Mood for a Day

Back before the new year started, I mentioned that the Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Guitarists has some problems. For example, the 2018 review of that list has Eddie Van Halen ahead of Stevie Ray Vaughn. (Van Halen definitely sold more records, but I’m not sure that means he’s better at playing the guitar.)

Today we look at another one of those problems. An error of omission.

Steve Howe was the guitar player for the Progressive Rock band Yes, during their recording of The Yes Album and Fragile and Close to the Edge. He had a solo career, and he reunited with some of the guys from Yes in the 1990s for a separate project. He is not included in the list from Rolling Stone. He wasn’t included in 2018’s revamp of the list. Here’s a sample of his playing, so you can see for yourself if you agree. Even if this is an acoustic song, you could chose just about any song off that album and there would be a bit of guitar to catch your attention somewhere.

This song is “Mood for a Day” by Yes from the 1971 album Fragile. Actually it is all Steve Howe.

I mean, consider that Rick Wakeman was the keyboard player for Yes during the time Howe was the guitar player, and you can begin to see how his absence from that list makes people scream. (I mean, do you think Rick Wakeman would have been working with a putz?)

Heart of the Sunrise

Yes is definitely one of my favorite Progressive Rock bands from back in the day. I think it has to do with all the piano lessons my mother made me take; it gave me an appreciation for Rick Wakeman’s keyboard work. Keyboard work generally wasn’t something highlighted on the Top 40 stations. (Though Yes did get a fair amount of airtime even there.)

This song is “Heart of the Sunrise” by Yes from their 1972 album Fragile. 6/8 and 3/4 time, and eventually a section if 4/4. I loved Progressive Rock.

Rick Wakeman

In the final chapter of my favorite rock and roll keyboard artists, we have my favorite: Rick Wakeman of Yes.

My favorite piece of music by Wakeman is the album Journey to the Center of the Earth, but that is a bit obscure, not to mention very long. If you have some time, look it up. You can find it on YouTube, and probably other places. (Look for the original recording, and block out 45 minutes.)

This is “Roundabout” from Fragile, an album released in 1971.

My favorite Yes song, is probably “I’ve Seen All Good People” from The Yes Album, also from 1971, but this song is a better example of Wakeman’s keyboards.

After the break we have just straight piano by Rick Wakeman. A piece called “Space Oddity.” I think you’ll like it; it’s a tribute to Bowie.
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Don’t Surround Yourself with Yourself

You might think it is impossible to write a song about a chess game. You would be wrong.

Here we have “I’ve Seen All Good People” by Yes from the 1971 Yes Album, which is divided into “Your Move” (about chess) and “I’ve Seen All Good People”.

A few weeks back we had “FM” by Steely Dan, and “I’ve Seen All Good People” was probably one of the songs you would have heard on an FM station. Though it did reach #40 in the US so you may have heard it on AM radio. (In all its scratchy/static-laden misery.)