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Classic Rock News And Views
February 8, 2012
Yes, the legendary progressive rock group, has replaced lead singer Benoit David. David is reportedly dealing with unspecified medical issues which forced the group to cancel the final three shows of their European tour. With David still on the mend, Yes has decided to bring in Jon Davison to fill David’s shoes so that the group can continue their tour which will take them to New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and Hawaii.
The announcement was posted on the group’s official Facebook page on February 6th.
There are some reports that David is struggling with laryngitis, which is certainly one of the last ailments a vocalist wants to deal with. There does not seem to be any indication that David’s replacement is anything other than temporary. Davison, who is a member of progressive rock group Glass Hammer is planning to remain with the group according to the group’s official website.
Listening to some of Glass Hammer’s performances online, it’s easy to draw parallels between the group and their better-known progressive rock compatriots Yes. Furthermore, Davison’s voice is certainly not a bad choice for a group that appears to be doing the best they can to remain as close to the sound of their original lead vocalist, Jon Anderson, as possible.
Anderson, who seems to have recovered well from the respiratory problems that derailed his participation in what the group called the “Yes 40th Anniversary Tour” a couple of years ago has been out and about performing in more intimate venues and recording music with fellow ex-Yes member Rick Wakeman. Although I have not heard much from Anderson recently with regard to his relationship with Yes, Chris Squire, who seems to be at the helm of the latest incarnation of the group reports that he and Anderson are on good terms.
Speaking with Noise11.com, Squire reports what many fans have suspected for some time. “Yes, he has officially left Yes,” Squire says. He also says, “I have never closed the door on working with Jon again. He has left the band before and come back and left it again and come back. It is an unusual situation. We will work together in the future but right now we are promoting the Fly From Here album which is our first studio album in 10 years.”
At the moment, the notion of Anderson rejoining Yes may seem remote, but I suppose stranger and more unexpected things have happened. In the meanwhile, the fans that are willing to accept Yes as they currently exist will keep on listening, attending live shows and buying albums while those that feel that Yes no longer exists will have to be content to listen their collection of Yes music from years past.
On a more positive note, one good thing that has come out of this latest development with Yes is my discovery of Glass Hammer. I’ve just begun to sample some of their work and so far it sounds as if they may be worth paying attention to.
September 8, 2011
Almost a year ago I wrote about Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards dubbing him “The Ultimate Rock and Roll Survivor.” This time, as the article I saw that inspired this post observed, Jon Anderson is another musician who has earned the right to be considered a rock and roll survivor. What the two have survived has little in common beyond rock and roll. While Richards was known as a more typical practitioner of the rock star lifestyle who makes no secret of his years of drug use, sizing up Jon Anderson brings to mind words like cerebral and spiritual.
Anderson, a founding member of the progressive rock group Yes, is no longer associated with the band, which is something that’s obvious after listening to the group’s first new album since Anderson’s departure, although it might be more accurate to say that it was Yes that departed and left Anderson to make his own way.
There’s no denying the vital role Anderson played in creating one of the most-recognizable names in progressive rock history. His name appears on songwriting credits for Yes classics like “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Roundabout,” “Long Distance Runaround,” “Going For The One,” and many more. Although Yes continues to tour and record, I think the remaining members did as much a disservice to themselves as they did to Anderson when they decided to continue without him.
Anderson is not sitting still these days – far from it. Although the move by his former band mates does make him sound a tad bitter at times, particularly after he initially learned about their decision to continue on without him, it seems Anderson has come to terms with where life has led him. The release of his collaborative album Survival and Other Stories along with his touring as a solo act indicates that he has no intention of giving up on music.
Next month Anderson will join forces with his former Yes band mate Rick Wakeman whom Anderson obviously holds in high regard. “He’s a good friend, and he’s really been the only member of Yes in contact with me,” he says. The two will tour together starting on October 19th in Milwaukee. It won’t be the first time the two have toured together outside of their time with Yes. They’ve collaborated in the past, including the time they spent as part of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe – a group of fellow Yes members who produced an album of the same name.
Anderson and Wakeman also teamed up to work on some new music last year which resulted in the release of an album called The Living Tree. The two toured a bit in the U.K. during the fall and presumably their upcoming tour will more-or-less pick up with the previous tour left off.
