YES LOG 2011: STRAP IN FOR THE BUMPY BRENTWOOD RIDE

21 Oct

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Talk about fast forwarding the clock. We are now magically transported seven years to 2011 and here I was living abroad between two Los Angeles hotspots amidst the struggles of barely clinging to financial stability. From the year 2009 and onward, it’s definitely an era where you get to see the decline of my personal Western civilization crumbling into bits and chunks each and every day – not only with me, but Yes was going through some major, major perpetual changes, so much in fact, that the band is barely recognizable to the trained naked eye nor the trained naked ear.

Before we get to my personal fall from a high rung ladder, let’s check in with the band’s frequent activities without the such use of touring behind new material, rather they fell back on the strength of their previous 19 studio releases to carry the ball for them into the new millennium.

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Box sets and compilations came out by the score. In 2002, you have the incredible massive box set, Yes, In a Word (1969 -) which finally released truncated versions of three or four tracks that were scrapped for the unreleased 1979 album, The Golden Age (my title) that was ghost produced by Roy Thomas Baker, who’s recently back in the Yes highlight of things with this year’s new release, “Heaven & Earth” of which I will discuss in length tomorrow.

Then in 2004, you had the greatest hits package, The Ultimate Yes – 35th Anniversary Celebration  The US release got a bonus disc of Yes performing their classic songs from the Fragile era acoustically smattered with three new songs also performed acoustically. It didn’t really help sales all that much out in the US, but it did score Record Scan brownie points in the UK that propelled them in the top ten list for more than a decade.

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Then in 2005, we got another monster of a box set package which compiles a lot of live Yes nuggets going way back to the Peter Banks days up to the Big Generator tour of 1987 and 1988 in the three disc box set Yes: And the Word is Live, of more I will get into on Thursday’s entry, covering the live stuff.

Shitloads of tours followed, So many tours in fact, that I couldn’t keep up or afford to attend each one. I got to check out the band in the Los Angeles area a few times in 2002 and 2004 respectfully at the Universal City Amphitheater for the Full Circle tour when Rick Wakeman came back. I wouldn’t get to see Yes again after that until 2009 while I happened to be out in Las Vegas, where I ran into Michael Zullo, my high school friend from Parsippany, NJ and his fairly new blushing bride Heather. Michael’s bachelor party just happened to have took place at a Asia gig at the nearby House of Blues the previous year for their Phoenix album.

But something was quite different with the band when they first walked on stage at the Thomas & Mack Sports Arena located smack dab in the middle of Las Vegas University (Asia also were the opening act on this tour, although I got there too late to see them, but it was Steve Howe pulling double shifts).

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It wasn’t Jon Anderson up there singing on stage. It was some clean-cut looking doofus, not just singing Yes classic standards mind you, but he was singing MACHINE MESSIAH from Drama? How does it ever happen?

Egads……..could that possibly be….?

Huey Lewis singing for Yes??

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And just what is up with Rick Wakeman? Why does he look like he’s thirty years younger and has pimples?

Well, the answer will startle your cockles as we examine the ever incredible expanding open door of Yes members walking in and out of phase – even as much to go far as the phase cancellation of the band’s beloved member for the second and final time. How did these young whippersnappers get into the old people’s ball in the first place, let alone on the new Yes studio release in nearly a decade?

Only Wikipedia advises us to take us away from the heart of the storm:

Fly from Here is the twentieth studio album from the English progressive rock band Yes.

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Yes’ first studio album since Magnification (2001), it is also the only one to feature Canadian singer Benoît David, and only the second album (after 1980’s Drama) without former singer Jon Anderson and with keyboardist Geoff Downes. The line-up is David, Downes, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White. The album was produced by Trevor Horn, who was the singer on Drama, and who had previously produced 90125 (1983) and initially Big Generator (1987).

The album takes its name from its main work, “Fly from Here“, a 24-minute composition split up into six songs. The basis of the hexalogy was a demo originally recorded by Downes and Horn of The Buggles before they joined Yes in 1980. After Yes disbanded in 1981, Horn and Downes recorded a second demo, and both recordings became the foundation of the tracks “We Can Fly” and “Sad Night at the Airfield.”

