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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Neddie Jingo expresses exactly how I feel about Yes. A great deal of my music listening occurs in the car, and quite a bit of that time is spent listening to XM Radio's "Deep Tracks". Mostly this works out okay-- it is not as good as my iPod on Shuffle, for reasons I will get into, but they play album cuts from roughly the LBJ Administration through Bush pere, more or less, and that's pretty much where my rock listening is centered. I'd like some punk and new wave mixed in, but there is a separate station for that. I would like more music by actual black people, but that's not really how rock music from the time period in question works. Satellite radio music programing mostly operates along two axis: one is time, and the other is volume. There are stations devoted to the music of a particular decade, 40s through 90s; and there are stations that just play music by one artist. Some of these are jaw dropping. In theory I can understand a station that plays all Grateful Dead all the time, although personally I want no part of such a thing. But all AC/DC? Really? The genre stations work best-- like Deep Tracks, or the Soul, Jazz, and New Wave stations. What is actually the best program, with the possible exception of Mr. Zimmerman's show, is Tom Petty's Buried Treasure. Like Dylan, Petty is having a great time, and you can hear it. "Awriiight," he'll drawl in that stoned Florida accent. "That was the Yardbirds, with Mr. Jeff Beck, recorded about a month after he came on board with the band." Petty plays music by black people, and crosses decades, and tells you when something was recorded, and who produced it, and what label it was on. Last week he mentioned that Eddy Offord had been the engineer on the Yardbirds track he'd just played, and that Offord had gone on to work with Yes, for example, which started me thinking about why Yes is such a hit or miss proposition. I think Neddy gets it mostly right-- Rick Wakeman is a big part of the problem-- but so is Jon Anderson. And what the hell are those songs supposed to be about? Even so, I still like Chris Squire's work, and Steve Howe's, at least up through "Close to the Edge". I suppose I should own "The Yes Album", but the only side by the band that I have ever had on my shelves was "Time and a Word".

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