Sunday, 22 September 2019

Poll: What was the best Yes-related album of the first half of 2019?

58 votes are in and the results were:

1. Jon Anderson: 1000 Hands: Chapter One (w/ Howe, Squire, White): 26 votes, 45%
2. Trevor Horn: Reimagines the Eighties: 11 votes, 19%
3. King Crimson: Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972 (w/ Bruford): 10 votes, 17%
4. Billy Sherwood: Citizen In the Next Life: 8 votes, 14%
5. In Continuum: Acceleration Theory Part One: AlienA (w/ Davison, writing by Anderson): 2 votes, 3%
6. Trevor Horn: Reimagines the Eighties Instrumentals: 1 vote, 2%
7= Kilty Town: Kilty Town (w/ Wakeman): 0 votes, 0%
7= Deckchair Poets: A Bit of Pottery (w/ Downes): 0 votes, 0%
7= United Progressive Fraternity: Planetary Overload Part 1: Loss (w/ Davison): 0 votes, 0%

I am not surprised that 1000 Hands, Jon Anderson's mix of '90s and recent sessions, won, and with nearly half of the votes. It's a great album and Yes fans have been thrilled to hear Chris Squire and Alan White playing, but mostly by the reunion of Anderson and Howe on the final track, with hopes that this might presage a reunion. (I don't think it will!)

Second, by just one vote, is Reimagines the Eighties, the most high profile release of the period, making #11 in the UK album chart.

There are, at least to my ears, some gems at the bottom end of the chart too. The In Continuum album is the latest project from Dave Kerzner, and his best yet. "Scavengers" is the stand-out track for me. Kilty Town, which had a small release back at the beginning of the year, is worth tracking down: world folk from Nic Cacciapo and friends, including Rick Wakeman guesting on two pieces.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Poll: What was the best Yes-related album of 1990?

What was the best Yes-related album of 1990? I asked and (67 of) you answered:

1. Asia: Then & Now (w/ Downes, Howe): 36 votes, 54%
2. David Torn: Door X (w/ Bruford): 11 votes, 16%
3. National Health: Complete (w/ Bruford): 7 votes, 10%
4. Rick Wakeman: Night Airs: 5 votes, 7%
5. Mike Makhalemele: Mind Games - A Jazz Celebration of John Lennon (w/ Rabin): 4 votes, 6%
6. Rock Aid Armenia: The Earthquake Album (w/ Downes, Squire): 2 votes, 3%
7= Rick Wakeman: In the Beginning: 1 vote, 1%
7= Rick Wakeman: Aspirant Sunrise: 1 vote, 1%
9. Rick Wakeman: Phantom Powers: 0 votes, 0%

... which took me by surprise. I didn't think Then & Now was much loved: 4 new songs constitute the 'Now', with just Wetton and Downes as the core of the band, to 6 hits as the 'Then'. And those new songs are Asia at their most pop, two with outside writers. But then I do like the new songs! So congratulations to this, the last Asia studio material with Wetton until Phoenix in 2008.

Maybe the competition in 1990 wasn't that strong. Complete, which I voted for, was a great release, bringing together everything National Health had released, but Bruford only appears on it courtesy of a sliver of previously unreleased material, so I didn't expect it to win. Wakeman was churning out the solo albums, but it was quantity over quality, with four combined only getting as many votes as Complete.