Fly from Here was first released on 22 June 2011 in Japan and France, followed by releases on 1 July in the rest of Europe and Australia and on 12 July in the United States. It peaked at number 30 on the UK Albums Chart, and number 36 on the US Billboard 200.

Fly from Here is Yes‘ first studio album since the release of Magnification (2001), the longest gap to date between two Yes studio albums. It is also their only studio album with Canadian singer Benoît David on lead vocals who had replaced long-time member Jon Anderson in 2008. Before joining Yes, David performed as the lead vocalist in Close to the Edge, a Canadian Yes tribute band, for more than 10 years. He remains the lead singer of the Canadian band Mystery, which he joined in 1999.

In 1980, singer Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes of The Buggles replaced Yes members Anderson and Rick Wakeman. They feature on Drama (1980) and its supporting tour. Before joining the band, Horn and Downes had first approached Squire, Howe, and White with a demo titled “We Can Fly from Here.” The first rehearsals had featured Bill Bruford on drums, an original member of Yes who had left in 1972. It was later recorded as a studio demo and was never recorded for Drama, but it was performed live on the subsequent tour, of which a live performance appears on the compilation live album The Word is Live (2005). After Yes disbanded in 1981, Horn and Downes recorded another demo of “We Can Fly from Here”, this time as a two-part suite. It was a candidate for inclusion on The Buggles’ second album, Adventures in Modern Recording (1981) and was eventually featured as a bonus track on the album’s 2010 reissue. These two demos and a third (which has not been released) would become the basis of the tracks “We Can Fly”, “Sad Night at the Airfield”, and “Madman at the Screens”.Downes returned to Yes for Fly from Here, handling “most of the keyboards”, following the departure of Oliver Wakeman, who had contributed both to the album’s writing and recording.

Someone got a raw deal...

Someone got a raw deal here.

According to Squire, “Fly from Here” is the band’s 11th epic-length piece, their first in 15 years, which clocks in at nearly 24 minutes. “Life on a Film Set” is based on “Riding a Tide,” a Buggles demo that was first released on the 2010 reissue of Adventures in Modern Recording.

The first recording sessions took place between 3 October and 12 November 2010 at SARM West Coast Studios in Los Angeles, California, before resuming in the first week of January 2011. Horn produced the album using the digital audio workstation software Pro Tools. The album was then mixed in April 2011 at SARM West Studios in London, with additional vocals being added.

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The cover was designed by artist Roger Dean, who has created many of the group’s previous album covers. It is a painting he started in 1970 but had remained uncompleted. He finished it in the style of his current works, but the colour and texture were kept from the original.

SONGS / TRACK LISTING:

1. Fly from Here – Overture” Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes 1:53
2. Fly from Here, Part I: We Can Fly Horn, Downes, Chris Squire 6:00
3. “Fly from Here, Part II: Sad Night at the Airfield” Horn, Downes 6:41
4. “Fly from Here, Part III: Madman at the Screens” Horn, Downes 5:16
5. “Fly from Here, Part IV: Bumpy Ride” Steve Howe 2:15
6. “Fly from Here, Part V: We Can Fly (Reprise)” Horn, Downes, Squire 1:44
7. “The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be” Squire, Gerard Johnson, Simon Sessler 5:07
8. “Life on a Film Set” Horn, Downes 5:01
9. “Hour of Need” Howe 3:07
10. “Solitaire” Howe 3:30
11. “Into the Storm” Squire, Oliver Wakeman, Howe, Horn, Benoît David, Alan White 6:54
12. “Hour of Need (Full-length version)” (Japanese CD issue bonus track) Howe 6:45

It would seem from the point of a view from a dedicated die-hard fan, such as myself, this albums seems to serve a multitude of purposes.

It sort of ties up a few loose ends with the conclusion to the Buggles saga.

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It is a sequel of sorts to Drama. In fact, I remarked to Billy Sherwood outside a Asia show at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, Ca while having a cigarette that the band should call the new record “Melodrama” in reference to the reunion of the Buggle lads into the Yes fold, to which Billy interjected, ‘that band is anything but melodrama’.

A long gestating Yes song. “We Can Fly From Here”  once sought out by collectors and Yes-philes in its’ raw demo form has finally seen the light of day.

