We've nearly come to the end of our little jaunt through memory lane. In this penultimate chapter of the origins of the PP Guru and how mysterous events in his life always seem to coincide around the releases of Yes studio album, we examine the year of 1999 when our five minstrels of modern age mantras suddenly expanded to six for the release of The Ladder on November 5th of that year.
Aerosmith producer Bruce Fairbairn, ), Tim Collins (Aerosmith
Former Manager) & JDK at Little Mountain Sound - Vancouver,
BC - 1989 - citing fair use Image © www.johnkalodner.com/
A change of scenery and a attempt to enlist a new mentor's help in producing their next record lead the band to shack up somewhere remotely in the outskirts of Vancouver, B.C. The band hadn't had a outside producer or given one sole credit until a legendary producer of such million dollar selling acts such as Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and Kiss, Bruce Fairbairn challenged the band to sit down and make 'the best YES album you can and the rest will follow'.
So the band tried their best and they nearly succeeded. For the PP Guru considers this effort his third all time favorite behind Relayer and Drama. The first nearly ten minute track of 'Homeworld' originally written as music for a science fiction video game from Sierra Studios is Yes at it's most daring, as they attempted to augment their popular progressive stable with the sounds of rare exotic instrumets and fantastic keyboard instrumentation provided by new Russian born recruit Igor Khoroshev who could nearly rival Wakeman in a flash glide of five digit dexterity. A hint of South American culture permeates a trilogy of songs strung together on Lightning Strikes, (a song edited down for radio), Can I? ,(Maestro Jon A reprises Fragile's We Have Heaven as if performed by Aborigines ) and Face To Face. There was a much better sernade written for Jon's new wife Jane on If Only You Knew and Chris Squire's reggae pumping bass is captivated once more on "The Messenger " which is an ode to all things great and small - as it pertains to the world of Bob Marley. Another great 10 minute epic, New Language features good honest Jon Anderson spacey lyrics accompanied by fantastic Squire/Sherwood backing vocals before it ends with a cherished Steve Howe strumming celebration of all life in Nine Voices that could listened beside Your Move/I've Seen All Good People on the Yes Album. The album even debuted a new cover and a rarely used logo as designed by Roger Dean.
Jon Anderson channeling the spirit of Greta Garbo
>Bruce Fairbairn really pushed the band to limits that they never thought possible and their effort really shine through on the final mix, but fate came and intervened near the completion of the album to take Bruce's life away due to cancer at the age of 49. The Canadian Music Industry posthumously awarded Bruce a Juno Award for lifetime achievement in the year 2000.
Anderson and Co soldiered on and stood firm behind their new album's material and were confident enough to play nearly every track of it live on their new tour. Most of the venues played this time around were the House of Blues club franchises- with stops in major metropolis like Kansas City, New Orleans, three nights in Los Angeles, and Las Vegas - which was captured live on CD and VHS as 'The House of Yes'.
Shortly after the release of that video in 2000, Billy Sherwood resigned from the band - but still maintains a healthy working relationship with Chris Squire as evident by the release of 2003's Conspiracy - The Unknown, which is Chris's finest solo work since the release of his Fish Out of Water nearly thirty years ago. Billy Sherwood also works with Geoff Downes in writing material for Asia albums.
The PP Guru was really impressed with Igor's work on the Ladder album and was a equal sight to behold on stage as well. The PP Guru thought it was really nifty to see him beat the fucking shit out of a cowbell with one hand while he would perform Wakeman's appreggiated organ swirls with the other on the rousting encore of Roundabout. Igor did four world tours with the bands two behind Open Your Eyes, this album, and the Masterworks tour in 2002 before calling it quits. Although rumor has it, that Igor got in a little bit of hot water after a show in Virginia when he played a game of grabass with a undercover woman police officer who was assigned as a body guard at the venue.
When we last left the PP Guru in his cliffhanging memoirs, The PP Guru was making great strides in practically smacking a Cary Coatney Clubhouse together. The PP Guru had gotten good word of mouth for the monumental job he did in supervising the small press department of the San Diego Comic Con International. He expected to repeat the performance for next year - but the committee voted not to have the PP Guru back due to circumstances surrounding the budget. As he noted in his last chapter, the PP Guru was really living the high life on the Convention's dime. He arranged to have sixteen Domino pizzas charged to his room that the Convention was footing the bill for and had a party for the vendors in his department without their approval. He took Amtrak train rides down to meetings and gave the vouchers to the treasurer to sign off on. He charged phone calls he made from his house in Sherman Oaks to the Convention office- he did a lot of crazy shit to make it look like that this is was a salary position rather than a volunteer effort (the PP Guru does remember that they have a application of his on file). The most devastating blow came when the PP Guru had written publicity for the Con to a special Comic Buyer's Guide issue dedicated to the con and announced with approval that the convention would be giving away a free 24 page pamphlet that would spotlight some of the small press creators in his area. The Convention organizers, Fae Desmond and James Pascoe went rogue on the PP Guru's ass and nixed it before it could become a reality.
