Following a gruelling tour for their complex ‘Relayer’ album in 1975, the members of Yes took time out to work on solo projects. Steve Howe’s ‘Beginnings’ and Chris Squire’s brilliant ‘Fish Out of Water’ most closely resembled the directions the a Yes album could’ve taken, while Jon Anderson’s ‘Olias of Sunhillow’ opted for something far more experimental. Its forty five minutes blended pseudo-science fiction lyrics with ambling new age and prog rock sounds. Although loved by fans, it didn’t offer much in the way of actual songs. Despite its lack of commercial potential, the album reached #8 on the UK album chart, making it the most successful of the Yes solo discs.
By the time Yes reconvened in 1977, they adopted a much leaner approach to songwriting. On their next album ‘Going For The One’, the indulgent epics that had dominated their three previous albums were largely sidelined in favour of something more accessible. This saw them applying their usual prog traits to something more rock based on the title track, exploring Jon’s new age pop on ‘Wondrous Stories’ (a surprise UK top 3 hit), and in the epic ‘Awaken’, there was even a chance to appease the die-hards who pretended to enjoy ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’. In many ways, ‘Going For The One’ is the archetypal Yes album – it showcases the broadest range of the musicians’ talents while offering something for almost every interested listener. 1978’s ‘Tormato’ followed the same formula but yielded a lesser result, but still contained a few genuine gems. Nearing the end of the decade and having survived changing musical fashions, Yes seemed to be on a roll. Things then fell apart when tensions arose during the demo stage for the next recording. Keyboard player Rick Wakeman left the band for the second time and – potentially more devastating – vocalist Jon Anderson, one of Yes’ most distinctive contributors – followed him. Looking to pastures new, Jon quickly embarked on other projects. Sessions with keyboard virtuoso Vangelis (who’d missed out on a Yes job in the mid 70s and worked with Jon on his own ‘Heaven & Hell’) resulted in a very successful album, ‘Short Stories’ and a huge hit single in ‘I Hear You Now’. Armed with a couple of old demos and a whole world of ideas, Anderson then set about crafting what was to be his second solo LP.
In November 2019, Real Gone reached its ten year anniversary of being online. To celebrate, we shared thoughts on ten albums we loved from that decade. That list came with two strict rules beyond becoming favourites: each year had to be represented by one album and each album had to in some way have helped our site to become more established.
As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to look back more broadly on some of our favourite albums of the ’10s; albums that have kept us listening for pleasure long after the reviews and coverage have been completed. If you’re a regular visitor to Real Gone, lots of these names will be familiar by now, but we hope this time for looking back helps to reconnect with a couple of old favourites, or find you a new one somewhere along the way. [Full reviews & streams can be found by clicking on the individual titles.]
Billy Sherwood is no stranger to an all star compilation. Over the years, he’s helped mastermind tributes to all manner of artists, often with mixed results. His 2019 project ‘A Prog Rock Christmas’ can seem as scattershot as many of those previous all star affairs, but by bringing together various prog legends to put their own stamp on a few familiar yuletide ditties, there are a several things to enjoy along the way, ranging from the traditional to the bespoke.
Billy Sherwood’s 2015 album ‘Citizen’ looked at the world through the eyes of various historical characters, both real and fictional. He drafted in a few friends to make his vision a reality: Yes men Jon Davison and Geoff Downes lent their vocal and keyboard skills; other keyboards were added by sometime Yes members Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz, John Wesley, Steves Hackett and Morse each brought their distinctly different guitar chops to the recording sessions but, perhaps best of all, Colin Moulding (one time of XTC) came out of retirement for a guest vocal appearance. In many ways, ‘Citizen’ felt like an all star epic.
When Record Store Day first began, it was a great idea. Those who were regulars at independent record shops like Avalanche in Edinbugh and Resident in Brighton could potentially get their hands on very limited, exclusive items. It was a celebration of record buying culture, more than anything. Over the years the event has grown. After all of the major labels sensed a potential cash cow, it increasingly became about reissuing stuff en masse at inflated prices.
Record Store Day has become an event full of mixed feelings. There are now tales of people not actually visiting their local (and favourite) stores on RSD as the crowds of unfamiliar faces have made the experience quite stressful. People queue for hours in the hope of finding one of the many artificially created rarities – a lot of which seem to appear on ebay just hours later at even more inflated prices. In recent years, there have even been dealers “pre-selling” their RSD wares on the internet up to two days before the event that was supposed to get people into their shops.