Friday, 16 March 2012

YES: No tin boxes

Union Live Part Two
On the back of the cover of Mike Oldfield's seminal Tubular Bells LP (it is so nice to still be able to use the term LP - none of the youngsters who come in and out of my office know what the flip I am talking about) there is the message:

"This stereo record cannot be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station."

Again this is probably lost on anyone under the age of 40, but once upon a time records used to have the following statement (or something very much like it) emblazoned on their sleeves:

"This stereo record can be played on monaural record players, but there will be a significant loss of sound"
...or something like that.

However, I have a significant warning that has to be made about the Yes DVD that I am featuring all this week. The following message was inadvertantly left off the sleeve:

"This DVD should not be played on a twenty year-old portable TV given to you by your nephew after the intern poured water into the back of the old one whilst cleaning out the bitterling tank".

Or something like that.

I don't watch television very much. It doesn't interest me in the way that music and books do, and so our only TV is a little portable (provenance noted above). The other day, I played the Union Live DVD on it, and it sounded terrible! I was feeling terribly worried about it, but then Graham plugged it into our hi-fi, and suddenly it sounded as wonderful as I had always expected that it would. maybe better.

So, before we go any further, let this be a cautionary tale. An old mono TV may be perfectly adequate to watch old films on (in my case the Prisoner box set Corinna gave me for Christmas), but it is totally inadequate to watch music DVDs.

And you need to have the optimum equipment for this DVD because it really is smashing.

I am currently working on a reissue of Dan Wooding's classic biography of Rick Wakeman. In it he quotes a Melody Maker piece from around the time that Rick joined the band:

'Part of the reason for the split was that Tony Kaye wanted to concentrate on Hammond Organ while Yes wanted to further augment their sound'.

That is as may be, but I was totally unprepared for the sound that came from the two keyboard players playing in tandem. It was rich and full, and totally surprising. Both musicians are masters of their art, but their styles are markedly different and I had always assumed that they would clash, but far from it.
And the two drummers also complimented each other in a totally unexpected (well, unexpected by me) way. They are amongst my favourite drummers, but again have wildly differing styles. Alan White demonstrates why no less a personage than John Lennon had pulled him out of obscurity to join the Plastic Ono Band, and Bill Bruford just continues being the drummer of choice for all the world's leading prog bands.I had always liked the Union album, but I had expected the live stuff from the tour to be a bit of a mish mash. But I was completely wrong. It is a delight.
Once again I have over-run and overshot my budgeted words. I will continue on this subject next time

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