Music Review: A Life In Yes – The Chris Squire Tribute
30 January 2019 Recommends
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Spotlight: A Life In Yes – The Chris Squire Tribute (2019 Purple Pyramid)
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
The last track, the last of the two bonus songs offered, is Chris on a version of Pink Floyd’s; Comfortably Numb. Appeared on a tribute album some time ago. Played it then, so I was aware. Was okay, but hearing this now with Chris having passed away (2015), I’m giving it repeat plays. An additional admiration of his musical abilities? Is that possible? Besides playing the bass guitar, was a very good singer; lead and background. On this recording, Billy Sherwood is involved, as is one of the best drummers in rock n’ roll; Mr. Alan White. He made a career playing with Yes, and before that, was already a part of rock n’ roll history. For the younger generations, the next time you hear John Lennon – Imagine…FYI: that’s Alan White behind the drum kit. A real drummers-drummer!
The other bonus cut off this tribute to Chris Squire is an almost 8-minute song he played bass on called; The Technical Divide. Taken from a 2012 prog-rock project called; The Prog Collective. I authored a positive write up not only about the tune, but the album as well, exclusively for Classic Rock Radio (UK), back when it was first released.
Weird to start off any write up mentioning the bonus tracks, first. Funny to me because as a rock n’ roll reviewer/journalist, I don’t include bonus material when rating albums. I never have. Nice for the consumer, for whatever reasons, when it’s there. Stating that, I’m a purist. Mostly, I enjoy listening to the original album. Since the 1990s I collect CDs. Sold my turntable ages ago. Still, I do love a good needle drop. Volume can sometimes be an issue; CDs. Vinyl is an alternative and a possible solution to that problem.
It’s not an average musician that this album centers around. Chris Squire, the bassist for Yes, was my personal favorite. I still remember the day Mr. Squire died (27 June 2015). I took it hard, as did countless of others. Believe I found out via a tweet from another bassist who passed soon after; John Wetton. We followed each other on Twitter.
Chris and I were not personal friends. I did meet him once. We had a pleasant interaction. Someone mentioned that I was one of the callers on a radio program called; Rockline. It like just happened. Chris was kind to acknowledge; “Oh yeah.” Was a small crowd. He signed my program, on his page; Yes – The Ladder Tour. One of my YesTreasures.
It was what he played on those incredible bass guitars, that always nailed my attention. Part of his arsenal, Chris had a triple neck that was so kick-ass. Used in concert when Yes played the closing tune from their ‘Going For The One’ album; Awaken. Looks heavy! And while on the subject of, Awaken, I have a new respect for that song. I’ve been playing it lately; studio and in concert versions. In the past, I have been guilty of talking shit about the composition. Was just never a favorite of mine. I recognized the brilliance but thought it was unnecessarily long. But enough of that. Nowadays I find a superbness, that runs throughout.
Photo: Chris Squire (1996) – From the Gary “Uncle G” Brown Collection
A Life In Yes – The Chris Squire Tribute: Song Selection
The Yes hits are here; Roundabout, and Owner Of A Lonely Heart. As are the fan favorites; On The Silent Wings Of Freedom, and South Side Of The Sky. A deep cut; The More We Live-Let Go. Plus Chris’ signature tune while with the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame inducted band. A number from the 1972 Yes Fragile album; The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus).
The selection of songs is in part expected, yet pleasing to a long time YesFan, such as myself. If your first time reading something I authored pertaining to the band, I discovered the group Yes, during the Nixon Administration. My second time seeing Yes in concert was broadcast on what was back then New York City’s BEST FM radio station; WNEW 107.5 (rest in peace). Loyal to Yes ever since. Why stop? A few songs by now I admit to being burned out on; And You And I. That happened after decades of repeated plays. So I know a little about what I’m covering.
It’s not all praise that I offer. Some of 1997s Open Your Eyes…well, that could have been better. The same said of the 1991 Yes album – Union. Was a great tour! After that in YesHistory, a favorite Yes studio release of mine that didn’t get as much attention as it deserved; Yes – Talk (1994). Trevor Rabin, Tony Kaye, plus the core Yes members back then; Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, and on drums with you tonight, Mr. Alan White. When in concert, Jon would say that sometimes.
One song I always liked that Chris was a part of, wasn’t a Yes song. I can assume a fan favorite of his, the opening track off Chris’ debut solo album, Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water (1975). The song that set the tone for the whole album; Hold Out Your Hand.
