Saturday, 31 December 2016

Best selling Yes-related album of 2016

We can debate what the best Yes-related album of 2016 was. You voted The Invention of Knowledge as the best of the first half of the year; I'll hold a poll for the second half of the year soon. But what about the best selling? Forget what the fans might like – what actually got heard the most?

The best selling album with some Yes connection in 2016 was David Bowie's Best of Bowie. This 2002 compilation, including a number of tracks with Rick Wakeman, shot up the charts following Bowie's death and ended up the 10th best selling album of the year in the UK, and 86th so in the US. (Another Bowie compilation, Nothing has Changed, including tracks with Wakeman and with Tony Levin, was the 40th best selling in the UK.) Wakeman's piano cover of "Life on Mars" also did well, topping the UK physical singles sales chart for 2 weeks, although physical sales are a small proportion of overall singles sales.

Old sessions with big name artists often sell better than new releases. Compare also Queen's The Platinum Collection, with Steve Howe on "Innuendo", which was the 107th best selling album of the year in the US. This has possibly been Steve Howe's best seller every year since its release.

OK, but what about new recordings? Well, we could include The Rolling Stones' Blue & Lonesome with ABWH second keyboardist Matt Clifford on it. This was the 17th best selling album of the year in the UK, and the 5th in Germany, 8th in the Netherlands, 15th in Austria, 22nd in both parts of Belgium, 28th in New Zealand and 66th in Denmark. It has made Gold in the UK (100,000 sales), Germany (100,000), Italy (25,000), Poland (10,000), New Zealand (7,500), and Austria (7,500). It made #4 in the US, although it didn't make the top 200 sellers of the year. It was also #2 in France and Canada, #3 in Japan etc. Clifford missed out on the ABWH tour because he got an offer from The Rolling Stones and he's worked with them ever since.

Yeah, fine, but what about proper Yes members, playing on new recordings – which sold the best? This was probably the Anderson/Stolt album, The Invention of Knowledge. This charted at #58 in the UK (#4 on the Progressive chart) and made #21 on the US Rock chart.

Also worthy of mention was Action Moves People United, the UNESCO charity project with Alan White, Geoff Downes, Patrick Moraz and Tony Levin among many others, which made #8 in US Compilation chart. (I presume #58 in the overall chart in the UK and #21 on the US Rock chart means better sales than #8 on the US Compilation chart, but I don't have actual sales figures.)

We could also note that “12 Monkeys” season two, with music by Trevor Rabin & Paul Linford, got as high as 470,000 viewers in the US, which is probably a bigger audience hearing Rabin's music than those who heard The Invention of Knowledge.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Poll: Best Yes-related album of 1981

Yes officially announced they had broken up at the beginning of 1981, but former and future members were busy with other projects. 68 of you voted in this hard-fought vote to pick the best:

1. King Crimson: Discipline (w/ Bruford): 30 votes (44)%
2. Jon & Vangelis: The Friends of Mr Cairo (w/ Anderson): 24 votes (35%)
3= The Buggles: Adventures in Modern Recording (w/ Horn, Downes, Squire): 7 votes (10%)
3= The Moody Blues: Long Distance Voyager (w/ Moraz): 7 votes (10%)

There were no votes for Rick Wakeman's two albums, 1984 (also with Anderson) and The Burning, nor for Trevor Rabin's Wolf, Badfinger's Say No More (with Kaye) or the obscure Fundamental Frolics (with a live Jon Anderson solo band track). I'll take the lack of votes for the other albums to be a testament to the strength of both Discipline and Mr Cairo.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

How do we want new ARW music?

In our latest poll, I asked, "Should Anderson Rabin Wakeman release new music as..."

A regular album: 95 votes (81%)
A series of EPs: 11 votes (9%)
On a live album, mixed in with old material: 5 votes (4%)
A series of individual digital tracks: 4 votes (3%)
Not bother with new material: 1 vote (1%)
Other: 1 vote (1%)

The "other" being "Whatever makes them happy". (A bold answer!)

So, pretty clear what we, us fans, want: a standard, regular album release. Which is unfortunate given that both Anderson and Wakeman are talking about doing things more track by track, or perhaps EP by EP.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Anderson Rabin Wakeman set list - a guess

Anderson Rabin Wakeman hit the stage for the first time in 2 days. We don't know what they're going to play, but I think we can make a good stab at what will be on the set list (if not the order). We know they're playing for two hours or a bit longer, so I make the following prediction and we'll see soon how right or wrong I am!

These are largely based on comments in the most recent interviews:
  • "Perpetual Change"
  • "Starship Trooper"
  • "Roundabout"
  • "Heart of the Sunrise"
  • "And You and I"
  • "Awaken"
  • "Make It Easy intro/Owner of a Lonely Heart" 
  • "Changes" (interviews imply more from 90125 and this one was mentioned a while back)
  • something else from 90125
  • "Rhythm of Love"
  • "The Meeting"
  • "I am Waiting" (recent interviews have talked of a "couple" of songs from Talk and Anderson mentioned this one some time back)
  • "Endless Dream" (the obvious choice from Talk)

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Poll: Best Yes-related album of the first half of 2016

Our latest poll was on the best Yes-related album of the first half of 2016. If you've been reading the forums and seen the reaction it's had, there's no surprise here: an overwhelming victory for Invention of Knowledge from Anderson/Stolt. It snuck up on us unexpectedly and there it was, the return to form for Jon Anderson we'd been waiting for. Wakeman's latest classic album re-recording came second. With 69 votes in total, the full results:

1. Anderson/Stolt: Invention of Knowledge 57 (83%)
2. Rick Wakeman: The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table [2016 version] 8 12%
3= The Samurai of Prog: Lost and Found (w/ Davison) 1 (1%)
3= Jerusalem: Cooler Than Antarctica (w/ Downes) 1 (1%)

And so no votes for Oakes and Smith's Between the Earth and the Sky (w/ Anderson), Scott Walton's Wandering Soul or Rome Pro(G)ject: II — Of Fate and Glory (both w/ Sherwood), or Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here Symphonic or Michael Livesley & Brainwashing House's Vivian Stanshall's Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (both w/ Wakeman). Some good albums there, but unlucky to hit tough competition.

There were 2 other votes: one for 'none of the above' (seems a bit harsh!) and one for CIRCA:'s Valley of the Windmill, which is a good album, but came out just a few days into the second half of the year, so you'll be able to vote on it in a later poll.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Interview with Julian Colbeck

As we await Anderson Rabin Wakeman, perhaps it's a good time to re-visit their spiritual predecessor, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. When ABWH played live, they had an additional guitarist and keyboardist. (ARW talked about a similar arrangement and even announced Gary Cambra for the touring band, although they are now working as a quintet with just bassist Lee Pomeroy and drummer Lou Molino.)

Julian Colbeck, who was that second keyboardist on the ABWH tour, kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Colbeck has plenty more to his career than his time in the Yes orbit: we also talked about his work with Steve Hackett and with Charlie. But we started with ABWH:

Can you talk me through how you got the job in ABWH?
In 1989 I was being managed by Pete Smith who was also ABWH's tour manager. Right before rehearsals were due to begin, Matt Clifford, who had played keys on the ABWH album, announced he was going to join the Stones on their Steel Wheels tour. This was interpreted as a bit of a slap in the face for ABWH (which it wasn’t, but..) and so they needed another keyboard player pretty quickly. I went up to see Jon [Anderson] in London, played a bit of piano for him in his living room, and was offered the gig. Next stop, go say hi to [manager] Brian Lane. Yikes!

