Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

The Ladder – Yes [#659]

The 18th Yes album arrived in 1999 and is massively different to the previous album, Open Your Eyes which isnt hard as Open Your Eyes is truly awful.

At this point, Rabin had left, Howe had rejoined, Wakeman was off being a grumpy old man and had been replaced by dodgy Russian keyboard player Igor Khoroshev who would later leave the group in shame following an assault on two female security officers.

I came to The Ladder quite late. I’d spent much of the 1990s checking the racks at HMV for new releases and looking for snippets of news in fashionable magazines of the time. Yes were not fashionable so news rarely made it beyond the pages of NME and I was too much of a protohipster to buy NME preferring to Uncut, but only when they did stuff on 4AD. At this time I’d moved on from the airy fairy floating castles of Prog and had lurched into the dark twisting forests of Goth via the bucket hat wearing pathways of indie. So its probably no surprise I’d missed this album and it wasn’t until 2001 when I discovered the album had been released.

Its ok. It’s not Big Generator, Going for the One or Drama . Its just – OK and not one of the albums that seemingly I play a great deal. Standout tracks on the album are probably Homeworld – from the computer game Homeworld – and It Will Be a Good Day (The River) and even then I prefer the live version from House of Blues.

The next “studio” album would be Keystudio in 2001 and then in the same year, Magnification followed by nearly ten years of live recordings and rereleases before Fly From Here in 2011 which marked the end of the traditional lineup and, some fans say, the end of the band. But more of that – later…..

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Keystudio – Yes [#654]

Keystudio album art

In Happy Days fandom it is often agreed that the moment Fonz water skis over a shark the decline in the quality of the show began. Some argue that the appearance of a poundshop Bertie Basset like villan marks the end of “quality” in Doctor Who.

Me? I ascertain that 1997s Open Your Eyes is where the rot began to set in for Yes. Others say Union, or 90125. But Open Your Eyes is where its at. A terrible album, yet to make an appearance on the Music Project.

Fortunately the albums following the release of Open Your Eyes showed how much of a driving force Steve Howe could be in the band. Having lost Rabin to music production and realising that Sherwood was better as a producer than a performer, the albums that followed: The Ladder and House of Blues, showed that the band when it consisted of Wakeman, White, Anderson, Squire and Howe could bash out some amazing tunes. Think Tormato, Going for the One and Tales from Topographic Oceans.

However this 2001 release on the Castle label, described as a compilation of studio tracks from the Keys to Ascension albums, not only showed what the band was capable of when they weren’t trying to recapture the Lonely Heart era without Rabin or Horn as a guiding hand. But it also sowed the seeds for the albums to follow.

There are some really catchy tunes on this album and I am often surprised that I don’t listen to it more often. The track Mind Drive is a banging tune and Be the One has foreshadows of Magnification floating around it. The album also features Children of the Light which credits Vangelis as one of the writers. This truly is an album from Yes’ renaissance – capturing and blending all the bits and sounds that made the bands post-Bruford line up often referred to as the classic line up.

Sadly, in 2001, my ears were elsewhere. The Great Download was starting to begin and I was discovering new genres, new sounds and new aural pleasures. Music was becoming freely available and visits to Virgin and HMV were beginning to wane. It wouldn’t be until a chance visit to the fledgling Yes website that the realisation there were new albums available AND A TOUR on the horizon that I realised that there was new stuff for me out there.

Apple Music – Not available at time of posting

Buy the CD on Amazon

Youtube Music – https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=OI2ETFvwzAY

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Keys To Ascension – Yes [#653]

As a teen I really liked Yes, I had forcibly had them played at me by my elder brothers so it was only to be expected. As my disposable income grew, I was able to purchase pretty much all of the band’s back catalogue either on cassette, vinyl or CD. Of course, this was fairly easy to do as the band went on hiatus between 1985 and 1988 then again between 1988 and 1991 and once more until 1994 and the release of Talk.

During those downtimes, no new music was released, instead regular “Best of” or live compilations, but to me, it didn’t matter then. I just went and bought what I could. But then something happened. I began to realise I was paying for the same songs over and over again. Nothing new. Maybe an unusual flourish or a change in tempo but really nothing new. I already had Yessongs, Yes Shows, 9012Live and Classic Yes so when I saw Keys to Ascension in the racking at HMV, I looked at the track listing and thought – why bother?

