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35 Years of YES

By Craig Rosen

NEW YORK (Billboard) - "It's the most positive word in the English language," Yes drummer Alan White says of his band's moniker.

Beyond that, Yes is a classic-rock institution that has thrived for the better part of three decades, since forming in 1968 in Birmingham, England.

As Yes prepares to return to U.S. arenas on the heels of the release of "The Ultimate Yes -- 35th Anniversary Collection," Billboard caught up with all five members of the group before they converged on a Los Angeles studio to record material for a bonus disc to be included with the American version of the retrospective. A new studio album is planned for next summer.

Q: In your wildest dreams, did you ever think Yes would celebrate its 35th anniversary?

Jon Anderson (Vocals and founder): Two or three years was the maximum in those days, or two or three minutes, depending on what the day went like. When we started, we really wanted to be as good as a band called Family. They were doing the clubs. That's all we wanted -- to get as big as that, and probably do some university gigs. You never think you're going to have success. It just comes upon you, and that's when you count your blessings, because a lot of people don't get that success.

Steve Howe (Guitars): The '70s were quite an achievement. When that finished and I formed Asia with John Wetton, I really felt that was then, and now I was going to keep doing different things. But by the time I had Asia and GTR Steve Hackett, I started to realize that the Yes music of the '70s was great.

Chris Squire (Bass and founder): I was 15 when the Beatles came to light around '63. That's kind of what got me interested in the whole profession. At that time, a long career in my eyes was like the Beatles, '63 to '69 -- six years. I thought, "Wow! Wouldn't it be great to be in a band that had a six-year career?" I never ever thought at some point together 35 years, because there was no blueprint for that.

Rick Wakeman (Keyboards): In my various ins and outs, I've been around for about a third of the life of Yes. In the '80s, many of the classic bands dismantled themselves or took incredibly long sabbaticals.

Alan White (Drums): I joined at a very early time the band was only 3 years old. In joining, I gave the band three months to test our styles out and whether I would enjoy playing with the band and them with me. And here we are about 31 years later.

Q: The band's history has been rather soap opera-like, with all the personnel changes. What were the low points?

Anderson: We've all had our moments. It's always been a question of, "Are you into where we're going? If you're not, you should leave." We didn't all come from the same town, so we didn't feel like we were bound together with an umbilical cord.

Wakeman: The low points to me were certainly around the "Topographic Oceans" era. I couldn't get into the direction the music was going, and Yes is always a give-and-take. Having to make the decision to leave, that was a low point.

Q: What do you consider the highlights of the band's career?

Anderson: There are about three or four. The time when we initially became famous in England, and we played with Cream at their final concert at Albert Hall. That was like a dream. Also when we did "Close to the Edge." The scope of doing a piece of music like that and having an audience that would listen to it was a great feeling.

Another highlight was when we had a resurgence in the early '80s with "90125"; that was a very big leap into being famous for 10 minutes. We had a No. 1. We were treated like rock stars. A week into that tour, I went with this young filmmaker, Steve Soderbergh, to see "Spinal Tap." I went in and saw my whole world in front of me. It blew my mind. I never laughed as much in my life. I could never take myself seriously again.

Howe: "Close to the Edge" was the invention of the 20-minute Yes, and it stands because of that. We were challenging the idea that we could play 18-plus minutes at a time. Jon and I were so excited to have this sort of symphonic approach to our music. We did "Roundabout," which was quite a long song, and then we sat around with these smirks on our faces as the songs started to expand. I started playing Jon some ideas, and we realized we were going to invent something really big.

The next time we hit it was when Rick returned and we did "Going for the One" album. We were still in this wonderful pre-digital time when there was marvelous warmth. Listening to that guitar at the beginning of "Turn of the Century," I was feeling every moment of it.