How did you work out the arrangements between you and Rick [Wakeman]?
Essentially Rick plays and played all the ‘signature’ parts - solos, refrains etc. - and I played all the ‘orchestrated’ parts. Put even more simply, Rick plays all his bits and I played whatever was left; stuff that even an octopus like Rick couldn’t manage.

What was the mood within the band? Did the band and crew just consider this to be the real Yes?
The mood was generally good and there was a general acceptance of this being as real a ‘Yes’ as could feasibly have been formed in the past couple of decades. That said, everyone had their own dressing room (Jon had a wigwam that got carted around with us and to which no one ever wanted to get summoned) but as I recall, Bill [Bruford] and Rick spent most of their time with Tony [Levin], Milton [McDonald, second guitarist] and myself in the band dressing room. Steve [Howe] kept himself to himself but was never less than charming and civilized. OK, and weird, but in a nice way. 

What happened after the tour? And what's the story behind the French sessions that led to Watching the Flags That Fly [released as part of Jon Anderson's The Lost Tapes collection in 2006]? Who else was involved in the sessions?
The Opio sessions were designed as pre-production for the next ABWH album, which morphed into Union. Everyone was invited. No one came. Just Jon, myself, an orchestrator called Mike Marshall who Jon was also writing an orchestral piece with, and two crew. One of the crew, Rick’s keyboard tech Stuart Sawney, played guitar whenever guitar was needed that neither Jon nor I could hack. In particular, Stu plays the lovely solo on After The Rain [released as "After the Storm"].

Which songs did you co-write?
Some songs Jon had sketches of beforehand, some were my ideas that Jon and I fleshed out together. I’d say it was about 50/50, possibly 60/40 in Jon’s favor. I actually loved writing with Jon. It was inspirational, if challenging. I remember him being pissed off he couldn’t sing into a Roland MC-500 MIDI sequencer. Everything was recorded onto ADAT but none of it was ever intended (so far as I was concerned anyhow) as releasable material; just ideas and demos.

Then what happened – how did you hear that ABWH had merged back into Yes?
After the final ABWH tour, Jonathan Elias had come on the scene and ‘ABWH’ sort of ballooned into Union, which, so far as I’m aware, was a nightmare for which the word clusterfuck must surely have been coined. I was not involved in its recording in any way but one song I had had a hand in writing of (Take The Water… to somewhere, who knows?) made it to the album. I was neither credited nor paid. After ABWH I think I started work with Steve Hackett so quickly lost track of where the Yes guys were at or what they were doing. I certainly had no idea that ‘Watching The Flags’ would ever be heard of again and was utterly gobsmacked when one day it just sort of landed on my doorstep as a ‘record’. To be honest, I was appalled, even though some of the songs were good and some of the arrangements interesting. These were demos; not intended for public consumption.

[Colbeck also said that he cleared up songwriting and royalties for Watching the Flags That Fly with Anderson after the release.]

You then returned for Symphonic Music of Yes: what are your memories of that session?
Symphonic Music of Yes… ummm, not entirely glowing memories. At the time everyone was mad at Rick (who knows why this particular time) so they needed a keyboard player and so I obliged. It was produced by my chum Alan Parsons, so that was nice, but the music and sessions themselves I recall as being somewhat stressful and I didn’t (and don’t) like the album.

You did some further sessions with both Howe and Bruford: can you tell me about them?
These were much more fun. I worked with Steve and his son Dylan and we recorded all sorts of interesting things like Walk Don’t Run and who knows what else. With Bill, we did some music for TV. Again, this was great fun. Lord knows what happened to the music from either session.

You worked for several years with Steve Hackett: what did that period mean for you?
Working with Steve was always a joy. I did all manner of projects and things from live shows to live recorded gigs (Time Lapse - that band only ever played that one gig!), to duos, writing, you name it.

I've read that it was during the Japanese performances released as The Tokyo Tapes that you decided to retire from live performance. What brought about that decision?
 I simply looked around on stage during the final show and saw a bunch of old men - including if not especially, me. I was 44 at the time. Now I look back on those shows and see a bunch of young men. Life is funny like that.

You also worked on Captain Crash vs The Zzorg Women, Chapters 5 &6 [a sequel to Flash Fearless Versus the Zorg Women, Parts 5 & 6], by Steve Hammond and Dave Pierce: tell me more!?
Yeesh! Yes, well that was along time ago, 1980 or thereabouts. I’d known the four writers in London in the early 1970s and had spent many a happy and stoned evening at their houses when the material was being written. In 1980 I left the band Charlie, with whom I’d made a bunch of albums, and moved to LA with Rick Jones and Dave Pierce. We moved in with the unfortunate Steve Hammond (one of the other four writers) and were happy to be supported by Steve’s long-suffering wife Sandy as we routined and rehearsed ‘Crash’. Crash ran for a month or so in a fleapit equity-waiver theater on Santa Monica Blvd but was an amazing experience with an amazing cast. I was the musical director and played keys. The cast was essentially seven gorgeous young LA actresses, three of the four writers, and Lewis Arquette, dad of the little blond Arquette girls who’d come in many nights and watch their dad perform. One night the sleezebag director surreptitiously recorded the show and that’s the album you can hear today. I never even knew anything had been recorded until I was given a copy of the album twenty years later. The music business really makes you go all warm and fuzzy, and so often too.

I'm curious about the Charlie reunion in 2009: what's the story behind that?
2009 Charlie album was essentially a Terry Thomas solo album but on which I played some keys so Terry ended up feeling it merited being released under the name of Charlie. Terry sent me stems and I recorded my parts in my own studio and sent them back to him. That’s it, really. It was and is a really good album but unless we could somehow release it under the name of the Foo Fighters, it stood about as much chance of selling or being played as I do of representing Colombia at free-form ice dancing at the next Winter Olympics.

There is an even newer Charlie album, Elysium, on which I actually played rather more keys and on which I think Martin Smith, a Charlie founder member and current player in ELO or something, also played. It too is a really good and solid album with some killer tracks. I loved playing ‘live’ on this; no sequencing, no auto correct, just me sitting at an acoustic piano, a Rhodes, or a B3 and playing shit. Well, not shit, I hope, but just playing. As for its chances of success, see above but switch Colombia for Pluto.

Do you have any more plans to work with Charlie?
I’d actually love to. Steve Gadd (the other Steve Gadd drummer) sadly died of cancer two years ago and the album is dedicated to him. I nearly died of cancer this past year too but since I still seem to be around I could be persuaded to come out of retirement, should we be able to be convinced that anyone would be interested in listening to us. Now I’m ‘so much’ older, I actually couldn’t give so much of a fuck about being an old man on stage. I wouldn’t have to look at me, the audience would, so that’s their problem.

Thanks to Julian for his cooperation.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

New Yes tribes

Nearly two decades ago, I put together a guide to the different factions in Yes fandom as part of the FAQ for Debates between fans of classic Yes, Troopers, and of YesWest, Generators, had raged online through the eighties and nineties. But after Rabin and Kaye left the band after Talk, and with the classic line-up (more or less) reunited, those debates slowly faded into the background.

