YES LOG 2004: SHOW ME A MAN ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF A SHERMAN OAKS SKY

20 Oct

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The next five blogs will serve as the perfect addendum to my epic blog mini-series, The Yes Logs. For the past five months you have been witnessed to the whole gamut of Yes studio releases (not the live releases, mind you. I will be dedicating Thursday’s blog to that whole schmeil) ranging from 1969’s soul searching debut album at the time when I was a toddler spanning all the way forward

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to 2001’s 19th   studio release of the classically fusion Magnification just as I was starting my employment at a major movie studio amid the horror backdrop of Saudi Arabian terrorists invading America’s most famous city. In the middle of that I sprinkled assorted knowledge and theories about the album that never materialized in 1979 that was under the producing vision of Roy Thomas Baker in a whole new entry. The rest of the entries were originally posted on another blog ten years earlier that used to serve as the mother ship called purplepinupguru.blogspot.com , but if you were to log on to find them, they would be unrecognizable to the untrained eye, as I writing them in the third person of my sex charged purple pinup guru persona.

Don’t ask- it was just a stupid gimmick at the time. The fun I enjoyed most about writing these blogs were that were written on Warner Bros studio’s dime. When all my work would run out before the day was through, I’d had three hours of downtime before I was allowed to punch out, so I blogged, mostly in a lavish veneer stupor.

Most of those blogs were edited by my long time editor and collaborator Sparky Santos. Anything after the 90125 album, he sort of lost interest, and I was left on my own to post up the rest. Looking back at the originals, sort of glad I got the chance to revisit them here boy, they are sure were very conceited pieces of work from a decade back.

For those who haven’t picked up on the format of the pieces, I’ll try to explain:  the first part of these blogs, I state certain facts or certain tall tales that have been passed down from all the forty-five years since the band has been around pertaining to the period of time of the studio album we’re talking about – then we take a visit to Wikipedia to see if any of those facts or dissertations happen to match up to what I’m writing off the cuff of my head. We then follow with the listing of songs and see who has been accredited to their creation. On the fourth leg of our journey (don’t worry, it’s not to the center of the earth), I recount whether or not I saw that tour on the blog entry’s release, which didn’t officially begin for me until the band released Tormato back in 1978. Then in conclusion, I recount whatever personal event happened to me growing up during the period of that album’s release. Got me so far?

But the days are growing shorter, and the newer releases were growing thinner and thinner as time went on. A massive 5 disc box set was released in 2002 called “In a Word, Yes (1969 –“ which compiled a whole slew of Yes classics, rarities, and extended versions of songs into one massive package if you’re willing to spend six and a half hours with the band all in one sitting, then this is the package for you!! Curry powered concerto master Rick Wakeman was back for a fourth and final round helping to pack in the medium-sized theaters that included a couple of stops at the Universal Amphitheater in support of this massive retrospect.

Another two years down the line, as a prelude to perhaps recording a new studio album, the band went into practice mode and decided along with Rhino Records (which technically was their old homestead of Warner Bros/Elecktra/Atlantic Records) to test the waters with a three compact disc greatest hits package called The Ultimate Yes 35th Anniversary Collection.  The first two discs were a short time capsule capture of what the band had been up to at the moment of its’ inception to it present classical music leanings, with a few rarities thrown in for good measure such as the single edits of America, Soon, It Can Happen, The Calling, and Homeworld (The Ladder). The real gem out of all these assemble together singles is an entirely unheard remix of the title track to Big Generator (which contradicts whoever was spearheading the Rhino re master series saying that they were no extended or unheard of tracks to use on the last album recorded for Atlantic , so it was omitted but yet, going to back to last Christmas, a brand new re-mastered Big Generator is included on the box set The Studio Albums: 1969 – 1987).

For the reason why I’m including this collection in my Yes Log series of studio releases is simply because the third disc on the American version is nothing but a short EP of acoustic warm up sessions including a jazzed up versions of two perennial classics songs from the Fragile era “Roundabout” and “South Side of the Sky” featuring Wakeman at his boogie piano playing best. Jon Anderson channels his inner Bob Dylan in the short but poignant “Show Me,” Steve Howe contributes a solo guitar piece called “Australia”, and Chris Squire serves up a bass solo sequel of sorts to his “Amazing Grace” in an all bass guitar droning treatment of Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”.

Sadly, this is how close the ‘the definitive lineup’ of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, and Alan White got to do one last studio album before calling it a night. Ending even more on a sour note, this would be the last recorded appearances of both co-founder Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman on a studio album and their involvement with the band PERIOD (but another Wakeman shall arise to take Rick’s place in tomorrow’s chapter).

Only Wikipedia is capable enough to procure the proper Ultimate Yes knowledge – although that could easily be debated.

