by Mott the Dog
re-mastered by Ella Crew
5 Stars *****
there is consolation in isolation’’. These are the words printed on the
inside cover of this marvellous electric guitar solo album from that brilliant
musician Peter Banks. Very apt they are, too. Although Peter Banks was at the
creation of the band “Yes” and indeed the bands that were its forbearers
(“SYN’’ and “Mabel Greers Toy Shop”), he remains the only member of
the band not to have been invited back at some stage or other.
His replacement on the guitar, Steve Howe, has joined and
left the band an incredible four times. Even when they recorded and then toured
with the Reunion album with an incredible and quite farcical eleven man line-up,
Peter Bank’s talents were regarded as surplus to requirements. In fact, when
once Peter was invited by the rest of the band to make a guest appearance on the
encores with the band at the end of a U.K. tour, Steve Howe threatened to leave
the band. Peter Banks wasn’t allowed on the same stage as the obviously very
insecure guitarist. So what can be the reason behind this entire skulduggery?
Almost alarmingly simple the story goes like this.
In the formative years of “Yes”, way back in 1968, Peter
Banks was not only lead guitarist, but also inspirational in creating the Yes
sound. The distinctive diamond edge guitar solos, the granite hard riffs coupled
with Jon Anderson’s soaring vocals, the brilliant musicianship of the back
line of Tony Kaye on keyboards, Chris Squire on bass (one of the first people to
play the bass as if it were a lead instrument rather than just a backing
device), and the drummer’s drummer Bill Bruford. The band was obviously tipped
After two albums, the amazing debut album ‘Yes’, which
has just been re-released digitally re-mastered with four outstanding bonus
tracks, and the equally polished second album ‘Time and a Word’, musically
everything was looking great, but whilst the others were all rather taking
themselves terribly seriously, Peter Banks was enjoying the Rock ‘n’ Roll
lifestyle just a little too much. An ultimatum was sent down by the management
(it must be said not with the entire backing of the entire band. Keyboard player
Tony Kaye was to leave the band in similar circumstances after one more album to
be followed by drummer Bill Bruford an album later. Over the years these two
have been in and out of the band’s revolving door whilst it has remained
firmly shut to Peter Banks). Either clean up your act or out they said. Well,
there was no choice really.
Peter Banks left “Yes” forming his own band “Flash”.
Its music could only be described as progressive rock meets punk rock while
retaining the Banks’ guitar sound. “Yes” brought in the far more
controllable Steve Howe to copy Banks’ licks for their breakthrough album
‘The Yes Album’.
“Flash” went onto enormous successes in the U.S.A.,
releasing three albums before disbanding and going their own way. Peter Banks
went on to enjoy life as a session musician and toy with the idea of forming a
band called “Empire”, which went through as many musicians as his former
colleagues in “Yes” would go through.
Several solo albums have been recorded along the way with
‘Reduction’ being the third. Released in 1997 it is full of all the usual
Bankism’s that you come to expect from the man. An amusing and unique little
opening to get you in the mood before a blistering seven minutes of ‘Tone
Down’ where the guitarist shows off all his talents at one minute one hundred
notes a second.
The next bending one note right round your player and
straight out the other door. I’m not saying you have to have a decent player
to listen to a Peter Banks recording, but it certainly helps. Voice samplings
are used to string each instrumental together, my favorite being ‘What gives
you the inspiration to write a song like that’. ‘Usually the landlady
knocking on the door” makes the whole thing flow sublimely from one track to
Although every track is a guitar instrumental there is more
variety on a Peter Banks album than there are colours in a box of Smarties. They
range from the sledgehammer licks of ‘Fathat’ to the delicate acoustic work
on the delightful ‘Fade to Blue’ or the tragic beauty of a song like ‘As
Night Falls’. With songs like this you do not need lyrics to display the
emotions of the music.
The rhythms of ‘Dirty Little secret’ will bury themselves
in your subconscious and drive you nuts trying to recall where you have heard it
before. The overdubbed guitars here become more and more menacing as the song
progresses, implying the perfect soundtrack to a particularly nasty repetitive
nightmare. Fair sends a tingle up and down your tail.
“Reduction is the way to production” is printed on the
back cover. If this is the way producing music of this calibre, so be it. One
can only ponder what would have happened if the boys at “Yes” had stuck with
their wayward son. I do not think that they would have turned into the sorry
parody of themselves that they have now become. But we shall never know. The
best thing to do is get yourself a copy of ‘Reduction’, press play and be
whisked away on one of Mr. Banks’ musical journeys.
Diminuendo in bloom
The age of Distortion
Fade to Blue
As Night Falls
Consolation in Isolation
Dirty Little Secret
To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]