Wakeman: The highlights to me were certainly the "Fragile"/"Close to the Edge" years -- '71, '72 and early '73 -- because I thought the balance in the music business was perfect. Bands were left alone to create music. Nobody told us what to play, how to play, how to record. We were the musicians, the scientists in the lab.

a brief history of YES

Yes was the quintessential English art-rock band, with all the excess and all the glory that entails. Loaded with too much virtuosity, too many ideas and too many personnel changes for one band to deal with, Yes has produced its share of spotty albums over the past 20 years. Yet during its classic period lasting between 1970's The Yes Album and 1977's Going For The One Yes was almost consistently inspired. Anyone needing to defend art-rock only has to pull out the side-long title track of Close To The Edge (1972): It never got more visceral or more melodically soaring than that.

Initially Yes was simply a pop group that got very, very ambitious. Their first two albums have some R&B traces, thanks to the more basic styles of guitarist Peter Banks and keyboardist Tony Kaye, who both got weeded out early. Yet the delicate, almost feminine tones of singer Jon Anderson proved an early trademark, along with the jazz leanings of the rhythm section (bassist Chris Squire and drummer Bill Bruford, replaced in 1972 by the heavier-hitting Alan White).

With the arrival of guitarist Steve Howe and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, Yes was free to explore the rock-symphony approach they aspired to. Their ambitions reached a peak on 1973's Tales From Topographic Oceans--a four-song, lyrically dense double album that even Wakeman found excessive (he exited for a year, replaced by Patrick Moraz)-- yet there were more than enough lovely and powerful moments to justify the stretch. Reunited with Wakeman after a year making solo albums, Yes stripped down to relative basics and made its last great album with 1977's Going For The One.

Since then the band's inability to settle on a permanent lineup, coupled with the inevitable career fatigue, has kept them from hitting the same peaks. Anderson and Wakeman left in 1979, replaced by the two members of the Buggles (the resulting album, Drama, was nowhere near as bad as it could have been).

Yes was then laid to rest until 1983, when Anderson, Kaye, Squire and White formed a new lineup with guitarist/singer Trevor Rabin. At first Rabin's mainstream instincts were just what the band needed--the 1983 album 90125 was both creative and commercial, if not quite the cosmic Yes of old--but wound up taking far too much control and made Yes sound too ordinary.

Anderson rebelled and pulled in the other ex-members for a competing band, clumsily billed as Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford, Howe--but that didn't work either, thanks to overdone production and spotty material. The nadir came when some unfinished AWBH demos were cobbled together with some Rabin outtakes as a Yes album, Union; an eight-man lineup cashed in with a reunion tour. The closest thing to a real comeback happened when the Topographic Oceans lineup reunited in 1996 for Keys To Ascension, a live album of great Yes obscurities, plus a surprisingly solid studio section (two new songs totaling 30 minutes, their first long suites in years). Ever since the band released a couple of studio albums and continues to hit the road.

Call of Duty

Gamespot Rating: 9.0. Difficulty: Medium. Learning Curve: about a half-hour. Stability: stable. Version: Retail. Publisher: Activision. Developer: Infinity Ward. Genre: Action. Release Date: Oct 10. Requirements: 128 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, 32 MB VRAM, 1400 MB disk space, DirectX v9.0.

There is no shortage of World War II-themed first-person shooters available, and it's no secret that a number of them, including Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Battlefield 1942, are extremely good. Now you can add Call of Duty to that list.

The first game by Infinity Ward, a studio composed of some of the same team that worked on Allied Assault, Call of Duty presents outstanding action all around and is at least as good as, and in several ways is simply better than, any similar game. Though both its single-player and multiplayer modes will be familiar to those who've been keeping up with the WWII-themed shooters of the past several years, most anyone who plays games would more than likely be very impressed with Call of Duty's authentic presentation, well designed and often very intense single-player missions, and fast-paced, entertaining multiplayer modes.

This is a game that pulls together many of the best aspects of other, similar games, and also includes all sorts of little "wish-list items" that may have crossed your mind while playing those other games. The result seems, above all, very well designed. The action in Call of Duty, ultimately, is arcadelike--much like in Allied Assault or Battlefield 1942. You can't survive a shot to the head, but you can take a few bullets anywhere else and can keep going just fine. There's also a clear onscreen indication of the direction from which you're taking fire (and, as you're getting hit, the screen shudders to make it look like it hurts). Luckily, first aid kits, conveniently placed in the levels or occasionally dropped by killed enemies, instantly restore large portions of your health. You hardly ever need to activate a "use" key in this game. When you do, you'll use it to instantly set explosives or grab documents, but you won't use it for opening doors.

