Thirty-six true summers ago, Jon Anderson tired of being a milkman, so he decided to combine the Mars Volta with the Outfield, and the mighty riff machine YES went into overdrive with riffs like "Owner of a Lonely Heart," where Trevor Rabin took a flare gun and burned the corrupt apartheid state to the ground!
(TEMPO CHANGE) Hey, they just discovered a new planet, how cool is that! And it was designed by Roger Dean. All the Yes covers are really photographs from outer-space telescopes, so they're actually TRUE. Except for the cover of Relayer (1974), which is a photo of my apartment block after I stupidly lit the crack pipe with the gas burner on. How about that "Gates of Delirium," which took up all of Relayer's vinyl side one? Antiwar free-improv noisefest! People complained about their so-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng lengths, so they wrote a song based on War and Peace. What a way to claim you've read something. Next time you're in class, just answer every question by playing a bass solo. Tales From Pornographic Oceans somewhat more believably was based on "Sexual Perversions Among Galapagos Tortoises," which Steve Howe liked so much he decided to resemble one!
(KEY CHANGE) I haven't done any actual research on the upcoming Affirmative show, so I have no idea what the lineup is going to be. [Anderson, Howe, Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, and Alan White.—Ed.] Everybody who ever made a car-stereo demonstration CD or appeared on the Con Air soundtrack or was in the Buggles was a member at one point. The Buggles album (1979's Drama, recently reissued by Rhino alongside 1978's Tormato and 1983's 90125) had the best Deanscape and the weirdest vowel sounds in the history of singing. Anderson rhymes "throw" with "try" and "and you" with "blind you," like a Corey Hart from New Zealand. Was this the same Trevor Horn who didn't produce Judas Priest's Turbo (1986)? Which (despite the Wang Chung–y "Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days") was a failed fusion of the pre-Moby (ha ha!) electro orcus-dorkus of "Don't Kill the Whale" (Tormato) and 90125's "Owner of a Lonely Heart"'s brain–squeezing, synapse-shattering, spleen-perforating, foreskin-separating, testicle-crushing ROCK AND ROLL!
(SHE'S GIVIN' ME EX-CETACEANS) "Don't Kill the Whale" has a surprisingly sharp and sarcastic edge not usually expected from Jon Anderson or famous dead flute players: "Beauty/Vision/Do we offer much?" I'm going to throw this bowl of tuna away because it looks like dog food and I'm too lazy to make it into a sandwich. "Don't Kill the Whale" would be remembered only as the fifth-best Disco-Sucks-disco (Dahldisco?) record ever (after "Miss You," "Another One Bites the Dust," "I Was Made for Lovin' You," and Don Felder's "Heavy Metal") if not for Rick Wakeman's surrealist/intoxicated subversion of the material. If you're in one of the telescope seats (assuming Roger Dean hasn't painted over the lens), focus on Wakeman and you might see him order take-out food onstage. And you thought "Cans and Brahms" (Fragile, 1972) was the only thing he ripped from Jerry Lee! (Unfortunately the rumors that Tormato is to be played in its entirety at all the stops of the current tour have been denied, and after what happened last time, souvenir tomatoes will not be handed out at the door.)
(REGIME CHANGE) Great as the show will undoubtedly be, were I a promoter, I would charge twice the admission for a Steve Howe–Trevor Rabin fight to the death! These two get on like Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. after a coke-fueled game of powerboat "chicken"! ("Mano a mano, turtle dude!") Howe first left Yes to invent stadium prog with Asia, who produced the best-selling album of 1982, admittedly the year when the music business was so depressed that Chu-Bops were being vilified as a threat to legitimate MP3's. Asia's "Heat of the Moment" had a thundering kidney-defenestrating, medulla-buggering, etc., riff, but still got blown up like a box of kittens by Rabin's "Owner of a Lonely Heart," which simply "Owned" everything! Howe has expressed dislike for this spine-mincing, eyeball-vaporizing ROCK anthem on numerous occasions, a mystifying lapse of judgment from the man who invented both George Lynch and Loren Mazzacane Connors, but then Robert Plant refuses to sing "Pictures of Matchstick Men" live, preferring to do endless Scandinavian tours with bogus Whitesnake "reunion" lineups, so who knows how rock gods think, anyway? (Asia's Geoff Downes on the enduring world-conquering appeal of his band: "Who wants to see some faggot farting around on a synthesizer with some tart squeaking on top, calling it the cutting edge of dance music?" And who wants to see the "new" Yes logo anywhere?)
(UNDERWEAR CHANGE) Back to "Don't Kill the Whale." "The squawk box . . . consisted of two speakers mounted on a 3-foot cube. These emit ultrasonic sound of frequency 16,000 and 16,002 cycles per second, respectively—too high to be audible to most people. These combine to produce a beat frequency of 2 cps, which is too low to be heard. This infrasound may cause the victim to feel giddy and nauseous. Highly directional, it could be focused on individuals within a crowd, causing distress to the victims, creating panic in others who would see the apparently inexplicable effects. After realizing that Rick Wakeman was deliberately doing this in between ordering take-out food onstage, Yes replaced him with Patrick Moraz, who used to be in the Moody Blues, whose single 'Ride My See-Saw' was fantastic post-psychedelic Strawberry Alarm Krautrock! Except they didn't do reggae as good as Yes."—"The Technology of Political Control," written by some bleeding-heart liberals who seem to inexplicably object to using weird weapons on the subversives and perverts and turtle fetishists who hate our freedoms and want to destroy our way of life.
(TIME SIGNATURE CHANGE) The editor of this music section apparently doesn't esteem Mr. Vincent Gallo very much, but I must part company with him on this particular point! It's undeniable that Gallo's classic film Buffalo 66 made Yes cool again with its use of "Owner of a Lonely Heart of the Sunrise." I liked that film very much, as I sympathized with the lead character's odd situation. Well, that's my excuse for constant late and blown assignments and for the ones that actually turn up reading like tales from topographic toilets. (OK, it's actually not "prison" but "England" I'm returning home to after a mysterious 11-year disappearance, but . . . I'm assuming some of you have been there, right? Just kidding, English people, I luv you all. Except for Jon Anderson, who hasn't delivered my milk in 36 years.) Tomato plants are good for hiding marijuana plants. Bring both.
Yes play KeyArena at 7:30 p.m. Thurs., April 15. $49.50–$125.