Another transitional period was barreling towards me. Stagnation slowly crept upon my moon touched shoulder when I woke up one morning and suddenly realized that I had found myself stuck in a proverbial rut. Four years of working days full-time in a health food packaging factory/warehouse yielded nothing but alfalfa powder up my nose and nothing to show for it but some very nasty looking boogers. Four years of spending nights getting soused in Irish pubs on Newcastle Ale and then going home drunk to read Alan Moore Swamp Thing comic books…out loud, much to the chagrin of roommates and neighbors was making me a very marked man for a much deserved punch in the face. I was in a sore need of a change of venue and needed it pronto. My always inebriated roommate (Not that I wasn’t any much different), Jene Ellis had told me that I would have to vacate the apartment we were renting because he had found out that I was schlepping his sister, Jennifer- my professed ‘cunnilingus mentor’, so to speak. It only took a couple of years for him to sober up and catch up.
My other roommate, John Gorman left for greener pastures down south to Claremont, California because he was sick and tired of waking up in the morning and finding Jene sacked out on a recliner with a gallon of melted ice cream resting on his lap along with a near consumed bottle of JD by his side.
I had a psychotic episode of my own when Jene and John both brought home some hashish flavored Blueberry muffins from a New Year’s Party that I wasn’t invited to. I ate them without taking the time to read the nutritional labels. All I remember is that they didn’t taste like everyday blueberry muffins that you ate for breakfast. Whoever baked them tasted like they needed some butter or sugar. They had a very peppery taste. Not realizing that I was given my puritanical systems a massive overload in peyote payback, I got in my patented gurumobile aka a Honda Civic and nearly wrapped all four of its’ wheels around a telephone poll and had to be hauled off to the hospital where I began to suffer mass hallucinations of the Joker coming to lure me to Arkham Asylum for three or four days straight (or it could have been my own private promotion for the upcoming Tim Burton film). Then Gorman packed up and left after that episode which left me parched for sanity and he was replaced with this waiter who worked with Jene in the restaurant where he was a top chef whose name escapes him at the moment. He slept on the living room couch and it wasn’t too long until the civility between him and me was shattered when I caught him eating out my main gal pal Jennifer on that same couch. This act of honing upon my territory led to a fist fight between me and him, which took an embarrassing turn as I pounding my fist in his face while he was naked. This test of testosterone supremacy resulted in no resolution other than breaking a few knobs on my newly Roland JX-3P synthesizer and it’s accompanying module.
That was the final straw I just had to snap out of it. Luckily a new Yes album,… well sort of, was on its’ way to get me sorted out of these doldrums.
Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe – the band, not a law firm, as many would mistakenly refer to was known as the Alternative Yes. It was born from the ashes of Anderson’s discourse over the direction that Rabin was taking Yes into constant AOR territory. Anderson didn’t want Yes to cement their reputation as a singles band no longer with AM radio playing constant looping rotations of the two singles from the 90125 and Big Generator albums, Owner of a Lonely Heart and Love Will Find a Way. So it was Jon’s first wife at the time who suggested to him that he should form a different band with the people that he liked to play with when she became concerned over Jon being down and out over the direction and the lag between releasing albums. (it was a four-year hiatus for Yes between 90125 and Big Generator the longest rest period ever for the band to recharge batteries) So Jon got the idea of reuniting his old band mates: Steve Howe was finished with both GTR and Asia (and Asia was finished as well, …for the moment), Rick Wakeman was through with being a wino who had at one time resorted to been found sleeping on park benches in Santa Monica, (with an endless array Christian-themed albums that weren’t probably bringing the bucks), and with Robert Fripp putting King Crimson on hiatus once more found Bill Bruford with little much to do but front a jazz rock band called Earthworks – but who the fuck buys jazz these days? So as to avoid any scrutiny from the law firms representing Squire and Rabin’s version they settled on using their last names as the official band’s name (although No was kicked around a bit). But someone on this side of the camp realized that it was not going to be an easy sell when the album would be released through Arista records on August 23, 1989.