Keys to Ascension is a two volume compilation album featuring two discs per volume and features recordings from their live shows in 1996 of songs from the Going for the One and Tormato era (Interesting to note as they had just lost Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye and regained Steve Howe and (briefly once more) Rick Wakeman) and some new tracks which later appeared on Keystudio .

This period of Yes history sets off my prickly brain. I really don’t care much for this period and even though the line up is the classic line up (albeit briefly and accentuated by Billy Sherwood), I don’t fall back into fandom with the band until Magnification and then, as if to take the piss, they do the whole “best of – live” shit again this time with touring live concerts (of which I went to three) until Fly from Here.

Lazy fan fanning and cheesy nineties rock do not make great albums. Indeed, Queensryche, Ayreon and Porcupine Tree were doing much better stuff at this time while Yes were following the Camel route of keeping the fans happy and experimenting. Personally, my music tastes were also changing at this time. I was no longer focussed on bands from my childhood and teenage, I was no longer being fed music by siblings, instead from more knowledgable peers, and I was starting to explore darker musical pathways which would eventually lead to a more mature adult contemporary pantheon of musicians.

At time of writing, Keys to Ascension is not available digitally on either Apple Music or Amazon but is available to buy on Amazon. I couldn’t care less about Google Play and I value my privacy too much to use SpottyFi.

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Rick Wakeman [#650]

Album cover

Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth is an album that has been in my library for many years. At a time when, most days, I would travel via bicycle wearing in-ear headphones and carrying a Sony Walkman in my pocket, a great deal of the music I owned would be transfered from CD or vinyl to cassette.

My regular trips to HMV, Our Price and Virgin Megastore often resulted in an internal debate on the pros and cons of buying the cassette format of an album or the CD format of an album. Quite often though, like in this case, I was unable to get the CD format because “it wasn’t popular but we could order it you in (for a premium)” and the cassette version was less than a fiver.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is Wakeman’s attempt at creating a rock homage to Jules Verne’s novel of the same name. You might already be familiar with Verne’s literary masterpiece or you might be more familiar with Henry Levin’s 1959 cinematic version starring James Mason which was regularly shown on TV during school holidays until anything older than 30 years was banned by TV executives.

With narration by David “Barbarella” Hemmings, backing by the English Chamber Choir and London Symphony Orchestra, Wakeman really pulls off a great fusion of classical style music, modern rock and good old story telling. It’s really easy to see why it was panned by stuffy music critics on release but even easier to hear why it became a family favourite for many.

I really love this album. Say what you like about Rick Wakeman’s flamboyancy but Journey is a great album. I’m particularly fond of the first two movements especially how Wakeman managed to pop the words “Silurian epoch” into the lyrics without too much force. With a running time of just about 40 minutes, it makes a great accompaniment to a journey down the road…..

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Incas Valley – Yes/Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe[#630]

Unknown-4As long term readers of this project might remember, during the divergence of Yes in the early nineties, when Chris Squire said “No” to Jon Anderson’s use of the band name

Yes

forcing the creation of  the eponymous Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (and later the creation of Anderson Rabin Wakeman (ffs!)), Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick “Keyboard Wizard” Wakeman and Steve “Carpet” Howe  got together with Tony Levin, released an album and went on a world tour entitled An Evening of Yes Music. Incas Valley is the bootleg of one of those shows.

I remember being excited at the prospect of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe touring the UK with their show and hoped that I would be granted permission from my parents to go to their gig, the closest to me at the time was in Birmingham. Sadly, my olds decreed that 16 was too young to go to Birmingham to see a rock band on my own and my older brothers couldn’t care less about their younger brother’s musical development so didn’t offer to take me. Instead one recorded onto a cassette a BBC radio broadcast of the gig instead so I had to make do with that.

Many years later I discovered the Incas Valley bootleg on a binary newsgroup and it was pretty much the same set but with extras. So now, to relive that experience, I often play Incas Valley on my stereo in the kitchen while I charge myself £40 to sit in the loft and pretend I’m in the Birmingham Arena. Win!

