Archive | November, 2016

YES LOG SUPPLEMENTAL Late 2016 SIDE A: As Another ARW Mystery Closes…

30 Nov

anderson-rabin-wakeman-1280

I can imagine Chris Squire projecting in an astral voice inside Jon Anderson’s head saying:

“You’re bloody at it again. Didn’t you learn anything the first time with ABWH?”

Apparently not.

If you’re in the mood for nostalgia circa 1989, then ARW  (Anderson, Rabin, & Wakeman) will indeed fill the void left over waiting for that second ABWH (Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, & Howe) album that will never arrive.

Not THAT these legendary musical stalwarts have any new material to display, but the combination of merging two different Yes camps into one as was attempted in the last Union tour back in 1991 was only half the battle. And if you remember, public opinion historically stated: too much progressive rock chefs were left to spoil the broth. Two guitar players, two keyboard players, and two drummers fought for ego supremacy, and therefore the experiment went all disheveled and the result of it all accumulated into another long-winded hiatus, until the West Coast faction of the band would return with 1994’s Talk.

Now in 2016 we now find ourselves condensed to one representative from the classic seventies era and one from the so-called ‘modern era’ of the eighties, you get to hear arrangements that are more concise rather than jumbled together by eight egomaniacal fighting for his solo to push the faders up on the soundboard. It’s a treat to hear Rick Wakeman’s interpretations of the 90125 and Big Generator era as much as it is to hear Rabin put his spin on some very few Yes classics such as “Perpetual Change” and “Awaken“.

arw-image

Who could ever imagine that Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin could work so well together? But then again, the evidence was always there since they both collaborated on a song for Rick’s 1999 sequel to “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” aptly titled “Return to the Centre of the Earth” on a song entitled ‘Never is a Long, Long Time.”, but to go full-out on reimagining some of the classic Yes material from the each of their respective eras and amalgamate it into one cohesive unit? Well, that is the magic of ARW.

Only problem is, there was no time to assemble or preview any new material. as all the three have done is contribute bits and pieces of song ideas which according to Anderson, ‘sound unique’ and Rabin has concurred that rather than frustrate themselves into learning to performing new material, rearranging the old material to sound fresh and topical was top priority. And definitely truer words were never spoken, as witnessed on the evening of November 19th as I sojourned northeast from my usual stomping grounds of Los Angeles (unfortunately their show booked for the Orpheum was on a ‘school night’ aka work day) to a fun weekend of reuniting with the only Parsippany NJ High School Alumni member that I only speak with to this day, Michael Zullo and I were instantly stupefied in awe at their appearance at the Pearl Theater located within the casino cavernous confines of The Palms.

The seventies to eighties kept flipping back and forth like calling a coin heads or tails, as the set was constantly unpredictable (unless you peeked online at the set list early), as Trevor gave his guitar twist on several numbers I never heard him perform before such as “Perpetual Change” or the hallmark “Awaken“, but it was Wakeman who really outshone on the 80’s Rabin material, especially on “Hold On“, “Changes” and bringing the house down with a dazzling synthesizer solo tacked on to the tail end of  “Rhythm of Love” that expanded a little above and beyond the Brian Love/Beach Boys homage.

Joining as side members were bassist Lee Pomeroy who gave it his all for a tribute to the late great Chris Squire on “Long Distance Runaround/The Fish” and drummer Lou Molino III, longtime friend of Rabin and former member of another Yes offshoot band, Yoso with Billy Sherwood and Tony Kaye was equally impressive.

Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman perform at Hard Rock Live held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The only real non-Yes song performed that evening was the tear inducing “The Meeting” a duet between Anderson and Wakeman that originally closed the first half of the only ABWH album. I had brought a date with me of whom I’ve been friends with on facebook for six years and I had just happen to have glanced to her in the seat next to me during this performance to be delighted to see tears of happiness well up in her eyes.

There’s always a first time for every thing and exposing someone generally a decade younger or two to something you’ve grown up to is perhaps the most gratifying thing in ones’ way. It’s a way of passing the baton as I’m sure it was the way it was with Chris mentoring Billy to take hold of the Yes reins before the inevitable caught up with him. At the end of the show, I outlined to my date, a basic history and discography of the band of where she could find the songs that she enjoyed, EVEN revealing to her that the new leader of the official Yes Camp back in LA, Billy Sherwood was born and raised up in Las Vegas and comes from a long line of legendary local Las Vegas Strip performers. My date was particularly impressed and remarked about how a singer such as Jon Anderson, rocking it out at the age of 72 can still sound and look so youthful and appear vibrant.

