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Least and Most "progressive" Yes members

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    Least and Most "progressive" Yes members

    Here's a topic to generate some thought. And answers will vary depending on your definition of "progressive", if "progressive" can even be defined at all. I mean, you can look at it in terms of who's the most "proggiest" Yes member(s) if you go by who's the instrumentally flashiest or who has the most out-there music if you want, but I'm thinking more along the lines of who took the most risks and/or is the most versatile member or ex-member, however you want to answer with whichever angle you want with the member(s) solo or within the band. Likewise with the least progressive member or members - who stays more in their comfort zone and mines a certain sound, even if they're great at that particular sound or sounds. I know some may be thinking "what does progressive even supposed to mean" or "I don't think of music in terms of that", but it's not a value inducing/reducing contest or comparing up this or that - I'm just curious as to which Yes alumni people feel cast the net out the furthest and who stuck closer to shore.

    For my choices let me think a minute. I'll get back to you ...


    #2
    I use the "doctor's" approach to defining "Prog". There are all these "symptoms", or elements, that define a disease. If you have enough of the symptoms, then you likely have that disease or condition. Two people can have the same condition, yet have different symptoms. Think COVID; some folks get sniffles, others lose their sense of taste.

    That said, I think you can really get a sense of which Yes members are "Prog" by taking a listen to what they've done as a solo act.

    Aside from Olias of Sunhillow, most of Jon Anderson's solo albums have been more folksy and New Age-y.

    Chris Squire has only the two albums, the very proggy FOoW and the Swiss Choir (a 'specialty' album). But his contributions to the Yes catalog, especially his very proggy basslines, lead me to give him the top spot.

    Howe's a mixed bag. He relies a great deal on 'serious' guitar, as well as boogie and honky-tonk-ish stuff, but there's enough Prog in his catalog to give him higher marks.

    Moraz is very Prog.

    Rabin can do Prog, but stylistically he leans pretty Arena.

    Kaye's work with Badger, and those first two Yes albums give the impression that he was always more of a Rock organist.

    Then there's Wakeman. He's a very mixed bag, but has done a lot of Proggy things.

    Here's my subjective rankings:

    Squire
    Moraz
    Howe
    Anderson
    Wakeman
    Sherwood
    Downes
    White
    Howe
    Banks

    Comment


      #3
      I think of being progressive as a quality of intention, of a desire or willingness to progress, of 'breaking new ground', to borrow a phrase from Jon Anderson on the YesYears documentary, rather than a set of musical or personal characteristics or ingredients. I once heard someone say that 'prog' is where the guitarist and the keyboardist compete for musical space with each other, which is a crude and prejudicial definition that I abhor. A certain degree of musicianship, approaching the virtuosic, is required, wherein difficulty of execution or the ability to realise the sounds and structures one imagines isn't an issue.
      The band and its members pushed the envelope in the early to mid-70s to a considerable degree, more or less as a collective entity, allowing for various personnel changes along the way; indeed one could posit that those personnel changes, unpleasant and perfunctorily-undertaken at the time thought they may have been in some instances, are part and parcel of that willingness to progress collectively when one of the group is unwilling to fully participate. I would say that up to the period between Going For The One and Tormato, after the touring cycle for the former was completed, Jon was the one leading that desire and willingness to progress, for the most part with the willing and enthusiastic participation of the rest of the band and backroom/management peeps. After that the business got on top of things, and that wonderful period of experimentation came to a close, and with it the era of progressive rock. All stylistic adherences to the genre thereafter have been exactly that: stylistic adherences.
      Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
      Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

      Comment


        #4
        It would be very hard for me to rank a list of Yes members in this regard.

        But if I had to pick one standout, it might be Bill Bruford.
        Back in the 70's, when I first heard the term "progressive rock" - the connotation was rock music with an emphasis on trying to move on from the general template of blues-based rock music and an attempt to be always evolving one's sound and approach.

        Later I think the term "progessive" became associated with longer songs, leitmotif, use of certain types of instruments, and non-standard time signatures.

        But going back to the early days of Yes, I always felt that Bruford was trying hard to evolve his sound and surprise the listener - and the most notable thing, to me, is that he did that all the way until his final recordings and performances.

        Steve Howe, of course, seemed very progressive in the 70's as he went out of his way to move beyond the template of blues-based guitar playing, but I don't feel that he has changed his approach very much over the decades, other than becoming very focused on a cleaner guitar sound.