The artwork that Roger Dean provided for the album cover IS in fact, a sequel to Drama, despite what Dean says about it being an unfinished work from the seventies. Look closely between the two flying hawks and you’ll see a silhouette of a cat jumping out of a tree, the same silhouette of the cat that is also seen on the Drama cover.

Holed up working at this clinc at the time when Fly From Here was released. Solidary confinement for three months.

Holed up working at this clinic at the time when Fly From Here was released. Solidary confinement for three months.

Upon the initial date of its US release, it was Michael Zullo’s younger brother Mark who pitched in for a copy for me while he was living with me for three years at my current abode. My finances were dwindled at the time (actually the same as it stands today) working my butt off at a medical clinic for the low-income people of the city of Santa Monica. Place was a fucking disaster to work in, It was the only place in the longest while that I couldn’t stand a moment of even breathing in its’ air, I was put in a brick mortar room located right on the mental health floor to scan medical files, and I was on constant lock out from listening to music or radio, let alone allowed to speak to my co-worker, not even as Fly From Here is concerned, it wasn’t enough to cheer me up from the shit working conditions I’ve been placed in and I needed a way out. I was sick and tired of hearing people yelling and screaming at their psychiatrists and throwing chairs around. Mark’s heart was in the right place in helping me obtain a copy when I really couldn’t afford one, as the old Zullo adage still applied: ‘every new Yes record day is a holiday in this house.” – but unfortunately, even with the return of my keyboard hero, Geoff Downes at the keyboard centrifuge – in all, it’s just incoherent misfires cobbled together by old bricks and mortar of demo ghosts of the past.

Bend and stretch.. Geoff Downes, the Jack LaLanne of keyboardist sect demonstrates how calisthenics can really work for you behind the rack mounts.

“Bend and stretch” Geoff Downes, the Jack LaLanne of the keyboardist sect demonstrates how calisthenics can really work for you behind the rack mounts.

There’s only two songs I like on the entire album, The twenty-four minute suite of unfinished business that make up the  “Fly From Here” suite and the Oliver Wakeman co-penned epic finale of “Into the Storm”, which makes you wonder, why was the curry-less and cape-less Oliver Wakeman was even sacked from the group in the first place? Well, ….because Trevor Horn didn’t feel comfortable working with any other keyboard player other than Geoff Downes, especially on songs written together three decades ago. Regardless, it’s still around 70% percent of the album that I’m comfortable with.

If you lads don't mind, I'll just sit out on the vocal duties this time around.

If you lads don’t mind, I’ll just sit out on the vocal duties this time around.

For the rest of the album everything else seems out-of-place, as it tries to evoke a county western/so cal rock vibe of sort. Chris Squire’s “The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be” probably wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Toby Keith record, I understand from further research, that Chris’s writing partner’s on that song, Gerald Johnson is a member of Chris’ Syn project (and there would be another collaboration with him on the new album). A Buggles outtake, “Life on A Film Set” boasts the most dumbest Yes lyric line ever devised by man, “riding the tiger” over and over towards its’ end. Steve Howe’s “Hour of Need”, which should have been something saved for many of his solo records. It’s really the only piece of music that sort of has Oliver Wakeman in the forefront of the mix with some acute synth flourishes. They sound like throwaway tracks – adding nothing to the album’s overall theme.  It’s the final track “Into the Storm” that kicks the nutsack continuity into overdrive, wondering what the possibilities would’ve been had OW  been allowed to stay aboard and proceeded in this direction. It’s a great little seven minute journey that could have stood at the pantheon of  Yes modern era classics.

I was too broke to even see the tour, of which I understand that Benoit David got replaced on by new Laguna Beach sage man Jon Davidson after David suffered a respiratory ailment while on tour.

Why isn’t that the same thing that benched Jon Anderson to the Yes camp sidelines?

Yes, I believe it was.

But it could be that curse that somehow befalls all Yes singers, and Trevor Horn probably had it too, but he didn’t realize it until it was too late, sparing us his off-key renditions of the old classics this time around.

It’s that bug going around, I’ve been hearing on all over the news about….

Yes Ebola.

And if you try to sing in the same high register alto that Jon Anderson naturally sings in while the rest are merely mimicking  falsetto – I’d say quarantine that man in an incubation cube for a period of 21 years instead of days.

So as I was saying earlier in the blog – seven years I spent between 2004 and 2011 had seen its’ ups and down. I couldn’t determine which way the wind blew for me as things seem remained inconsistent in my life. I worked for four movie studios in that exact timeframe, only to have each job end on a laid off sour note.  In 2005, I was let go from Warner Bros, but I sort of had a girlfriend on the side who was an amateur adult actress who blew through my credits card and unemployment checks like no tomorrow (and that wasn’t all she blew) , so I had to get a job working with Paramount Pictures calculating box office receipts (right in an office building across the street from the Sherman Oaks Galleria from where I saw Yes perform) – then that girlfriend got me fired from there for sending lewd pictures of her to my work e-mail address. Not more than a month passed did I get a nice cushy job working at Fox Sports Network helping out with accounts receivable department that paid me pretty ok, but that turned out to be a seasonal position that only required me to work until baseball season was over, and from there I got a job at Sony Pictures Television that I fell in love with researching Nielsen ratings for syndication programming. That job lasted me for two years and earned me an office with a silver plaque on the door. I got let go from there because of unresolved contractor negotiations when Sony wanted me to stay permanent but my agency wanted a huge chunk of percentage from my impending first year of salary. It took me a good three years after that to find any meaningful employment in the entertainment biz.

Me hard at work in my high rise office at Sony Pictures Television.

Me hard at work in my high rise office at Sony Pictures Television in Westwood.

I was so cocky with my position with Sony that I chanced myself to venture out of the San Fernando Valley and moved in with my best friend at the time, Harry Perzigian at his stylish Brentwood pad – but it wasn’t not even two weeks after I settled in that I got a two-week notice to vacate my Westwood area high-rise office on the top floor of the Saban building (my floor was where the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first auditioned). When I started to collect my unemployment, I was shanghaied by another agency of which I worked at a post production facility that claimed that I didn’t give them notice that I quit them to go take the job for Sony. so while I was waiting to appeal that decision, I was forced to work my rent off by working for one of Harry’s brothers in some loan modification boiler room office in Burbank that was located literally blocks from where that girl who I went to high school with now lives. For some unfathomable reason, I can’t think of her name right now.  BUT I bet it comes back to me tomorrow.

My now once upon a time home away from home in Brentwood.

My now once upon a time home away from home in Brentwood.

However I didn’t last no more than a half a year trying to live with Harry and his parrot, Duncan. Strange situations were afloat in that condo. Weird things would drop on the floor in the middle of the night. Classical music would be blaring at 3:00 in the morning, and uncontrollable bursts of yelling at me to wake up and interrogate me why a $300 electrical bill wasn’t paid off yet, even though the bill wasn’t due for another two weeks. Even when “Fly From Here” was released in 2011, Harry threw me out of the house because I dared to put a Yes album on his stereo without Jon Anderson singing on it.”IT’S NOT YES, IF IT DOESN’T HAVE JON ANDERSON ON IT!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND??,” he would yell.

It wasn’t a side I was used to seeing from this friend of mine, so my surrogate sister Becky kept pestering me to move back to the Valley to help a friend of hers out with rent. After three times of telling her to fuck off I finally relented and checked the place out during the summer of 2009 and I was pretty snazzed that the room had it own patio door and a small fireplace to myself but the small caveat was, the fat fuck who was renting the room to me smoked way too much pot (and little did I know back in Brentwood who also indulged in pill popping proclivities)  but it was better than being destitute and laughed at about how broke you are in Brentwood, so I gave the fat fuck rent for the next month and a deposit and I’ve remained there ever since, because it just happens that the fat fuck I was renting the place from was a serious hard-core diabetic and just didn’t know how to stop, so he just went into a coma and died. That’s where Mark Zullo came back in the picture, wanting a chance of pace from the stagnating life he forged for himself and his brothers Joe and Pat in North Carolina. So I was in sore need of a roommate and it worked out ok between us for three years.

But I was missing those stories of Harry’s about the celebs that used to snort coke and booze it up big in that Brentwood condo. Harry used to regale me twenty-four seven about how John Entwistle from the Who would come over and check out Harry’s basses. Gatherings of Sunset Strip debauchery usually ended up at Harry’s house with Toto’s Bobby Kimball guest starring on the grand piano in Harry’s bedroom (it’s been taken a sledgehammer to in the years since Harry didn’t want to pay to get it tuned, but it was replaced by Mark Zullo’s Rhodes electric piano that was sold to Harry in exchange for rent money).

