The period of 1991 – 1994 was a royal pain in an ass tumultuous era of my life. It was a time of moving back and forth between Los Angeles and San Diego not knowing where I really wanted to be. The very last conversation I remember having with Jennifer Ellis – the girl I loved the most in the late eighties told me sometime around 1992 or so ended with, “Cary, why don’t you just pick a spot already?” I’d jump at one opportunity only to have it squashed beneath my feet due to unforeseeable circumstances. Down in San Diego, I worked at a software game company where I was in charge in duplicating game disks, testing them out, and shipping them out after I was let go from a convenience store for allowing a minor to purchase beer. When I moved to LA in 1991, I worked as a mail clerk at a bank’s main operating headquarters only to have been shut down by the FDIC for suspected money laundering to supplies arms and drugs to middle-eastern companies. Shortly after that I worked a rather short stint at a used video game store doing roughly the same kind of duties I did for the software company until the Rodney Kings Riots exploded in the streets which had me dodging the police activities of the National Guard night after night trying to get clear across the San Fernando Valley from North Hollywood to Northridge without running into a patrol enforcing a curfew or getting my foot run over by a tank. Then I got fired from there, couldn’t make the rent payments on the house I was renting with Joe and Mark Zullo, and some engaged couple named Mike Camp and Ruby, and was forced to go back to San Diego, only this time I wound up becoming homeless on the beach because of some black girl I was fond of, led me astray about some certain moving arrangements. Luckily I put all my stuff in storage instead of renting a U-Haul before hopping off to a beach house whose occupants had no idea of what I was talking about. A friend of mine who used to be my supervisor at the software company helped me out and allowed me to crash at his cottage pad in Ocean Beach, although the atmosphere would’ve been more pleasant in that area. I wasn’t used to the sight of beach combing tweakers, and female meth addicts constantly walking up and down my street trying to turn tricks (and some looked good enough to eat, but upon closer examination, you realize they’re missing teeth.) A nice Hispanic girl picked me up at bar named Foggy Notion’s, a stone’s throw away from the San Diego Sports Arena, and we dated a while until I was summoned back to Los Angeles by Joe Zullo and to perhaps help me get me a ‘in’ with some employment at Universal Music Group.
And then the Northridge Earthquake happened.
But from the fallout of unmitigated chaos came a beacon of light:
Originally, the band wanted to continue as a septet with the inclusion of Howe and Rick Wakeman , but his ideas got shot down . The details of the machinations in this period are unclear, but at some point, some upstart label Victory stepped in with a record contract (they also had Emerson, Lake, and Palmer signed to their label) , but wanted a record contract based on the YesWest line-up. There was talk of also of Wakeman being involved since he was technically still in contract with the band and record label through the making of Talk, but reminded of the fiasco spent while making Union couldn’t convince him to record on the new album. The bulk of Talk had been led by the partnership of Squire and Rabin, with Anderson somewhat marginalized from the composing process, but eventually most of the tracks wound up being written by Trevor Rabin and Anderson who never really sat down and composed together. Unlike previous YesWest albums, Rabin produced Talk alone. Production on Talk pioneered digital recording technology with the whole album recorded to hard disk— which probably served as a precursor to today’s standard Pro Tool methods. Rabin was very much in control of the whole recording process, re-recording a majority of the guitars and keys (Tony Kaye contributed a few organ parts here and there ), and even as to go fat to re-record some of Squire’s bass parts (much to Chris’s grumbling dismay).
For once, there were pressures from outside the band to give this line-up a more monumental bombastic feel, Phil Carson, the head of Victory Records , asked Rabin for an epic piece in the style of Yes of old. Rabin appears to have been less than happy about writing an epic on the fly, but he did and was very happy with the result. “Endless Dream” is the longest YesWest piece that has Trevor Rabin’s involvement. This album also included “Walls”, co-written by Roger Hodgson from Supertramp. Shortly with the label not getting the sales figures that were expected of a Yes album, Victory Records subsequently went bankrupt. My favorite track on this album is the Stephen Hawkings inspired “Real Love” and the all-encompassing cultural delight of Jon Anderson’s snappy lyrics to The Calling has the band addressing the subject of peace and solidarity to the plights of third world countries. The album cover also sported a brand new band logo designed by popular acid tripping sixties artist, Peter Max. No evil blue meanies lurking around here, no sir.
But before we confer further, I think perhaps it’s time to have a more meaningful Wikipedia open dialogue first.