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In the Court of the Crimson King – King Crimson [#627]

In_the_Court_of_the_Crimson_King_-_40th_Anniversary_Box_Set_-_Front_coverI first learned about King Crimson following the amusing Bill Bailey fronted Channel 4 docu-countdown-show Top Ten Prog which was broadcast at the height of the prog revival of the late nineties/early noughties.

Crimson King was the band’s first album, King Crimson then comprising of Robert Fripp  Michael Giles, Greg Lake, Ian McDonald and Peter Sinfield. Over the years Crimson’s line up would change more often than I change my socks with other notable musicians such as Yes’ Bill Bruford and session musician Tony Levin turning up over the years. As a result of this frequent fluctuation of line up, it is difficult to find a sound that one can pin on their output as 100% identifiable King Crimson. Indeed, their heavy jazz influence makes most of their output inaccessible to me as after a while, for me, it starts to grate.

Even so, the variety of the sound and the diverse use of instruments make In the Court of the Crimson King is an album I enjoy listening to, however, the album is, sadly, not available on Apple Music. Licencing again eh?

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House of Yes: Live at the House of Blues – Yes [#594]

House_of_YesWhen this album was released back in 2000, the internet as we know it today was still in its fledgeling state. Websites were mostly created and owned by actual people rather than by corporations and users actually had to seek out their news rather than have it shown to them if an algorithm deigned to do so. As a result, I was only aware it had been released because I saw it while I was browsing the CD racks in HMV.

Of course, with it being a Live/Best of compilation and I already had most of the songs Live or in compilations, I was reluctant to part with hard earned cash for stuff I already had and instead bought something a little more desirable like Air’s Moon Safari or whatever else was about in those days. However sometime later, probably during the Great Internet Download Free-for-All of the early noughties, I was given a copy of the album by a work colleague and so it joined my collection.

House of Yes is a live double album featuring music from Yes’ earlier career and their album The Ladder. It also features Billy Sherwood on guitar and Igor Khoroshev on keyboards, Sherwood left shortly before the album’s release and Khoroshev had already been booted out of the band by that time due to a sexual harassment controversy.

I can’t say that I don’t like this compilation. There are some good performances on the album the enjoyment of which can be enhanced by the viewing of the DVD of the gig.

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Heaven and Hell – Vangelis [#575]

Vangelis_Heaven_and_HellBeardy greek mashes his keyboards once more to produce an enigmatic work with a guest appearance from Jon “Yes” Anderson.

Years ago Carl Sagan did a TV show called Cosmos (the soundtrack to which has already been covered here). It told us all what we knew about the solar system and featured stunning imagery which inspired many young people to get interested in astronomy. Thirty-odd years later, the astronomy factory’s failed to surface and the teacher saying “Astronomy is full of maths” was the right thing to say to impressionable lazy young people embarking on their first tentative steps into the real world. While I was saved a failed career in astronomy thanks to that warning, I carried a little piece of Sagan’s masterwork in my memory, that of the theme tune.  A tune that brought to mind black and white portable television sets and eager cassette recorders waiting to catch the music from the final minutes of the TV show.

Years later, while searching for the music, I learned that the tune was actually from Vangelis’ work Heaven and Hell. While tempting to skip through to the actual bit from Cosmos the album is actually worth listening to in its entirety. Especially as near the end of the first side, our favourite high pitched male singer, Anderson, pops up with an outer space lyrical coda to the side. Indeed, I believe this is the album upon which Vangelis and Anderson worked before forming their own double act, the imaginatively named Jon & Vangelis.

Of course, if you have been following this project for the several years it has been running you might also recall that Vangelis was a member of Aphrodities Child which also dabbled in Biblical musical imagary, with their album 666.

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Going for the One – Yes [#532]

220px-Yes_Going_for_the_OnePossibly one of the first albums I had recorded on cassette. My middle brother had this on cassette and did a copy for me on his twin tape but as home taping killed music, there was nothing after this.

Nonsense of course, I eventually went and bought the album on vinyl, thus saving music for future generations.

Indeed, as a teenager, Going for the One was pivotal in my musical development to such an extent that I performed the track Turn of the Century during a school end of term concert and Wondrous Stories as an exam piece for my Music GCSE. While the majority of my peers enjoyed the likes of Wham, Culture Club and emerging techno, rap and house music, I was busy being ten years behind my contemporaries and enjoying what this album had to offer.