The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection is a triple compilation album by progressive rock band Yes, was released in 2003 in the United Kingdom and in early 2004 in the United States, and covers the length and breadth of the band’s thirty-five-year career.

Released on Warner Music in the UK as a double CD, the United States edition – on Rhino Records – included a bonus disc of acoustic recordings of old and new material recorded in October 2003. One song from the third disc, “Show Me,” is based on a recording from the “Fragile days,” according to Jon Anderson in Yesspeak Live: The Director’s Cut. Both editions also feature a different tracklisting and running order.

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The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection entered the United Kingdom charts at number ten upon its mid-2003 release, giving Yes their highest charting album there since 1991. In the United States, it reached only number 131.

With a range of material from 1969’s Yes to 2001’s Magnification – and beyond – The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection supplants earlier greatest hit retrospectives such as Classic Yes and Yesstory.

The later US release included a third disc of new recordings. These included three semi-acoustic band recordings, similar to what the band had been playing live: two versions of old Yes songs (“Roundabout” and “South Side of the Sky”) and one new song by Anderson (“Show Me”). Also included was a Howe solo recording, a new version of his solo piece from the 1970s, “Australia”, recorded with the help of Oliver Wakeman, (oh, how about that?) Rick’s son, who would later join Yes. Finally, “New World Symphony” was a solo recording by Squire, an adaptation of Dvorak‘s Symphony No. 9 in E min.

The lyrics to “Show Me” are about the Gulf War

I’m going to disperse with the regular track listing and just list the contents of disc three. We already know about the crazy shit on the first two discs.

Disc three track listing:

1. Roundabout (song)|Roundabout (Acoustic)” (Jon Anderson/Steve Howe) – Total time 4:18
2.”Show Me” (Jon Anderson) –  Total time: 3:37
3. South Side of the Sky|South Side of the Sky (Acoustic)” (Jon Anderson/Chris Squire/Rick Wakeman) – Total time 4:28
:I. “South Side of the Sky”
:II. “South SIde Variations”
4.”Australia (Solo Acoustic)” (Steve Howe) – Total time: 4:12
5.”New World Symphony” (Chris Squire, based on Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E min) – Total time: 3:33

When the album was released on that late January day in 2004 , along with its’ companion documentary dvd Yesspeak – the band celebrated its’ US release by throwing a big bash acoustic performance at none other than at the Tower Records in Sherman Oaks Galleria located directly across the street on Ventura Blvd from where I was living in Sherman Oaks. I mean, the band was so close to my house (which used to be owned by Wizard of Oz Tin Woodsman actor Jack Haley, by the way) that I could’ve easily invited and thrown a barbecue for them – that is, if they weren’t still into their tofu craze).

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I was employed full-time at Warner Bros, not as a contractor, not as a temp, but a full-fledged employee. What was also cool is that even though I worked on the lot and in another annex building located near the Burbank airport, my access card could get me into any building that was off-site and that included the animation division which was also located at the Sherman Oaks Galleria at the time. So on the off chance I had stopped in the Tower Records on my way home from work and found out that the signing was going to be taking place the next day. Oh cool, I thought, but for one caveat: ‘you had to line up in the morning to get a wristband and you had to pre-purchase the 3 CD collection in order to get it signed.’ So I rushed immediately to the guard desk at Warner Bros Animation, flashed my badge and asked to use the phone system – hoping my boss would still be hanging around doing some overtime in her office. I dialed the extension and luckily enough she was there and I told her, ‘hey boss, there’s an emergency taking place near my house, and I’m going to be just a tad bit late in the morning’. She said fine, as long as I didn’t blow my accumulated sick hours out.

So I got up at 4:30 in the morning (of which I have had lots and lots of practice of getting up early for) to wait in a small line developing at the Tower Records, I knew scoring a place in line this early would speed me on my way faster to work once I got the wristband (damn store didn’t open until 9 AM) and at least prevented me from not getting shut out completely.

But still I was like thirty or forty something in line – so it was a in for me. Then someone coming from a gym workout with a baseball cap and sunglasses (although I don’t why someone would be wearing sunglasses at 5:30 in the morning when the sun isn’t anywhere near the horizon) asked all of us waiting in line was the hoopla was about. “We’re waiting in line for a Yes appearance at this store” I excitedly and voluntarily proclaimed.

“Oh yeah, no shit?” he replied. “Man, I love Yes. Do you mind if I wait with you guys? They’re going to be here tonight?”

