With legal improprieties nearly settled behind them, Yes became whole once again, but unequally divided because both sides of the camp wanted to keep on making music their way, so the only solution was to merge both the ABWH and the Rabin/Squire/White/Kaye sides into one huge massive fucking band. That’s right, the roster of the band went from five mandatory membership needed to consist of a full deck to an overload of eight egos not playing with a full deck practically overnight in what the fans once referred to as a sham-merger !! For a moment there Bill Bruford was checking the bottom of his shoes to see if he hadn’t accidently stepped into a pile of Robert Fripp’s dogcrap again.
So what the first Yes album of the nineties released on April 30th of 1991 attempted to do was try to form a perfect Union – but instead, it would wind up making you cry like an Onion instead according to Rick Wakeman. Citing some tampering with his laid down keyboard parts by the producers, (and they were many perhaps too many) with Jonathan Elias in particular, who happened to be a successful session musician in his own right after the initial sessions for the album had been long done Rick Wakeman was heard on a radio talk show actually threatening physical violence towards him after hearing the final product which prompted him to walk out on the group once again for the umpteenth time once the tour was over and done with. Elias’ unwelcome contributions to the new album could be traced back to a two song team up of Anderson and him on an anthology album entitled Requiems for Americas – Songs From the Lost World which Elias wrote and produced detailing the emancipation of the American Indian. This tribute album had other guest star performers such as John Waite, Susanna Hoffs, and Simon LeBon helping out. The album also boasted of some unreleased Jim Morrison poetry tracks and ghostdancing inspired soliloquies read aloud by Martin and Charlie Sheen.
Trying to make sense of this double entendre Marvel team up of guitars, drums, and keyboards requires some Wikipedia dualogue clarification:
Union was so-called because it brought together the previous Yes album’s line-up (Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Trevor Rabin, Alan White, Tony Kaye) and the then ex-Yes members group Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe).
All former Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe members (except Anderson, who was member of both bands) left Yes following the Union Tour, making Union the last Yes album with its original drummer Bruford, and the last album with guitarist Howe and keyboardist Wakeman before their return in 1995. It is also the only Yes album featuring guitarist Rabin in which he did not play any keyboards, and the only with Yes being an octet].
After Big Generator in 1987 and its following tour in 1987-1988, Jon Anderson teamed up with ex-Yes men Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford. The result was Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, released in 1989 and supported by a successful tour. Because of the separate existence of Yes (part of the band’s name still being owned by Chris Squire), this alternate incarnation were forced to use their surnames as the band’s name after Squire threatened legal action. Meanwhile, Yes began composing and recording material for their follow-up, while Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe did the same, beginning production at Miraval Studios in the South of France in April 1990.
Bowing to record company pressure to resurrect the Yes banner, Squire and Anderson came up with the idea of merging both projects, which resulted in the 1991 album Union. In the meantime the ABWH material had been extensively reworked under the supervision of producer Jonathan Elias, which involved replacing many of Howe’s guitar parts with new ones played by session musician Jimmy Haun. Similarly, with Wakeman unavailable because of his heavy touring schedule as a solo artist, many of the keyboard parts were redone by a variety of players in a variety of studios in Los Angeles and New York. Post-production also involved Chris Squire adding backing vocals to a couple of ABWH tracks, but this would remain the extent of the “reunion” of the 1971–72 line-up as bass parts on the tracks were performed by Tony Levin.
“Masquerade” was a solo piece Howe had recorded some time before, included at the last-minute when the record company requested a solo guitar piece from him. “Masquerade” earned the album a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. “The More We Live” was the product of a new writing partnership between Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood, who had briefly been considered as replacement for Jon Anderson in the Rabin-led version of Yes. The song featured extensive (but uncredited) vocal and instrumental contributions from Sherwood. “Lift Me Up“, “Saving My Heart” and “Miracle of Life” were largely demos : Rabin had been planning to record them properly and was taken by surprise that they were used as they were (with vocals from Anderson added). “Evensong” was a version of Bruford and session bassist Tony Levin‘s duet from the ABWH tour. The ABWH project attempted a second, follow-up album that never materialised, and, from the long set of demos called Dialogue, the only surviving piece to make it onto Union was “Take the Water to the Mountain”. Both the main riff of “I Would Have Waited Forever” and the 9/4 riff in “Silent Talking” can be heard on Steve Howe’s solo album Turbulence, released about the same time (but actually recorded in 1988).
