Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Yes, "Roundabout" (1972)

March 4, 1972, #13

In high school daze I occupied an uncomfortable ground between an increasing interest in album artists and their very long jam-oriented exercises, toward which all the cool kids were gravitating, and an increasingly helpless adoration of the embarrassing pop music still playing on the AM radio. I may have mentioned this before. It was always very exciting and convenient for me whenever the worlds came together and acts such as the Allman Brothers, Edgar Winter, and Focus began making random inroads. So if, over the long years, I finally had to say no to Yes, I still haven't forgotten how exciting and indeed gratifying it was to hear a band I loved on my stereo at home cracking the top 40 and making it on the radio. In necessarily shortened version, per the usual. As a purist I am pointing to the full-on 8:36 album track (those without the extra five minutes can find the bowdlerized single version here). It's full of all their usual musicianly charms, the fluid walloping bass of Chris Squire (arguably the band's single best feature) is as defined and integral as Rick Wakeman's rippling keyboard and Steve Howe's politely marauding electric guitar. No one then or now knows what singer Jon Anderson is getting up to in the words. "The lyrics are obscure," Wikipedia helpfully informs, "and have been the subject of debate on music discussion sites." Interestingly, when "the subject of debate on music discussion sites" is googled, the only thing returned are variations on the Wikipedia article about "Roundabout." Remarkable how prescient the title and analysis of the lyrics are in this regard.

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