However, I remember latching on to a promo copy of the album two months before it was initially released courtesy of the owner of Lou’s Records, because I had listened to it on the way up to a Sugarcubes concert up in Irvine, CA which was officially the last date Jennifer (again, my professed cunnilingus mentor) and I had together because the final straw was having me buy extra tickets for a pair of her friends who never bothered to reimburse me for them – plus she shined me on attending the ABWH show with in her home base area of Costa Mesa.
Anderson had to make the record buying public knew who they were somehow… so to sell tickets, they toured under the sub heading – an evening of Yes Music Plus, and performed the classic standards such as Close to the Edge, Starship Troopers, and Roundabout blended in with new songs such as Order of the Universe, Brother of Mine, and the Australian Aborigine plight inspired Birthright. Both legal firms on both sides battled each other over the use of the Yes Music plus phrase which will find resolve itself to an amicable agreement as we’ll discuss in another few paragraphs.
But hey, if you’re really looking for a legal consultation for free, the able bodies of Wikipedia are here to lend a hand:
The project began in 1988. At that time vocalist Jon Anderson had felt artistically constrained within Yes’s current format, where the songwriting of Trevor Rabin had taken the band in a commercially very successful but musically and lyrically different direction. Anderson regrouped with Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford of Yes’ “classic” line-up. Bruford, who had at various times been a member of King Crimson, recruited Crimson bandmate Tony Levin as the group’s bassist. The group was unable to use the name Yes for legal reasons. However, the group did have Arista assign the catalog number of 90126 to the original releases of the CD and cassette. This was their subtle way of stamping this as the next Yes album after 90125.
The group rehearsed and composed their material in Paris and then flew directly to the island of Montserrat to record. Many of the tracks on the album (specifically “Teakbois”) carry Latin and Caribbean influences. “Let’s Pretend” was co-composed by Vangelis in 1986, and was a previously unreleased piece by the group Jon and Vangelis.
The artwork for the album was created by artist Roger Dean, known for designing album covers for Yes in the 1970s. It features two paintings, the front titled “Blue Desert” and the back titled “Red Desert”. Most releases of this album represent only a truncated version of “Blue Desert”. There was, however, a special release with a gatefold cover, though “Blue Desert” was horizontally inverted in that version.
The song “Birthright” concerns the British nuclear tests at Maralinga.
The song “Brother of Mine” was released as an edited single and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Plus had a promo video that was directed by Storm Thorgerson.
Bill Bruford wakes up from a nap and realizes that he’s trapped in another pop band dilemma and immediately starts clawing at the glass. “HELP ME! I NEED OUT!!” he pleads.
The album was re-released in a remastered limited edition by Gonzo Multimedia on 18 March 2011, with a bonus CD with extra tracks, including alternate edits and live versions of tracks on the main album, as well as “Vultures in the City” (originally titled “Vultures” and only previously available as the b-side to the “Brother of Mine” 7-inch vinyl single). This edition was initially only available only from Gonzo but can now be bought from other suppliers.
Although conceived by Anderson as being a Yes reunion, others in the band were keen to distance themselves from the “Yes” name. At the time, the name for the band “Yes” was co-owned by Anderson, Alan White and Chris Squire, and Squire and White were still continuing with Yes along with Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye; for these reasons, it was not possible for ABWH to use the “Yes” name anyway. Anticipating this problem, Jon Anderson suggested they call themselves “The Affirmative”, but the other band members felt that was disingenuous. The name “No” was also suggested, but in the end, they decided to simply name themselves after the members of the band.
When Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe toured, they titled their shows “An Evening of Yes Music Plus”, a name that was also used for their subsequent live album. ABWH were sued by Yes in an attempt to prevent any mention of Yes in the ABWH promotional material.
Songs from the ABWH album have been included on subsequent Yes compilations and Yes concerts.
The band was satirised by The Dead Milkmen in the song “Anderson, Walkman, Buttholes And How!”
