Musical Ramblings Rock Review Vinyl

Yes: When A Band Is No Longer ‘Fit For Purpose’

Title: Topographic Drama

Label: Rhino

During it’s 2016 tour, Yes played its 1980 album Drama in its entirety. The first time it had ever done such a thing. More than that, it also played sides one and four from the 1973 double-album Tales From Topographic Oceans. Startling because these are arguably the two most contentious LPs in the band’s entire discography. The first because Trevor Horn was on vocals for the former original album and nearly ripped his voice to shreds trying to be lead vocalist, Jon Anderson, instead of doing what he did best. Being Trevor Horn.

The latter LP was the symbol of so much prog excess that it, quite possibly, single-handedly forged punk. It was also disliked by many rock fans, some prog fans and even former Yes band members. And now both were being played on stage!

This new triple-LP features live performances from 12 dates recorded on the same tour in February 2017, by the current Yes line-up: Steve Howe (guitars), Alan White (drums), Geoff Downes (keyboards), Billy Sherwood (bass), Jon Davison (vocals, replacing Jon Anderson) and additional drummer for this tour, Jay Schellen.

With the addition of And You And I from 1972’s Close To The Edge and Heart Of The Sunrise from 1971’s Fragile, the elaborate gatefold package also arrives with a full size, 6-page booklet.

Mastering is very nice indeed. Despite revealing the give-away spacious auditorium feel the music has been mastered remarkably quietly, prompting a gain boost, further opening up the detail and midrange insight which is both smooth and very pleasant to the ear.

There are a few irritations. The audience gives a standing ovation when anyone so much as lifts an eyebrow while Davison is a pleasant but weak vocalist –  he’s no Jon Anderson. He’s too meek and, fragile (sorry) in his delivery. No, um, drama (sorry, again). The lack of emotional uplift and punch harms the songs, I’m afraid and gives the music a tribute band feel making Davison sound like a young Aled Jones.

End of review.

Yes: When A Band Is No Longer ‘For For Purpose’

My thoughts continued beyond it, however.

There is something about the lead singer of any band that forges that band’s inherent personality, don’t you think? Instrumental bands have a much easier time of it, in this respect (stand up Tangerine Dream which features not one original member and yet sounds exactly like TD of yore).

Not bands encumbered with singers though. One such band, Yes, has been through varying guitar players and drummers and keyboard merchants and now a new bass player. You may feel sorry and sad that old instrumentalist favourites have left the fold to explore pastures new or they may have sadly passed away but the band has always felt like Yes because Jon Anderson’s vocal was still there, piercing the upper atmosphere with his strong, impassioned, wholly spiritual and rather high pitched vocal stylings. His vocals have always acted as a sort of spine to the Yes sound. A sunlit core around which the music has been formed.

Anderson doesn’t just sing the songs, he believes in each and every word. His unique vocal approach is – has to be – the very personality of the band. If you hear a few words of his sung on the radio then you immediately think, “Yes!” You hear a solo Steve Howe on the radio or Alan White in a different band and you’d respond with, “Hang on…that sounds a bit like…is it…?” And other delaying tactics before a rough, educated guess can be made.

Drummer, Alan White – the only active Yes member to hold name trademark rights

The late and lamented Chris Squire’s bass sound was iconic in Yes terms but you can just – just – about get away with Billy Sherwood as his replacement. Kinda. If you squint a bit. As long as Anderson’s soaring vocal formed the spine of the band’s sound, then it could cushion the tragic Squire loss a bit. Turn that around, though. When Squire was still with us and Anderson was not singing with him, Yes always sounded odd. Unfinished.

With Anderson, there will always be Yes. Without Anderson, there is no Yes. The equation is as simple as that.

You doubt me? Let me give you examples of other bands who thought they could carry on without their main vocal man. Whether those delusions be based on “Sure, it’ll be fine. The fans are too dumb to notice,” or even “You’ll pay us how much if we carry on?” Whatever the reasons, The Doors thought that they could continue being The Doors without Jim Morrison. Hang on, though, this was the same band except for Jim wasn’t it? In terms of personnel, yes it was, sure. Yet, the heart had been pulled from the core of The Doors. In fact, The Doors was all about Morrison’s personality, his delivery, his articulation. As frustrating and annoying and irritating as these important facts might have been to the other three band members, the band was Mr Morrison.

Queen. Freddie dies and the rest of the band haul…Paul Rodgers (?!) into the front man slot. Rodgers? George Michael would have done a far better job, I have to add but George, for once in his life, made the right decision and exclaimed, something like, “No fear, I’m off.” The Rodgers result? Well it wasn’t Queen. I’m not suggesting that Paul Rodgers wasn’t/isn’t allowed to play music with the Freddie Mercury backing band but that collected group of people should never have been called Queen. Even with all of the other original members in tow. It was not Queen. It can never really be Queen.