The album sees the return (albeit briefly) of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman following the departure of Patrick Moraz who played keys for the previous album, Relayer. The return of Wakeman does do some favours to the band at this stage of their career and the track Awaken with its extended organ solo at the heart, really is like a “glad to be back” from Rick.

Sadly, as with all prog bands, the band would separate once more after their next album, Tormato but you can certainly hear the development of the Yes sound and how it is an acoustic ancestor of Tormato with this album.

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Friends of Mr Cairo – Jon & Vangelis [#498]

TheFriendsOfMrCairo2FrontBThis was another of the first CDs I bought for my first CD player and I played it over and over and over.

Chris Rose, a boy at my school, was also a fan of the album and we would spend free periods in sixth form discussing the album, the film Maltese Falcon and Dashiell Hammett. We fostered a good friendship through the two years we were in sixth form together solely based on him seeing the albums title written on one of my cassettes while I was reading the book Maltese Falcon listening to the album on my Walkman.

The song from which the album takes its title, Friends of Mr Cairo, is a tribute and nod to the film noir genre made famous by the likes of actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, Mr Cairo being a character played by Peter Lorre in the film Maltese Falcon.

This is Jon and Vangelis’ “difficult” but popular second album.

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Fragile – Yes [#495]

FragileI originally bought this album from Woolworths in Pwllheli while holidaying in my Uncles cottage. I remember being excited at the prospect of being able to listen to it on the record player we had there. And so, in 1986 progressive rock reverberated across the Welsh mountains for a brief moment Heart of the Sunrise leading the charge. That was until I was told to turn the music down.

At the time of the album’s release, Yes were coming to the end of an era with the imminent departure of drummer Bill Bruford (who left after the recording of the follow up album Close to the Edgeand the addition, in this album, of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, who replaced Tony Kaye. This was to become what some fans call “The Classic Yes Line Up” which is interesting as it was only like this for a couple of albums and it seems that nobody wants to talk about the regroup non-cannon album Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe .

The album itself features a number of really good songs, Heart of the Sunrise, Southside of the Sky and Roundabout; all fan pleasing tracks that are played regularly at gigs. It also features a handful of tracks written solo by each band member: Anderson’s We Have Heaven sounding like something from Olias of Sunhillow Bruford’s Five Percent for Nothing sounding like an A Level Music submission and the beginnings of later Wakeman solo projects audibly clear in Can and Brahms .

A fun album with some nice classic Yes songs but sounding flat, disappointing and unpromising with today’s ears.

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Fly From Here – Yes [#483]

220px-Fly_from_HereIn my eyes, Yes’ best but final album. Technically, this isn’t Yes’ final album but it is the last one I bought before Chris Squire’s death in 2015.

Following the departure of long time lead singer Jon Anderson who was undergoing throat issues and Wakeman who was busy being a grump, Squire, Howe and White looked to former band mates Buggles – Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn, to reform the line up that made Drama a hit.

Horn obviously remembered how difficult Squire’s music was to sing when you register no longer reaches the notes of your youth and opted to produce the album instead. At this point surrogate singer Benoît David was asked to join the band, David’s singing style having been recognised by Squire who had seen David’s performances with Yes tribute act Close to the Edge on Youtube.

Aurally, Fly From Here is very much in the style of Drama era Yes. In fact, the song from which the album’s title comes is one that Horn and Downes worked on that almost became a Buggles song before they joined Yes. I really like this sound of Yes. It shows how the band might have developed had 90125 not happened, a richer more illustrative sound with a strong prog taste. The final flourish and farewell, in my eyes, of a band that helped me enjoy music as a developing youth. My only regret being that I never had the free time my youth afforded me to listen to the album on a regular basis.

 

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Fish Out of Water – Chris Squire [#475]

2015 saw the passing of one of rocks greatest bass players, Chris SquireFish_Out_of_Water_(Chris_Squire_album)_cover_art aka Fish, from acute erythoid leukemia complications. A great shame as he was a talented musician who formed and was a cornerstone of prog rock band Yes. Squire’s first solo album, released in 1975 in a period when the members of Yes were releasing solo albums, is today’s album, Fish Out of Water. 