Now, if I happen to post this on November 30th, please note that if you’re in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, ARW, An Evening of Yes Music and More will be appearing at The Grove in Anaheim on December 2nd that ends the US portion of the 2016 tour. When I got back to LA that weekend from Las Vegas, KABC AM radio host Peter Tilden (also a television writer, most recently on an episode of The Simpsons) was talking heavily about the band while announcing that he giving away tickets for the Anaheim, referred to them as ‘the real deal’ and ‘that you can’t beat seeing the original singer, Jon Anderson up on stage’ which is great praise indeed, but then he went on to refer to the current band with Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Alan White and labeled them as a bunch of imposters.

Which is absolutely not true at all.

There’s been a lot of back and forth on social media of some harsh backlash on whether Yes should just disband completely because anchorman Chris Squire passed away and the spark is gone of showcasing any new material and variations on the album series has left considerable voids in the hearts of the diehards.

Remember what happened the last time Yes released a new album called “Heaven & Earth“:

The fucking audience didn’t want to hear it. The tour two years back in support of it only yielded two songs while the rest of the show bookended entire album performances of “Close to the Edge” & “Fragile“.

So as I was listening to Peter berate the current line-up on AM radio of all formats to stand upon a soapbox, I was reminded of a social media controversy that ignited on Prog Magazine’s facebook page a few months back by a Dom Lawson, who’s usually a stanch supporter of everything that Yes releases as evident by his own website Tales From the Edge or on the band’s main website itself (and I believe he’s written a few books on the band too).

But now that time has somewhat passed since Squire’s shift off the mortal coil, Lawson has been given both camps a tremendous shellacking and here are some italicized bits and pieces to paraphrase:

The problem is that the current Yes lineup (after the passing of Squire)  comprises no one’s idea of a classic or even particularly credible formation for the band. Steve Howe’s presence ensures that the whole thing isn’t a dishonest farce, but even he isn’t an original member. Surely the last nail in the coffin for the notion that this is actually Yes, rather than a well-intended tribute by ‘Steve Howe and pals’.

Yes, this band have had an absolutely insane number of lineup changes and purposeful reinventions over the last 40 years or so, but Squire was omnipresent and his absence has forced Yes into uncharted territory. They’re gamely keeping the flag flying onstage, but is there any real enthusiasm for this lineup to make new music? It seems unlikely.”

Well, let’s be clear on one time: There was a long hiatus of non-activity in Squire’s homestretch. If we all remember correctly, There was hardly any new material belted out by Yes for an ENTIRE DECADE between 2001’s Magnification & 2011’s Fly From Here, other than a greatest hits collection featuring a EP disc of new acoustic renditions of Fragile era songs and one new Dylanesque song entitled “Show Me” which unfortunately served as Jon Anderson’s swan song to the band, AND a live box set. The now Sherwood led band has been in this sort of ‘album series limbo’ ever since the last few tours with Anderson, pausing only to promote the heck out of “Fly From Here” was released with Huey Lewis look-a-like Benoit David on vocals and Oliver Wakeman taking on daddy’s role back in 2010-2011. During that interval of non writing activity, IF there was any new material being written, Squire would usually hand it off to Billy Sherwood for an outside album pow wow get together with some other prog greats willing to collaborate on a giant concept album or sending them off as e-mail files to Steve Hackett for a solo album project or the duo that they formed as Squackett.

Yes are unequivocally on the home straight at this point. It would be unfair to begrudge these musicians a steady income, of course, but does it need to be earned under a banner that no longer seems appropriate.

Meanwhile, Yes fans are readying themselves for the launch of ARW, a much-anticipated collaboration between Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman. Keen observers of the band’s frantic revolving personnel door will know that this trio did perform together on the Union tour in 1990, but that they have never joined forces on a Yes studio project. As a result, the new(ish) band’s claims to be “the definitive Yes lineup” are nothing short of ludicrous, and yet it’s hard to deny that by most sensible reckoning, any band featuring the man who sang on every one of Yes’ most revered records and the keyboard maestro that most diehards regard as the Yes ivory-tinkler – not to mention a quintessential prog icon – is going to effortlessly, and rightly, overshadow the rabble of hired hands and stand-ins currently performing under the Yes banner.

I don’t remember reading anywhere about ARW as referred to being the ‘definitive Yes line-up’ but I do have memories of whether I heard either Anderson or Squire usher their thoughts for the future for the band whether it be on the Yesspeak DVD from a decade back or the Yesstory 1991 VHS tape that Yes is the kind of band that would forge on with new members and offspring, of whomever wants to take over the mantle and wasn’t Oliver Wakeman, the youngest son of Rick who stepped up to the high-rise multi-keyboard plate to try to prove himself worthy of his musical inheritance?

