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Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
Spotlight: Various Artists – Sonic Elements Presents Yesterday and Today – A 50TH Anniversary Tribute to Yes (2018 Cherry Red Records)
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Original Tweet from @YesOfficial 18 Dec (8:13 AM)
“YES 50th Anniversary Tribute Album Yesterday and Today
Featuring Steve Hackett, Tony Kaye, Robert Berry, Billy Sherwood, and others…
Yesterday and Today is a tribute album to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of YES.”
Uncle G: Sparked my interest! I had a ‘reviewers’ digital copy (Dropbox) in my possession by the end of that evening.
Reviewers Qualifications (“Uncle G” + Yes)
Long story short, I’ve been a serious YesFan since the first half of the 1970s. In my vinyl album collection; Yes – The Yes Album / Yes – Fragile / Yes – Close to the Edge / Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans / Yes – YesSongs (live) and if I HAD to pick a favorite studio; Yes – Relayer. I love the jazz-hard rock fusion which includes the talented keyboard work of Patrick Moraz. The only Yes studio album he was ever on. Sure left a lasting impression! Each Yes member and all involved totally excelled; in writing, musicianship, production, visuals, etc…
As the years marched on, I managed to catch some of Yes’ live performances. In New York state, New Jersey, and Texas. My last time seeing Yes was sadly less than a year before the death of Chris Squire. Eight rows back, on his side of the stage. How lucky I was! Covered it for the station; Classic Rock Radio (UK). Going forward, I would like to catch this current line-up whenever the next opportunity should present itself.
Found on my writing resume’ you will find mention that I helped original Yes guitarist Peter Banks (RIP) with the promotion of his autobiography. Late 1990s/early 2000s. Was a cool experience (directly interacting with Peter). I did meet and greets with various other YesMembers. Whoever I met, they were always cool to me. Brute honesty, I would not describe myself as a YesFanatic (even having kept the shitty YesTat all these years). The more personal shit about each individual I could frankly care less about; kids, political views, etc… It’s the music to me that has always mattered most. A good place to focus, and or let the imagination run wild (or like a fox). Contains some rebelliousness. They certainly didn’t want to be the ‘same’ as everyone else. So there were no rules with YesMusic. Am guessing there were limitations. That would account on when said song/album was recorded.
Check it out. One song by Yes could clock in around the 20 minute mark. Be it that or shorter length, it’s whenever Yes, really rocked, that I personally liked them the best. I sincerely believe now going into the year 2019 and having been blessed with a gigantic catalog of Yes and YesRelated music in my life for over four decades now so far, that I could not have picked out a favorite rock band and done so well. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Genesis (the list goes on and on)…I get it. For myself, Yes music not only entertained but accompanied me throughout most of my life’s travels. Peaks and valleys. Means more to me personally than just a cool guitar or keyboard solo. And having artist Roger Dean do some of (always the best) your visuals certainly didn’t hurt any. Don’t believe me, go ask film director, James Cameron.
Why recreate what some might say doesn’t need recreating? Because you can, but there should be a good reason for doing so. Here is a new concept in regards to cover albums that celebrate the seasoned musician who has already made a name and reputation for themselves, along with up-and-coming players that are looking to do the same. Spearheaded by two seemingly always employed or doing something full-time musicians and true fans of what was labeled decades ago by Circus or Cream Magazine; art rock. Guys that I’ve been hearing more and more about, especially the last year or so. For those unaware, may I please introduce: Dave Kerzner and Fernando Perdomo.
These guys (Dave and Fernando) are the sticky substance in which these 13 tracks that make ‘Yesterday and Today’ are firmly held together. An album celebrating Yes’ 50 years in rock n’ roll. In the music profession, both are multi-instrumentalists and experienced behind-the-scenes (studio) players. Together they construct what I’ll call an above-average presentation …a dip into the sounds that make Yes the phenomenal band that they are now, and (hopefully) always will be.
