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We’ve (finally) reached the end of the Yes singles series with Heaven and Earth which didn’t really have any proper singles at all. However, it does give us a chance to think about Yes’ latest studio album again and we also have a bass focus in our 2 pence segment.
- What’s is it with Heaven and Earth?
- Were there any singles?
- Why was RTB used again?
Listen to the episode then let us know what you think!
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17 replies on “Yes singles part 20 – Heaven and Earth – 343”
Hello Kevin and Mark!
One of the most well known songs by Chris on fretless is – The Remembering, in which he would have his guild bass in a stand, when playing live. This could mean that he would alternate parts with the Rickenbacker during the live shows. However, in studio it was reportedly played all in the fretless.
Here is my cover on fretless.
Close to The Edge is almost all fretless – from the start of “Total Mass Retain” to the beginning of the “On the hill we viewed the silence of the valley” , when it switches to the Rickenbacker. Of Course live it was played entirely with the RM1999
The Battle Scene of Gates Of Delirium has fretless bass tracks from the 19/16 section
Awaken was played on fretless (as you mentioned)
Time is Time is fretless too (reportedly a Warwick)
Dreamtime has some fretless slides overdubbed.
That’s all I remember for now!
Kevin, you must look for Jaco Pastorius and his solo work and with other artists such as Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny or the band Weather Report… for me he is like the Chris Squire of the fretless bass in a more jazzy-fusion context, and I say this with the highest respect for Jaco, as he is a legend himself.
Thank you Kevin and Mark for your mentions and kind words about #playforChris4 and my channel
Thank you Miguel for your input here. I saw Weather Report in the late 70s with Jaco. He was a genius. I remember he did a solo section which must have been at least 10 or 15 mins where he set up a rhythm and riffed over the top using delay units when they must have been in their infancy. It was spellbinding. As you say, his work with Joni Mitchell is fabulous.
I’m so pleased to hear of Chris’s work in this context. I never realised that he used fretless until now. I thought it was just a pedal effect he used to get the sound even though I was at the GFTO gig and two rows away from him.
When I think of 80s fretless I too think of Paul Young’s band. Superb!!
By the way, I wish Kevin would have you on his show more regularly. It’s good when Mark geeks out about guitars but we need a proper bass player to give us the low down (haha) about our favourite instrument
Awaken being partially played on the fretless, of course. The other basses were the RM1999 and the 4008 prototype (8-string), which Chris later “condensed” in the Wal triple-neck.
Great episode. The contributors for Playing for Chris were all great to hear.
Regarding HEavan and Earth, agreed that it was not quite adventurous and thus “Yes” enough, but if we deleted “it was all we knew”, shortened “Believe again” and used better takes on the Subway Walls solo section for Geoff and Steve the album would rise a notch for me.
I read somewhere that Chris used a fretless Guild bass on much of “The Ancient.”
I tried one out at a music store once and was surprised by how it didn’t seem all that different from a fretted instrument. However, if one has to sing and play at the same time (as I did) it’s a much different story.
The Guild fretless bass was used on “The Remembering”.
On “The Ancient” the main bass is Chris’ Fender Jazz Bass (of Parallels, To Be Over etc…) and an acoustic bass for “Leaves of Green” (I think the brand is Earthwood), both fretted.
Wow, didn’t know that Chris ever played a Fender. Thanks!
Well, I guess I must be the outlier and exception to the rule: on MY list of Yes albums from best to least best, the one that invariably ends up on the bottom is what I refer to as “Cover Your Ears.”
Kevin, being a tad (or two) younger than me, I suspect your association between the fretless electric bass and 1980’s pop is firmly rooted in several songs from Paul Young’s 1983 album “No Parlez” which seemed to be played endlessly at the time. “Come Back and Stay”, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (Joy Division cover), “Wherever I Lay My Hat” were all singles which featured prominently the fretless bass guitar of Pino Palladino.
As if that wasn’t enough 1986’s Graceland by Paul Simon featured prominent fretless basswork incorporating “slapping” by Bakithi Kumalo (yes, I had to look him up). Who can forget the bass run which is then reversed upon itself (by reversing the tape) in “Call Me Al”?
Another fretless bass player you may have come across at the time was John Giblin who played with Brand X for a while and also appeared on Jon Anderson’s “Song of Seven”. See, I knew i’d get back to Yes eventually!
Electric fretless bass was as ubiquitous in the 80’s as the mullet.
Had you been a little older, you almost certainly would have associated the instrument with Jaco Pastorius as Miguel mentions above. It took me many years before I realised the main theme for Weather report’s “Birdland” is played by Jaco on fretless bass – using harmonics in part (I think. No doubt, Miguel can confirm). Legend has it that Jaco “invented” the fretless electric by removing the frets from a standard electric bass.
