It's been an exciting week for Yes fans. Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman have begun their joint tour, and their album The Living Tree is expected any day now; multiple tracks can already be previewed online (see here). Meanwhile, Yes have gathered in Los Angeles to record their new album, with Trevor Horn producing.
These two projects, while both hugely anticipated, sit either side of the fault line in Yes fandom. Their first album is a defining moment for the new Yes line-up, while those critical of Howe/Squire/White's decision to move on with David and Wakeman jnr. have The Living Tree as a rallying cry. Comparisons between the two albums are inevitable.
While we await the chance to actually hear both, what struck me is that the two albums are being made in very different ways. Anderson/Wakeman have adopted what one might call a very agile, or (depending on your perspective) a very cheap, approach. There's just the two of them on the album and they weren't ever together in the studio. Rick recorded his parts in England, while Jon... Jon wasn't even in a studio, recording his vocals while on the road touring. Contrast that with Yes's more traditional approach: the whole band together, with a producer, in a fully-equipped studio (see here for details).
Other comparisons spring to mind. The two albums have a very different relationship to the Yes back catalogue. The Living Tree is expected to have a number of re-recordings of old Yes classics. [UPDATE: In the end, those plans were abandoned and the album is all new material.] The new Yes album is expected to have one re-recording of a rather obscure old Yes number ("We Can Fly from Here", played live on the Drama tour but never released as a studio recording by Yes). The new Yes album is expected to have a Roger Dean cover, while The Living Tree has a somewhat Roger Dean-esque cover.
Here's to both albums being available in the shops and a proper comparison of the music being possible!