In a 1993 interview, Alan White joked that the album would be called Crunching Numbers and another working title was History of the Future. He also mentioned a song called “Scarlet from the Tide”, but it is unknown whether this song became part of a track on the album or if it wasn’t added at all.
Following the mammoth tour for Union in 1991, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman left the eight-member band. Wakeman was originally going to be part of the lineup, but conflicts with management kept this from happening. Remaining was the 1983-88 line-up of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Trevor Rabin, Tony Kaye and Alan White.
With Rabin taking the lead – even producing the project himself, he introduced Yes to the non linear digital revolution. Talk was the 1st album ever produced on the Digital performer format.
Being at the frontier of non-linear recording, Talk was a difficult record to make technically, as a lot of the technology was very new.
Roger Hodgson, formerly of fellow progressive rock band Supertramp, wrote “Walls” with Rabin, having been asked to replace Anderson when the latter formed Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. He declined, and Anderson modified the lyrics to “Walls” upon returning to Yes. According to Rabin, “Walls” was the last track to be finished for the album. A demo of this song was recorded in 1990 and included on the Trevor Rabin demo album 90124 in 2003.
Rabin and Hodgson wrote a lot of material together and became close friends.
The band toured the album extensively (in North America, South America and Japan, but not in Europe), utilizing quadraphonic sound and providing headphone availability for several rows of seats.
Alan White has said that the Talk tour was one of the best tours, as far as the band’s togetherness musically.
The album along with the bonus track in 2002 (see below) was reissued as part of the Essentially Yes box set in 2006
The album’s reception was lukewarm, and failed to reach the heights of 90125 and previous releases: The first not to crack the Billboard Top 20 since the 1970s. Both Anderson and Rabin blame the bankruptcy of the Victory Music label for the album’s lack of promotion and subsequent dismal sales.
However, the album’s reputation has improved with time, and it is now viewed in some quarters as the best album by the Rabin lineup. “Endless Dream”, a multi-movement suite in the manner of ’70s Yes, but written mostly by Rabin, is particularly well-regarded.
Talk (Victory 828 489-2) reached #20 in the UK and #33 in the US during a chart stay of 8 weeks. “Walls” released as a single reached #24 on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
SONGS / TRACK–LISTING:
1. The Calling (Anderson/Rabin/Squire Total Time: 6:56
2. I Am Waiting (Anderson/Rabin) Total time: 7:25
3. Real Love (Anderson/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 8:49
4. State of Play (Anderson/Rabin) Total time: 5:00
5, Walls (Anderson/Hodgson/Rabin) Total time: 4:57
6. Where Will You Be (Anderson/Rabin) Total time: 6:09
7. Endless Dream – a). Silent Spring b). Talk c). Endless Dream (Anderson/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 15:44
The 2002 special release includes:
8. The Calling (Special version) (Anderson/Rabin/Squire) Total time: 8:08
I saw Yes on this tour at the Greek Theater and he remembers that the band had at one time installed some kind of wireless surround sound system into its seats so that audience members could feel the vibrations from Jon Anderson’s synthesizer during the performance of Endless Dream.
I was also fortunate enough to have attended the one of the first Yes Festivals that was thrown in Glendale by Christine Holtz and Lisa Makita, editors of Tampa, Florida’s leading progressive rock fanzine, Music News Network the very same weekend and got to personally meet members of the band for the first time including Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Alan White, Patrick Moraz, and Peter Banks. I still occasionally like to rewind an edited souvenir video tape of the event and likes to visit the section where Patrick Moraz goes up to his keyboard and start sobbing before everyone because no one was buying his solo album, “Window of Time” that he was hocking at a booth in the back of the hall. I remember he even got testy with me, because the only spare money I had squandered for the event, I purchased the IQ album, Ever from a vendor who specialized in independent imports it was an album which I was desperately hunting for at the time – but he was persistently clasping his hands in prayer that I would buy a copy from him, but he was starting to creep me out by constantly touching me a lot.
Another little bit of Yes trivia that some may like to note: it was at the time during this album’s release, there was a solicitation for the band to appear in their own comic book to be published by Malibu Comics, whose company roster of super-heroes included Prime, Hardcase, Prototype, and Night Man (which also ran as a television show for two years) in competition with whatever Image was doing to coagulate the direct market with Marvel Superhero knockoffs. I never got to find out what the comic book details would entail in terms of what the plot dealt with or how the final artwork would’ve appeared, but eventually the book had gotten canceled due to no consumer interest and no conclusive agreement could be worked out between Jon Anderson and a charity he had help funded called OPIO of which the sales from the book were supposed to go to. I had remembered seeing the solicitation for it in the monthly comic book catalogue called the Diamond Previews and the photo had a painted profiles of the band members against a psychedelic background adorned with the Peter Max logo.