Although the supporting world tour was a commercial and critical success, praised by fans and band as one of Yes’ best, the album was not as well-received, resulting in sales figures equivalent to those of the ABWH album (half a million copies worldwide). Union would turn out to be Yes’ last studio album to have significant sales, though it did not match the popularity of 1987’s Big Generator. One of Union‘s singles, “Lift Me Up”, became Yes’ biggest hit on Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks chart, reaching the top spot and remaining there for six weeks in early 1991.
Before Union was released, a preview of a sort was released by the record company to generate interest. It contained significantly different mixes of most of the ABWH group’s material, from before the extensive session work present on the album. Besides “The More We Live”, two other pieces by Squire/Sherwood (“Say Goodbye” and “Love Conquers All”) were demos presented for this album but not used. The former appeared in a re-recorded version on the second World Trade album, and the latter was on Yesyears. Both original demos are on the first Conspiracy album by Squire/Sherwood.
Wakeman, Bruford and Howe would depart the sprawling line-up in 1992, returning Yes to its 1983–1988 line-up. Union would be the final Yes album with Bill Bruford, and would be the last album with Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman until their return in 1996.
Union (Arista 261,558) reached No. 7 in the UK, and No. 15 in the US during a chart stay of 19 weeks. As of 2014 Union is their last studio album to reach the Top 10.
SONGS / TRACK LISTING
- I Would Have Waited Forever (Anderson/Elias/Howe) Total time: 6:33
- Shock to The System (Anderson/Elias/Howe) Total time: 5:09
- Masquerade (Howe) Total time: 2:17
- Lift Me Up (Rabin/Squire) Total time: 6:30
- Without Hope, You Cannot Start the Day (Anderson/Elias) Total time: 5:19
- Saving My Heart (Rabin) Total time: 4:42
- Side 2
- Miracle of Life (Mancini/Rabin) Total time: 7:30
- Silent Talking (Anderson/Bruford/Elias/Howe/Wakeman) Total time: 4:01
- The More We Live – Let Go (Sherwood/Squire) Total time: 4:54
- Angkor Wat (Anderson/Elias/Wakeman) Total time: 5:24
- Dangerous (Look in the Light of What You’re Searching For) (Anderson/Elias) Total time: 3:39
- Holding On (Anderson/Elias/Howe) Total time: 5:24
- Evensong (Bruford/Levin) Total time: :52
- Take The Water to The Mountain (Anderson) Total time: 3:19
- Japanese or European Bonus Track:Give or Take (Anderson/Elias/Howe) Total time; 4:27
- The Union album itself was supposed to be the perfect amalgamation of the two existing groups. The Rabin AOR side contributed four tracks to the album with Anderson singing lead on three, the radio single, Lift Me Up, Miracle of Life, and Saving My Heart – while the remaining songs were supposed to be tracks originally to supposed to be saved for the follow-up to ABWH’s debut album and one that featured the first collaboration of many that featured Chris Squire and some estranged kid from Las Vegas who goes by the name of Billy Sherwood – not to be confused by Bobby Sherman as Maestro Jon Anderson usually is.
There might have been enough material for a double length album or even a third release, which could be subject for debate because I happen to have possession of a whole slew of bootlegged demos of songs that were never used including one called ‘Tall Buildings‘ which sounds like in the similar heavy electronic percussive vein as ‘Order of the Universe’. The most appealing tracks to me so far was Shock to the System (which came off adequately on stage) and I Would’ve Waited Forever (of which an unlisted expanded edition is included on the box set, Yes – In a Word, 1969 – without a single word of warning. On the box set version, the track doesn’t fade out).