I could say the same about Thin Lizzy. I could say the same about…well, the list grows. Even Deep Purple have given their band different names when they change their front man but they sneak a silly appellation to it: Deep Purple Mk.I, Deep Purple Mk.II, Deep Purple Mk.III, etc. These are mere twists to the brand name but the band get away with it in that manner.

The only band who can truly get away with changing their front man every five minutes and retain their original band name is King Crimson. The Mighty Crim are unique, though. Their soul sits on a stool at the side of the stage (sometimes in deep shadow), stares at the floor and noodles on a guitar. Fripp, the true leader of that band, is the sole exception.

This is because Fripp constantly and completely reinvents King Crimson. Compare the 70s KQ with the early 80s version. The two cannot be compared. Hence, if Fripp ever leaves for good. King Crimson will die.

Yes or No? Now Anderson (who should be standing where the guy – second from the left – is standing) has been removed and Mr Squire, far right, is no longer with us, the only sound from this band that actually sounds like Yes is Steve Howe’s guitar (far left). So what does that mean then? Is Yes now Steve Howe and friends?

Yes find it difficult to reinvent. They find it much easier to clone.

Generally, when all is said and done and in broad terms, you remove the front man? You kill the band. Once you’ve done that, you have to have the guts to start afresh.

Nirvana ceased to exist artistically but also physically, wholly and completely when Kurt Cobain died, didn’t they? You see? Sometimes bands do the right thing.

So, as much as I respect Jon Davison, he does fine work with Glass Hammer, the only reason that he’s in the band is because his name is also Jon and it saves the other ageing band members, whose memories are tending to fade as they approach or reside in their 70s, having to remember a brand new first name. Surely, that’s the reason he’s in the band?

Yes: When A Band Is No Longer ‘For For Purpose’

Geoff Downes

Oh, and I say that I respect Jon Davison? I do. I really do. Much more, it seems, than Yes itself actually does. Why? Because, all joking side, the Yes establishment has, once again, chosen a new lead singer because he sounds like Jon Anderson. That, my friends, is a complete and total lack of respect to the other Jon, Mr Jon Davison. You bring in an independent artist, a human being with his own thoughts and feelings, his own artistic vision and ambitions, likes and dislikes and the only reason, the ONLY reason he is there is because he vaguely sounds…like…another…guy.

Yes, as an organisation and a band, do this sort of thing over and over (i.e. Trevor Horn, Benoît David and now Jon Davison). The only reason that former lead singer Trevor Rabin got away with singing in his God-given voice was because Jon Anderson was standing next to him, at the time. Goodness knows what despicable medical operation Rabin would have had to endure, in order to reach the highest registers, if Anderson would have left while Rabin was still treading the boards with Yes. You need to watch the contract small print, you know.

If Yes is dead without Jon Anderson, as I postulate, then the band should, by all means, carry on but adopt a new band moniker, bring in a new singer (maybe one that has a deep voice? How about that? Something a bit Johnny Cash perhaps?) and produce new work while, if the old songs must be sung, reinterpret them with the new vocalist in a new fashion and allow that new vocalist to impose his creative will on the band not the other way around.

Jon Anderson had the decency to change the name of his new band when he temporarily split with Yes back in 1988. He called his quartet ABWH. Not Yes 2. Or some bastardisation of a classic Yes song title transformed into a band name or somesuch. Just ABWH. Funny thing was, when ABWH were in action they were, arguably, more Yes than Yes were at that time.

So, as far the current band is concerned, just don’t call it Yes. Don’t pretend that we cannot tell the difference. If you want Jon Anderson. Get bloody Jon bloody Anderson bloody. Please do not rope in some poor sap who is acting like some sort of Jon Anderson puppet. A Jon Anderson impersonator. A Jon Anderson doppelgänger. It surely does nothing for Davison’s self esteem, his reputation, his future career or even his dignity to be constantly compared to Jon Anderson. It’s actually distasteful. Davison will never be as good as Jon Anderson because, well, he’s Jon Davison isn’t he?

A message to Yes? Do import top quality band members who are individuals and talented people who will bring new and amazing ideas to the group dynamic. But stop – I repeat, stop – dragging in sub-standard band impersonators. You’ve heard of Fake News? This is Fake Yes. Now there’s a name for a tribute band. Time for a name change Mr White, Howe et al?

