Tag Archives: Yes

RIP Yes Bassist Chris Squire

Chris Squire With Bass
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Ultimate Classic Rock reports that Chris Squire, legendary Bass player for the progressive rock band Yes has died (June 28th) after a battle with Leukemia. He was 67 years old. This kills me, as Squire was one of my rock heroes and my favorite bass player ever, followed by John Entwistle and Dennis Dunaway of Alice Cooper. Not only was Squire a phenomenally innovative bass player, but he was also one of the first bassists to release a solo album (1975’s Fish Out of Water) on which the bass is played as a lead instrument with no other guitars appearing on the record.

Fish Out of Water Chris Squire

All you have to do is listen to the lead track on that album, “Hold Out Your Hand” — a song that I would put up against the best of Yes’s entire catalog — to have your mind completely blown. Chris Squire was a true Rock God. Both his contributions, as well as the loss of his talent, to the world of Rock music, is immeasurable.

Yes Octopus Mural in DUMBO

Yes Octopus Mural
All Photos By Gail

In September of 2103, NYC-based design firm Sagmeister & Walsh was commissioned by the DUMBO Improvement District in partnership with Two Trees Management Co and the NYCDOT Urban Art Program to paint two 80 foot long murals on the walls of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway underpass, on Jay Street in Dumbo. The firm collaborated with renowned Japanese illustrator Yuko Shimizu and created two large typographic messages to sit on the facing walls. A fierce Octopus and its tentacles form ‘Yes!’ on one side, and a graphic black and white version (not shown) covers the opposite wall. Both murals were hand painted by Coby Kennedy.

Yes Octopus Mural Detail

Morrison Hotel Gallery Presents The Melody Maker Photography of Barrie Wentzell

Jimi Hendrix Color Portrait By Barrie Wentzell
Apparently, Jimi Hendrix Always Dressed Like This (all Post Photos By Gail, Click any Image to Enlarge)

Every picture tells a story. During his career, Photographer Barrie Wentzell collected an endless cache of unheard stories from and about many of rock’s greatest legends that would blow your head right off. From 1965 to 1975 – certainly one of the (if not the) most vibrant and fertile decades for Rock & Roll music and culture — Wentzell shot both live performance and candid, intimate photographs of everyone who was anyone: from Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles to The Kinks and Led Zeppelin for the UK weekly music rag, Melody Maker.

John Entwistle and Pete Townshend By Barrie Wentzell
John Entwistle and Pete Townshend During Recording Sessions for Tommy

His pay was about 20 pounds per week, but Wentzell will tell you even today that his dream gig during the Golden Age of Rock & Roll was never about the money; it was about the experiences he had with these artists.

Early Yes
An Early Incarnation of Yes

Right now, you can view a small portion of Wentzell’s extensive and wildly impressive career legacy at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in the comprehensively entitled exhibit, Melody Maker: The Best Years, 1965-1975, The Photography of Barrie Wentzell. Most of these pictures have never been published or viewed by the public. In fact, Wentzell admitted that, prior to staging the exhibit, he’d not viewed the majority of these photos since he first took them. And that is just shame, because his pictures are transcendent.

Ray Davies Plays Pool By Barrie Wentzell
Ray Davies Plays Pool

Pete Townshend with Toys By Barrie Wentzell
Pete Townshend & Friends

I have seen many, many great rock photography exhibits and I must say that this is the first one where the words “Fine Art Rock Photography” – which is what Morrison Hotel Gallery is known for – really resonated with me when experiencing Barrie Wentzell’s photos. The oddest reaction I had was while silently gazing at a black and white photo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, taken while both were still in their early 20s. They just looked so young and unjaded, with their entire lives and careers ahead of them. I thought about the first Elton John songs I ever heard, like “Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters,” “Mad Man Across the Water” and “Sixty Years On.” And unexpected tears of deep nostalgia welled up in my eyes. It was embarrassing to dork out in public like that, but it was also such an amazing feeling to be so fully transported back to a time when Rock Stars meant everything to me. Barrie Wentzell’s work is truly as magical as the music of that era.

Jimmy Page Color Portrait By Barrie Wentzell
Jimmy Page

Read more about Barrie Wentzell, and view some of the photos in this do-not-miss show, at This Link.

Barrie Wentzell with Pete Townshend Photo
Barrie Wentzell

Morrison Hotel Gallery is Located at 116 Prince Street (Loft) and 124 Prince Street (Store Front) in NYC’s Greenwich Village.

David Bowie By Barrie Wentzell
David Bowie

Cat Stevens By Barrie Wentzell
Cat Stevens

Led Zeppelin Live

This Photo of Led Zeppelin In Concert Fully Captures the Energy of the Performance in a Static Medium. Amazing.