        I never felt that Squire's playing or approach changed much over his career. He always played very well, but he had a very noticable sound and style of playing.

        Wakeman is very much associated with a "prog" sound due to his choice of keyboard sounds and virtuosity, but I don't see much change in his presentation over the decades.

        All great players - but Bruford always stood out to me as the most progressive of the bunch.

        Last edited by True; 08-18-2022, 07:24 AM. Reason: typos

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by True View Post
          It would be very hard for me to rank a list of Yes members in this regard.

          But if I had to pick one standout, it might be Bill Bruford.
          Back in the 70's, when I first heard the term "progressive rock" - the connotation was rock music with an emphasis on trying to move on from the general template of blues-based rock music and an attempt to be always evolving one's sound and approach.

          Later I think the term "progessive" became associated with longer songs, leitmotif, use of certain types of instruments, and non-standard time signatures.

          But going back to the early days of Yes, I always felt that Bruford was trying hard to evolve his sound and surprise the listener - and the most notable thing, to me, is that he did that all the way until his final recordings and performances.

          Steve Howe, of course, seemed very progressive in the 70's as he went out of his way to move beyond the template of blues-based guitar playing, but I don't feel that he has changed his approach very much over the decades, other than becoming very focused on a cleaner guitar sound.

          I never felt that Squire's playing or approach changed much over his career. He always played very well, but he had a very noticable sound and style of playing.

          Wakeman is very much associated with a "prog" sound due to his choice of keyboard sounds and virtuosity, but I don't see much change in his presentation over the decades.

          All great players - but Bruford always stood out to me as the most progressive of the bunch.
          I think you are probably right though it would be interesting to get Bill's view on whether he considered himself 'progressive.' I think what is so good about his career is that he always did what he wanted to do and I get the impression he was never influenced by what the record companies wanted him to do - except the ABWH/Yes Union shenanigans of course and I still think he used that situation to his advantage because it enabled him to fund Earthworks afterwards.

          Love almost everything he did outside Yes - it's the most consistent work of all the many musicians who have been in Yes over the years.

          Comment


            #6
            I find nothing in the previous two posts re: Bill Bruford, with which I disagree
            Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
            Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by pianozach View Post
              I use the "doctor's" approach to defining "Prog". There are all these "symptoms", or elements, that define a disease. If you have enough of the symptoms, then you likely have that disease or condition. Two people can have the same condition, yet have different symptoms. Think COVID; some folks get sniffles, others lose their sense of taste.

              That said, I think you can really get a sense of which Yes members are "Prog" by taking a listen to what they've done as a solo act.

              Aside from Olias of Sunhillow, most of Jon Anderson's solo albums have been more folksy and New Age-y.

              Chris Squire has only the two albums, the very proggy FOoW and the Swiss Choir (a 'specialty' album). But his contributions to the Yes catalog, especially his very proggy basslines, lead me to give him the top spot.

              Howe's a mixed bag. He relies a great deal on 'serious' guitar, as well as boogie and honky-tonk-ish stuff, but there's enough Prog in his catalog to give him higher marks.

              Moraz is very Prog.

              Rabin can do Prog, but stylistically he leans pretty Arena.

              Kaye's work with Badger, and those first two Yes albums give the impression that he was always more of a Rock organist.

              Then there's Wakeman. He's a very mixed bag, but has done a lot of Proggy things.

              Here's my subjective rankings:

              Squire
              Moraz
              Howe
              Anderson
              Wakeman
              Sherwood
              Downes
              White
              Howe
              Banks
              Where does Rabin fit in your ranking?

              Comment


                #8
                Hmm, tough question, esp. as it would require, for the "least" part, more familiarity with the body of work of an individual — can't say I know that much re: Tony Kaye or Patrick Moraz outside of Yes. But for my dollar at the top of the list, Bruford and Anderson stand out as the most likely to try something different… Not saying I'll *like* it necessarily, but for Bruford to go from CTTE to Larks and Red, then to Bruford & UK, then to Discipline, Flags, Earthworks, THRAK, and then his later acoustic jazz, well, that's a hell of a voyage for a musically exploratory, restless figure. And Anderson, to go from Olias to Mr Cairo to Animation to 90125 to City of Angels, ABWH, Deseo, Open… I mean, the guy almost defines proggy lyrics as a punch line, but then goes and writes some tunes with Lamont Dozier and Toto?

