Although I mentioned that I was possibly California bound in yesterday’s chapter of my month-long autobiographical sojourn dictated by the timeline of Yes studio album releases, there was still some lag time before I ventured to make my exodus. When Yes had reformed in the mid-eighties after a three year hiatus due to the disappointing failure to make and break in their home of the U.K. Drama was adequately successful in the US, at least in the Tri-state area. WNEW-FM played the shit out of Does it Really Happen? when the promo single was sent to stations and the shows at Madison Square Garden were completely sold out!, They had to look themselves real hard in the mirror and decide what was the best course for the band’s survival in the new wave dominated market. A heavy face lift was in order.
And thus begins my vocational school/ college years.
Between the time of late 1980 and late 1983 , Yes, all members past and present had managed to find themselves into creative limbo with the exception of Steve Howe and Geoff Downes going on to form Asia, (and later, GTR) the other half of that supergroup forced together by David Geffen was occupied by King Crimson/UK vocalist, John Wetton and ELP drummer Carl Palmer (Geoff and John still remain the best of friends today and are considered the best songwriting duo ever, since John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Jon Anderson was incognito in the south of France, Italy, and Greece laying down vocals and collaborating on a series of records teaming him up with Vangelis, the Oscar/Grammy winning synthesist and soundtrack composer to Chariots of Fire and Bladerunner, Trevor Horn, never to sing on record for a long, long time formed a record label called ZTT records and wrote songs for Frankie Goes to Hollywood while Rick Wakeman was out doing his bit for the New Age or Christian music biz in a slew of easily passed over albums (although I give him kudos for his 1984 concept album,…uhm, 1984 ) and Chris Squire and Alan White … And just what about those two?
Well, they were getting a new band together, well, at first they tried to put together a band with the recently discarded members of a John Bonham-less Led Zeppelin called XYZ (an acronym for EX YES & ZEPPELIN), before settling on getting together with South Africa’s first legendary guitar superstar, Trevor Rabin (Rabbit) who had just moved to Los Angeles for a breath of fresh air. Squire on a prowling night of debauchery, (according to my late friend Harry Paress – he would come across Squire at some Hollywood parties and couldn’t help noticing that he was getting around town in a beat up Volkswagen Bug) stumbled upon of all people in the LA area, founding keyboard player member, Tony Kaye (see, that’s why LA is a such a small world and that’s why I love it here so much! Everybody who is everybody is out here!) . Squire gave Kaye the 411 on a project that their manager Brian Lane had got set up for him and Alan and invited Kaye to jam on it. Tony, since the time of the Yes Album, had become a somewhat successful session player playing and jamming with the likes of David Bowie & Badfinger– he even at one had a formed a group with Yes’s first guitar player, Peter Banks called Flash (which didn’t last very long) and had his own band at one time called Badger. So it was a new group of three ex-players from Yes who decided to go back in SARM studios in London (where they had also cut Drama) and emerge as a shining new group who had the name Cinema all picked out and ready to go and producing them was none other than … Trevor Horn. Yeah sure, why not, it’s not as if he had anything else better to do, right?
Just one problem though, knowing Trevor having the strongest lead voice amongst the three wasn’t very comfortable handling both the lead guitar parts and singing at the same time, so a search was underway for a new lead vocalist (thank goodness!). For some reason, the demos ended up in Jon Anderson’s hands (singing soft contemporary love songs with Vangelis 24/7 was obviously getting to the guy) and it was from there that Chris popped the question: ‘Jon, how would you like to come and help ?’. Jon said ‘all right, just as long as you call it Yes.’
