Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Fly from Captivity

Fevered excitement is the order of the day online with Yes's new album Fly from Here so close, and new details emerging very day. I've just put track times up on the news site and below. There's a great high resolution image of Dean's album cover here where you can really see the detail, like the two panthers in the trees. Speaking of panthers, I'm hearing the first few comments from people who have heard the album: it's like Drama, and it's not like Drama...

But let's not overlook some other Yes-related projects coming out shortly. After a great debut album, Mars Hollow are shortly to release their second album, produced by Billy Sherwood — more on that in due course. And then there's John Wetton's Raised in Captivity, produced/mixed/co-written/co-performed by Sherwood and out at the same time as Fly from Here. Frontiers have released three snippets of the album (see on the news site under Sherwood) and that distinctive Sherwood sound can be heard, suggesting this is perhaps as much a "John Wetton & Billy Sherwood" album as a John Wetton solo album.

Fly from Here
side A:
1. Fly From Here - Overture (1:54)
2. Fly From Here Pt I - We Can Fly (6:01)
3. Fly From Here Pt II - Sad Night at the Airfield (6:42)
4. Fly From Here Pt III - Madman at the Screens (5:17)
5. Fly From Here Pt IV - Bumpy Ride (2:15)
6. Fly From Here Pt V - We Can Fly Reprise (1:48)

side B:
7. The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be (5:13)
8. Life on a Film Set (5:12)
9. Hour of Need (3:08)
10. Solitaire (3:30) [Howe solo]
11. Into the Storm (6:54)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Yes vs. AWR - timelines

When people talk about the possible Anderson Wakeman Rabin album and the competition this alt-Yes offers to Fly from Here, they tend to stress how we can enjoy both and this is not a contest. And they're right. But, you know, it's much more fun to look at it as a contest! I thought it would be interesting to look at timelines.

The new Yes as we know it was announced in September 2008 (although the idea of Yes moving on without Anderson was mooted as early as June 2008 in the initial panicked reaction to Anderson's ill health). That same month, the idea of doing an album at some point is mentioned in interviews. We'll take September 2008 as the starting date.

The idea of Anderson Wakeman Rabin, or Anderson Bruford Wakeman Rabin as the initial plan was, dates back to February 2010. Wakeman, without naming names, first described the project and plans for an album that month.

But it's one thing to moot doing an album at some point. That's not the same as really starting work. Of course, musicians are of always writing and often use older ideas, so this is difficult to assess. Still, let's try to identify when we first see serious and collaborative work towards an album. For Yes, that would seem to be September 2009 when Squire, Howe and O. Wakeman gathered to exchange ideas specifically for a new album. With AWR, it would appear to be January 2011, when Anderson first says that he and Wakeman have written material for the project (whereas his 2010 interviews talk of writing in the future). So, this first step took 12 months for Yes and 11 months for AWR.

For Yes, recording sessions began in October 2010, another 13 months on. Recording finished in February 2011 (3 months more) and the album was mastered in May 2011 for a June 2011 release. Presuming that happens to plan, that's 3 months from recording finished, 6 months from recording beginning, 19 months from joint writing beginning, 31 months from the project beginning.

AWR started later. To stay one month ahead of Yes, they need to start recording by February 2012 and aim for a September 2012 release. OK then, clock ticking...

Friday, 13 May 2011


Comicoperando is a tribute to Robert Wyatt led by musicians who have worked with him over the years. The project began early last year and has featured the likes of Richard Sinclair and Gilad Atzmon, but there is a short tour this year with a sextet of Dagmar Krause (lead vocals), Annie Whitehead (trombone, backing vocals), Karen Mantler (Hammond B3, lead vocals, harmonica), Michel Delville (guitar, vocals), John Edwards (double bass, vocals) and Chris Cutler (drums). Given such talent brought together, it was disappointing that the Queen Elizabeth Hall was only about half full, around 450 people, at their London show last night (12 May 2011).

The band seemed unconfident, apologetic and occasionally under-rehearsed (Krause notably missed a couple of cues). However, by and large, their performance was rich, tight and strong, and their apologies unnecessary.

The real fireworks for me came from the rhythm section, Cutler’s fluid drumming and Edwards’ complex bass playing. Whitehead’s trombone was the dominant lead instrument, working well with Krause’s and Mantler’s vocals, although I felt Delville’s duet vocals on “Just as You Are” were weak.

Dagmar Krause, of course, has a very distinctive voice, and Robert Wyatt, of course, has a very distinctive voice, so it was a surprise how well Krause’s vocals suited Wyatt’s songs. Krause was powerful and strident on “Out of the Blue” and “Gloria Gloom”, but emotional and intimate on “Alifib”. Mantler’s light, delicate vocal style offered a nice contrast on pieces like “Life is Sheep” and “The United States of Amnesia”. However, sometimes the vocals did not cut through the music well enough for the lyrics to be distinguished, a shame when dealing with Wyatt’s work.

The set spanned Wyatt’s career. Highlights for me were the playing on “The British Road”, the power of “Out of the Blue” and, of course, getting to hear old favourites like “Sea Song”. The show was a tad short, but I resisted the temptation to call out for “The Song of Investment Capital Overseas” as an extra encore!

Set (not in this order):
September the Ninth (written by Robert Wyatt / Alfreda Benge) - vocals Krause
Alliance (Robert Wyatt) - vocals Mantler
Beware (Karen Mantler) - vocals Mantler & Krause
Gloria Gloom (Bill MacCormick / Robert Wyatt) - vocals Krause
The British Road (Robert Wyatt) - vocals Mantler
Maryan (Robert Wyatt / Philip Catherine) - vocals Mantler & Krause
Just as You Are (Robert Wyatt) - vocals Krause & Delville
Life is Sheep (Karen Mantler) - vocals Mantler
Alifib (Robert Wyatt) - vocals Krause
Sea Song (Robert Wyatt) - vocals Krause
Little Red Riding Hood (Robert Wyatt) - vocals Krause & Mantler
Out of the Blue (Robert Wyatt) - vocals Krause
The United States of Amnesia (Robert Wyatt) - vocals Mantler
Memories (Hugh Hopper / Robert Wyatt) - vocals Krause
encore: Soup Song (Brian Hopper / Robert Wyatt) - vocals Krause & Mantler