REVIEW: Wave Mechanics Union’s “Further To Fly”

Wave Mechanics Union are a band who make successful attempts in stretching the boundaries of jazz, by tapping into songs that are very much not in the jazz and pop standard songbook. For me, that’s a big deal because while I love jazz and pop standards, I get excitement when I see someone going out of the expected norm. Musically, this is very much big band and orchestral jazz with a few liberties here and there, but for the most part this is not what one would expect from material like this.

Paul Simon’s “Further To Fly” enhances its Latin rhythms to get into something is sure to make its listeners dance, whole Ben Folds’ “Selfless, Cold And Compared” is now filled with a massive brass section. Sherman Hemsley’s favorite band, Gentle Giant, gets the jazz treatment with a great cover of “Think Of Me With Kindness”, and considering their own musical roots and heritage, perhaps its fitting that the song has turned into what Wave Mechanics Union have created. Even Thomas Dolby fits into the picture when his “The Ability To Swing” is embraced with kindness, and it’s nice to hear it in this fashion. Vocalist Lydia McAdams has a Amel Larrieux vibe to her, where she wraps everything around the mood and lyrics and takes them to her heart to make it her own.

Former Yes vocalist Jon Anderson participates by doing background vocals on a track from Yes’ Going For The One album, “Wonderous Stories”, and handling co-lead on “It Will Be a Good Day (The River)” (from the 1999 album The Ladder). Anderson sounds great and it’s also nice to hear him sing in a different context than normally expected.

Along with tracks originally performed by Tom Waits, Steely Dan, King Crimson, Jimi Hendrix, Fiona Apple, Queen, Dire Straits, and Suzanne Vega, Further To Fly (HX Music) has Wave Machines Union allowing each song to go where it never traveled to before, thus freeing them like a bird so that it may find a new place to see and experience.

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VIDEO: Red Bull Music Academy lecture: Trevor Horn (Madrid 2011)

Lecture: Trevor Horn (Madrid 2011) – Part 1 from Red Bull Music Academy on Vimeo.

Lecture: Trevor Horn (Madrid 2011) – Part 2 from Red Bull Music Academy on Vimeo.

Someone discussed this in my Twitter timeline, and I had to share this with people. An incredible lecture with legendary producer Trevor Horn, getting deep about much of his work, including some talk about the work he and his production theam (a/k/a Art Of Noise) did for Malcolm McLaren‘s Duck Rock.

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SOME STUFFS: Trevor Horn puts on producer’s hat once again for Yes

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Big progressive rock news today. Legendary music producer Trevor Horn will be working with Yes for a new album, to be titled Fly From Here. It is the first studio album for Yes in ten years, while it’s the first time Horn and Yes have worked together since 1987’s Big Generator. Will this album work for fans in 2011? Perhaps.

Some useless facts. This is the third time Horn and Yes have worked together. The first time was when he and keyboardist Geoff Downes, both of them known as two-thirds of the group The Buggles, became members of Yes for their album Drama. Horn served as the band’s new vocalist (replacing Jon Anderson. The album was somewhat of a flop and they split up. Two years later, bassist Chris Squier wanted to make new music and formed Cinema. Eventually, Cinema eventually became a Yes project again, Jon Anderson rejoined the group, and Horn (being one of the “it” producers at the time) was asked to join in as producer. It was Horn who made it possible to place Yes on pop radio for good. Horn worked on a few tracks for their follow-up album four years later, Big Generator, although many felt that the album’s core came from guitarist which many felt was more of a vehicle for guitarist Trevor Rabin, who joined the band for 90125.

Horn will have worked with Yes under three different singers: himself, Anderson, and the band’s current vocalist, Benoit David (Anderson had fallen ill three years ago and was given doctor’s orders to rest. The group didn’t want to wait around and chose to tour without him, which moved Anderson to comment publicly that he was disappointed by their decision.)

Yes have been together as a band since 1968, with bassist Squire being the only member to have been with the group throughout their 43-year duration. Let’s be honest though: while Yes’ “classic period” and their 90125 album (which is 28 years old and no doubt classic, but purists will say “no, give me The Yes Album over that electronic clickety-clack) will remain FM radio staples, can this album make an impact on buyers in 2011? On older buyers, indeed. For fans of Horn, definitely. Or is the album merely an advertisement of sorts so that they’ll be able to say “we have new music, which most of the public will ignore but by the way, we’re going on tour”? Plus, a singer that is a complete unknown, and Horn knows how fans reacted to Yes when he was their singer. Looking back, Drama is a really good album but David is unproven. However, Journey has had Arnel Pineda as their lead vocalist for the last few years, and has managed to gain a loyal following not only by Journey fans, but by Filipino fans around the world who love that “their boy” is in one of their favorite groups. Will people be that loyal to David? Hard to say, since Yes has never had that kind of youthful following like Journey did. Only time will tell (and yes, that was an Asia reference, a group that featured Yes/Buggles keyboardist Downes and guitarist Steve Howe, who is also in this incarnation of Yes).

At the end of the year, we’ll see how well this re-re-union between Horn and Yes worked out. Cheers to both.

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SOME STUFFS: Yes and Lynyrd Skynyrd get the audiophile CD treatment

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If you’re a classic rock fan, you’ll have to pick up these two newly-remastered CD’s when they are released on September 29th.

  • Yes90125 was the band’s comeback album in 1983 when they had went on hiatus after the release of Drama. The vocalist of that version of the band, Trevor Horn, would become their producer for their comeback. 90125 featured Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Alan White, Tony Kaye and new guitarist Trevor Rabin, whose contributions were felt throughout the album. The album also featured contributions from various members of Horn’s production team, which also happened to be Art Of Noise. The album lead to three hit singles, including “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, “Leave It”, and “It Can Happen”, along with album cuts like “Hold On” and “Changes”.

    The album was remastered for vinyl and released earlier this year by Friday Music, but this CD is a completely different remastering, handled by Steve Hoffman.

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s second album, appropriately titled Second Helping, was very popular with fans when it was released in 1974, and new fans were introduced to them with the help of what is arguably their second most popular song, “Sweet Home Alabama”. The album also features “Workin’ For MCA”, “The Needle And The Spoon”, and “Call Me The Breeze”. This 2009 remaster was done by noted mastering engineer Kevin Gray.
  • Both CD’s can be pre-ordered through CD Universe, so if you want 90125 go here; if you want Second Helping, head there
  • SOME STUFFS: New audiophile vinyl pressing of Yes’ 90125 to be released in late March

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    It’s an album that brought Yes into the 1980’s with a sound that split old Yes fans while bringing in an all new audience. Yes90125, named after the American catalog # that Atco gave the album, spawned such hits as “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, “Leave It”, and “It Can Happen”, plus great album cuts like “Hold On” and “Changes”. The album introduced guitarist Trevor Rabin to fans, but many also know the album for its production by Trevor Horn, worked on it by his “production theam” which happened to include Anne Dudley, J.J. Jeczalik, and engineer Gary Langan, a/k/a Art Of Noise.

    The album is being remastered by Joe Reagoso and Ron McMaster from the original 1983 master tapes, and will be released on vinyl-only through Friday Music. Even though the original Atco LP can be found at thrift stores and dollar bins, it’s an album that deserves to be heard and reheard again, especially this forthcoming pressing.

    The new vinyl remaster of 90125 can be pre-ordered through Acoustic Sounds.