Record company went ballistic with tears of joy. They had originally thought Yes would remain a footnote in the annals of Rock music – but upon delivering a finished project that sounded so rejuvenated and refreshed, the record company (now Atco, and not Atlantic, although technically it’s the same label both owned by Warner/Atlantic/Elektra) had no recourse but to release this record that was predicted to take the radio world by storm. Named 90125, after it’s catalogue number, the new Yes had embarked on a journey that they had never known before: worldwide acceptance – because not only was its’ first single “Owner of Lonely Heart’ a powerful bona fide single on both radio and in the dance clubs (what?), not only was the video for that song became the band’s first video in heavy rotation (look for a cameo of King Crimson/Roxy Music/ UK keyboard player and violinist Eddie Jobson in the full unedited version. Eddie was slated to take over Tony Kaye’s touring duties, but Tony changed his mind, not letting stage fright to completely assimilate his long absence from performing live) on MTV but was much talked about at water coolers across the USA, and not only would they succeed in following the money train with other videos of Leave It and It Can Happen – but have it all lead to a Grammy nomination for best rock instrumental for the track titled Cinema was a feat unimaginable to the band. And here, the major success of the album can be attributed to the fact that Trevor Rabin came up with the idea for Owner of a Lonely Heart while … sitting on the toilet. Which is proof positive that the best laid ideas of man can develop completely after a fully digested meal and going off to the can to drop off a mean dooky .
The monster success of the Owner of A Lonely Heart single was bringing in major droves of screaming teen ager girls who wanted to rip apart Rabin and eat him alive (although they could have started on his entrails before the band was about to go on tour, Rabin had a near death experience when his spleen just decided to make a hasty stage exit in a hotel pool accident. So he had to get his appendix removed. Not a good way to start out your mid thirties). At 39, Jon Anderson was now regarded as a major sex symbol, while grandpa keysman Tony Kaye was looked upon as the party animal in the band (and look ma, he can play keyboards with two hands this time!!).
While I was completely ecstatic to see my all time fave band called back in action after such a long absence, I do not consider this album to be my least favorite one. The titles, for one thing, on songs such as Hold On, Leave it, Our Song, and Changes appear pedestrian, sounding like rejected episode titles from The X-Files or some such, but I give the collaboration of lyricists Anderson and Horn some leeway when they aren’t trying to sound too contrived in the chorus parts and kudos for not too overly teeny-bopperish. They have meat to their conception. The only songs that I feel any affinity towards is City of Love for it’s reggae/heavy thumping metal amalgamation. Changes has a good arpeggiated xylophone prelude that still keeps a rhythm tempo of 7/4 forever in my head . However, on the remastered version, there is a good unused song called “It’s Over” which sound like a vain attempt of Yes trying to come off on mimicking Queen that’s worth a listen – also club mix versions of Owners of a Lonely Heart are sprinkled throughout. What were we really thinking of back then?
Perhaps it can happen that some Wiki facts could shed some professional light on the subject more than my capability, that is if you have the hearts for it:
It is their first studio album since the 1980 breakup and 1982 reformation. The first album to feature guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin, it also marks the return of original singer Jon Anderson, who had left the band in 1980, and original keyboardist Tony Kaye, who originally left the band in 1971.
90125 became and still stands as Yes’ most successful album commercially. The album was titled after its Atco Records catalogue number (for example, 7-90125-1 for the LP).
This new incarnation of Yes came about by circumstance rather than design. In 1980, members Jon Anderson (vocalist) and Rick Wakeman (keyboardist) had left the band, replaced by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes respectively. The new line-up was short-lived: after an album (Drama) and tour, they disbanded in December 1980. Bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White continued to work together, including on the aborted XYZ project and released a Christmas-themed single Run with the Fox as a duo in 1981.
Guitarist Trevor Rabin had left South Africa in the late 1970s and had released a series of solo albums. There had been various attempts to place Rabin in a band, including a proposed quartet with Rick Wakeman, John Wetton and Carl Palmer in 1980 and a proposed trio with Keith Emerson and Jack Bruce. Rabin tried out in Asia, alongside Wetton, Palmer and former Yes members Steve Howe and Geoff Downes. However, he had also been put in touch with Squire and White and this was to be his path instead.
Squire, White and Rabin began working together in early 1982, initially considering some of the XYZ material along with songs Rabin had written for a solo album (including the hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart“). The trio decided they needed a keyboard player to fill out their sound. Squire suggested inviting original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, whose sparse style he felt would suit the new band’s direction. They christened themselves “Cinema” and in November 1982 began recording what they thought was their debut album, consisting mainly of original music Rabin had originally earmarked for a solo album.
