Tuesday 16 March 2010

ABW... R?

Online fan discussion continues to be dominated by Rick Wakeman's announcement of a project with Trevor Rabin and other ex-Yesmen. Wakeman seems to have confirmed Jon Anderson as the third man, as widely predicted. Now, the March 2010 issue of Classic Rock Presents... Prog claims Bill Bruford will come out of retirement as the fourth member of this group.

I like Prog magazine, but my gut feeling is they're wrong. It would be a dramatic volte face for Bruford, who has so firmly retired and who has so often made clear a complete lack of desire to ever re-join Yes. That said, it wouldn't be the most surprising turn of events in the story of Yes...

[18 Mar update: Bruford has now denied his involvement.]

The possibility of ABWR has seen comparisons drawn to the original ABWH, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, the rival Yes line-up formed in 1989. The pull of the historical parallels is so strong that fans seem almost to presume that the bass player will be Tony Levin (or Jeff Berlin) again, that Bruford will play electronic drums again, that there will be a tour of Yes music plus again and an almost inevitable new Union with the current Yes line-up.

Stop! Do not be taken in by these fantasies. ABWH was 21 years ago. 21 years is as long as the time between Yes's first album, Yes, and ABWH! We're in a completely different context now and there's little reason to expect this to unfold in a similar way. I wouldn't be surprised to see Anderson and R. Wakeman back on stage with Howe/Squire/White at some point - the nostalgia will always exert a powerful gravitational pull - but I expect an ABWR, or AWR, in 2011 to be a very different beast to ABWH in 1989. Let's wait for a new story to unfold rather than trying to force it into the shape of an old one.



  1. Graeme Stevenson22 March 2010 at 07:17

    Having followed all the discussions on Yesfans and then the quote from BB's webmaster I (think) I noted a few things. Nobody really imagines the new project to be a "proper" band and go out on tour - which are the 2 things specifically denied. Does that suggests that a "mere" recording project might still be a possiblility?

  2. I think it requires a lot of optimism to imagine that Bruford will be involved. "I haven't been approached by Wakeman, Anderson, Rabin, Howe, Squire or Uncle Tom Cobley for anything more than a pint." seems fairly categorical.