Monday 23 January 2017

Why I think a new Union is unlikely for now

It's looking likely that the current Yes, or at least Howe, White and Sherwood, will re-unite with Anderson Rabin Wakeman for one night only at the Hall of Fame induction. This will only fuel the expectation of many Yes fans that history will repeat itself, that Yes and ARW will come together for a new Union.

I am sceptical. It could happen, for sure. This is Yes and its Byzantine line-up history is surely far from over. But I'm guessing that an official Yes/ARW reunion, beyond the induction ceremony, is unlikely.

People see the parallels with ABWH v. YesWest, but I suggest that was a very different situation. Two bands, both struggling, found the union mutually beneficial, a solution to both sides' problems. But today's two acts are more comfortable, so the same incentives don't exist.

While we talk about ABWH v. YesWest, remember that YesWest were moribund. They played no shows and released no material in the entire period ABWH existed. Rabin was off doing other things for much of the time. Despite looking, they failed to find a replacement for Anderson: yes, Squire wanted Sherwood, who sang on some demos, but both Rabin and indeed Sherwood himself never supported the plan. They had recorded some demos, but Atlantic reputedly rejected them.

The owners of the Yes name today are in a very different position. They have done 8 years of international touring and released two albums, that sold reasonably well. They're a proven deal. It looks like their label would happily take a new album from this line-up. I'm sure the label would be happier with the higher sales that Anderson back in the band would bring, but official Yes today has shown it can cope without him.

In the run-up to Union, ABWH were imploding. Remember that all the shenanigans around Howe and Wakeman being replaced by session musicians, that was happening before the union was agreed. They could barely stand to be in a room together. The band was dysfunctional. It's no surprise Anderson was thinking about the other guys! He'd worked with them recently and to great commercial success.

In contrast, ARW now are getting on like a house on fire. They appear to being have more fun, to have tighter relationships, than most Yes line-ups ever have had. No-one appears to be looking for an exit.

ABWH were falling apart and YesWest were struggling: the union looked like a good idea to the alternative. Today, ARW and official Yes are probably smaller commercial concerns, but both seem more stable than their predecessors. A union may be just as attractive, but the status quo is better these days, on both sides.

There are plenty of other differences to stop history repeating. The relationships are different. There's no Squire, who had seemed the most likely figure to bring people together. People are on different sides. Three quarters of ABWH had all worked extensively with Squire and White, and half with Kaye too; in comparison, Downes and Davison have no connections with the other side. It's been longer apart. Anderson had barely left YesWest, compared to now, over 12 years since he was in Yes.

If a reunion now is less likely, could anything change that? What would tip the balance and push everyone together again?

Money is the obvious factor. If one or other band sees their ticket sales collapsing, that could see them hurrying to negotiate a deal, although equally they might just choose to pack it in, let the other side 'win'.

Line-up changes would also shift the dynamic. If Rabin returns to soundtracks, or Wakeman decides to milk the recent top ten success of Piano Portraits, then the remaining two are in a much weaker position. Health problems could hit almost anyone, in Yes or ARW.


  1. Well put indeed. You know the score and histories however, we can still have the dream for 2018. 50 years of Yes needs to be a special year and have a unique event. Whatever state they are all in, when they look back at the 50th year, I believe they should see a wonderful event, one for the fans, who after all still support them through thick and thin.

    If not then a massive opportunity will be missed to please their fans and get a big pay cheque in the process.

    Yes fans want an event like the one I have been talking about on facebook. A few gigs with lots of Yes men on stage plain music from all the years.

    Ah well can but try eh. 😊

    Keep Yessing everyone x

    David Watkinson

  2. As you say, David, worth a try! The symbolism of the 50th anniversary may carry some weight.

  3. Could you expand on abwh not getting along prior to union. I wasn't aware of that.

  4. Andy, one place to start at the interviews with Jonathan Elias and Jimmy Haun at

    Or read through Michael Sherwood's Facebook comments!

  5. ARW have now made a grab for the 'Yes' name:

    I suggest this only makes a Union less likely.

  6. It's clear that Wakeman, for one, is anti any form of Yes/ARW union... but then his loyalty has always been to JA not Yes. What may have provoked the recent name grab is White's absence following surgery, the R&RHoF, the death of Squire and a perception that Yes has become diluted with new blood (Sherwood, Davison, Schellen) although I , for one, appreciate the contributions of all those Yes men. Times like this I get out my best headphones and give this a whirl.

  7. Sound comments, Henry. (You mention ARW getting on well together. That seems true of the current Yes, too. It's bad blood between Howe and ARW that's the issue here.) The ARW grab for the Yes name seems tacky and a wee bit desperate, and reeks of BL. Not to mention BS. It would be good if the 50th anniversary could bring some harmony, and concerts or recording(s) worthy of that landmark. But who knows...?

  8. Well I do wonder 1. How different the current situation would be if B Lane was not the ARW Manager 2. What else we do not know about that occurred after HSW decided to continue without Anderson that has caused such angst from ARW ? 3. Could it be that the saying "nothing personal its business" applies as that would account for the nice things they appear to say that contrast the marketing ?

  9. I, for one, do not want a union. ARW should get the chance to thrive as long as they can, as ARW, if that is their desire, and hopefully leave the former band's memory a better testimonial than the cruise ship nostalgia act that currently passes itself off as Yes. Neither entity should use that name, if it is merely a legal brand to be owned and fought over. "Yes official" reduces what once was to the level of Foreigner and Blackfoot.