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June 2002









The albums Yes recorded back during the mid to late ‘90s are reexamined here on a pair of recent U.K. CD compilations. Keystudio compiles almost 80 minutes of studio tracks originally featured on both Keys To Ascension double albums released in ‘96. The Yes Keys lineup featured strong work from Rick Wakeman, who left the band again after the release of Keys 1 & 2. Essentially the ‘70s Yes lineup—with Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman—the music compiled now on Keystudio was an attempt to rekindle the prog-rock spirit of Yes following more accessible Yes records like Big Generator and Talk. From the standpoint of some Yes fans, the Yes albums that followed in the wake of Wakeman’s departure (again) were more interesting and melodic. Released as a double CD on the U.K.-based Snapper / Recall label, Yes-Today compiles Yes tracks originally found on the late ‘90s Yes classics Open Your Eyes and The Ladder. The double disc Yes-Today rounds things out with a few live tracks from the Yes Live At The House Of Blues CD. Both Keystudio and Yes-Today feature striking cover art, rare photos and on Yes-Today, some key liner notes. Whether you prefer the virtuoso prog-rock sounds of Keystudio or the melodic sounds on Yes-Today, it’s obvious that there’s plenty of great music on each of these fine Yes compilations.  /

One of the least understood albums Yes ever made, Talk was reissued in March of 2002 by NYC-based Spitfire Records. Adding in one bonus track while keeping most of the original artwork—with added ‘collector’s edition’ notation—Spitfire also added in some fitting liner notes from famed ‘70s Melody Maker scribe Chris Welch. Talk was to be the last album Yes would record (so far) with singer-songwriter-producer Trevor Rabin. Following the Yes big-band album Union, in ‘91, the core Yes nucleus of Alan White, Chris Squire, Tony Kaye and Jon Anderson regrouped with Rabin for another album in the footsteps of 1987's Big Generator. Eight years after it’s ‘94 release, Talk is still a real treat to hear—the pump up the bass volume keeping pace with Rabin’s breakneck electric guitar and Jon Anderson’s cosmic wordplay vocals. Yes would eventually regroup later in the ‘90s—this time with Steve Howe rightfully taking back his lead guitar slot—and make even better albums. But for a time back then in 1994 alot of Yes fans were quite happy to crank up the amp and blow the walls off with the splendid pop-friendly sounds of Talk.

Blue Suede Shoes: A Rockabilly Session

The cream of British rock royalty joined together for a musical rave up in praise of rock and roll legend, Carl Perkins back in 1985. For those who missed the original TV broadcast, this video’s been a long time coming, but U.K.-based Snapper Music finally delivers the goods on their newly released sixty minute DVD entitled Blue Suede Shoes: A Rockabilly Session. Perkins was a major influence on a number of early Beatles albums and fittingly George Harrison and Ringo Starr are among the guests featured here, with George performing his Beatles ‘65 classic "Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby" and Ringo reviving his celebrated Perkins’ cover of "Honey Don’t". George and Ringo are joined by a host of other rock legends including Eric Clapton and Dave Edmunds. Also on hand are C&W singer Rosanne Cash, double bass ace Lee Rocker, Bowie/Lennon guitarist Earl Slick and Carl’s son Greg Perkins (bass). Although he passed away in early ‘98, Perkins leaves behind a remarkably influential musical legacy. Expertly filmed and recorded, Blue Suede Shoes is an eye-opening revelation and is a fitting tribute to the trademark Perkins rockabilly sound.

Keesojen Lehto

Back in the mid ‘70s, two of the greatest European guitarists were England’s Mike Oldfield and Finland’s great electric bassist Pekka Pohjola. By the mid ‘70s, Pohjola—a founding member of the influential Finnish rock group Wigwam—had scored huge musical points with his first two solo albums and was ready to take a major plunge with his 1976 solo album Keesojen Lehto. For Keesojen—released in England on Virgin Records with the name Mathematician’s Air Display—Pohjola teamed up with Mike Oldfield (in the role of both guitarist and co-producer), Gong drummer Pierre Moerlin along with others fine players. In the process Pohjola came up with an album that is still considered a major turning point in the development of neoclassical jazz-rock fusion. A master melodicist, electric bassist and keyboardist, Pohjola scaled new heights with Keesojen Lehto—fully developing ideas that were initially suggested on his first two brilliant solo albums—Pihkasilmä Kaarnakorva (1973) and B The Magpie (his first Virgin Records UK release from 1975). As great as those two albums are, on Mathematician’s Air Display Pekka achieved something truly remarkable and in the process influenced a whole new age of music lovers and musicians alike—including guitarist Oldfield, who gradually moved away from his New Age Tubular Bells stylings towards a bolder rock-inspired style of music. Pohjola’s original record label—Love Records—the label responsible for his solo work as well as his albums with Wigwam—has recently reissued 2002 editions of each of Pekka’s first three solo albums, upgraded this time out with 24-bit digital remastering, original artwork, rare photos and new liner notes by’s and 20th Century Guitar’s reviews editor Robert Silverstein. Anyone interested in the development of European progressive instrumental fusion music from the ‘70s should hear these esteemed albums. They’ve never sounded better and the liner notes give a good background as to just how influential these albums actually (still) are.  /

