Although technically not studio albums per se, but an incredible stimulation of both live and studio tracks. After the demise of the YES WEST fraction of the group, Trevor Rabin left the band to focus his talents on composing film work, of which most notably can be heard today on almost every Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay film that comes out in theaters to date. Tony ‘with one hand waving in the air’ Kaye practically fell off the face of the earth again and was heard wanting to sue the band for unpaid royalties. By mid-1995, an announcement was made that Curry Capeman Rick Wakeman and Baby Berryface Steve Howe were coming back into the fold to record a new studio album, with a series of concerts to be shot on film at the Fremont Theatre in beautiful downtown San Luis Obispo, Ca (which is where Maestro Jon A made his home) reprising much of the 70’s material that made them beloved the whole world-wide over. The project was to be christened the Keys to Ascension and made its’ way as a concert video and two double album set to document the event.
Now, I’m not really going to bother with the live stuff, but rather we’re going to focus on just the studio material on these two albums that first started life being recorded in Anderson’s basement, (hereby dubbed Yesworld Studios) located not far from the theater of where they performed the concerts. The two tracks on Keys I were titled “Be The One” and That, That Is” and they did sound if they were stingy on coming up with good title names at the time. Considering that it was true to form capture of their strident Going for the One/Tormato period, there was still a hint of Yes Westism in the Humankind portion of the Be the One. The eighteen minute plus That, That Is a bewildering mess that has Anderson singing lyrics about crack addicts and gang violence that just doesn’t jive with his usual new age/peyote pondering fragmented sentence preamble, although it could have been a stab at Chris Squire’s personal partying problems around the time that the Talk tour was wrapping up (Believe me when I tell you, I’ve seen Squire in top tipsy mode when I witnessed first hand of Squire nearly falling out of his chair during his Q & A session at the Yesfestival in Glendale and while he was regaining his composure, he was laughing out loud like a loon).
It would be safe to assume that not securing a major label deal is what led Rick Wakeman to scurry to the nearest exit once Victory Music went belly up after distribution Talk . But yet here was Dick on the remainder of the tracks that didn’t show up until the following year on Keys to Ascension Volume 2 (1997- but it was recorded in 1996 at Billy Sherwood’s studio (hereby dubbed the Office in Van Nuys, Ca) which remained in the same format as Keys Volume 1, further juxtaposing the remaining left over bits from San Luis Obispo show with the finished new tracks (the second volume was released on a prog rock grassroots label called Purple Pyramid Records from out of Marina Del Rey, CA-.The five new studio tracks sound better prepared and not rushed as they were on the first volume. In particular, the most interesting of the new tracks was the 18 minute Mind Drive which was culled from jam session tapes that Chris Squire and Alan White had thrashed out with Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin/The Firm) and was originally planned for the XYZ project (anagram for ex members of Yes & Led Zeppelin) which never materialized. Ever since this album’s release, many times die-hard fans have requested this song to be performed live , but Anderson merely ignored their pleas until nearly nine years later he relented and performed it live for the first time on the band’s thirty-fifth anniversary tour (as well as Foot Prints) Another notable song, Children of Light was another left over bit co-written by Vangelis that was originally slated for a Jon & Vangelis album.
Sadly, I couldn’t take advantage of this brief reunion – because I didn’t know where the fuck San Luis Obispo was at the time! I’ve never ventured far out into Ventura County before. Been on a couple of planes to the Bay Area, but not so much in-between. Even if I had known where it was located, there was no way for me in getting there not even by Greyhound bus. So I was royally fucked on missing history being made. I did own the VHS copy of the show though – but I recall not being too pleased with the production quality or the audio for that matter. Was it necessary to keep cutting to long dragged out shots of the theater’s architecture? I wasn’t really jonesing to see blueprint after blueprint of the goddamn venue for cripessakes – I want to the see the band performing – Why else shell out twenty bucks for the stupid video tape?
So it’s time for this portion of the program to start putting in keys to unlock some Wikipedia information:
It is the first album with guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman since 1991’s Union, and the first album with the line-up consisting of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Alan White, Howe and Wakeman since 1978’s Tormato.
The first seven of the album’s nine tracks were recorded live in San Luis Obispo, California’s Fremont Theater during three nights in March 1996. The purpose of these concerts was to capture the spontaneity of a live performance under controlled conditions, similar to that of a studio. These performances were also filmed and released as a live video under the same title.
