Sunday, 25 February 2018

REV: Peter Banks, The Self-Contained Trilogy

The 3CD The Self-Contained Trilogy is out 2 March 2018. I was kindly sent a preview. This is a straight re-release of the three '90s solo albums – Instinct, Self-Contained and Reduction – to bring the material back into print, again at a budget price. If you've already got all three, there is nothing you need here. If you have two, one or (and be ashamed!) none of these, this is a convenient and cheap way of completing your collection.

If you don't know this material, you have missed out on some of Peter Banks' best work. The three showcase an extraordinary guitarist, both someone just about recognisable from Yes or Flash days, but also a musician who has come a long way from those years, making intricate and lyrical guitar music. All three are instrumental guitar albums. They are distinctive works – I can't think of releases by other artists that are quite the same – and offer a broad musical palette even though largely played on electric guitar.

The music is full of riffs and ideas, but these are pieced into larger musical journeys. I thought of Jon Anderson's comments on how we wants to present his music as a journey (as we heard before both the Anderson Ponty tour and the Anderson Rabin Wakeman tour), something he has never quite realised across various projects live. I wonder whether what Banks delivers on these albums is what Anderson had in mind?

There is some influence from the different collaborators – Gerald Goff initially, Gerard Johnson later – but the albums are all Banks' vision. If you had asked me, looking back on these albums, which was the best, I would have said Instinct. Re-visiting the material, I have changed my position. Instinct stands out because it was the first, its music exploding on the scene after years when Banks had been forgotten, surprising many. There is an exuberance, as if Banks has been uncaged.

Yet, while all three are broadly similar in style, Banks then developed and refined his approach on Self-Contained and Reduction, so I think the best music lies on these. It is also on these later albums that Banks emerges as a collagist, splicing together and contrasting the music and found samples.

To buy The Self-Contained Trilogy,


  1. Musing about Peter Banks in the light of the continuing unrest between Anderson and Howe I'm reminded that it would make just as much sense to say "no Peter, no Yes" especially since he both played with Chris Squire before Jon Anderson did, and originated the name Yes. Of course all this is mere name-and-form, as Buddhist texts tell us, but Peter Banks may well be the holder of the spirit that still powers the Hall-of-Fame-honoured Union lineup and its innumerable offshoots and permutations. I salute him.

    1. Given how annoyed Peter was at being denied an opportunity to sit in on an encore on one of the Union shows, I'm sure he would appreciate being holder of that line-up's spirit. Indeed, it may well be held to ransom for posthumous royalties right now. ;) On topic for this post, those are indeed three extraordinary albums. I really should get the remasters sometime when I have some spare cash...