Posts Tagged ‘Jon Anderson’

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Fans of the rock band Yes—who gained entry to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Class of 2017 on their third nomination have had, in recent years, two opportunities to enjoy the progressive rock group in concert. There’s the band that uses the official Yes name, and which features the long time members, guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White. And for several years, there was Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman, made up of Yes co-founder/vocalist Jon Anderson, and long time band members, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and guitarist Trevor Rabin (who may or may not return together).

For fans of classic Yes, we’re going to take you back to the early ’70s when the band was releasing album after album of prog rock goodness.

After two musically solid but poor-selling albums, the five-piece psychedelic-progressive rock group Yes privately suspected their label Atlantic was looking for some serious commercial progress in order to justify keeping them under contract. Their London-based A&R man Phil Carson was typically hands-off, but with label-mates like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Led Zeppelin and CSNY catching fire, Yes could easily be left behind. In late spring 1970 they retired to a farm in Devon, England, for rehearsals with a “make or break” attitude.

The band had been used to building LPs from a combination of their own compositions and a sprinkling of unusual cover tunes, often radically reworked from their sources (the Byrds’ “I See You,” the Beatles’ “Every Little Thing,” Buffalo Springfield’s “Everydays” and Richie Havens’ “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” had appeared on the Yes and Time and a Word albums). This was to be their first album of entirely original material.


Bill Bruford was likewise able to be subtle one minute and crash the next. Using a jazz approach, he tended to imply the main beat rather than always state it as a rock drummer would. His approach was defined by variety. Chris Squire played bass like a lead instrument, generally with a heavy-gauge pick. Like the Who’s John Entwistle, he sounded at times like a low-pitched guitarist rather than a harmonic accompanist, part of the rhythm section. Tony Kaye had trained as a concert pianist, but he’d abandoned classical music for pop, playing a Vox Continental in various groups before joining Yes in 1968 and settling on the Hammond B-3 organ as his main squeeze. Vocalist Jon Anderson (who initially spelled his first name John), drummer Bill Bruford, keyboardist Tony Kaye and bass player Chris Squire were integrating their new guitarist Steve Howe, after original member Peter Banks left in April. Howe, who’d previously been with the “freakbeat” band Tomorrow, was at home in a number of genres, including folk, blues and country, and was soon exerting a strong influence on the group sound as they wrote and rehearsed new material. His main axe was the Gibson semi-acoustic ES-175, often considered a jazz guitar. He was the type of versatile player who could take advantage of it. He could play powerful block chords, wail jagged solo lines, flat-pick or fingerpick; whatever it took, he supplied it.

Anderson sang in a high tenor, and was responsible for most of the group’s lyrics, which tended toward the mystical, pastoral and mythological. Yes’ producer-engineer Eddy Offord described how the group teased Anderson for his wordplay: “The band gave him such a hard time. They’d all say to him, ‘Jon, your fucking lyrics don’t make any sense at all! What is this river/mountain stuff?’” Offord says Anderson would always explain, “I use words as colours, for the sounds of the words, not the actual meaning.”

Offord recalled, “Bill Bruford didn’t like Jon messing with the tracks once they were recorded. I remember we were trying something—Jon wanted to have some echo in the background—and Bill got up and yelled, ‘Why don’t you put the whole fucking record in the background with echo then?’ But what I learned about working with them was, if somebody has an idea, it’s better to try it than sit around debating it.” Working at Advision Studios in London during autumn 1970, the group aimed for precision and even perfection. Most of the time Squire and Bruford recorded their parts and all other instruments and vocals were meticulously stacked on top, filling the 16 tracks available. Recording their complex, multi-part songs sometimes in takes as short as 30 seconds, they redesigned and edited pieces together as they went. Some heavily rehearsed sections were wedded to spontaneous studio creations. Offord was so expert that for much of the time the listener can’t hear the seams. So what appears to be superhuman effort, with musicians switching tempos, moods and effects at will, is actually a result of brilliant musicians who could hear the totality of the music in their heads as it emerged in bits, and a producer who could make it sound organic even when it was built like an assembly-line machine.

The nine-minute “Yours Is No Disgrace” kicks off the LP with a show of force, a sort of warped tango rhythm with Bruford and Howe assertively locked in, extremely prominent bass work, a Howe transitional solo and Kaye’s organ holding the strands together. Anderson and harmony vocals don’t enter until 1:30, with a tempo change, a Hammond B-3 bed and lyrics that are both evocative and opaque: “Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face/Caesar’s palace, morning glory, silly human race.”

Instrumental effects and changes in dynamics and tempo continue to oscillate, circling back like a classical sonata to theme and variations. There are sections that sound like prime King Crimson or Genesis; the arrangement keeps us guessing. At the 6:00 mark, Howe performs a dazzling series of solos in different styles, but isn’t allowed to linger before Anderson re-enters. At this point the lyrics are even wilder: “Battleships confide in me and tell me where you are/Shining flying, purple wolfhound, show me where you are.”

Strangely, the next track is “Clap,” a Chet Atkins-style acoustic guitar piece recorded at Howe’s very first live gig with Yes, at the London Lyceum on July 17th, 1970. Incorrectly and unfortunately listed as “The Clap” on the original LP, it’s a fine showcase for Howe, but what it’s doing sequenced between “Yours Is No Disgrace” and another nine-minute epic, “Starship Trooper,” is a mystery. Surely such a contrast would have worked better tucked somewhere on side two? Howe laid down a longer version of “Clap” at Advision, but it wasn’t released until 2003 when Rhino issued an expanded CD of the album.

“Starship Trooper” is in three parts running together, with “Life Seeker” written by Anderson, “Disillusion” by Squire and Howe’s “Würm.” Anderson’s at his peak, and again the instrumentalists are constantly impressive and in motion. Listen to Bruford’s variations as he moves around the kit and Squire puts in spectacular punctuation. At one point, Howe’s guitar track is run through a flanger, giving it a synthetic sound. He also does another Atkins-like country backing for a multi-tracked vocal grouping. Howe’s final section is a solid rocker that pounds a couple of chords into submission, Kaye dominating the background and Howe up front.

Yes rose at the same time that free-form FM radio stations were sprouting in every market. Song length was no concern for the programmers and DJs, who had no problem playing the full versions of “Roundabout” (8:29), “Starship Trooper” (9:23), “And You and I” (10:09) and “Close to the Edge” (18:50), which took up an entire side of the LP of the same name. Though edits of these songs for the most part failed to click with Top 40 programmers—at a time when rock bands were still a pop radio mainstay—their lack of mainstream appeal didn’t diminish their fans’ enthusiasm.

Diehards understand that that wasn’t what the band was about. This wasn’t a singles band. Yes made albums. And they did so with great regularity, releasing eight in a six-year span from 1969 to 1974 including 1973’s live triple-LP Yessongs. The band’s third release, 1971’s The Yes Album, featured Anderson and Howe (making his Yes debut), co-founder and bassist extraordinaire Chris Squire, and Yes original members keyboardist Tony Kaye and drummer Bill Bruford.

Side two begins with a two-parter meshing Anderson’s “Your Move” and Squire’s “All Good People.” The first half, with lyrics that use a game of chess as a metaphor for relationships, was released as a single and did get some AM airplay, but the FM dial took to the whole thing and made it ubiquitous, helping “The Yes Album” on its slow but steady trek to gold record status when released on February 19th, 1971. 

“Your Move” utilizes a drum-bass tape loop, which was Offord’s solution to a frustrating session in which Bruford and Squire laboured hard but couldn’t get it right for long enough. Listen for Howe’s overdubbed 12-string. Squire’s bouncy “All Good People” is about as jaunty as Yes ever got, and it’s remained a fan favourite for 50 years.

“A Venture,” written by Anderson, fades in on Kaye’s delicate piano, Howe chimes in and the track becomes a very Beatlesque upbeat romp. On an extended version, released in 2014 as part of a deluxe CD/Blu-ray reissue supervised and remixed by Steve Wilson, there’s nearly two minutes of extra soloing, Howe and Bruford doing some excellent work. Offord has said he regrets the early fade on the original LP. The album concludes with the strong “Perpetual Change.”

It’s got a very cinematic, dramatic opening, after which Howe does a brief countrified electric solo, and the tumult dies out for Anderson’s gentle entry. The choppy main theme re-enters (listen what Bruford does here), and then, true to the title, it switches back into a lower gear. Much of the track consists of two overdubbed Yes bands playing in different time signatures.

The LP features four all-time classic rock greats: “Yours Is No Disgrace,” “Starship Trooper,” “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Perpetual Change.” All are featured on “Yessongs”, which was recorded during their 1972 North American tours. Bruford performs on two of the collection’s tracks, but left the group after they finished recording Close to the Edge that summer. His replacement was Alan White and the result on the remainder of the tour and for the next several years was—despite the band’s numerous iterations—the one that many define as the classic Yes lineup: Anderson, Squire, Howe, Wakeman and White.