All three concerts were instantly available as bootlegs. Comparison of the bootleg recordings and the official release demonstrate beyond doubt that the “live” songs were heavily overdubbed in the studio before being released]. Some parts (most notably Jon Anderson’s vocals on at least three songs) were completely re-recorded in the studio. The studio tracks were reissued twice: once as part of the Keystudio compilation album on 21 May 2001 and again along with the whole album in 2010 as part of the Keys to Ascension box set along with its companion album Keys To Ascension 2.
The last two tracks “Be the One” and “That, That Is” are studio recordings of new songs made in November 1995 (with subsequent overdubs and post-production lasting into 1996). Other live recordings not released on this album were held over for release in 1997 on Keys to Ascension 2.
Keys to Ascension (Essential EDF CD 417) reached #48 in the UK. It also reached #99 in the US during a chart stay of two weeks.
Keys to Ascension 2 is a double album by the British progressive rock group Yes and was released in 1997. It is the band’s fifth live album and sixteenth studio album. It is the successor to the critically acclaimed Keys to Ascension 2-CD set from 1996.
It is the last release of the band with Rick Wakeman on keyboards. It is also the fifth and last album with the line-up consisting of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Alan White, Steve Howe and Wakeman, the first being 1973’s Tales from Topographic Oceans. The album reached No. 62 in the UK.
Like the first seven tracks on the previous album, the first six tracks on Keys to Ascension 2 were recorded live in San Luis Obispo, California in March 1996. The second disc features studio recordings made in November 1996. Rick Wakeman wanted these studio tracks to be released with Jon Anderson’s working title Know, with the disc of live tracks thrown in as a bonus. Wakeman’s preference was not honoured and by the time Keys to Ascension 2 was released, he was no longer in the band.
“Mind Drive” would be Yes’ eighth and last song over 18 minutes until “Fly from Here” in 2011. The song was originally a concept that the band XYZ, which featured Chris Squire, Alan White and Jimmy Page, wrote and demoed in 1981. It was later incorporated in a drum duet between Alan White and Bill Bruford on the 1991–1992 Union tour.
“Bring Me to the Power” references the original title of Talk, History of the Future.
“Children of Light” was originally written by Jon and Vangelis in 1986 as “Distant Thunder”. “Distant Thunder” was later demoed by Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe during the recording of their self-titled album, later appearing as a hidden track on the 2011 limited edition of the album. The lyrics to “Distant Thunder” ended up in Yes’ Union tourbook in April 1991. On 8 May 1994, Jon Anderson performed the song via radio on the Tommy Vance show. During a Mother’s Day concert on 12 May 1996, Jon Anderson performed “Children of Light” and said he hoped it would appear on a Yes album, which it did.
“Lightning”, Rick Wakeman’s introduction to “Children of Light”, was mixed out before the album’s release. “Lightning” was restored to the track on the 2001 compilation Keystudio. The “Distant as the distant thunder…” introduction, as heard on Keys to Ascension 2, was mixed out on the Keystudio version.
Keys to Ascension 2 features cover art by Roger Dean on an outer sleeve that fits around the package. On the sleeve, the image’s predominant colour is magenta, but the booklet features the painting in its original blue colouration.
The studio tracks from this album and Keys to Ascension would be re-released on Keystudio. The whole album was reissued in 2010 along with its earlier companion album Keys to Ascension and the concert video of the same name as part of the Keys to Ascension box set
“Children of the Light” is a different mix of the Keys to Ascension 2 track. Specifically, the Keystudio version contains an extended keyboard introduction by Rick Wakeman entitled “Lightning”. This mix omits the opening lyrics found on the Keys to Ascension 2 version.
Prior to this album’s release, it was reported that it would have a track called “The Second Time Around”. This would have been a version of “Sign Language” that incorporated Jon Anderson’s vocals. However, the track was not included on this disc.
As of 2010, the CD is out of print.
SONG / TRACK – LISTING ON KEYSTUDIOS VERSION: (now out of print)
1. Foot Prints (Anderson/Howe/Squire/White Total time: 9:09 from Keys 2
2. Be the One – I. The One II. Humankind III. Skates (Anderson/Howe/Squire) Total time: 9:51 from Keys 1
3. Mind Drive (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White) Total time: 18:38 from Keys 2
4. Bring Me to the Power (Anderson/Howe) Total time: 7:25 from Keys 2
5. Sign Language (Howe/Wakeman) Total time: 3:25 from Keys 2
6. That, That Is – :I. Togetherness :II. Crossfire :III. The Giving Things :IV. That Is :V. All in All :VI. How Did Heaven Begin?