Mind Games did well given its obscurity: it's still unavailable on CD, although it did get a digital release a year ago: see Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

REV: Trevor Horn, Royal Festival Hall, London, 28 Jul 2019

Trevor Horn Live in Concert
Sun 28/07/2019 7:30 PM
Royal Festival Hall

On the second date of their tour, this expanded Trevor Horn Band with string section are fluid and comfortable in themselves, all more polished than their one-off show at the South Bank Centre a year before. More of the Reimagines album was played, some other arrangements tweaked, interesting guests: a great show, but marred by a terrible mix in the first half.
  • Trevor Horn: bass (not “Owner of a Lonely Heart”), vocals on “Video Killed the Radio Star”, “Living in the Plastic Age”, “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, backing vocals
  • Alan Clark: keys
  • Steve Ferrone: drums
  • Roberto Angrisani (a.k.a. Kalon Rae): vocals on “Cry” , “Rhythm of My Heart”, backing vocals (not “Dancing in the Dark”, “Blue Monday”)
  • Katie Holmes-Smith: vocals on “All the Things She Said”, “Dancing in the Dark”, “Girls on Film”, backing vocals (not “Blue Monday”)
  • Izzy Chase: vocals on “All the Things She Said”, “Slave to the Rhythm”, “Girls on Film”, backing vocals (not “Blue Monday”), cowbell on “Since You’ve Been Gone”
  • Phil Palmer: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals on “Money for Nothing”
  • Lol Creme: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals on “Rubber Bullets”, backing vocals, keys on “I’m Not in Love”, bass on “Owner of a Lonely Heart”
  • Simon Bloor: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keys
  • Julian Hinton: conducting, keys
  • Callum ?: tambourine, shaker, cowbell
  • Sam ?: computers, shaker, tambourine
  • string section: 4 violins (inc. Jamie Hutchinson, John Dickinson), 2 violas, 2 celli (inc. Miriam Wakeling)
  • Tim Weidner: front of house engineer
with
  • Matt Cardle: vocals on “Two Tribes”, “Slave to the Rhythm”, “The Power of Love”, “I’m Not in Love”, “Relax”
  • Steve Hogarth: vocals on “Different for Girls”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, “Kiss from a Rose”, “Blue Monday”
  • Danny Cummings: vocals on “Brothers in Arms”, “Money for Nothing”
  • Mick MacNeil: accordion on “Brothers in Arms”, “Rhythm of My Heart”
  • Russ Ballard: vocals and electric guitar on “Since You’ve Been Gone”, “God Gave Rock and Roll to You”

1. "Two Tribes", with Cardle on lead vocals
2. "Video Killed the Radio Star", with Horn on lead vocals
3. "Cry", with Angrisani on lead vocals
4. "Rubber Bullets", with Creme on lead vocals
5. "Different for Girls", with Hogarth on lead vocals
6. "Ashes to Ashes", with Hogarth on lead vocals
7. "All the Things She Said", with Holmes and Chase on lead vocals
8. "Slave to the Rhythm", with Chase on lead vocals for the first half, and Cardle and Chase on lead vocals for the second half
9. "The Power of Love", with Cardle on lead vocals
10. "Living in the Plastic Age", with Horn on lead vocals
11. "I'm Not in Love", with Cardle on lead vocals and Creme on keys
12. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", with Hogarth on lead vocals
  Intermission
13. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" (including string intro), with Horn on lead vocals, Creme on bass
14. "Brothers in Arms", with Cummings on lead vocals, MacNeil on accordion
15. "Rhythm of My Heart", with Angrisani on lead vocals, MacNeil on accordion
  "Born to Run" bossa nova version demonstration, with just Horn/Clark/Ferrone
16. "Dancing in the Dark", with Holmes on lead vocals, just Chase on backing vocals
17. Scottish reel (electric guitar solo by Ballard)/"Since You've Been Gone", with Ballard on lead vocals and electric guitar, Chase on cowbell
18. "God Gave Rock and Roll to You", with Ballard on lead vocals and electric guitar
19. "Girls on Film", with Holmes and Chase on lead vocals
20. "Kiss from a Rose", with Hogarth on lead vocals
21. "Blue Monday", with Hogarth on lead vocals, without Angrisani/Holmes/Chase
  Horn introduces the band
22. "Relax", with Cardle on lead vocals
23. "Money for Nothing", with Cummings on lead vocals


The Trevor Horn Band has been playing dates for some years now, most recently with a line-up including several members of Dire Straits Legacy (Clark, Palmer, Ferrone, Cummings), with whom Horn also plays. This 5-date UK tour is in support of Trevor Horn Reimagines the Eighties, which saw Horn working with an orchestra, with arrangements and conducting by Julian Hinton. Studio magic and orchestra are hard to replicate on stage, but the Band are augmented by an 8-piece string section and the set mixes Reimagines tracks with their older standards like "Rubber Bullets" and "All the Things She Said".

