actually.”

A notable contribution to the sound of the song “Run Through the Light” was apparently made by Hugh Padgham, the recording engineer for the album, as the song features distinctive ‘gated drum’ sound which is often attributed to Padgham, made famous in recordings by The Police, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Paul McCartney and Genesis.

Drama (Atlantic K 50736) fared very well in the UK charts, reaching number 2 there, but in America Drama (Atlantic SD 16019) became Yes’s first album there since The Yes Album not to reach the top 10 or earn a gold record. The album’s highest charting position was at #18, but remained on the top 200 album chart for nineteen weeks. The US tour, however, was a big success which was not the case with the UK tour, with some fans angry over Anderson’s replacement and Horn’s voice suffering from his first experience of major touring, as well as his efforts to match Anderson’s higher register. Horn subsequently quit the band, and Yes officially ended in early 1981 (although they would reform two years later with a very different sound). Howe and Downes then joined Asia and Trevor Horn began a highly successful career as a record producer (next working with Yes as producer of their 1983 album, 90125).

After Anderson rejoined, Yes did not perform any of the songs from Drama, as he refused to sing them (although Anderson would sing the words “yes, yes” during the instrumental portion of “Tempus Fugit”, included in Squire’s “Whitefish” medley). When Yes reconvened without Anderson in 2008, they performed “Machine Messiah” and “Tempus Fugit” with new vocalist Benoît David.

THE SONGS / TRACKLISTING

Side one:

  1. Machine Messiah (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 10:28
  2. White Car (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 1:21
  3. Does It Really Happen? (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 6:36

Side Two

  1. Into the Lens (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 8:32
  2. Run Through the Light (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 4:43
  3. Tempus Fugit (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 5:22

2004 Re-master Expanded Edition Bonus Tracks:

  1. Into the Lens (I Am A Camera) Single Version (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 3:48
  2. Run Through the Light Single Version (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 4:31
  3. Have We Really Got to Go Through This? (Howe/Squire/White) Total Time: 3:43
  4. Song No. 4 (Satellite) (Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 7:32
  5. Tempus Fugit (Tracking Session) (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 5:40
  6. White Car (Tracking Session) (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 1:11
  7. Dancing Through the Light* (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) Total time: 3:17
  8. Golden Age* (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) Total time: 5:58
  9. In The Tower* (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) Total time: 2:55
  10. Friend of A Friend* (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) Total time: 3:38
  • Produced by Roy Thomas Baker.

So which girl was the unwitting victim for my Drama tour date?

Enter Linda Freeman.

small article published in the Morristown Daily Record of Linda Freeman (now Yarosh) winning 3rd place in Miss Teen New Jersey contest.

small article published in the Morristown Daily Record of Linda Freeman (now Yarosh) (right) winning 3rd place in Miss Teen New Jersey contest.

Linda was my classmate in my Social Studies class. My teacher, Ms. Uberto used to a Radio City Rockette and boy, she fumed at the thought of a rumored world-class stoner such as myself would even have the audacity to ask out such a glamorous girl, who had just taken third place in the runner-up to be selected as Miss New Jersey in the Miss Teen America contest, but as luck turned out, Linda knew that I wasn’t that much of a doper as my reputation from others had led her to believe, knew deep inside that the I had an inner artist quality that she could warm up to. And from the moment she told him… YESSSSSSS, From that frozen moment in time, I knew I had hit the jackpot. Linda was a prize package, not only did she have brains, but she was blonde with Swedish and Southern Californian good looks like a surfer chick features out-of-place in a town such as Parsippany. She had beautiful thighs and a magnificent wiggle to her walk. AND IF YOU ACT NOWYOU GET BONUS SISTERS. That’s right, she also had two older sisters who equally shared the same attributes (During the summer of 1983, I was also fortunate to have dated her older sister, Lisa when Linda was not available for a Asia concert or a Genesis concert). I can still fondly remember the day when I first asked her out – it was during the last month of school and she was wearing this opaque skin clinging spring dress. As she was walking down the hall adjacent to the Parsippany High School Library, I stopped her and naturally just let out all that bottled up tension and simply asked her to the concert. But honestly, it was the silhouette of a matching set of bra and panties that I saw through that dress which really worked as an incentive for me. Surprisingly, she accepted the invitation, and we then exchanged phone numbers and made plans to see each other after our summer vacation was over. But the more I mulled it over, the more I wanted to see her beforehand. A last-minute acquisition of Genesis tickets (for the Duke tour) didn’t work out, because she got sick that weekend but she suggested to me that she had heard that Alice Cooper was coming to town to the New York Palladium (Stroke boy Billy Squier was the opening act), and she would have loved to go to see that show. So we got tickets – walked all the way from the Port Authority bus terminal to 14th St where the Palladium was located – and boy, whatever pimps and drug dealers were pushing their wares, they would just be salivating their chops as we sauntered by hand in hand (I’ll never forget some dude dressed up like Superfly approached us and said to Linda: “Hey, baby” which only made my hand squeeze Linda’s a little tighter). I made sure she got there safe and sound, but we took the subway back and it turned out she was well versed with how the MTA transit systems worked (all those modeling gig auditions taught her to do so) So it was from that awkward first date jitters throughout the majority of my remaining high school years, that Linda Diane Freeman became my on and off girlfriend, but our dates were merely reduced to spending time going to concerts and maybe some holiday get-togethers. Linda was one to crack open books and do gobs and gobs of studying and homework (she did make honor student)- while I dabbled in writing poetry and stories and wound up contributing to yearly creative writing class booklets. Upon graduation in 1982 Linda enrolled in Case Western University to study big time and I was venturing towards wanting to go back to California shortly after high school was over – but there were detours along the way to be explained in tomorrow’s entry.

