Saturday, 25 March 2017

Poll: What was the best Yes-related album of 1982?

Lots of good music in 1982, the first complete year officially without a Yes being active since the band formed:

1. Asia: Asia (w/ Downes, Howe) 50 votes (53%)
2. Jon Anderson: Animation 18 votes (19%)
3. King Crimson: Beat (w/ Bruford) 9 votes (10%)
4. Genesis: Three Sides Live (w/ Bruford) 7 votes (7%)
5. Kate Bush: The Dreaming (w/ Downes) 5 votes (5%)
6= ABC: The Lexicon of Love (w/ Horn) 2 votes (2%)
6= The Dregs: Industry Standard (w/ Howe) 2 votes (2%)
8. Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Somewhere in Afrika (w/ Rabin) 1 vote (1%)

There were no votes for Demis Roussos' Demis (w/ Anderson), The Roches' Keep on Doing (w/ Bruford, Kiki Dee's Perfect Timing (w/ Moraz), Rick Wakeman's Rock 'n' Roll Prophet or Dollar's The Dollar Album (w/ Horn).

Your winner was clear in Asia. A respectable second for Animation, a much-loved solo album from Jon that suffered an ignominious CD re-release saga.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Why I think a new Union is unlikely for now

It's looking likely that the current Yes, or at least Howe, White and Sherwood, will re-unite with Anderson Rabin Wakeman for one night only at the Hall of Fame induction. This will only fuel the expectation of many Yes fans that history will repeat itself, that Yes and ARW will come together for a new Union.

I am sceptical. It could happen, for sure. This is Yes and its Byzantine line-up history is surely far from over. But I'm guessing that an official Yes/ARW reunion, beyond the induction ceremony, is unlikely.

People see the parallels with ABWH v. YesWest, but I suggest that was a very different situation. Two bands, both struggling, found the union mutually beneficial, a solution to both sides' problems. But today's two acts are more comfortable, so the same incentives don't exist.

While we talk about ABWH v. YesWest, remember that YesWest were moribund. They played no shows and released no material in the entire period ABWH existed. Rabin was off doing other things for much of the time. Despite looking, they failed to find a replacement for Anderson: yes, Squire wanted Sherwood, who sang on some demos, but both Rabin and indeed Sherwood himself never supported the plan. They had recorded some demos, but Atlantic reputedly rejected them.

The owners of the Yes name today are in a very different position. They have done 8 years of international touring and released two albums, that sold reasonably well. They're a proven deal. It looks like their label would happily take a new album from this line-up. I'm sure the label would be happier with the higher sales that Anderson back in the band would bring, but official Yes today has shown it can cope without him.

In the run-up to Union, ABWH were imploding. Remember that all the shenanigans around Howe and Wakeman being replaced by session musicians, that was happening before the union was agreed. They could barely stand to be in a room together. The band was dysfunctional. It's no surprise Anderson was thinking about the other guys! He'd worked with them recently and to great commercial success.

In contrast, ARW now are getting on like a house on fire. They appear to being have more fun, to have tighter relationships, than most Yes line-ups ever have had. No-one appears to be looking for an exit.

ABWH were falling apart and YesWest were struggling: the union looked like a good idea to the alternative. Today, ARW and official Yes are probably smaller commercial concerns, but both seem more stable than their predecessors. A union may be just as attractive, but the status quo is better these days, on both sides.

There are plenty of other differences to stop history repeating. The relationships are different. There's no Squire, who had seemed the most likely figure to bring people together. People are on different sides. Three quarters of ABWH had all worked extensively with Squire and White, and half with Kaye too; in comparison, Downes and Davison have no connections with the other side. It's been longer apart. Anderson had barely left YesWest, compared to now, over 12 years since he was in Yes.

If a reunion now is less likely, could anything change that? What would tip the balance and push everyone together again?

Money is the obvious factor. If one or other band sees their ticket sales collapsing, that could see them hurrying to negotiate a deal, although equally they might just choose to pack it in, let the other side 'win'.

Line-up changes would also shift the dynamic. If Rabin returns to soundtracks, or Wakeman decides to milk the recent top ten success of Piano Portraits, then the remaining two are in a much weaker position. Health problems could hit almost anyone, in Yes or ARW.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Poll: Best Yes-related album of the second half of 2016

There were surprisingly few Yes-related releases in the second half of 2016, and half of them were limited releases through Wakeman's online shop. That might explain why voting was low, just 22 votes, which produced a clear winner:

1. CIRCA:, Valley of the Windmill (w/ Sherwood, Kaye): 18 votes (82%)
2= Rick Wakeman, The Rainbow Suite: 1 vote (5%)
2= Rick Wakeman, The Complete Gospels: 1 vote (5%)
2= Rick Wakeman, Gastank: 1 vote (5%)

There was one 'other' vote for Sherwood's Citizen, but that came out the previous year. There were no votes for Leon Alvarado's The Future Left Behind (w/ Sherwood, Wakeman) or for Action Moves People United (w/ White, Downes, Moraz).