It also would have been nice of Wikipedia to make a note that much of the lyrics that Anderson wrote for this album were inspired by his frequent readings of Carlos Castaneda books – particularly the lyrics from THEMES – ii, Second Attention and iii, Soul Warrior are references taken directly from Castaneda’s nonfiction book entitled ‘The Eagle’s Gift.” (DUH! Simply look at the album cover!)
SONGS / TRACK LISTING
- THEMES – i. Sound, ii. Second Attention, iii, Soul Warrior (Anderson/Bruford/Howe/Wakeman) Total time: 5:58
- FIST OF FIRE (Anderson/Bruford/Howe/Wakeman) Total time: 3:32
- BROTHER OF MINE – i. The Big Dream, ii. Nothing Can Come Between Us, iii. LONG LOST BROTHER OF MINE (Anderson/Bruford/Downes/Howe/Wakeman) * Geoff Downes on the third part only Total time: 10:22
- BIRTHRIGHT (Anderson/Bacon/Bruford/Howe/Wakeman) Total time: 6:05
- THE MEETING (Anderson/Bruford/Wakeman/Howe) Total time: 4:23
- QUARTET – i, I Wanna Learn, ii, She Gives Me Love, iii, Who Was the First, iv, I’m Alive (Anderson/Bruford/Dowling/Howe/Wakeman) * Ben Dowling on the second part only Total time: 9:23
- TEAKBOIS – The Life and Times of Bobby Dread (Anderson/Bruford/Howe/Wakeman) Total time: 7:42
- ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE – i, Order Theme, ii, Rock Gives Courage, iii It’s So Hard to Grow, iv, The Universe (Anderson/Bruford/Howe/Lawrence/Wakeman) * Rhett Lawrence on the second part only Total time: 9:02
- LET’S PRETEND (Anderson/Bruford/Howe/Vangelis/Wakeman) Total time: 2:56
B-side to BROTHER OF MINE single
VULTURES (in the City) (Anderson/Bruford/Howe/Wakeman) Total time: 5:5
Regardless of what many loyal pundits may say, I ultimately consider this to be a Yes album to a nth degree, no matter what lengths they would go to correct him. Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson perform a lovely tender short song called the Meeting, that seals the first side of the ABWH album on an angelic celestial note thereby paving the way for the technical hijinks that will occur on side two spotlighting the electronic drum versatility of Bill Bruford of tricks of the King Crimson trade on Order of the Universe. I declare this album’s packaging as my favorite all time Roger Dean album cover with eagles and vultures perched against a futuristic city in the jungle backdrop. I also have the rare-to-find cassette copy of the Brother of Mine single with the unreleased B-side Vultures (in the City) in my collection. And least of all – you can’t beat that stellar production of Chris Kimsey who also took a hand in guiding Marillion to the top of the charts with their last two albums, Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws.
Ironically, I wound up seeing the show of this tour at San Diego State University with the sister of the roommate who I caught ploughing my Jennifer- he set it up as an apology to me, but man, did she sport one hell of mean looking mustache (as all Italian women usually do); however I didn’t fault her for having a great set of looking gams, but I think she was possibly under the age of eighteen and I was wise not to fall for that jail baited trim trap.
I was virtually upset that things went sour between Jennifer and I. After that initial slugfest occurred between that waiter roommate and I, she refused to show her face at my house unless I was out working to visit her brother. She had first agreed to check out the ABWH show with me at Costa Mesa, but she chickened out at the last-minute, and probably thought I would’ve wanted sex from her after the show – what pupil wouldn’t want to please his ‘cunnilingus mentor?’ Unlike that other girl back in New Jersey, whose name sort of escape me right at the moment – I don’t why I never came across this carnal knowledge of tongue flickering technique’ before , but I ignored the signs that our ‘whatever’ relationship we were involved with (even keeping it secret from her brother for a couple of years) we were headed in the direction of, ‘there is nothing more a teacher can teach her pupil, so it’s time for you to go away’.
