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Best Yes Drummer?

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    I guess I'll say: as a drummer - Bruford. Love the snap of that snare. His best playing is outside of Yes: in Crimson, with Allan Holdsworth, with Earthworks. As a Yes drummer - Alan White. Even the Bruford-era songs just feel right with White behind the kit. I like my Yes with added Whiteness.


      Bruford's snappy snare or White's power?

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        I voted Bill B. but it is just a matter of splitting hairs. Different styles. Different personalities. Both were great. I will say about Bill B. He went out at the top. Very few do!. It was painful watching Alan. W. In the last 5 to 8 years just a shadow of his former self
        Last edited by alex peters; 12-07-2022, 02:51 PM.


          Alan White is my pick. He was able to start on arguably Yes' two most complex studio albums- Tales from the Topographic Oceans and Relayer- and then transition, after the successful classic-style Going for the One and the less successful (At least as it's regarded in hindsight) Tormato, into some of the albums I feel like the rhythm section was the strongest on, and which dipped into more straight forward rock and roll '80 styles, by the second album of the trio- Drama, 90125, and Big Generator- and everything Yes attempted afterwards, not really falling off significantly until Heaven and Earth in 2014 and perhaps slightly on the two live albums that proceeded it (By which time Yes' original drummer had retired from music IIRC). He even joined the band on short notice and had to immediately learn to play the tour for a very complex album live- Close to the Edge- not to mention songs from five albums that came before it.

          Like most drummers, with some notable exceptions like Rush's Neil Peart and Genesis' Phil Collins, aren't big lyricists and writers of music, it's also notable that White was getting recording credits on good Yes songs like "In the Presence Of" and "To Ascend" into the 21st century. He didn't write a ton for Yes, but he contributed some key stuff here and there.

          While Bill Bruford is without a doubt a very accomplished drummer, and was the studio drummer of record for Yes' best three 70s albums, I feel like his jazzy artistic style might not have translated well into the style of the three 80s albums, which are three of my favorite Yes albums, had he stuck around. He didn't seem to have any desire to come near the clean hard hitting rock and roll style of the 1980s. Whether he could have done it or not, I don't know, but he didn't do it, and that's all I can really judge him on. He did record albums in the 80s for King Crimson and some side projects, but of a different style, and if we're talking about everyone purely based on their time with Yes, I can't count them anymore than I can give White credit for "Imagine" in the context of this discussion. Still, Bruford gets the second best Yes drummer to date nod from me.

          While I'll always be happy that I was able to attend Jay Schellen's first concert as a Yes touring drummer in 2016, which I gave excellent review to, a review I stand by, I think timing is going to be an issue that is going to forever leave him unable to be considered any more than, at most, Yes' 3rd best drummer. I don't just mean that he missed the periods of Yes' peak popularity, I'm very willing to count more recent albums and, when and if they come out, future albums, I mean that the first Yes studio album he appeared on in any capacity was The Quest, as addition percussion, that he likely won't be the only drummer on the follow-up album (Some rumors say that Alan White's parts, or at least some of them, were already recorded prior to his passing), and he is already in his 60s.

          So, even though I'm perfectly willing to give a guy credit for great drumming on Yes albums from any time period, whether they were popular albums or not, I think it's a tremendous handicap in a "best Yes drummer of all-time" thing to not start until you're 60+ years old. We don't know that he'll even be the sole drummer on an actual studio album- it would have to be the one after the next one if the rumors as to White's already recorded parts are to be believed.

          With that said, I do kind of wonder what we'd all think if Schellen had started with Yes when he was in his 20s and gotten at least Bill Bruford's run of six Yes album when he was in his prime. By the time he started with Yes, he probably already couldn't do when he started drumming professionally back in 1979. In a way, it's not fair, and so I would not go so far as to say that White and Bruford are definitely better drummers in general than Schellen, but rather simply that they rank ahead of them based on what they did with Yes, in part due to factors beyond their control. If Schellen had joined Yes in 1979, he might have wound up being the best Yes drummer of all-time, but he didn't, so we have no way of knowing for sure. We can only really judge history as it happened.
          "A lot of the heavier conversations I was having with Chris toward the end were about his desire for this thing to go forward. He kept reiterating that to me. [...] He kept telling me, 'No matter what happens, Yes needs to continue moving forward and make great music. So promise me that that's something you want to do.'. And I have to keep making music. It's just what I do. [...] I'm a fan of the band and I want to see it thrive and that means new music." -Billy Sherwood


            It's nice that they both liked and respected each other.


              As much as I admire and love Bill's creativity and talent within Yes, I have to give it to Alan... The power, stability, finesse, and unique way he played with Chris was much more together. Like an engine of fury. And over the years, I think Alan actually improved the parts on all the songs from CTTE, as well as Fragile, the Yes Album, and Astral Traveller. He was suited for Yes. Could I imagine Alan on 80's King Crimson? No way! That was suited for Bruford. Bill seemed restless in Yes, and at home with Crim. But would I want Alan on FOOW? No! Or Bruford on Relayer? No! It all worked out in the end
              Last edited by Somis Sound; 12-09-2022, 04:17 PM.


                The best drummer for Yes or the best drummer Yes had? I'm not sure I understand the intention of the poll. For the sake of argument I'll just assume they mean the best fit for Yes which imo was Alan.