I’d not listened to Fish Out of Water in its entirety before composing today’s entry I’m ashamed to say. I guess it didn’t sit well  with my appreciation of Yes’ development since 1986 but that’s not to say I wouldn’t have enjoyed it and appreciated it more had I had access to the album when I was younger.

Fish Out of Water is very early Yes in style and features Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz as support musicians but it’s also possible to hear Squires own distinctive style which matured and resurfaced in later albums such as The Unknown and Conspiracy 

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Drama – Yes [#388]

Yes_DramaChris Squire, bass player and founding member of Yes, passed away a few weeks before I began writing this entry. His passing was about to leave a massive uncertainty with the bands future in that how can you possibly fix a giant Chris Squire sized hole in the fabric of the Yes continuum. Then came news that Squire’s colleague and former band mate and Music Project attendee, Billy Sherwood would step up to the plate.

Which is nice.

Drama arrived at an interesting point in Yes’ history. Jon Anderson had left the band to pursue projects with Vangelis. Rick Wakeman had gone too, his goal to add ice skating and twiddly keyboards to everything. That left a huge hole in the band. No singer; No keyboard player. What to do?

It was about this time that the band met producer to be, Trevor Horn and keyboard jedi, Geoff Downes. You might remember Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes from global supergroup and ground shaking behemoths the Buggles. That’s right, the band that brought you Video Killed the Radio Star.   In recognising their potential, Chris Squire invited the two to join Yes and fill the shoes of Anderson and Wakeman and history was made.

This is possibly my most favourite Yes album. I really wished that the Drama era Yes line up had produced more music like this. Contrasting between the previous Yes album Tormato and the following 90125 it’s certainly a distinctive sound. Horn struggles to reach the same pitches as Anderson, while Downes seems to lack the fingers to compete with Tony Kaye and Rick Wakeman, yet it isn’t a disaster. There are some songs on the album that were many, many years ahead of their time and it certainly shows what sort of geniuses makes up the band.

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Desert Light – Yes [#362]

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 19.46.27This is a bootleg from a concert in the series I saw Yes at in 2002. I then saw the band one last time a year later I think.

I grew up with Yes. They have a special place in my heart and mind as well as a place in my music collection. Sadly long time member and bassist, Chris Squire, passed away earlier this month so it is unlikely I will get to see the band again. I have read that Squire’s old pal Billy Sherwood of Squire/Sherwood collaboration The Unknown has stepped up to cover the massive Chris Squire hole in the band. Moreover, lead singer Jon Anderson is also no longer with the band, Rick Wakeman pops in and out, Steve Howe must be pushing 934 and Alan White is looking a bit tired these days too. It remains hard to imagine how long the band will continue without Chris in the engine room.

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Culture of Ascent – Glass Hammer [#331]

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.39.54During my brief exploration of new prog, I was led to the door of Glass Hammer and their song At the Court of Alkinoos on the album Odyssey. I liked it. So when I was presented with a few of their albums by my university audiences lecturer, I was pleased to plug in and listen. For a short fleeting moment at least.

Gah. Forced. Strained. Prog. Not good. So aside from a few albums, this being the second in this project, I didn’t pursue Glass Hammer too hard.

The band’s tenth studio album, Culture of Ascent does have one saving grace though, Yes’ Jon Anderson in backing vocals and a cover version of Yes’ Southside of the Sky.

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Crises – Mike Oldfield [#322]

Mike_oldfield_crises_album_coverCrises is Oldfield’s eighth studio album. Released in 1983, it arrived in my CD collection in the 90s and was probably about the 5th CD I ever bought.

Three things struck me about Crises.

  1. It features a song with Jon Anderson (Yes)
  2. The title track Crises features a great deal of Oldfield tropes; his distinguishable guitar sound, lyrical references to Virgin and musical themes that would reappear in later albums.
  3. It has the hit single Moonlight Shadow

For me, this album was the start of my theory that the music I like is all interconnected somehow. Something I’m still yet to prove.

 

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Conspiracy – Billy Sherwood & Chris Squire [#304]

Conspiracy - Chris Squire Billy SherwoodYes’ bass guitarist, Chris Squire and his chum, former two album Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood, collaborate and produce a sound that is rather quite good under the working band title of Conspiracy.