Anderson’s recent solo touring and his plans to reunite with his old friend Rick Wakeman make one wonder if he could have stepped back into his old role as front man for Yes. I suppose only Anderson and his doctors can answer that question with any authority, but there’s no question he’s seen a dramatic improvement in his health since the respiratory problems that hospitalized him in 2008.
I suppose I would have preferred to see Jon Anderson retake his place with Yes, but I shall watch with interest what he comes up with in the future. For Yes fans who may be a bit disillusioned with the current state of the group, I suggest checking out CIRCA, a group that includes former Yes members Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood. For me, CIRCA’s sound is more reminiscent of the “classic” Yes I first became familiar with back in the late 1970’s. I’ve been listening to it quite a bit lately and find myself enjoying it more than the most recent release by Yes entitled Fly From Here.
July 6, 2011
His days on the big stage in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans may be over, but it’s a certainty that making music and sharing it with fans is not something Jon Anderson is ready to stop doing yet. It appears that quite a few people are curious about what he’s up to these days, how his health is holding up and why he’s not on the road with his old group as they tour with fellow classic rock legends Styx this summer.
Those issues have been given space here in the past, but perhaps it’s worth posting an update regarding Anderson’s current activities. It looks like his health is holding up pretty well given his current activities and that is great news for fans who wondered if he would ever perform again after his health scare during 2008.
Yes fans who now consider themselves more enthusiastic about Jon Anderson than a revamped Yes with a new front man occupying Anderson’s place on stage may be in luck this summer, but that depends a lot on where they live or their willingness to invest the time and money it would take to travel in order to catch one of his shows. These days he’s playing smaller and much more intimate venues which will give his fans a unique opportunity to get much closer to him than the amphitheater and casino venues where Yes is performing.
Anderson’s summer tour is not particularly ambitious when one considers that only nine shows are planned between now and August 11th. There could very well be a very good reason for that, however, since those serious health problems that kept him from re-joining his Yes band mates may be forcing him to take things a little slower these days. Still, Anderson seems to be making a favorable impression on fans and critics alike as reviews of his newly-released CD surface.
With his early summer tour of the east coast behind him, Anderson will be stepping out on July 9th to begin the tour that’s being billed as the one that will officially support his new CD, Survival & Other Stories. Among the reviews of the CD that I’m hearing about, a quote from one particular review caught my eye. Nick DeRiso of “Something Else Reviews” said, “Anderson, right from the first, simultaneously sounds more YES than he ever has as a solo artist and yet somehow different.”
As an old-school Yes fan, it’s interesting to hear that Anderson’s new CD may be more reminiscent of his work with Yes than his previous work as a solo artist. Although many Yes fans are clearly disappointed that he was unable to be part of the current Yes tour, this new CD may help soften the blow a little bit for those that simply cannot accept the group as Yes without Anderson.
Jon Anderson’s summer tour schedule is as follows:
July 9 – Courtenay, BC Vancouver, Canada – Vancouver Island Musicfest at Exhibition Grounds
July 10 – Courtenay, BC Vancouver, Canada – Vancouver Island MusicFest at Exhibition Grounds
July 12 – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door
July 14 – Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater
July 31 – Vernon, BC, Canada – Komasket Music Festival Komasket Park
August 3 – Lincolnshire, IL – Viper Alley
August 5 – Saint Charles, IL – Arcada Theatre
August 7 – Jerseyville, ON – Festival Of Friends Ancaster Fairgrounds (with America)
August 11 – Shirley, MA – Bull Run Restaurant
May 23, 2011
This one’s been in the oven for a while, but a new announcement may be a signal that the release of Jon Anderson’s new CD may be imminent. Anderson, is best known for his work with legendary classic rockers Yes. Yes was probably the first truly progressive rock group that really caught my attention back in the 1970’s. Anderson, along with guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Bill Bruford, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and bassist Chris Squire blew me away with Yes’ fourth album, Fragile.
It was the amazing creativity and technical prowess of Yes that led me to embrace the music of other progressive rockers of the era such as Rush, Max Webster, Kansas, and Frank Zappa. Although my appreciation for other genres has expanded over the years, it was the progressive rock groups of the 70’s that formed the cornerstone of the foundation upon which my appreciation of music has been constructed through the decades.