Favorite lyric: From the Congo to Lenasia/Be the writing on the wall/I’ll be calling the colors of India/ See the Asian life explode – The Calling (Rabin, Anderson, Squire).
So for the rest of the blog – I’m going to recount in more details the years of 1991 – 1994. For those who don’t want to press on, be here tomorrow for Keys of Ascension and my attempt in trying to adjust to…London life. Yeah, how the fuck I wound up there for a period of five weeks in the year of ’96 is a bit of a blur myself.
The process was a long road I had to take in trying to become a full-fledged card-carrying Los Anglophile. If you recall from last Friday’s fateful chock thrill a minute entry, I had moved all of his belongings from an upstairs loft above a cleaners and a sandwich shop in Encinitas where he was renting a room from a pot smoking middle-aged woman and her two thirty something meth dropping sons who were hairdressers. The woman used to be my assistant manager at a Circle K until she ‘arranged’ to have an accident in the refrigerator stock room that would leave her reaping disability claims. This crazy woman went out and got a puppy that would wreak constant havoc in the house and took a dozen or so doggy dumps on my bed sheets. I may had said some nasty things to the dog, wishing he were dead or some such. I would even dream that the dog would fittingly meet a ‘untimely demise’. Well, if wishes were horses, as they say one early Sunday morning, the crazy woman’s third elder son who wasn’t living with the rest of brought to her house some bagels and left the front door open. Dog ran out the door and right into morning traffic and ‘boom’ – instant dead weight to pick off the pavement. The crazed woman blamed me for the entire incident even though the evidence was apparently pointing to her son. “What does it matter, you wished it were dead anyway, and now you got your wish.” This led to a big blowout and her having to call the cops me. Then I pack all my bags and went to stay with my former roommate, Jene Ellis and his girlfriend Marlene. So without going into any more meticulous detail about hot and steamy affair, read the last entry.
I helped Jene and Marlene move their stuff to storage, as they were preparing to book to Canada and then my aunt Meghan showed up to drive him up to a dirty demolished house in Van Nuys, Ca. It was a temporary front until the Zullo brothers, Mark and Joe and I could cobble up dough for a deposit on a house in suburban Northridge, California (of which I wrangled a $1000 off my mom). I got a job working with Joe Zullo at a bank in Encino called Independence Bank. He was there for approximately two months until the FDIC came and raided the place under the assumption that the bank was laundering money to fund buying weapons for terrorist Arab nations but luckily, working as mail person for a contract services, my job was still secured by a subsidiary contractor called Fi-Serv and I provided bulk mailings for other bank operations. Unfortunately, Bush-economics was ruled as the contributing factor to my layoff and my holiday season was shot for that year. Then I went to work for a software company warehouse for a period of three months in the early months of 1992 until he got laid off yet again due to…. yeah you guess it- Bush-economics. Then, I landed a gig at video game place just as the Rodney Kings riots were breaking out but after two months I just got fired over another employee’s negligence of not checking a order’s credit card signature and I wound up shipping the order out on a fraudulent credit card.
I filed for unemployment insurance and threw it into storage and went back to San Diego. Thinking I could easily slip back into the swing of things, get a place to stay and settle for some menial minimum wage job but not was such the case. The unemployment checks weren’t coming: some imbecile at the EDD misfiled the paperwork and didn’t see that I had changed my forwarding address from Northridge to his aunt’s PO Box in Cardiff- By- the- Sea. Since my aunt was living at a boarding house at the time somewhere in Encinitas and couldn’t help put me up, I had no recourse but to sleep it off on the beach with nothing more than 60 bucks to my name, and I stretched it out for three weeks and that meant nothing to live on but eating dollar Caesar salads at Wendy’s, having a tube of toothpaste, and a bar of soap to keep some semblance of personal hygiene afloat.
