Thursday, May 5, 2022


In a move that feels akin to eating out of Jordan's lunchbox, I'll be quick before he notices I have encroached upon his sole operator territory of the golden age of prog. But ain't this an absolute banger? You see, I too was there, the SMM home for distressed elderly muses a port of solace for me as well, courtesy my life misspent in record shops.

The Yes album was the pinnacle of this venerable band, one of those uber snobby remarks for which I am famous, especially when you consider it was only number 3 in their 22 and still counting number of studio recordings. (And more so if you consider I have never felt it necessary to listen to either of the two albums that preceded it.) The Yes album came to me fully formed, with neither need to get the back story and, even, not that much to take the story further forward. OK, in true I-am-not-that-much-of-a-fan style, I probably only have a handful of their other records: Fragile, Close to the Edge, Yessongs (live) and the Ultimate Yes, the 35th anniversary compendium, the latter being mainly to ensure CD versions (aka unscratched) of the songs I most enjoy. I think it is the relative simplicity of the album I so love, that word, of course, within the context of Yes, relative. So the guitar is noodling majestically all over, especially when Steve Howe picks up acoustic stylings, the bass in challenging, the drums all of a clatter, but the keyboards, c/o Tony Kaye, are pure meat and potatoes. None of yer synthesisers and mellotrons, or very little, so soon to become the band's stock in trade. Largely organ, and a rhythmic punch rather than the look at me bombast that later players brought to the role. Despite being a fan of the Keith Emerson school of keyboard play, I never took to to Kaye's replacement, Rick Wakeman's octopoid filigrees. 

Live in 2000

Perpetual Change is the song that highlights both this iteration of Yes and, thus, for me, the band as a whole. But it is also a good marker for the apparent MO of the band, given the, at best, impermanence of the ranks. With at least 19 members, with, give or take, an additional 4 for live performance, that isn't bad going for a 5 piece band. OK, the countered excuse is their longevity: 53 years on the road now, together with the unhelpful ravage of the grim reaper, taking founder member and pivot, Chris Squire, in 2015, who would almost otherwise still be in the fold. (Altho', to be fair, he did have 4 years out, when the band had a "hiatus", 2004 - 8). The only other "original", which he wasn't, would be Steve Howe, the guitarist, and he looks to have had some rests in the '80s and '90s. Which means there has been no single presence from start to finish. The fact that the members clearly weren't chums didn't help, not least after decades of touring together, with the presence, often at the same time, of bands that had as much claim to the name as the official version, and certainly played the same songs. So, I give you Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, who ploughed a parallel furrow, between 1988 and 1990, and arguably with more of the classic line-up than the baton toting newcomers. Or there was the time when there was not only Yes, but Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman. Complicated and complicating. Wiki here have a good go at trying to unravel it. It is also worth having a look again at Tony Kaye, ousted, after the Yes album. Would that be the end of his career? Well, far from it, but if he was never quite as successful with his own bands, even if Flash also contained another ex-Yesser, in Pete Banks, who preceded Howe in Yes, on guitar, Yes were still there to welcome him back in the fold, 1982 - 1985, his less cluttered style perhaps ideal for their 2nd chart bothering round of hits, as singles became a surprising late string to their bow. (Even if an earlier recumbent of his seat had the fifth of writing credit he might have had. (That fifth was, for me, the most extraordinary ever Yes man, one Trevor Horn, the erstwhile Buggle and later producer of Fairlight heavy magnum opuses for the likes of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Seal. True, his associate Buggle, Geoff Downes had also joined up, but has gradually become more subsumed into standard erudite muso mode, by re-joining the band again at  later date, where he currently remains.)

Live 2018 (and not the official Yes, being the "featuring Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman.)

I have to say I would not probably cross the road now to see Yes perform, even if it were in my own local Darwin Park, in Lichfield, which I think might, anyway, be a stretch and unlikely. I can sort of get the fact that bass and drums are dispensable within their sound: all the players have been good, even if some better. Despite my above comments, I would accept other than Tony Kaye, and, indeed, the one time I did see the band live, it was Rick Wakeman, who makes for a good show live, even if his flourishes and fandangoes became essentially annoying. I can't really speak for the other myriad keyboard players, but Patrick Moraz had form, replacing Keith Emerson in the Nice (or sort of), ahead of becoming a Moody Blue. (Which, for me, I am afraid, is a minus point.) Singing? Well, why, I wonder, would you even entertain it not being Jon Anderson. It is true I haven't even bothered to find out if Benoit David or Jon Davison cut the mustard, apart from any clip appearing here. I mean, they found David in a tribute band, smacking of how Judas Priest go about replacing singers....

Also 2018, the "official" Yes. 

Who, like me, thought that last the weakest by a mile? Anyhoo, me? I'm off to play my 1971 original vinyl of the Yes Album......

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Bloom: Love's in Bloom


Nothing to click here

purchase [ John Coltrane  ]

How to return Seuras' favor? The themes are often my choice - with some co-conspirators' support (but the bloomers mention was an aside, and he dodged it very well , I admit.)

Where ...beyond bloomers ... can you go with this theme? Ostensibly geared to the current season; things that bloom. Howsomever, suffering from the fact that SMM has covered the season(s) inside and out, and facing the fact that more or less anything "pop" has its roots in blooming love ... entertain this post.

Myself? Zappa's Overnight Sensation happens to be a favorite: I avere that I know every line of lyrics and find the "dirty love" perfectly suited to my taste. Rancid bloomers included. I mean theZappa-esque, nasty image rather than the bloomers themselves, of course.

Known to occur in spring or as a summer emotion most commonly associated with those of school age, love is said to bloom. Sometimes personified as a flower that does the same?

Love (or love in full bloom) is, after all, a major theme of much music - classical (perhaps extoling a love of Jesus), Broadway (Porgy and Bess), and countless pop hits (Love Me Do).

Some are much more accessible to a general audience - catchy and kinda ditzy as they aim to achieve mass-market popularity, demanding little of the listener as they trip along through the babbling lyrics and the pro-forma I-VI-V chord structure of most pop music.

Build Me Up Buttercup: (Love could be in bloom .. and why this song of all possible love in bloom songs? Well... it means something to me. Maybe like "puppy love"]


Others are  considerably less accessible, requiring a concerted effort to appriciate or replicate. The "love" here is often that of a higher power of the sort John Coltrane claimed was his driving inspiration.

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane

Coltrane aside, there is something about Carlos Santana's signature sound that always makes me feel alive. Nay, blooming, I would say. There is a life force/energy that emanates from his fingers that is like a flower in bloom. Like a love supreme. Great respect for John Coltrane, though he is not a musician that I  normally listen to. On the other hand, the same song by Santana and McLaughlin: