Sunday, 15 November 2015

Poll: What are you most looking forward to in the rest of 2015?

I asked what you were most looking forward to in the rest of 2015 and 105 of you obligingly replied:

1. Panegyric/Steven Wilson remix of Fragile: 25
2. Anderson Ponty Band tour: 23
3. Billy Sherwood's Citizen: 18
4. Downes Braide Association's Suburban Ghosts: 12
5. New Steve Howe Trio album: 11
6. King Crimson's THRAK BOX: 8
7. Cruise to the Edge: 6
8. Other: 2
9. Seal's 7 (prod. by Horn): 0

Most of these have now happened (1, 3, 4, 6, 9) or are currently happening (2, 7, 8), so let me know in the comments what you think of them. Opinion was fairly equally divided, although no-one picked Seal's latest album, 7. Well, you're all wrong about that because it's a great album.

Both using the write-in option chose Yes getting into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. That is, of course, up to the Hall's voting panel once nominations have been chosen. But you can still vote on the nominations here: Yes are in second place, but only just ahead of The Cars, so keep voting. The system allows you to vote several times per day (per device). The nominations are not solely determined by this public vote, but it appears to carry some weight in the process.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Poll: Best Yes-related album of 1978

Well, that was even more conclusive than Fish Out of Water's win in the 1975 poll or Olias of Sunhillow's in the 1976 poll. There were 67 votes (I could have left the poll open longer, but what was the point?):

1. UK: UK (w/ Bruford): 57 votes (85%)
2. Patrick Moraz: Patrick Moraz III: 5 votes (7%)
3. Trevor Rabin: Trevor Rabin [a.k.a. Beginnings]: 4 votes (6%)
4. Annette Peacock: X-Dreams (w/ Bruford): 1 votes (1%)

There were no votes for Lonnie Donegan's Puttin' on the Style (with Banks), Chromium's Star to Star (The Buggles before The Buggles) or three long out-of-print albums with Rabin, Disco Rock Machine's Time to Love, The Tee Cee's Disco Love Bite or Forbidden Fruit by Hot R.S.

UK fans may be interested in Eddie Jobson's crowdsourced deluxe re-issue plans: see here on the news page.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Poll: Best Yes-related album of 1977

93 of you voted on the question of the best Yes-related album of 1977:

1. Rick Wakeman: Criminal Record (w/ Squire, White): 32 (34%)
2. Bill Bruford: Feels Good to Me: 30 (32%)
3. Genesis: Seconds Out (w/ Bruford): 24 (26%)
4. Rick Wakeman: White Rock: 3 (3%)
5= Patrick Moraz: Out in the Sun: 2 (2%)
5= Rabbitt: A Croak and a Grunt in the Night (w/ Rabin): 2 (2%)

There were no votes for the two Detective albums with Kaye, nor for two other albums with Rabin, Rabbitt's Rock Rabbitt and House of the Rising Sun, released under the name Hot R.S.

Criminal Record, perhaps Wakeman's last really successful album, led throughout, although the result was close in the end with Bruford's first solo album challenging, and Bruford's turn with Genesis not far behind. (Thus Bruford appearances overall outpolled Wakeman appearances.) Nothing else got any serious attention.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Poll: Best Yes-related album of 2014, part 2

We got 65 votes in total for the best Yes-related album of the latter half of 2014:

1) King Crimson: Starless (w/ Bruford): 15 (23%)
2) Mystery: Tales from the Netherlands (w/ David): 14 (22%)
3) Todmobile: Úlfur (w/ Anderson): 12 (18%)
4) United Progressive Fraternity: Fall in Love with the World (w/ Anderson): 9 (14%)
5) Dave Kerzner: New World (w/ Sherwood): 4 (6%)
6) Empire: The Mars Tapes (w/ Banks): 3 (5%)
7) Billy Idol: Kings & Queens of the Underground (w/ Horn, Downes): 2 (3%)
8=) Jerusalem: Black Horses (w/ Downes) 1 (2%)
8=) DuskMachine: DuskMachine (w/ Downes) 1 (2%)

There were no votes for Spandau Ballet's The Story: The Very Best of Spandau Ballet (with new tracks produced by Trevor Horn) or two further releases involving Billy Sherwood, Queensrÿche feat. Geoff Tate's Frequency Unknown Deluxe Edition and Spiders & Snakes' Year of the Snake. There were 4 'other' votes, but they were blank or for ineligible entries... which was partly my fault as I mislabelled the poll the begin with!