But more recent developments have seen Yes fandom returning to that same level of fractiousness. However, this time the old rivalries have been disrupted. A new band following the ABWH playbook unites Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman, crossing the old Trooper/Generator division, while as I type the Yes line up on tour has only one classic member (Alan White is recovering from back surgery).

So, we need a new vocabulary to describe the new debates, to separate those who are excited by ARW from those who champion Heaven & Earth. Here's my suggestion...

New Panthers: this tribe obviously welcome the return of Geoff Downes, hearing Drama played live and welcome any involvement by Trevor Horn. They love Fly from Here, but may have any opinion on Heaven & Earth (but usually like "Subway Walls"). Howe/White/Downes represents the core of a classic Yes line-up to a Panther, so New Panthers don't see any issue with the validity of a current Yes based around this trio. Favourite albums: Fly from Here, Drama, Made in Basing Street

Believers: they defend Heaven & Earth and I've named them after the album's opening track, but also because they believe in the eternal Yes, a band continuing on for many years, long after any classic members depart. These are the people who want a future Yes with, for example, Sherwood, Davison, Schellen and Haun. They accept an argument built on continuity, a ship of Theseus approach. Favourite albums: Heaven & Earth, Fly from Here, Citizen, anything by CIRCA:

Generators: an old tribe reborn, joyful at the return of Trevor Rabin to non-soundtrack music in Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman, a rebirth for a side of Yes long neglected by the official band. Favourite albums: Jacaranda, 90125, Talk

Inventioneers: these love Jon Anderson and they point to Invention of Knowledge, "Open", the Anderson Ponty Band etc. as the future. They support Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman of course, but are more vehement in their condemnation of recent history, of a Yes that "betrayed" Anderson. Favourite albums: Invention of Knowledge, Better Late than Never

Troopers: now fall into two kinds. Pessimists bemoan all current options and focus their interest on archival releases. Favourite albums: Progeny, Panegyric deluxe editions. Optimists meanwhile hope for a new union or a reformation of as much of the classic line up as possible: Anderson, Wakeman, Howe and White together again. Favourite tour: Union.

YesWholes: continue to support all Yes variants, including spin offs. They also hope for a new union but want a more inclusive one with Rabin, Sherwood, Downes, Davison etc.

Is that enough? Do we need to add Journeymen for those focused on Wakeman's work, or Spiralisers for the faction yearning for Tom Brislin's return? Tell me in the comments below.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

We care about names, so we will always argue about names

Dom Lawson's online article for Prog, “Is It Time For Yes To Call It Quits?”, asks whether Yes should stop calling themselves “Yes”. It has attracted some furore, but while it has a higher profile, the content is no different to dozens of online messages in recent years. I've been in the resultant online arguments. I've waged those battles for years, even decades. I'm not going to repeat myself here: I'm still interested in what the current Yes are doing, as I am in what Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman come up with.

The point I would like to make instead is that all such articles miss the central tension in what they are saying, which comes because we care about names. “Yes” is not just three letters. We are invested in the band name and what it means to us.

Changes in band line ups are more common than not. While a few bands are very stable in their personnel – Rush being the obvious exemplar – most bands undergo change. Some more often, some less often. Genesis, Gong, Soft Machine, Marillion, Camel, King Crimson, Caravan, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Renaissance, It Bites, Wishbone Ash, Asia... the list goes on, all with significant turnover. However, the problem really comes when a band gets older and becomes reliant on nostalgic set lists that much of the performing line up never played on in the first place. Yes changed 60% of the band from the recording sessions for Time and a Word to those for Yessongs, a mere 2 years later, but the band went on creating new classics. Today, the band perform old classics with only Steve Howe having a connection to some of the old material – at least while Alan White is recovering from back surgery! Yes are hardly alone in this. Only one person playing on the original applies to portions of the set lists played by King Crimson, Renaissance and Caravan too. Gong play material recorded decades before any of them joined the band.

As a result, we hear these arguments that the band should no longer call itself Yes (or Gong or Soft Machine or whatever). They should use something else. “Steve Howe and Friends”? A common rebuttal is simply to that is to say: 'Well, if you do not want to see this line up, then don't. If you're not interested, don't be. But why spoil the fun for those who are still interested?' The reason why this argument falls on deaf ears is because we place so much value in the band name. It is totemic. We care, therefore we cannot simply disengage. People care, so they cannot stand to see the band name (in their eyes) traduced. But – and this is the central irony that people keep missing – that is exactly why the name goes on being used. Because we care. Because the line up with that name sell many more tickets than the exact same line up playing the exact same music would under a different name.

We care, so the name has commercial value, and so it goes on being used. We care, so we complain about how the name is used. It's two sides of the same coin, inseparable. The reason we care about who uses the name ensures situations where the people using the name perhaps shouldn't. (Although I'm fine with the current Yes being "Yes".)

We say the band name should depend on the people, that 'it's not band X without A, B or C', but then we go on focusing on whoever has the band name rather than what A, B and/or C do under some other name. If as fans we stopped worrying about what name was used and really focused on line up and performance, then the band names would lose commercial value, and line ups wouldn't worry about performing under a different moniker.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Poll: Best Yes-related album of the second half of 2015

Our latest poll covered the Yes-related albums of the second half of 2015, which included one day in November with three such releases (Suburban Ghosts, 7 and Citizen). The results are:

1. Anderson Ponty Band: Better Late Than Never, 29 (51%)
2. Billy Sherwood: Citizen (w/ Squire, Downes, Moraz, Kaye, Davison, Wakeman), 13 (23%)
3. Downes Braide Association: Suburban Ghosts, 8 (14%)
4. King Crimson: THRAK BOX (w/ Bruford), 2 (4%)
5= Greg Lake & Geoff Downes: Ride the Tiger, 1 (2%)
5= King Crimson: The Elements of King Crimson (w/ Bruford), 1 (2%)
5= Seal: 7 (w/ Horn), 1 (2%)
5= Deckchair Poets: Searchin' for a Lemon Squeezer (w/ Downes), 1 (2%)
5=  Trevor Rabin & Paul Linford: 12 Monkeys – Original Television Soundtrack, 1 (2%)
10= Billy Sherwood: Archived, 0
10= Billy Sherwood: Collection, 0
10= XNA: Westernology: The Outlaw and the Sioux (w/ Sherwood), 0

A clear 1, 2, 3, with Jon Anderson's most significant release for some years winning, a good sign for the Anderson/Stolt album due shortly and an Anderson Rabin Wakeman album probably now due in 2017.

Personally, I voted for 7, a wonderful album from Horn and Seal, and Suburban Ghosts would have been my second choice.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The central ontological question: Are ARW Yes?

With an aggressive promotional campaign laying claim to the Yes legacy, and implicitly dismissing the current owners of that name, Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman have poured gasoline on the long-rumbling question of legitimacy and who counts as Yes. Three famous past members of the band, including a founding member, looks impressive when the continuity-Yes boast only two famous members and no co-founders.

Not that I believe the question can be answered with simple maths. I'm up for anything and look forward to music by both bands. Indeed, I think the entire question is ultimately fruitless. But that isn't going to stop it dominating fan discourse!

