Back in 2012, Yes bassist Billy Sherwood released an album having recruited some of progressive rock’s glitterati (Steve Hillage, John Wetton and Peter Banks included) on the self-titled, The Prog Collective. Whilst he played most of the instruments, that kind of help made for a damn fine prog-rock piece of history that flew largely, under the radar.
Well, if you like prog, the good news is he is back with another stellar line-up as he is joined on the new album, World On Hold by (deep breath) Todd Rundgren, Geoff Tate, Ron Bumblefoot Thal, Jon Davison, Patrick Moraz, Billy Sherwood, Jan Akkerman, Sonja Kristina, Steve Hillage, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Steve Hackett, Roine Stolt, Billy Sherwood, Graham Bonnet, Derek Sherinian, Joe Lynn Turner, Martin Barre, David Clayton-Thomas, Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Alan White, Tony Kaye David Johansen, Scott Connor…phew! (The track list below shows who is on what.)
Opening with the title track, the synths herald a reflection on the state of the world today and Rungren plays well although the violin of Shankar is low, it still adds atmosphere. This is the sort of track that would fit well in Yes’ catalogue, unsurprisingly perhaps.
Whilst, Two Trajectories is a happy blend of Yes and Queensryche, courtesy, of Geoff Tate’s vocals. The guitar solo is a cracker as Bumblefoot shows his proggy side even if it is rather short.
Anything But Goodbye has Jon Davison sounding like that other Jon and so the Yes feel is exemplified…add in Moraz’s keys and it is so Yes with (as expected) a strong, complex and tasty bass line.
Meant To Be has guitar phrasing to excite as Jan Ackerman features here; fairly low key, but the flourishes around the bridge and fade are good and we get another worthy Yes-like song. Brave New World is more Yes but with Steve Hillage adding texture and, disappointingly, the lovely Sonja Kristina not given sufficient chance to shine…good song though.
Glory Days Ahead does allow Hackett and Lucassen to show through and the carefully crafted guitar sections are bliss.
Now Prog-master come pop star Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill is treated to an OK interpretation but seems a little flat as the percussiveness of the original is underplayed in my humble.
Next up is the one I was waiting for: I’ve been a huge fan of Graham Bonnet since ’79 when he burst onto the rock scene. I have everything he’s ever done before and since Down To Earth and his vocal on Whiter Shade Of Pale is (for him) restrained and also has his usual habit of changing the odd part of the melody to make it his…it works well and the instrumentation is actually very, very good. This was always a ‘meh’ song to me, but it has grown immeasurably in my opinion because of him and the guitar playing.
Eye In The Sky has another ex Rainbow singer, Joe Lynn Turner (or Jolene as he is known affectionately to Purple fans) as well as Martin Barre contributing to a prog tinged ballad that Turner does a brilliant job on…his voice is unstrained, melodic and passionate. Barre also delivers a delightful section that fits perfectly. David Clayton-Thomas (voice of Blood Sweat and Tears) and Geoff Downes make the moody (!) Nights In White Satin the same but very, very different and leaves me un-inclined to lodge (!) a complaint…a fascinating reading.
The “bonus tracks” Penny Lane, More Than A Feeling and People Are Strange all have been available previously but, if you didn’t get a copy of the late John Wetton’s performance on the Beatles’ song, here’s your chance; he does it proud. In my view, Boston doesn’t fare so well; although it fairly honest and inhaling helium is never to be recommended. I never thought of the Doors as prog, but Johansen’s vocal is irresistible and it is now even more fun.
There are a few near misses, but this is still a very worthwhile album if you like Yes and/or quality prog rock like wot it used to be…or if you’re a fan of any of the contributors it is worth seeking out too.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – A Wonderful album for all Yes and prog as it used to be fans.
1. Worlds On Hold (feat. Todd Rundgren & L. Shankar)
2. Two Trajectories (feat. Geoff Tate & Ron Bumblefoot Thal)
3. Anything But Goodbye (feat. Jon Davison & Patrick Moraz)
4. Meant To Be (feat. Jan Akkerman & Billy Sherwood)
5. Brave New World (feat. Sonja Kristina & Steve Hillage)
6. Glory Days Ahead (feat. Arjen Anthony Lucassen & Steve Hackett)
7. Solsbury Hill (feat. Roine Stolt & Billy Sherwood)
8. A Whiter Shade Of Pale (feat. Graham Bonnet & Derek Sherinian)
9. Eye In The Sky (feat. Joe Lynn Turner & Martin Barre)
10. Nights In White Satin (feat. David Clayton-Thomas & Geoff Downes)
11. Penny Lane (feat. John Wetton)
12. More Than A Feeling (feat. Alan White, Tony Kaye & Billy Sherwood)
13. People Are Strange (feat. David Johansen)
(It’s funny how one forgets the stuff in the old collection…well iTunes delivered the barking mad, trippy, fun and (once again) unforgettable song from 1967…The Purple Gang with the not quite a hit single, Granny Takes A Trip…yes, really!)