A very close result, with the latest King Crimson mega-boxset just winning out over the live Mystery album, and then two releases with Jon Anderson guesting, Todmobile's Úlfur (my personal choice) and United Progressive Fraternity's Fall in Love with the World (another good album, but with a more fleeting appearing by Anderson). I wonder whether Úlfur would have done better if it had had some more significant promotion behind it; I don't think Anderson himself ever mentioned it!

Given David's retirement from music, Tales from the Netherlands may be the last release we ever get with him performing, so nice to see it was well received.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Notes: Steve Howe, 19 April 2015

As part of a UK tour to support the release of Anthology, Steve Howe played a solo show on 19 April 2015 at the Jazz Cafe, Camden Town, London. The highlight for me was the medley of the 4 Yes songs using Portuguese guitar.

"In the Course of the Day"
"Sweet Thunder"/"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (to represent the Steve Howe Trio)
"Diary of a Man Who Vanished"
"To be Over" (Howe introduced the piece explaining he wanted Yes to play it and "Sound Chaser" but the rest of the band won't)
"Pleasure Stole the Night", with vocals
"The Little Galliard"
"Classical Gas"
Half of "5% for Nothing" (Howe talked of the difficult the band had rehearsing Fragile for their recent US tour, saying it took longer than they thought to get all the "moods and the swings")
"Mood for a Day"


"Hint Hint" (for daughter Steph, who was in the audience)
"Look Over Your Shoulder", with vocals
"Valley of the Rocks"
"Solitaire" (Howe described how Yes doing new albums has been "quite controversial." He talked of a "bit of a mad rush" doing Heaven & Earth, but that Fly from Here was "more appropriate". He also expressed some surprise that Horn had wanted to expand "Fly from Here" into a suite.)
"Second Initial"
"Sketches in the Sun"
"Cactus Boogie" (switching to electric guitar, Howe talked of his first gig at age 14 in 1962 at a venue on Holloway Road, London with a makeshift band)
"Georgia's Theme Pt 2"
"Intersection Blues"
Yes medley: "Hour of Need/9 Voices/Wonderous Stories/Your Move", with vocals (on Portuguese guitar)

"Clap" (Howe explained how the piece didn't have a title, so Bruford asked him what he was hoping for when people heard the tune)

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Poll: Best Yes-related article of 1976

The best Yes-related album of 1975 poll was a foregone conclusion, won by Fish Out of Water with a 62% lead over its nearest rival. The 1976 poll is a similar story, with an even greater, 69% lead. Out of 69 votes:

1. Jon Anderson: Olias of Sunhillow: 56 votes (81%)
2. Patrick Moraz: The Story of i: 8 votes (12%)
3. Rick Wakeman: No Earthly Connection: 4 votes (6%)

There was 1 vote for Fish Out of Water, but that was released the previous year. And no votes for any of Alan White's much underrated Ramshackled (w/ Anderson, Howe), Absolute Elsewhere's obscure In Search of Ancient Gods (w/ Bruford), Pavlov's Dog's At the Sound of the Bell (also w/ Bruford) or any of the hard-to-find albums with Trevor Rabin, i.e. Mike Makhalemele & Winston Mankunku Ngozi's The Lion and the Bull, You and Me's Come With Me or Margaret Singana's Where is the Love.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Trevor Horn Band, 5 March 2015: initial thoughts

I'm just back from the Shepherd's Bush Empire and the Trevor Horn Band show. Some initial thoughts...

Support was from Will Heard, a young man on vocals and electric guitar. Clearly rather nervous, he played 4 or so songs. Good voice, OK material, including an interesting if not entirely successful electric/punk version of The Carpenters' "Close to You".