I got to see two shows for this tour – one at the San Diego Sports Arena with my Moo-Sick Studios co-workers at Mira Costa College and at the LA Forum with Mike, Joe, and Mark Zullo – friends of mine from Parsippany, NJ. The show was performed in the round again – looking mighty cramped fitting all eight members on a revolving stage, that made one wonder which member was going to go flying off first. Behind the stage ego temper tantrums would flare up between Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin. Wakeman would wind up stealing Kaye’s flamboyant thunder with Wakeman demonstrating to Kaye how to play certain types of songs such as “And You and I” different than how was used to playing – . Bruford and White seemed to get along well with White being the organic side pounding on the skins while Bruford demonstrated his Simmons precise precision electronic percussion prowess. Anderson was just drifting away into heavy bouts of Indian lore and dogma, no doubt inspired for his love of everything Carlos Castaneda, that during light airy vocal moments, he would constantly touch a dreamcatcher he had centered on his symbol staff representing the “Olias of Sunhillow” for good luck.
One of the things that’s gnawed at me over the years since hearing Union for the first time – is Jon Anderson, a Star Trek fan by chance of the Next Generation persuasion? Is that him bellowing out “Picard, Picard’ in reference to Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard on that show towards the end of ‘Take the Water to the Mountain? Just wondering.
It’s been heavily debated of what actually could have made it to a second, or even perhaps a third Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe album as they are so many demos been made of unofficial used songs. Even I have never chance to stumble upon hearing all of them – but here’s one official 2007 release by Jon Anderson titled “Watching the Flags Fly” that I’ve seen occasionally in record bins, that I’ve somehow managed to overlook that claims to have the majority of these demos that were supposed to included on the proposed second ABWH album entitled “Dialogue”.
1. Hold You In My Arms 2. Take The Water To The Mountain 3. After The Storm 4. Watching The Flags That Fly 5. Touch Me Heaven 6. We Make Believe 7. To The Stars 8. Instrumental 1 9. Is It Love? (alternative version than what appears on the Jon & Vangelis release “Page of Life”) 10. Axis Of Love 11. Instrumental 2 12. Santa Barbara 13. Tall Buildings 14. Looking For The Words 15. Try It Again
Out of the ones listed above I have from illegally obtained sources: Hold You in My Arms, After the Storm, Make Believe, Axis of Love, Tall Buildings, and a couple of others accredited to Steve Howe entitled “Big Love” (which was rewritten as I Would Have Waited Forever) and “God with A Southern Accent“. These and the rest can probably be easily downloaded through youtube. To this day, I still haven’t even heard the official Japanese bonus track, “Give and Take” (oh wait, I just did. AND if you listen closely, you can hear Jon Anderson sing the title out for the next album – but I don’t want to give anything away for you, I’m not one of those ‘spoiler alert’ kind of people).
Although I originally thought I was on the cusp of an all time creative peak, things were not going rosy on the home front of Encinitas, California – a series of personal events made me make a fateful decision to pack up and move out to LA and move in with members of the fabled Zullo brethren. For one thing, I was getting to beat up living up above a Cleaners and an Italian sandwich shop (the sandwiches I did enjoy – they reminded me of the ones I used to enjoy as a kid growing up in New Jersey) along the Pacific Coast Highway with a middle-aged lady and her thirty something year old two sons that were constantly tweaking out on Meth and lighting their socks on fire. I got so fed up with their constant giggling fits and verbal abuse one evening that I put my fist through a living room wall and my hand went right through the other side and through a mirror, but for the miracle of life, I didn’t get one scratch or an artery severed. My aunt Meghan had to intervene because this lady (a co-worker of mine from Circle K who faked a back injury in order to get worker’s comp) was going to call the police and have me arrested. When the cops showed me, I struck a deal to leave the premises immediately and never come back.
