Thursday, 21 April 2011

Poll: Best Yes-related album of the second half of 2010

There were 118 votes in our poll for the best Yes-related album of the second half of 2010, a busy period with long-awaited projects like the Anderson/Wakeman album and the release of Mr. Mister's Pull, and significant new projects like Yoso and the first of Jon Anderson's Internet collaborations.

1. Anderson/Wakeman: The Living Tree: 37 (31%)    
2. Jon Anderson: Survival & Other Stories: 23 (19%)    
3. Asia: The Omega Tour Live (w/ Howe, Downes): 18 (15%)
4. Yoso: Elements (w/ Sherwood, Kaye): 14 (12%)
5= Geoff Downes: Electronica: 4 (3%)
5= Strawbs: Live at the BBC Volume One In Session (w/ R. Wakeman): 4 (3%)
5= David Bowie: Station to Station [special edition] (w/ Kaye): 4 (3%)
5= The Sorceror's Apprentice OST (w/ Rabin): 4 (3%)
5= Mr. Mister: Pull (w/ Rabin): 4 (3%)
10. King Crimson: any of several archival live releases (w/ Bruford): 3 (3%)
11. Strawbs: 40th Anniversary Celebrations Vol. 2 Rick Wakeman & Dave Cousins (w/ R. Wakeman): 2 (2%)

There were no votes for Robbie Williams' In And Out Of Consciousness: Greatest Hits 1990 - 2010 (w/ Horn) and one invalid vote.

No doubt about the winner this time. The Living Tree has divided fandom: a recent thread on got so heated that two people, ironically a current and a former collaborator of Jon Anderson's, got banned after criticising the album. However, it clearly works for some. In a strong second is Anderson's Survival & Other Stories, an impressive performance given the album has only had a limited release to date (on sale on Anderson Wakeman Project 360 dates). Which means that Anderson's albums attracted 50% of all the votes, a clear indication of his enduring popularity whether in or out of the band.

The other big project of the period was Yoso, an attempt to break a bigger market by combining the core of CIRCA: with the vocals of former Toto frontman Bobby Kimball. However, the poor showing here echoes some bad reviews and the band has already been dissolved. Nonetheless, a new CIRCA: line-up has emerged with more members in common with Yoso than the previous CIRCA: line-up, and CIRCA: have now been taking on by Yoso's former management, 2 Plus Entertainment.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

AWR, official sites and a response

I recently reported, based on information I had received and believed to be reliable, that the Anderson Wakeman Rabin project was dead in the water. However, denials soon followed, most notably from Rick Wakeman in his April GORR. I quote the key section:

Wayne has mentioned to me that he received a lot of e-mails to the site displaying their displeasure at the news that the proposed project with Trevor Rabin and Jon Anderson was not going ahead. I must admit I threw my head in my hands when he told me as it is, to the very best of my knowledge and certainly Jon's as well, total rubbish.

There are some not very nice people out there who like to stir things up, and believe it or not, we know who some of them are. They are the equivalent to people who start computer viruses and I have no time for them. I have always said that if you hear a rumour, log into this site, and if it's confirmed here, then it's true. If it isn't, then treat it as a rumour started by somebody who thinks they know something, but actually don't!

Which would appear to be directed at me and the site!

I am, to say the least, confused as to the current situation with the project. I have faith in what I've heard, that there are issues with the AWR project, but the above and another denial from close to the trio are pretty clear. So, exactly what is going on, I don't know. My apologies if I am wrong.

I hope I am wrong. I'd like to see this project go forward. Rick's presumption of malice is wrong, but not unexpected: he's expressed similar negative views about online discussion before now. But I do agree with Rick that if you want the official news, go to the official sites.

I sometimes see people online going, "Henry said it, so it must be true," which is flattering, but mistaken. I am not an official site, I will deal with rumour, and I do get things wrong. I do my best to be right and how I work means I can often scoop official sites (as with the recent news around Geoff Downes replacing Oliver Wakeman), but I am wrong-footed too (I presumed the Mexico Yes dates in May would automatically be with Downes, but it appears that O. Wakeman may still be in the band for those). So, fingers crossed that AWR will move forward, and I'll update with any further news I hear.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Over 3 years is a respectable stint for any Yes keyboardist

Oliver Wakeman is playing his last few shows with Yes. He is to be replaced by Geoff Downes, presumably as soon as the current Rite of Spring tour ends.

Yes has always had a high rate of keyboardist turnover. Tony Kaye lasted just over 3 years initially. His replacement was of course Oliver's dad, but Rick lasted less time, leaving after 2 years and 8 months. Next came Patrick Moraz for an even shorter spell: 2 years, 1 month.

Rick was back, but only for just over 3 years, before the shortest spell of the keyboardists we usually count, Geoff Downes, at a bit under a year.

Tony Kaye then returned... or rather joined Cinema, which became Yes. He seems to have been in the band for around a year before leaving, being replaced by Eddie Jobson for a few months, and then returning. Kaye was then continuously in Yes for by far the longest period of any keyboardist, another 11 years.

Counting ABWH as well, Rick had his longest spell in Yes of around 4 years from the beginnings of ABWH to the end of the Union tour. Given there were plans for him to be involved in Talk, maybe we should count that as longer. After Kaye's departure, Rick again returned, but this time quite briefly, about 1.5 years. Igor Khoroshev lasted about 3 years. Rick's latest stint in the band was for 2 years, 2 months.

Compared to these previous Yes keyboardists, Oliver has done pretty well. He's been in the band about three and a third years, although the cancellation of the 2008 tour meant his earlier months weren't very busy. (Even if you count only from the beginning of rehearsals for the In the Present tour, Oliver is still on 2 years, 5 months.)

Oliver's period in the band is longer than all but one of his father's; longer than Kaye's first time round; longer than Downes, Moraz, Khoroshev or Jobson. Any Yes keyboardist who gets to 3 years should probably be looking over their shoulder(!); only Tony Kaye has done substantially better.

What marks Oliver out, however, is the possibility that he won't appear on any studio material. While we now know Downes is the main keyboardist on Fly from Here, it's unclear whether any of Oliver's work will be used.

Switching keyboardists while making an album is familiar territory for Yes. Rick first came in when the band were working towards Fragile. Moraz began the Going for the One sessions, only for Rick to return. We've even had one Yes album before capturing a transition: Billy Sherwood plays most of the keys on Open Your Eyes. Igor Khoroshev was then recruited and appears on a few of the tracks.

If Oliver isn't on Fly from Here, however, the only precedent for someone touring as a member of the band but not seeing a studio release is Tony O'Reilly's few months as drummer in 1968.

The other lessons here are that Downes perhaps deserves another go at the job more than most ex-keyboardists, given how brief his first time was, and most Yes keyboardists get to come back at some point! In the mean time, here's good luck to Oliver for his career after Yes.