So, if you will indulge me, I thought it would be interesting to look at this argument in some different ways. This is not to try to answer the question, but to discuss what it means. I'd like to start with asking which band, ARW or official Yes, have most claim over the back catalogue.

Yes, Time and a Word: while Yes are playing "Time and a Word" live and Howe has a connection to the album he toured behind when he first joined the band, given ARW have Anderson on these albums and Yes have no-one, two wins to ARW.

The Yes Album: But with Howe joining, it's now one all when it comes to the line-up. Still, The Yes Album is more Anderson's album than Howe's, so I'm going to call this for ARW as well.

Fragile, Close to the Edge: With Wakeman joining, it's now 2-1 to ARW, although the tour for Close to the Edge brings us back to two all.

Tales from Topographic Oceans: Two people from ARW to two people from Yes, Anderson and Howe the two chief architects of the project. A draw.

Relayer: With Wakeman gone, this is the current Yes's first win, although there's an argument that side A should go to ARW and side B to Yes.

Going for the One, Tormato: But with Wakeman back, I'll call these two draws.

Drama: From 2-2 to 3-0. Current Yes is Drama Yes.

90125, Big Generator and (to take it out of order) Talk: But the Yes line-up merry-go-round keeps turning and YesWest saw Anderson and Rabin versus White. Another three albums for ARW.

ABWH: The last contender for the Yes name, a 2-1 advantage wins it for ARW.

Union: Here is an album with three members of ARW and three members of Yes on it, although Sherwood's only on one track, White and Rabin only a handful but White with no writing credits, Howe and Wakeman about tied for their contributions, and Anderson the dominant personality, so I'll give this to ARW.

Keys to Ascension, Keys to Ascension 2: In terms of performers, it's 2-2 again, but with Sherwood producing, that tips the balance in Yes's favour on Keys to Ascension 2. I'll call Keys to Ascension a draw: Sherwood was just mixing and Anderson is more dominant in the writing of the music.

Open Your Eyes, The Ladder: With Wakeman gone and Sherwood joining fully, it's Howe/Sherwood/White versus Anderson. Yes win.

Magnification: Even with Sherwood gone, Yes retain a 2-1 advantage. Although we could call The Ultimate Yes bonus disc a draw.

Fly from Here, Heaven & Earth: Obvious.

So, tallying that up:

ARW: Yes, Time and a Word, The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge, 90125, Big Generator, ABWH, Union, Talk (9 albums + ABWH)

Yes: Relayer, Drama, Keys to Ascension 2, Open Your Eyes, The Ladder, Magnification, Fly from Here, Heaven & Earth (8 albums)

draw: Tales from Topographic Oceans, Going for the One, Tormato, Keys to Ascension, The Ultimate Yes bonus disc (3 full albums and 2 part-albums)

ARW are ahead on number of albums, and Yes's album wins tend to be later and less popular releases. You can see why ARW and many fans feel they have a strong claim on the identity.

Then again, the thing about ARW is that the three never recorded together in Yes. There isn't a single Yes recording with all three of ARW and, thus, where they were the majority of the band at the time. Then again, that's true for current-Yes when it comes to any of the 1970s recordings. Neither band does better than 40% of any 1970s Yes line-up. Although Yes can say that their current members were a majority of the band that did Drama, Open Your Eyes, Fly from Here and Heaven & Earth.

Of course, these are only some ways of looking at it. Official Yes do better if you consider Yessongs and Yesshows. The band with the name have the direct line of descent, and Chris Squire's blessing. They also have longevity in the band on their side. The four people who have been in Yes for the longest time have been Squire, White, Anderson and Howe, in that order I think... it's close and I haven't checked the maths there. Downes' second period in the band is now longer than any stint Wakeman did in the band, and that may be true for Davison's tenure too.

What of these things matter? Or do none of them matter? If ARW blow us away with their album and tour, or conversely if they flop, that renders other distinctions moot.

What do you think? Comments below if anyone wants to wade in...

Monday, 2 May 2016

Anderson interweaving for ARW

Do you remember this from Jon Anderson, talking about the Anderson Ponty Band in a 2014 interview before their first show:
You don’t want all the songs sounding the same. I put them together in sections so that they’re 15-minute works: a well-known Jean-Luc piece, a new piece, and then a well-known Yes piece. And then the other way around [...] that’s what’s very good for a musician: the journey of performance. Sometimes the audience really enjoys the journey rather than every four or five minutes us stopping [...] I want to go on a little journey [...] After “Listening,” it goes into Amharic music, which is from Ethiopia
What we finally got did not really match that vision, being a more conventional series of songs.

And do you remember Anderson's "Open", released online 2011? That quoted a number of older compositions, notably using a theme from "New Language".

OK, now listen to this fascinating new radio interview with Jon from KVOI's Daily Double: you want the 26 April show. One of the interviewers says that, prior to the broadcast, Anderson had said that a particular Yes piece might be played in the Anderson Rabin Wakeman set. I'll not mention which, because spoilers, but it doesn't matter which for what follows. You see, Anderson interjects:
No, no, no, parts of it will work with this new piece that Rick sent over that I've been working on. I'm thinking, how to work on vignettes, so, er, this track will be going along […] jump into [the afore-not-mentioned Yes piece] […] then back into the next part of this new movement. […] We have the right to go in and out of our older music, into the newer music and interweave them, and, er, just see how it works.
And then they ask him what Yes pieces he wants to play with ARW:
Definitely [another piece, name removed coz spoilers] […] and we'll do the same thing. We're going to use a vignette of the main section towards the end and then go into the original song and then that will lead us into a new song. I think that's what we're going to try and do. We're going to try and balance out, so that we're not only presenting the music in a fresh way, but also in a very creative way.
The idea for a journey using sections of music for the Anderson Ponty Band, the re-appearance of themes in "Open", and now this quote. One could also consider the way "Mind Drive" was played live by Yes in 2004. It seems to me that Anderson is circling around an idea for how to present, interweaved, old and new music together... perhaps inspired by his interest in long-form pieces (compare Invention of Knowledge) and his recent listening experiences with Sibelius and Mahler?

Will it work, and will it be what fans want? The re-use of themes in "Open" attracted some criticism and the idea did not seem to come together for the Anderson Ponty Band, but live, with Anderson Rabin Wakeman, maybe this will go down better. Some liked the 2004 split "Mind Drive", although others didn't, and CIRCA: "Chronological Journey" was very popular.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. And, as always, all the latest ARW news on the website.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

What are you most looking forward to this year?

What are you most looking forward to this year, asked our latest poll. With Anderson Rabin Wakeman becoming a reality, the winner seemed obvious beforehand. Indeed, I was curious if anything else got any votes! So, with 95 votes:

1. Anderson Rabin Wakeman: 48 votes, 51%
2. Anderson/Stolt: 14 votes, 15%
3. Yes touring: 11 votes, 12%
4= More archival or remixed Yes: 5 votes, 5%
4= Asia return: 5 votes, 5%
6. King Crimson touring: 3 votes, 3%
7= Steve Howe Trio releases: 2 votes, 2%
7= Buggles reunion: 2 votes, 2%
7= World Trade reunion: 2 votes, 2%
7= Re-recording of The Myths and Legends of King Arthur: 2 votes, 2%
11. More Anderson Ponty Band: 1 votes, 1%
12. New CIRCA: album: 0 votes, 0%

In the end, I was kind of surprised that ARW "only" just got over 50%, and that Anderson/Stolt did so well, coming 2nd. Big votes of confidence for Anderson's new found focus, pushing the line-up with the band name into 3rd... although the poll was before news of the other reunion with ex-members, i.e. Trevor Horn guesting at two UK shows shortly.

