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Thread: YES - 50 Live released July 19th

  1. #201
    For anyone who has a hard time seeing how lame this album is, compare the two versions of Roundabout on Yes/50 Live and on the ARW live album. I'm no big fan of either album, but on the ARW album you hear professionals playing a tune with precision and even some vitality, and with a decent if far from stellar mix. On the Yes version it sounds like a high school band doing an under-rehearsed cover of the song, while being bored, and mixed by a hungover temp teacher.

  2. #202
    Quote Originally Posted by jamesmanzi View Post
    This is amusing, from the description:

    "11) Owner Of A Lonely Heart / 90125 53:08 Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland / 12/4/01 / During the 70 date Yessymphonic tour of 2001, OOALH was only played 6 times. Steve Howe gets pretty close to the original Rabin guitar solo done for this song."

    The solo is spot on Rabin's solo, yes. Because Brislin played it on the keys during his tenure with the band.
    That IS funny. Howe has never come close to Rabin's solo anytime I've heard him, anyway.

  3. #203
    I wonder what the issue is with Steve Howe's playing. I know his tone choices have evolved over the years, his preference for cleanliness seems to expose certain issues, I guess. I am not a guitar player, but I was chatting with a guitarist in a band I play with and he made an interesting comment about Steve Howe, which went something like this:

    "Have you ever come close to hitting a squirrel while driving, and, rather than just get out of your way, the squirrel seems to change its mind 8 times in one second as to whether it will run to the left or the right of the oncoming car? That's how I think Steve Howe's mind works when he plays a solo. Rather than just play by feel, perhaps he will be thinking about the next note, which is, say an Eb - in the space of one second prior to that note, he'll have 8 thoughts about whether to play that Eb or go to an F, to avoid playing something too obvious. And he waits until a fraction of a beat after he should play the note to make up his mind and just go with the Eb."

    Somehow this made some sense to me - it does seem as if there is some hesitation in Steve Howe's live playing - does that make sense?

    I had a listen to the Asia song "Extraordinary Life" the other day. The guitar solo there is pretty straightforward, but he seems to just play that by feel. No hesitation. And it works well. Interested in the thoughts of any guitarists here.

  4. #204
    Well, I'm a guitarist (although a few million light-years away from Howe's calibre). My thoughts on Howe are as follows:

    1. He was, at his height, maybe the single most inspiring guitarist on the planet. Especially in the mid-70s his work was just absolutely sublime and transcendent - Relayer and GFTO are amazing Howe showcases, from the tenderness of Soon and the beauty of To be Over to the fierceness of Sound Chaser's soloing, and to the incredibly delicate classical guitar on Turn of the Century and then one of the finest guitar solos ever recorded on Awaken. All awesome. And not to forget, he is one of the most versatile guitarists around. Certainly no other prog guitarist mastered 50s rock, jazz, country, folk guitar, classical guitar, prog guitar and even metal guitar (Machine Messiah...) the way he did.

    2. HOWEVER: Throughout most of his career there have been some caveats at least as I see it. His tone has never been brilliant. It was tolerable during the 70s and early 80s, but he was certainly never a Gilmour or Knopfler in terms of tone. The other thing, which is harder to say, is that he was never the cleanest technician. At the absolute height he was almost perfect, but for much of his career he has shown tendencies to a looseness that some could interpret as sloppiness. An interesting thing about Howe's technique is that he has never sounded effortless - you always get the impression that his parts are hard - and they are. But the most surgically precise technicians, people like Allan Holdsworth or Neil Schon, make it sound easy, and give you the impression that they have much more to go on (even if they don't). With Howe you often had the feeling that he didn't ... and that has become MUCH more apparent since the 90s.

    3. I first started noticing a real slip in his playing on the Keys albums, where the guitar parts often sounded a bit unfinished and unpolished. This was a surprise for me, because the only time I had seen him back then was with ABWH, when he sounded really good on stage. Then, after Keys, I got to see him a few times in the early and mid-00s, and I was quite shocked. He seemed arthritic, and clearly could not keep up in many of the faster parts, and his acoustic playing had become very sloppy.
    I realize that he has better and worse periods - and maybe it really IS arthritis - and he also has worked his technique up a bit in the 2010s. His playing on the Topographic Drama album was better than I expected. But he is clearly struggling, and on the Live 50 album it is painfully clear.

