‘Fragile’ at 50: Steve Howe Tells the Story Behind Yes‘s Landmark Album

Getty Images/Michael Putland

(via Guitar Player) by Joe Bosso

There was no such thing as progressive rock, explains Howe. It was just that their sound needed a bigger canvas.

Steve Howe has no idea where the term progressive rock came from, but he makes one thing clear: It certainly didn’t start with him. “I never called us ‘progressive rock’ or ‘prog-rock,’” he says. “As I recall, when I first joined Yes, we all used to call our music different things. 

“There was ‘orchestral rock’ and ‘cinemagraphic rock.’ We never argued about it, but there were a lot of names and terms being tossed about.” So what term did he use to describe Yes’s music? 

Howe laughs. “I often called it ‘soft rock,’” he says. “I thought what I wrote was a sort of soft rock, but the phrase didn’t catch on, at least not with what we were doing. But progressive rock? Where that got started, I don’t know. I think it might have come after the fact.”  

Read more: https://www.guitarplayer.com/players/fragile-at-50-steve-howe-tells-the-story-behind-yess-landmark-album

Video of the Week: Antoine Baril’s ‘One Man Yes’ Tribute

Video of the Week: Rock Family Tree–The Prog Rock Years

Jon Anderson to play with Yes at Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Jon Anderson will perform Roundabout onstage with Yes at their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in April

(via Prog Magazine)

Jon Anderson will take to the stage and perform with Yes at their induction ceremony into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame next month.

He’ll be honoured along with Steve Howe, Alan White, Rick Wakeman, Trevor Rabin, Tony Kaye and Bill Bruford on April 7 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in New York.

Billboard report that they’ll play Roundabout and are also contemplating I’ve Seen All Good People and Owner Of A Lonely Heart.

Read more: http://teamrock.com/news/2017-03-09/jon-anderson-to-play-with-yes-at-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame

Video of the Week: The Music of Yes and the Album Art of Roger Dean–The Perfect Union

Flashback: Jimmy Page Forms Short-Lived Supergroup With Members of Yes

page chris

(via Rolling Stone)

by Andy Greene

The very early 1980s was a scary and confusing times for many rock gods of the previous decade. This new thing called MTV was turning oddball British acts like Kajagoogoo, Adam Ant, Culture Club and Haircut 100 into overnight stars, and 1970s stadium rock giants like the Who, the Eagles, Wings, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Led Zeppelin and Yes were breaking up with stunning regularity. What do you do when you’re in your early thirties and all of a sudden your band is gone and nobody wants a 10-minute drum solo?

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/flashback-jimmy-page-forms-short-lived-supergroup-with-members-of-yes-20150804#ixzz3hyKFFOF3

Leave It: When Rick Wakeman Said “No, no, no, no, no, no, no” to Yes

wakeman 1

In the estimation of most long-time Yes fans, Rick Wakeman would be considered part of the band’s “classic” lineup–the keyboard player they’d most like to see manning the Moog if they were to put money down to see the band live.

wakeman 2Wakeman’s contributions to pop also include the atmospheric Mellotron on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and the sublime piano on Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken”.

But in addition to his musical contributions, he’s pretty well-known for leaving bands too. He bolted from Strawbs in 1971 when Chris Squire invited him to join Yes. And he left Yes on several occasions for various reasons.

In 1973 ambitious rock acts like Yes were enjoying a boom in terms of popularity–and income. Prog magazine writer Mike Barnes picks up the story:

But although Wakeman might have been a young musician who was, in his own words ‘riding a wave’ with no idea when it might break, in 1973 the money started to pour in. “Suddenly the band was earning enough money for someone to collect your suitcase in the morning,” he reminisces. “I thought: ‘Bloody hell, what’s going on?'”

Wakeman feels that this new-found wealth had adverse effects on Yes and contributed to the disaffection he felt with Tales from Topographic Oceans, which resulted in him leaving the group for the first time in 1974.

“That was a difficult time. Because if a band is earning so much money that it can do anything it wants, that power is really dangerous,” Wakeman admits. “We had an interesting situation with Topographic Oceans. From pre-orders we already knew we had a

Number One album (In England. The record peaked at number 6 in America). We had enough material for an album and a bit, so we could either reduce it or add to it and the vote went in favour of adding to it. But most of the additional material was made up in the studio–and it was a lot of padding.


