Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Things To Hate: Yes

Nick Lowe once said, "Yes and Genesis are about as exciting as used Kleenex" and you can be sure that back when he said it, slamming so-called progressive rock bands was de rigeur. But isn't it now kinda childish to cling to that old, old story about how punk chased disco and prog from the rock n' roll temple? Shouldn't these die-hard naysayers just lighten up? Isn't it time for a Yes revival?

No, no and fuck no

To whit:

When I tried re-listening to "Roundabout" now (my endurance caved at about 3:43 of the eight-and-half minutes they somehow felt this composition warranted), I did find elements to appreciate; the poppy hooks, the mild-rocking and the medieval folk but that bass line, deeply beloved by many, is still stomach-churning. More importantly, the endless busyness of the piece encapsulates all which is most loathsome about prog-rock and its cherished fallacy that more is more.

And just to keep things muddy, here's this year animal-based indie-folk sensation Grizzly Bear, making Yes' eighties hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart" sound like a Gregorian chant.

Before I drop this subject I gotta tell you a story, it's true but the names of everyone involved have been changed to lull the guilty into a false sense of security.

I once worked at a record store with a Hard Rock guy, one of those hard rock guys who was also a Yes fan. Tight pants. Flowing hair. Aspiring musician. Part-time Drug-dealer. If you moved in musical circles long enough, you've met one of his ilk. Let's call him Bon Jovi.

From the moment the store received a play copy of the eight-headed abomination that was Yes on their Union album, all Bon Jovi could think of was playing that fucker. Now we had a strict, "No stock - no play" rule so as long as we had no copies of the album to sell we could refuse to play the album in the store.

However, as we knew it must, the day came when six copies of
Union arrived to taint our shelves. Me and my co-worker, a man of distinguished musical taste, let's call him Ryan Adams, looked at each other in horror. Then Ryan Adams opened up the CD case and let Union drop on the floor with a tiny clang.

"Oops," said Ryan Adams.

I took my Docs to it, grinding it across the length of the stone floor. "Oops," said I.

Ryan Adam picked up the disfigured CD and dusted it off.
"Yoo-hoo, Bon Jovi, we have stock of that Yes album."

Well Bon Jovi burned a path over to us, all lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. "Oh wow, you guys'll see how great this album is really, it's like a rainbow of sound...

"0^$0fyt^1%A10^hg1F^%0$vY1$y!!!!!" said the CD player.

"Oh" said Bon Jovi, looking as if our well-lit Christmas kid had just found jagged lumps of coal beneath the shiny wrapping paper.
"I guess it's broken." He took it our of the CD player and returned it to the jewel case, without even noticing the damage.

Then, all slumped of shoulder and slow of step, he wandered back to the nothing he'd been so heavily engaged in before the promise of Yes.

"I guess we're assholes,Ryan Adams," I said.

"Yes we are Rob Gordon, yes we are."


  1. Owner of Lonely Heart would be good if it was like 3 minutes shorter

  2. Will we be seeing a Rush post next?

  3. Prog rock has always been an odd duck to me.

    A lot of the metal I like has, over the years, trumpeted it's love of both prog and (I think this may be even one step further beyond for you, my good Jeffen) jazz rock fusion. I was, mostly, unmoved. Sure, I tried to get into King Crimson. After all, "21st Century Schizoid Man" had a riff so huge even the mighty Rorschach couldn't resist having a go at it. But most prog seemed pretty "sans" metal to me. Not enough guitar, to much synth and intelligible vocals with melody - yuck! (That's only for power pop and pop punk to use you proglodytes!)

    Then, as they say, Something Happened. Maybe it was all that early 70's rock I started unwisely ingesting (Who knew a steady diet of Humble Pies and Badfingers could be so hazardous to one's Listening Preference health?) but I found myself drawn to, first, Gabriel-era Genesis and, after a much ballyhooed "I'll never get into them!" the dreaded Yes.

    O.K., O.K., as a kid I had loved "90125" (along with my eldest brother's other Ponder Rock faves, Supertramp) and most of the Yes singles I'd heard on 92 CITI's "Psychedelic Sunday" seemed, at least, not bad. But buying both "Fragile" and "Close To The Edge" in less than a weeks time? I did not see that coming!

    Now, of course the major question is "Why?" The only answer I can come up with, I've really prattled on here haven't I?

  4. I fukken hate Yes... the bully boys used to rip my Santana off thedeck in our sixth-form common room and slap on Tales of Turdfilled Oceans instead. Still haven't calmed down...

  5. yeah,it was a childish tale(and after all,punk replaces old dinosaurs like Yes and ELP,with new dinos like Chelsea and UK Subs...)but I just don't like Yes and pomp rock.A lot of things from that era have aged well(Gong,VDGG)and the mighty Cardiacs have successfuly fused elements of both punk & prog...and Captain Sensible is a huge prog fan too!cheers.

  6. Bio
    CPB and I were discussing the Prog skeletons in my closet and they were Rush (duh, what Canadian of a certain age never liked Rush???) and Jethro Tull. But never Yes.

    Maybe GTR, the last gasp of prog rock?

    A well-reasoned defense of Yes. It's hard as the cherished 'bands-we-all-agree-suck' list shrinks but such is the price of aging.

    Bless you for making me laugh (and in the middle of a class yet) with that "Tales of a Turdfilled Oceans" line.

    My favourite intersection of punk and prog stil has to be Canada's NoMeansNo. They do all those musicianly things punks bands aren't supposed to do and they still rock like crazy.

  7. Back during that Owner Of A Lonely Heart crap tour, me and a friend went to see Yes at Madison Square Garden.
    My friend and I did a lot of coke and I ended up losing my shirt at the show and having to ride the subway back home nekkid from the waist up.

    I hate Yes.

  8. I did pretty much the same thing with a cd that was being played all the time at the record store I worked at.

  9. No

    Has to be done sometimes -I almost snipped the cassette copy of Dee-Lite "Groove is in the Heart" I endured repeatredly at one place.

  10. Nazz

    Yet another comment that made me laugh out loud - this one read like a super-brief BO post.

  11. What the fudge?! NoMeansNo brought so much joy to the world...! AND I LOVE king crimson, too!


  12. DD
    Woah, back up the trolley. This was meant to be way more anti Yes than anti anything-related-to-prog.

    NoMeansNo rule and while certainly they stole things from prog, I've yet to meet a true Yes-E.L.P.-Genesis booster who actually likes them.
    And King Crimson were never one of the real wanky bands, Fripp wrote 20th Century Schitzoid Man and liked punk so much he married Toyah!

    P.S. Glad to hear from you again!

  13. Ach, Jeffen i have no probs with it at all - many of my Zappa friends like YES & Crimson but i always wondered why. Having seen King Crimson live with the double trio line-up -- it was such a blast and totally different from anything else "prog", -- Fripp is one character and has alot of interesting stories to tell.

    Btw i loved your take on the Huskers...!

    See ya around!

  14. I remember reading the Fripp section in the Truser Press over and over again, even if I never loved Fripp was always kinds fascinating. Plus I remember him approving of punk adn saying that the only difference was that with older musicians you play just behind the beat but with newer musicians you play just in front of the beat. (I'm paraphrasing across the years here.)

    Knew you'd dig the Huskers argument - I even had to check later to see if you'd posted 2541 but I couldn't find it on TBC.


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