Results for Yes

interviews

David Weigel

prog rock Perhaps more than any other genre, Progressive Rock has a particular penchant for fantasy motifs. From Gensis, to Yes, to Rush, to King Crimson dystopian worlds, hobbits, and medieval imagery found a home within those sprawling 14-minute long songs. But why? Jim and Greg speak David Weigel, national correspondent for the Washington Post, and author The Show That Never Ends: The Rise And Fall Of Prog Rock. Weigel says that in the early 1970s as prog was making its rise, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien were not the blockbuster films we know today. Instead, they were much more a part of the counter-culture, like prog rock.

Go to episode 608
specials

School of Prog Rock

One of the terms that keeps coming up again and again on Sound Opinions is "Progressive Rock." The Decemberists channel it, Mastodon references it, and countless of fans are obsessed with it. So, this week Jim and Greg decide to dive right in to this larger-than-life, fantastical genre that, let's face it, sometimes makes us laugh. They talk to Charles Snider, author of The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, about Prog's heydey in the 1970s. Charles, Jim and Greg define the genre as having the following traits: it is visionary and experimental, it has virtuosity in both execution and composition, it's romantic, and it has a sense of "Britishness."

So which bands do it best? Charles and our hosts recommend the following for great, Progressive headphone listening.

  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  • Genesis
  • Jethro Tull
  • Gentle Giant
  • The Pretty Things
  • Kraftwerk
  • Yes
  • King Crimson
Go to episode 207
classic album dissections
Rocket to Russia

The Ramones & the Sex Pistols God Save the Queen

Jim and Greg have mastered the art of the album dissection. This week they try their hand at Rocket to Russia by The Ramones. This was the punk originators' third album, released in April of 1977. Jim and Greg picked this album because of how revolutionary it was at the time. This was the era of Yes, James Taylor and KC and the Sunshine Band. Now that radio playlists are full of songs by bands like Fall Out Boy and Green Day, it's easy to forget a time before punk music. But, until four high schoolers from Forest Hills, NY merged their love of Brill-Building pop and British invasion rock with a big dose of speed and attitude, the sound as we know it didn't exist.

Joey Ramone, born Jeffrey Hyman, sang vocals, Johnny Ramone, born John Cummings, played guitar, Dee Dee Ramone, born Douglas Colvin, played bass and Tommy Ramone, born Tom Erdelyi, played drums. The four began to record Rocket to Russia after recently releasing two other albums and touring the US and Europe. Today, Tommy Ramone is the only living member of that original group. Tommy co-produced Rocket to Russia and wrote many of the songs, and Jim and Greg invited him on to talk about making the album.

It was a treat to get a first-hand account of recording Rocket to Russia from Tommy Ramone. He revealed a number of interesting facts, some of which surprised even our hosts. Here are some of the noteworthy points:

  • Johnny is known for being a speed demon. Tommy credits this with his desire to be a baseball player and his love of the fastball.
  • Joey is the band's original drummer, and Tommy acted as their manager. Tommy took over on drums in order to keep up with Johnny's pace. He had never played drums before, and sometimes outpaced the studio's click track.
  • Seymour Stein was the label executive behind the band. Despite the fact that their sound wasn't popular, he believed in The Ramones enough to boost their recording budget up to a whopping $25,000.
  • The Ramones heard God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols during the recording of this album. Despite not having nearly the same amount of money to work with, Tommy explains that there was definitely a sense of competition. The feeling wa — they ripped us off, and now we want to sound better.
  • The Ramones were famous for being anti-guitar solo. But, there is one on the track "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow." Tommy reveals that this was actually him playing guitar, and assures Jim and Greg that Johnny wasn't miffed by the choice. Tommy was inspired by the guitar solo in "Tell Me" by the Rolling Stones.
  • A number of the songs on Rocket to Russia begin with Dee Dee counting off. The band encouraged their bassist to do this, despite the fact that those counts had nothing to do with the actual speed of the song.
  • Tommy struggles to name his favorite tune on the album, but includes "Rockaway Beach" as one of the best. Jim and Greg agree that the sunny, pop track is a great one, made even better by the fact that the actual Rockaway Beach was not a very sunny place. Juxtapose the sound of the song with the idea of trash in the sand and a syringe in your foot.

Jim and Greg also struggle to pick just one song to highlight from Rocket to Russia. Each one is great, and only clocks out at around two minutes. But, Greg was inspired by something Tommy said during their interview. He explained that the Ramones were ahead of their time, and were perhaps too dark and too subversive for mainstream culture. The song that best exemplifies this is "We're a Happy Family." While Happy Days showed one kind of family life, The Ramones wanted to show another, more realistic one. The Ramones were fans of Todd Browning's film Freaks, and celebrated the idea of being different and freaky in this song.

Jim's song choice also celebrates that freak spirit. "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," only has a few words, but it's a definitely an anthem. The term punk previously had a negative connotation. In this song, the Ramones reclaim the word and give a big finger to anyone who judges them (or Sheena). Musically, the song is also quintessentially rock and roll, quintessentially American, quintessentially Ramones. Jim explains that if he had to choose one track to shoot into outer space and represent what rock music is, he'd choose "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker."