The main set began with an exhilarating "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" (originally by Frankie Goes to Hollywood), appropriate as the band would go on to play twice as many numbers from the album of the same name as any other. Then they were straight into The Buggles' "Living in the Plastic Age".

A fine beginning... and then Seal walked on stage and the audience cheered, but sadly Seal was only there to explain that, for only the second time in a 26-year career, he has had to withdraw from the performance due to a recent bout of flu. After effusive praise for Horn, he was off and it was on with the show. Kate Westall came to the front of the stage for a sultry "Slave to the Rhythm" (originally by Grace Jones). Then with Lol Crème joking about tartan skirts, Westall and Kirsten Joy did a rousing "All the Things She Said" (originally by t.A.T.u.), followed by Crème singing 10cc's "Rubber Bullets".

Horn then introduced Gabrielle Aplin, who did her version of Frankie's "The Power of Love". This arrangement was mostly just Aplin on vocals and (synth) piano, with the band joining in later on to boost the power of the song. Aplin stayed to sing Annie Lennox's "Why", originally produced by Stephen Lipson. A great vocal performance from Aplin.

More Frankie with the band's instrumental version of "Two Tribes". Horn then announced a Yes song would be next, but that he wouldn't be singing it. He jokingly explained that we needed to summon the spirit of Jon Anderson, which led to a few bars of "Soon", sung by Westall, as an intro to "Owner of a Lonely Heart", sung by Jamie Squire (no relation). As in the band's Japanese TV performance, the guitar solo was replaced by a keyboard solo, although Downes was mixed too low, at least where I was standing, to hear this well.

Horn next explained how his partner, Mel, had played him this song and he had fallen in love with it. Mr Probz, the song's performer, was, if I heard right, now working on Seal's album and had come over from the Netherlands to sing "Waves". Then we had another guest, an uptempo, bravura performance by Ella Eyre of "Gravity" (originally by DJ Fresh feat. Eyre).

With jokes about his piano playing, Crème came forward to play keys for "I'm Not in Love", with Squire on lead vocals. Horn explained that they had then planned to perform a set of Seal songs, but without Seal, they just did "Prayer for the Dying", with Squire again on lead vocals.

The main set finished with a great performance of "Video Killed the Radio Star" (including a short insert using the rap from and Nicki Minaj's "Check It Out", which sample "Video..."), complete with big finale, then into "Relax", again with Squire singing.

The band encored with "Leave Right Now" (originally by Will Young and produced by Lipson) with Squire on lead vocals.

The band were... from stage right at the back: Kirsten Joy (lead & backing vocals), Kate Westall (lead & backing vocals), Jamie Squire (lead & backing vocals, percussion), Ash Soan (drums) and Luis Jardim (percussion), with 18-year old Simon Bloor (keys, guitar) behind Jardim. At the front, from stage right, was Geoff Downes (keys), Lol Crème (guitar, backing vocals, keys), Trevor Horn (bass), Stephen Lipson (guitar), Julian Hinton (keys) and Phil Palmer (electric & acoustic guitar).

I'm blessed, I saw a lot of the early Producers shows in Camden, so some of this set is becoming very familiar. I'd like to hear some different 10cc songs and I could lose "Two Tribes", but the other Welcome to the Pleasuredome songs were great. The band suffered the late loss of Seal, but Squire did a good job. Aplin and Eyre shone as guests. Soan was fantastic on drums, particularly good on "Owner of a Lonely Heart". The band was quite large, with four guitar players at times. I've no idea what Bloor was doing and Palmer seemed superfluous.

This was basically the same band with much the same set as when they were called Producers. Is the name change just about increasing sales? Despite Horn's name being out front, the other principals were still well represented: we had 5 songs associated with Horn (2 Buggles, 1 t.A.T.u., 1 Seal; although we would have had more Seal), 5 associated with Horn and Lipson (4 Frankie, 1 Grace Jones), 2 associated with Lipson, 2 10cc numbers for Crème, and 2 covers.

Highlights: "Welcome to the Pleasuredome", "All the Things She Said", "The Power of Love", "Gravity", "Video Killed the Radio Star"
Disappointing: "Waves", "Prayer for the Dying", "Rubber Bullets"