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.
Although no formal release date has been set, there is an extensive Rancid tribute album in the works, due for release via Hellcat Records in association with Smelvis.
At the time of writing, the LP includes 43 tracks and contributions from Mustard Plug, Street Dogs, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Left Alone and Anti Flag, although it is rumoured the tracklist is not finalised. By the time of eventual release, more material could be added, or possibly removed.
The world has seen release of many tribute albums, many tossed off with casual indifference that miss the mark completely. Occasionally, one comes along that’s just so misguided you end up wondering how it came to be in the first place. The idea of thirteen different low-key French artists recreating Morrissey’s 1994 album ‘Vauxhall & I’ could easily sound like a bad one from the off, but somehow, through an array of reasonable talent – not to mention excellent source material and sheer balls – ‘Vauxhall & Us’ works. Without Morrissey’s distinctive croon adding to a many a black humour within his lyrics, these songs sound markedly different. Their charm is still often apparent, but in a wholly different way. The acoustic setting on some of the recordings allows Moz’s gift of words to remain the biggest draw of all, but the European slant evident from time to time also lends a certain charm.