Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Jon Davison, Glass Hammer & Yes

There was much debate last year among the cognoscenti of prog about Benoit David's role as the singer with Yes, particularly after the release of the much-awaited album, 'Fly From Here'.  David had been a touring member of the band for a few years, but this was his first recording with them, and most people thought that he had done a creditable job, though Jon Anderson will always be regarded by the purists as the only 'true' singer with Yes.

On tour with the rest of the new line-up of the band last year he handled the 'classic' material well, and showed that his years as a 'Yes tribute' vocalist had not been wasted. But then news came that the rigours of touring, and of singing consistently in the ranges that Yes's music calls for, had taken their toll. The last few dates of the European leg of the tour were called off, and subsequently it was announced that Benoit had left the band.

A few days ago his replacement was revealed - another former Yes tribute-band singer, and currently vocalist with the group 'Glass Hammer', Jon Davison. I have to confess that I had been aware of Glass Hammer's existence for a few years but had never got round to listening to their music, but hearing of Davison's recruitment as the 18th official member of Yes in their history (their 4th vocalist) I made a point of listening to their two most recent offerings, on which Jon sings: 'If' and 'Cor Cordium'.

Listening to these recordings, I could immediately see why he had been chosen by Yes. Their influence on Glass Hammer is clear, but they are more than just another tribute band. Their style incorporates for me the best of classic symphonic prog, with hints of 70s Genesis and touches of ELP evident in their keyboard-driven tunes. Davison, clearly under the thrall of Jon Anderson in his singing, also brings elements for me of Rush's Geddy Lee in his prime to his vocals, and bassist Steve Babb shows a clear similarity to Chris Squire.

Someone commented to me recently that 'Cor Cordium' was the best Yes album of 2011, and it certainly bears more comparison in many regards with classic Yes than 'Fly From Here' does (echoes of 'Awaken' for me in the closing minutes of the final song, 'She, a Lonely Tower').

I wait eagerly for Davison to stamp his mark on this great, epic band, and take them into their next phase (assuming his voice holds out). "High vibration, go on!"