You can hear where Yes were heading with this collaboration. Hints of Talk and Big Generator permeate the overarching soundscape of this album and a version of More we Live (Let Go) from Yes’ later Union album features as well as Open Your Eyes and the twee  Man in the Moon from later (and best forgotten) Yes album Open Your Eyes. 

Sadly the collaboration only lasted one more album, The Unknown, and technically Conspiracy is a collection of studio workings gathered over several years. People still debate whether it was Squire who did the dirty on Sherwood or whether other forces were at work. Either way, Squire remains the only member of Yes to have played on every Yes album and Sherwood still floats in and out of prog bands and projects, not really adhering himself to any big name.

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Close to the Edge – Yes [#281]

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 13.35.18Close to the Edge – Yes

The first time I heard this album I was blown away. I had it on cassette so I was able to play it wherever I wanted on my Walkman or on my portable hi-fi. One place I played it was on top of a windy rainy mountain in Wales, miles from anywhere significant. It is there where I am transported when I hear this album.

Stuck up a mountain. In the wind and rain. Rain pattering onto my hood. Snug and warm in my coat. Listening to this album overlooking fields of sheep watching the rain clouds drift in from the Irish Sea. Getting back to nature.

Years later I discovered that the album was recorded in a studio where the band had requested a more “rural” feel. Cue plastic cows, sheep pens and straw being strewn across the floor; Steve Howe stood on his carpet, Rick Wakeman with his cup of tea and Jon Anderson with his tambourine. Prog madness. Prog. No music like it.

Close to the Edge comes in with 3 tracks. Not many to the uninitiated, but with track one coming in at just under 20 minutes long and tracks two and three together the same, it’s easy to see why prog is such a good showcase for talent. Think of recent popular music. The likes of Gaga and her ilk with wishy-washy 3 minute jobbies. Trash. It’s like Twitter versus the blogosphere.

Close to the Edge is Yes’ fifth studio album and last with Bill Bruford (until Union at least). A rich tapestry of musical talent surpassed only by their next  studio album, Tales from Topographic Oceans.

 

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Classic Rock: Symphonic Rock – Various Artists [#276]

Classic Rock: Symphonic RockClassic Rock: Symphonic Rock – Various Artists

This is another compilation where the core idea works but the choices of tracks don’t.

Curiously, it appears that 70% of the artists featured on the album have previously featured on this project, so if you’ve missed those entries you’ll find that the links take you to those articles.

Anyway, Classic Rock: Symphonic Rock has a relatively good mix of tunes really but not ones I’d have chosen to highlight how rock can be symphonic. It’s a little too…. “twee”…for my liking. There are far better bands that could have featured on this compilation. There’s no Queensryche. No Meatloaf. The Yes option is pretty much mundane and the inclusion of Clannad, of all bands, confuses me no end. Clannad are not what I’d call rock for a start.

Tracklist

1-01 Vangelis Pulsar
1-02 Sky Toccata
1-03 Hawkwind Urban Guerilla
1-04 Focus P’s March
1-05 Electra Scheidungstag
1-06 Gentle Giant The Advent Of Panurge
1-07 Triumvirat A Day In The Life
1-08 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Brother Of Mine
1-09 Roger Waters The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range
1-10 Procol Harum A Salty Dog
1-11 Mike Batt Losing Your Way In The Rain
1-12 Clannad Sirius
1-13 Jon Lord Aria
1-14 Barclay James Harvest Child Of The Universe
1-15 Jon & Vangelis So Long Ago, So Clear
2-01 Mike Oldfield Sentinel
2-02 Moody Blues* The Story In Your Eyes
2-03 Rick Wakeman Catherine Howard
2-04 Electric Light Orchestra Standin’ In The Rain
2-05 Alan Parsons Project, The Damned If I Do
2-06 Herd From The Underworld
2-07 Jethro Tull Aqualung
2-08 Gong Ard Na Greine
2-09 Vanilla Fudge You Keep Me Hanging On
2-10 Ekseption 5th Of Beethoven
2-11 Aphrodite’s Child It’s Five O’Clock
2-12 Strawbs Autumn
2-13 Camel Tell Me
2-14 Genesis The Silent Sun
2-15 Yes Heart Of The Sunrise

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Change We Must – Jon Anderson [#258]

CHANGES+IN+MINDChange We Must – Jon Anderson

Hello, me again!

