I feel like Charlie Brown with the football. Lucy keeps teeing it up and I keep falling for the trick. Yes keeps releasing live records, I keep listening to them, and I keep having my dreams crushed. It’s so disappointing.
Topographic Drama: Live Across America was released yesterday. I listened to less than a minute of “Machine Messiah” and had to stop. I listened to less than half a minute of “Tempus Fugit” and had to stop listening altogether. The last couple of times I went through this it was all about Steve Howe. Arguably the most talented guitarist ever. I mean… ever… and he’s just a shell of his former self. There are times when you can almost hear what he used to be capable of, but for the most part it’s like a great painter trying to replicate his/her greatest work using only the color grey. It’s sad.
It’s not just Steve Howe this time though, it’s the whole band. Both as individuals and as a group. The singer (it’s still John Davidson, right?) sounds weak. Chris Squire is dead and I don’t care who replaces him, he’s never going to be good enough. Billy Sherwood is probably fine, but he will never, ever be good enough. I also got the feeling that maybe he’s using some sort of modeling software to make his bass sound more like Squire’s. I have no proof of that, but I know Howe uses Line 6 gear so maybe it’s something similar. Alan White, like Steve Howe, is a shadow of his former self. Geoff Downes has, even at his best, never lived up to it for me, but now he just sounds cheesy.
None of that explains exactly why I stopped listening though. No, that would be the rhythm. Specifically, everyone on the record sounds slightly out of time. You could drive a truck through their gaps between the beats. It sounds like they can’t hear each other. Or maybe none of them realize that Alan White is the drummer and therefore the band equivalent of a conductor. It’s just painful. I had to turn it off or I was going to start to cry. Just awful.
If they want to keep making studio records, that’s fine. In a controlled environment I’m sure they can still put together decent sounding work. Live though? Please, don’t hurt us like this again. Make it stop, please. Pretty please. And if anyone ever wants me to go see this band with them… don’t ask.