Evidently when the checks did finally arrived and the clerical snafu all cleared up by the EDD, I found that I could only afford accommodations in some flea bag motel which led me back to Leucadia at the Log Cabin Inn, of which last Friday’s chapter touched briefly on. The certain area of Leucadia was declared a red light districts in North San Diego county. I allowed some stray female street vagabond stay at my place for one night after I got sick and tired of her seeing her sleep outside my cabin, told her to go take a shower and I bought her a bottle of orange juice to get some nourishment into her and she thanks me by going totally bonkers the next morning after I asked her nicely to leave. Okay, Okay, ok – to be honest, I let her suck my cock that night, but she insisted on staying and sucking it some more, but she just didn’t do a good job of it the previous night. It was time for her to go seek better cocksucking opportunities elsewhere. It also marked the first time in my life that I ever yelled at a girl to get the hell out.
The money was not lasting as well as he liked it to, and therefore had to seek out more affordable housing down south to Hillcrest, Ca where he found a hostel to stay in for a hundred a week. I had to pay up front for two weeks which left him with as little as 30 dollars left to live on. Tenure in Hillcrest was a bit more odd than what I was used to, I tumbled on the fact I was living in a open gay community while I was seated in a $ 3 movie theater that was screening Ralph Bakshi ‘s Cool World, and I for the first time, saw gay men making out with each other. Then I had read in the San Diego Reader about the senseless brutal murder of Revolutionary Comics Publisher Todd Loren of which could have speculated that Todd could have been one of Andrew Cunanan’s earliest serial killer victims – and the crime had took place just a few blocks from where I was staying in the hostel. As these torrent of events were taking place in another part of town-I came across a chance meeting of running into a ex-supervisor of mine who I used to hang out with named David Foulk and he offered me some shelter at his pad in Ocean Beach so I could save some money to go to the San Diego Comic Con. I already paid for the badge earlier that year while I was up in LA, so I was glad it wasn’t going to go to waste.
The summer of 1992 was a particular time for reinvention. It was long overdue to make the name Cary Coatney known to the world so I made a conscientious decision that after spending lots of my unemployment time in libraries reading Carlos Castenada or Raymond Chandler books and realized that it was time for Cary Coatney to make its’ literal mark upon the world so it was from that point on I got into the habit of contributing fan letters to the Oh So? section of the Comics Buyer’s Guide – a weekly newspaper dedicated to reporting the week to week grind of the very salacious comic book industry. And they got printed. Cary Coatney was once again a published author!!
It was also during this period that i would germinate the idea of a certain static snowy charged landlord of the afterlife at David’s house. I originally wrote the script out in notebooks during bus trips to job interviews and typed it up on David’s word processor at night. However the pilot episode of the Deposit Man wouldn’t see the printed light of day until the tail end of 1999. Then I would briefly latch on to a new love in early 1993.
I fell in love with Mexican girl named Consuelo – who already had two kids. She was more of a drinking buddy than a girlfriend for the two months that she and I dated but she was the one who motivated me to move back to Hollywood because I was inspired to work for the entertainment company who put out Batman: The Animated Series cartoons. And seeing upon that my true ‘calling’ was making writing contributions to a comic book industry magazine, suggested that he go back to Los Angeles and try to get a job writing for animation – because I certainly was not going to find that kind of job in Ocean Beach, California – not with all these degenerate heroin abusers, mental cases, and gunja smokers around. I decided I had enough of the riff raft, especially the case of the one living next door to me. I based the premise of my first issue of Deposit Man: Playgod, a comic book mini-series I wrote 7 years ago upon a next door neighbor who slowly lost control of all his mental faculties and had our block in a grip of terror. Before I could bestow upon Consuelo’s advice called up, Joe Zullo was calling me to come back and give it LA. another shot.
Upon settling in an apartment in North Hollywood in another dodgy neighborhood I enlisted with various temp agencies – and supported myself by selling some of my old comic books I had placed in storage to a couple of gentlemen both entering their late adulthood who were starting up a baseball card store and were also interested in carrying comic books for their store. They needed a consultant of type to walk them through a Diamond Catalog and to make recommendations for them. Before too long, I became a staff employee at Rookies & Allstars in North Hollywood. Sadly, three months of steady work there yielded my first fatal blow, for my friend who helped me in San Diego was now becoming a heroin addict. David came up to visit Joe Zullo and I at our apartment and was betrayed by him when he ripped off my entire collection of Todd McFarlane era Amazing Spider-Mans and pawned them off to help support his supply of horsey juice. Three months later, David was found dead of an overdose somewhere in an alley in Ocean Beach – his apartment got token over by a bunch of derelict squatters who eventually got sent up for involuntary manslaughter for supplying him with the juice.
