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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I've spent a lot of money in my life. I probably own a conservative down payment on a house in suits. My book budget over the last five years blows away that of small town libraries. If I had all of that -- plus the money I've spent on awful movies -- back, I'd invest it like this, and on August 3, when the rest of the country is still Googling the word "default," I'd be retiring.


Suffice it to say that won't be happening. But while I will be suffering through the same apocalyptic double-dip recession as the rest of you, I will be doing it with somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000 worth of albums and memorabilia related to 1970s progressive rock band Yes. That would be one of every album on CD (two of some), all of the good albums on vinyl (and some of the less-than-good ones too). I've been to a couple of their concerts, have a t-shirt or two, and own a nifty foamcore poster autographed all of the members of the band's second best lineup.

Like I said, I've spent a lot of money in my life. And yet, the purchase I regret the most -- without question -- is the $20 I spent on the new Yes album, "Fly From Here." I once bought a 2000-model MP3 player that connected to your computer via parallel port, and even though it turned out to be too old to interface with my Windows Millennium Edition, it now looks like a savvy purchase in a post-"Fly From Here" world.

On the surface, buying this album is a no brainer. The Roger Dean album art is back. Win. The album is supposed to mark a return to the large-scale epics that defined the band's best years in the early 1970s. Major win. And the title of the album's signature song, "We Can Fly From Here," is so perfectly Yes; it's the perfect set up for the band that gave us "Tales from Topographic Oceans," "Keys to Ascension" and "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" to once again mix their stream of consciousness imagery with musical virtuosity.

Looks can be deceiving. It was disappointing to hear that classically-tinged rock keyboard player Rick Wakeman wouldn't be involved, but that's not the end of the world; Wakeman's son Oliver would be filling in. I'd love Rick Wakeman, but I'm willing to take a flyer on the guy who it would appear has spent his entire life trying to be him. Oh wait, Oliver quit too? That's not good. Still, it's a Yes album; I own them all. I may as well give it a shot. Besides, the core of the band -- bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White and iconic lead singer Jon Anderson -- have produced good music even without Wakeman.

What? You've got to be shitting me; they kicked Jon Anderson out of the band? How the fuck does that even work? How do you have Yes without the keyboard player and lead singer? Well, on the plus side, at least it means the band is done. There's no way in hell they could record an album without a singer. Oh, I see; you bring in the guys from The Buggles. But who's going to sing? What are you going to do, hire a singer from a tribute band like that stupid Marky Mark movie? No fucking way!?! Benoit David?

This all played out over the course of two years, leading up to today, when I pushed aside a physical sense of dread, and purchased "Fly From Here." It's just shameful. Instead of the classical-progressive rock fusion that coined the term "Bach 'n' Roll," "Fly From Here" offers really long, really boring pop songs. And the title track, for all its promise of a song invoking the image of flight as a spiritual and emotional metaphor, turns out to literally be a song about a fucking airport.

A bonus "Making Of" DVD only makes this $20 investment worse, because it only means there's more of it.

So CD in hand, I wandered through the mall, identifying the following items that I would feel better about buying:

Duke University Championship Banner -- $49.95


Waterford Crystal Ashtray -- $179.99


Cleveland Browns Window Cling -- $4.99


No fucking clue -- "Uhhh, Make me an offer..."


Really gay shirt* -- $79.95
*Indicates items I may have purchased.


Justin Beiber Cardboard Stand-Up -- $34.99


Ed Hardy Cologne Set -- $75.00


105 Minutes of Forcible Sodomy -- $3.99


Pewter Statue of a Demon Playing a Saxophone Solo -- $150

Yes, yes, yes, long exaggerated list of ridiculous crap (and one awesome shirt) that I'd rather own than "Fly From Here." Funny. Unfortunately, if you've read this far, you probably just want to hear it more. Fucking don't.

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