Trevor Horn was hired to produce the album.
Everything changed in April 1983 when Jon Anderson was played some of Cinema’s recordings (notably “Leave It” and “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”) by Squire. The song collective was essentially Rabin’s musical ideas and compositions and Jon Anderson was very much impressed and so the thought formed that maybe there could be a reformation of Yes. As Anderson’s professed interest was so high, it was realised that – essentially – Yes were reforming. Rabin was dubious at first, not wanting to be perceived as Steve Howe’s replacement, but rather the lead guitarist for a new group. However, he quickly changed his mind once Anderson brought in some new lyrics and put his distinctive vocals on the existing music tracks.
By this time, however, the band were without a keyboard player, as Kaye had fallen out with producer Horn, resulting in much of the keyboard work on the recorded album being played by Rabin.
When the band started preparing for a tour to support the album, Eddie Jobson, who had already been considered for the job in 1974, (1974? News to me) was asked to join, which he accepted. While Jobson appeared in the video for the first single, “Owner of a Lonely Heart“, Chris Squire reached out and asked Tony Kaye to rejoin the band. This move helped to consolidate the legal position that the band was Yes. Kaye’s familiarity with both the new and classic Yes material contributed greatly to the success of the act live. Jobson, however, was against sharing keyboard duties with Kaye and left the band.
Released that Autumn on Atlantic Records‘ subsidiary, Atco, 90125 launched Yes to the MTV age and to a whole new breed of fans. The music was catchy, contemporary and well-liked by reviewers and their new fans (many of whom had little clue of the band’s previous incarnation). The lead single, “Owner of a Lonely Heart“, became the band’s first (and only) US #1 hit, driving 90125 to the Top 5 and helping it sell a certified three million copies in the US (though it has been estimated to have sold more than 4 million copies world-wide); by far Yes’ most successful album. “It Can Happen“, “Changes“, and “Leave It” all reached top ten on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks during 1984 and received heavy airplay. The British sales were not as spectacular, but still solid, and successive hits, such as “Leave It” and “It Can Happen” ensured 90125 had a lengthy chart life. In addition, “Cinema” won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1985.
The album’s logo was designed and created by Garry Mouat at Assorted Images on an Apple IIe computer, and a variant would be used on Yes’s next studio album Big Generator as well. 90125 (Atco 790 125) reached #16 in the UK chart and reached #5 in the US during a chart stay of 53 weeks. Trevor Rabin’s 2003 album 90124 used the same cover design with colour and text variations.
“Weird Al” Yankovic parodied the song “Leave It” via an inverted video clip where he inserts himself into the group’s lineup, while hosting an MTV episode as a guest VJ in the early 1980s following the release of 90125.
SONGS / TRACK–LISTING
- Owner of A Lonely Heart (Anderson/Horn/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 4:30
- Hold On (Anderson/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 5:18
- It Can Happen (Anderson/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 5:30
- Changes (Anderson/Rabin/White) Total time: 6:20
- Cinema (Kaye/Rabin/Squire/White) Total time: 2:08
- Leave It (Horn/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 4:14
- Our Song (Anderson/Kaye/Rabin/Squire/White) Total time: 4:18
- City of Love (Anderson/Rabin) Total time: 4:52
- Hearts (Anderson/Kaye/Rabin/Squire/White) Total time: 7:43
2004 Re-mastered and Expanded Bonus Tracks
- Leave It (Single remix) (Horn/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 3;57
- Make It Easy (Rabin) Total time: 6:12 (first appeared on the YesYears box set 1991)
- It Can Happen (Cinema Version) (Anderson/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 6:05 (first appeared on the YesYears box set 1991)
- It’s Over (Rabin) Total time: 5:41
- Owner of A Lonely Heart (Extended Mix) (Anderson/Horn/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 7:05
- Leave It (A Capella Version) (Horn/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 3:19
The isolated school where I went to study sound engineering in 1983. The Recording Workshop is located seven miles south of the city of Columbus, Ohio in a small town called Chillocothe. The campus dorms consisted of nothing but log cabins .Where I had to fend myself from bears and mountain lions armed with nothing but a soldering iron.
