THE GREAT YES DE­BATE

Prog - - News -

Nor­mally, I con­sider my­self a fairly ‘live and let live’ kind of guy on the vex­a­tious sub­ject of clas­sic bands and their lega­cies, but af­ter sev­eral years rais­ing the odd eye­brow at some of the more im­pas­sioned cor­re­spon­dence in Bloody Well Write, my pa­tience has fi­nally snapped.

Yes, here’s look­ing at you, Steve Whiteside [whose let­ter ap­peared in Prog 79]. I have never been able to un­der­stand the de­ri­sion that some Yes fans, es­pe­cially those who were con­tem­po­raries of the band in the late 60s and early 70s, rou­tinely de­ploy to de­scribe Yes mu­sic of the 80s and be­yond. I had the great plea­sure to meet my hero, Trevor Rabin, at an ARW show this year (such a warm, gen­er­ous and friendly guy), and it meant so much to thank him for sus­tain­ing Yes dur­ing their 90125 re­nais­sance. This un­doubt­edly opened a door to ear­lier Yes mu­sic that many 40-some­things like my­self walked through, ex­tend­ing the reach of the band to a new gen­er­a­tion. For me, the past and present of Yes are in­di­vis­i­ble.

This no­tion that a band can no longer be re­garded as a go­ing con­cern or the ‘de­fin­i­tive’ band un­less its line-up cor­re­sponds to a pe­riod that the self­ap­pointed keep­ers of the flame anoint, is just lu­di­crous. Surely by now, and as the group mem­bers them­selves affirm, Yes is a col­lec­tive, a spirit, an idea, as much as it is a tra­di­tional four- or five-piece.

So “Owner Of A Lonely Heart isn’t fit to lick Round­about’s boots”? Mr Whiteside, you’re wel­come to your opin­ion but I’m sure that sev­eral mil­lion peo­ple would dis­agree with you.

And “none of the mod­ern line-ups have pro­duced ma­te­rial re­motely close to clas­sic Yes”? No, no, no. How can you dis­miss with such faint praise mo­ments on 90125, Talk, The Lad­der, Mag­ni­fi­ca­tion or even (yes, even) Fly From Here, that are truly wor­thy of a band with a legacy be­fit­ting the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

I am, and al­ways will be, grate­ful to see any mem­bers of Yes per­form to­gether or as in­di­vid­u­als. They’ve more than earned the right to please them­selves. Any­one who saw Jon An­der­son roll back the decades with as­ton­ish­ing vo­cal per­for­mances with An­der­son Rabin Wake­man this year will at­test to be­ing blessed, but that doesn’t dis­credit what Jon Dav­i­son is try­ing to do in keep­ing the spirit of Yes mu­sic alive on stage with the other Yes mag­nates.

I end as I be­gan. Live and let live. And long live Yes!

Andy Dodd, Barcelona

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