Not all consumers of rock n’ roll fans are into Yes. I’ll say in my lifetime that I found YesMusic to be almost better than sex, or a really good meal. I admit to being at times in sheer bliss while under their influence. Soundwaves capable of helping its target achieve a natural high while listening to just about any Yes record. That’s true! Millions of other listeners share this sentiment. Its why we all stay around. All courtesy of Yes’ superb song catalog. The final product. That would include not only all the musicians but those studio folks also who helped get the job done, whose names could be found in the credits of YesReleases (studio_live albums) gone by.
Uncle G’s WOW Moments (best tracks) from Sonic Elements (Various Artists) Presents Yesterday and Today – A 50TH Anniversary Tribute to Yes (2018)
Track 01: Machine Messiah – Nick D’Virgilio asked me and the people I was with after his singing debut at ProgFest ‘97, how he did. A day after the big show. The night before he gets up from his Spock’s Beard drum kit and shares vocals with Neal Morse on the song; June. a video of that is on the web (bootleg version). We all answered sincerely that he did fine. All that aside, what a great drummer! And SINGER! Sounds just like Trevor Horn here on this faithful ‘Drama’ recreation. Includes current Yes keyboardist; Geoff Downes.
Track 02: Yours Is No Disgrace – Has that original Yes/Eddie Offord sound with crazy-ass stereo effects. All that is missing is a lava lamp. Especially around the 4:45 mark. Helping make this track sound so authentic is the original key player for Yes; Tony Kaye. He was the keyboardist on the studio version. Add Billy Sherwood with spot-on bass playing. Exceptional electric guitar playing by both Johnny Bruhns and Fernando Perdomo. All involved ROCK!
Track 04: Sweetness – I really do enjoy the fact that YesHits Roundabout or Owner Of A Lonely Heart were passed on (so I assume) so other songs in the vast YesCatalog could be explored. “Sweetness” is found on the group’s debut album. The trio involved here make one of the most obscure songs in Yes’ past their own, and in the process give it a 21st Century appeal. If that was the objective, mission accomplished. High five!
Pat Sansone – Vocals, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar
Fernando Perdomo – Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Electric Guitar
Derek Cintron – Drums
Track 06: Cinema – It won a Grammy: Best Rock Instrumental. From their 1983 album: Yes – 90125. The guitarist was the one and only: Trevor Rabin. This re-do with one minute added excites me because ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett joins in on the festivities. As does Aristocrats drummer, Marco Minnemann. Current Yes member Billy Sherwood is credited for bass, and guitar. During ‘The Ladder Tour’ when performing this award-winning song, Billy played Trevor’s parts like he was Trevor (Rabin). So listening to this new arrangement, motivated me to check out: Yes – Live from House Of Blues (2000). Every YesFan should have this in their physical collection of YesGoodies; CD, DVD, etc…Billy Sherwood SHINES! Part of the reason as to why he’s at where he is today. In YesLand and with me, Mr. Sherwood is totally respected. Always worth checking out what he’s up to.
Track 08: I’m Running – A group composed number that could/should have been paid more attention to at the time. A real musician’s piece. There were other stand-out songs on Yes’ 1997 studio album: Yes – Big Generator. In this tribute, yet another Yes deep cut is explored. I’m glad it was. Nice job on vocals; Robin Schell.
FYI: Every song on ‘Yesterday and Today’ originally had Yes co-founder Jon Anderson, as the lead singer. Finding a vocalist to replace him if wanting that same trademark alto-tenor voice, must be a hard task. Not 100 percent necessary, as Robert Berry showed us singing lead on a 1980s YesSong called; Changes. If not done right vocally, I can see where things can go sour.
Track 10 – Yesterday and Today – From the original formation (Anderson, Squire, Bruford, Kaye, and Banks), another unknown by many YesSong that is again, off the debut album. Even fans who know the ‘hits’ odds are can’t name this one in 5 notes or less. Second best song on the album…this one; Yesterday and Today. I’m surprised as well. More a rocker. Taking everything into account…yes. The song features Dr. Danny (Danny Ayala) on vocals and keyboards. A flawless performance! I liked it so much that I started following him on Twitter. Fernando Perdomo plays everything else, equally as well. Clocks in a tad over 3 minutes. Written by the co-founder of Yes; Jon Anderson. The track found here, should make him proud. Hopefully, he’ll get to hear it one day.
