I’ve never much cared for the “progressive-rock” band Yes (except for their 1985 reboot, saying which always starts an argument with my Yes-fan friends). And in saying that, I’ll stipulate a lot of that disdain was my own adolescent “too cool for school” arrogance about music.
But “a lot” ain’t everything. “Progressive Rock”, with its orchestral pretensions and acid-fueled subject matter, annoys me almost as much in retrospect as it did then.
But as I noted five years ago with the death of their founding bassist Chris Squire, they could really play.
Of course, they knew it. One of the things that probably got me off on a bad foot with Yes were a series of interviews I read with guitarist Steve Howe; with his academic background and classical guitar training, Howe came off like he was working on a cure for cancer, rather than…songs.
Keyboardist Rick Wakeman – he of the Gregg Allman hair and flowing robes and mad-scientist stacks of keyboards – is inseparable from Yes (although he’s left the band a few times, so Yes is clearly separable from him). In the seventies, Wakeman was practically a synonym for bloated pretension.
And they were right – but as always, there’s more to it.
This is htt a fairly fascinating piece about the Rick Wakeman story, including a lot of things I really never thought I’d want to know but am glad I now do. And I’m actually kind of interested…
…in the guy. Not the seventies Yes albums, or Wakeman’s (not making this up) ice show about the legend of King Arthur – although reading about the guys he produced it all with just gets more and more interesting.
And to circle back to Steve Howe? I saw this a few years ago, before Squire’s death – a “rig rundown” of Howe and Squires instruments, amps and other gear. And Howe comes across as a pretty dang likeable…
…well, not so much a “bloke”. Maybe more of an affable old professor who’s taken to genial chats about his favorite light reading.
There are times I kick myself for having sorted so much of the world out according to cliches I picked out of Rolling Stone.