Linda Freeman (now Yarosh) and I taken at her house circa 1983

Linda Freeman (now Yarosh) and I taken at her house circa 1983 in Parsippany, NJ

Oh high those memories of see through saffron dress, those swimsuits and pageant gowns she used to model for me… Arrrgghh…! Oh, to be sweet sixteen again.

Another notable event from this era was the introduction of the Zullo clan – four brothers and a uncle who were also equal Yes cultist enthusiasts such as myself. Michael and his younger brother Joe transferred to Parsippany High School from the Santa Ana wild winds of San Fernando Valley, California. And later on, we would all partake in future time Yes concert endeavors.

So once I got more details on the new Yes release, I had found that things still were looking more gloomier than ever as the new album’s release date loomed nearer. Maestro Jon A and Rick wakey-Wakeman were still M.I.A, but to compensate, I did read that Eddie Offord was coming back to engineer and that Roger Dean would be providing the cover. That at least counted for something. When August 18, did finally roll around, I got out my Schwinn ten speed bike and rode down 10 miles down to Aron’s Records located at Morris County Mall in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey, the exact same spot where I had seen Star Wars three years earlier and eventually its’ sequel, the Empire Strike Back and bought two copies of the new album (one for me and one for Linda – I had to buy her one so that she would familiar with the new material) and sped back up to my place as far as my legs could pump to plunk it down on the crystal needle of my one year old stereo phonic system that I bought a year ago, saved up from my paper routes.

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Anticipation mounting.

Once the stylus diamond needle was proceeding with take off from the  Machine Messiah launching pad:

Holy shit! Unbelievable! Trevor Horn almost sounds like JON ANDERSON (culled with help from Chris’s back up vocals). 10 minutes and 27 seconds of dark hellish guitars riffs almost sounding like heavy metal in a few places. And Geoff Downes’s subtle keyboard flourishes and stinging arpeggio playing is a nomination worthy of new prog rock god . White Car is another monumental listening achievement – a short keyboard suite that is no longer than a minute – would be the first Yes song that I would learn to play on a keyboard without the accompaniment of a cheat sheet. (I performed a medley of it on a grand piano, just as a goof, mind you, that was set up at a comic book convention function called the Friends of Lulu awards ceremony one year in San Diego. At the time 21st Century Comics –(a comic book specialty once located in Anaheim, California) owner, Barry Short was so impressed that he had put out a tip jar for me). the reworked version of ” Does It Really Happen” also has an excellent bass riff and demonstrated more pile driving  percussion from White – in fact, it’s Alan White’s (or Eddie’s superb engineering ) most memorable pounding the skin work he has ever done for the band and this is a prime example of how infinitely interstellar his skills are presented here.

