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Bill Bruford’s autobiography and those electronic drums – 243

Bill Bruford book
Bill Bruford book

I start to read the Bill Bruford Autobiography and we discuss a fun 2 pence as well as those hideous (or not) electronic drums. There’s also the announcement of a Patreon idea…

  • Do the electronic drums ruin Bruford’s 2nd time in Yes/ABWH?
  • What Yes merchandise would you like to see?
  • What is there to enjoy in Bruford’s book?

Listen to the episode then let us know what you think!

Show notes and links

Rick Wakeman reveals some ARW plans in a video about Korg keyboards

Alan White back in action:


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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

19 replies on “Bill Bruford’s autobiography and those electronic drums – 243”

Another great discussion…

I can’t really comment on Bill Buford’s book, having not read it (which I probably should, still fancying myself something of a drummer, after all). From everything I’ve heard here and there, it sounds fascinating. As for his disparagement of modern musical developments, I think that’s something that just comes with age (“Kids these days!”) and I would counter with anything Steven Wilson or Dream Theater (or any of their various offshoots) are producing, not to mention others such as Glass Hammer, etc. Independent prog rock is alive and well, and in better health these days than ever.

I think you two know my opinion of electronic “drums,” but it never hurts reiterating: EEEW! Bruford’s work on the three mid-eighties King Crimson albums – Discipline (still my favorite), Beat and Three Of A Perfect Pair – showed that that was exactly where his style of drumming was meant to be; and he was still mostly using “real” drums. (Those are the only King Crimson albums I own, actually). The only ABWH album I have ever owned is “Union” – I just never could bring myself to like what was on the first (only) ABWH album enough to buy it, and the drum sounds were a large part of that. Kevin, you are spot-on about that horrifying snare sound, it pretty much ruins “An Evening of Yes Music Plus” as well. On the Union tracks he was considerably more subdued (or buried, perhaps) and, while it certainly isn’t the best Yes album by a long shot, there are more songs on that album that I remember than on Magnification. “Angkor Wat,” “The More We Live Let Go,” and “Take The Water To The Mountain” all have a certain appeal for me, and “The More We Live…” could have been done by either YesWest or ABWH equally well. I remember being a bit dismayed when Neil Peart first started using electronics (Simmons again!) but he never let them overwhelm his playing and eventually used them mostly to sample various other myriad percussion pieces that, had he had every actual piece of hardware on stage with him, you wouldn’t have been able to see him behind (or WITHIN) his kit.

Wow – merchandise, what a concept! A quick look at the Yesworld store reveals a galaxy of T-shirts – baby and toddler sizes included, which is a terrific nod to the average age of your average Yes fan, I guess – a ball cap, loads of cell phone covers (something I don’t see offered from many other bands), a tote bag, a water bottle and a drinking glass with the “Yes” logo on it, which is the perfect thing to be drinking from when you are asked “would you like another?”

In comparison, at, in addition to the 38 different shirts available in just the men’s apparel department, you will find: women’s apparel (which, until just recently, included Rush THONG underwear!), a few kid’s sizes, ball caps, Cds, LPs, DVDs and BluRays, sheet music, guitars and amplifiers (yeah – REAL guitars and amplifiers!), tour books going back to forever ago, calendars, keychains, a lunch box, the Starman projector flashlight (!), shot glasses, USB power accessories, drink cozies, wristbands, drumsticks, shoelaces, flags, lanyards, earrings (my wife has a pair!), buttons, pins, patches, stickers, tattoos, belt buckles, dog tags, magnets, drumheads, framed photos and gold record sets, lithographs, BAR STOOLS!, a very expensive leather bomber jacket and: gift cards to use at the online store! I have never been able to figure out why they don’t sell some versions of Neil’s nifty little caps, though.

So, yeah, I think Yes could be doing a bit more in the merch department! And the perfect person to put in charge of it would be… Roger Dean of course! Right?

I’m very jealous of my (full set of discontinued) Roger Dean coffee cups, as you know, Kevin!

Enough of my ravings for now – it’s people like me who are making it necessary to migrate to a different server!

Greetings Joseph,

Wow..what a comment! It’s almost as epic as Tales from Topographic Oceans. Hahaha.
Of course we appreciate your input.
Your not the only one who dislikes the electronic drums and being a huge Rush fan ( I am Canadian) I also had my run in with the Simmons drums by 1984 when Rush first used them on Grace Under Pressure. But like Bruford..Peart also grew bored with the limited sounds and worked on sampling loads of different percussion via the Simmons pads.

Personally I like ABWH. grew on me…definitely better on vinyl in my opinion as it gives it a bit more warmth of sound. CD being a perfect digital reproduction can make that album sound a little harsh..especially those electronic drums.

I knew Rush had more merch then Yes but didn’t realize just how much more!! The thong is hilarious!

