Why did Yes want Geoff Downes…again? Part 1 – 616

Produced by Joseph Cottrell, Jeffrey Crecelius and Ken Fuller

This week, Mark and I talked about the situation in Yes at the time Geoff Downes rejoined for Fly From Here – around 2010-11. It’s a contentious time – but then again when isn’t with Yes? Oliver Wakeman had to make way for the return of Downes who had worked very closely with Steve Howe in Asia for many years and, when Trevor Horn was brought in to produce the new album, perhaps the writing was on the wall for a Downes redux.

All was not well between certain other members of the band either…

  • Why did Geoff return (trip)?
  • Whose idea was it?
  • Why was Oliver Wakeman ‘let go’?

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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:

5 replies on “Why did Yes want Geoff Downes…again? Part 1 – 616”

Without going into detail, I’ll just say that I agree with Mark’s comments regarding the switch from Oliver to Geoff, about how great From a Page is, and how nicely Oliver has spoken about the whole affair. He’s taken the high road publicly ever since, a tribute to the man he is. I’ve talked to Rick in person regarding this & he’s still not happy at how it was handled.
Regarding the John Wetton album, I got it on its release & I love it. I know some were disappointed, but that’s due to their expectations that with the guests included that it would be a great prog album. Instead, it’s John and his personal views on various topics in the world, which was his forte. John told me it was one of his favorite solo albums, which he was very proud of. Likewise, Billy told me that it was a wonderful experience for him and that he treasures it. The bonus is that you have Fripp, Hackett, Morse, Jobson, Downes, Machacek, Box, Kaye & Sherwood playing. By the way, Machacek I saw play with UK, and also with Jobson’s UZ Project, and with Planet X. He’s an amazing guitarist and seems like a nice guy when we talked after those gigs.

I was planning to say something akin to Doug Curran’s comment, but he beat me to it and said it much more eloquently than I could have! I am in complete agreement with Mark…I do like Fly From Here, but I think the tracks on From a Page are superior. It’s a shame that Oliver didn’t get a fair shake! And don’t get me started on Fly From Here: Return Trip…

I’m surprised at the ragging on “Life on a Film Set”–a song I consider easily the highlight of the Fly From Here album. There have been very few songs released in the 21st century that made me sit up and take notice upon my first listen, but this was definitely one (the most recent was “Long Tailed Winter Bird” from McCartney’s last album). While the beginning quiet part is nothing spectacular, the jump cut to the fast blending of Howe’s guitar, Downes’ synths, and David’s vocal is absolutely beautiful. I too enjoy From a Page, but “Life on a Film Set” is the last song I would sacrifice to make room for it.

Fortunately we can enjoy both now, so there’s no need to complain (unless you’re Oliver Wakeman).

I agree with Mark as usual when it comes to musicians and technical stuff. While I really like Drama, I consider Geoff Downes to be the least Yes music type of keyboard players they’ve ever had in the group. I think of the Colston Hall (thankfully they’ve changed its name since then) DVD where he looks like a rabbit in the headlights. That’s perhaps his natural state. He always comes across in interviews as being pretty dull and uninvolved which also, to me is apparent in his playing. There’s no passion unlike the others. Those quotes you read from Steve seem to sum him up. He seems to be someone who is just hard to please and doesn’t know ho to have fun. Chris was always the heart and soul of the band which is probably why I don’t share your love of the band since he left this realm.

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