Ten Years After - Anthology 1967-1971
Live At The Fillmore East
(EMI / Chrysalis Records)

Universal’s Hip-O imprint continues to mine cool compilations from the UMG vaults, the latest of which is their Ten Years After - Anthology 1967-1971. Newly remastered and featuring tracks from a number of TYA albums released on the Deram and Columbia labels back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Anthology spreads the best of TYA over two discs and features 26 tracks from album classics like the group’s self-titled debut from 10/67, Undead (from 10/68), Stonehenge (2/69), SSSSH (10/69), Cricklewood Green (the group’s finest hour released 4/70), WATT (12/70) and their final chart topper A Space In Time (8/71). The double disc set also tacks on the famous TYA live classic "I’m Going Home" taken from the Woodstock soundtrack. Cool cover art, photos and liner notes make this Ten Years After Anthology an essential blues-rock experience.

Also just out on EMI / Chrysalis Records is a new double disc set from U.K. rock greats Ten Years After entitled Live At The Fillmore East. Recorded on February 27 & 28, 1970—less than a year after Ten Years After played the Woodstock festival and just before the release of their 1970 classic Cricklewood GreenLive At The Fillmore is a timely reissue of live tracks from one of the greatest pop-based blues rock groups. Fronted by guitar legend Alvin Lee, TYA recorded a bunch of significant albums before exiting the main spotlight in the late ‘70s. Expertly engineered by Hendrix studio ace Eddie Kramer (and remastered by Peter Mew last year at Abbey Road studios), Live At The Fillmore captures the original TYA line-up in rare form. Fascinating liner notes (highlighted by cool color photos) by original TYA drummer Ric Lee are filled with colorful remembrances of playing at the amazing Fillmore East.

The Essential Johnny Cash
(Columbia / Legacy)

In honor of the 70th birthday of country music great Johnny Cash, Columbia / Legacy recently issued The Essential Johnny Cash—a double CD compilation that spans 36 tracks Cash recorded for both Sun Records and Columbia Records between 1955-1983. The Cash influence on late ‘50s Rockabilly and ‘60 country-rock music can’t be overstated. Spotlighting classics like "I Walk The Line" (written and first recorded by Cash in Memphis on 4/2/56), "Get Rhythm" (also from 1956), "Ring Of Fire" (recorded in Nashville on 3/25/63) and countless other Cash favorites like "A Boy Named Sue" and "Folsom Prison Blues", The Essential Johnny Cash is the perfect introduction to The Man In Black. Other collaborations with Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings and U2 (from ‘93) are also included. For Cash fans, the good news doesn’t stop here as Legacy has also recently reissued five more vintage Cash classics—all been previously unavailable on CD in the U.S. Just out on the Legacy American Milestone series are The Fabulous Johnny Cash (1958), Hymns By Johnny Cash (the first Cash album of spirituals - 1959), Ride This Train (an album of narratives and story songs - 1960), the folk influenced Orange Blossom Special (1965) and Carryin’ On With Johnny Cash & June Carter (the Jackson duets album from 1967). Each of Legacy’s American Milestone Cash reissues are packed with bonus material and recent liner notes by Cash. 

Just The Right Sound
Solid Zinc

When it comes to reissuing ‘60s music classics, Rhino Records is still the king. Their catalog reads like an encyclopedia of sound. Among the label’s recent conquests are two double disc mini-box sets from The Association and The Turtles. Rhino’s Association set is amazing, in light of the fact that—barring a decent greatest hits collection—no Association CDs have ever come out in the U.S. Just The Right Sound-The Association Anthology sounds great with 51 tracks taken from the group’s original albums on Warner Bros. Records. Beginning with their huge Summer ‘66 debut hit on Valiant Records, "Along Comes Mary", it was obvious that The Association would be one of the most ambitious and creative of all the ‘60s pop bands, and guess what?—The Association is still playing their unique blend of "Sunshine Pop" live till this very day. A wealth of information and photos are featured in the 40 page booklet. 

Another classic set of ‘60s favorites on tap from Rhino is Solid Zinc-The Turtles Anthology. For anyone under 40 who missed them the first time round, The Turtles were one of the most consistently brilliant pop bands of the ‘60s. Released as they came out way back then on White Whale Records—"Happy Together", "She’s My Girl", "She’d Rather Be With Me" (all written by Garry Bonner & Alan Gordon)—in fact, all the big hits are to be found on the 51 track double disc Solid Zinc set on Rhino. Not only did The Turtles have the double dynamo duo of Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan—a/k/a Flo & Eddie—as lead vocalists, but they also had some of the best session musicians (including founding Turtles member and lead guitarist Al Nichol) and songwriting teams in L.A. working for them. After The Turtles, Volman and Kaylon would form Flo & Eddie and team with Frank Zappa, but these great sides they recorded as The Turtles remain a mainstay on numerous oldies radio stations coast to coast. The 40 page Solid Zinc book supplies all you need to know about the fabulous Turtles. 

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