So I went crawling back to my former roommate, Gene Ellis. This time, our living arrangement would be different. I had only a month to stay with him because he too was moving up north – in fact he had to skip town fast because he had confided in me (actually it was slurred to me under a couple of Heineken truth serum twist off tops) that he embezzled some money from a restaurant that he was made manager of and that he and his girlfriend were going to lam it up to Canada.
A girlfriend? Yeah, this time, he had a gorgeous girlfriend with loads of freckles and strawberry blond hair who went by the name of Marlene. Unfortunately she was also a good friend of Jene’s sister, Jennifer – a girl who I used to be involved with a couple of years earlier. Not to go off on a tangent on Jennifer’s ‘exquisite cunnilingus mentoring instructions’ as much as I did in yesterday’s chapter – but this awkward situation did not bode well for me in the diplomacy of behave nicely to the good friend trying to help you out department. She had heard things about me through gossip provided to her by Jennifer. On some quiet evenings when maybe I was trying to bury my head in a comic book, Marlene would try to start-up some meaningful dialogues with me as I tried to feign a slight bit of interest. But it didn’t work, because usually she would come downstairs garbed in nothing but a nightshirt and thong panties and she would rely stories about how abusive Gene was to her, of how he smacked her head into the wall one time after coming home shitfaced from a work related party. Of course, I started to feel sympathetic towards her – but why couldn’t she just get up and walk out? Because she helped Gene tuck that money away and he was hoarding it.
So, based on great references from Jennifer, (she still cared, but a reconciliation wasn’t ever in the cards for us, plus she suspects that it was I who once got her pregnant and wouldn’t pony up the cash for the abortion) Marlene start to gravitate more and more seductively towards me. Her favorite perfect tease towards me was to call me to follow her upstairs and help her with taking the laundry up to fold, and there in front swaying to and fro were the best ever ass cheeks ever displayed in a thong nirvana.
And what would be waiting upstairs for me? – nothing but Gene home from work, passed out in a recliner chair in front of a television set with a nearly consumed six-pack of beer split out on his lap. Nearly every day of a good two-week period, Gene was just like clockwork, snoring so soundly that it took no effort at all for Marlene and I to resume our conversations on the living room couch which usually concluded with a nice relaxing blowjob and a sniffer full of cognac afterwards. It was during moments like these when pulling down her panties that I really learned the true meaning of a strawberry patch.
But it just wasn’t Marlene – there were assorted types of female persuasion that crossed my wicked path. In earlier blog post about Yes’ Tales From Topographic Oceans, it was also during this period where I met this so-called acolyte from the Self –Realization Fellowship dingbat by the name of Deborah. You didn’t pronoun her name as Deb-RAH, but rather, De BORE AH – she was very particular about that. I also met her on the night shift at the Circle K convenience store. She took over my graveyard shift and she was whining of how new she was in town and didn’t have any friends to hang out, and it’s so hard, because I’m a single mom raising up two kids on her own (it turned she actually kidnapped them from the state of Massachusetts after a custody battle with her ex-husband didn’t go well in her favor) and tucking them in hotel rooms. So I volunteered to show her a night on the town of Encinitas – Full Moon saloon and all, even though she was a decade older than me.
But shortly afterward, it was apparently she was looking to recruit a few washed minds, because everything else out of her mouth, other than craving an occasional cock in it was SRF this SRF that. But the observation I made about Jon Anderson’s lyrics being influenced by the book of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramaharisa Yogananda was simply that – an observation. But she was persistent in me reading some of the book, so she went out of her way to buy me a copy (in the Swami Beach gift shop) So I humored her and read it.
And so I played her little game, I went around with Deborah, helping out with some homeless people and there was this particular fellow who happened to be the son of a very famous construction company called Pardee – Cole Pardee was his name he was a person who used to walk around town with trash bags tied to his cranium filled with blasting stereo speakers as to drown out the FBI’s radio transmissions out of his mind – but other than small mental hiccup, he was always loaded with cash – it’s just that we’d go in the grocery store and buy the stuff for him because stores wouldn’t allow him in.