    These are my takes, YMMV.

  5. #205
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Those are great observations, Jacob. I'd just like to chime in on this bit...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    An interesting thing about Howe's technique is that he has never sounded effortless - you always get the impression that his parts are hard - and they are. But the most surgically precise technicians, people like Allan Holdsworth or Neil Schon, make it sound easy, and give you the impression that they have much more to go on (even if they don't). With Howe you often had the feeling that he didn't ... and that has become MUCH more apparent since the 90s.
    I think for a lot of people that's what makes him so endearing. Related to what floyd said above, when Steve Howe is at his best/most interesting it always seems like he's walking a tightrope and on the edge of disaster. When he fails I tend to give him a pass because -- to paraphrase Bill Bruford -- at least it seems like he's taking risks (I think that's why he and Bill were so simpatico as musicians.) But when he's on, like the solo to "Yours Is No Disgrace" on Yessongs -- the results are jaw-droppingly mind-blowing. I'm OK with him operating at a reduced level these days, because at least he hasn't lost that pursuit of the unexpected. Sure, some times he DOES seem to lean on stock riffs and licks but I think those are his "off" nights. I don't expect someone at his age with his unique style to be on every night.

    Just think -- when he's gone there will be nobody to replace him.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  6. #206
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulrus View Post
    I think for a lot of people that's what makes him so endearing. Related to what floyd said above, when Steve Howe is at his best/most interesting it always seems like he's walking a tightrope and on the edge of disaster. When he fails I tend to give him a pass because -- to paraphrase Bill Bruford -- at least it seems like he's taking risks (I think that's why he and Bill were so simpatico as musicians.) But when he's on, like the solo to "Yours Is No Disgrace" on Yessongs -- the results are jaw-droppingly mind-blowing.
    Agree 100%

  7. #207
    The eons are closing
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    Re:YiND

    Every Howe solo form YiND on Progeny set is as awesome as YESSONGS and all would make my top 20 Howe solos.... Each breathtaking
    No one plans to take the path that brings you lower

  8. #208
    Member IMWeasel's Avatar
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    OK here's the thing, I'm not an original yes fan, though I did find them in my teens -- OK technically, I found them when I was 4 years old, when a little song called "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was in heavy rotation on one of the most popular networks of its time, MTV. Years later as a teen, I escewed much of the music of the time, the grunge movement mostly, in favor of the classic rock stuff. Of course my tastes started to evolve and I decided to check out that band called Yes, and while it took a year or two for them to catch on with me, when they did finally catch on, holy mother of god did they catch on. I got Close to the Edge, Relayer, Going for the One, and Tales from Topographic Oceans all within a year of each other. I had already seen Yes twice at that point and those first two times, I was a only really a moderate fan, by the time like Y2K hit I was a full blown Yes fan as though they were still touring all the time like in the 70s because they really were touring all the time. The Masterworks and Symphonic tours came along and those were like revelations compared to what was popular at the time. Backstreet Boys? Brittney Spears? Come on. We have the thunderous tones of Chris Squire and the kooky guitar of Steve Howe. Then all of a sudden, Rick Wakeman is back, holy shit!! I only got to see them twice, but I got to see *the* lineup twice, and that was so special.

    But then like all things Yes, it finally imploded, and then rose from the ashes like another phoenix. Squire and Howe are still there, so cool! oh a tribute band singer? Oh he's ok but didn't work out. Now you've got another prog dude who sounds just like JA, and you've got Geoff Downes,OK this is feeling kinda Yes -ish again. But ugh, Squire passes away. Ugh ugh ugh. A musical hole in my heart that will never be filled. But because this current version of Yes is trying hard to fill that musical hole in everyone's heart for Chris Squire, its like, I dunno. I just enjoy it for what it is. A bunch of guys who love Yes, and one guy who was one of the most important parts of Yes, all trying to play the music they are still passionate about after all these years. And you know, ARW? They are doing the same. Bless their hearts. Or something. Im just too old to care really, hell I got into the Yes game nearly 30 years late, and I saw so many lineup changes and drama within the band in the first few years of my fandom than most bands see in their entire band history.
    Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

  9. #209
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    An interesting thing about Howe's technique is that he has never sounded effortless - you always get the impression that his parts are hard - and they are. But the most surgically precise technicians, people like Allan Holdsworth or Neil Schon, make it sound easy, and give you the impression that they have much more to go on (even if they don't). With Howe you often had the feeling that he didn't ... and that has become MUCH more apparent since the 90s.
    This is what I've always heard in Howe's playing: he sounds like he is playing to the very edge of his ability. Not quite sloppy, but just hanging on by the skin of his teeth.

