The Red Planet by Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble – 441

The Red Planet interior of the CD package
Starship Trooper?

Produced by Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier and Bill Govier

It’s a fantastic time for current and former members of Yes. Here’s another example – the new prog album by Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet. We spoke to Lee Pomeroy recently who plays bass on the record and this week we are listening to the music. If you’ve heard the album, do let us know what you think in the comments below.

  • In what way is this album progressive rock?
  • How does this music compare with Rick’s older material?
  • Is it an enjoyable album?

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

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Show notes and links:

Rick’s website page abut the album:

Link to Steve Howe Official store pre-orders:

Link to Amazon pre-orders:

YMP Patrons:


  • Jeffrey Crecelius
  • Preston Frazier
  • Bill Govier and
  • Wayne Hall


Aaron Steelman

Dave Owen

Mark James Lang

Paul Tomei

Joost Maglev

David Heyden

Martin Kjellberg

Paul Wilson

Bob Martilotta


Michael O’Connor

William Hayes
Brian Sullivan

David Pannell

Miguel Falcão

Lobate Scarp

Chris Bandini

David Watkinson

Neal Kaforey

Rachel Hadaway

Craig Estenes


Paul Hailes

Mark ‘Zarkol’ Baggs

Doug Curran

Robert Nasir

Fergus Cubbage

Scott Colombo

Fred Barringer

Scott Smith
Geoff Bailie

Simon Barrow
Geoffrey Mason

Stephen Lambe

Guy R DeRome

Steve Dill

Henrik Antonsson

Steve Perry

Hogne Bø Pettersen

Steve Rode


Steve Scott

Jamie McQuinn

Steven Roehr

Ken Fuller

Terence Sadler

Michael Handerhan

Tim Stannard


Todd Dudley

John Cowan

Tony Handley

John Holden

Joseph Cottrell

John Parry

Keith Hoisington

John Thomson

Barry Gorsky

Robert and David

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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

6 replies on “The Red Planet by Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble – 441”

The ‘Live Aid’ FAQ ( confirms that Yes, who were in the US at the time, wanted to play, but that Bill Graham (the promoter/impresario who brought together the US show) declined because “there was no free place on the bill for them” by the time the offer came in. That was also true for Foreigner. Yes were not considered in relation to the Wembley concert, organised by Harvey Goldsmith – who had promoted the band in the past (the 1977 tour, for example) and who would certainly have been familiar with them. Had Yes played ‘Live Aid’ at the JFK Stadium in Philly, it would of course have been a return to one of their past scenes of triumph – the 12th June 1976 concert where they played in front of up to 105,000 (some wrongly claim up to 130,000) on a bill shared by Peter Frampton, the Mummers, the Pousette-Dart Band, and Gary Wright.

I was going to quote the same source as Simon for information on the the Live Aid line up, but he beat me to it. I watched the whole thing and taped it all. I still have the VHS tapes, which has everything that was broadcast, including that famously ropey Led Zeppelin performance that the band have since disowned.
Yes wouldn’t have been considered for a second for London, where the emphasis was to appeal to a young, singles-buying crowd to fill the stadium. 90125 and Owner itself had, after all, both been relatively modest successes in the UK. Not to mention Geldof’s hatred of Prog, of course.
It was much more likely they’d have played in Philadelphia. Their offer to play must have come in late – either that or the reason given for not booking them just an excuse to brush them off. With only a week to go, the show in the USA still didn’t have enough confirmed acts and there was both an outcry and the threat of possible boycotts concerning the lack of black acts appearing, considering how dominant black artists had been on the We Are The World single. I guess Yes can consider themselves unlucky in the circumstances, but I doubt their appearance would have changed lives in the same way that Queen’s did.
As to what they might have played – then certainly Owner and something else from 90125. I’m certain they would also have played Roundabout considering it was a big hit single in the USA, something we often forget in the UK!

The “what if” discussion about Yes at Live Aid is fascinating. I noticed at the time that none of my big three – Yes, Genesis, or Pink Floyd – were on the bill, although of course Phil Collins performed solo and with others, and David Gilmour joined Bryan Ferry.
What these bands had in common at the time was the their greatness, their substance, if you like, didn’t overlap with their immediate celebrity. So although many people might recognise their album covers, they hadn’t been staples on Top of the Pops, American Bandstand, or their equivalents around the globe.
I think the key to unlock decisions about Live Aid is the byline “the global jukebox”. It was about singles. The real audience wasn’t the thousands of gig-goers at Wembley and JFK, but the millions of viewers around the world, calling in and pledging. Albums bands really weren’t what was needed to get them to pick up the phone, although I’ll concede that the USA music radio landscape meant that Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven was the song of the day for many present and watching.
For Yes, the problem of dissonance between the seventies legend and the eighties success might have posed a problem. They had two competing identities – the guys behind “Owner of a Lonely Heart” that you heard in the car, or the gym – and Rick Wakeman’s old band with the concept albums your older brother used to roll spliffs on.
To see what they might have played in a short set, I think that what they did play a couple of years later at the Atlantic Records fortieth birthday concert is instructive.
Live Aid sets were typically 20 minutes, so I think “Owner”, “All Good People” and the shorter version of “Roundabout” would have done it.
Here’s a further hypothetical scenario: if they’d done the same thing as Queen, taken the jukebox metaphor to heart and played a 20-minute medley (notwithstanding Chris Squire’s distaste for segued fragments), what would it have been like? Maybe look a Circa’s “Chronological Journey” for a feel of what it could have been like.
And then, in the world of utter fantasy, wouldn’t it have been great if alumni could have joined for the relevant parts as well?

As I said weeks ago, I think The Red Planet is Rick’s best prog album in decades, my favorite since Criminal Record in ’77.

As of Live Aid, I wanted very much to attend in Philly but couldn’t get out of work that day, so friends who went got me a program, which I still have. Chris told me he was disappointed that Yes weren’t there, he thought there was time to be added to the bill.

The ‘red planet’ is excellent as you both said. Being into the planets I did find it amusing Kevin kept calling the song titles volcanoes, when ‘Mons’ is a give away that they are indeed mountains. Ok a lot of mountains are volcanoes but would you call it Volcano Mauna Kea? Out of (boring Interest) Olympus Mons is the largest mountain in our solar system (2.5 times taller than Everest).
I was living in NZ at the time of Live Aid so had to watch through the middle of the night to see Bowie/Queen/Led Zep/The Who/U2/etc… YES I think would have been great as it was their height – but the USA acts seem to have a weaker sound so maybe it was just as well…..they didn’t even play Live 8 (although I think 2005 there was no YES so not a chance)

The Live Aid thing is probably Mark’s daftest ever question. Look at the acts who were involved. They were massive acts who made it in the charts, not albums but singles successes. Most of them were has beens looking to kick start their flagging careers like Queen , or were just looking to promote themselves. Yes would never have been considered. I bet Geldof didn’t even know who they were. He was just a peripheral momentary blip on the musical pantheon. Not even British so why would he invite a passed its best English prog rock group who’d decamped to the USA to his pop show? Even us Yes fans didn’t even know they were still a thing in 1985. 90125 was a bolt from the blue then they disappeared

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