Linda Hamilton used to snort Coke on the couch with some of her friends.

Lois & Clark’s Dean Cain would hang out with Harry after a nearby workout to listen to records.

Jeff Fahey introduced young relatively unknown actor Benicio del Toro to Harry when they used to hang out and go barhopping.

Harry Perzigian's vacation capitol of the world.

Harry Perzigian’s vacation capitol of the world.

When Harry was released from the downtown Central Men’s jail at Parker Center concerning his ‘drug furnishing’  ordeal with Carroll O’Connor’s son, it was none other than Different Strokes’s Todd Bridges who picked him up and became his rehab sponsor.

During the time Stevie Nicks was recording her most famous solo hit, “Stand Back”, Harry was in the recording studio with her at the time and witnessed her assistant having to blow cocaine through a straw and up her rectum because her doctor said that Stevie’s cartridge was so severely damaged, that anymore cocaine were to be to go up her nasal cavity, it would lead to cardiac arrest but Stevie couldn’t manage to wean herself off of it and invented a new way  to take it orally.

Glenn Frey was so upset that the toilet paper in the studio where he recorded “The Allnighter” was placed improperly on the roll of being tucked under instead of over, that he fired his assistant immediately.

Ryan O’Neal and Harry got into fisticuffs at a gym after a workout because he suspected that Harry was fucking Farrah Fawcett Majors. I know this one to be true, because I had spoken to Ryan on the phone when he called to invite Harry to Farrah’s funeral.

Harry's constant foil, Kevin Dubrow, lead singer of Quiet Riot. They started out as great friends, even wrote a song together, but their friendship soured. to the point where Dubrow was leaving threatening phone messages. Dubrow later killed himself in Las Vegas from too much booze and jerking-off. Oh, and that's a wig he's wearing.

Harry’s constant foil, Kevin Dubrow, lead singer of Quiet Riot. They started out as great friends, even wrote a song together, but their friendship soured. to the point where Dubrow was leaving threatening phone messages. Dubrow later killed himself in Las Vegas from too much booze and jerking-off. Oh, and that’s a wig he’s wearing by the way.

Quiet Riot’s Kevin Dubrow (they actually wrote a song together called “Slam Dunk” that was recorded by Pretty Boy Floyd and used as the title song for the soundtrack of the movie.) used to shack up at Harry’s apartment and masturbate like six times a day in the shower without removing that ridiculous wig off his head.

Rainbow/Deep Purple/ELP drummer Cozy Powell used to hole up at Harry’s house when he wasn’t in the UK.

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Harry worked on and recorded some new songs at my house utilizing Mark’s very own Pro Tools on his mac, just like the very one Trevor Horn used to record “Fly From Here”. There were like around fifty takes of a song Harry wrote about his new lady friend Melinda. I applied a mellotron flute patch from my Alesis QS8.2 synthesizer to one of the takes (nicknamed the Silver Synther – TO ME MY BOARD!!), but Harry nixed it because it sounded too much to him like the Moody Blues (well, fucking la de da). Mark Zullo, who was engineering the session threw up his hands in frustration and resigned and told Harry to seek out a professional engineer. I used to be one myself, but I don’t understand how these digital devices nowadays My niece Olivia and I would just stay out of it and babysit Duncan in my room hoping he wouldn’t be squawking during the recordings.

Harry's bird Duncan on my shoulder helps me keep time as I run through another sonata.

Harry’s bird Duncan on my shoulder helps me keep time as I run through another sonata.

It was also the period when I released my latest Deposit Man mini-series called Deposit Man: Playgod. This particular issue dealt with my fascination with 1920’s flapdancer Josephine Baker and voyeur writer extraordinaire Henry Miller. I celebrate the publication of this issue by calling up two black female escorts and fuck them at my dad’s house in Las Vegas (where I had my books printed) while he was on vacation somewhere at a family reunion in Wisconsin. Probably some neighbor snitched on me and that might be the reason why he’s not talking to me these days.

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There was certainly doozies and I’ll have a big doozy of my own concerning Harry, and nothing between Heaven & Earth is going to prevent me from telling it.  So tune in tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

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