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74 Comments

  • Reply
    Peter Harrison
    29th December 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I agree with your point in principle, but some bands have succeeded without a name change when the key artist has left, although usually by taking the band in a different direction. Examples here are Peter Green leaving Fleetwood Mac, and Peter Gabriel leaving Genesis. Nirvana did the right thing, but has the world been deprived of their unique artistry, or were they really just your average session musicians?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2017 at 9:27 pm

      I strongly disagreed with Fleetwood Mac retaining their original name when Green had to leave. I felt that it was a marketing exercise. In fact, so does every writer and critic who has ever refered to the band. The earlier version of the band is always referred to as ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’. Which, by default, is the media/public actually renaming the band on their behalf. In effect, the public demanded a name change. Same with Genesis. PG leaving Genesis crated a wholly different band with a completely different musical direction which was instigated by Collins. Once more, the labels are split by the public using a similar method. That is: ‘Peter Gabriel’s Genesis’ and Phil Collins’ Genesis’.
      As for the Nirvana thing? There’s been absolutely no deprivation as the member of the band who actually wanted to carry on has and does.

      • Reply
        Yes Fan
        30th December 2017 at 6:53 am

        The PG FM thing refers to their first album to differentiate from the first one with LB and SN. No one calls the band that unless they are uneducated.

      • Reply
        Mitch Baron
        30th December 2017 at 8:14 pm

        Paul , nobody on the bloody Earth could or would have been as honest as you.I couldn’t agree more. However, I think the motivation base to be MONEY. It certainly is not creativity. I do believe the same thing applies with with replacing Jerry Garcia… even if they
        Call it Dead & Co.,… Some things need go with Dignity!
        Paul, I have to thank you for such a brilliantly written piece that shows amazing insight.
        Have a great New Year… Mitch Baron

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          30th December 2017 at 11:19 pm

          Absolutely Mitch. Dead on. Money. It’s a pension plan. Why import a Jon Anderson impersonator otherwise? Thanks you for your kind words, incidentally.

          • Yes Fan
            31st December 2017 at 4:22 am

            They should have a singer who sounds like Barry White maybe? Do you have ANY actual experience playing music?

          • Paul Rigby
            31st December 2017 at 12:07 pm

            Well I certainly don’t approve of JA clones. And I’m also familiar with many (thousands) of popular songs successfully reinterpreted by (thousands) of top quality singers. Yes refuse to do this because money is upper-most in their vision.

    • Reply
      Tom
      30th December 2017 at 9:31 pm

      I think it might have worked for Genesis (brilliantly) because Phil was able do a pretty good Peter Gabriel at first to ease fans in, and was already singing quite a bit, whether in his two little ballads or in unison with Peter. Though I also do think his transition to lead also was a season of reinvention, and in the end they became a brand new band. But Genesis always were innovating, even in the midst of PG and PC periods. Yes have always kinda been the same (“Owner of a Lonely Heart” era excepted).

      • Reply
        Paul Rigby
        30th December 2017 at 11:17 pm

        I always saw Genesis as two bands under the same name, Tom. To my mind there should have been a band name change and there wasn’t because it would have ‘lost the audience’ or ‘hurt the figures’ or some such. Saying that, I’ll give Phil this: he was his own man. He didn’t pretend to be PG. He did things his way. I wish Yes had that same courage.

      • Reply
        Pete
        31st December 2017 at 6:53 pm

        The real change in direction for Genesis came with the loss of Steve Hackett. Peter wrote much of the lyrics, and contributed ideas, but the rest of the band did the music–Banks was always core to the music, but listen to Steve’s solo stuff–he thinks outside the box, sees unconventional ideas. I think he was the ‘wild side’ to their music–IMO.

  • Reply
    d chaton
    29th December 2017 at 6:47 pm

    please correct the identification below the pics of the two Jons. that will add a bit of credibility to your article, which btw, I tend to agree with

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2017 at 9:18 pm

      No. No I won’t, I’m afraid Mr D. I did that for a very real reason. Have a think. 🙂

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      31st December 2017 at 12:36 pm

      I think the issue was a problem of page design – I’ve corrected that now. The ‘mis-caption’ is a standard point of irony, first used by the political weekly, Private Eye. I think the design tweak makes more sense now. Thanks for the kick though 🙂

  • Reply
    AlexD.
    29th December 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Kind of ironic that in the midst of this commentary about these two singers, you mixed their names up underneath their pictures.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Hi AlexD
      You say that I mixed up the names?
      Yes.
      I know.
      Give it a bit of thought and you might realise why 🙂

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      31st December 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Hi Alex D – I think the issue was a problem of page design – I’ve corrected that now. The ‘mis-caption’ is a standard point of irony, first used by the political weekly, Private Eye. I think the design tweak makes more sense now. Thanks for the kick though 🙂

  • Reply
    Dr Bill Rhodes
    29th December 2017 at 9:40 pm

    about time ( and a word?) someone remarks on the varied monikers vis a vis impersonators of the YES dynasty…Wakeman will always be Rick…just like Keith will never be surpassed ( albeit I’m always composing in that vein..and since 1971)…Jon will always be Jon… and Chris well,he was the second Jon regarding his choral abilities whist being the consummate bassist of all time… And Howe is dramatically one of the most stylistic guitarists of many epochs…So YES is not YES now but MAYBE? btw I have been using the Squire bass sound for many years in my compositions …. also composed the Keith Emerson /YES suites of 2017…there are over 300 youtubes of mine of many genre’s..btw Rick and I did a dbl CD on Arcade Records Germany circa 1992

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2017 at 9:46 pm

      Thanks for your interesting points Dr Bill

  • Reply
    Woody
    29th December 2017 at 9:46 pm

    As for Fleetwood Mac,they still have the 2 band members whose names the band’s name are derived from…….and famously one of Rock’s best rhythm sections.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2017 at 9:48 pm

      True Woody – and I take your point which is well made. Peter Green was the soul and the direction for that band, though. To such an extent that, when he left, that band changed completely.

