THE GREAT YES DEBATE
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