Track 12 – The Fish – This is what I believe is the ‘best’ track on Sonic Elements Presents Yesterday and Today – A 50TH Anniversary Tribute Album to Yes. Featuring Billy Sherwood on vocals and bass guitar(s), along with:
John Demarkis – Additional Backing Vocals
Fernando Perdomo – Guitar
Derek Cintron– Drums
Ken Sharp – Bv’s and Bell tree (authors note…I had to look this credit up; interesting – “Uncle G”)
Hal Rosenfeld – Marimba
Mark Murdock – Percussion. Author’s confession…Mark was Peter Bank’s drummer at one time and is also a very good friend of mine. Is a good man! That aside, Mark is also one super talented musician. Is very active in Japan’s live music scene, along with his son, Preston (guitar player). I strongly suggest exploring Mark’s musical catalog. The proof is in the custard purin (Japanese pudding).
Back to, The Fish, it’s a cover done right! Creative and not just a copy proving to the audience they are capable of performing what is a Chris Squire/Yes classic. If anyone reading this positive write-up was lucky enough to have seen in person, the late and great doctor of the bass guitar perform ‘The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)’ or ‘Whitefish’, will simply rejoice while remembering Chris, and all the wonderful music he left us with. This album, by the way, is dedicated to both him and the memory of the original Yes guitarist: Peter Banks (1947-2013). Nice gesture.
Gary “Uncle G” Brown RATES… Various Artists – Sonic Elements Presents Yesterday and Today – A 50TH Anniversary Tribute to Yes (2018 Cherry Red Records)
Using a 5-star rating system in which one star would mean I saved you the trouble and decided it sucked through a long straw made of hemp (better for the environment) to 5 stars in which I would be strongly be recommending, thinking it’s magnificent in each and every way. Here you go; 5 stars! Some songs I didn’t mention. The word ‘adequate’ comes to mind. Very faithful to the originals. Once hearing the whole album, I did start skipping around establishing favorites. My preferences could be totally opposite of yours (the reader)? The tunes that I gave mention, make ‘Sonic Elements’ first retail offering, worth the asking price. and if anyone deserves a tribute album, it’s progressive rock’s super group: Yes. Not the first time it happened. This one, Yesterday and Today, contains a nice selection of songs (13) that includes musicians who appear as passionate about the subject matter, as all us old/new Yes followers are.
When wanting to listen to YesMusic, I do just that. Am old school. I enjoy playing CDs (first time issued). But when I want to shake up the mix some, tribute/cover albums do have their place. I’m looking forward to what more ‘Sonic Elements’ has to offer.
Honorable Mention: Track 07 – Changes – The song selection of ‘Yesterday and Today’, is off the beaten path some. This song (Changes…off of 90125) got MTV play which helped make this another YesFavorite for the fans. Was a cool showcase for Tony Kaye, when out there performing it live. I mentioned Robert Berry’s participation already and decided when editing that I needed to mention that pianist – keyboardist, Tom Brislin, is on here. Credited with piano duty. Co-producer of ‘Yesterday and Today’ Dave KerZner on keys. Was saying…Tom Brislin was on Yes – Magnification. That was released on 9/11 (no shit). Should also be said; the last Yes studio album with Jon Anderson. In the year 2019, we find Mr. Brislin is now the new keys player for the band; Kansas. That should be a good gig for him. And Jon Anderson, since I made mention, is still out there creating one unique musical adventure after another. Makes me happy knowing that.
I’ll sign off by planting a seed. You know, original Yes guitarist, Peter Banks, put out some excellent instrumental solo stuff. Here’s the idea; highlight the material that really boogies. A rock n’ roll fantasy; Steve Howe on one track. Along with Oliver Wakeman (would be fitting). Present it like Billy Sherwood did when working with Paul Rodgers; Muddy Water Blues (1993). Masterpiece! Trevor Rabin guested on that. Tributes like that one, and ‘Yesterday and Today’ — glad they are out there!
OH …where are my manners? Happy 50TH, and beyond YES!
Promotion: Glass Onyon PR – www.glassonyonpr.com
Yes Official Website: www.yesworld.com
Cruise To The Edge: https://cruisetotheedge.com/
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