Looking back that transformative period now, I was bereft with my own lonely heart state of flux myself. With Linda Freeman now in and out of my life due to her college studies, I had to immerse myself in some major career decisions. I worked at a budget saving department store called Bradlee’s to raise up money at the very same mall where I saw Star Wars to enroll in a vocation school in Chillocothe, Ohio to study sound engineering. There I learned how to splice and edit recording tape, operate a sound board, mike up drums, and solder on frazzled patch cords that go into the sound boards. I was busy learning about cool sounding technical terms such as in phase or out of phase, and was learning to apply tricks such as the ones that one would hear on 90125 such as reverberated noise gates on drums and digital synthesizer programming that was especially made capable hooking up midi (musical instrument digital interface) controllers such as the Yamaha DX-7– which was a hot affordable keyboard at that time.
While I was attending these classes on a remote campus in the wilderness, I met another girl who would steal my heart away from Linda – only because she proved herself to be a bigger Yes fan. Her name was Tamar Proper and I was so crazy about her that I wanted to immediately take her up to New Jersey to meet my mom. After my stint at the Recording Workshop, we remained the best of pen pals eventually wanting to give it a try in getting a relationship going, but we had a falling out a year further down the line because one of us had to failed to see the show together. I had gone to visit Tamar in her native home of Williamsburg, Virginia and we agreed upon that her first trip to New Jersey to visit my deranged family (although I should have wanted to have my head examined wanting expose Tamar to the seedy alcoholic stammerings of my stepfather was beyond me) would be highlighted by seeing Yes at the Meadowlands Brendan Byrne Arena – and Tamar somewhat got bedridden with the flu two days before her scheduled arrival and I was hard pressed to find a replacement (Linda Freeman was away at school at the time) and chanced upon luck to ask a bank teller where my mom banked to accept. I forgot her name, but I do remember that she lived in a far away town of Wharton, NJ and my mother was very upset that I had gotten into a ninety minute conversation with her on the phone that racked up some serious long distance charges. Phone bills were wacky back in that day I had originally thought long distance meant out-of-state, not ten towns over. But nevertheless, I severed that relationship because my mom would yak up a storm with that nice bank teller, and it just didn’t interest me to go out with a girl who gets to gossip with your mom more than you do.
I could go on and on about how much Tamar was breath of fresh air in my life – but I already wrote a massive 40 page essay on the time I spent in Williamsburg, Va with her and how much I loved the comic book work of Walt Simonsen in the issues of Thor that was printed in some comic book fanzine around twenty years ago. I had heard someone tell me that she got in a serious car accident shortly after I moved to California and that’s the last I had heard of her.
As I mentioned yesterday, I started to see Linda Freeman again during the summer of 1983, I don’t remember the circumstances of us getting together again, but we did see David Bowie together at Madison Square Garden yet again (and we saw the Moody Blues there two summers ago too) – what was particularly notable about that date is we both had some sustained injuries – she went with a broken leg and I had an accident at my pool that required stitches on my chin, so we both looked like we knocked each other around for quite a bit before settling on one final date. We didn’t get much along during our senior year of high school. One disagreement I had with her, I took to the public press by writing some poem about her that didn’t paint her in some flattering light and it somehow found its’ way to the front page of a creative writer’s class magazine that I was involved with the editing of, but I remained friends with her brother Robert and sister Lisa of who I also took out to see Asia out at Forest Hills, Queens during a stop on their Alpha tour (Chris Deburgh was the opening act). I attended some electronic music courses at NYU and did some junior college to learn piano technique and applied music theory before shuffling off to San Diego to throw it all away and become a beach bum during the late eighties.