The possibility of archival Yes was 4th equal: I thought it might do better, but I suppose we're in limbo, with rumours of possibilities in the pipeline, like a Panegyric expanded Tales, but nothing actually on the schedules. Asia completed the top 5, with Wetton thankfully doing well in his cancer treatment.

I voted for The Buggles reunion, of course! How can you not be excited about The Buggles reunion?!

Let me know what you voted for, or whether your views have now changed, in the comments below.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

King Crimson, Live in Toronto, an alternative review

Quick thoughts on the new King Crimson live album, Live in Toronto, a 2015 recording by the new septet, playing a set ranging from “The Court of the Crimson King” to some new material. This isn't a bad album, but it is a long way from being a great album. The five albums I got before this one happened to be:

Delta Saxophone Quartet with Gwilym Simcock: Crimson! (a mostly covers album of Crimson pieces)
The Morgaua Quartet: Atom Heart Mother is on the Edge (a Japanese string quartet doing prog pieces, including “Red” and “Peace-Fallen Angel including Epitaph”)
Eddie Jobson: Four Decades
UK: Curtain Call
Zakir Hussain: Making Music

... and they're all better.

The latest incarnation of King Crimson has abandoned the band's usual approach and gone for the nostalgia market that dominates the prog rock scene, a market the band have already targeted with umpteen mega-deluxe collectors' edition re-releases. In that context, after several bank-account-busting box sets, this release is value for money, a 2CD release for just £10.

Some Crim fans have argued that it's not nostalgia because of magic reasons to do with Crimson being different. I understand why bands focus on nostalgia. There's nothing wrong with nostalgia. The set/track list offers your 'greatest hits', so to speak, of King Crimson, save for skipping over the 1980s. These are good picks.

There is a little bit of new material. Ignoring the filler, like the intro soundscape, the new pieces amount to just “Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind”/“Meltdown”. Classic bands are in a bind: dismissed as nostalgia if they don't play new pieces, but criticised when the new pieces aren't up to scratch. Well, yes, the same applies here: “Radical Action...” is generic, Crimson-by-numbers. “Meltdown” is the better piece and a chance for Jakszyk to bring something of himself to the role. It mixes a bit of Jakszyk's style with a Crimson sound. But it also feels a bit unfinished. “Meltdown” could be compared to UKZ's “Radiation”, but the latter is the better piece of music and a better piece of Crimson music.

We do get two new drum trio pieces as well, but neither does all that much with the format. “Banshee Legs Bell Hassle” is over before its begun. “Hell Hounds of Krim” bores. Compare One, the album by Pete Lockett's Network of Sparks feat. Bill Bruford, for what a multi-percussion piece can do.

By the way, the ever more boastful and grandiose titles, like “Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind” and “Hell Hounds of Krim”, ring ever more hollow when paired with below-average offerings!

But the core problem with this recording is a certain stilted, lumpen quality to the performance. Just in places, but enough that I spent as much time remembering better versions of these songs than coming back to these versions. It's the Wetton-era material that seems to suffer most, like “Red” and “Easy Money”, both lacking bite (compare Wetton and Jobson on Curtain Call), although “Level Five” also drags. Some have suggested this is a result of the band using a click track and the challenges of keeping the three drummers in sync. If that is the case, it wasn't a price worth paying.

The inclusion of three percussionists and of Collins does add a distinct flavour to the affair and they are sometimes used well, like as on parts of “Larks 1” and “Red”. Collins is good on “Starless”. Yet despite the unusual line-up, the material is not radically re-worked: compare what the Delta Saxophone Quartet + Simcock do, or The Morgaua Quartet.

The band are best on the material from the first four albums, a reminder at this time of what Greg Lake could do, but why not just crack out your old 21st Century Schizoid Band albums if you want to hear Collins and Jaksyzk play those classics?

What the band does well is give a sense of unity to the diverse Crimson back catalogue. There is this almost steampunk sound the line-up brings across piece, uniting the likes of “Larks 1”, “Pictures of a City” and “VROOOM”. At best, we get some solid performances: “The ConstruKction of Light” and “The Letters/Sailor's Tale” stood out for me.

If the unity of the band, a certain crispness, is missing, the individuals play well when considered separately. Jakszyk sings well. I'd single out Levin for praise, and why he isn't allowed a greater role in coming up with new material, I don't know.

A great jazz musician once said that music is a reflection of who and where you are. If that is the case, then this King Crimson is about Fripp's comfort. Nothing here challenges our idea of what Crimson can be... which thus means it misses the whole point of being King Crimson.

I am reacting against some overly hagiographic reviews of the album and have written more of negatives than positives. This isn't a bad album. You get some classic Crimson played by some classic Crimson members (plus a fine substitute). If you want a more radical deconstruction of old Crimson numbers, I do recommend the Delta Saxophone Quartet's Crimson! If you want some '70s classics played with more fire, Four Decades and Curtain Call are now available at a reasonable price on iTunes after an earlier Japanese physical release.

Poll: Best Yes-related album of 1980

92 of you voted on the question of the best Yes-related album of 1980:

1. Jon Anderson: Song of Seven, 41 votes (45%)
2. Jon & Vangelis: Short Stories, 21 votes (23%)
3. Bruford: Gradually Going Tornado, 16 votes (18%)
4. Trevor Rabin: Face to Face, 7 votes (8%)
5. Patrick Moraz: Coexistence, 3 votes (3%)
6= Vangelis: See You Later (w/ Anderson), 1 vote (1%)
6= Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Chance (w/ Rabin), 1 vote (1%)
6= Wild Horses: Wild Horses (w/ Rabin), 1 votes (1%)

There was one other vote, for Drama, which personally I'd agree is better than all those, but I intended the poll to just be about Yes-related albums and not actual Yes albums, so I've excluded that in calculating percentages.

Overall, a resounding win for Jon Anderson's two albums of the year, an impressive burst of activity for someone who was still in Yes at the beginning of the year.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

What would you most like to see Anderson Rabin Wakeman play live?

Our latest poll asked what you would most like to see Anderson Rabin Wakeman play live. You (120 of you to be precise) answered:

New material: 69 votes (59%)
1980s/90s Yes music: 31 votes (26%)
1970s Yes music: 13 votes (11%)
Other: 7 votes (6%)

5 of the 'other' suggestions were for a mix of the other options, although with one person adding "NO 90s!!!"! One respondent suggested a mix of the three's solo material (Song of Seven, King Athur, and Can't Look Away, which would be interesting).

I should have emphasised the word "most" in the question: I presume we nearly all want some mix, but I was curious where people wanted the emphasis to be. And the answer is pretty clear that we want new material. Fingers crossed their new material lives up to expectations.

I was surprised that the YesWest period beat out the '70s. Do you all think Wakeman can do Kaye better than Rabin can do Howe? Or is it that the current Yes have the '70s covered fine? Let me know in the comments below...