                Put another way, if you handed me a CD or some MP3s in a brown paper bag and said "Hey, it's the new album from Bruford/Anderson", I really wouldn't have much idea what to expect, you (more you) know?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Least progressive has to go to Banks and Kaye because when they were replaced the results took the band to a whole new level, especially live. Most progressive is a lot tougher because they are all freaks of nature. Jon and Chris started it all and the vocals and bass are a huge part of the chemistry of Yes, so that would be my top pick.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Looks like consensus has Bill Bruford as one of the more progressive players and I have to agree. I'm not sure he thought or even cared about whether he was considered progressive or not or even gave a monkey's backside whether he was 'prog'., but in interviews he has always stated that he was always trying to contribute to his chosen instruments whether through new technology, acquiring new skills or techniques or playing with a wide variety of different kinds of musicians and learning from them and then applying it to his craft. From psychedelic rock to prog to fusion to jazz of all varieties to experimental and world music.
                    All acoustic be-bop style jazz to abrasive electronic industrial rock. Bill Bruford gets my vote as one of the more progressive (trying new things, execution of bold ideas, willingness to drop previous approaches once mastered and moving to the next) members.

                    Jon Anderson in the 70's was indeed 'progressive', and I attribute a lot of that to a good imagination and a willingness to 'go big' with symphonic elements, but he did need others to help him achieve these goals. I'm fine with and love the albums like Drama and such without him, but these were all made after the brand was established and classic songs and albums were made. I'm not sure if Yes would have made it all the way up to the 80's without him. These days he can be a little hit or miss but can still surprise when focused. But in decade one of Yes' existence, Anderson's drive to 'go forward' was crucial to their development.

                    As for Rabin, I might consider him somewhat progressive. Maybe not on early solo albums like Wolf where he was trying to establish some sucess as a rock act, but more with film scores. To do music for films, I assume you have to have some sort of musical know-how to write music that serves the film and that music could take any form. When Queen did a soundtrack, you know it's Queen doing cool rock stuff to enhance the film. But I can't tell you how many times I've seen a movie and didn't know Rabin did the score until the credits. Not that it was generic, just that it fit the film so well that it didn't matter who wrote it - it wasn't music from a Yes musician doing a vanity project, it was music from a soundtrack composer. He serves the film and has the arranging skills to supply a score going through many moods and textures, and not much of what he scores really hints at much or anything related to his former day job as Yes guitarist/writer.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Squire has the most unique style, and sometimes from out of this world.
                      Howe could really push the envelope as well on stuff like The Ancient and Relayer.
                      Anderson has ideas coming to him from outer space, luckily Squire and Howe knew how to translate such wild ideas to make sense.
                      Moraz is very proggy/jazzy.
                      Bruford loved pushing the envelope as well.
                      White was always up for an adventure, Relayer, Drama....
                      Wakeman seemed more classical and midieval, but progged out on Fragile, CTTE, and TFTO.
                      Downes was great on Drama, actually excellent. But seems more at home in Asia type formats.
                      Kaye can prog it up well, but really a hammond guy.
                      Sherwood loves his prog, but is an apprentice, not really 1st or 2nd generation.
                      Rabin likes a little prog, but without Yes, probably would a bit more like Foreigner.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Soundwaveseeker View Post
                        Looks like consensus has Bill Bruford as one of the more progressive players and I have to agree. I'm not sure he thought or even cared about whether he was considered progressive or not or even gave a monkey's backside whether he was 'prog'., but in interviews he has always stated that he was always trying to contribute to his chosen instruments whether through new technology, acquiring new skills or techniques or playing with a wide variety of different kinds of musicians and learning from them and then applying it to his craft. From psychedelic rock to prog to fusion to jazz of all varieties to experimental and world music.
                        All acoustic be-bop style jazz to abrasive electronic industrial rock. Bill Bruford gets my vote as one of the more progressive (trying new things, execution of bold ideas, willingness to drop previous approaches once mastered and moving to the next) members.
                        Agreed. Broof gets my vote overall for Most.

                        Steve is a one-off, so you could say he's progressive, but I think his style is so idiosyncratic that he could only be himself. His genius was/is fitting himself into the collective.

                        Chris created his style, and you can tell where he fits into the tradition, but he was incredibly progressive in terms of where he took it, and in his compositional and collaborative disciplines altogether. So I think I'd rank him 2nd Most.