Picture the scene. The show opens with the instrumentalists walking on stage and "Two Tribes" starts. Then the three backing vocalists (Katie Holmes-Smith, Izzy Chase and Roberto Angrisani) jump out. The music's pumping, the trio are jiving. Matt Cardle, the big name guest vocalist for tonight, begins to sing. It's all very exciting, but... I'm fourth row, centre stage and we can't hear what he's singing. The big problem through the whole first half was the difficulty hearing many of the vocals, certainly when the band were in full flow. I don't know what happened, or whether the mix was better elsewhere in the auditorium, but it was a disappointment. That aside, the band were grooving.

Song number two was preceded by Horn telling an anecdote about his daughter going to the same school as Boris Johnson's kids, and Johnson asking whether he was going to sell his kids drugs. And then into "Video Killed the Radio Star". Horn's vocals were a bit louder in the mix. As in recent years, the end of the song incorporates an extract from "Check It Out", the will.i.am and Nicki Minaj song that sampled "Video", and we got a rocked up ending after that too. New guy Angrisani stepped forward for the Godley & Creme song "Cry" that Horn co-produced, with another extended outro, this time for a Palmer guitar solo.

"Rubber Bullets" had Creme on lead vocals, but again they were far too low in the mix. But let's talk about happier things. As with previous shows, the trio of vocalists provided the glamour, contrasting with Trevor, Lol, Phil etc. in T-shirts and jeans. Izzy and Kate had glittery eye make-up and Angrisani had more eye make-up than both of them put together, and he was dressed like a glitter ball. Kate had full torso jewellery and shimmied it hard. We got some choreography, the three miming loading their guns with rubber bullets... it just would've been nice if we'd also been able to hear that Lol was singing about rubber bullets.

The three backing vocalists, Trevor Horn, Alan Clark and Phil Palmer


And so the first half went on. Replicating the album, we had Steve Hogarth singing "It's Different for Girls", but he was drowned out too. Then "Ashes to Ashes", which Hogarth originally recorded for the album, but was then replaced by Seal. Horn said it was Hogarth's idea to do the song on the album; Hogarth said Horn was drunk and can't remember that it was actually Horn's idea. Lovely to see the camaraderie between them. Hogarth was camping it up, gesticulating and striding around the stage, a great performance of "Ashes to Ashes"... in so far as I could hear him.

Chase and Holmes-Smith did "All the Things She Said", thankfully with somewhat more audible vocals. Then a performance of "Slave to the Rhythm" that Horn explained mixed a first half like the album ("without rhythm"), sung by Chase, and a second half more like the original, with Chase and Cardle duetting. Cardle stayed for "The Power of Love", a song that's all about it's dramatic vocal, which we could barely hear.

Then Horn was back on lead vocals for "Living in the Plastic Age", Cardle returned for "I'm Not in Love" and Hogarth closed the first set with "Everybody Wants to Rule the World".

A wave of complaints in the intermission hit the mixing desk, and thankfully something was fixed, making the second half much more enjoyable. We began with "Owner of a Lonely Heart", with Horn coming out in a kilt (the MacNeil family tartan)... although this time it's Alan Clark's solo that's inaudible. After that, the sound was fine!

"Brothers in Arms" is the weakest song on the Reimagines album to my ears, but it worked rather well here, with Cummings delivering an appropriately overwrought vocal. Roberto handled "Rhythm of My Heart". Horn, with Clark and Ferrone's help, then demonstrated his idea to do Springsteen's "Born to Run" to a bossa nova rhythm, before Holmes-Smith sang a very good "Dancing in the Dark".

