May 202015
 
Greatest bass ever?

Greatest bass ever?

I’m sure you heard the news today that Yes bassist Chris Squire had been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia that will knock him off the band’s touring circuit for the first time since 1968. This is sad news simply because Squire is a human, and it’s also sad because this oddly, fantastically talented prog legend seems like a good egg – at least as good an egg as any other prog musician with a low profile that seems characteristic of the genre.

With absolutely no research or empirical data, you know what else seems to be characteristic of the prog genre? Band members’ life expectancy and overall health seem to be better than that of other rock subgenres. How many prog musicians died in their prime, or even as early as their mid-50s? How many prog musicians were junkies? Let’s leave Pink Floyd out of this, because they didn’t play enough triplets to really qualify as prog rockers.

Has anyone died in Yes? Did one early member of Genesis die? Did any of King Crimson’s 43 members OD? E, L, or P? A long time ago Soft Machine’s Robert Wyatt got wasted, fell out of a window, and got paralyzed, but he lived for a long time – perhaps, in fact, to this day. Kevin Ayers – was he in Soft Machine? He died not too long ago, right? He was old enough to have died of natural causes or some expected hazard of old age. Daevid Allen of Gong just died, but he was old.

Do you think the rigors of playing progressive rock keep these musicians in better physical condition than other forms of rock? Do rock musicians of any other style live as long and healthy lives?

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Nov 162013
 

As the classically trained musicians in Yes  hold down a cubed time signature while guitarist Steve Howe‘s wild runs through the Pixarlodian scale, focus on singer Jon Anderson. He shakes a single maraca, holding it close enough to the mic to be heard clearly. We’ve studied before the things singers need to do during long solos,  but Anderson’s single-maraca shake takes the cake.

Jon Anderson had brass balls, if for no other reason for singing the way he did. I listened to the awesome late-period Yes song “Going for the One” at the gym this morning. Anderson sings so high that he could have sung the song an octave lower and still cut through the fury of advanced chordings. Maybe that’s the range God intended his voice to occupy, and if that’s the case, He is a good god, for He gave Jon Anderson the brassiest balls in rock.

Battle Royale: Does anyone in rock have brassier balls than Jon Anderson?

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Oct 162013
 

hof2014

Please list this year’s nominees for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the order in which you think they should be included. If you don’t have the patience or interest in listing them all, please just list the top 5.

And the nominees are…

Nirvana, Kiss, the Replacements, Hall and Oates, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, LL Cool J, N.W.A., Link Wray, the Meters, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Yes, and the Zombies.

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Jun 042012
 

It’s your moment of Yes. In the spirit of keeping it nice, let’s take a few moments to appreciate rock’s most affirmative band.

Following is an early ’70s promotional video I’d never seen before. People who don’t know or care much about Yes, like myself, tend to think that the high-energy image the band put forth as they fell under the direction of the Trevors, Horn and Rabin, was contrived. Maybe even longtime Yes fans felt that period reeked of SELL OUT. I don’t know. The following video, however, is almost New Wave in its lighting, framing, and musical miming. Heck, they always had it in them. Enjoy…after the jump!

Continue reading »

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May 292012
 

It’s your moment of Yes. In the spirit of keeping it nice, let’s take a few moments to appreciate rock’s most affirmative band.

Did you know Jon Anderson was in a typical British Invasion-style band with his big brother Tony? I did not. I believe Tony sings lead on most of the tracks I’ve come across on YouTube, but following is one featuring Jon, singing in a manly register, no less. Enjoy…after the jump! Continue reading »

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Jul 112011
 

As any musician can tell you, it’s tough to build an audience of any size. Can you imagine how hard it must be to churn out million-selling albums and release singles that become radio staples for the next 40 years?

Now, imagine building that audience, selling all those albums, and garnering all that airplay with 8-minute songs involving complex time signatures and multiple “movements” while being sung by an elfin flower child with a high-pitched voice, spouting off fastastic tales of chess and outer space. (And this elfin prince of rock ‘n roll may be the best-looking guy in the bunch, despite the shocking results of a popular rock blog’s fan voting for Sexiest Man in Prog-Rock 40 years into the future.) Imagine taking these ingredients and producing actual songs with parts that could be sung, whistled, and hummed from top to bottom by an average 12-year-old kid. Continue reading »

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