  10. #210
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    This is what I've always heard in Howe's playing: he sounds like he is playing to the very edge of his ability. Not quite sloppy, but just hanging on by the skin of his teeth.
    Agreed, I remember on the Union tour, the difference between the two guitarists could not be more pronounced. Rabin was all flashy, sell assured and confident while Howe always looks like he's going to mess the song up, trip over and fall off the stage. That's not a criticism of Howe, he's my fave guitarist, he's always been like that.

  11. #211
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    For anyone who has a hard time seeing how lame this album is, compare the two versions of Roundabout on Yes/50 Live and on the ARW live album. I'm no big fan of either album, but on the ARW album you hear professionals playing a tune with precision and even some vitality, and with a decent if far from stellar mix. On the Yes version it sounds like a high school band doing an under-rehearsed cover of the song, while being bored, and mixed by a hungover temp teacher.
    I rarely listen to live versions of "Roundabout". Haven't we heard it enough? I've seen both bands live and much more enjoyed other songs they played. But, OK, will do...

    Starting with Yes Live 50: it's a bit lacklustre, a bit low energy. Davison's vocals aren't great, nor is Downes that good on the keyboards. Highlights are Howe doing some interesting things on guitar. I like Kaye's solo: it has energy and excitement and a good sound. The rhythm section can be plodding. But overall the song improves as it goes along. Is that Downes on keys right at the end? I like that bit. Does it sound like "a high school band doing an under-rehearsed cover of the song, while being bored, and mixed by a hungover temp teacher"? No.

    Live at the Apollo: better mix, more presence. I like Rabin and Wakeman's different intro. Much more energy from the beginning, including from the rhythm section. This isn't Anderson's best vocal though. Vocals feel mixed too low in both versions. The swells of audience noise, however, are annoying. Wakeman's keys much better on this version... but it's like an all-keyboards version. All those nice guitar bits are gone. And I'm getting a bit fed up with Wakeman being Wakeman... oh, into Rabin soloing. No: boring, doesn't fit the piece. This back-and-forth soloing between Wakeman and Rabin underwhelms. I like Pomeroy at the end here.

    Conclusion: I wouldn't be picking either of these if I wanted to hear "Roundabout" live... something that rarely happens. Unsurprisingly, I think the original players are better: Howe on guitar, Wakeman on keys, Anderson on vocals. ARW's rhythm section wins out. ARW's mix is better, except it's worse in its use of audience noise. Having heard the song so much, I am more excited by the changes they make. As with much of ARW's set, in places I'm excited by how they change things up, and then other times it doesn't work at all. My favourite solo across both versions is Kaye's. The ARW version puts Wakeman front and centre and so this becomes about whether you like Wakeman's style: he does what he does, but I tire of fast arpeggios with cheesy synth sounds as the only approach taken. Overall, I prefer the ARW recording on this song: energy, mix, Wakeman in full Wakeman mode. Overall, I preferred the two times I saw Yes on the #YES50 tour to the two times I've seen ARW.

    Henry
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  12. #212
    Member Yeswave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    Putting aside the dubious needfulness of another live album with tired versions of Roundabout and Starship Trooper, ...ial.
    Personally I think Starship Trooper sounds really good, especially Billy Sherwood’s bass.

  13. #213
    Quote Originally Posted by Yeswave View Post
    Personally I think Starship Trooper sounds really good, especially Billy Sherwood’s bass.
    Agreed. Kaye sounds great too.

    Bill
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  14. #214
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adm.Kirk View Post
    Agreed. Kaye sounds great too.

    Bill
    I think Kaye is underrated! He's very talented.
    What can this strange device be? When I touch it, it brings forth a sound.

  15. #215
    He's quite good on the Mabel Greer's Toy Shop album from 2015 too. Sherwood is also on that and produced it.

    Bill
    She'll be standing on the bar soon
    With a fish head and a harpoon
    and a fake beard plastered on her brow.

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