Jon Anderson remains hopeful that he’ll some day return to the band he co-founded, but in the meantime he’s been developing new projects with fellow former members Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin.
“We’ll see what happens in the future,” Anderson says of getting back together with Yes. “I’d never say no, if it happens with good will and honesty and Rick’s there, I’d love to do it. I bumped into a good friend who says he’d love to produce it. And I said ‘Well, good luck!’ We’ll all keep our fingers crossed.”
Anderson was lead singer for Yes from its inception in 1969 through 1978, then returned in 1983 and fronted the band through 2008. His last album with the group was 2001’s Magnification, while his most recent live performance was in 2004. His relationship with Wakeman, if anything, has grown stronger since both left the legendary progressive rock group, as the pair has recorded a studio project, toured extensively and then issued a new live album — all since 2010. The Living Three In Concert, Part Two is expected later this year.
[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Yes alum Trevor Rabin takes us inside his long-awaited 2012 solo release, then examines his legacy with one of prog rock’s most legendary bands.]
There has also been talk of an on-going collaboration between Anderson, Wakeman and Rabin — a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter with Yes from 1982–94, as the chart-topping single “Owner of a Lonely Heart” helped propel 90125 to 6 million in sales. The trio began working together, but have since temporarily shelved the project. May will see the release of Jacaranda, Rabin’s first all-new solo release since 1989’s Can’t Look Away. Anderson has also issued a new epic-length song called “Open,” and has collaborated with Italian composer/conductor Marco Sabiu.
“We talked about it; we wrote a couple of things together,” Anderson told WCBS Radio. “Trevor got sidetracked. We talked about this year; we haven’t really finalized a time. It’ll happen when it happens. That’s my new mantra: ‘It will happen when it happens.’”
Wakeman, a member of Yes over five separate stints in 1971-74; 1976-80, 1991-92; 1995-97 and 2002-08, never worked with Rabin on a Yes studio project, but toured with him when a eight-man version of Yes played in support of Union. That unwieldy arrangement led to tension involving Yes’ current guitarist Steve Howe, Anderson says.
“A classic moment was when Steve came over to me and he said, ‘Can you tell Trevor to turn it down?’ So I said ‘OK … ,’” Anderson says. “I went over to him and said ‘Trevor, you’re doing very well!’ I left it at that, I didn’t want to get involved! But that was a great tour, and thankfully we did it.”
As to the idea of this trio hitting the road to play in direct competition with the current edition of Yes, Anderson is unequivocal: “No, I don’t think so.”
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Here’s a look back at recent thoughts on Yes’s Jon Anderson. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
Anderson spoke about a broad range of topics – from key musical memories with Yes to the recuperative qualities of painting, and the role the Internet might play in reviving rock music’s long-dormant progressive spirit.
Too often, it was like Anderson didn’t want to make a solo record that sounded too much like Yes. As interesting as these sideroads no doubt were, they gave few clues to how his own voice fit into the wider topography of the band. And they often were so idiosyncratic that only the deepest, more committed fans had the will to follow along. That is, until Survival and Other Stories, a rousing return to form that finds Anderson coming to terms with his own storied history, even as he transcends it.
JON ANDERSON AND RICK WAKEMAN: THE LIVING TREE IN CONCERT: PART ONE (2011): Anyone expecting the cosmic prog-rock journeys of this duo’s work as members of Yes must have been a little disappointed — and not just with the spare instrumentation. More striking than the lean, guitar-free musical structures was how intimate, even grounded this concert performance was. If anything, though, this album speaks to both the individual trials and the shared will to overcome for both singer Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Each has had to grapple against some terrifying health problems, even as Yes continued on without them.
Anderson shares unique insights into some of his more memorable tracks, and a few deep cuts, as well. Go inside the creative process as Anderson and Co. complete the epic Side 1 opener to 1974’s Relayer. Get insights into working with Vangelis, and find out why Anderson made another pass at the closing track from 90125 for a solo project almost 10 years later. And, of course, there are the lasting mysteries of “Roundabout.”
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