“That annoyed me because I said: ‘Listen guys, there are some great melodies and sounds, what’s all this crap that’s going on there–a percussion thing”?’ It was a mixture of everyone’s banging drums, which went on for an eternity. I was going: ‘What the fuck’s all that about”‘ They were going: ‘That’s another six minutes, lads!’ And I’m going: ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no’. I ended up really hating the album because of that and because the more I said I hated it, the more said they loved it.

“Jon (Anderson) and I have discussed this numerous times at length and we both agree that if the CD had been available back then we wouldn’t have had the problem, because the album would have been 60 minutes long.”

Tales from Topographic Oceans was the most ambitious (slash pompous) release of the band’s career–possibly the most ambitious of any band’s career: it was comprised of four album-side length songs, which Wakeman disliked performing live because of the time it took away from playing their more popular material. It was after this tour that Wakeman departed from Yes.

He’d return for the albums Going for the One and Tormato, which has the following amusing story attached to it (quoting Wikipedia):

The original album title was to be Yes Tor, referring to a geological formation in southern England. The photographs taken by Hipgnosis for the album cover were seen as so unimpressive that Rick Wakeman, in frustration, threw a tomato at the pictures. The cover and title were adjusted accordingly.


Wakeman is correct in his assessment that Tales from Topographic Oceans contains some beautiful bits of music, which perhaps remain undiscovered by the band’s more casual fans due to being buried within non-radio friendly 18-to-20-minute pieces. The edits below extract two such highlights:

“The Ancient: Giants Under the Sun” (2:22 edit)

“The Revealing Science of God: Dance of the Dawn” (8:17 edit)

Yes’ “Roundabout”: Big in Japan

“Hello to our friends in Japan!

We are delighted that Roundabout, performed by YES and written by Jon Anderson & myself, is so popular in your country right now!

I look forward to returning with Yes or on my own in the very near future.”

—Steve Howe

End credits from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, a popular Japanese manga series-turned TV show.

Unknown Asian band perform a super-tight version of “Roundabout”.

Steve Shows You Howe

The Yes lead guitarist demonstrates three of prog rock’s most indelible riffs:


‘I’ve Seen All Good People’

‘Long Distance Runaround’

Recommended Albums #12


Pet Shop Boys: Yes (2009)

Sometimes we miss out on some great music because of our tendency to relegate an artist to a particular era in our minds.

If you think of Donovan, for example, as an artist of the 60’s–since he last hit the top 40 in 1969–you might not realize he recorded some great live albums, most of which he delivered in the 1970’s and later. If you only think of the late 70’s when you think of great Warren Zevon music, you probably missed a career highlight when the sobered-up Zevon released the cracking Sentimental Hygiene album of 1987. If you thought the only work of Graham Parker’s that mattered was his early albums with the Rumour, you’d find 1988’s The Mona Lisa’s Sister an unexpected treat. If you lost track of Asia when the 80’s ended, you won’t be aware that they may have turned in their finest album ever when the original lineup reconvened for 2008’s Phoenix. And if you think Prince hasn’t released anything good since the late 90’s…actually, you’re spot on in that case–but I digress.


Pet Shop Boys’ run of US top twenty singles began in 1986 and was over by ’88–a short peak era for a fairly iconic act. So to many (myself included) they existed mostly in a small 80’s dance-pop box. They do have their loyal fans though; they’ve continued releasing albums every few years and in the UK none has charted lower than #7. But to the mainstream American record-buying public, they’re an act from another era; they may as well be Culture Club.

But some bands continue releasing quality material, or even release their best material, long after their fifteen minutes of limelight is over–making all the impact of the proverbial tree falling in the forest. And Yes is, to my ears, the best album Pet Shop Boys have ever made. Had it come around in, say, 1989 it would have been all over American radio and had the audience it deserves.

Any band that’s been around for decades is subject, on the release of something new, to the scrutiny of whether it “stands up” to their older material. Not only does this stand up, but in some ways it is superior. Pet Shop Boys have never employed a lot of harmony vocals; here, ecstatic choruses unfold in full color as never before. Whereas for most artists the peak of sales coincides with a peak of artistic vision and creativity, followed by a long slow decline into mediocrity, in the case of PSB it’s more like they’ve only refined their songcraft over the years. And now, rather unexpectedly, 20 years on from their peak of record sales, they’ve reached the height of their record-making skill.

Even someone who never cared particularly for their old stuff could appreciate this album. If you’ve never been a fan of Pet Shop Boys, give Yes a chance to turn you into one.

Listen to “Did You See Me Coming”

Listen to “All Over the World”

Listen to “Love Etc.”

Listen to “Pandemonium”

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2019/04/21/songs-you-may-have-missed-636/

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