Black Sabbath’s debut LP turned 50 years old in February 2020. The band did not release an expensive box set to mark the occasion (they left that for the October anniversary of ‘Paranoid’, where the 5LP reissue was prohibitively expensive and the CD box set was just a quick repackaging of the 40th anniversary edition). There wasn’t even a notable vinyl reissue of the seminal debut recording – but to be fair, as welcomed as that would have been, no vinyl pressings sound anywhere near as good as the original Vertigo spiral label edition. Instead, fans and press were invited in limited numbers to go to a pre-arranged location in London and listen to the album in pitch darkness.
There have been various Genesis related tributes over the years. From Magna Carta Records’ all-star prog-fest ‘Supper’s Ready’, to critically acclaimed live shows from The Musical Box, to Steve Hackett’s own ‘Genesis Revisited’ series of recordings and tours, they all have their place. They also have one thing in common: they are heavily weighted towards the band’s output from 1971-76.
By comparison, the band’s founding guitarist’s contribution to the band is all too often overlooked. 1970’s ‘Trespass’ is an important transitional album taking Genesis from vaguely psychedelic pop in a Moody Blues vein to the ground breaking, sprawling and epic sound that would later be celebrated and Ant’s distinctive playing was a huge part of that. Even more overlooked is Ant’s extensive solo career, but a group of musicians from New Hampshire have taken giant steps to put that right with their 2019 release ‘Which Way The Wind Blows’. Chances are, the world at large would have little interest in a group of musicians from the Rocking Horse Studios sharing their interpretations of music that isn’t already widely known, but that gathering of friends have taken extra, important steps towards making sure their tribute is as broadly appealing as possible: ‘Which Way…’ features some cracking guests.
There have been various Genesis related tributes and revisitation recordings over the years – not least of all from former guitarist Steve Hackett – but the solo works of the band’s first guitarist Anthony Phillips have all too often gone unheralded by comparison.
This October, musicians associated with the Rocking Horse Recording Studio are set to put that right. Along with the help of their more famous guests – including the legendary Steve Hackett and Supertramp man John Helliwell – ‘Which Way The Wind Blows’ takes a new look at some of Anthony’s great solo works.
Fifty years is a long time for anything. It seems an especially long time for a band to exist…and particularly one that always set out to push boundaries and create music that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to the pop music buying masses. …And yet, here we are: prog rock legends Yes celebrated their half century in 2018. Granted, they’ve had an ever evolving, less than stable line up – no fewer than nineteen members have passed through the official ranks of Yes since their inception in 1968, and at the end of 2018, none of the band members are the true founders – but there is still a Yes. Detractors be damned.
Masterminded by Dave Kerzner, ‘Yesterday And Today’ is an all-star tribute that celebrates all line-ups and all eras of a great band, featuring a few very familiar faces, some of whom have been brave enough to tackle a couple of deeper cuts from the Yes catalogue.
Taking an early influence from Paul McCartney, bassist Chris Squire truly pushed boundaries in the late sixties and early 70s and took the four stringed instrument into new territory. Using the rhythmic instrument as a lead, Squire gave the bass a distinctive voice and with progressive rock band Yes, he subsequently became a huge influence upon bassists around the world.
Prior to his death in 2015, Squire gave his blessing for Yes to continue without him. In many ways, any form of Yes without Squire seemed like an odd proposition since his writing and arranging skills were always pivotal to everything, but the official Yes (featuring long-time members Stece Howe and Alan White, alongside vocalist Jon Davison) have toured harder and more extensively than ever, keen to keep Squire’s memory and legacy alive. With Yes releasing their own tribute in October 2018 via Cherry Red Records (including new recordings by Yes men Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood), it’s only right that the band’s founding father should have his own tribute too, and while on the surface, this US release ‘A Life In Yes’ (issued via Cleopatra/Purple Pyramid) doesn’t appear quite as glossy as its UK counterpart, it is every bit as interesting. A few recordings even make it an essential listen.