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An unused Buggles idea is the groundwork for Into the Lens, the eight and half-minute eccentric piece that opens the second side still makes think me of Linda to this day  with the simple vocoder uttering of the words by Geoff Downes: I am a Camera would be a hallway passing ritual for us to let each other know that life was just peachy between us. The aforementioned ‘Run through the Light earlier in the post had a different mix than the one that was previewed on radio (I much prefered the much earlier one but both are now available on the re-mastered version), so the last of the original six recordings ends on the powerful keyboard and guitar heavy duo riff entitled “Tempus Fugit” which is represented live on CD on the live box set of The Word is Live released in 2005 on Rhino Records. Also two unreleased songs from that era which were never recorded , but show up as part of their live set “We Can Fly From Here” and “Go Through This” has been sought by me for the longest time – both were finally made available on that exact same live box set. It’s no small wonder, that I identify strongly with this album I consider Drama my second all time favorite Yes album trailing just behind Relayer.

Madison Square Garden: this place again?

Madison Square Garden: what, this place again?

Both Linda and I took in Yes together at Madison Square Garden on September 6, 1980  – the stage was the same as it had been on the previous two tours in the round with the only exception of Alan White’s drum kit would revolve in a counter-clockwise direction than the rest of the band did and would be on a separate riser during the climactic moments during the live rendition of Machine Messiah. Geoff Downes was a wonder to behold – his keyboard work on older material such as Yours is No Disgrace and Heart of the Sunrise were on par with the more trained predecessors before him and he would be one of the keyboard players that would influence me to take up keyboard playing (my other influence being Tony Banks of Genesis)- however not the same could be said for Trevor Horn, whose future was better cemented in producing Seal and Paul McCartney records, was no Jon Anderson, that’s for sure. I distinctively remember Horn’s voice embarrassingly cracked during high register sections of Yours is No Disgrace. I wished for some moments I had rented ear plugs from the concession stand before Linda and I found our seats in the orchestra pit – of where they were playing in the round. Chris Squire wore a gaudy pin-striped suit with purple lens while Horn wore these huge yellow framed jobs that wouldn’t look out-of-place on a clownsuit. In fact, I think Horn did wear a red clown suit with big green floppy shoes If I recall.

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Although the tour dates sold out everywhere, the band did not do so well on their home soil so management decided that Yes should go into status for a while to rethink its ‘ future. Steve Howe and Geoff Downes went on to form Asia with John Wetton and Carl Palmer. Rick Wakeman went on make a gazillion more solo albums (what does he have now, like 80?). Jon Anderson found himself teamed up with Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire soundtrack composer Vangelis ( remember him? ) and they made a slew of albums together under the moniker of Jon & Vangelis, which recorded one of Canada’s best-selling album of the time, the Friends of Mr.Cairo (no doubt influenced by Jon’s love for – watch that word – cinema ) in 1981 which also featured a song that late disco temptress Donna Summer remade called State of Independence. Trevor Horn became a hot artist producer for Seal, Frankie Goes to Hollywood , and ABC he recorded one more Buggles album with Downes before calling it kaput that featured another version of Into the Lens but was re-titled I am A Camera – but the Buggles became a cultural icon in their own right when the launch of MTV premiered with the promo clip for Video Killed the Radio Star as being the first video ever played on that station). Chris and Alan went on to record a Christmas themed song called Run with The Fox and would have a run in with both Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to form another super group that never got past the talking stage (although demos with Page exist on the collector’s market) but somehow made it as other songs for future Yes albums.

And Linda? Who knows? when I first moved to San Diego, I tried to talk her into coming out to visit me (we even agreed to meet in Los Angeles at one time), but we just drifted away and just plain forgot about each other I suppose (for almost like three decades) – but this certain birthday gift from her is still in my possession and I constantly still seek guidance from within its’ pages (Future entries concerning Yes’ later releases of 2011’s Fly From Here and this year’s Heaven and Earth will have updated mentions of the one girl who I once thought the whole world of).

Personnel: Trevor Horn– vocals and bass (Run Through the Light), Geoff Downes – keyboards, Steve Howe– guitar and back up vocals, Chris Squire – bass, vocals, and piano (Run Through the Light), and Alan White – drums and percussion. Recorded at the Town House and SARM studios in London.

Favorite lyric: History dictating symptoms of ruling romance/ Claws at the Shores of the Water upon which we danceMachine Messiah (Downes/Horn/Howe/Squire/White)

Tomorrow: Teeny boppers and the new girl I met along the Toledo Good King Highway (even though Linda was still sort of in my life) as new band member Trevor Rabin made Yes into the US musical darlings on that fateful era November of 1983 they released 90125.

The majority of this blog was previously composed on September 3rd, 2005

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