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Best selling Yes-related album of 2016

We can debate what the best Yes-related album of 2016 was. You voted The Invention of Knowledge as the best of the first half of the year; I'll hold a poll for the second half of the year soon. But what about the best selling? Forget what the fans might like – what actually got heard the most?

The best selling album with some Yes connection in 2016 was David Bowie's Best of Bowie. This 2002 compilation, including a number of tracks with Rick Wakeman, shot up the charts following Bowie's death and ended up the 10th best selling album of the year in the UK, and 86th so in the US. (Another Bowie compilation, Nothing has Changed, including tracks with Wakeman and with Tony Levin, was the 40th best selling in the UK.) Wakeman's piano cover of "Life on Mars" also did well, topping the UK physical singles sales chart for 2 weeks, although physical sales are a small proportion of overall singles sales.

Old sessions with big name artists often sell better than new releases. Compare also Queen's The Platinum Collection, with Steve Howe on "Innuendo", which was the 107th best selling album of the year in the US. This has possibly been Steve Howe's best seller every year since its release.

OK, but what about new recordings? Well, we could include The Rolling Stones' Blue & Lonesome with ABWH second keyboardist Matt Clifford on it. This was the 17th best selling album of the year in the UK, and the 5th in Germany, 8th in the Netherlands, 15th in Austria, 22nd in both parts of Belgium, 28th in New Zealand and 66th in Denmark. It has made Gold in the UK (100,000 sales), Germany (100,000), Italy (25,000), Poland (10,000), New Zealand (7,500), and Austria (7,500). It made #4 in the US, although it didn't make the top 200 sellers of the year. It was also #2 in France and Canada, #3 in Japan etc. Clifford missed out on the ABWH tour because he got an offer from The Rolling Stones and he's worked with them ever since.

Yeah, fine, but what about proper Yes members, playing on new recordings – which sold the best? This was probably the Anderson/Stolt album, The Invention of Knowledge. This charted at #58 in the UK (#4 on the Progressive chart) and made #21 on the US Rock chart.

Also worthy of mention was Action Moves People United, the UNESCO charity project with Alan White, Geoff Downes, Patrick Moraz and Tony Levin among many others, which made #8 in US Compilation chart. (I presume #58 in the overall chart in the UK and #21 on the US Rock chart means better sales than #8 on the US Compilation chart, but I don't have actual sales figures.)

We could also note that “12 Monkeys” season two, with music by Trevor Rabin & Paul Linford, got as high as 470,000 viewers in the US, which is probably a bigger audience hearing Rabin's music than those who heard The Invention of Knowledge.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Poll: Best Yes-related album of 1981

Yes officially announced they had broken up at the beginning of 1981, but former and future members were busy with other projects. 68 of you voted in this hard-fought vote to pick the best:

1. King Crimson: Discipline (w/ Bruford): 30 votes (44)%
2. Jon & Vangelis: The Friends of Mr Cairo (w/ Anderson): 24 votes (35%)
3= The Buggles: Adventures in Modern Recording (w/ Horn, Downes, Squire): 7 votes (10%)
3= The Moody Blues: Long Distance Voyager (w/ Moraz): 7 votes (10%)

There were no votes for Rick Wakeman's two albums, 1984 (also with Anderson) and The Burning, nor for Trevor Rabin's Wolf, Badfinger's Say No More (with Kaye) or the obscure Fundamental Frolics (with a live Jon Anderson solo band track). I'll take the lack of votes for the other albums to be a testament to the strength of both Discipline and Mr Cairo.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

How do we want new ARW music?

In our latest poll, I asked, "Should Anderson Rabin Wakeman release new music as..."

A regular album: 95 votes (81%)
A series of EPs: 11 votes (9%)
On a live album, mixed in with old material: 5 votes (4%)
A series of individual digital tracks: 4 votes (3%)
Not bother with new material: 1 vote (1%)
Other: 1 vote (1%)

The "other" being "Whatever makes them happy". (A bold answer!)

So, pretty clear what we, us fans, want: a standard, regular album release. Which is unfortunate given that both Anderson and Wakeman are talking about doing things more track by track, or perhaps EP by EP.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Anderson Rabin Wakeman set list - a guess

Anderson Rabin Wakeman hit the stage for the first time in 2 days. We don't know what they're going to play, but I think we can make a good stab at what will be on the set list (if not the order). We know they're playing for two hours or a bit longer, so I make the following prediction and we'll see soon how right or wrong I am!

These are largely based on comments in the most recent interviews:
  • "Perpetual Change"
  • "Starship Trooper"
  • "Roundabout"
  • "Heart of the Sunrise"
  • "And You and I"
  • "Awaken"
  • "Make It Easy intro/Owner of a Lonely Heart" 
  • "Changes" (interviews imply more from 90125 and this one was mentioned a while back)
  • something else from 90125
  • "Rhythm of Love"
  • "The Meeting"
  • "I am Waiting" (recent interviews have talked of a "couple" of songs from Talk and Anderson mentioned this one some time back)
  • "Endless Dream" (the obvious choice from Talk)