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Produced by Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier and Bill Govier
I’d like to say Mark and I have been enjoying listening to the new Yes live album, The Royal Affair Tour: Live From Las Vegas this week and actually I have enjoyed the majority of it but you’ll hear a little later in the episode why we’re slightly concerned about the latest release. You may find our comments difficult or you may agree – please do let us know either way.
At the end of the episode Mark also helps me out to gain a proper understanding of the significance of Eddie van Halen who, as I’m sure you know, sadly died at the tragically young age of 65 this week. Do stay tuned for that.
- Do we need another Yes live album?
- What’s different about this one?
- Is it worth buying?
Listen to the episode and let us know what you think!
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Show notes and links:
Order the new live album – https://yesband.lnk.to/RoyalAffairWE
Henry Potts’ essential site – http://www.bondegezou.co.uk/wnyesm.htm
- Jeffrey Crecelius
- Preston Frazier
- Bill Govier and
- Wayne Hall
|Mark James Lang|
|Mark ‘Zarkol’ Baggs|
|Guy R DeRome|
|Hogne Bø Pettersen|
Robert and David
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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 archive.org
5 replies on “First thoughts on The Royal Affair Tour: Live From Las Vegas – 452”
Happy Friday. Re the Royal Affair album, I have no problem with getting it, as I collect all Yes live albums. And, since I saw the tour in my hometown of Columbus in July ’19, I am happy with hearing “Imagine,” which to me & my friends there was one of the highlights of the set.
As for Yes’ new contract, I believe this is record 1 of 3. The next should be the early BBC & concert recordings, and #3 the studio album, expected next summer. Then we also have the CTTE 50th anniversary set, which should be out by Sept ’22.
I’ve said it before online & elsewhere: if Steve ever leaves Yes or passes away while a member, the perfect guy to take Steve’s place is Jimmy Haun. Jimmy been been in Circa:, YOSO, the Chris Squire Experiment, Lodgic, and is all over the “Union” album. So Jimmy knows Yes music, can play Steve’s parts, as I saw on the Circa tour, and is friends with the band members. He can easily slot into the lineup.
Re Eddie Van Halen, as I posted on my Facebook page, I met VH when I was backstage interviewing Journey in March ’78 in Columbus. VH opened for Journey, and Ronnie Montrose & his band- not Montrose, but a solo band touring his 1st solo album, including drummer Steve Smith-who Journey poached after the tour!). It was VH’s 1st national tour, promoting their debut album, and Journey’s 1st tour with new singer Steve Perry. A tremendous triple bill. Eddie was a very friendly, sweet, humble man, somewhat quiet. I had already seen Genesis live for several years by then, so asked Eddie where he got the idea for two handed tapping. He said he saw Steve Hackett do it when he saw Genesis in concert in ’75 in LA, so Eddie added it to “Eruption,” as his early concert versions of it didn’t have tapping until seeing Genesis. Eddie was a revolutionary guitarist, who’s influence is huge among most guitarists since ’78.
The rock music of the 70s is in the same place that jazz of the 50s and early 60s reached towards the end of the 90s – musicians are reaching retirement age and yet there is still an appetite to hear the music of the greats of the genre played to the highest possible standard by individuals specifically committed to the composers in question.
Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and Sun Ra to name but three all saw their legacies continued by specialist groups and orchestras, often featuring some of the musicians who were participants in the original recordings. Could be that Progressive Rock is in the same place in this decade.
This music is equally hard to play, requiring the same extraordinary feats of technique & memory and demanding the kind of performance stamina that is mainly the reserve of much younger players. The Zappa Plays Zappa project is a very good example as to how this plays out in Progressive Music. Is this where we are with Yes?
The paucity of new Yes music is certainly mysterious given some of the excellent extra curricular work Howe and Downes have been turning in of late. Then again the other members, with all due respect, have never produced anything in their own careers that comes close to matching the main sequence of Yes recordings. Excellent players who have at times come up with some decent music but nothing I would think of as essential listening or even close to the pantheon that the Yes main sequence occupies.
So maybe compositionally there isn’t a lot to draw on from this line up and neither Howe or Downes have the kind of foil in the band that they have had in previous contexts?
If that is the case and Yes music is well and truly museum music then it should be being played by the musicians best qualified at delivering the 70s recordings on stage. Age, race, gender, nationality, previous employ should all be irrelevant. Surround JD with the musicians who can deliver the main sequence music with the fire, flair and daring of Yessongs and Relayer while the band’s shareholders stay at home and collect their % with perhaps the occasional guest appearance dotted along the touring calendar.
What we need in rock culture is a transition from the Tribute Band concept to the Legacy Band concept. I’d pay very good money to hear the Yes equivalent of Mingus Dynasty or the Sun Ra Arkestra and would approach those shows with a lot more enthusiasm than I am currently feeling for the 2021 tour.
Thanks for a polemical and provocative edition of the podcast. I’m always glad when you solicit or express views that diverge from any party line that might be otherwise assumed. However, I don’t always share those ideas!