Well, maybe the rest of the band were underwhelmed in the long run with Oliver, BUT AT LEAST, a  spawn generated by a revered band member actually ACHIEVED a writing credit (“Into the Storm” on the “Fly From Here” album)  amongst the pantheon of greatness.

When and if Sherwood ever gets the current line-up to develop new material, Sherwood will be at the helm and I’m sure with Howe on his side showing no signs of slowing down, writing wise that is, he’ll make the Squire legacy proud.

  • 635984577008317789

Speaking of developers of new materials, Jon Anderson has not been resting on his laurels. In addition to last year’s fantastic collaboration with legendary violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, for APB, Anderson also spent a good two years writing online with The Flower Kings maestro, Roine Stolt (who also tours as a member of Steve Hackett’s band) after bumping into each other on a progressive rock cruise. And from that fateful meeting, we are now pleased as progressive rock punch to have a masterful sounding new disc that is the perfect seasoned blend of The Flower Kings and the best of whatever solo workings that Jon Anderson has spent his entire career bringing us. There are echos of Jon’s earliest solo ventures such as Olias of Sunhillow, the South American and calypso exploration of Deseo, and most definitely some monumental Jon & Vangelis inspired beauty.

Anderson wrote the lyrics and sang the vocals from his San Luis Obispo California home and e-mailed them off to Stolt in Sweden where he was also joined in the studio by some FK alumni such as Jonas Reingold on bass & drummer Felix Lehrmann on drums, and flying in all the way over from New Jersey, 2001’s Magnification tour session keyboardist Tom Brislin, somewhat finding himself once again entrenched in the battle of Yes Camps.

tombrislin_keys Oh no, not this guy again!!

Honestly, it’s a wonderful album of brand new Anderson Yes inspired music, and I’m sure many die-hard Yes fans will come to regard it as official canon or a malformed bastard child be tossed away like “Heaven & Earth.”

This Yes Log is to be continued with a very, very, very, special Yes yuletide special edition of material pertaining to YES that you will NOT HAVE SEEN ANYWHERE ELSE. There will be two collaborators on the blog with me next week to present something that many of you may not have seen before. So on December 15th (ish) come with us once again to the YES WAY BACK MACHINE to 1994 for a surprise treat that I can hardly wait to show all of you.

 

 

.

The Songs of Harry Perzigian

15 Nov

567386825

November 15th probably would have been a milestone for the best friend I ever made in the Los Angeles area by the name of Harry Perzigian. If alive, he’d most likely be turning 60 or 61 this year.

Now I know that name comes with a ton of stigmata, since it was rumored that at one time he was a big time drug dealers to the ‘stars’ of Brentwood (hey, wanna know why Dean Cain & Linda Hamilton still look so young after all these years?)  that resulted in the suicide of Carroll O’ Connor’s son, Hugh Connor that sent Harry up the river to the LA City Jail for a couple of months. BUT I reiterate once more, that you can’t blame a quote unquote ‘drug dealer’ for the suicide death of someone, if that person wasn’t the one who put the fucking gun in his hand.

And since when does anyone try to pay a drug dealer with a personal check??

A lot of commenters came by to leave their unfounded vehemence for my best friend, even after his own death, AS IF THEY HAD A PERSONAL HORSE in the race. But don’t worry, you snarkers had already won.

The media doesn’t give a shit about Harry Perzigian self demise. Nor do they acknowledge that Harry was a truly gifted songwriter.

It’s a non-story. So why do complete unknown Hugh O’Connor fans  still, after twenty years beat themselves up over it? Harry was not the one who the gun in Hugh’s mouth. Hugh O’Connor was the one who put the gun in his own mouth, and Carroll O’Connor was just a shit bird of a father who could not own up to his own responsibility.

But for those who are interested and who regarded him as a generous kind person (Harry Perzigian fronted me a $1,000.00 loan for a lawyer to pitch my proposed 4 issue comic book event mini-series based on the Genesis album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” to Genesis manager Tony Smith and keyboardist Tony Banks of which I generously paid him back for days before he died. The hundred dollar bills that the police found in his wallet on the day I found him choking on his blood and bile? I put them in there while he was on his deathbed) I offer in this special birthday celebratory entry, the very little unknown creative side focusing on the successful songs that Harry wrote and collaborated with over the years.

