Archive for the ‘Chris Squire’ Category

sumoSOUNDTRACK: YES-Time and a Word (1970).

yes timeThe second Yes album feels like a step towards what we know of the prog masters, but it’s more of set sideways as they have added an orchestra to the mix. Chris Squire’s bass sounds a lot more like the Yes we know, but those strings kind of mess with the synergy.

Opening track “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” is a cover of a Richie Havens song (it’s hard to imagine such an original band doing so many covers). In this one, Chris Squire shows the kind of bass he’s capable of—big deep bass notes, high fast riffs and far more complex rhythms. It’s just odd that the song opens with a string version of title music from the movie The Big Country. There’s some cool bass sounds and drum fills. It’s a great opening song. The strings are a weird addition but I think they work here (mostly).

“Then” opens with some interesting descending keyboard chords. There’s some wonderfully dramatic moments in the verses and the chorus gets nice and big and catchy.  The middle section has some good rumbling bass (with a strange addition of horns that give this a kind of soundtrack quality) and lot of keyboards. The lyrics are still pretty hippy “Love is the only answer hate is the root of cancer, then.”

“Everydays,” is another cover (Buffalo Springfield) is a kind of jazzy song with 70s keyboards and quiet jazzy drums. But after two minutes it turns into a heavy staccato riff that’s all bass and keyboards (and very cool).  This is followed by a big jam with wild drums, keys and bass. It then jumps back to a mellow section of mostly vocals. It’s a pretty wild song.

“Sweet Dreams” opens with some very distinctive Chris Squire bass.  The keyboards are big again.  “Prophet” opens with some ponderous keyboards and then the string section playing.  Then there’s some great loud bass playing.  The main body of the song is nearly all strings, which is an unusual sound for Yes.  But it’s just waiting for the bass to rumble in (opposite horns again). “Clear Days” is a 2 minute song which is all strings and Anderson’s voice.  It’s an unexpected track on this album for sure.

But the final two songs are once again real highlights.

I love “Astral Traveller” or (as-ter-al trav’lr as it is sung).  The opening chords are sharp and unusual. There’s some great rumbling bass and the chorus has some really interesting dissonance–really the first for the band who is usually pretty sweet up til now. There’s a keyboard section which feels a little displaced from the rest (later albums would make this kind of segmentation a bit more seamless) although Squire’s super high bass riffs are a fun addition. There’s also a great bass riff as the song heads to the final chorus.

And “Time and a Word” ends the album quite nicely.  Although this song is more delicate than others, it has some great elements—guitar harmonics, some cool bass and a very catchy chorus.  This record is pretty well overlooked (and is deservedly in the shadow of its successors, but there is some real quality stuff here).

Yes_-_Time_and_a_Word_-_UK_front_coverI also just leaned that the original album cover was quite different from the one that Americans are familiar with.

Since almost every Yes album had different personnel, I’m going to keep a running tally here.  Interestingly, it was the same lineup for these two records, but Peter Banks left right at the end of recording to be replaced by Steve How on the next album:

Chris Squire-bass
John Anderson-vocals
Bill Bruford-drums
Tony Kaye-keyboards
Peter Banks-guitar

[READ: January 15, 2015] Sumo

I loved this book.  I loved the illustration style (which was so very cool) and I loved the story which was simple but poetic.

The simple story is this: Scott is a football player with potential.  But when things don’t pan out (and his girlfriend dumps him) he decides to try a different route.  What if he becomes a sumo wrestler?

Scott is a blond haired American, but evidently this is not an unheard of transition, and so Scott decides to fly to Japan to try it out.  Scott is blond with a big square head.  Actually Pham’s drawing style is very blocky, which give it  an especially memorable and interesting look

The book si told in 4 sections (and the pages are designated by the color/symbol of that section.  The first is a circle in a square, which is primarily where we see Scott, in Japan, working out with the sumo.

The section (set off by a water tower) shows Scott on his last night at home–getting drunk with his friends.  They are sad to see him go, but wish him well. Until his ex girlfriend comes in and wants to talk to him. (more…)

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6SOUNDTRACK: YES-Yes (1969).

yesThis past weekend bassist and founding member of Yes died.  Up until about six weeks ago he was supposed to tour with Yes this summer.

It was surprising and sad news.  I was a huge Yes fan in college, and of course I love all things prog. But I started to lose patience with Yes since they had such a revolving door policy it wasn’t even clear is the people in the band even were part of the band (although Squire has played on every Yes album).  I hadn’t listened to anything new from them since the 1990s, and I was genuinely shocked to see how much new material they had released since then (about ten).

So here’s a bunch of their albums that I own.  I’m not going to pretend I don’t know their peak period stuff, so I’m looking at their first two albums with the hindsight of the 70s masterpieces.