It was at NYU where I got to meet Eddie Jobson, and I was in awe that I got to meet my first musician who was involved making music with Yes – at the time. But it was announced shortly after the initial meeting that he had left the band due to creative differences in touring with Tony Kaye. At the time, Eddie also had a new band he had formed with some Long Island area musicians called Zinc and recorded their first and only album together called The Green Album. It was at a day seminar sponsored by Keyboard Magazine, and I went over with my music teacher from the County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey where I was enrolled at the insistence of my mom who was threatening me to move out of the house if I didn’t continue with my studies. At the time, I didn’t have the bankroll to make the trip out west (I wouldn’t leave until my 21st birthday arrived in 1985) – so I was at my mom and stepdad’s mercy (BUT I was still friends with Linda Freeman’s family and whatever Zullo brother was remaining at the time, whether it be Mike, Joe, or their younger brother Mark, so it wasn’t all bad.). I hung out with Eddie at various classes. I told him I was in absolute love with the Green Album (and I still am) and Eddie was feeling a little insecure about it and pressed me on how the vocals sounded (ok, he had me there) and I assured them they sounded fine – but just fine. Didn’t really want to elaborate any further on the answer. I wasn’t that much of a good player back then, I only wrote a little ditty on the keyboards that I called ‘Lifeboat/Man Overboard’ (the Zullos know what I’m referring to) – but Eddie encouraged me to play little riffs on some of the hottest boards at the time like the Fairlight CMI and the PPG. He also confided in me that the next Zinc album would be called “the Pink Album” – but something happened towards the end of the day that sort of had him distance himself from me and this is how it went down.
During a meet and greet party sponsored by some of the greatest electronic keyboard manfacturers, Eddie introduced me to Wendy Carlos – the female synthesizer composer for the Disney movie Tron, Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and a host of other ground breaking electronic music ditties– or least I originally thought she was a she. It turns out at that moment I had made the biggest social snafu of my life.
Once I went to shake Wendy’s hand, I gleamed excitedly at her and said, “A pleasure to meet you. I also happened to be a big fan of your husband’s work, Switched on Bach as well.”
My music teacher was also with us and I never saw such blanket looks of embarrassment on anyone’s face before, not even Eddie’s – until my music teacher pulled me aside and said “Uhm, you do realize that Walter Carlos and Wendy Carlos are both one and the same, don’t you?”
Then I saw Eddie Jobson inching away from me too.
Oh boy. I never put one and one together and made it one before. I guess the concept of a real life transgender had ever registered in my syntax before. How the fuck was I supposed to know? I was just a naïve nineteen year old kid at the time. I never saw one before.
What Wikipedia sources fail to mention is that there are two jams or songs that were recorded between Eddie and the rest of the band during a rehearsal that have surfaced on some bootlegs that showcase his trademark electric violin playing talent, one is called “Yesterday Blvd.” while the other is entitled “On a Still Night.” It would have been an interesting tour for Yes if Eddie had been involved if he were to invoke some violin passages to all those classic Yes pieces in the same fashion as he toured and composed with Jethro Tull three years earlier in support of that band’s ‘A” album.
Personal: Jon Anderson – vocals, Chris Squre – bass & vocals, Trevor Rabin, guitars, keyboards, and vocals, Alan White- drums, percussion, and vocals, and Party Animal Tony Kaye, Keyboards. Guests, Graham Preskett – violin and Dipak – sitar on It Can Happen. Produced by Trevor Horn and was recorded at both Sarm Studios and Air Studios in London during the spring and summer of 1983.
Favorite lyric: Justice to the left of you, Justice to the right / speak when you are spoken to, don’t pretend you’re right – Hold On (Rabin/Anderson/Squire)
Tomorrow, I’ll be running four years into the future past of 1987 as I find life in Southern California both idyllic and strange, and it is here where I met up a parallel version of Linda Freeman on the west coast who will eventually cause me to come down with amnesia that will make forget all things that have to do with Linda Freeman for more than twenty years – that is until people bring up the sore subject like a bad penny, such as my mom and Michael Zullo.