I suppose it was already written in the stars even as I left her in a huff at the Sugarcubes concert ( I just happen to run into Mark Zullo and Vache Avanesyan on the way out seated near the orchestra section that night) when she suggested we partake in a couple swap. Do each others’ dates be as it may and I just wasn’t really to experiment with something that strange and unfamiliar – for I was still a porn video virgin back in those days, I wasn’t aware of such in explicit acts and nor was I comfortable in being in a Menage a trois fueled environment. I totally ignored the girlfriend of the other date that accompanied us as incredibly hot looking as she was. We argued that night, I wanted to drive home after a couple of beers (but then, I realized, oh wait – I didn’t drive up here in the first place, so I’m fucking stuck), because I didn’t want to stick around and watch her fuck the other guy while I kept another girl busy – she refused to let me leave, but I opted to sleep in her car until the next morning, and then we drove back to Encinitas together without saying a single word to each other. I was determined to be a loyal to one woman kind of guy, but you realize down that line when you’re simply in the mindset of strictly worshipping your ‘cunnilingus mentor’, that kind of naiveté is just going to bite you on the ass in the long run but you wind up enjoying it anyway, after you take the plunge and then watch a few porns.
Within that same time frame, I moved on to better job opportunities – that if you find yourself working the midnight shift at a Circle K convenience store a better career choice. I quit the vitamin warehouse (Bernard Jensen Products – Jensen was actually an eye doctor based in Escondido who went blind. Quirky twist of fate, perhaps?) shortly after my millionaire grandfather, the one-third creator of Bosco chocolate syrup had passed away from colon cancer. I also had work on the side on the weekends as an assistant engineer at a recording studio located on the community college campus of Mira Costa College in Oceanside. Since I didn’t have to work until graveyard shift, I would find himself playing keyboards during early evening gigs at a Irish pub with some guys who called themselves the Tom Toms. I mainly got to use other people’s keyboards and PA equipment, to create a few atmospheric and ambient numbers to be included on student CD and video projects. I also enrolled for some journalism and creative writing courses at the college on Saturday mornings at the annex campus in Cardiff. 1989-1991 was certainly a period of invention of some spontaneous spasticated mindfucks that I still exhibit to his very day – I began to teach himself how to write and experiment within the parameters of comic book scripts.
With more money raking in from my higher paying jobs – I was able to afford to hobnob with comic book professionals at lavish parties thrown by the San Diego Comic Con. I was introduced to a female pro editor and fanzine writer in the comic book industry at the time by the name Heidi “Ace” MacDonald thorough a mishap with Howard Chaykin while he was poking fun at her ‘tiger tights’ which at that moment certainly kept me enthralled with interest. Heidi however had broadened my horizons with her acute knowledge of the industry and wasn’t just one fan girl who gushed over X-Men and Spider-man comics – she suggested I start to expand my limited four-color super hero feats of fancy and try other genres within the realm of sequential storytelling. It was through her recommendation that I sought out a whole slew of alternative of trade paperbacks such as Love & Rockets, Omaha The Cat Dancer, Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, and Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
My first initial meeting with Heidi ended up with her slapping in me in the face in the lobby of The San Diego Omni Hotel when the subject of endorphins came up in a group conversation and I thought she was referring to a new breed of mammal in the sea. I guess I wasn’t paying close attention because those ‘tiger tights’ were so goddamn distracting.
Meanwhile at the very same convention, I enrolled in a seminar under the auspices of Marvel Comics instructing how to submit a plot for a comic book story. Two editors, Mark Gruenwald and Peter Sanderson were the ones tutoring at this seminar. Basically all they urged you to do was to type up a single story idea on a half sheet of paper, read it aloud, and then have it critiqued by the other students with the final say by the editors and have a group discussion what is wrong and what would be needing fixing. What these two guys said and did to me was simply deplorable and I’ll be divulging the sordid details of this escapade which psychologically damaged my chance for an early comic book creating professional career for tomorrow’s Union chapter.
Favorite lyric: Be gone you ever piercing power play machine/Cutting our musical solidarity – opening line from THEMES ii, Second Attention. (Jon Anderson- who else?)