Their debut album (look how 1969 that cover is) opens with a Chris Squire penned song called “Beyond and Before.”  Loud (and high) bass notes announce that this might just be a Yes album, even the vocal harmonies suggest Yes, and yet once the verse begins, it is a much more psychedelic version of Yes. The music feels very Summer of Love. And while Squire’s bass does come out from time to time, after that initial flurry it kind of settles down a bit. The song itself is quite good, as long as you’re not expecting classic Yes.

I feel the biggest sound difference is Anderson’s vocals which, while still powerful have a more gentle/sensitive feel (not too far off from his more famous style later on, but slightly mellower perhaps).

Next come s very jazzy cover of The Byrds’ “I See You” (a song I don’t really know, but the lyric “the cave of your hair” is pretty awesome.   This version is 7 minutes long with an extended jazzy solo from Peter Banks and suitable jazzy percussion from Bill Bruford. Tony Kaye on keyboards also features prominently.  The end is quite loud for such a hippie offering.

“Yesterday and Today” is a piano & vocal performance. It’s very delicate.  “Looking Around” has very heavy keyboard opening. The bass sounds like Squire but this is a very keyboard heavy song.  “Harold Land” opens with a kind of church organ and singing, but then the Yes sound comes in (you can almost hear the band forming). It feels, again very synthy, but certainly heading in the direction of Yes.

“Every Little Thing is a Beatles cover (! two covers on the debut album).  It begins with much chaos—noisy drumming, bass rumblings and keyboard noodling. The song is 5 minutes and the intro is almost 2 minutes. The big bass and drum really makes the song rock and the keyboards build some real drama into the track.

“Sweetness” is indeed a sweet slow track with a lot of acoustic guitars and soft keyboards.  It has a great descending chorus vocal line. If this were rerecorded and made a bit more modern sounding I think it could be a hit (well, maybe update the lyrics a bit too).

“Survival” is probably the most enduring track on the record. It opens with some great fuzzy bass and some actual catchy riffs. The opening vocals sound more like what latter-day Yes would sound like (subtle distinction, yes but it’s there). The chorus is very catchy and it’s a fun romp right until the end.  It’s a good send off, with a promise of better things.

Since almost every Yes album had different personnel, I’m going to keep a running tally here:

Chris Squire-bass
John Anderson-vocals
Bill Bruford-drums
Tony Kaye-keyboards
Peter Banks-guitar

[READ: February 16, 2014] The ElseWhere Chronicles Book Six

I ended my review of the last book by saying “now I’m hooked.”  But in the year since I read the last book I lost all the momentum of the series (since I’d read the first five in quick succession).  Which is a shame since the book was every bit as exciting as the rest, but I wasn’t quite as into it as I wanted to be.

Since Ilvanna died in the last book I should have been more upset about it and been more excited at the prospect of her return in this one, but I’d forgotten about it all.

As for the rest of the story, Theo, Max and Rebecca meet up with an old man who seems to know the secrets of the Other World.  He convinces Theo and Max to capture a creature who can take them to the Other World.

Meanwhile, in the Other World we see that the spirit of Rebecca is held be a mean looking guy known as the Master of Shadows.

At last the Master of Shadows meets the old man and Rebecca meets her double–a creature which he has created from a photo of Rebecca–he just needs her soul to complete the creation.  The final battle is pretty epic with swirling shadows all over the place and Rebecca’s grandfather pleading with her to destroy her doppelganger.

Meanwhile Theo and Max find Ilvanna who may or may not be dangerous, but she seems to want to help them.

This was the final book of series two of the series.  And the cliffhanger shows that the boys have found Dolean and the two Rebeccas have emerged–to what end?

The story was certainly exciting, but I recommend reading the whole second series together to really maximize the impact.

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[ATTENDED: June 28, 2015] Lo-Fi Resistance

lofiI usually like to give the opening band from a concert a write up.  This is probably the first time in a really long time that I saw an opening band that I’d never heard of (and didn’t take pictures of).

Lo-Fi Resistance is the creation of Randy McShine.  As I said, I’d never heard of them, so I had no expectations.  I’m kind of glad I didn’t because as I am now reading about them, I would have expected something very different.

McShine was considered a guitar prodigy and he has sung with The Pink Floyd Experience.  And McShine has pretty big connections in the prog world.  His debut album featured drums from the drummer from Spock’s Beard and also had vocals from dUg Pinnick! (on “Moral Disgrace,” not played that night).  Their second album, Chalk Lines, features drummer Gavin Harrison (!) who has played with King Crimson and Porcupine Tree, as well as the bassist for Porcupine Tree and once again Dug Pinnick. (more…)

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