Oh no, Yes
Seduced by the affirmative power of Roger Dean’s Yes logo, writer Fraser Southey recalls the day his younger self fell for the mystical charms of prog.
I still can’t work out what broke in my head. Nothing in my 14-years suggested I’d go prog. I was an embryonic west London soul boy until that afternoon in Dave Blackwell’s bedroom, when he dropped the needle into that groove…
Within twenty minutes of keyboard solos and John Anderson’s falsetto on ‘The Gates of Delirium’ I’d decided to grow out my wedge haircut and buy a cheesecloth vest on Portabello Road.
Now I see it was all the fault of ‘artist’ Roger Dean’s horrible little bubble logo. Just one word — yes — all rounded edges and airbrush: a study in prog. It made its debut on ‘Close To The Edge’ (1972) but that afternoon, I encountered it on ‘Relayer’ (1974) — hovering like a blobby moon or tacky foil party balloon above a weird crystalline ice-scape complete with writhing serpent, warriors on horseback.
Hell yes, we’d drunk a lot of Dave’s dad’s homebrew, scoffed a monster block of Dave’s mum’s angel cake, puffed on some of Dave’s big sister’s crap-strength homegrown — but none of that explains just how suddenly/utterly I fell under that wretched logo’s spell, ditched Wonder, Gaye and Bowie for Yes, ELP and ‘the Tull’.
Within weeks I was buying high-blow concept albums and memorising impenetrable lyrics about elves and warlocks. I even put the live-triple ‘Yessongs’ on my Christmas list along with a book of Roger Dean’s cover art. Broke my Stevie Wonder lovin’ dad’s heart.
Of course it passed. These things do. Autumn ’76, while Dave and I were digging King Crimson in his bedroom, his big sister walked in — cropped head, plastic vest and safety pin in her ear. It was punk at first sight.
Fuck Tales from ‘Topographic Oceans’! Where can I get the Damned’s ‘New Rose’? How do you get to the Roxy?