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    BILLY CURRIE as a member of Yes

    Big fan of Ultravox and like keyboardist Billy Currie's classical/electronic solo material as well. He appeared on Steve Howe's instrumental album Turbulence in 1991 on most of the material. Howe also appears on Currie's first solo album Transportation. Check out the title track on that, sublime! I wonder if Currie had ever been asked to join Yes at any point. In terms of approach and technology, he's closest to Geoff Downes, using futuristic sounds and Romantic classical overtones. Now, I've never heard Currie in a context with hammond organs or stuff like that, but for modern sounds and futuristic/sequencer synth playing, I can see a total fit.

    Most will say Keith Emerson could have been in Yes, or Jon Jord or someone like that, and maybe that would have been great for doing the organ solo in Roundabout and things like that, but for forward directions my money's on Billy Currie. That could have been an adventurous Yes in another direction - in the studio, with cinematic elements, orchestral keyboards, the German-electronic sound, that squiggly oscillator he uses for wild solos. Plus he plays violin/viola - where they failed to secure Eddie Jobson in a similar role, Currie could take them to a that place with the added feature of violin or viola.

    Ultravox shouldn't be lumped in with Spandau Ballets and Haircut 100's of the day, there is a lot going on musically on their albums, especially from the John Foxx days to say, 1983. One of the 90's Ultravox albums, Ingenuity, sounds a bit like Asia. I say Billy Currie in Yes - that would have been something plausible. I could go for a futurist Yes. Billy Currie as keyboardist in Yes. What do you think?

    #2
    Wakeman, Moraz, Khoroshev, and Brislin all brought considerable multi-keyboard talent to Yes. While Wakeman was more "Classical" and Moraz more "Jazz" based, there wasn't a lot they COULDN'T play. Khoroshev and Brislin were awesome "utility" players that could play anything. Kaye's contributions were actually a bit more limited I think: While he's probably one of the best Hammond players around (rivalling Emerson and Lord), it's probably wise to consider that he was shoved out of the band early on, and that when he was in YesWest Rabin played a lot of those keyboard parts on the album AND there's the stories of a 2nd keyboards hiding under the stage when they performed live.

    That leaves Downes, who manages to "cover" well enough, although we all got to see hear/see him bludgeon through CANS AND BRAHMS through the miracle of video. While he's a master of multi-keys, he's simply not as good at covering the flashy parts that Wakeman and Moraz brought to the band.

    I haven't heard enough of O. Wakeman to really make a qualified call on his talents, but stylistically he seemed to be able to cover his dad's parts just fine.

    So, as for Currie, I kinda view him as a potential member as I'd view a suggestion of Larry Fast, or Thomas Dolby. They're good at what they do, but I think they might be limited in their scope, and not be able to "keep up".

    Oh, almost forget about Jobson. He did a bangup job with U.K., but never laid down a recorded note of music with Yes, so it might be a tad 50/50 on whether he'd have "fit in" with a band with such a massive back catalog of stunning keyboard parts.

    I think they should go with Matt Brown.

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      #3
      Originally posted by pianozach View Post
      I haven't heard enough of O. Wakeman to really make a qualified call on his talents, but stylistically he seemed to be able to cover his dad's parts just fine.
      I think Oliver was really good at covering the styles of other keyboard players in Yes, as this interview snippet demonstrates very well.



       

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        #4
        There was a period when Steve Howe did some work with Currie and brought his name up in numerous interviews at that time. But this period I believe overlapped with the time of ABWH through Union - so Wakeman and Kaye were both somewhat active within Yes-related projects at that time. And then Howe was out of the Yes orbit for a few years, so I don't think it's likely that Yes ever solicited Billy Currie to join the band. Very talented musician, though, Billy Currie. Steve Howe seemed to be a big fan.

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          #5
          Originally posted by ragtime View Post

          I think Oliver was really good at covering the styles of other keyboard players in Yes, as this interview snippet demonstrates very well.


