Billy Sherwood is in the final mixing stages on a pair of new guest-packed recording projects, one an original prog rock effort and the other a tribute to Supertramp.
And he’s still adding additional stars to the sessions, bolstering a terrific list that already included John Wetton (Asia, UK, King Crimson), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, King Crimson), Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Styx, Dixie Dregs), Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs, Kansas) and Rick Wakeman, a former member of Yes. Just today, Sherwood confirmed that Rod Argent (famous for the 1970s hit “Hold Your Head Up”) is on board for the Supertramp tribute, as well.
[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Every one remembers Supertramp’s hit-making era in the late 1970s. There were other times, however, when we wanted to tell them: “goodbye, stranger.”]
Last week, Sherwood — himself a 1990s-era Yes album — was mixing vocals from Alan Parsons for the original “The Technical Divide,” and from XTC alum Colin Moulding on Supertramp’s “It’s Raining Again.” David Sancious, who has played with the E Street Band, Stanley Clarke and Peter Gabriel, is also on “Divide,” which Sherwood described as “the Beach Boys meets Pink Floyd with a Yes twist, of course.”
Speaking of Yes, original guitarist Peter Banks has also been added to both sessions; he’ll appear on the original “Social Circles” with vocalist Annie Haslam, and with vocalist Richard Page of Mr. Mister fame on Roger Hodgson’s timeless hit “Give A Little Bit.” Toto co-founder Steve Porcaro will be sitting in for the Supertramp tribute, as well, adding piano to “Rudy.”
Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) will sing “Goodbye Stranger,” and Robby Krieger of the Doors is also playing on Supertramp’s “School.” The original “Buried Beneath” will feature guitarist Steve Hillage and keyboard Larry Fast, who’s played with Peter Gabriel, Foreigner and Hall and Oates.
Sherwood appeared on Yes’ 1991 release Union; toured with the band in support of 1994’s Talk; then co-produced and mixed Yes’ Keys to Ascension and Keys to Ascension 2 projects in 1996-97; was a key creative contributor to the band’s 1997 release Open Your Eyes and played on the subsequent tour; then finally appeared on 1999’s The Ladder and the live document from a subsequent tour, House of Yes.
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Billy Sherwood, and Supertramp. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
ONE TRACK MIND: CIRCA FEATURING YES’ BILLY SHERWOOD AND TONY KAYE, “AND SO ON” (2011): Kaye returns to the Hammond organ — the instrument he was featured on during his last album with Yes, 1994’s Talk — as Sherwood sings with an unguarded abandon while deliriously thumping away on the bass. But it’s Bruhns, perhaps, who surprises the most – somehow combining both the modern edge of Trevor Rabin’s thundering 90125 riffs with the atmospheric intellect of Steve Howe.
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: SUPERTRAMP: Supertramp was many things over its too-brief period of hitmaking — art-rockish proggers, post-Beatle popsters, kinda-classical rockers, memory-defining radio monoliths. There was much to love as they moved, over the course of the early-1970s to the early-1980s, from the esoteric to the very top of the charts — something perhaps hastened by the core group’s relocation to the shiny sunscape of Los Angeles in 1977. What Supertramp never was, at least back then: Forgottable. Which only makes their slide into relative obscurity in the age of the Rehydrated-Classic-Rock-Mega-Reunion-Tour-and-T-shirt Extravaganza all the more head-scratchingly curious. If it pleases the court of public opinion, your friends over at SomethingElseReviews.com are here to plea Supertramp’s case.
ONE TRACK MIND: BILLY SHERWOOD, “LIVING IN THE NOW” (2011): Sherwood remains more than the sum of his Yes years. Across the breadth of What Was The Question?, as on his denser concurrent efforts alongside fellow Yes alum Tony Kaye in the band Circa, Sherwood dabbles in the weird impressionism of early Genesis, and the crinkly nerve of Jeff Beck. There are layer upon layer of multi-tracked vocals, straight out of the sun-drenched school of Brian Wilson. And the offbeat yet catchy compositional verve of those unjustly forgotten prog-rockers UK — fitting, since Sherwood produced John Wetton’s 2011 solo project, and has Wetton as a guest on this album’s “Delta Sierra Juliet.” That’s not to mention the thundering improvisational references to Weather Report.
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