Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

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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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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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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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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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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1984 – Rick Wakeman [#18]

1984 – Rick Wakeman

Take one Chaka “Chaka” Khan (out of deep storage), a dose of Kenny Lynch, a teaspoon of Jon Anderson, a pinch of cockney rebel Steve Harley and mix well with copious amounts of bearded prog rock keyboard player (remove beard). Garnish with sprinklings of Tim Rice Libretto which has been steeped overnight in a solution of George Orwell’s 1984. Leave to play for 46 minutes.

Serve with bemusment.

Rick the bearded grump mashes out another album of prolonged twiddling this time without the ice skating panto horses. Instead he collaborates with Tim “Jeeeesus Christ Superstar” Rice and tells the story of Orwell’s 1984.

If you can listen through Chaka “Chaka” Khan’s screeching you will hear something quite entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t “Lounging about on the sofa drinking coffee” music, nor is it “bring some girl home and romance her” music (unless you’ve found the mythical female prog fan). It isn’t even “Aren’t we refined” dinner party music. It’s “Let’s vacuum the house” or “Wash the dishes” music.

Admittedly I used to listen to it when I did my paper round so it isn’t all that bad really.

Except for the screeching.

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2 Sides of Yes by Rick Wakeman [#4]

2 Sides of Yes by Rick Wakeman

In case you didn’t know, Rick Wakeman was once the keyboard player for 70’s prog band Yes. The wizard of the keys. The bearded wonder of twiddle. A very talented musician. Sadly tainted by religious fervor and self important attitude.

As a big fan of Yes, it makes sense to have some solo albums by the numerous members of the group. Indeed, you will see I have several. However, really I should have a clear out. This is utter dirge.

Uncle Rick twiddles about for 52 minutes playing keyboard versions of some Classic Yes songs. It kind of reminds me of those awful musak albums we used to have in the 1970’s. You know the type, the ones you’d pick up from an all night garage because you were stoned when you went to get the emergency rizlas on your credit card at 3am. The sort that plays in the elevators in Hell. Or in waiting rooms in wanky restaurants in London.

I think at this point in Rick’s career he needed a bit of cash to pay off the credit card he maxed out while buying Rizlas at 3am in the morning at the 24 hour garage on the Isle of Man. It clearly shows. This style of record production does nothing to enhance an artist’s career. Far from it. It just shows that in reality they are talentless lazy fucks who once had a good idea but can’t think of any more now so here’s a best of or compilation album for you adoring fans. It’s like when I post best of journal entries. Or when they do those mid season flashback clip shows on TV.

So if you want to have a preview of the music you will be listening to in the elevator to the fiery click the link below.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/two-sides-of-yes-vol-1-mw0000739523

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