So this strange sunglass wearing man got in line and started striking a conversation with me about all the bands he liked, usually centering around Yes and Frank Zappa. He inquired what it was that I did and I told him that I gotten permission from my boss at Warner Bros to wait here, taking a break from my duties at the studio processing invoices for craft people who work at the soundstages and that I wrote comic books on the side. He started telling me that he was a songwriter himself and had contributed words and music to some known acts such as Vixen and John Wetton, of the latter he mention a guitar player he worked on a number of songs named Brian Young.

“Wait a minute” I started to ask him.” He wouldn’t be married to a Nancy Walter by any chance?

Flabbergasted he flustered, “Yeah, I know Nancy. Good people. I hung out with them while I was in the studio working with Wetton. Real talented guy.”

Then I updated him about how he was currently touring with David Lee Roth after being spotted by Roth playing in a tribute band called the Atomic Punks. The news didn’t surprise him, so from there I asked him his name. “Oh it’s Harry Paris.”

“Like the city?”

“Yeah, sort of, but it’s spelled P-A-R-E-S-S”

Really, do you have any brothers?

He mentioned two.

“Oh, and would their last names be London or Moscow by any chance?”

We kept each other company until the doors finally opened and the wristbands were distributed and I said to him, ‘well, I guess we’ll see each other tonight then’.

“Oh absolutely, I got a wristband for my girlfriend too. So I’ll introduce you two.”

I got to work around ten that morning, and after my preliminary duties were finished, I decided to give Nancy a call and told her about meeting this Harry Paress who said he knew her husband.”

I could still recall the shivering shock in her voice. “What? You met Harry Paress? THE HARRY PARESS?”

Puzzled by her abrupt reaction, I pressed on with “Yeah, why do you phrase his name like that?”

Nancy, in a uptempo cautionary tone then chimed,  “DON’T  YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO HE IS?”

Feigning my usual naiveté self: “Well, he told me he was a songwriter who once worked with your husband.”

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Then Nancy let it rip: “Cary, he’s been implicated in the death of Hugh O’Connor. He’s been in jail because he sold bad drugs to him and his father, Carroll O’Connor had him prosecuted because he claims his son would still be alive today if the drugs that Harry sold him hadn’t caused Hugh to shoot himself. You should stay away from this guy. He’s bad news.”

“Oh, that’s interesting. Well, Nancy thanks for the tip. I’ll keep it under advisement. Talk to you later. I miss staring at your sweet ass at work, Ciao”

After work, I got  home to take a shower and later sauntered across the street. The line was out the door again. only allowing us in by the number of your wristband given to you earlier that morning and sure enough, there was Harry waiting for me at the store entrance.

It was the first time I heard him utter to me, his trademark greeting “Hey man” and he approached me in his traditional garb of a Los Angeles Angels cap and jacket.

“Hey, so, I hear you’re some sort of famous writer.”

“Whatever gave you that idea?”

He cocked his head back and started to rely his personified intel to me. “Well, I know I found a King Crimson review of yours and some other band called Porcupine Tree. And then there are these reviews of your comic book called the Deposit Man or something, some not very flattering, I should add.”

“How did you come across these things?”

“Oh, my girlfriend Barbara – she googled you.”

Back in those days, the thought of some stranger completing a search engine search on you, was a quite an unnerving feeling, I was wondering, ‘gee, should I mention my big reveal?’ I guess I wasn’t the only one who was investigating who around here.

Shortly after being introduced to Barbara, we found places in the store where we could be comfortable checking out the performance without some tall guy as big as a tree blocking my stocky 5’6 frame.

Everyone was presented and accounted for in the Yes Camp, except Chris was his usual late self getting to the stage. The band played a lot of their old standards, but slightly re-arranged to accommodate their acoustic instrument versions such as Roundabout, South Side of the Sky, I’ve Seen All Good People, and “And You and I”. They were up on stage for at least an hour. Lots of fun bantering between the members in such an intimate setting which was more than any Yes fan could ever dream possible, although it was pretty damn crowded to the max, even though aisles of CDs were removed to be placed in back of the store to make room for the crowd. The store was two stories tall with stairways and escalators (not in operation of course) being fully occupied. People didn’t like to see Steve Howe sitting in a chair throughout the evening and they kept bellowing at him to stand up, but Steve was complaining that he pulled his calf or something of that nature, and refused to stand. You can find portions of this performance on the bonus features of the dvd Yes released of another acoustic performance (I think it was taped at a studio in Washington DC) called Yes Acoustic: Guaranteed No Hiss.

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The evening ended majestically with a great non-hurried signing. Groups of ten were assigned at one time to meet and greet the band and the atmosphere of camaraderie was just so pleasant this time around rather than my last personal encounter. You got to spend a reasonable amount of time talking to each member. Jon Anderson was in such a jovial mode that night, he initiated all the handshaking and said pleasantries to each one standing in line. Even though, the signing was limited to only the CD collection and DVD, but I somehow snuck in my Conspiracy album that Chris collaborated on with Billy Sherwood called “The Unknown” uttering my kiss ass appreciation that it was one of my favorite non-solo album that I had ever heard from him since “Fish Out of Water”. “Oh right, I’ll sign it for you kid, but make sure that no one’s looking”. He signed it and I snuck it back into my coat pocket before a security guard could catch us.