Anderson, a very spiritual person going back as far as I can recall, seems to have reached a new level after a serious illness back in 2008 kept him from touring with Yes and set off a war of words between himself and the other members who decided to take the group back on the road for their 40th anniversary tour. The back-and-forth was short-lived compared to many other rock star-involved splits, which may be a testament to Anderson’s spiritual outlook on life. Good will on that part of his former band mates should not be discounted either, but I’m no insider, so the usual disclaimers apply.
Following his recovery, Anderson had an idea that prompted him to use the power of the internet to help him create his forthcoming CD, Survival & Other Stories. As he describes it, “About four years ago I just put in an ad on my website: ‘Musicians Wanted’… This is the result. Writing the songs for ‘Survival & Other Stories’ was uplifting for me on many levels, I was working with musicians from around the world Via the Internet, it’s a new world, music is a healing energy, I had a tough 2008, through illness, and the Music I’ve been writing since is a celebration of life on many levels…I hope you get the chance to hear the album..Big Love..Jon.”
Those words leave a bit to the imagination, which may be intentional on Anderson’s part. It’s usually smart to create a little mystery to add to the building anticipation under circumstances like this. Are there tracks on the new CD that feature music that was performed elsewhere and then mixed with other recordings or did he gather the musicians in the studio at the same time to record together? How did working with musicians around the world via the internet influence how the CD was engineered? Those are the kinds of things I find myself wondering about.
Although an official release date was not revealed to me, other sources around the internet have mentioned June 6th. That’s not an official date as far as I know, but it may be one to watch. Official information regarding the release I was made privy to indicates that it will be released “soon.”
Meanwhile, there are plans being made for Anderson to tour this summer in the U.S. and Canada. Fans will probably not be disappointed if they show up hoping to hear him perform material from the new CD. His recent east cost tour, “An Acoustic Evening With Jon Anderson” already featured some of the new material, and I’m guessing that will be ramped up following the release.
Survival & Other Stories contains eleven new songs which are described as music “about love, life, understanding, healing and survival.” Regarding the “healing and survival” element, that’s something that Anderson has likely gained some key insight about during the last few years. Fans and others who appreciate and embrace a spiritual approach to life may find this new CD as educational as it is entertaining.
March 29, 2010
Jon Anderson does not sound like the kind of guy who holds a grudge. Long-known as a very spiritual kind of fellow, he has come to terms with the physical limitations that are preventing him from taking his old spot in front of legendary progressive rock group Yes.
In a recent telephone interview with the The Hamilton Spectator, Anderson sounds like a man who has made peace with his place in the grand scheme of things, as well as with this former band mates. Although initially miffed when he learned that the rest of the group would embark on the planned 40th anniversary tour without him, he’s since reached the conclusion that, “They were busy. They were just guys who had to make a living.”
Anderson concedes that he is in no shape to handle the kind of tour schedule that Yes had planned. A severe asthma attack that nearly ended his life in 2008 has greatly reduced his ability to push himself to the limits that he once could.
“My body would never be able to do what they do. I can’t do four or five shows a week, or all this hotel travelling. My body just wouldn’t take it,” he says.
Regarding his stand-in, a singer from a Montreal Yes tribute band, Anderson now seems flattered, and agrees that selecting Benoit David as his replacement was not a mistake. “Imitation is the biggest form of flattery,” he says.
Although it appears that Jon Anderson is retired from Yes, he remains hopeful that he will have the opportunity to spend a little time with his old friends. “Maybe we’ll get together when we go to the Hall of Fame,” he says. “It’ll happen when it happens. It’s not something I dwell upon.”
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Anderson is just sitting around reading the paper, however. In addition to the occasional solo appearances he makes, he is also working on two operas and three musicals. He also enjoys painting, something that his recovery period allowed him to devote more time to.
Optimistic about the future, Anderson predicts that his best music is yet to come. “You can’t think that the best music I ever made was in 1972,” he says.
Reflecting on some of the great material that came out of that time period, such as The Yes Album, Close to the Edge and Fragile, it would seem that Anderson has his work cut out for him. One thing seems pretty certain, however. We have not heard the last from Jon Anderson.