Thursday 29 December 2011

Prog's critics' choices

Yes fandom remains riven by the issue of Benoît David replacing Jon Anderson. The same debate sits like a black hole, dragging other discussions off course. So I find it interesting to step back sometimes and see how the prog music community more generally views the band's and the musicians' output.

The last issue of 2011 of Classic Rock Presents... Prog includes their annual Critics' Choice selection of the 20 best albums of the last 12 months, as voted on by the magazines' contributors. The winner is Opeth's Heritage but Yes's Fly from Here comes in 5th, with Steve Hackett's Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (with Chris Squire guesting and a couple of tracks co-credited to Steve Howe) coming 7th. Blackfield's Welcome to My DNA, with one track produced by Trevor Horn, is 11th. Steven Wilson's Grace for Drowning, with Tony Levin appearing, was the #2 album.

Rick Wakeman writes for the magazine, which has championed the planned Anderson/Wakeman/Rabin collaboration. However, nothing by Anderson or Wakeman makes their overall top 20. But the 21 contributors' individual top 20s are also listed, and we see appearances there by Anderson/Wakeman's The Living Tree and Jon Anderson's Survival & Other Stories, as well as the Jakszyk/Fripp/Collins album A Scarcity of Miracles (with Levin), Levin Torn White, John Wetton's Raised in Captivity (with Billy Sherwood, Tony Kaye and Geoff Downes) and Mars Hollow's The World in Front of Me (produced by Sherwood).

The King Crimson reissue series, obviously including multiple albums with Bill Bruford, was in the top 10 reissues list, while "Union Live" was in the top 10 DVDs.

The issue also includes glowing reviews of Steve Howe's Time and Yes's recent London show, and a more ambivalent review of In the Present - Live from Lyon.


  1. It is funny in a way that after 3 or 4 years now that the Jon Anderson debate goes on. To me its the best of both worlds. Two albums or downloads from Anderson and a pair of albums from Anderson/Wakeman. Yes(Drama) came out with one studio and live album which are both good. 2011 was a great year for Yes music collectively or not. Let's see the last real Yes product of new music was 2001. It was a long decade without anything really new. Yes there were spinoffs Circa,Yoso,Syn,White etc. but Yes without Jon still made a good album just like in 1980 with Drama. Jon Anderson is back and maybe not in Yes but I don't think he needs them anymore and hopefully with Rabin,Wakeman and maybe Banks or whoever he collaborates with the music should be at least interesting.

  2. Hopefully this will be a year of building bridges between all the factions. I'm not suggesting that they all get together again for a Union type project, but it would be kinda cool to get rid of all the snipping between each other and enjoy each other's work. I hope there is another album this year from the current Yes line-up, and they work just a touch harder on their writing and arranging. It would also be cool to hear an official clean soundboard release of a Fragile tour gig (in total), to have a historic account of that classic line-up and to really hear the Squire/Bruford in it's live glory (I know boots exist, but it would be great to see the current band paying homage to that line-up).

    Judging by Open, I think Anderson is on very good form and if his output is going to be as good as that he is best away from Yes. I hope David recovers well, but there is a slight niggling doubt as to whether his voice can cope with the material.

    And I love the intergrity of Bruford and his retirement plan, and if he sticks to it my best wishes to him, but if he comes out an plays with Rabin, Anderson and Wakeman (on an acoustic kit) that would be cool too. (btw, it'd be cool if they get John Jowitt on bass for their project.)

    Happy New Year!!