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Review: The Syn, Live Rosfest

With the new Syn album, Trustworks, nearly upon us, I felt it was really about time that I finished my review of the previous release, Live Rosfest, which Steve Nardelli kindly sent me.

It is difficult reviewing The Syn, difficult to separate the exhausting politics from the music. (I hope Trustworks can break the pattern.) We can probably call the band on Live Rosfest Act 3. Act 2 had ended with the collapse of the Syndestructible line-up, everyone fed up with Nardelli's behaviour, so Nardelli created a new band with Francis Dunnery, who had briefly rehearsed with Nardelli/Squire/Johnson for a tour supporting Syndestructible that was cancelled before it began – Dunnery perhaps should have paid more attention to that outcome!

The rest of the Act 3 band was an impressive selection of players: Tom Brislin on keys, and Brett Kull and Paul Ramsey from echolyn. With Dunnery regular Dorie Jackson, they recorded the album Big Sky. A supporting tour featured Nardelli, Dunnery, Brislin, Kull, Ramsey, Erica Brilhart and Jamie Bishop.

Live Rosfest is a live recording from 1 May 2009 of the line-up's final show, which was at Rosfest. (It was also at Rosfest that Nardelli first met Moon Safari, with whom he made Trustworks.) Not that this was meant to be their final show. The rest of the tour was cancelled given poor ticket sales, with the band unpaid and unhappy. Kull posted to the echolyn mailing list on 5 May:

“Yep, the tour has been cancelled. Paul, and I are no longer playing in the Syn nor having anything to do with it.

“Bad organization, bad mojo, bad energy.”

Oddly, promo for the album doesn't mention that bit. You'd think “Bad organization, bad mojo, bad energy” would be a great pull quote to put on the advertising...

And yet none of that “bad mojo” comes through. Because this is a great performance. It brings alive the Big Sky material, with very listenable performances from Brislin, Dunnery and Kull in particular.

The set consists of the entirety of Big Sky (in a different order), plus three 1960s Syn songs, but oddly ignores Syndestructible or anything else by the other modern line-ups. On Syndestructible, the band had taken Nardelli's basic song ideas and expanded them, played with them and generally arranged the heck out of them. Big Sky was more stripped back, but live, the band stretch out and I generally prefer these live versions to the studio album. There is a talented band here and they don't reach their full potential on this material. An album by Dunnery/Brislin/Kull/Ramsey/Bishop would have been an interesting prospect.

At the centre of it all is Steve Nardelli. Nardelli is a technically limited vocalist and maybe a bit of an acquired taste, but in the right setting, as here, his vocals work. He brings a distinct melodic style and an open vocal performance. While there is an echolyn connection, this isn't an echolyn album, the Syn sound derives from Nardelli's songwriting, but it is interesting to hear the echolyn players working with different material. More Dunneryisms come through – Dunnery co-wrote all the material on Big Sky – leading to a robust performance. Brislin lives up to the reputation he built during his short Yes stint.

This release does not lack for content: it comes with an accompanying DVD with two short films. “The Syn in the 21stCentury” is a history of the band. I like it because they mention me(!), but leaving that aside... There is some nice footage included here, from Syndestructible sessions through to working with Moon Safari on Trustworks. Chris Squire is interviewed briefly and we see snippets of performance with Squire and White, and with Brislin. But there is an unnecessarily arty presentation, with, for example, one Nardelli interview shot in stark lighting. The whole thing is cut too quickly, as if it's a music video rather than a documentary.

What it lacks is much in the way of a coherent narrative. Perhaps that's because it's a huge lie: the story of The Syn in the 21st century is a fascinating one about Nardelli's drive but also general disregard for his bandmates, of constant chaotic collapse and re-birth. Any hint of that reality is swept aside by a pretentious narration that finds a path between art school project and cult indoctrination.

“The Making of Big Sky” comes across as less professional, but is actually more coherent. It is mainly based on interviews with Nardelli, Brislin and Dunnery, done at the echolyn recording studio during the album's making. There is still a tendency towards puffery: at one point, Nardelli hilariously describes Armistice Day as a "very big success for us". That would be the hotchpotch release that produced a legal attempt from Squire/White to stop its release and caused Gerard Johnson to finally leave the band (and start another legal action). The release that made very little impact on anyone ever. But most of the content here is focused on the actual making of the album.

So, Live Rosfest gives you Big Sky, but performed a bit more interestingly by a good band, plus a couple of short films with some interesting content poorly presented. I'd put in the top half of modern Syn albums: if you like the band, this is worth getting.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Poll: Best Yes-related album of 2015, part 1

A small turnout for the latest poll, just 37 votes. Your favourite Yes-related album of the first half of 2015 was...

1. Steve Hackett: Wolflight (w/ Squire) - 22 votes (59%)
2. Mabel Greer's Toy Shop: New Way of Life (w/ Sherwood, Kaye; material by Squire, Anderson) - 9 votes (24%)
3. Trevor Rabin: Max (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - 5 votes (14%)
4.  Moraz Alban Project: MAP - 1 vote (3%)

There were no votes for The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Prog Rock Classics (with Moraz) or Keep Calm and Salute The Beatles (with Sherwood).

So a clear win for Wolflight, Hackett's musical journey and the penultimate project featuring Squire before his death. At the other end, a disappointing result for Moraz.

A new poll is up on the front page, asking what you'd like to Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman play live.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Squire's legacy: what unreleased recordings may exist

With Chris Squire sadly no longer with us, attention has turned to what music he may have left behind, particularly with a report that Yes may be considering using some unfinished studio recordings for a new album. This raises the question of what recordings with Squire exist unreleased, and what could be done with these.

We should remember that we don't know what we don't know. Numerous releases continue to throw up recordings we never knew existed, with examples in 2015 including the wonderful extra tracks on the Panegyric Fragile and, of course, the Progeny box. I've heard whispers of future projects just as exciting. So I expect what we don't know about is probably more significant than what we do know about, but there is still much that we do know about.

Almost any time there is a studio recording, there is the potential for alternative versions, different takes and mixes, although these are often close to the released version and, presumably, the released version is meant to be the best. So I'm also taking it as read that there are alternative versions of everything from "Everydays" to "Cathedral of Love".

Those caveats aside, here's what we do know about:

Live Yes

For nearly all of Squire's career, his main live work was in Yes. I won't try to list every possible live Yes recording here. There are vast numbers of unofficial Yes recordings online. I am glad that Squire lived to see the success of the Progeny boxset and we know that band and label want to do more, although Brian Kehew warned that he doesn't think there is anything quite like the recordings that led to Progeny. One way or another, I expect to see more archival live Yes released over the coming years.

That said, I don't hold out hope that we will hear many songs not otherwise previously released. We know the very early band played numerous covers of which we have no record yet (including Fifth Dimension's "Paper Cup", Traffic's "Heaven is in Your Mind" and The Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping"), but these were in their very early years and none has even emerged on boots. There is a bootlegged recording of the band doing "Eleanor Rigby", although the sound quality is so poor that it may preclude release.

Another mysterious early Yes piece that has never emerged is "Adventures", described as a Howe/Squire bass duet pre-dating The Yes Album but seemingly an early if very different version of "A Venture".

The Syn, Mabel Greer's Toyshop, Narsquijack etc.

