Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Phil Holland’ Category

profxSOUNDTRACK: YES-Big Generator (1987).

big genAfter the huge success of 90125, Yes released that solos EP and then buckled down to make the follow up.  It took a few years and sounded an awful lot like 90125, although not as good. I remember enjoying the singles, but when I listened to it recently I felt that it didn’t hold up at all.

Wikipedia tells me that there was lots of trouble while making the album (really??).

Big Generator’s sessions dragged on for two years, largely because of creative differences. Guitarist Trevor Rabin was aiming to progress beyond 90125, while founding lead vocalist Jon Anderson was beginning to yearn for more traditional Yes music. Trevor Horn, who was a major factor in the success of Yes’ previous disc 90125, was part of the early recording sessions. However, he dropped out after a few months due in major part to his inability to get along with keyboardist Tony Kaye. Anderson stated that Horn had told Anderson to stay away from the rehearsal and recording sessions for three months, presumably so that Horn could develop material with the other band members.

Given all that, is it any surprise that the album isn’t all that good.  90125 inspired a lot of music, including this album.  So this album sounds more like a retread rather than a moving forward.

“Rhythm of Love” opens with lovely Beach Boys harmonies (although at this point I’m imagining more “Kokomo” than “California Dreaming” even if “Kokomo” came out 2 years later).  That opening guitar section sounds so much like a pop 80s song (in a not so good way).  The chorus is quite good although it takes that group harmony one level further into uncomfortably sterile pop land.

“Big Generator” sounds like the b-side follow up to 90125.  The guitars are meaner and there are more orchestral hits.  There’s some interesting sections that Yes of old might have played–but they are recorded very differently here.

“Shoot High, Aim Low” is fairly uninspired (even if it was popular on the radio) and at 7 minute it’s way too long.  “Almost Like Love” is another song that sounds so much like 80s pop, it’s kind of icky.  “Love Will Find a Way” is credited solely to Trevor Rabin who really did sort of take over the band in the 80s (what does Chris Squire do at band meetings anyway?).  It is also very poppy but it has some interesting guitars and textures.

“Final Eyes” would be good if it was 2 minutes, but once the second part of the song starts, it drifts into less interesting territory (especially at over 6 minutes).  “I’m Running” is quite polarizing for me.  I like the interesting bass line that opens the song (occasionally Squire does something cool on this disc), but the overall Caribbean Feel is just so wrong.  If the song ended at 3 minutes after that interesting guitar riff it would be much better.

“Holy Lamb (Song for Harmonic Convergence)” ends the disc.  It is written (surprise) entirely by Anderson.  It’s pretty good and a surprisingly decent ending to the album, although there’s an awful 80s synth sound on it.

This was the last Yes album I bought.  I think I heard about Union when it came out in 1991 and featured nearly every person who ever recorded a Yes song, but I wasn’t interested in it.  Since that album they have released 8 studio albums and countless live albums, but I’m content with what the past has given.

Incidentally, this whole travel through Yes started when Chris Squire died recently.  Squire is the only person to have played on every Yes album.  But as I said earlier, I often wonder what he was like to work with.  It seems like when new players come in they kind of take over the sound and Squire is often shunted to the background.  I don’t know a thing about him personally or professionally for that matter. I just know that he could play an amazing bass and wish he’d shown it off more.

[READ: May 20, 2015] Who Killed Professor X?

This graphic novel intrigued me, in part because it was originally written in Greek (can’t think of too many modern Greek books I’ve read–translated by Phil Holland) and in part because it is a comic about mathematics.

The Foreword explains that the book is intended for two kinds of readers: those who have some knowledge of mathematics and those who have no knowledge of mathematics…. The first category of readers can try to solve the problems and determine whether or not each suspect has a valid alibi, whereas the second can simply skip this step.

So the (fairly thin, I must admit) premise of this book is that Professor X was killed while at a conference for mathematicians.  The room was empty for 20 seconds, so the killer must have been more than x meters away from the Professor in order to be considered innocent.

The suspects (we learn later) are all of history’s greatest mathematicians.  They go only by first name in the story, but the end of the book gives biographies of all of the real people they were based on (from throughout history).

Each of their alibis is a mathematical explanation of why they could not be the killer.  And as the Foreword mentioned, if you know math (high school level or so) you could figure out where each suspect was based on the clues given. (more…)

Read Full Post »