Saturday, November 10, 2007

music: no Yes in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

CHIC were nominated, but didn't get in this year.

You can't speak of killer musicians and the so-called Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without noticing that Yes aren't in it. That hostility towards progressive rock is inexcusable for something that pretends to reward excellence and achievement. For years in the 70s the members of classic Yes (Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford/Alan White) would appear in readers' polls for best vocals-bass-guitar-keyboards-drums. Even forgettable pop groups like the Bay City Rollers would name-drop Yes when asked for their favorite musicians. The conventional history is that the punk revolution showed how pointless talent was if it didn't have authentic street credentials. But I was there when "Anarchy in the UK" and "God Save the Queen" came out. People liked both kinds. The punks were hostile and dismissive towards “muso”s and musical talent, but they were hostile towards everything. If you're going to limit rock to certain attitudes, why nominate CHIC?

I played through Tales from Topographic Oceans recently. A double-album single piece of music
based on the Shastric scriptures, as found in a footnote within Paramahansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi
is so pretentious that it satirizes itself. But there are so many themes and moods and musical figures over the 80 minutes, it's a steady delight if you ignore the over-ambitious framing. Throughout Steve Howe is a guitar god and Chris Squire unleashes the expected titanic bass solo; but Alan White's drumming is excellent, and even Rick Wakeman (who wasn't happy with the album and left the group) lends wonderful keyboards on side 2 and great shading throughout.

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