Originally Posted by rdclark
I don't think that's really fair, given the longevity of the band. The current lineup - the one that's touring now - includes a founding member, plus two more who've been with the band since the early 70s, and a fourth who played on Drama.
Throughout every era Yes has been recognizably Yes, and I attribute that to the distinctiveness of Squire's harmony vocals and bass sound, and to Howe's unmistakable style. Listen to Squire's solo album (Fish Out of Water) and it's clear how much Yes sounds like Yes because of him.
IMO, the one constant about Yes is that they always sound like Yes.
and that founding member is now often too wasted to do his job well, the one long-time member (SH) is nowhere near the performer he once was, the other long-time member still drums well- I blame the slow tempos on H & S, I think AW could speed it up if those 2 could keep up- and the Drama man was never a replacement for RW or even Tony Kaye. But the worst thing about HSW these days is the choices they make and the fact that they just don't seem to care anymore about the quality of the music- which previously was so elevated.
I agree with you that CS- both his harmonies and his incredible bass playing- is critical to the Yes sound. But I would rate him as #2 most important ingredient in that sound, behind JA, w/ SH in third. If you look at the band w/o JA, even before this recent debacle, they couldn't achieve the Yes sound. While Drama was a fine album and came off well live, when they tried to play classic Yes songs on the drama tour, Trevor Horn couldn't cut it either, despite being a real professional. JA's voice is just so distinctive and integral to the Yes sound, but furthermore, he sings in such a high register that other singers cannot get there- or if they can, they have to strain so much it ruins their voice over the course of a tour (I actually think the best chance of ever replacing JA would be to use a female vocalist). TH was "marginally acceptable" early on the Drama tour, but as it progressed his voice deteriorated- just like BD's on the last tour, though not to the same extent- to the point where he was actually getting booed towards the end of the tour. It didn't help that Yes sold out most of the tour before most people even knew JA was gone (count me among the duped, though I woulda gone anyway).
Whereas when Yes formed without CS (but couldn't call themselves Yes because CS had the rights to the name since he had never left the band), that band had much more of the Yes sound than either Drama Yes or Trevor Rabin Yes- even though TR's Yes had JA as the vocalist! Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe were just like Yes to me and to many other Yesheads. They put on an awesome show. Even though I missed CS, they had an excellent replacement in Tony Levin. Compare the 90210-live video to the ABWH video- ABWH is much more of the Yes sound. TR's band (and it was his band, whereas Yes had been JA's band- he was the maestro!) was originally called Cinema- it was only at the insistence of Atlantic Records that they agreed to call themselves Yes.
Finally, as crucial as CS is to the Yes sound, he is not making it recently. His harmonies are downright bad at times and his playing is a couple notches below his past. Don't know if he can't handle his liquor anymore (he was always a heavy partyer), is drinking more and/or adding other intoxicants, but he is too often noticeably wasted at the shows these days.
I have to disagree with your statement that "Throughout every era Yes has been recognizably Yes." To me- and many would disagree, though many would agree, TR's Yes was not recognizably Yes. It was very good music and- what made it most Yes-like- it was always played at high quality. I would say, with the exception of the recent band (and arguably the Drama band, as far as live shows go), that every era Yes has been high quality music.
I agree that the one constant about Yes is that they always sound like Yes, but to me that didn't include Drama or TR's Yes. And if you think that the lineup that currently calls itself Yes sounds like Yes, I would direct you to Youtube for clips from recent shows. Off-key singing (both harmonies and lead), lethargic tempos, sloppy playing and weak keyboards is NOT the Yes sound. I just hope they can turn it around before the end, which is clearly in sight. Actually, I wish they had called it a day when JA had to drop out in '05 due to health issues.