My 27th birthday celebration was also a peculiar incident in itself with her. After Deborah was fired from Circle K (for allowing Cole in the store to buy food when she was told not to) we all went to a motel up along the 805 in Carlsbad. It was her, her kids, the dog (of who was affectionately called “Dog” ) and Cole where they threw a small little bash for me. Accompanying a Batman action figure as a gift that she gave me was a small birthday card, I opened up that card and was shocked to see that the front of it was a print or a painting depicting a white owl, and then the dawning realization came to me that this very motel that we’re having a celebration in was in fact, the very same hotel room of where I happen to see my grandfather last alive. To have me explain what the symbol of the white owl pertains to – well, I’m not going to get into it here. You’ll just to research it yourself. It’s one of those strange scary phenomenons I’d rather not get into right now.
But it ended badly between us – shortly after going to a Marillion concert, she started to get interested in some other party animal dude that was staying at the same log cabin motel park in Leucadia someplace. I tried to beat the shit out of him and took two other surfer dudes to pull me off of him and then all three of them proceeded to stomp my face black and blue – while Deborah stood back and just flat-out said sorry, I’ve changed my mind about you. I like this guy better.” What’s worse, when this whole situation got out of hand, she was expecting me to babysit her kids while this guy was fingerbanging her two doors down in his cabin.
What’s even more of a shame, is that her kids like me to read them bed stories at night, before I’d shuffle off to my place. Reading them Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children was a perennial favorite of theirs back in those days.
Other fleeting feats of debauchery of the female order happened this period was with a hairdresser, of which she dimmed the salon’s lights and locked the door for me just after the final customer had just left – she also was a mini-skirt panty flashing enthusiast – just jumping up to sit on counters, so I’d have easy access.
In that same shopping compact, I’d also try to court a mousey looking blonde who worked behind a counter at a video store who used to poke fun at my Yes t-shirts and we’d get into these heavy who’s the best organ player in the world, Rick Wakeman or the Doors’ Ray Manzarek.
It was also the period of the first Gulf War and the season of my favorite super hero adaptions to television, The Flash. I still have them all on VHS- although Warner Home Video has released a DVD set. Now there’s a whole new remake of the series featuring new fresh-faced actors and actors from the previous incarnation that star on the new show which literally debuted days ago. Howard Chaykin, a much beloved comic book professional influence on me used to serve as story editor and scriptwriter for that show. It didn’t last for more than a single season (22 episodes), having constantly getting trumped in the ratings by The Simpsons of all shows, but if the show had lasted longer, the second season opening episode would have featured the debut of Flash’s Rogues Gallery, led by Mark Hamill as the Trickster, along with the Mirror Master and Captain Cold teaming up together with the debut of the Weather Wizard tailing close behind.
I think that’s one reason why I wanted to get out of Encinitas. I wanted to see if I could try my hand getting work at the major Hollywood studios. It seemed like comic book professionals made it seem so effortless just to saunter on in and arrive home with an assignment to script any sci-fi or comic book based show. I saw writing credits with the names such as Cary Bates or J. M. DeMatteis on the television series Superboy. I wanted a piece of that pie also. Of course, I’d first have to start regularly scripting comic book on a frequent basis too. Also at one time at a street fair, I saw this guy wandering around with a t-shirt of the Flash show and pardoned him to ask where he had gotten the t-shirt, “Oh, I work on the show.”, he told me. I decided, if I was going score such exclusive swag like that – I better start considering changing my locale.