Go to episode 64
dijs

Greg

“Radar”Morphine

Greg wanted to honor the memory of Morphine frontman Mark Sandman with this week's Desert Island Jukebox selection. Sandman died a decade ago, and now Rhino has released a two-disc collection of rarities and live tracks. But Greg thinks the band's“creepy,”low-rock sound is best enjoyed through their studio albums. He loved Sandman's sense of atmosphere and brilliant lyrics. They can be heard in his pick, "Radar," from Morphine's 1995 album Yes.

Go to episode 206

Jim

“America”Yes

For his Desert Island Jukebox pick, Jim wanted to play a song by an artist that epitomizes“high fidelity.”He looked to a member of his holy triumvirate of rock: Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes. This week it's Yes' turn. Jim describes their version of "America" as a“headphone classic.”While you won't be able to hear the original vinyl audio fidelity on the radio or podcast, Sound Opinions H.Q. hopes you enjoy this cover of a classic Simon and Garfunkel song.

Go to episode 123
features

Instrumental: Rickenbacker Electric 12-String Guitar

Rickenbacker 12-string This week, we kick off a new feature called Instrumental where we examine the history of iconic instruments of rock. We start with the electric 12-string guitar and its most famous manufacturer, Rickenbacker. After the acoustic 12-string guitar was popularized by blues artists like Lead Belly and by the '60s folk revival, Rickenbacker began making an electrified version. After George Harrison used it on The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night," a 12-string craze began. The most notable adopter of the instrument was Jim (later Roger) McGuinn , who used it to define the sound of The Byrds on tracks like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" The Beatles and The Byrds set the template for countless bands in the ensuing decades who used 12-strings, from power pop acts like Raspberries and Big Star, to jangle pop bands like R.E.M. and The Bangles, to contemporary artists like Temples.

To help discuss and demonstrate the Rickenbacker electric 12-string, we're joined by Daniel Escauriza and Shelby Pollard of Chicago Music Exchange. Jim and Greg also offer their favorite examples of Rick-heavy songs: "Awaken" by Yes and XTC's "All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)."

Go to episode 601
news

Music News

Chris Squire, a celebrated bassist and founding member of the British rock band Yes, died last Saturday in Phoenix at the age of 67. Squire announced earlier in the summer that he would not be joining the band for its summer and fall tour as he was receiving treatment for leukemia. Squire was the only member of Yes to play on each of the band's twenty-one albums and to participate in every tour over their four decade career. Squire sought to create a“cinematic trip for the mind”through his work with Yes, and Jim greatly admires this nuanced approach to making music. Greg and Jim remember Squire by playing "Heart of the Sunrise" from the band's hit 1972 album Fragile.

Go to episode 501

Music News

This year's crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated last week at a ceremony in Cleveland. 2009's class includes Metallica, Run DMC, Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials. While Metallica is getting its props, heavy metal is consistently unrepresented. Greg would vote to nominate Slayer. Jim agrees and adds that progressive rock music is also due for some representation. Love ‘em or hate ’em, Genesis, Yes and Jethro Tull are certainly as influential, if not more, than Little Anthony.

On the same day that U2 released a second set of tickets for their highly sought-after fall tour, New York Senator Chuck Schumer unveiled new legislation to crack down on the secondary ticket market, or scalping. Schumer is riding the wave of popularity he got after criticizing Ticketmaster for sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets, but Jim and Greg don't blame him. Jim calls scalping“a plague”on the music industry, and both critics urge reform.

They may have stopped making music decades ago, but The Beatles' output is still going strong. This fall Apple Corps and EMI will release the band's entire catalog remastered digitally on CD. This is long overdue; their music hasn't been upgraded since songs were first put on CD twenty years ago. But, while fans might be excited for a new model, Jim and Greg see this as a very transparent attempt to keep dipping into the same profit pool year after year.

Go to episode 176

Music News

Pope Francis just completed his first“sold-out tour”of the United States. Now you can own your own souvenir, as the Pope is putting out a pop album called Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward! To Greg, the record has a progressive rock feel, falling somewhere between Yes and Yanni. Jim notes that the Pope wasn't exactly in the studio laying down some“tasty licks,”as producer Don Giulio Neroni arranged the music around Francis‘ famous speeches. If the Pope is trying to speak directly to the population, a pop album isn’t a bad way to do it.

This week, Taylor Swift's album 1989 charted its 48th week on Billboard, and one musician is riding the coattails of that success. Alt country singer Ryan Adams released a track for track cover of 1989 and received more attention than ever. Jim thinks that without Swift's songs, there's no way Adams would be on the Billboard charts. He also references an article highlighting the "mansplaining" idea that people can only realize the strength of Swift's songwriting when a white male performs the tracks. Greg thinks that Adams is doing some solid marketing, as his music hasn‘t been relevant in 15 years. What do you think of Adams’ covers? Let us know!

Go to episode 514