  • Reply
    Nick ..
    29th December 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Opinions, opinions, opinions. Everyone’s got one…

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      29th December 2017 at 9:58 pm

      Nick – I would have respected your own opinion on this topic but posting over 1,000 words of comment from, what, 13 other critics [now edited] tells me nothing about you and your own thoughts. That’s all I care about, not them. If those critics actually want to post their thoughts here (and nothing tells me that they do at this time) then they are welcome but I cannot accept second hand reviews here, I’m afraid. Please post again and tell me about your views.

  • Reply
    Paul Watson
    30th December 2017 at 1:19 am

    How many times can you say the same thing over and over and over? Just ask Rigby because he’ll tell you, over and over and over… We get it. You don’t like Davison singing in Yes. You don’t like Davison singing in Yes. You don’t like Davison singing in Yes. You don’t like Davison singing in Yes. Not sure whether you’re trying to convince yourself or others that very point. Guess what? They’re Yes. Officially and in the heart of many of us fans. They have the name, and you don’t, so your opinion is worth sh*t. Enjoy your denial.

  • Reply
    Rob Coe
    30th December 2017 at 2:08 am

    “Jon Anderson had the decency to change the name of his new band when he temporarily split with Yes back in 1988. He called his quartet ABWH. Not Yes 2. Or some bastardisation of a classic Yes song title transformed into a band name or somesuch. Just ABWH. Funny thing was, when ABWH were in action they were, arguably, more Yes than Yes were at that time.”
    Erm, perhaps because A = Jon Anderson; B = Bill Bruford; W = Rick Wakeman & H = Steve Howe; the “Close To The Edge”/”Fragile” line up of Yes, minus Chris Squire, in other words … just saying 😉

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 8:41 am

      Thanks Rob – yes indeed. I was pointing out the irony.

  • Reply
    Garrett L.
    30th December 2017 at 3:31 am

    Better yet:
    Just go see Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman. I’ve seen them four times and have been moved to tears at points during their shows. And that happened because of this writer’s contention that Jon Anderson doesn’t sing these songs…he wears them like a cloak and embodies them. And you just can’t go wrong with Rick Wakeman. As for the naysayers that “Trevor Rabin is no Steve Howe”…correct…he’s not. He is his own musician! He’s not trying to immitate anyone. And that’s why Yes with ARW completely works and moves this middle-aged guy to tears.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 8:47 am

      Blimey yes, I can just imagine because Yes as a band has brought me to the brink of tears on many occasion.

  • Reply
    Mark
    30th December 2017 at 6:00 am

    Minor quibble, but when Paul Rodgers sang with two of the surviving members of Queen, the act was billed as “Queen + Paul Rodgers”, not Queen, and they performed his songs as well as theirs.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 8:46 am

      Bang on Mark, good point and thanks for the clarification. I’d quibble even further though and question why the Queen brand was made at all. I notice the Rodgers uses his name and doesn’t call himself Free 🙂
      If Led Zeppelin can dissolve its band after losing its drummer (I’d argue that that tragic loss was not as severe as losing a lead singer) then Queen can do the decent thing too. Or is it a money thing?

  • Reply
    Yes Fan
    30th December 2017 at 6:50 am

    This review is pure garbage and even contains factual and grammatical errors.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 8:50 am

      Thanks Yes Fan. You are allowed to say such a thing, you know. Your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s here. Please let me know your name, though – or shall I refer to you as ‘None’? (from your email address)

  • Reply
    Roy
    30th December 2017 at 6:52 am

    Paul,

    I’ve been a passionate Yes fan for over 40 years, and it’s as if you’ve read my innermost thoughts. Yes just isn’t Yes without Maestro Anderson; in fact I find it rather depressing to see or hear them play with a different singer. Nothing in the world has brought as much joy to my life as the music of classic Yes as a whole and Anderson’s voice in particular. If I listen to the current incarnation of the band at all now, I do so only out of curiosity, not because I expect to be pleased or enlightened. And, with regards to what you say about ABWH being “more Yes than Yes” was, those are the EXACT words I’ve also used to describe ARW, a wonderful act in their own right with Anderson at the vocal helm.

    You might be aware that Steve’s version of Yes recently relaunched its fanzine. If you read between the lines of the publication’s “mission statement,” you probably won’t fail to notice an attempt to create false propaganda–that is, an alternate reality in which Anderson never existed and Davidson has, in a sense, been the “real” guy all along. Such a slant is insulting not only to Davidson (as you point out) but also to Anderson (though he, fortunately, appears magnanimous enough to not let it bother him) as well as to true Yes fans (“maybe they’ll be too stupid to notice,” as you additionally point out). Steve is also a true maestro–one of the greatest (and perhaps underappreciated) guitarists ever–but I wish to God he would finally get over himself, reconcile his beef with Anderson, and come together with him again. Even at the Hall of Fame Induction he couldn’t resist being a little snarky near the end. He’s 70 years old, for God’s sake. Why is he still acting like he’s 7?! (On a related note, please pardon the pun, Geoff Downes, although talented, is NO Rick Wakeman. He couldn’t even stay in the same room with him. Do Howe and the magazine’s publishers also think true Yes fans wouldn’t recognize that reality??)

    As for your point more generally about band leaders being irreplaceable while other members are more expendable, I can think of at least a few exceptions in addition to the Mighty Crim (who, by the way, I just saw perform a stupendous show here in Washington a couple of months ago): Led Zeppelin, who Robert Plant concluded couldn’t go on after John Bonham died, even though Bonham didn’t sing; and Pink Floyd, who were obviously an amazing band for decades after Syd Barrett drifted away. In fact, Floyd even centered what was arguably their greatest album–Wish You Were Here–around that very loss.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 8:55 am

      Great point re Floyd. Need to think about that one 🙂 Yes, I made a similar comment Led Zeppelin point too elsewhere here in the Comments section. Interesting views there and some enlightening ones too. What exactly *is* the issue between Howe and Anderson, incidentally? I get the impression that Howe believes that Anderson doesn’t do enough song-writing work or offer enough creative input – although that view is based on a single wayward quote that I heard from Howe (which may or may not be true).

      • Reply
        Paul Watson
        30th December 2017 at 10:26 am

        What planet is Roy on? Where on Earth did he get this garbage that Yes are creating false propaganda? Nowhere has Steve tried to deny the history of Yes. ” Steve is also a true maestro–one of the greatest (and perhaps underappreciated) guitarists ever?” What rubbish! Steve has been voted many times in the Guitar HOF as the best guitarist in the world. Who on this planet under-appreciates his playing????? And as for that rubbish about Steve’s reaction at the HOF shows Roy has no knowledge on what was going on there. The behaviour of Anderson and Wakeman towards the members of Yes. BTW, it isn’t Steve’s version of Yes. Chris started Yes with four others (not just Jon as some would think). Before he died he asked Steve and Alan to keep the band going. That band is still going. Anderson and Wakeman and Rabin are doing their own thing. They can play Yes music but they can’t call themselves Yes. As for Howe and Anderson and the whole “that Howe believes that Anderson doesn’t do enough song-writing work or offer enough creative input – although that view is based on a single wayward quote that I heard from Howe (which may or may not be true)” is untrue. Maybe you meant where Jon was boasting he wrote all the Yes songs in an Rolling Stone article last year, and Steve on his own FB page countered that by showing examples of some of his lyrics he wrote for some of their popular albums like CTTE and TFTO.

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          30th December 2017 at 11:30 pm

          Thanks for that Paul. And thanks for the clarification. Very kind of you to pitch in.

  • Reply
    Roy
    30th December 2017 at 7:31 am

    PS You also seem to have read my mind with regard to what you said about Punk arising as a rebellion to Yes. I once had a girlfriend who was much younger than I, and, when I tried to explain this very piece of music history to her, she literally laughed at me. She was a very smart, talented, sophisticated young lady, but on this point she just wasn’t buying it. Well, now you seem to have vindicated me: Prog rock as a whole, Yes in particular, and Topographic Oceans most of all were indeed the unwitting inspirations for punk (along with English cultural alienation itself).

    That said, I’m decidedly NOT among those who disdains Topographic. On the contrary, while it has its flaws (side 2, for example, seems to contain some filler), I’ve always felt it to be a beautiful, sonorous album to which I never tire of listening, especially sides 1 and 4 (4 most of all) and Howe’s acoustic solo on side 3. And isn’t it funny how Eddie Vedder, a famous punk-inspired singer himself, eventually remarked that he wished he could make an album as perfect as Tales from Topographic Oceans…

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 8:43 am

      I’m with you on the TO album, Roy. Thanks for your comments.