Before Yes was The Syn and Mabel Greer's Toyshop. The Original Syn collection seemed to sweep up all the archival Syn and Selfs material there was to be released, while Pete Banks' Can I Play You Something? covered Mabel Greer's Toyshop. But is there more? Banks, before he passed, talked of some 1960s live Syn recordings that could be released, although I don't know what has happened to those.

Original Syn included two demos by Narsquijack, Nardelli, Squire and Jackman working together after The Syn split up, but the liner notes say there were seven recordings. What of the other five?

Mabel Greer's Toyshop had already talked about releasing their John Peel session from the time.

Yes in the studio: up to Tales

A long set of Yes studio recordings was bootlegged as 1969-1972 Studio Outtakes Collection, apparently material compiled for the Rhino expanded releases. Most of this consists of alternative versions of known songs that are not markedly different from officially released material. However, among all this, labelled "Unknown acoustic song fragment", is a demo seemingly recorded just by Squire, singing and playing guitar, seemingly around the time of Close to the Edge, of a song with the refrain "Can I Come Home with You Tonight?" I understand this was passed over for release as being too rough, but there is a full song mapped out here.

What about other earlier Yes studio recordings? We don't know of any further lost songs through to Tales from Topographic Oceans or other interesting lost recordings, but we didn't know about "All Fighters Past" until it was released. We could speculate whether The Yes Album writing sessions left anything else, or if there might be early Fragile demos, possibly from when Kaye was still in the band.

And there's the Coca-Cola advert, although uncertainty remains over whether this is (all of) Yes.

Yes in the studio: the Moraz period

Could there be early demos for Relayer? The recent Panegyric release didn't throw up anything. However, Moraz's tenure in the band may yield more. Moraz has pointed towards extensive jam sessions when they were developing material. Are there also earlier demos for Going for the One with Moraz? The exact provenance of "Turn of the Century (rehearsal)" (on the Rhino Going for the One) and "Everybody's Song" (an early "Does It Really Happen?" on the Rhino Tormato) are unclear, but both seem actually to date from when Moraz was in the band. So what might else might there be?

Yes in the studio: the late '70s

The Rhino Tormato and Drama releases produced a bunch of songs with the Anderson/Squire/Howe/Wakeman/White line-up. Does that mean that well is now exhausted, or does that mean this is a rich seam and there's more not yet released? "Rail 14", a 1978 track, a sort of early version of "Arriving UFO", is one piece known from boots but not yet officially available.

It is reported that Anderson/Squire/Howe/White were working on material in late January 1980 (after the Paris sessions): could any recordings emerge from that?

Yes and others in the studio: Drama to 90125

Most of the Drama-era recordings seem now to have surfaced. Several have been released and there are some additional alternative versions on bootlegs. There's a much longer version of "Satellite" notably including the bass riff that later became "I'm Running".

After Drama was XYZ, long the Holy Grail. Four songs eventually surfaced on boots, but there may have been other recordings. Other song ideas seem to date to this period than can be heard on the four bootlegged tracks, including possibly "Run with the Fox". Page was talking about releasing the XYZ sessions before Squire passed.

I once heard a rumour that there was more material from the Squire & White sessions that saw "Run with the Fox" recorded.

After Drama, Squire and White met Rabin and the trio began working on XYZ ideas and a set of demos for Rabin. Having briefly considered the idea of having Horn on lead vocals, the band evolved into Cinema with Kaye on keys and Horn stuck to producing. An album by the quartet was more or less completed before the idea came to have Anderson join.

There was a lot of time spent working on this album and Horn was all about trying out multiple ideas. It seems likely there is a wealth of material here in terms of alternate versions of known songs. We've had some of those released (the Cinema version of "It Can Happen" on YesYears and an extended remix of "Owner" on the Rhino 90125, as well numerous remixes as contemporary b-sides), plus a few songs that didn't make it to the album ("Make It Easy" on YesYears and "It's Over" on the Rhino 90125). We know more exists. The 2:08 instrumental "Cinema" is actually just the introduction to a piece entitled "Time" of around 20 minutes length. We know, because Art of Noise sampled it, of a piece entitled "Red Light, Green Light". There's what seems to be an early set of Cinema sessions that has been bootlegged, including pieces like "You Know Something I Don't Know", "Open the Door", "Sorry", "Baby" (riff recycled into "Our Song") and "Telephone Lines" (an XYZ leftover). Why all this wasn't packaged up for a multi-disc 30th anniversary release of 90125, I don't know, but plenty here that could be used in one way or another.

Yes in the studio: Big Generator to 2008

The Big Generator sessions don't appear to have produced any additional songs, but we've heard boots of alternative versions of what's on the album.

The remaining YesWest quarter, with and without Sherwood, were working on ideas before Union, although most of these appear to have been used.

Likewise, pickings appear poor in terms of unreleased material for subsequent Yes albums through to The Ladder, with the exception of a song considered for Keys to Ascension 2, "Axis of Love" (which we can date back to an Anderson demo for ABWH, now released on Watching the Flags that Fly), although whether anything was recorded, we don't know.

Howe has talked about presenting a version of Magnification without the orchestra.

Anderson appears to have presented a number of ideas to the band for The Ultimate Yes bonus disc and then in 2007/8 when he was going to re-join the band (e.g. "Many", developed with Tom Curiano), but it doesn't appear as if the others developed these any.

Yes in the studio: since 2008

The band made two albums with Squire since re-emerging in 2008, Fly from Here and Heaven & Earth. We know there are leftovers from both of these.

The band began Fly from Here with Oliver Wakeman on keys and Tim Weidner mostly producing recording sessions in Oct/Nov 2010. Part way through, they changed course, Horn came in to produce everything and Downes replaced Wakeman for sessions Jan/Feb 2011. These later sessions then brought in more material written by Horn/Downes many years before.

The sessions with Horn were then longer than planned. Shortly before recording final overdubs for the album, BenoƮt David was interviewed by Progression magazine, saying, "At the end of the day we recorded so many tracks that we could do almost two albums. So the tracks are there, we just need to see what Trevor puts on the final disc." It is unclear whether David means "tracks" in the sense of songs, or in the sense of multiple takes of the same basic material. But could there be additional material worked on with Horn?

The 2010 sessions involved recording "We Can Fly" with Horn and (at least) "Into the Storm", "The Man You Always Wanted Me to Be" and "Hour of Need" with Weidner. The 2011 sessions then involved doing some songs from scratch, implying at least alternative recordings exist. We also know that the pieces making up the "Fly from Here" suite were tried out in standalone form, so again some alternative versions done with Horn must exist. But alternative versions are not as exciting as songs not used.

We know that a song entitled "Corner of the World" was being worked on in 2011; it appears this evolved into "In a Word of Our Own". And it appears there were other songs left over from the 2011 sessions.

But in switching to work with Horn/Downes, there were also songs left over from either the 2010 recording sessions with Weidner, or preparatory work for the album in 2010 and 2009. Oliver Wakeman has talked about re-using material he wrote for the album elsewhere and one song he wrote during the 2010 recording sessions, "From the Turn of a Card", got included on his album with Gordon Giltrap, Ravens & Lullabies, although one report suggested that the band were not interested in the piece, so no band recording with Squire may exist. Wakeman wrote a nice piece on his website after Squire's death, which contained the following about Fly from Here:

"I remember picking up Chris and Scotty on a trip they made down to Devon to Steve Howe's house where we discussed all the plans for the new album we wanted to write (it didn't happen in it's intended form - the album eventually become the Fly From Here album).