Two bits of good news this time. I don’t have a lot of time to write about this album, and I’m not a great fan of it either. So you, the lucky reader, should have a lot less to read. I shall try and go for a more practical Stegzy type summary approach.

As background, I first heard Jon Anderson during my early 90s university years. Being a nerd I inevitably delved into prog rock, with a lot of musical introductions from my lovely university friend Richard. One of those groups was Yes, and if you didn’t know Jon Anderson is their lead singer. I also listened to a lot of Vangelis, and he has teamed up with Jon Anderson on several albums. I am probably a bigger fan of the Jon & Vangelis albums than I am Yes, although I don’t listen to either a great deal. I did listen to some of Anderson’s solo albums, including the very odd Olias of Sunhillow, but I haven’t gone back to any of it. Anderson’s solo stuff almost feels like Christian rock, although as far as I know he wasn’t into religion a great deal.

Those who’ve not heard Anderson before will be surprised by his voice, which is very high, and quite feminine. Apparently he’s a natural alto tenor, so both speaks and sings in a high range, and it’s not falsetto. This does give his music character and originality, of some form.

Change We Must is again that most accursed of albums, the best of (sort of). It’s doubly accursed because bizarrely these are rearrangements – of a mix of Yes, Jon & Vangelis, and solo tracks – which have an orchestral and choral backing. So they’ve been muzak’d, of a fashion. In all fairness to Mr. Anderson apparently some of the tracks on here are new, so it’s a right old dog’s dinner.

In all honesty I don’t recognise most of the tracks on here. The album opens with one of his most famous tracks, A State of Independence, which is a collaboration with Vangelis. The orchestral version jars though, versus the more spartan electronic sounds of the original. It’s a similar story throughout, to the final namesake of the album, Change We Must, which has both orchestra and choir, albeit the original was also fairly rich in tone.

Sorry Jon, your optimistic spiritual tunes mostly don’t do it for me. Doubly so when new versions of old tracks.

I hope Stegzy doesn’t mind me breaking with tradition slightly. Here’s an actual promo video for the album, featuring an interview with Jon.

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Can’t Look Away – Trevor Rabin (#243)

CantlookawayCan’t Look Away – Trevor Rabin 

This is former Yes guitarist, Trevor Rabin, and his third studio album.

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Big Generator – Yes (#186)

Big Generator – YesBig Generator - Yes

When this album came out in 1987, I was so excited. Here I was, a teenager, about to hear music from a band that had formed a few years before I was born. New music that was hopefully going to be a lot like 90125

I wasn’t disappointed.

Instead I recorded the album onto a cassette and listened to the tape until I was bored. I still love this album. It shows the direction Yes continued to follow for the next few years. Of course by the time House of Blues came out, I was already getting a bit bored of Yes. Especially as it seemed (at the time) that getting to see them play live was going to be purely a dream. Of course I’ve since seen them several times.

Still, the majority of my favorite songs by Yes are on this album. A lot of longer term fans hate it. I don’t. Fab stuff.

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The Best Prog Rock Album in the World…Ever – Various Artists (#176)

The Best Prog Rock Album in the World...Ever - Various Artists (#176)The Best Prog Rock Album in the World…Ever – Various Artists 

This is one of the last CDs I bought. A wicked compilation showcasing a massive range of prog bands covering Canterbury scene, Zappa and even the first sprouts of New Romanticism.

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The Best of Jon & Vangelis – Jon & Vangelis (#169)

Jon & VangelisThe Best of Jon & Vangelis – Jon & Vangelis

Two titans of prog meet and out prog themselves with prog in a very pro-prog kind of way. Jon Anderson of Yes joins forces with Vangelis of Aphrodites Child to forge an unholy progressive rock alliance bringing the auditory senses an extra dose of twee, sax and plinky plonky synth.

I used to really like this album when I was younger. I had it on CD, then on tape and just to be format friendly, nicked it off the internet. I think by the third time I had obtained this album, I’d already overspent.

Sure, its a good album if you’re a fan. But it’s certainly a product of the time. Just too twee. You half expect to sprout a kaftan and start waving a smudge stick about the place while sticking up Roger Dean posters everywhere just by listening to it.

Great if you like Greek blokes with beards and mop haired guys from Altrincham with inexplicable American accents.

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