  • Reply
    Mike
    30th December 2017 at 9:58 am

    Here’s more irony… seeing as though squire passed away is Steve Howe’s yes really yes at all or is it jons? Jon and Chris were the only two original members left with the rights to the name. Now that Chris is gone that leaves Anderson with sole rights. That is why he reclaimed the name. Just proves that wherever Jon goes yes goes and i for one wouldn’t want it any other way.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:39 pm

      Indeed, Mike. Although I believe that Alan White is the only official Yes band member with rights to the Yes trademark.

      • Reply
        Yes Fan
        31st December 2017 at 12:04 pm

        both of u need to do some homework. White, Howe and Squire’s estate own the name. Howe owns the main logo with Roger Dean. Anderson is only allowed to use the name, at all, because he still owns 1/5 of the Yes UK Touring Co Ltd (or something of that almost exact nature). It’s utterly ridiculous and shameful for Anderson to steal the name from his fallen mate’s band which is the real Yes. ARW is just ex members who keep quitting Yes and shall never be in Yes again. Rabin is the only one from ARW with any cred left.

  • Reply
    Al Barnett
    30th December 2017 at 9:58 am

    Great article Mr. Rigby. I have been a Yes fan since the beginning and have seen and heard every different variation of the band over the years and have determined that you cannot under any circumstance, replace Jon Anderson and Steve Howe is a bit daft in thinking that true fans don’t notice or don’t care. He thinks we just want to hear his guitar and the fillers are just there to keep the beat.
    All bands have gone through changes over the years and it only works in certain cases. Santana is one. Carlos knows he can’t sing, but he never said he could. He would write classic music and the find the voice that suited it and no one said a word because it worked for him. Hearing someone try and be Jon Anderson is the most insulting thing you could do to a Yes fan, the same applies to replacing Steve or Rick or Chris. Tony Kaye was a good keyboard player at the time, but, I cannot even imagine him playing Close to the Edge on his one piece keyboard.
    I wish all these different bands would just suck it up and remember that the fans put them in the financial comfort position they are in and play together. They don’t have to talk to each other, just get on stage, give us what we deserve and go about your business. It’s frustrating that most of Yes are still there and would sound amazing together, but petty crap has to get in the way.
    Super trump is another one with an idiot screwing it up. Get off the pot Rodger isn’t playing the casino tour getting tiresome? Suck it up, get back with the boys and you’ll pack a stadium in a second……… Sorry, just had to say that……. Great article again Paul.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:37 pm

      Good point and a timely reminder to turn the spotlight back to the fans. I know that Yes fans are split in terms of their support or otherwise with the current Yes line-up. Twas ever thus with any band, of course.
      That said, it’s difficult for any fan to have a cogent and coherent debate, when the Yes management brings in Anderson clones. We should be talking about the relative merits of real artists and their God-gven talents and how those unique abilities add (or otherwise) to the Yes view of prog rock. We should never…ever…be discussing how Singer A sounds more like Jon Anderson and Singer B sounds less like him. To return to your point. It is, indeed, an insult to the fans.

  • Reply
    Paul Hilton
    30th December 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Great points raised, some of them I have been thinking myself. I think you are correct that the only reason they picked Jon Davison was his resemblance in looks and sound to Mr Anderson Having listened to the new album I can’t help but feel that there’s something missing, a bit like making a pasta sauce without Garlic it almost tastes right but the flavor is not quite right.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:29 pm

      A valuable gastronomic metaphor Paul!

  • Reply
    Joseph
    30th December 2017 at 1:51 pm

    YES will never be YES without Jon Anderson,if YES featuring Howe wants to stand on their own merits then why don’t they produce new music,they simply preform songs that are attributed to mostly Jon Anderson they offer nothing new except Fly From Here that totally fell flat,I just don’t see the logic in what Steve is doing these days,no Chris no Jon how on earth is that YES,to play Tales without Jon, Chris or Rick there I find well insulting to a TRUE YES FAN and why Roger Dean still keeps doing their covers,guess money talks but that a piece for a later date,thanks for letting me vent sir

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:28 pm

      Yes, it comes back to money Joseph. But also I wish that peace was made and the guys would get back together (i.e. Yes and ARW). They surely don’t have that many years left. Let’s be realistic here. If they continue to snipe at each other (I read Howe take a poke at Anderson recently) then they will lose their magic for good.

    • Reply
      Yes Fan
      31st December 2017 at 12:07 pm

      ARW is the fake Yes. Zero releases and zero cred and zero class. That’s why Dean won’t work with them but DOES still work with the real Yes.

  • Reply
    Fran Hunt
    30th December 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Yes is Jon Anderson…plain and simple. While I have listened to Heaven and Earth and Fly From Here, I do like the music. But I can’t watch Davison. He tries to hard to emulate Anderson and it irritates me.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:26 pm

      Thanks for you thoughts Fran.