<>The president of the Comic Con International committee board, John Rogers was not happy about the PP Guru getting carte blanche everywhere he went and therefore suggested someone with less experience in the handling of independent creators and have it put to a vote. The PP Guru thought that it was a rash foolhardy decision- he got good write ups for his efforts in the Comics Buyer's Guide and Comics Journal- and the PP Guru wasn't going to give in without a fight - but then something unforeseen happened to make the situation worsen that put the PP Guru in a very unflattering light. >
Some cunt called the convention office and said that the PP Guru was threatening her life and was going to go and press charges against him.
And that cunt was none other than Carol Ruth Hamilton (who is now some big fancy lawyer in Glendale) - ex wife of the PP Guru's high school buddy from Parsippany, N.J., Joe Zullo. Carol the Cunt still wanted to be part of the PP Guru's life in some deflated capacity, even though she remarried some boozer who beat the fucking shit out of her practically every night. The PP Guru was still stinging from all the times when she would use her cunt as a bargaining tool in making the PP Guru run errands for her a few years back - and even went as to so far have his friend in England, Matt Goodluck send her a tape the PP Guru sent him of Joe's answering machine messages of all the whores who used to call for him at our apartment in her absence. The PP Guru was getting sick and tired of being in the middle of their petty squabbles and with the constant going back and forth of getting together and breaking up. So in order to keep tabs on the PP Guru in the late nineties, she would set up the PP Guru on dates with her jewish lesbian friend Lara Allen, who didn't really want to be a lesbian anymore. The PP Guru had a fondness for Lara- she wasn't partically that great looking, but she had a sarcastic dark humorous streak in her that the PP Guru found lacking in his own life and thought she was a blast to hang around with- even though staring at her big tits were a little offsetting. The PP Guru had gone on a series of dates to some expensive eateries including one at the much lamented Marvel Mania restuarant at Universal City Studios.
However the topic of conversations with Lara always wound up on the subject of Joe - and the PP Guru had repeated told her that he had not seen Joe for a good long number of years and stop bringing up the subject. And then Carol the Cunt would call on Lara's cellphone as if it were Karl Rove giving Diet Coke Dubya pointers on how to perform cunnilingus on Laura's Bush- do you go in slowly? Does the tongue have to flicker in and out? What happens if she falls asleep? - You know, that sort of interrogation.
One night, the PP Guru snapped and told both of them to go fuck themselves and then left a very disparging message on Carol the Cunt's message machine to get over it and stop running to the PP Guru to pump information out of him over Joe. Maybe the message left on her machine went this: "THE PP GURU DOESN'T KNOW WHERE THE FUCK JOE IS! MAYBE HE JOINED SOME COCKSUCKING SCIENTOLOGY RETREAT TO GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM YOU!! THE PP GURU HOPES THAT SATAN TAKES YOU UP THE ASS" - or something similar to that effect.
So Carol the Cunt placed a phone call to the comic con's offfice proclaiming that the PP Guru was threatening her life (the PP Guru would not give Carol the Cunt his home number - however, Lara had the PP Guru's San Diego business card. )had to go down to San Diego to resolve this matter to his supervisor, Beth Holley who the PP Guru had to assure that this was nothing but the work of a prankster - but it took a hard time to convince everyone otherwise- but it fell on deaf ears and the committee took a vote on having Ned Cato take over the Small Press position without the PP Guru around to present his case. The PP Guru got mad and stormed out of the meeting - a victim of corrupt ruthless bureaucracy.
All was not lost, the PP Guru's career as a writer ballooned to the fact that he was granted a professional badge for having his first byline in the pages of Comics Buyer's Guide for reviewing the Marvel Mania date that Lara and I shared together. Editor John Jackson Miller thought it was one funniest things that he had read all year and had a check for $ 50 sent out to him.
The PP Guru recieved the check at his mother's new house in New Jersey for what would probably be the last time. For what was supposed to be a New York business trip to give Cary Coatney's original creation, The Deposit Man one last pitch to some comic book publisher ended up in unmitigated disaster and estrangment from the family on his mother's side that continues to the very day.
Be here Monday for the final chapter.
Line up for Yes - The Ladder: Jon Anderson, vocals; Steve Howe, guitars, steel, mandolin, vocals; Billy Sherwood, guitars, vocals; Chris Squire, bass, vocals; Alan White, drums, percussion, vocals; Igor Khoroshev, keyboards, vocals Produced by Bruce Fairbairn and recorded at the Armoury Studios in Vancouver, Canada from Febuary - May 1999.
Favorite lyric: Send, ascending to the secrets/All is pure and clear to resolve/Nothing can change us now/Send, ascending to the future/Nothing can ever change us now/We follow the sun/We follow the sun/We follow the sun - Homeworld - ( Anderson/Squire/Howe/White/Sherwood/Khoroshev )
As to reach the healing of each spoken word in a new language to: