March 16, 2019 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe [YT full album link] is an hour of ridiculous, top of the line prog rock that maybe you've never heard of, or maybe you haven't listened to in decades. It's part of the complicated history of the band Yes, but I'm not going to describe that here. Just listen -- it's a lot of fun!
posted by hippybear (23 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
this was during the Yes schism, right?
posted by thelonius at 2:42 PM on March 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

There have been so many.....
posted by hippybear at 2:44 PM on March 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

I spent years burying my teenage love for Yes (in favor of new wave, punk, then post-punk and eventually math rock) and it was finally Chavez that allowed me to finally acknowledge it... Yes was pretty good.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:12 PM on March 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Egads the talent on display here. BTW If you're on twitter, I can recommend following Grumpy old Rick Wakeman, if only to keep up on his ongoing battle with vegetable soup.
posted by parki at 3:27 PM on March 16, 2019

full concert
posted by philip-random at 3:31 PM on March 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

posted by trotskytown at 4:03 PM on March 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

Love this album. Was lucky enough to catch them in concert!

So weird and quirky though. Still not sure what all that "Bobby dread and the cool runnings" stuff is there for. I imagine the answer is just "because Jon Anderson" like with every other Yes enigma.

"Fist of Fire" is a particular favorite.
posted by edheil at 4:17 PM on March 16, 2019

This is when I finally got to see Yes in concert, even if they were calling themselves something else. Early 80s me was all sad that I'd never get to see my favorite bands play and then late 80s me got to see this, Jethro Tull, ELP, Bowie. Happy lad, late 80s me (and thank you 70s bands for deciding you needed to go back on tour to support your aging or for misspending your money or needed more drugs, whatever....it's all good).
posted by kokaku at 4:34 PM on March 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Or as we used to call them, "Ampersand, Butthead, Walkman, and Who?"
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 4:38 PM on March 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

posted by DoctorFedora at 5:14 PM on March 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Incidentally, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra recently did an album of prog rock covers, and the first track is Tarkus.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:19 PM on March 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

posted by anazgnos at 10:21 PM on March 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had a reflexive disdain for pop and rock as a kid, let alone rap. This wasn’t helped by growing up in an evangelical Christian subculture.

When I got to college, one of my roommates was a huge Yes-head and was especially into ABWH. “Trust me, you’re a big math nerd and you love weird orchestral and band music.” He was right, and I became a Yes-head alongside him, wondering when ABWH would release another album and then suffering through the album Union.

These days I listen to a swath of popular music in a variety of styles. I don’t listen to my early prog favorites much. But on a whim last month I fired up ABWH and fell through a portal to my early-1990s self. That album will always have a special place in my heart. Maybe in a box made of teakbois, which teen me was convinced had to be a kind of wood.
posted by sgranade at 3:46 AM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh wow, the concert linked above is one of the shows where, after Tony Levin fell ill, Jeff Berlin (who first came to prominence playing on Bruford's solo albums) subbed for him, with like three days notice. Whatever you think of Berlin, that is an impressive feat.
posted by thelonius at 4:48 AM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a difficult history with this album, and the tour which I linked to above. As a huge fan of the early Yes (the first ten years let's say) and a resolute non-fan of the 1980s version, I had high hopes for this awkwardly named outfit. I bought the album immediately upon its release ... and it didn't quite deliver for me. Something just felt off ... or whatever.

Years later, a Steve Howe interview shed some light. He spoke of how he'd contributed a lot in the writing process and had enjoyed much of the recording, but then something happened. As he put it, "I guess Jon (Anderson) got carried away in the mixing phase, working with all the new studio toys the 1980s were affording us. Whatever happened, something got lost." (or words to that effect)

The key point being, I agree with him. The end result was neither a return to the warmer, more organic feel of the past, nor a particularly impressive leap forward. An album of moments, I guess. Some great melodies, intriguing lyrics, phenomenal playing (of course), but somehow the whole felt less than its parts.

And then the tour came to town, which I had to see. Because however much the album had disappointed me, this was still effectively Yes -- all the key players from its glory days except the bass player (and it's not as if Jeff Berlin was a weak link). But again, it just didn't work that well. It wasn't close to any of the times I'd seen them in the 1970s (75-77-79) in terms of power, ambition, glory. A big part of this was how the set was arranged (starting with a bunch of solo pieces, too much emphasis on the new album), but even so a masterpiece like Close to the Edge sort of fell short.

And no, it wasn't just me having a bad seat or being in a bad mood, because one song did erupt fabulously. That was Heart of the Sunrise. So they clearly still had it (whatever it was), it just seemed they'd lost the magical knack of knowing how to trigger it at will. Because in their 70s prime, that was a given. That was who they were. The most astonishing outfit in creation.
posted by philip-random at 10:48 AM on March 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Dave Weigel account spotted.
posted by Guy Smiley at 2:05 PM on March 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

Something just felt off ... or whatever.

Might have something to do with the absence of one of the best bass players of all time.
posted by e1c at 8:02 AM on March 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here is "Vultures in the City", which I first heard on the B-side of the "Brother of Mine" cassingle.
posted by oakroom at 8:11 AM on March 18, 2019

Might have something to do with the absence of one of the best bass players of all time.

true but Tony Levin (not Jeff Berlin who I mentioned above but he only played in the live version of ABWH) is hardly a slouch in that department. In fact, at the time, I likely would have named him before anyone else to fill the Chris Squire void. Good enough for King Crimson ...
posted by philip-random at 9:13 AM on March 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's not really a question of who is "better", it's that a distinctive voice is missing. Levin obviously isn't imitating Squire's sound. They are very different players. Squire was kind of a band guy, who did his particular thing.......Buddy Rich or John Lennon probably wouldn't hire him.
posted by thelonius at 9:22 AM on March 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I discovered this album as a teenager, on cassette in the 99c bin at Walmart in the mid-90s, and purchased it immediately despite knowing only that it must have something to do with Yes and digging the cover art. I would end up listening to it over and over (and over) during the summers of the mid-90s, when I had a job that found me doing a lot of walking from house to house in my small town (and I could only reasonably carry about 4 cassettes with me for an 8-hour shift). I love it unabashedly, even as I freely admit that it's no Close to the Edge or Fragile.

When I made it to Uluru a few years back, I had Birthright* playing on mental loop for no small part of my time there.

* Yes, I know that Birthright is about Woomera and not Uluru per se.
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:23 AM on March 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sherman Hemsley (a.k.a. "George Jefferson" from The Jeffersons) recorded an unreleased concept album with Jon Anderson, which based on the spiritual qualities of the number seven (cite).
posted by jonp72 at 6:33 PM on March 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

That article about Sherman Hemsley is fucking insane and how have I never heard of any of this before?

Also, that album needs to surface. Internet, get on this!
posted by hippybear at 5:29 AM on March 20, 2019

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