  • Reply
    Rich Goetz
    30th December 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I d rather have them than not. Chris was yes. He is the only one to have played on every studio album. He also hand picked his replacement and gave his blessings. I’m just enjoying all of these talented people still with us.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:26 pm

      I’d rather have them than not too. I agree with you, Rich. But I’d rather that they stopped this childish in-fighting, got back together like good little boys, grew up a bit (how old are they again?) and did what they did best. My piece was a moan and a groan but also a plea for sanity.

  • Reply
    Sean Geist
    30th December 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Well done, sir. But you do fail to mention Yes indeed exists with Jon Anderson: “Yes featuring ARW” just recently changed its name from the shorter, and less succinct, ARW. That’s the Yes band currently touring. I saw them earlier this year, and they bloody are yes, as you might say.

    The Steve Howe lineup is indeed the Tribute band.

    Cheers!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:24 pm

      Thanks Sean – well I did mention ABWH to make a point and I thought that, bringing in ARW would be to only labour the same point. Thanks for your message, though. Appreciated.

  • Reply
    Dolph
    30th December 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Haters gotta Hate….

  • Reply
    Paul J
    30th December 2017 at 5:02 pm

    What is most frustrating as a long time Yes fanatic is that the original players and members if Yes minus St. Christopher are still touring in dual watered down versions of the original classic lineup. I could take a Billy Sherwood bass replacement if the remaining classic lineup of Howe, Anderson, White and Wakeman would put aside whatever personal or legal obstacles prevent the song writers of the classic material from reuniting. After listening to a rendition of Perpetual Change live performed by the Anderson Wakeman Rabin lineup with virtually no distinguishable guitar solo, i realize it would be much more enjoyable to watch a lineup with Howe easily performing Rabin’s solos on later material than listen to Rabin fail at his attempts at Howe’s virtuosity. And please, not another Union tour with its redundancy.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:22 pm

      I’m with you on your points Paul. What did Rick Wakeman call Union…Onion was it? Because every time he remembered it, he cried? Oh and that was a money thing – and no-one looked good on that one – that was all about record labels flashing the cash. A black day for Yes, no-matter what your name was.

  • Reply
    William
    30th December 2017 at 7:41 pm

    What is your point, besides the teeny bopper quote? No Jonathan Swift, but the other, not so swift. Suckers gotta suck taint.

    I saw the yes show last summer. It was a sad spectacle. It needed a hospice visit. There were scores of elders leaving in disgust. The place wasn’t even half full to begin with. I would Love to see the real Yes show with Anderson, Rabin, and Wakeman. I was greatly impressed by the youtube clips I saw so far, along with reviews. Other than Howe’s brilliance and witnessing the legendary Alan White, the show friggin’ stunk. Todd Rodgren and his great band of ex-Cars and Tubes folks were right on, along with the Master, Carl Palmer. Jon Davison should go back to his cacao drum circle bullshite gutter. Haters gotta hate. Man pray for a pandemic with that dumbed down and innane ball less squirt of diarrhea.

    Loved the review. You actually took time to think and reflect. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:21 pm

      Goodness gracious William, you right mails with the same passion that Anderson sings his songs 🙂 Thanks for that.

    • Reply
      Yes Fan
      31st December 2017 at 12:12 pm

      William, if you want to see utterly train wrecked versions of all your fave Yes songs, then by all means, go see ARW. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. LOL. (moral of the story: all bands need to rehears BEFORE going on tour. The real Yes knows this. ARW does not.)

  • Reply
    Paul
    30th December 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I can’t listen to this album, it’s flat, performance-wise, compared to the very first Yessongs album. Some of the guitar parts are much weaker than the original recordings and just for comparison, I listened to Machine Messiah on this recording and then on the original studio album – and for some reason, the studio one sounded more live. Certainly more lively. Thankfully I was lucky enough to see them on the original Drama tour with the Buggles & then again in the round with “All Of Them” – the jokingly called “Union” tour. Truly amazing experiences for me – not reflected in this latest offering sadly. I miss those days as I’m sure everyone does but this album just proves they are perhaps gone for good.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:15 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts, Paul.

  • Reply
    Tim
    30th December 2017 at 10:47 pm

    I have been a Yes fan since 1974 and while disappointed they haven’t been able to keep the group together I still enjoy going to both current versions of the band. I just saw the Anderson Rabin Wakeman version in a beautiful setting in Colorado. Granted Howe and Squire weren’t there but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I saw the Howe, Squire and White version a few years ago and my16 year old son, who had just seen Styx as the opening act was blown away by thay lineup. Granted Anderson wasn’t there but it still brought back great memories. I have seen them in various form 8 times now and never am disappointed. Why, because I realize that each incarnation is just that, a separate one from the early group which in its own right seemed to be constantly changing. Perhaps that is what has kept them relevant all these years and reaching new fans. I will continue to see both as they travel separately even while wishing they could reconcile but in the end is life not constantly changing….

