Sunday 8 January 2023

2022 in review and the Prog Readers’ Poll

Obviously, overshadowing everything, 2022 is the year that Alan White died. We will all remember him and the streamed Seattle tribute concert was a lovely memorial.

2022 marked a return to touring after the pandemic, with live shows by Yes, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, and the Trevor Horn Band, as well as the Jazz Sabbath tour with Adam Wakeman and Dylan Howe, and Dave Kerzner's All Star Prog Band with Sherwood. 2022 was perhaps a quieter year for Yes-related releases. But we did get albums from the Prog Collective and Arc of Life, from Rick Wakeman, and from Virgil & Steve Howe, plus some notable guest appearances including Sherwood and Davison on Dave Kerzner's The Traveler, both also on Lobate Scarp's You Have It All, and Wakeman and Downes on Fernando Perdomo's Frost soundtrack. There was the usual array of Cleopatra tribute records and Zorbonauts releases. I think there are two guest appearances that I feel deserved a bit more attention: David Paich's Forgotten Toys, which has a song with the late Michael Sherwood and a brief appearance by Billy; and Clint Bahr's Puzzlebox, including a piece posthumously incorporating a Pete Banks solo.

I think it can be interesting to try to step outside of our Yes fan perspective and consider how the broader world sees the music we love. In terms of audience reach, the most successful Yes-related music of 2022 must be Carly Rae Jepsen's album The Loneliest Time, which made the top 20 in the UK, Canada & US. Trevor Rabin plays guitar on the track "Talking to Yourself" (#91 on the UK iTunes chart by itself), presumably invited in by his son, who co-wrote/produced it. Or maybe it's Rabin's music for the Disney+ show National Treasure: Edge of History?

Yes-related music rarely challenges for the big awards, but Brad Mehldau's Jacob's Ladder, including a re-interpretation of "Starship Trooper", has been nominated in the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album category for the 2023 Grammys. (This is slightly confusing as it is not entirely instrumental, with significant vocals in places.)

One interesting measure of success is Prog magazines Readers' Poll, which Yes members have done well in before. The results for 2022 are perhaps disappointing.

In the Band, Male Vocalist, Guitarist, Album and Drummer categories, nothing Yes related. (Apart from Yes remixer Steve Wilson, who did very well, with Porcupine Tree winning Best Band and 2nd in Best Album, while Wilson is 8th in Best Male Vocalist.) Lobate Scarp were 9th in Best Unsigned Band. Adam Wakeman came 7th in Best Keyboardist.

Best Bassist has Tony Levin at #2 and Lee Pomeroy at #8. In the Best Reissue category, Bruford does well, with King Crimson's Discipline/Beat/Three of a Perfect Pair coming 8th and his compilation Making a Song and Dance at #9.

Cruise to the Edge came 5th in Best Event, but this was the first cruise without Yes themselves and Billy Sherwood was the only Yes member performing. Cropredy, at which the Trevor Horn Band headlined one night, was 7th.

So, no Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe or Geoff Downes. No specific mention of Billy Sherwood or Jon Davison, although perhaps they can take a little credit for helping Lobate Scarp to 9th best Unsigned Band. The long-retired Bill Bruford is the only Yes member who comes out of that seeming relevant. Congrats to the do-we-count-them-as-alumni Levin and Pomeroy. Compare someone like Steve Hackett, of the same generation as Yes, who has often collaborated with Yes members: he won best Guitarist and best Event (for his Foxtrot at 50 tour).

I wonder whether the Poll has a UK bias. The magazine is available outside the UK, but I think the readership is mainly British. Maybe the more US-based acts (Sherwood, Kerzner, Perdomo, Glass Hammer) suffer accordingly.

Will the 2023 Readers' Poll look different? Between probable Yes, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Trevor Rabin, and DBA albums, hopefully so.

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