Then a slightly odd section. As at their Cropredy Convention show in 2017, Argent's Russ Ballard joined them for "Since You've Been Gone" and "God Gave Rock and Roll to You". Ballard is an energetic frontman, these are classic anthems, Lol and Trevor seemed really happy to have Ballard as a guest, but the whole thing didn't really fit the '80s theme.

Back to the album for "Girls on Film", with Izzy and Katie on lead vocals. Then Hogarth, with costume change, was back for "Kiss from a Rose" (with the string arrangement, we were told, having been written by Hinton on the coach down from their previous show in Glasgow). Followed by, with another costume change, Hogarth doing "Blue Monday". It was lovely to now be able to hear Hogarth singing and I still long for a full-on Horn/Hogarth collaboration. As with some other songs, we got a tweaked version compared to the album, with Clark then Palmer having solos at the end.

Then the climax, if that's the right word, of the show with "Relax" with Cardle singing, Roberto/Izzy/Katie bouncing around the stage, and then everyone rocking out for "Money for Nothing", with Cummings back on lead vocals. The audience were on their feet and having as much fun as the band.

A stitched together panorama of the whole band

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Best Yes-related album of 1984

92 votes came in for the best Yes-related album of 1984.

What was the best Yes-related album of 1984?
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

So, a clear first and second place, and, wow, I'd forgotten there were four Patrick Moraz albums out that year.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Poll: What was the best Yes-related album of the second half of 2018?

55 of you voted and the results were:

1. various artists: A Life in Yes: The Chris Squire Tribute (w/ Sherwood, Kaye, Moraz, Davison):  38% (21 votes)
2. Peter Banks's Harmony in Diversity: The Complete Recordings: 24% (13 votes)
3. Jason Becker: Triumphant Hearts (w/ Rabin):  11% (6 votes)
4. Rick Wakeman: Piano Odyssey:  9% (5 votes)
5= Dave Kerzner & Sonic Elements: Yesterday and Today: A 50th Anniversary Tribute to Yes (w/ Sherwood, Kaye, Downes, Davison): 7% (4 votes)
5= William Shatner: Shatner Claus: The Christmas Album (w/ R Wakeman) 7% (4 votes)
7. other: 4% (2 votes)
8. Light Freedom Revival: Truthonomy (w/ Sherwood, O Wakeman) 0% (0 votes)

Billy Sherwood's tribute to his belated mentor easily won, with the comprehensive Harmony in Diversity set with Pete Banks second. I actually preferred the Sonic Elements Yes tribute, but it struggled to get votes.

Neither of the 2 other votes said who they were voting for. It may have been Funky Monkey's Undecover (w/ Banks), which I mistakenly omitted from the poll.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Best Yes-related album of 1983

You voted, 106 of you... or maybe it was one of you 106 times? But the results are...

1. Asia: Alpha (w/ Downes, Howe) 45 votes (42%)
2. Jon & Vangelis: Private Collection 27 votes (25%)
3. Bruford-Moraz: Music for Piano and Drums 18 votes (17%)
4. The Moody Blues: The Present (w/ Moraz) 7 votes (7%)
5. Mike Oldfield: Crises (w/ Anderson) 4 votes (4%)
6. Malcolm McLaren: Duck Rock (w/ Horn) 3 votes (3%)
7= Al Di Meola: Scenario (w/ Bruford) 1 vote (1%)
7= Rick Wakeman: G'ole! 1 vote (1%)

There were no votes for Annette Peacock's Been in the Streets Too Long (w/ Bruford) or Rick Wakeman's Cost of Living. Not a great poll result for Wakeman, with his first replacement at 3rd and 4th and his second replacement at 1st... and his almost replacement at 2nd. But a clear win for Asia, even with an album even the band somewhat saw as something of a disappointing follow-up.