I’m very pleased with the new live album, once I get past the packaging and branding. The “Royal Affair” name for the tour was at best obscure, and at worst, a grandiose attempt to sell the idea of the acts’ endurance. It makes no sense when applied to an artefact of one of the acts only. A Royal Affair live album could have cherry picked the best from all the artists on the night. And speaking of grandiosity, the gold-plated lion cresting the Yes logo is the epitome of nouveau-riche bad taste, on a level with personalised number plates. At least it distracts from yet another forgettable cookie cutter Roger Dean piece.
Once inside, I love the album. It flows well, the less common tracks spicing up the perennials. “Tempus Fugit” stands out as the best version I’ve heard, and showcases Jay Schellen and Billy Sherwood. My own sacrilege is to insist that they bring a life to the band that Alan White and Chris Squire could not this century. Even if this were a repeat of the repertoire from many of the live albums of the last few years, it would be worth it for the way the band’s rhythm section has reinvigorated these songs.
“Imagine” is dire, though. My opinion of the song itself varies wildly. When Steve Hogarth is singing it at the piano ten feet from me, in the Cavern club of my home city, it’s timeless, perfect and moving. Here, with lumpen performance and superfluous guitar additions, it’s mawkish, hollow and ungrammatical.
But – and this is the big but – I still want to be able to own it. I really don’t share your idea that live albums should be rationed. This tour took place. These songs were played. I want to hear them. I’d be just as happy to hear them as a download-only release, with no artwork, but I really want to hear what the band has been doing, whether it’s familiar or radical, joyous or toe-curling. It’s all Yes. It’s all interesting.
I’d love to have heard “The Gates of Delirium” as well, because I have no doubt that Schellen and Sherwood would have made it very very special indeed. But I fully understand that that the powder of the next Album Series release needs to be kept dry. And if for whatever reason the Relayer 2020/21/22 tour doesn’t happen, then I’m sure that a bonus edition of “Royal Affair” could see the light of day. And I’d buy it, just as I bought “Live At Lyons” again for “From a Page”.
I do share your enthusiasm for the Davison/Sherwood/Schellen project, and your dreams about Yes continuing to regenerate into the coming decades. However, I believe that Steve Howe will continue to tour with Yes for as long as he possibly can, because were he to step aside while Jon Anderson maintains an appetite for performing then I could see Yes’ ontological crisis rearing up again. Jon is a shrewd opportunist and would adopt the name Yes for a live project if he could, to the ongoing detriment of Yes Official.
Opportunity needed, experience necessary, you might say.
Great and thought-provoking episode. I ordered the album because (1) there are a couple of songs that don’t appear anywhere else or that appear only rarely — No Opportunity, Imagine, and America, and (2) the album is cheap compared to the tickets I was not able to purchase for the tour that never happened, and I don’t mind putting a little bit of money in their pockets. I also don’t mind that Imagine is not a Yes song. After all, neither is the original version of America. Of course, it it’s not done well, or is just a faithful rendition (unlike America!), then that is unfortunate.
I would have preferred a package that was the entire concert by all the bands, with DVD. But that would have been huge, expensive, and probably difficult to do with lawyers and managers arguing forever (and I say that as a lawyer!).
Delighted to hear, though, that the plan for the Relayer tour is to include a DVD. They should have done that for YES 50 — I’m sure there is a reason why they fumbled that, but no matter what the reason, it’s too bad.
On the new album and composition of the band. Geoff and Billy and Steve write so much music for their other projects, that you’d think they could come up with something together. Maybe what they lack is a coordinator. Jon D might dream up lyrics, but he probably can’t make them all focus on a group project the way Jon A did. I worry that they just don’t have a Yes project in them. Citizen 3 and DBA 4 and multiple Steve Howe solo/trio albums seem just as or even more likely.
As an aside, I think it would great if Jon A were a guest on the project, maybe singing together with Jon D on a song or two. I’m sure it would never happen, but I’ve love to hear them sing together on disc or (even better) on stage.
Finally, on the issue of who could replace Steve, I still like the idea of Bumblefoot, especially after hearing his Prog Report interview (someone else mentioned that interview a few weeks ago). He clearly loves and gets the music, is grotesquely talented, and can sing. My only real question for him or any other possible replacement is whether the compositional talent is also there — assuming they want to keep making new music and not just do the occasional legacy tour (which, like Ian, I’m sure I would attend).
I think your review of The Royal Affair was very good.
When I first became an obsessive Yes fan in 1981 I would buy bootleg cassettes, vinyl and later CDs of concerts and studio outtakes. I wanted to have a live recording of every tour. In recent years Yes have essentially released a memento of every tour I have attended and that is good. I think the problem with The Royal Affair release is it is not a memento of the concert folks like Mark Antony K saw.
Ideally this should have been a box set with discard of Yes , Asia, John Lodge and Carl Palmer. I am a fan of all these artists and would pay a good deal for a box set of these artists as a memento of a concert I never saw.
However I am a fan who collects as much Yes related stuff as I can but apart from the excellent Roger Dean cover this release is not that exciting to me.