          I love watching that clip of Oliver playing the different keyboard bits of Astral Traveller, Machine Messiah. Very fun

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            #6
            Don't forget Paul Sutin. Some great YES-like music made by him and Steve over in Switlzerland. Also Jobson would've been interesting in YES. Remain happy we have Geoff. FFH, DBA, TQ proves he's a major talent in popular music. He serves the music.
            Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 01-29-2022, 11:45 AM.

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              #7
              Where is Rabin105?

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                #8
                I was talking to Steve about Billy Currie a few years ago. I told him I was a big fan of Ultravox, and Billy's keyboards ( I think strings are his first instruments ), and mentioned I found out he played on one of Billy's album, and he told me that Billy had played on one of his, as well. He liked the conversation. It always amazes me that Steve's hearing is actually quite good. I had forgotten Billy had played on Turbulence. I believe the long time drummer for Saxon, if you can believe it, played on that album, as well, I recently discovered.

                I don't know if it was the Turbulence tour, or another Steve solo show I saw at The Bayou in Washington d.c. ( sadly gone for decades now-saw so many shows there, including ASIA ) but the dressing room was upstairs, and the upstairs was open where you could look down on to the stage. The place was packed. I was intially upstairs for one of those shows and Steve was none to happy, and a little tentative of the proximity of all the fans he would have to walk through to get downstairs. I got in front of him and motioned to those on both sides to move back, and give him some room. Once the path opened up for him, I stepped back and did what I always do with Steve ( being nice and respectful is something Steve respects, and he will go out of his way, if you act decent ) and I started applauding, followed by everyone else. Steve stood straight up, slowed his initial pace, and looked genuinely happy.

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                  #9
                  I think Currie would be similar in the Yes format to Geoff Downes, in that he serves the music and comes from a composition/songwriting angle rather than an just a virtuoso playing angle. Would he have been limited? Not in the compositional sense, he would have added some New Romantic element and, like Downes, a technology/futuristic approach to studio albums. The keyboards he used may have been piano, Fairlight, digital synths, etc. I've never heard him wail on a hammond organ or old Wakeman-type keyboards, so I have nothing to go on in terms of how he would take to traditional Yes keyboard arsenal. Classically trained, I'm sure he could do it but would he be inclined to take to that direction. I'm sure he could do the organ solo in Roundabout. I think the for earliest JohnFoxx Ultravox stuff he had electric piano, Arp synth, I think a Chamberlain, some other synths. He didn't really get totally synthy till Systems Of Romance and Vienna.

                  I was more thinking in terms of new material and direction, rather than could he play Relayer or Fragile material live. I could have envisioned a Currie-era tour consisting of 80/ 90% of their new album and only a cherry-picked selection of earlier Yes material, leaving out many live warhorses. Like the Drama tour, where they played maybe four or five old songs plus solos. The rest was 5 out of 6 Drama tracks and two unreleased Drama era tracks (FFH and Go Thru This). A Currie line-up may have been like that, mostly future with occasional nods to the past to let you know that it was still Yes.

                  Thomas Dolby? Actually he belongs in the Buggles. Check out the original version of Golden Age Of Wireless(1982?), it has Yes molecules infused into it. I could see him in the Buggles, Wireless is very progressive in a synth/modern yet very Buggles/Yes way. Actually he does have a Yes connection: Bruce Wooley & The Camera Club. Wooley cowrote Video Killed The Radio Star, and both that and Clean Clean appear on his album. Who's on keyboards? Thomas Dolby. He was Wooley's keyboard synth-scientist as Downes was Trevor Horn's. Not sure if that album is still available.

                  I do remain happy we have Downes with Yes, but I can't picture Paul Suttin as a Yes member - though I do like his material with Steve on the one album by them I own, Seraphim. Very relaxing.

