Thursday, 16 August 2012

LINK: Rick Wakeman, Yes, and the insane excess that doomed prog. (Don't believe a word of it)

Have you noticed the Stalinist re-write of music history over the past few years? The accepted wisdom now is that Progressive Rock (now almost universally known as 'prog', which I find nearly as irritating a contraction as the term 'spag' for spaghetti) got more and more unwieldy and overblown until it was washed away by the cleansing power of punk.

Of course, it isn't true. History is never as simple as all that. In 1977, Yes were one of the most popular bands in the world, and punk was nowhere near as popular as disco. However, even though I think his premise is fairly badly flawed, I have found a rather interesting article about Yes, and why Rick Wakeman left the first time...

YES, Tales of Topographic Oceans Tour Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA March 18, 1974
The order, Rick Wakeman remembers, was for chicken vindaloo, rice pilau, six papadums, bhindi bhaji, Bombay aloo, and a stuffed paratha. This was November 1973 and Yes had sold out the Manchester Free Trade Hall for a performance of Tales From Topographic Oceans. The album consisted of four songs that rolled gently together, over four sides of vinyl, for 83 minutes. “There were a couple of pieces where I hadn’t got much to do,” Wakeman would recall, “and it was all a bit dull.

During every show, a keyboard tech reclined underneath Wakeman’s Hammond organ, ready to fix broken hammers or ribbons and to “continually hand me my alcoholic beverages.” That night in Manchester, the tech asked the bored Wakeman what he wanted to eat after the show. Wakeman, the lone carnivore in Yes, ordered the curry. “Half the audience were in narcotic rapture on some far-off planet,” Wakeman wrote in his 2007 memoir, “and the other half were asleep, bored shitless.”
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