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I saw Harry and Barbara as I was leaving and we were happy that we got to share something in common that night. Harry proposed to me ‘that since I was very knowledgeable with what’s going with the world of progressive rock, would I mind imposing that we’d hang out and go to a record store and maybe catch up with some bands he never heard of. He was practically interested about this band I wrote a concert review about called Marillion.

I was reluctant at first, remembering to heed Nancy’s warning, but this guy’s easy going attitude and demeanor didn’t seem like a threat to me. And any wisdom about progressive rock I can pass on to the uninitiated is something I take particular pride in. So yeah, I gave him my house number, not thinking he’d use it or throw it out, plus the guy claimed to have written songs with John Wetton, that’s got to be at least some salacious stuff in the music industry worth its’ weight in gold

It wasn’t more than a couple of months later that Harry called from his place in Brentwood and showed up at my door, and unfortunately the house was being sold off and everyone was in the process of moving. Obi-Dan Kenobi had his longtime Jewish friend Len Cane visiting to make sure nothing of his was being left behind. Len used to revel in his days of living in my old home town of Parsippany, NJ, telling me how Lake Hiawatha used to be a vacation resort for the east coast celebrity sect back in the 1930s and 1940s’. I said that idea was preposterous, there was no lake there when I was growing up.  Len was usually regarded as the jokemeister at the age of eighty-something (I doubt he’s alive today) always courting with the standard fare of jewish and polish jokes as jewish old guys are prone to talk all day about with every other third word that comes out of their mouths. It’s like walking in on a Larry David secret cabal meeting taking place at a lunchtime at Canter’s.

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Until Harry arrived at the scene, roaring up into my drive way with his Classic 1973 customed Ford Mustang (which was the first time I was seeing this boat myself). Harry had the two old guys in complete stitches with jokes that were fired rapidly, relentlessly, and unapologetic. Before you could say ‘check please’,  I never thought I’d see the day Len Cane being schooled out of his own element choking on his generic brand of cheap smokes he used to indulge in smoking at our backyard pool and patio.

Later, after all the mirth had died down, I coaxed Harry into checking out Moby Disc, a small independent record store further down Ventura Blvd just a block away from where the old Tower Records location used to be. I had nearly forgotten about the time when Spock’s Beard set up outside the store on a sidewalk and gave an impromptu concert performance in support of their 2002 Snow album. (It was also the last time I saw once upon a time lead singer Neal Morse perform) As I was telling Harry that story, I recommended some of the titles I saw that I already had from The Flower Kings and Marillion (it was the Afraid of Sunlight album that grabbed him), then we had lunch at some place called Roman’s on Ventura Blvd which is now a Chase Manhattan bank.

From there, a great friendship was bonded, although it wouldn’t be for a few years until I actually worked up the nerve to hang out at his fable Brentwood pad, which was rumored to have had numerous celebrity attended parties filled with all kinds of devious debauchery.

So that’s how I met the controversial figure of Harry Paress, who’s real name I later found out was Harry Perzigian.  More of Harry tomorrow, which will be significant in our conversation pertaining to a Jon Anderson-less 2011 release of Fly From Here.

Other notable events of this period:

I released my first ever Deposit Man three issue mini-series called The Deposit Man and the Last Great Gate of Mortality. I debuted the first issue at a comic book convention in Las Vegas held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. In addition to Larry Nadolsky’s phenomenal pencils and inks, I employ letterer and graphic designer and small press publishing colleague Oliver Simonsen and Sparky Santos as editor and cover designer, as well as cover painter Masakela Polee, a very talented painter whom I discovered while riding on a MTA bus.

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When it came to females during this period, I started to show off my soft dark jerk-off side. A fellow temp at Warner Bros tried to pin a sexual harassment case against me simply because I wanted to show her the old wild western town of Laramie on the lot before it was wrecked down and had new offices standing in its’ place. We down on the lot together doing some kind of mandatory safety seminar and she drove me down in her car. After we came back she complained to my boss that I had caressed her thigh, which was completely untrue. I told the boss she was off her nut, I may have gently tugged on her arm to lure her to see the Western town before it was demolished. In a huff, we had a spat in front of our co-workers that resulted in her giving me the finger and I retaliated by telling her to stop showing her IQ score to everyone in the room. She cried and left the building, never to be seen ever again. My boss just shook her head and went back to her office, not saying a word.

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