A good friend was taken from me. David at first, was a positive influence. He got me heavily involved with books by Philip K. Dick, Norman Spinrad, and Harlan Ellison. David would constantly berate the shit out of me concerning my prog noodling of Marillion, Peter Gabriel, or Asia and would bombard me in turn with death anthems of the likes of Metallica, Megadeth, or Pantera- but what music we did have in common was the Brian Eno mid-seventies era solo albums. And every time I get to put on Another Green World or when hear the song “King’s Lead Hat” I always think of David and his freaky froggy voice trying to sing along.
Joe Zullo then later got engaged and married to law student Carol “Horror Show” Hamilton and I got dragged to live with them in a condo over in Tarzana – it was more upscale than what I was used to. However, this union of a guitar player and a crack a book by night law student proved to be nothing but an incendiary mistake. Every time a fight would break out, Carol would kick Joe out of the house and I would be left in the house with her. There was something about Carol that would make me squelch in horror, hence the phrase – “Horror Show”.. For one thing, her face was constantly worked over by plastic surgeons. She was like a fucking Nip/Tuck episode fully materialized and on some nights when I would see her without make-up on or just after she got her nose fixed, I would run into my bedroom and locked the door behind me.
Luckily for me, Joe and Carol had patched up whatever was the disagreement flavor of the month was at the time and were both in the house when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake hit. I had got myself blitzed on a pitcher of Newcastle ale when last call came around at a bar around the corner from our apartment called The Little Rock Upon swaggering through the front door I went straight and delved into some of Frank Miller’s Sin City graphic novel nirvana and passed out. Suddenly at 4:45 AM, I was awoken by constant pounding my his door, yelling to get out. I tried to turn a light on and found that he couldn’t, found a lighter and I had forgotten that I had the flame set at so high and singed my eyebrow badly that half of my brown was burnt off . All power was out, car sirens were at a deafening high, people were screaming and crying and all I could think of was: where the fuck were my pants?
Ok, now I know what a massive earthquake feels like. Well, not really – because I was asleep through the most of it – but the aftershocks more than made up for what I missed initially. Looking back on the glittering rubble and the incalculable damage in its’ wake of the entire CSUN campus and the Fashion Center Mall in Northridge, I can’t help but think – wow, something must have been watching over me that night; because once daylight broke and I was allowed back in his room , I couldn’t believe the extent of damage that occurred while I was tranquilized by the elixir of barley wheats and hops. Astounding that an entire book shelf had toppled over and was lying on the bed possibly two inches from the area of where I was curdled. I had a Casio keyboard that was crushed beneath plus many comic books that had lying around were destroyed including a rare alternative version of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman # 8 that featured the first appearance of Death.
Our condo was red tagged and declared unfit for habitation, so while repairs were underway, we all had no recourse but to sleep in a tent out in the front yard of Joe’s friend somewhere in Winnetka for almost a week in freezing cold January weather. No running water meant no showers and no taking a shit – least you’d like to see your the yesterday contents of your backdoor garbage chute join the community pile up in some stranger’s toilet.
Amidst the devastation, I couldn’t help but be shockingly moved when he heard that on the Sci-Fi Channel, Harlan Ellison got smashed pretty smashed up at his home while he was polishing off a manuscript the force of the earthquake was so powerful that he got bounced around on three flights of stairs and then smashed his nose into a picture frame. I ran into actor Kelsey Grammer the next day as he was walking out of his bank on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks and we chatted it up as he was visibly shaken up, but he or his family didn’t sustain any serious injury which is good because the Frazier show must go on. Of course, I had avoid during my Barney Rubble impersonation each time I was walking with Carol and Joe under the 101 highway overpass that was next door to our house, and I had to avoid putting on Tori Amos’ Little Earthquake album as not to upset my neighbors. (eventually, an old pen pal of mine from upstate Washington, Rantz Hoseley would wind up designing tour books for her)
Once the crisis had subsided, we were cleared to come back to the apartment, but I wanted a break from Los Angeles for a while and I got more desperate wanting to see Connie, but when I arrived in San Diego to see her and was in mode to apologize for not calling her because all phone landline services were severed throughout Los Angeles county, she flat-out said to me, “I didn’t call to check up on you” and then I got angry with her, but it was simply her way of saying that a long distance relationship wasn’t the way she wanted to go and so that was another boyfriend/girlfriend edition put to bed.
Tomorrow: gathering the keys of ascension while engaging in a war of wits with tongue speaking cultists who target Batman for assassination and whence victory is celebrated by getting oneself lost in London.