But then, as I was mentioning yesterday of how I signed for a seminar to pitch plots to Marvel Comics during the 1989 San Diego Comic Con of which yielded mass disappointment to me. I signed up for the seminar at the Marvel booth on a Thursday to take place on a Saturday morning. The criteria are as follows: go home or to your hotel, type up or write out a half page plot to occur in your favorite Marvel Comic. Easy enough for me, because I was into this trend at the time of plotting a six part adventure hoping to see the light of the printing press just in time for the annual bi-weekly summer month issue event. At the time, Mark Gruenwald, editor and writer of Captain America, plotted a real doozy of a story called the Blood Diamond Saga which was a six part summer extravaganza pitting Captain America against his deadliest foe Baron Zemo. It took 3 months, six issues, shipped bi-weekly to tell the complete story.
I thought I could come up with an equal doozy of a story for the Amazing Spider-man title utilizing that very same format – 3 months, 6 issues, shipped bi-weekly for the sense-shattering return of
THE SINISTER SIX
It just had to be done. Since it was a Thursday and there were really no major have to attend party to be at – I drove home, typed it up on my rapidly ribbon fading typewriter in just under a paragraph or two outlining just the basic premise, Mary Jane Watson and Aunt May get kidnapped by Doctor Octopus who has reformed the Sinister Six, only this time, they’re amped up by the Hobgoblin, who was a very popular baddie during the late 1980’s, but only this time, each member trying to prevent Spidey from rescuing his loved ones would have nearly an entire issue to defeat the Wall-Crawler and then a postcard clue to where the hostages would be taken to next ( It’s a similar device I’ve used in my own comic book, The Deposit Man).
I remember that Saturday morning, just acting all cool and collective with nary a worry in the world, THIS was going to be a guaranteed win. I could hardly wait to hear as to when my deadline would be to submit the script in or least get a credit listed as a plotter. After hearing the rest of the pimply faced fat fucks submit their ghastly ideas of how the Hulk winds up killing General Thunderbolt Ross for the thousandth time or how Spidey just wakes up to the cold hard fact that Aunt May has once more overdosed on her prescription of Geritol Plus again. Mark Gruenwald just gave the gesture of talk to the hand about killing off Aunt May. “Nobody is allowed to kill off Aunt May,” decried the PA announcement. So when it was my turn at bat, I sat between Mark and some other editor putz by the name of Peter Sanderson, and said simply with no run on sentence performing sound effects with the sound of popping your hands on your cheeks: I said calmly and effectively:
“In Amazing Spider-Man number such and such for next summer’s bi-weekly issues, The Return of the Sinister Six, six issues, twice a month, each issue out every two weeks.” No other shit needed to be said. Directly to the point.
But being sandwiched in between the two editors – I didn’t understand what was hard to get? Immediately they started to poke holes through it. How could the Sinister Six ever reform when such and such was dead? Simple: You replace the roster with newer super-villains. Like the Hobgoblin for instance.
But that smarmy Peter Sanderson just kept nodding his head to make a play for the audience of the others who got chewed apart and proudly denounced it as ‘the worst idea I ever heard submitted’. Mark Gruenwald played along and tried to make the rejection less painful, ‘it’s got potential, but until we find a way to bring back the original villains – we’re going to pass.”
Wow – well, I’m sure something else to spring to mind eventually. I’m only 26 after all – it’s like I have my entire life to think up of something better (and yeah, here I am at 50)
So none other than when March of 1990 falls around, I’m still employed at Circle K (months later, I would eventually be let go because I reportedly sold some liquor to a minor during a ABC raid – the only time I got in some misdemeanor hot water with the legal system) and I happen to be taking a break and reading the Diamond Previews that month (it’s a catalogue for ordering comic book merchandise for comic specialty shops) bought from my local comic book store Thrill Books in Encinitas. I open up to read the solicitations for the Spider-Man titles and there it was : Amazing Spider-man #330: RETURN OF THE SINISTER SIX Part one of six.
Those motherfuckers. . too cheap to even give me a plot assist credit.
Favorite lyric: Shock to the politicians/You know they just got burned by the fire/Shock to the freedom whispers/They’re only coming after /they be dreaming all the time – Shock to the System (Anderson/Howe/Elias)