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More on Yes keyboard players – 278

Yes logo by Roger Dean – of course!

Produced by Preston Frazier, David Gordon, Bill Govier, Wayne Hall and Michel Arsenault.

After a suggestion by Jeremy North, we look at live performances by Yes keyboard players including Kaye playing Wakeman and Wakeman playing Kaye. There’s a great video doing the rounds of four Yes keyboard players playing the same Close to the Edge solo and it was a lot of fun to look at that carefully. Mark also reviews the debut Flash record which features Tony Kaye soon after he left Yes for the first time and we enter the dangerous waters of what Yes and ARW need to do (if anything) to legitimise their claim to the name of ‘Yes’.

  • Who plays the best Close to the Edge solo?
  • How do Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye approach each other’s parts?
  • Which approaches work best?

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

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The 4 Yes keyboardists video:

Tony Kaye in Big Generator mode playing Rick Wakeman’s part

Dave Watkinson’s photos of items from Trading Boundaries:

Show notes and links

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Iain Hornal website

Alan White Q & A on

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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

10 replies on “More on Yes keyboard players – 278”

Absolutely agree with Mark about Flash. A great debut album. I recall buying this when it first came out – a rather racy album cover for the time (especially as I was only 16).

Rick Wakeman:
no more needs to be said – the guy wrote the part and he plays with flare.

Agreed – the guy is vastly underrated as a player and song writer. Another brilliant talent who unfortunately makes a living as many young talents do – filling in for aging and dead musicians.

Oliver Wakeman:
He can play the parts required of him, but he lacks any charisma. He acts like he is playing at a recital.

Dreadful. The guy is playing basic blues chords (all white keys! – what key is that portion of Close to the Edge played in???) to a time signature that is most definitely not blues. Lazy, slow, boring – I have nothing good to say about this guy’s playing.

Too bad you did not compare with performances by the two best keyboardists Yes ever had (Patrick and Igor).

Perpetual Change:
Interesting observation regarding Wakeman’s lack of piano on live recordings. That is surprising! The major thing that Wakeman provides for this song is the mellotron choir setting in place of the backing voices on the studio version.

Heart of the Sunrise:
“I was surprised that he (Kaye) could do those little lines perfectly” – MAK
Dude, if Kaye was playing anything there (and that is a big IF) it does not matter because you can’t hear him over Trevor. It is impossible to tell *what* he is playing! Wakeman played a lot more to that song than just that little line, that was replaced by Kaye with just basic chords and finger swipes. A better recording of Kaye on this song is from the YesYears box set recorded a few months after the Philidelphia show.

I think this was a very interesting show many keyboard players have come and go and I believe all have been unique in there own way. I have enjoyed all of them I like that you both have decided to call Yes and ARW I’m so sick of all the negative carp going on since the RRHOF put that damn thing to rest. Now lets get on with Yes music and I agree lets see what they put out there is it going to be more of the same?? meaning more Trevor Rabin style? or is this going to be a real progressive album I think once they release new music that should really put the divide in Yes and ARW.
Great Show gentleman

Kevin outdid himself in his descriptions of the keyboard player, just brilliant! I hate to say it, but Geoff simply can’t play Wakeman’s keyboards parts! You were trying to give him the benefit of the doubt by saying he replayed them in his own style. And that style works for Drama and for some other Yes songs, but not CTTE. I can’t imagine him playing anything from Relayer. But we know Tom “Sizzlin'” Brislin can!

I am not so sure ARW needs to put out an album to lay claim to being a version of Yes, but they do need to play a broader selection of Yes music in the live shows. Even from the Rabin era, they play a limited choice. If they could pull off Close to the Edge or Ritual, for example, that would give more veracity to using the Yes brand.

Still, I do hope they release an album. But can you imagine 2 albums out around the same time next year, one from Yes and one from Yes/ARW? It would be a radio airplay nightmare!

Thanks Brian. Very kind of you. Wouldn’t it be great to hear Tom back one day in a full band concert set up playing Yes songs again. I’d go…

It seems to me that every current version of Yes is something of a cover band of the previous iterations… especially when it comes to keyboard players.

I don’t think Geoff’s performance on the video was especially awful – nice keyboard wipe at the end, there. He has the hardest job in Yes – playing everyone else’s parts and trying to make the fans happy. Lighten up, you guys!

Thanks Joseph- nice to see some support for Geoff. I have really enjoyed the concerts I have heard him play recently and he is a great guy.

Good show guys. Very well discussed keyboard styles.

Briefly I do think both Yes’s need to produce new music. Original Yes arnt playing the music they have produced of late, they need to really be on it with new music.. and only do it from the heart and take time with it. Play as a band and well …the next one is so important for them.

Yes – ARW….are in a much better place to succeed with their first album I think. Everyone is going to compare them and quite rightly so.

I saw both versions over the last 6 months and loved it all.

Time I played Flash again…oh good review. Also did you notice the producer of the album…Martin B…of Deep Purple fame and Hipgnosis did the cover.


Thanks Dave. Well, let’s see what appears. Good point about Yes not playing recent music. They really should.

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