                        Jon is the concept guy and I don't know if he's really progressive so much as just ambitious and idiosyncratic in what he desires artistically. Much like Steve I consider him a one-off.

                        Trevor doesn't usually strike people as progressive but considering how wide-reaching his talent and taste is, I think there are moments where he went beyond when he wanted to. But I don't think of him in that way generally, more just in acknowledgement of the polymath he is.
                        Rabin-esque
                        my labor of love (and obsessive research)
                        rabinesque.blogspot.com

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Mr. Holland View Post

                          Where does Rabin fit in your ranking?
                          Tough question. Let's see . . . Rabin started rather Arena, but he got with Yes and turned them into a ProgPop group, but there were always those Proggy elements, especially on Talk. Then there's Jacaranda, which was sorta Prog Fusion.

                          I guess I'd put him in front of Sherwood, but now that I look at the list, I feel it's possible I shortchanged Downes (remember Drama?), but overall he's just a utility player, so never mind.

                          I also left out Bruford. C'mon, Atomic Rooster, Yes, King Crimson. Solid Prog credentials. Still, at his core he's really an extraordinarily talented Jazz drummer. I guess he's right behind Squire . . .



                          Squire
                          Bruford

                          Moraz
                          Howe
                          Anderson
                          Wakeman
                          Rabin
                          Sherwood
                          Downes
                          White
                          Howe
                          Banks

                          But this is all really subjective. I didn't do any sort of in-depth ranking, just a kind of "gut feeling".
                          Last edited by pianozach; 08-18-2022, 04:45 PM.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by luna65 View Post
                            Agreed. Broof gets my vote overall for Most.

                            Steve is a one-off, so you could say he's progressive, but I think his style is so idiosyncratic that he could only be himself. His genius was/is fitting himself into the collective.

                            Chris created his style, and you can tell where he fits into the tradition, but he was incredibly progressive in terms of where he took it, and in his compositional and collaborative disciplines altogether. So I think I'd rank him 2nd Most.

                            Jon is the concept guy and I don't know if he's really progressive so much as just ambitious and idiosyncratic in what he desires artistically. Much like Steve I consider him a one-off.

                            Trevor doesn't usually strike people as progressive but considering how wide-reaching his talent and taste is, I think there are moments where he went beyond when he wanted to. But I don't think of him in that way generally, more just in acknowledgement of the polymath he is.
                            Agree here that Steve strikes me as a one-off too. He has his own style and ethos, and like you said, fits himself into the collective. That often has the music sticking out at a unique angle. Asia for example, by nature of the kind of rock they make, doesn't necessarily call for that type of style - as the albums without him can attest to - but when he's there, that unique guitar sound gives the music an 'otherness' you don't get otherwise from anyone else. Even in a band with emphasis on singles and accessibility, you can still tell it's Howe. He can't mask his style in Asia or GTR - it's still in Yes/Howe guitar mode even in the most commercial situations, and that's a skill to get the wider public's ears to perk up to playing that's quirkier than they're used to.

                            But I don't think he's always one to push the boundaries of his instrument or getting involved in crazy guitar synth technology or making a guitar sound like an oboe or anything like that. His approach has been pretty much the same to an extent. He pretty much fights for his corner of the Yes pie and perfects his guitar stylings in older genres like ragtime and country etc. At one point, I could have pictured him playing in the Stray Cats. So for Howe: not a super-super-super innovator, but way solid and really dedicated to the Howe sound. He did it his way, and did it with a relative lack of blues stylings and without the expected lead guitar posturing of a lead guitar player. He probably should be recognized a little more as a songwriter too, most people just focus on his very unique guitar style. Howe is a unique player and pretty much inhabits Howe World, pretty much setting up Howe World wherever he is and with whomever he works with. He does venture out from the Yes framework a little bit - with his guitar/drums/organ jazz trio for example, or occasional orchestral things like 'Time', but he bring Howe World to the project with him when he does. But that's not a bad thing. Unique player, but I put him in the middle or in the upper rung of the middle tier for 'progressive'.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              You could try to address this from looking at their solo outputs, or you could ask what members brought the most "progressiveness" to Yes music. You could compare the "proggiest" Yes albums (Tales? Relayer?) with the least proggy (OYE? H&E?) and ask who was/were the driving forces behind those albums. When I think about that, Anderson stands out as someone who often pushed the group to be more adventurous and experimental, whether in the 70s or later with ABWH and KTA.

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