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                    #10
                    The Bayou! Under a bridge in D.C. I remember that venue and may have been at the same show. Yeah, you had to walk through the crowd to get to the dressing room. Steve didn't look too happy, I remember some woman tried to shove a bag of something his way as he made his way through the crowd and the security guy pushed it back so Steve could pass by. Not sure what that was all about, was it dope? Garden vegetables? Who knows, but he looked really nervous. That was his mostly acoustic tour, but I remember he played some electric as well. It was just him, no band.

                    Also saw Asia there in 1992, first American tour with John Payne and I don't think anyone knew that Wetton had left. Totally pre-internet, so people were puzzled. Payne had this feathered leather top-hat and looking half biker/half Western. People were unkind to Payne, yelling 'Lose the hat!!' and 'Play something that doesn't suck!!'. As he made his way through the crowd I nodded my approval and said 'good show' and he said thanks. The only other shows I had seen there were my first Marillion show (Afraid Of Sunlight tour) and also Fish Sunsets On Empire tour. Had ticket for Adam Ant but the show was cancelled because the whole band got sick or something. And before you knew it, the venue was gone.

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                      #11
                      Jaxx in Springfield, VA was another place to see national acts. I saw ASIA there with Geoff, and John Payne. Yeah, not a fan of the hat, either. Probably why I couldn't stand David Paich from Toto, either. ;-)

                      I saw Geoff and John on mainstream cable years years ago on a financial channel, which was by chance, and not what I was expecting.
                      Then, again, I never expected to see K.K Downing in one of my dad's Golf magizines, either.

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                        #12
                        By the Jaxx show, he indeed lost the hat and had a kinda Bob Seger beard thing going. Saw some pictures of Dukes Of The Orient where he's got the hat again, with a kind of steampunk thing. Just when you thought it was safe...
                        But with the 2001-2005 era Asia, people were more accepting of the Payne Asia and knew the Payne era songs. Maybe because he lost the hat. But Aura is one of my favorite Asia albums from any Asia era. 2001-5 was a good Asia era full of fun concert times and releases, like Downes New Dance Orchestra stuff and Icon.

                        Jaxx is gone too unfortunately. Saw Asia, Tony Levin Band and The Tubes there.

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                          #13
                          Saw a great show with Eddie Johnson/U.K, Greg Howe, Simon Phillips, Marco Minnamann, and the guy on the stick whose name evades me, of all places, Jamming Java, in Vienna. Don't believe we will see ASIA there. ;-)

                          Saw some good shows at Tally Ho in Leesburg ( UFO and Last in Line before the pandemic started. Hopefully with a new governor, rules will be relaxed.

                          Too many venues have gone and went. Baltimore Soundstage) recording studio isn't too far away. Some shows are surprising there.

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                            #14
                            Saw that one too, Eddie Jobson/UKZ. Only show I had seen at Jammin Java. Guy on stick was trey Gunn(former King Crimson). Love Jobson, but the problem I have with Jobson is he hasn't done any new music. Since he returned in the 2000's he's given us a 20-minute EP with that UKZ project, and that's it. I get a stuck-up vibe from him, It's almost like he can't be bothered to let anyone hear anything from him if it's not 100% perfect, like a Tom Scholz syndrome. Love the Green Album/Zinc. Now that's the direction I'm talkin' when I say futuristic or Billy Currie. A great album, a shame he didn't stick with it. I saw an interview where he said he recorded another Zinc album called The Pink Album, but didn't want to release it. Like, why even tell anybody about it if you're not going to do anything with it, just to tease people? He tends to give out breadcrumbs, but the bread crumbs are always good. A shame, I like Eddie Jobson but his bails easily. Only two UK albums, one Tull album where he insisted he wasn't a member, three Roxy albums, one solo album, one Zinc album and some of this and that. Oh well, what can ya do.....

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by josuev80 View Post
                              Where is Rabin105?
                              Trying to take a nap why?

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