When Harry’s ex-girlfriends, friends, daughter, & grandsons flying in from Australia decided to hold a personal service after the family had their service for him out in Chicago, one of his ex’s and I embarked on the task of going through 50 tapes and CDs of Harry’s performances and songs that Harry had written & collaborated with over a thirty year period with a roster including  John Wetton, Bobby Kimball (formerly of Toto), Pretty Boy Floyd, & Quiet Riot’s Kevin DuBrow (who was once Harry’s roommate and according to Harry, would ‘jerk off’ from up to six to seven times a day in his shower. And the hair was fake too). Harry also struck up great friendships with two major musicians who are no longer with us: Emerson, Lake, & Powell and Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell & Foreigner touring keyboardist John Purdell who’s very first band was with Harry formed in Canoga Park.

Here was Harry’s biggest hit with the band Vixen.

Vixen was one of the first all girl heavy metal bands from the 1990 glam metal scene in Los Angeles, California. Most the band is still active today with the exception of founding member Jan Kuehnemund, who passed away in October 2013 of cancer (I don’t believe Harry ever knew of her passing). Harry’s song appeared on the band’s 1990 second album, “Rev It Up” and charted in the US at 71 and in the UK at 41. So I fail to understand why people who mercilessly troll my comments section deem Harry’s life as a failure when he once had a decent charting single that kept him in residuals for the rest of his life.

Go figure.

Bobby Kimball, former lead singer with Toto. also wrote a handful of songs with Harry in 1994 for his first solo album, Rise Up. In addition to their collaboration on the title track, the song “Paralyzed” was given the single treatment. Harry used to tell me that Bobby was one of his favorite ever celebs to hang out with, and was the life of the party at a lot of his Brentwood condominium super late night super soirees pounding out songs on his piano at crazy hours in the morning. Months before Harry’s passing, Harry and his roommate who moved in after me took a fucking sledgehammer to the piano because it became a financial headache for him to keep it properly tuned.

I was sad to see that piano go. It gave his living room such character, even if the keys were stuck and sounded out of tune.

 

Kevin Dubrow , singer of Quiet Riot & Pretty Boy Floyd teamed up with Harry to write “Slam Dunk” for the soundtrack of the movie “Switch” starring Ellen Barkin & Jimmy Smits in 1991. It appears as a bonus track on the CD and the song is played at the end credits of the movie. Harry always got a kick that even at the time of his death, that they were still playing the shit out of this movie on late night cable television and that a royalty check would KA-CHING its’ way into his mailbox each time it aired (which honestly was nothing to sneeze at. I had seen some of those checks and they didn’t amount to very much in the lower $100’s).

If I only had a chance to rewind my life a half decade or so, I’m sure, Harry would’ve experienced some kind of motivation or comeback of sorts to get himself out of the perpetual black cloud that he constantly found himself ducking under. IF I hadn’t given up on a long search for a third collaboration held strictly held between Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes and bassist/vocalist John Wetton for a third outing as companion band ICON, I think perhaps Harry would’ve been striving for a renewed purpose. Don’t get me wrong, he was still composing songs to the end (Even I helped with providing some mellotron patches on one) – but to have been sharing an album credit with one his favorite singer/songwriters of all time- JOHN  WETTON? would’ve made his freaking ego soar.

But it didn’t. Harry never knew that on the Icon 3 album that John Wetton and Geoff Downes released in 2009, a reworked a version of  one of Harry & John Wetton’s songs (also co-written by Curt Cuomo)  titled ” Sex, Power, & Money ” was recorded for Icon 3. I owned the first two albums by the duo, but after months after the third effort’s release, I never saw it arrive at my neighborhood Amoeba Records and I simply gave up the search for the album existed. It wasn’t until I got ahold of all if Harry’s demos from his family that I came across the tapes of three songs that Harry recorded with the Asia/King Crimson singer with the other two titles being “I Can Tell You” and “Back in Your Arms” (which is absolutely incredible), currently both procrastinating  and largely unused on a dusty Warner Chappell Music office shelf. I’ve been by some rabid fans on a John Wetton message board, that in the liner notes of the album, that ideas were accredited to Harry’s stage name, Harry Paress.

hqdefault

And lastly, another highlight of Harry’s songwriting career was getting a demo of his rap/rock band The Puck Boys played on local Los Angeles station Pirate Radio of an ode to Los Angeles Kings goalie Kelly Hrudey in “Rudy’s on Duty Tonight” filmed on location in front of the LA Forum in Inglewood. The song instantly became an anthem for the team until Hrudey was either retired or no longer for playing for the team and was written in tribute to his incredible playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. This video was shot during the era when Harry was getting into scuffles with actor Ryan O’Neal over him messing around with his wife Farrah Fawcett-Majors which became major gossip on the cover of People Magazine. 

Coming up next: Possibly a new YES LOG installment in honor of the newly formed AWR offshoot band (Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, & Trevor Rabin) as a comic book mystery develops.