See the Photo that Made Me Cry After the Jump!

Continue reading Morrison Hotel Gallery Presents The Melody Maker Photography of Barrie Wentzell

RIP Sherman Hemsley, Gong Fan

Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson
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Best known for his role as George Jefferson on the popular 1970s sitcom, The Jeffersons (a spinoff of All in the Family, on which he also starred as the same character), actor Sherman Hemsley passed away on Tuesday, July 24th at the age of 74. While Hemsley is primarily famous for his acting resume, he was also a musician who once collaborated with Jon Anderson of Progressive rock band Yes. And according to a 2009 article from Magnet Magazine, Hemsley was an eccentric, prog rock aficionado who had a sweet spot for the band Gong. Read on and have your mind blown little at This Link.

Happy Birthday, Steve Howe!

Guitarist Steve Howe of Yes
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Yes guitarist (also a member of Asia) Steve Howe was born on this day April 8th, in 1947. The band Yes was a passionate favorite of mine growing up in the seventies. In fact, one of the most crazy fun and highly memorable concerts I’ve attended was the co-headlining concert of Yes with Peter Frampton back in the summer of 1976, which took place before a crowd of 55,000 people at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California. Although he does not enjoy the level of continued buzz as, say, a player like Jimmy Page, to give you an idea of his popularity during Yes’s heyday, Steve was voted Best Overall Guitarist in Guitar Player magazine five years in a row from 1977 to 1981. Below, please enjoy a live clip of Steve playing “The Clap” and also the acoustic ballad “Mood For Day” to hear an example of his one-take perfection. Happy Birthday, Steve!

Recommended Listening: Little Barrie, King of The Waves

Little Barrie King of the Waves CD Cover

America has, so far, welcomed two highly influential British Invasions of Rock & Roll. In the early sixties, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, along with countless Mersey Beat bands, laid the foundation for everything that arrived in their mighty wake. Thirty years later, a largely stagnant music scene got a much-needed shot in the arm with a vibrant Brit Pop infusion courtesy of Oasis, Blur, The Verve, Suede and others. Decades pass and, still, every one of those albums stand up to whatever happens to be the flavor of the moment on commercial pop charts that hardly reflect artistic merit. Rock & Roll may have been born on these shores, but damn if we don’t need the Brits to come along every so often and show us how it’s done.

Now on its third release, London (by way of Nottingham)’s power trio Little Barrie is making vibrant, old-school rock music that could comfortable fit into either faction of British Invasion Rock & Roll: drawing heavily from deeply-rooted blues based rock that has never gone out of fashion. Singer/Guitarist Barrie Cadogan embodies the essence of a true guitar hero: balancing the job of vocal anchor with that of the emboldened showman whose mastery of his instrument is so ingrained it’s become second nature. The fact that his resume of live and studio work includes gigs with Primal Scream, Edwyn Collins, Morrissey, Paul Weller and The Chemical Brothers, among others, speaks volumes about Coddington’s impressive skill and creativity level. Cadogan is joined in Little Barrie by the formidable rhythm section of drummer Virgil Howe (son of legendary Yes’ guitarist Steve Howe) and bassist Lewis Wharton. Spin King of The Waves just once and the scenario of aural seduction will be complete.

“Surf Hell” kicks the album off in high gear with garage rock distortion chased with pyschobilly menace, which rolls right into the relentless pull of a minor chord melody that turns “How Come” and “Does The Halo Rust?” into instant favorites. Howe lays down an irresistibly subtle tribal undertow on “Precious Pressure” while Coddington channels his best Keith Richards. The title track’s languid guitar hooks harness the seductive power of “Crystal Ship-esque” heroin rock, and while you might be tempted to nod out on its blissful vibe, stick around for the rest of the show, because it just keeps getting better. This album is flawless – no bells and whistles or complex studio wizardry: just pure sonic rock power! Not only does it sound great, it feels amazing!

I was fortunate to catch a private showcase performance by Little Barrie a couple of week’s ago at the Rose Bar (inside the Gramercy Park Hotel – great room!) and was blown away by group’s on-stage charisma and star power that’s based 100% on expert musicianship and the ability to write kick ass tunes. I may harbor a soft spot for the British anyway, but a band must deliver the goods in order to win my affection and loyalty. Little Barrie have made an album that will surely be at the top of my list of favorites for 2012 and I invite you to fall in love with them by picking up a copy of King of The Waves. As Mohammed Ali once famously said, “It’s not bragging, if you can back it up.”

King Of The Waves was released in the UK last summer but has a US release date of February 28, 2012.

Grade: A+

Happy Birthday to Yes’ Bassist Chris Squire

Chris Squire was born on this day, March 4th, in 1948. Happy Birthday, Chris!