Oh and thank you for the great youtube link to those Going For The One sessions.

Thanks for your support and looking forward to next week.

Mark Anthony K

It’s so different when you actually can see how the sausage is made, right, Tim? …and speaking of sausage, there’s a moment in Part 1 at about 16:55-56-57 or so that just might suck ALL of the magic out of “Awaken” . . .

A Rush thong! I love it. Perhaps Yes should market tight underpants to aid those Jon Anderson high notes (works for Geddy Lee too)

I did wonder about a Steve Howe range of Veggie Foods (or perhaps even a collaboration with Linda McCartney, marketed with the tag line “You don’t have to be the best singer to enjoy Steve & Linda’s veggie bites”)

I’m enjoying your appraisal of the autobiography Kevin. So much more eloquently put than my ramblings a few month back. It makkes me want to read it again.

Hello Tim,

Good to hear from you again.

Haha..your Steve Howe veggie foods idea had me laughing so hard. But come to think of it…that’s not a bad idea…there are a lot more vegatarians around now then ever before.

Thanks again for your support.

Mark Anthony K

I remember reading an interview with Chris S back in the 70s where he explained why they went vegetarian. He said they were in a restaurant and the steak was just the worst piece of sh*t so they decided from then on not to eat meat.

Awesome show as always gentle men
I really enjoyed the Going for the one clips of course make me feel old but in the same note those guys are still going strong.Chris looked like he really enjoyed making this record still can’t believe that giant is gone.
Okay so I have not read the book on Bill however was never a fan of those electronic drums Ever!
but I guess that is what he wanted to use and really I don’t think anyone was going to question Bill’s choice.
Such a talented drummer I never understood why he would use those things.
Merchandise, now I could not agree more with having more I’m thinking guitar picks with the Yes logo on them Drum sticks with the logo,Sunglasses I think they need more of a set of drinking glasses.
I think any video from the studio recordings or trips that the band took together while recording or just anything rare I believe there would be a market for those things.
For sure have Mr. Roger Dean in charge of that stuff for sure!

Can’t wait till next week



Greetings Paul Tomei,

How are you my friend?
Good to see you commenting again.
Yes the electronic drums were something that made many people scratch their heads. But after hearing him talk about them back in the day on various interviews and even music shows. .it seems like he was genuinely interested in the technology end of it. Of course that came to bite him in the butt later..(that part of the book I look forward to talking about).

Some great merch ideas and I’m all for the studio videos and touring documentaries. ..they’ve done very little of that over the years.

Thanks again for your support and look forward to next week’s comments.

Mark Anthony K

If only I’d known about Alan White appearing at Newcastle Days! Newcastle is just across the lake from my home in Seattle. Great performance of Roundabout (dare I say…more energetic than the Yes performance that I saw a couple of years ago.)

Greetings Paul Menard,

Yes it was great to see video evidence of Alan back in action . To be honest I don’t think anyone posted any news about Alan performing at that event until after it was done.

Thank you for your support.

Mark Anthony K

The “B” symbol on Bill Bruford’s shirt is a Boston Bruins (hockey) symbol. I can understand Kevin not knowing that but Mark, dude! C’mon! I don’t follow hockey but you’re Canadian! You should know that! 🙂

Hey Bob,

Who said I didn’t know? I’m Canadian. ..we rule hockey. ..we invented it. So yeah I know it’s the Boston Bruins…they are also an original 6 hockey team. But being a Toronto Maple Leaf fan…we don’t speak of the enemy. Lol!!!

Mark Anthony K

Actually Mark the Montreal Canadians rule hockey well at least as far as the most Stanley cups and I know you know that but I could not resist since I was born and raised a Red Wing fan…I wish there was still only 6 teams that was the best hockey ever!

Enjoyed the discussion about Bill Bruford, one of the greatest prog drummers ever. I was lucky enough to see him in concert with King Crimson during their “double trio” configuration; late 90s, I think. Bill and Paul Mastenatto (sp?) on drums, Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew on guitars, and Tony Levin and Trey Gunn on basses. Tony played bass and Chapman stick; Trey played a thing call a Warr Guitar.

Anyway, you guys didn’t mention it, but have you heard the B.L.U.E. album by Tony Levin and Bill Bruford? Also call Upper Extremities, 1998. The first cut does something really amazing and turns the guitar/bass/drums relationship on it’s head. The guitar and bass hold down the steady beat and the drums play all around it in every time signature imaginable. A must-hear if you haven’t heard it. There is also a live album that followed in 2000.

all the best,

Having peen prompted by your chat about AWBH & Union, I listened to both of the albums. Apart from the stronger pieces, Angkor Wat etc on Union which I assume to be Yes West as you call them, I found it to be a tiring session. AWBH in particular is a weak album. Bill’s drum sound was the least of the problems.

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