What we got here maintains a good flow and makes listening to the whole album in its entirety, a real pleasure. ‘I found ‘A Life In Yes – The Chris Squire Tribute’ to be a very well presented, tribute. Billy was a protege of Chris’, so if anyone could pull this off, it’s him. At the present time besides his own projects, and there are many, Mr. Sherwood is the bass player for Yes (Chris when sick hand picked_gave approval), and was the last one to play bass and handle lead vocals, for the 1980s group; Asia. Billy took over and did an awesome job stepping in for the departed, John Wetton. Similar to when Chris died, my heart broke when John lost his battle to cancer. Yet another giant wandering the halls of progressive rock, in that great spirit in the sky.
A Life In Yes – The Chris Squire Tribute: Outstanding Tracks
They all can’t be, but in a way they are. Every song has Billy Sherwood doing various things, including playing bass in the style of Chris Squire, which is what this tribute album is all about. Joining him on drums, Jay Schellen. He’s been doing shows with Yes, lately. I’ve been aware of Jay for some time seeing how I was into; World Trade. Very skilled behind the drum kit.
All ten tracks have special guests. There is not one bad cover here, which means everyone who participated, gets a gold star. So everyone stands out including; Jon Davison (skilled performer) – Patrick Moraz (always leaves a lasting impression) – Steve Hogarth (did justice to a wonderful solo tune) – Annie Haslam (it’s always nice when she covers a Yes song. The song ‘Onward’ is so well written. Beautifully done) – David Sancious (WOW! How do you add to what is already perfect? A standout contribution) – Steve Stevens (rocked it!) – Sonja Kristina (perfect for the job) – Steve Hackett (most heartfelt song on here – magnificent!) – Steve Porcaro (Sweet!) – Tony Kaye (excellent as always) – Nikki Squire (nice to see on here) – Dweezil Zappa (adds coolness whereever he goes; excellent job; OoaLH) – Todd Rundgren (makes the song his own) – John Wesley (Cool guy! I know him from his work with a band that toured with Yes at one time; Porcupine Tree. A great contribution here!) – Candice Night (knocked it out of the park) and Brian Auger (downright groovy).
“Uncle G” RATES…A Life In Yes – The Chris Squire Tribute
Using a star rating system, whereas one star means to seriously pass, to five stars which means you’re putting your hard earned money to good use buying the product (if financially possible and would not be a burden), and that you’d be lucky to have it included in your music collection. All that for this; “Uncle G” RATES…this wonderfully Billy Sherwood produced tribute to his friend, and co-worker; Chris Squire …5 stars (all day long).
Gary “Uncle G” Brown: Closing Comments
Regarding the subject of singers, when it’s Yes, I don’t expect anyone to really even come close to sounding like the co-founder of the band; Jon Anderson. In my experience, I’ve heard more females do justice to Jon’s unique singing voice than I did the guys. Except for Jon Davison. He’s obviously the standout. The man seems to put his soul into each and every Yes song he performs, be it a tune Jon Anderson was on, or the more recent Yes songs with him singing lead. Had become a vital ingredient in the band continuing to…progress.
A tribute to Chris Squire is also an acclamation of the people who helped Chris anywhere along the way. That said, some stand out.
If not for Chris meeting Jon Anderson one faithful day (in a pub), there would be no; Yes.
Yes was the most successful thing that Chris was ever involved in; money – stardom. He stated in interviews that he figured the group (Yes) would last 5 years or so. Your average life span for a rock band back then. Chris made a career mostly involved in just that, playing the bass guitar with what ended up being one of the best progressive rock bands, ever. He had a cool stage presence and a sound that was all his own. Seeing Chris Squire play bass guitar, was feeling Chris Squire play bass guitar. As long as you had a somewhat decent seat. Inspired in part by one of the greatest rock n’ roll bass players of all time; John Entwistle. I miss him as well.
Official Yes Website: www.Yesworld.com
Official Billy Sherwood Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BillySherwoodMusic/
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Gary Brown A Life In Yes - A Tribute to Chris Squire, Alan White, Annie Haslam, Asia (band), Bill Bruford, Billy Sherwood, Brian Auger, Candice Night, Chris Squire, Chris Squire (Yes), David Sancious, Dweezil Zappa, Gary Uncle G Brown, Glass Onyon PR (promotion), John Wesley, John Wetton, Jon Anderson, Jon Davison, Nikki Squire, Patrick Moraz, Porcupine Tree, Sonja Kristina, Steve Hackett, Steve Hogarth, Steve Porcaro, Steve Stevens, The Technical Divide, Todd Rundgren, Tony Kaye, Trevor Rabin, Yes, Yes - Talk, Yes - The Ladder, Yes Founding Member