Like so many people, when Punk and New Wave came knocking on my door, I responded by selling off my LPs by artists like Genesis, Yes and Rush.
Off to the second-hand record shop I skipped, accompanied by ‘Foxtrot’, ‘Going for the one’ and ‘A farewell to kings’, swiftly returning home with my new friends, ‘London calling’, ‘Germ-free adolescents’ and ‘Coming up for air’.
And for a while everything was fine but then, inevitably, I started to miss my old friends.
I’ve been promising/threatening for a few weeks now that I would feature our cassette today, the self-titled ‘debut’ by four former members of the 1970s line-up of Yes, ‘Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe’ (hereafter referred to as ABWH for brevity).
This really is a Yes album in all but name, but as neither A, B, W or H had the legal rights to use that name at the time, they decided, after considering a number of alternatives, to stick with boys surnames in not quite alphabetical order.
I’ve always considered Yes (or in this case ABWH) albums to be the musical equivalent of mountaineering in the fog. You trudge for ages through impenetrable murk suddenly to encounter something of stunning and fragile beauty. Then after a short while the fog descends again.
On this album the moments of stunning and fragile beauty can be encountered on ‘Brother of mine’ (10 minutes and 18 seconds in three parts), ‘The meeting’, ‘Quartet’ (9 minutes 22 seconds in four parts) and ‘Order of the universe’ (9 minutes 02 seconds in four parts).
‘Birthright’ explores the British Government’s atom bomb testing in Maralinga, Australia and the effect that it had on the aboriginal occupants. I suspect that Jon Anderson had a very big hand in this (the song, not the testing). Beware, there does appear to be the involvement of a didgeridoo on this track, but it sounds synthesised – I suspect no real didgeridoos were harmed in the making of this album.
‘Teakbois’ (pronounced Teak-bwah if you were wondering, and you probably weren’t) is a carnival style song with the intriguing and perhaps prophetic subtitle ‘The life and times of Bobby Dread’. If you have any maracas, then this is the point at which you might wish to get them out and shake them a bit. The album finishes with a pleasant if unremarkable track co-written with Jon’s old friend and musical collaborator, Vangelis.
I saw Jon and Rick together in concert recently and very entertaining it was too. Other than music it largely involved Jon talking about ancient mystics, spirits and Native Americans while Rick pulled faces and rolled his eyes in the direction of the audience. He wasn’t wearing his cape, which was disappointing.
Label – Arista (with specially designed Roger Dean Arista logo)
Year – 1989