“The Yes Album” was very successful, and Yes was at last well-established as one of rock’s perennial acts. It would be Kaye’s last album with the group (until he returned to the line up more than a decade later). They wanted him to integrate synthesizers and other electronic sounds into the mix, and he wasn’t having it. His replacement, Rick Wakeman, was more than amenable, and Yes’ next discs, “Fragile” and “Close To The Edge”, were even bigger hits. The behemoth “Tales From Topographic Oceans”, which partisans cite as the apotheosis of ’70s prog-rock, was waiting in the wings.

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Esoteric Recordings are proud to announce the release of a new expanded and re-mastered 2 disc edition of the classic debut solo album by Yes vocalist Jon Anderson“Olias of Sunhillow”. Released in July 1976, the album was a conceptual work recounting the story of an alien race on a journey to find a new world following volcanic destruction on their home planet. All music on the album was written and performed by Jon Anderson and the recording took place at Anderson’s Buckinghamshire home studio whilst Yes were on hiatus following the tour to promote the album “Relayer”. Initially recorded on an 8-track tape machine, the arrangements were then re-recorded on to a 24-track tape machine. The album saw Jon perform the music entirely alone, teaching himself to play keyboards and acknowledging the influence of such legendary musicians as Yes keyboard players Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz and Vangelis on his work. Indeed, it was even rumoured Vangelis performed on the album, something the maestro would deny in interviews.

“Olias of Sunhillow” was released by Atlantic Records in the summer of 1976 in an elaborate gatefold sleeve designed by David Fairbrother-Roe and was a top ten album in the UK. This Esoteric Recordings edition has been newly remastered from the original album master tapes and fully restores the stunning original artwork and also features a booklet with a new essay and exclusive interview with Jon Anderson.

Over the ensuing years the excellence of the album has led to many calls for the album to be remixed in a 5.1 Surround Sound format. Alas, despite extensive research, the multi-track masters of the album cannot be found. However, this expanded edition of “Olias of Sunhillow” features a DVD featuring a high resolution 96 kHz / 24-bit re-master of the stereo mix and also includes a high resolution 5.1 Surround Sound up-mix derived from the original stereo master tapes as an additional feature.

Release Date 26th March 2021

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Originally issued solely via his website, the latest solo album by the long time Yes vocalist got an official release this year. Yes-mates Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Rick Wakeman are among those dropping by the studio to add assistance.

When Jon Anderson quit Yes in 1980 some wondered what on earth he was going to do. However in a few short years he’d established himself as a solo artist of note and hit the charts with Vangelis. All before rejoining Yes who went on to be bigger than ever. On the back of his recently re-released second solo album Song Of Seven cover star Anderson reflects on that period of his career and details the upcoming reissue of Olias Of Sunhillow.

Never to stand still musically, he is currently releasing an album he started 29 years ago, now called “1,000 Hands” a reference to the fact that numerous guest musicians perform on the album, including Ian Anderson, Billy Cobham, Jean Luc Ponty, Chick Corea, Zap Momma, Chris Squire, Alan White Steve Howe and many more. This album produced by his friend Michael Franklin really speaks to the power of a musical life still in the throes of a fervent artistic endeavor, always wanting new experiences in music, always wanting to surprise the listener. The album is scheduled for release in 2020.

Finally, in Jon’s words: “Music is our spiritual connection to the soul, that’s why people all over the world connect to Music and to each other through Music”.

From the Album 1000 Hands

This Special Edition of “Songs From Tsongas” contains the whole of the concert from the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts. Features tracks from across the band’s career including an extensive acoustic section and some tracks that have rarely been performed live.Also featured are 70 minutes of highlights from a very different concert on the same tour filmed at Estival in Lugano, Switzerland. This outdoor concert sees a stripped down stage and full on rock versions of the acoustic tracks from Tsongas. The band was epic moment, knit, and rely on the genius of great musicians like Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman, supplementing with Alan White on drums. The best line-up. The repertoire very well chosen reviving great classics in more acoustic versions and other latest music of excellent quality as well. Who likes progressive rock can not do without this work and even for those who enjoy a good band with elaborate songs, quality musicians and the wonderful voice of Jon Anderson with the proper intensity. In addition, there is a part of the show made the Lugano Festival which continues with the same quality and the nearest versions of those studio. It is more than three-hour show.

Disc One of the DVD (the single Blu-ray contains all the same material as the double DVD set) contains the whole of the concert from the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts, previously spread across two discs. This epic show features tracks from across the band’s career including an extensive acoustic section and some tracks that have rarely been performed live.

Disc Two contains 70 minutes of highlights from a very different concert on the same tour filmed at Estival in Lugano, Switzerland. This outdoor concert sees a stripped down stage and full on rock versions of the acoustic tracks from Tsongas whilst the crowd wield a multitude of umbrellas against the pouring rain, which is clearly not preventing them having a great time!

Included as bonus material on the Blu-ray and DVD are the track “Ritual – Nous Sommes Du Soleil”, from “Tales From Topographic Oceans also filmed at the Tsongas Arena, and an insightful interview with legendary designer and Yes collaborator Roger Dean who created the brand new stage set for the shows.

“Songs From Tsongas” contains the concert from Yes’ 35th Anniversary Tour in 2004, the last tour by the band to feature the classic line-up of Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White.

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In 2016, Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman brought together their incredible talents and long experience of working in Yes to take to the road for a series of concerts celebrating Yes’ musical legacy of the seventies, eighties and nineties. Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman toured first in North America and then brought their live show to the UK in early 2017, including this performance captured at the Manchester Apollo. The band are in superb form in front of a sell-out crowd who are clearly loving every minute of the show which includes classic tracks such as Roundabout, Owner Of A Lonely Heart, And You And I, Hold On, Heart Of The Sunrise, Rhythm Of Love, I’ve Seen All Good People and many more.

The band were on superb form. Wakeman’s keyboard sorcery wove its spell alongside Rabin’s masterly guitar skills and founding member Jon Anderson’s unique vocal and lyrical prowess to create a special night of musical alchemy for their fans. This glorious show captures the true, enduring nature of this ever-powerful band.

This stunning show is available on Blu-ray, DVD, 2CD or a limited edition triple LP, pressed on 180-gram orange vinyl!

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“Close to the Edge” is the fifth studio album by progressive rock band Yes, released on 13th September 1972 by Atlantic Records . Following a tour in support of their previous album, “Fragile”  Yes returned to the studios in London to record their next album. Produced by the band and audio engineer Eddy Offord , the album consists of three tracks: “Cloase to The Edge” on side one; “And You And I” and “Siberian Khatru” on side two. When recording for the album finished, drummer Bill Bruford who was frustrated by the band’s style and laborious recording in the studio, left to join Robert Fripp’s King Crimson . His replacement was Alan White of the Plastic Ono Band and part of Terry Reid’s group.

Close to the Edge became the band’s greatest commercial success at the time of its release, reaching number a chart position of 3 in the United States and number 4 on the UK Albums Charts .

The combination of Anderson’s psychedelic, wide-eyed lyrics and anthemic vocal melodies fit perfectly with some of the fiercest, most intricately layered instrumental passages in the history of rock music. Those passages came courtesy of Bruford’s jazz-fusion finesse, Wakeman’s classical-tinged elegance, Howe’s spidery eclecticism, and Squire’s surging, muscular thud.

Another reason this album remains a touchstone is that it never lapses into the noodling or show-offy antics that plagued so many prog-rock albums during the genre’s peak. Instead, Close to the Edge (particularly the four-part, 18-minute title suite) is incredibly nuanced, composed with such masterful flow and economy that every solo or lyric or riff feels connected in a cosmic, over-arching fashion. Even at its most complex (the deceptively tricky “Total Mass Retain” section), the simplest ideas shine through. Howe’s sublime guitar theme (which runs throughout the entirety of the title-track) is one of the most elegant in the prog cannon.

But while “Close to the Edge” may be the album’s inevitable stand-out, two other excellent tracks round out the disc:. “And You And I” is a mini-epic, utilizing Howe’s most melodic and emotional 12-string work and a spine-chilling Anderson lead vocal, while “Siberian Khatru” closes the festivities with an instrumental workout that blends funky full-band riffing with jazz-fusion-styled interplay, pitting Wakeman’s bubbling organ against Howe’s soaring leads (co-arranged by Bruford, in a classic example of the band writing for each other’s instruments).

“We were on top of the world when we made “Close To The Edge” says singer-songwriter Jon Anderson, recalling the early months of 1972 when he and his Yes band mates (guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Bill Bruford) holed up inside London’s Advision Studios to record the follow-up to their breakout hit, Fragile, which was released a year earlier.

Comprised of just three songs – the title track along with And You And I, both four-movement epics, plus the relatively short (at eight minutes, 55 seconds) Siberian Khatru – Close To The Edge was the result of the progressive rock band’s musical impulses running on full, a broad canvas of dizzying instrumental exchanges supporting Anderson’s sublime, mystical poetic vistas.

“It’s very representative of what I think is the Yes style,” Anderson says. “We experimented a lot, but we also had the talent to back it up – it wasn’t just solo after solo. We told stories and created moods. It was all very daring and wonderful.”

The group eschewed making demos, preferring to work on rough ideas while co-producer Eddy Offord rolled tape. After several weeks, concepts were sewn together into elaborate song structures. “We’d get the basic sketch of something, and then it was a matter of refinement,” says Anderson. “A piece would start to feel complete, but then I’d look to Steve and say, ‘We need a very poignant 12-string guitar introduction.’ He’d come up with it, it would be great, and we’d be off.”

Anderson looks back at the writing and recording of Close To The Edge, offering his insights into the record track-by-track (and, more specifically, movement-by-movement). “It was the beginning of my musical journey in terms of really understanding structure,” he says.

CLOSE TO THE EDGE – THE SOLID TIME OF CHANGE

“The idea of the chant was key to the song. [Sings] ‘A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace/ And rearrange-da-dada-dada-dada-da-da-daa.’ It’s a rhythmic thing. I worked that out with Steve.

“The band started playing, and I said, ‘Guys, maybe you should be doing something more syncopated instead of a straight-on beat.’ So while Bill and Chris worked on a drum and bass thing, I looked at Rick and said, ‘OK, how fast can you play?’ And, of course, he could play very fast. The whole idea was to make it musically entertaining even before we put the voices on.

“For lyrics, I did a rough sketch of the whole piece, but as the sections came together, that’s when I rewrote the words. It took about three or four revisions till everything was there. It’s all metaphors. Simply put, ‘A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace’ – that means your higher self will eventually bring you out of your dark world.”

CLOSE TO THE EDGE – TOTAL MASS RETAIN

“We’ve laid the foundation of where we’re going to go, and now we’re into the second part. This is about the relaxation of life and being close to the edge of the realization of our universal experiences. That’s what the song is starting to explain.

“This part flows. It shows you that you have to let music guide you. It’s best to open up and not force the situation. Everything will come to you.

[Sings] “’Sudden cause shouldn’t take away the startled memory/ all in all, the journey takes you all the way.’ The idea is that life is an ongoing journey, and you have to enjoy it, you know?”

CLOSE TO THE EDGE – I GET UP, I GET DOWN

“We have the ‘the I get up, I get down’ part before it goes into a beautiful ocean of energy. You’ve gone through nearly 10 minutes of music that’s very well put-together, but then you want to let go of it. You relax a little bit.

“The song came about because Steve was playing these chords one day, and I started singing, ‘Two million people barely satisfy.’ It’s about the incredible imbalance of the human experience on the planet.

“The vocals came together nicely. I’m a big fan of The Beach Boys and The Association – such great voices. Steve and I were working on this, and at one point he said, ‘I have this other song…’ And I said, ‘Well, start singing it.’ And he went [sings], ‘In her white lace, you could clearly see the lady sadly looking/ saying that she’d take the blame for the crucifixion of her own domain… ’

“When I heard that, I said, ‘Wait. That’s going to be perfect! You start singing that with Chris, and then I’ll sing my part.’ We have an answer-back thing.

“I heard a record with a church organ. I can’t remember what the album was, but I remember that it really woke things up. Going into the end, we needed something really big. Sonically, it changes all the textures.”

CLOSE TO THE EDGE – SEASONS OF MAN

“The arrangement had gone to where Rick was doing a solo. We’d always tried to give Steve a solo, then Rick a solo… Chris and Bill were working out the drum and bass parts. I said, ‘There’s got to come a time where I can get back in with [sings] The time between the notes relates the color to the scenes.’ Because the band is just cookin’ away, so I knew we needed a crescendo, and that’s where I came back in singing. They rehearsed it a few time, and this phrase then came out of the keyboard-organ solo.

“The line that goes, ‘Then according to the man who showed his outstretched arm to space/ he turned around and pointed, revealing all the human race’ – I’d had this dream where I was up on a mountain. This man was holding me around the shoulders, and he was pointing and saying, ‘That’s the human experience.’ And I smiled because I realized that it was true.”

Steve Howe Playing the Guitar

AND YOU AND I – CORD OF LIFE

“And You And I” was written in maybe five different sections, and then we put them all together. The idea was very straightforward at first. It was going to be a very pretty folk song that I wrote with Steve. Soon we decided that it was to be surrounded by very big themes.

“’A man conceived a moment’s answers to the dream/ staying the flowers daily, sensing all the themes’ – I love singing this song on tour. In fact, I still sing it.

“When we were writing in those days, it was ‘Here’s the verse, here’s the verse, we’ve gotta get from the verse to the bridge.’ We had to make the bridge very, very different. ‘And you and I climb over the sea to the valley, and you and I reached out for reasons to call’ – and then we’re going to hold that note, and the theme is going to come back in.

“I would always record Rick when he was writing music. He was working on something at the time, and I said, ‘Let’s develop this theme.’ It felt really good.”

AND YOU AND I – ECLIPSE

“You work on a solo section, and it gets to the point where you feel it’s finished, and maybe it’s time to get back to that part that we sang at the end of the second verse – and just double up on it. That’s how we brought this section back in.”

AND YOU AND I – THE PREACHER THE TEACHER

“It goes to a totally different song and feel. Steve is a magical guitar player, and he could switch to a new style so easily. I said to him, ‘It’s got to be have a real country feel to it.’ He knew just what to do, and then Chris, one of the greatest melodic bassists ever, came in, and right there the song sat together so sweet.

“We wrote this section in one afternoon, but it probably took about a week to put the whole piece of music for And You And I together.”

AND YOU AND I – APOCALYPSE

“Nearly all of the music we ever made had one thought behind it: what will it sound like on stage? We liked to make records, but our main reason for doing what we did was to perform live, surrounded by a sound system and under the lights.

“I remember when we did And You And I at the Spectrum in Philadelphia for the first time. The whole room was so alive with the music we were making – it was really overwhelming – and when we were finished, the audience cheered and clapped for 15 minutes. I’m not kidding.

“That’s what I think of when I remember the end moments of And You And I. It was one of those times in your life that you never forget.”

Chris Squire Playing the Bass

SIBERIAN KHATRU

“I was playing this on acoustic guitar the other day. ‘Khatru’ means ‘as you wish’ in Yemeni. When we were working on it, I kept singing the word over and over again, even though I had no idea what it meant. I asked somebody to look it up for me, and when they told me the meaning, it worked for the song.

“I had already written most of it, but I needed help with some of the sections. I started playing it on guitar for the band, and then I realized that it needed a strong riff. Steve really helped out with some of the parts and, of course, the riff. The song could work with the riff and the vocals alone.

[Sings] “’Even Siberia goes through the motions… ‘” The idea is that Siberia is so far away. The Iron Curtain still existed, and Siberia was like this no man’s land. Russia is such a huge country, and the thought was that life still happens there as it does here.

“The verses have a different rhythmic feel. We had a lots influences and elements going on. Before Yes, I was in a band in the ‘60s, and we did all the R&B songs that were on the charts. I loved singing those songs, but I didn’t want to write about the same things subject-wise. ‘My babe don’t love me no more, what am I gonna do?’ – why should I compete with people who were writing those songs so damn well?

Steve’s guitar playing is brilliant. I’ve always been amazed at his incredible talent. Even on the last tour I did with him, I’d come off stage and say to him, ‘How do you do that?’ But the great thing about his playing here is that he’s always aware of the structure. He’s not just playing to play.

“The song builds and builds and builds and builds – you’re taking the audience on an epic adventure. People think it can’t get bigger, but it does. The vocalization I was doing – ‘Bluetail, tailfly, Luther, in time, suntower, asking, cover, lover’ – it builds and builds, too, and then it goes into the solo, and everybody goes crazy. A very cool song.”

Jon Anderson in Concert

Yes supported the album, with its release three months into the band’s with their 1972-73 World Tour their biggest since their formation.  Recordings from the tour, both film and audio, were included on the band’s 1973 live album, “Yessongs” The filmed performance was recorded at the December 1972 shows at the Rainbow Theatre in London

It was reissued in 1994, 2003, and 2013, the latter included unreleased tracks and a new stereo and 5.1 Surround sound mix on the reissues remastered by Steven Wilson . Critical reception was mixed on release, though the album is retrospectively regarded as one of the band’s best works, and a landmark recording in progressive rock.

Yes Keyboardist in Concert

It doesn’t get more prog than this: Three songs, none less than nine minutes. Plus, two of those tracks are split into four movements each. Pretentious? Oh yeah. But when the songs are this good – “Close to the Edge,” “And You and I” and “Siberian Khatru,” .

Yes performing in London in 1972. Left to right: guitarist Steve Howe, singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White and keyboard player Rick Wakeman.

With classical and psychedelic influences, progressive rock boomed in the early 1970s with the rise of FM radio and affordable stereo systems. One of the era’s most popular prog rock bands was Yes, thanks largely to the album “Fragile,” It was the group’s fourth studio album, released in 1971.

“Roundabout,” the album’s sole released single, co-writer and Yes guitarist Steve Howe along with co-writer and lead singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman recalled the hit’s evolution. Today, Howe continues to record and tour with Yes, while Anderson and Wakemen, who recently released “Piano Portraits” (Universal), are members of the band Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman.

Jon Anderson said, I began writing the lyrics to “Roundabout” while traveling with the band in a van through Scotland in late March 1971. The song written by Anderson and Howe that has become one of Yes’s best-known songs. Howe recalled the track was originally “a guitar instrumental suite … I sort of write a song without a song. All the ingredients are there—all that’s missing is the song. ‘Roundabout’ was a bit like that; there was a structure, a melody and a few lines.”Yes was on tour then, and we had just performed in Aviemore the night before. In the van, we were heading south to Glasgow, about a 3½-hour drive. There were mountains and lakes everywhere.

I had smoked a joint, so everything was vivid and mystical. As we drove along, we encountered a fair number of “roundabouts,” what you in the States call traffic circles. At one point, the road dropped into a deep valley and ran next to a large lake. Low clouds covered the mountain peaks.

I took out my little notepad and started writing. I wrote the lyrics in a free form and didn’t edit the lines much. I just loved how words sounded when I put them together:

“I’ll be the roundabout / the words will make you out ‘n’ out” expressed how I felt as the song’s words came to me fast, the way cars navigate roundabouts. I expected to be in the van for several hours, so I was spending “the day your way, call it morning driving through the sound of in ‘n’ out the valley.”

“In and around the lake” was the road winding through the region. Down in the valley, the mountains seemed to “come out of the sky and stand there.” I was married then, and I knew I’d see my wife in a day: “Twenty four before my love you’ll see / I’ll be there with you.”

Jon Anderson performs during Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman concert in Los Angeles last October.
Steve Howe follows: In Glasgow, we checked into our hotel, and Jon and I got together in my room with a cassette recorder. Eventually we had this minor feel for the verse that resolved in a major key for the chorus. But the song’s biggest advance came that August in a London rehearsal studio, when keyboardist Rick Wakeman who had replaced Tony Kaye in the band. Rick was more interested in the technology direction we wanted to take.

Jon Anderson: said Rick revolutionized our sound. He added multiple keyboards, which gave us more textured possibilities. At the rehearsal studio, I sat on a chair in the middle of the band and listened to what they were developing. If what they were working on wasn’t happening, I’d make suggestions.

“Roundabout” wasn’t difficult to sing. But as the band’s vocalist, I needed to know where the song was going. They often looked to me to figure out what should come next so the vocal and instrumental worked together.

In September, when we went into Advision Studios in London to record “Roundabout,” we used their 16-track tape machine, which let us layer the instruments. The song became pure magic. Anderson goes on: The rhythm track was recorded first, in segments. The band would rehearse one segment at a time and then record it. Then they’d move on to the next segment, always mindful of the song’s progression and structure.

Steve planned to open the song by playing something of a Scottish jig on his acoustic guitar. He had played it for me earlier at our hotel. Steve Howe continues: My opening acoustic guitar part was played on my 1953 Martin 00-18. But we felt the song needed something more dramatic to start. We found it with a backward piano note. When you strike a single piano note and hold it down, the sound starts loud and then fades away. We wanted this to happen in reverse.

We recorded Rick holding down a piano note, and then we turned the tape reel over and started the song where the note was faintest. What you hear on the record is a note going from faint to loud, as if it’s rushing toward you.

Rick Wakeman: For the piano-note intro, I simultaneously played the lowest E on the studio’s grand piano and the E an octave higher. The octave gave the note a fatter feel. Chris Squire wanted a funky sound on the bass, sort of a Sly and the Family Stone feel. I played organ arpeggios over the top with my right hand as my left hand played Chris’s bass notes to add weight. Howe: When we finished the rhythm track, Chris overdubbed his bass track using my Gibson ES-150 electric guitar, which had a Charlie Christian pickup. It wasn’t terribly loud, but it was effective, giving him an eight-string bass sound. On the organ, Rick was adventuresome, allowing the rest of us to see a wider sonic path and plenty of room for experimentation.

Except for my acoustic Martin at the start, during the ballad passage in the middle and at the close, I used a 1961 blonde electric Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster throughout. Rick Wakeman: On most of “Roundabout,” I played a Hammond C3 organ. Later, I overdubbed a Minimoog when the song slows to a ballad about five minutes in and Steve plays acoustic guitar. I also added a Mellotron for flute sounds when Jon slowly sings, “In and around the lake.” The Mellotron gave the passage a “Strawberry Fields” mood.

Anderson: Once the instrumental track was done, I went into the studio early one day with just the engineer and recorded my lead vocal while listening to the music through headphones. When the other guys came in, we recorded the harmonies. Finally, we reached a point where the song had to end. I thought, let’s do something totally different and sing harmony, like the Byrds or the Beach Boys.

I started singing “Dah dah-dah-dah, dah, dah, dahhh.” Then we all started singing that in harmony. We added it onto the end of the song.

If you listen carefully, you can hear Rick singing three notes against the grain of what we were doing. They’re the notes to “Three Blind Mice,” and it sounded intriguing. Steve Howe: To close the song, I decided to mimic what I had done on my Martin guitar at the beginning. But I ended on an A-flat chord, which the ear doesn’t really expect.

Anderson concludes: A couple of days after we finished “Roundabout,” the band went into the studio to listen to it on the big speakers. When the song finished, I thought, “Oh my gosh, it’s so good.”

I looked around at everyone. It was an interesting feeling. My conscious self was glowing. I thought, “I can’t believe this is happening in my life at this moment in time.”

Atlantic

An expanded edition of Tales From Topographic Oceans will arrive just as Yes complete a tour featuring music from this 1973 epic.

Overseen by Steven Wilson, the new update will be available in high-resolution stereo and 5.1 surround in both a three-CD/Blu-ray audio configuration and as a two-CD/two-DVD audio set. They are due on July 29th, Aside from Wilson’s new mix of the original two-disc album, extras include an unedited and extended version of “Dance of the Dawn.” There are also five new single edits meant to provide new insight into the individual sections of the larger musical set pieces that make up.

 

The band’s Album Series tour featuring sides one and tour from the album, as well as the 1980 LP “Drama” in its entirety, has dates scheduled through September. 4th. The tour starts in Columbus, Ohio. USA.

Wilson worked with a tape source that’s thought to be the earliest original-mix master in digital. The Blu-ray disc includes instrumental-only versions of the songs, as well as a full alternative album with a different run-through of side two and a previously unheard live set of side four. Highlights include an unreleased live take on “Ritual” from 1974, and a different studio take of “High the Memory.”

The Roger Dean art has also been expanded and restored. Sid Smith wrote new liner notes, and the set includes new interviews with vocalist Jon Anderson, Alan White and Guitarist Steve Howe, along with rare photos, memorabilia and expanded session notes.

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“Tales From Topographic Oceans” is the fifth in a series of expanded Yes editions including 5.1 Surround mixes, new stereo mixes and High-Resolution stereo mixes of the original music. Additionally, both sets add extra material mixes on CD, while the Blu-Ray edition adds a wealth of extra audio material. Steven Wilson has produced the new mixes with the approval of the band. Both editions feature restored artwork overseen and approved by Roger Dean with an expanded booklet containing new sleeve-notes, photos and archive material making this the definitive edition of the album.

Speaking about this release, Steven Wilson said “I worked on and off for about 3 years on this new mix in my quest to do it justice. I hope it will satisfy the people who agree with me that it may just be Yes’s pre-eminent masterpiece.”

He also recently pointed out that multitrack tapes are unavailable for the other key albums in the Yes catalogue, so “unless that situation changes”, this will be the final release in the series.

• CDs features a completely new stereo album mix by Steven Wilson, a new mix of Dance of the Dawn and five new single edits (both editions).
• Hybrid DVD-As feature 5.1 Surround mixes and High Resolution Stereo mixes of the album mixed from the original multi-track tapes along with the original mix of the album – all at 24/96.
• Blu-Ray features all of the above – 5.2 mixes in DTS-HD MA, new mixes at 24/96, original mixes at 24/192 in LPCM Stereo + additional music including new instrumental mixes, new single edits, a complete album of alt takes (including two previously unreleased sides – one studio, one live) and needle-drops of an original UK vinyl pressing and a US banded promo album pressing.
• Special packaging for both formats, CD/DVD-A set in two double digi-packs in slipcase, CD/Blu-Ray in two mini vinyl replica gatefold card sleeves in slipcase.
• Additional CD in Blu-Ray edition allows for the inclusion of the complete alternate album takes on CD.

Find out more at yesworld.com/discography/tales-topographic-oceans/