:VII. Agree to Agree (Anderson/Howe/Squire/White) Total time: 19:15 from Keys 1
7. Children of the Light :I. Lightning :II. Children of Light :III. Lifeline (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Vangelis/Wakeman) Total time: 6:34 from Keys 2
Kind of confusing, isn’t it? There’s so many different variations to choose from. If you want to own the complete package, there’s the box set containing both volumes – or if you’re just interested in the live stuff, simply pick up the dvd. The version I should personally went for was the Keystudio version and perused the live material simply by watching the dvd or videotape.
But at least the important thing, was, for a bunch of song virtually unheard of or never saw the light of radio airplay, the band really milked it for what it was worth.
During the years of 1995 and 1996, I was making further adjustments to living in the San Fernando Valley as comfortable and affordable as I could. The exception being that my high school friend, Joe Zullo from Parsippany New Jersey filed for separation from his rhinoplasty addicted legal attorney wife, Carol “Horror Story” Hamilton which left me in another conundrum of being without shelter as Carol favored me upon moving out of the condominium that she owned. So with Joe gone, I had taken over the role of being her ‘errand boy’. I had to go out and pick up her dry-cleaning, buy cool whip for her goddamn coffee, and heat up her dinners while she pranced around the house in her Victoria Secret’s undies and spring dresses that were clearly transparent enough to tell when she wasn’t wearing any undies at all while she studied for her bar exam. All this unintentional dick teasing came to a halt when she realized one day that she was even freaking herself on all the titillation she was exhibiting, so one day she dropped the bombshell that she needed me to move out in a matter of weeks, and she arranged behind my back to pawn me over to some friends in Northridge that she knew from her church.
I was working days at a mortgage company in Woodlands Hills in addition to acting as purchasing manager for the comic book and baseball card store, Rookies & Allstars in North Hollywood. At the mortgage company, I gravitated towards a pretty slightly older co-worker than me by the name of Nancy Walter who introduced me to a guitar player she was engaged to by the name of Brian Young who used to work with ex-Asia bassist/vocalist John Wetton and eventually wound up being Dave Lee Roth’s touring guitarist . She used to car pool me to work every day since she didn’t live too far from me. Upon entering me house, even she could tell that they was something weird going on at my new boarding house. She warned me that I could be living with a bunch of occultists, to which I sarcastically replied. ‘really, so what’s was your first clue? Was it the group huddle together speaking in tongues? OR could it have been that when I walked in the front door from work bellowing to everyone holding hands together in prayer that, ‘OH Satan – I’m hoooommmee” Or maybe it was when one of the other boarders invited me to attend a ‘Christian Bachelor Party’ one weekend? I was almost game for that, and asked him when will the stripper be arriving? He told me that there were going to be no strippers. I became perplexed – how the fuck were you going to have a bachelor party without any strippers? Then thinking aloud I supposedly said to myself, ‘Who the fuck is going to be jumping out of the cake – — “Jesus Christ?”
That little wisenheimer exchange was merely the first salvo in my eventual dismissal from the premises. The breaking point came when these scumbag evangelists in training came by and stayed over without paying any rent and started an argument with me of why I liked to watch Batman cartoons so much. This god fearing prick irritated me with his un-researched proclamations pulled out of his preaching ass that Batman was invented by blasphemous devils who would stop at nothing to rape God’s children or something equally stupid along those lines. I responded perfectly by punching this vagabond diarrhea scripture sprouting gutless wonder in the face, which resulted in his glasses getting knocked off.
In addition to Batman: The Animated Series, superhero cartoon and comic book based animation was flourishing, by adding X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, W.I.L.D.cats, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, Savage Dragon, and Disney’s Gargoyles to many weekday and Saturday morning line ups. It was almost like the rebirth of sixties era Saturday morning television all over again.
The X-Files was all the rage on television in those days. I recall meeting Gillian Anderson at one of the first major X-Files conventions held at a hotel across the street from the Bob Hope airport in Burbank. Carol ‘Horror Story’ Hamilton had the audacity one Friday evening to call me up to say she was coming over to take me out for coffee with her at a nearby Starbucks’. ‘Yeah, maybe after the X-Files are over’, I told her. Then she got all furious with me and then hung up. I stood my ground when it came to seeing Gillian Anderson every Friday night (and she still looks surprisingly fetching to this day on Hannibal), I was determined never to miss an episode during its’ entire nine year run. I soon mastered the art of setting the timer on my VCR so that I never missed an episode.