"Anyway - another piece we were working on was a Yes reworking of a classical piece - I forget which now - but it was a great idea and would have been a lot of fun. We also listened to a few of Chris' pieces which I really enjoyed and spent quite a bit of time working on arrangements with him. [...]

"We had lots of great material which never saw the light of day - some of which I have here with Chris's parts on. One particular track we co-wrote which I was very proud of is called Gift of Love and I've just found it in my library and it's currently playing. I'd forgotten about how good that one was - and I've just found a completely different arrangement of The Man You See in Me which we recorded in Pheonix during the writing sessions and a few of the other demo sessions we recorded which were never used."

"Gift of Love" was based on the same Chris Squire/Gerard Johnson demo as "The Game", but is very different otherwise.

A 2012 Facebook exchange had more, with Wakeman saying: "There were a few tracks [that he co-wrote] that started to get recorded in the studio. Others that were written in preparation of the album and others written whilst staying in LA. A few have ended up on the forthcoming Cultural Vandals album [still to appear] and a couple will be on the album I'm writing with Gordon Giltrap [although that appears to have gone down to just one]. Nothing goes to waste! None of them will feature the Yes guys performances though."

And on 2 January 2016, Wakeman tweeted: "Just found a recording of another track I wrote for the unfinished '09 @yesofficial cd with Steve, Alan, Benoit & Chris (on acoustic bass!)"

One 2009/10 piece, possibly called "Lines on a Page", evolved into "To Ascend".

There were various rumours of material being worked on in the run-up to Heaven & Earth. Quite how reliable these all were and quite how they all relate to each other, I don't know, but we do know of at least some ideas that were not used. Rumours from mid-2012 talked of 8 songs under development: the 5 songs written by Squire/Davison or Squire/Davison/White, a group composition, a piece from Howe, and another piece from Squire originating in the 2006/7 writing sessions with Johnson. The last of those presumably was "The Game" and the Howe song was probably "It was All We Knew", but what about the rest? "In a World of Our Own" would fit as a Squire/Davison song and those 5 songs might have included "To Ascend" (Davison/White) and "Light of the Ages" (Davison), but nothing obviously fits the other two Squire/Davison(/White) songs or a group composition, although maybe the former includes "Believe Again" (credited Davison/Howe, but mostly Davison's) and the latter ended up as "Subway Walls"? We would still be short one Squire/Davison(/White) song, but we do know of a song seemingly by Squire/Davison called "Breaking Down on Easy Street" that was not used.

Famously, Davison has talked about another long piece he was working on with Downes that wasn't used on Heaven & Earth that began in pre-album sessions with Squire and White in Phoenix, possibly called "Horizons" and reportedly around 18 minutes in length.

Reports point to further songs not used on Heaven & Earth: "From the Moment" or "To the Moment" (possibly by Howe); "Midnight" (possibly originally from Squire/White); "Don't Take No for an Answer"; a Howe/Davison piece possibly called "Zenith"; and another Squire/Downes/Davison piece (unless that's "Horizons"). Squire, Davison and possibly White reputedly met in Squire's studio in March 2015 to go through ideas for a next Yes album.

Outside Yes

Away from Yes, Squire was involved in other projects. The most notable in recent years was his Conspiracy collaboration with Sherwood. But it appears there aren't any Squire/Sherwood ideas unused, according to Sherwood:

anything Squire/Sherwood was formulated and released, so ‘Conspiracy One’, ‘Conspiracy Two’, ‘The Unknown’, that’s where you’ll find all that stuff. There are no tracks lying around that I did with Chris that we have not found a home for. 

Either they ended up on a YES album as was the case with ‘The More We Live’ being on ‘Union’ and as was the case with ‘Love Conquers All’ being on the ‘Yesyears’ Box Set.

And then all the music that we wrote from that point forward kind of sat in a can for a long time and then we decided “OK, let’s put this out as the first Conspiracy record” and so there you have the first Conspiracy record and then the second one and that’s all the music. There’s no hidden music anywhere. Chris and I, everything we wrote, we put somewhere on a record and so it’s all out there to be had. You’ve just got to find it.

That said, we've never had a live release from the initial Chris Squire Experiment tour, which had some notably different arrangements.

One piece on Conspiracy had a rather different origin. "Violet Purple Rose" began in a session with Squire, Steve Stevens on guitar and Michael Bland on drums. Sherwood then overdubbed this to create the released piece. But we don't know whether those Squire/Stevens/Bland sessions produced anything else.

The 2006/7 Squire/Johnson writing sessions seem to have been mostly used one way or another (mostly on the Squackett album), but there may be more.

In an August 2014 interview, Davison revealed that Squire and Taylor Hawkins had "done some demo work. Chris has played bass on some of Taylor's stuff [...] And Chris has done some stuff that actually hasn't been released." He went on to say, "we always talk about the three of us, plus another member, doing some kind of side project."

Going further back, there's the mysterious Royal Family project. While without Jon Anderosn, YesWest invited Roger Hodgson to join the band. While he said no to that, Hodgson/Rabin/Squire/White/Kaye did work together and it appears an album was more or less completed, but the only thing definitely to have emerged from this was "Walls" getting re-done for Talk. Hodgson's solo album Open the Door also included one track with Rabin, but early reports of that album also talked of Squire appearing, which is presumably related.

Who knows what else is out there? For example, Squire told an anecdote about writing a song with Thin Lizzy's bassit Phil Lynott (who died in 1986), but said he'd long lost the tape.

Any additions to that list, let me know in comments or by email.

What can you do with all this material?

There are three basic approaches.

1. You can release it as is (or with just minor fixes). That's what happens with live recordings and I expect we will get more of those.

Some studio work may be finished enough that it can simply be released in this form. Plenty of unifnished Yes material has come out that way, if often as bonus tracks where consumer expectations are reduced. There is certainly some demo work that could be released in the same way.

2. Use the existing recording, chop it up, overdub and build something around it, a part-new, part-old hybrid. A number of acts have taken this approach: like The Beatles with "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", built around late 1970s Lennon solo demos; and The Doors' American Prayer, where the remaining band members put music to some Jim Morrison poetry readings.

One of the most successful attempts was Queen's Made in Heaven, where the band built an album around a variety of recordings of Freddie Mercury. Some of these were piano and vocal tracks recorded by Mercury in his final months knowing he might not see the album be completed. Others, however, where recordings by Mercury not intended for this purpose but from a variety of sources.

It seems likely that there is Squire material that could be used in this manner. Any studio recordings of individual bass or vocal tracks would be more readily used and these probably exist in some cases (as with recordings not used on 90125 or Fly from Here). However, something can still be done with single track mixed recordings.

Indeed, we can already note "Violet Purple Rose" as an example of where one recording session was used as the base to construct something more.

3. The band could use the ideas rather than specific recordings. If Squire had an idea for a composition, but any existing recordings are not suitable for the Made in Heaven approach, one could still use the composition or the riff. This is done less frequently in rock, although the classical music world is full of examples of unfinished symphonies getting finished.