Rather like Cliff above, my only attempt at playing fretless bass I found surprisingly easy (at a very rudimentary level). I put this down to the slow attack afforded by “fat” strings and no frets which allows time for a slightly misplaced finger to be eased into the position for perfect pitch before the note is fully resonating. Fine in a solo studio (or bedroom, in my case) setting: on a stage with others playing, I suspect this might be very different.
Ah yes, Pino Palladino! He was 15 of my favorite bass players in the 80’s.
I confirm – Jaco’s “Birldland” intro uses harmonics. Actually, the technique here is known as “false harmonics”, not using “regular” open-string harmonics, but pressed notes in the left hand while the right hand uses the thumb to set the string length division point (thus the harmonic location) and another finger to pluck the string – This allows any note to be played as an harmonic.
Interestingly enough, when Chris demonstrated his picking technique in the Starlicks video, he explained how he would hit the string with his thumb “a millisecond later” than hitting it with the pick, noting that he would get harmonics occasionally.
I can conclude that these are also a form of false harmonics, as when they happen, Chris does not hit the string with his thumb shortly after the pick, but rather hits the pick, while his thumb rests in the string, thus providing the harmonic string division for the string to be plucked by the pick.
Although Chris confessed that this technique was developed almost by accident, he later used intentionally this technique, as the “accidental” harmonics are heard in specific sections of Yes songs, studio and live, notably on the quieter instrumental passage after “River running right on over my head”, (G major to B minor) in Siberian Khatru.
P.S.: Thank you, Fred – for the kind words about Play For Chris 4!
One other Chris-Jaco connection is that they both preferred Rotosound strings.
Now, if Rotosounds are famous for eating up your frets, imagine what they would do to a fretless fingerboard. Jaco then covered the fingerboard with epoxy (hard compound used for fishing boats) to protect the wood (I did the same with mine).
Of course Jaco did not invent the fretless bass but he must have inspired bass players to rip the frets off the the fingerboard more than anyone else – and yes I did the same!
Here’s a good starting article about the origins of the fretless bass.
Here are some of my favourite fretless bass tracks
Derek Forbes (Simple Minds) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7918YtVdsk
Pino Palladino (Paul Young) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfk6sCzRTbM
Jaco solo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okROFGn1cdA
For Kevin, especially – here’s John Deacon playing 39 live on fretless (in the studio he played a doublebass) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD36Yd4xM_g
Miguel, did Chris use Rotosound Swing Bass? I also wonder about something I read back in the 70s that Chris was involved in a new string which was like a piano string where the core only has contact with the bridge. Init was called the Superwound. It’s now called the PSD 99. Do you know anything about it?
Thanks for that wealth of info Miguel. I’m so glad I prefaced my comment about Jaco inventing the fret less electric with “legend has its as I suspected it was urban mythology.
And with all there references to Chris’s work with a fretless, we must be approaching the point where examples of him playing the fretted instrument are in the minority!
Thanks for the single series. Just as welcome as the coverage of the single releases, their choice and presentation, has been the scene-setting each week. It’s all meant I’ve had an attentive revisit to many periods of the band, and prised out some seldom-played tracks to rediscover.
The singles analysis was fascinating at the very beginning when Yes was pushing for airplay and singles had a dominance over albums. It’s more of a academic curio during the mid-seventies period when there were no tracks short enough to be used as uncondensed singles, but my interest rose again as you reached the later times when early single releases were a rabidly-consumed preview of forthcoming albums. I remember listening to the electronic single of “Open Your Eyes” before “Keys To Ascension II” had even come out and looking forward to two albums at once.
You’re spot on about the respective strengths and weaknesses of “Believe Again”. The day it popped into my iTunes collection a few weeks ahead of “Heaven and Earth” I remember thinking “This sounds like the theme music for ‘Howard’s Way'” and “Why has Geoff decided to emulate Rick Wakeman now after all this time?” I’d still love to hear it played live, as we in the UK have not yet heard Jon D perform one of his own Yesssongs.
Thanks for being honest about your feelings about “Heaven and Earth”. YMP is so much more valuable for not being a promotional mouthpiece, but instead an outlet with integrity!
Some very interesting comments about the fret less bass. In 1981 I got into Yes although I had been aware of them for a few years…at Christmas my brother and I got guitars for presents…I got a 4001 bass copy and I cannot remember what my brother got. For the next few years I was a bass nut and played in a number of bands…however I was no Chris Squire by any means.I did play fretless sometimes.I was surprised to hear that Chris played so much fretless work, however it really should not be as of course he was a true master of the bass guitar instrument. I am glad to read folks praising Jaco Pastorius …that man was a genius and if you are not aware of him you should really check him out….I particularly like his work with Joni Mitchell, but the Weather Report and solo albums are equally excellent.