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:14 pm

      Hi Tim – I agree, life does not stand still. Everything changes and evolves. I have no problem if Yes wish to do that too. IN fact, I’d encourage it. It’s a shame that the Yes management doesn’t see this too. They seem stuck in time, with a sad attempt to offer us Jon Anderson clones. I have nothing against Jon Davison. I just wish he could be his own man. Not someone else.

  • Reply
    Robert K
    31st December 2017 at 6:26 am

    Jon Anderson, solo, on stage all by himself, performing Yes songs with only his guitar, was one of the best concerts I have EVER seen/heard. I attend over 40 live concerts a year and I saw Yes live on many occasions at their peak and in most of their reincarnations. While I still treasure the original recordings & the oppotunity to have recently seen Howe up close playing all the old tunes note-for-note, at this time to hear Anderson’s re-invention of the old music was unforgettable.

  • Reply
    Stu Harris
    31st December 2017 at 9:44 am

    My personal view is that the music itself is transcendent and the most important thing. I view it in the same way now as I would opera. It doesn’t matter who performs it as long as it is done to the highest standards possible. The classic lineup set the benchmark. This does not mean it cannot be performed better or differently take Todmobile for example. I love to hear female vocalists sing the lead parts as it adds a new dimemsion. I got over the constant personnel changes when Moraz joined, he was like a breath of fresh air.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      31st December 2017 at 12:08 pm

      I totally agree with you Stu. Every word.

  • Reply
    Yes Fan
    31st December 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Also, I will be boycotting any and all sponsors here and will be telling my approximately 500 Yes fan friends to do the same.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      31st December 2017 at 12:33 pm

      I think emotions may be running unnecessarily high, Yes Fan. Let’s take a deep breath or two, eh?

  • Reply
    Roy
    1st January 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Paul,

    As it appears that your question about the original rift hasn’t yet been addressed, I’ll do my best to answer it now. When Yes were on the eve of their 40th anniversary tour in 2008 (“Close to the Edge and Back”), Jon suffererd, as you might know, a nearly fatal respiratory illness that resulted in the tour’s cancellation. He evidently realised how sick he was becoming but tried to hide it from the rest of the band, apparently believing he could beat it. My understanding is that the only band mate who knew about it was Rick, who urged him, to no avail, to inform the others. Alas, Jon ended up quite literally close to the edge and unable to perform, or even sing at all, for at least 6 months, which resulted in the tour’s cancellation. Steve and Chris were incensed and fired him, though it’s also my understanding that they were already harboring some lingering resentments toward him related to an unequal percentage of revenue he had received from the ’04 tour. Hence, Howe, Squire, et al might actually have had some legitimate complaints, but (a.) those incidents were a long time ago; (b.) Anderson has, as I alluded to in a previous post, tried to be conciliatory; (c.) Howe is well known for having a difficult personality that dates back well before this particular rift (though he also can be very funny, as you know if you’ve ever attend one of his solo shows); and (d.) as one of your other readers remarked about Rodger Hodgson and Supertramp, all of Yes would likely be doing themselves a big favor by reconciling their differences and reuniting.

    I also agree, by the way, with the reader who stated that Anderson puts on a fine solo show. He does some nice renditions of Yes tunes along with music of his own–and he too is very funny, especially when he talks about his experiences with the band. Yes featuring ARW has, however, definitely been the most exciting and re-moralalizing development of all since the ’08 split.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      1st January 2018 at 4:01 pm

      Thanks for spending time penning that narrative, Roy. That’s very kind of you. Sometimes work demands that I exit the loop and, while I heard about the Anderson illness, I wasn’t aware of the other info. I’ve heard Howe and Anderson solo shows and agree with your thoughts on that 🙂

  • Reply
    Linda O
    1st January 2018 at 6:07 pm

    I have to agree with you on this! I couldn’t have said it better. As a Yes fan since my first concert in 1973 I was so broken-hearted when Jon was out of the band. I was desperate to hold onto the fragments of the band I had always loved. I attended the concerts with Jon Davidson and even met him in person. He was so gracious and appreciative. I knew his work as the bassist from his previous band, Sky Cries Mary. I also watched him sing onstage with Foo Fighters once. His voice was strong, he was being himself! I have to wonder who the REAL Jon Davidson is. After seeing this Yes tribute band live a few times, I sensed the loss of Mr. Anderson so much, it was uncomfortable. As a fan of the other members I could enjoy watching them and that was my only reason for being there. But the music without Anderson became too disappointing and I eventually lost interest. Fast forward to 2017 to Anderson, Wakeman, Rabin concert – the chills and tears returned! Incredible and so refreshing! I just wish we could meld both bands together! It’s been difficult being a YES fan (sigh!) 🙁

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      1st January 2018 at 7:19 pm

      Welcome to the site Linda and thanks for your considered thoughts. True too – being a Yes fan is a bit of a rollercoaster. 🙂

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