Chris Squire on Yes – Past, Present and Future

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As the only member of progressive rock group Yes who has remained on the roster throughout the group’s enduring history, Chris Squire is the go-to guy if one wants to learn about their history, evolution and influences. Those are exactly the kinds of things Squire talked over recently with Kevin O’Hare of MassLive.com.

It’s actually quite a good interview, and I picked up on a few things about the group that I had not previously heard about. For example, citing the 5th Dimension as an early influence is a bit of a surprise coming from the member of a progressive rock group, but I suppose it just further demonstrates the similarities that exist among various genres you can find if you care to dig deep enough.

Squire’s love for harmonies was shared by Jon Anderson and early versions of Yes actually covered some 5th Dimension material back in the late 1960’s when they started paying club dates, as they were both quite fond of the 5th Dimension’s The Magic Garden album.

More well known, but perhaps no less influential for Yes during their formative period was the music of Simon & Garfunkel. The Yes version of the duo’s well-known song “America” is said to have earned the the approval of the original writers.

The status of Jon Anderson appears to be unchanged according to Squire. Although Anderson has been out performing as a solo artist recently and has scheduled some dates in Canada next month and in early April, according to Squire his struggles with respiratory illness are still preventing him from touring with Yes, which is much more demanding in terms of material, as well as the number and frequency of shows.

Another surprise for people who may not be uber Yes fans is the relationship between Squire and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. They briefly formed up a group entitled XYZ during 1981, following the death of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Although Robert Plant was supposed to have joined with Squire and Page, that never quite came to fruition and XYZ was written into history with just a few demo recordings to their credit.

With regard to the variety of material Yes has produced over their long career, Squire reveals a little bit about his feelings regarding some of the group’s more diverse work, particularly the them-oriented album Tales from Topographic Oceans. Asked whether he thought that album “went too far,” Squire indicates that he thinks it did (I have to agree), but was also quick to point out that he thinks it gave the band credibility, and being that it was such a “bold out of the box move,” it contributed to the group’s longevity.

Currently, Squire seems quite content performing with the current incarnation of Yes. He’s particularly impressed with Rick Wakeman’s son Oliver, who has demonstrated a determined effort to remain true to the original material; something his father may have had a tendency to “bluff his way through” if he was so inclined.

With a tip of the hat to Jon Anderson, Squire confirms that stand-in frontman Benoit David will never sound quite like Anderson, but acknowledges that he has been well received by the fans and is holding his own.

It’s probably widely known that David was discovered via YouTube, but what may not have been detailed as publicly was the fact that during his first look at David performing with his Yes tribute band Close To The Edge on the video sharing site, he actually thought it was footage of Yes and wondered which performance it was from.

Yes continues their tour with a stop at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA on Monday.

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