Rather than have me go through another episode of homelessness and abandonment, my boss, Obi Dan Kenobi at Rookies & Allstars as I affectionately called him, persuaded me with an outstanding offer: since most of the children he helped raised have either moved on or were the process of moving out, how would I feel about taking up a room in the house for a while until I got back on my feet? I happily obliged since the house was in an upper scale neighborhood of Sherman Oaks and the place was the biggest house I had ever lived in since I lived with my grandfather’s house in East Hanover, NJ when I was a toddler. I loved it so much that my temporary arrangement lasted a period of over eight years, paying as little as $ 250.00 a month to live there.
Comfortably, my writing output for the Comic Buyer’s Guide increased exponentially, as my experimental essay writing eclecticness spread across fifty or so letters, essays, and articles usually delineated from the path of the rest of the contributors. I tackled such controversial issues as the Northridge Earthquake, Diamond Comics fascist monopolized takeover of the direct retailing market, and even at one time, called a San Diego television news station to defile a muckraker expose they did on Carnal Comics’ publisher, Jay Allen Sanford’s booth at the San Diego Comic Con (which is archived somewhere on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website) I began to get approached at conventions and had received fan letters and accolades from fans and professionals alike that it seemed that after a while it just wasn’t an issue of Comic Buyer’s Guide without a letter from Cary William-Shannon Coatney. However, some people believed that Cary William-Shannon Coatney were two different people. I had to explain to some people the middle name of William-Shannon was a Irish title that I had inherited from my grandfather on my mother’s side. So I had announced one day in the Oh So? Letter column that I had Cary William-Shannon Coatney assassinated and from the ashes rose just plain old Cary Coatney.
My contributions to Comics Buyer’s Guide even made the world’s most fabulous speculative fiction author Harlan Ellison himself take a mild interest in my acerbic etchings. Sometime in 1995, I received a call at the store from Harlan Ellison himself thanking me for plugging his Dream Corridor comic book series from Dark Horse comics. It was during that conversation with Harlan that inspired me to take the Deposit Man script from out of the drawer and re tweak it a bit. Harlan told me that I should consider quitting my day job and try knocking on doors to peddle my work. “You ought to be writing full time you got a unique voice, kiddo”, he once told me. I’ll always be grateful to Unca Harl for that little piece of pep talk (and at the time of this writing, make sure to wish Harlan well from his recovery of a stroke this past weekend).
I wanted to do something really off the wall extravagant for the Comics Buyer’s Guide something that would certainly go way over the top I wanted to commandeer the entire Oh So? section in the weekly comic industry’s newspaper all to myself to talk about the time I spent my portion of my grandfather Shannon’s inheritance on a near two month stay in London, England just to interview comic shop owners on the state of Diamond’s distributing practices in the UK.
I ventured across the pond in June, after a pit stop in Parsippany to check on my mom and it was there that my constant ego maniac inebriated stepfather continuously berated me on the whole idea which led into another pointless blow out between us. Nobody in Parsippany was really impressed that I had fancied myself as a globe trotting reconnoitering adventurer, and genealogist. That’s right,- another reason I was flying over the pond was to research into the origins of the Coatney name (it’s Welsh for ‘cottage on an island). Suffice to say, most of the chronicles that went into the making of the interviews nearly drove me mad as I holed myself in a Victoria Station hostel jotting down notes. Notable adventures included: escaping from a gas bomb attack on a London Underground station, nearly getting fined in Hyde Park for sitting on the queen’s lounge chair, chasing by a pack of Elvis impersonators who obviously deduced that I was from America judging by my American flag sweat pants that was I seen wearing near Big Ben and was nearly attacked by a shop owner’s German Shepherd who refused to answer my interview questions or have me take pictures of his Camdentown store for the article.
Favorite lyric: Bringing back the signs to no-man’s land/Where diamonds and gold in hand/Will barter as the homeless burn/Someday will it be our turn? – Children of Light (Anderson/Howe/Squire/Vangelis/Wakeman)
Tomorrow: some days you just have to open your eyes to greatness as I took on the ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ role by headlining my very own department at the 1997 San Diego Comic Con International.