Nearly two decades ago, I put together a guide to the different factions in Yes fandom as part of the FAQ for alt.music.yes. 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.