Actually, that's because you won't be opening any doors. One gameplay contrivance that's presented in the first few seconds of the first mission is that any time you see a closed door in Call of Duty, it's supposed to stay closed. This seems like a minor point, but how many shooters have you played in which you fumbled for every doorknob, trying to find the one door that would actually open? That's simply not an issue in Call of Duty. Despite the highly authentic atmosphere created for the levels in the game, there tends to be an intuitive, clear path from the beginning of the level to the end. The levels can be challenging, at least at the higher two of the game's four difficulty settings, but they're not frustrating. If you die, you can restart at your most recent save almost instantly. You don't need to worry about hitting the quick-save key all the time, either, since the game automatically and seamlessly saves your progress not just at the beginning of a level but at several points throughout the level. The game's brief tutorial at the beginning of the single-player mode will be second nature for experienced players of first-person shooters. However, since it's in the context of a military boot camp, it will also provide, for new and experienced players alike, some valuable advice on (and practice with) the nuances of Call of Duty's gameplay.

You cannot sprint in Call of Duty, nor can you tiptoe. While standing, you move at a constant pace that's not too slow and not too fast but is just right. You'll have no trouble quickly getting from point A to point B. However, when you're running from cover to cover in an area that's under fire, you'll be painfully aware of how vulnerable you are. You should probably keep your head down, and Call of Duty lets you easily switch between standing, crouching, and prone stances. You move slower while crouching--not too slowly though--which makes this the best way to get around when in the thick of battle. Movement, as well as turning, is understandably much slower while prone. Sometimes, however, this is the perfect option for staging an ambush or staying out of harm's way. As in many shooters, you can also lean around corners in Call of Duty, which can be a real lifesaver during some of the game's deadly firefights when you need all the cover you can get.

Call of Duty features a wide arsenal of authentic American, British, Russian, and German WWII weapons, including various rifles, submachine guns, side arms, and grenades. You can carry only two larger weapons at a time (as well as a pistol and some grenades), so, typically, you'll want to have a rifle for out-in-the-open engagements and a submachine gun for tight-quarter combat. While armed with any of these, you may shoot from the hip, raise the weapon to eye level and aim down the sight (for more accuracy at the expense of movement speed), or use the butt of the weapon to try and club an enemy to death. Manually reloading your weapon tends to be faster than letting the clip run out, and some weapons let you switch firing modes, like going from full-auto to single shot (though, since you can squeeze off single rounds in full-auto mode, this isn't very useful). Your crosshairs expand when you're moving and contract when you're steady, pointing out how much more inaccurate you'll be if you try to run-and-gun. The weapons themselves are modeled very convincingly, thanks in no small part to the tactile sense you get from being able to look through their sights or use them as bludgeons, and most every one will earn your respect since, in the right situations, they can all be deadly effective.

Black Music

By Synergie

Black magic is a term that has been known and practiced for many centuries. But Black music…? Don't get worried, it's not another unearthing form the depths of dark arts. It's actually something, well… 'out of this world'.

Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have found, for the first time, sound waves from a super-massive black hole. The "note" is the deepest ever detected from any object in our Universe. The tremendous amounts of energy carried by these sound waves may solve a longstanding problem in astrophysics.

The black hole resides in the Perseus cluster of galaxies located 250 million light years from Earth. In 2002, astronomers obtained a deep Chandra observation that shows ripples in the gas filling the cluster. These ripples are evidence for sound waves that have traveled hundreds of thousands of light years away from the cluster's central black hole.

Earlier observations had revealed the prodigious amounts of light and heat created by black holes. And now, scientists have detected their sound, too. In musical terms, the pitch of the sound generated by the black hole translates into the note of B flat. But, a human would have no chance of hearing this cosmic performance because the note is 57 octaves lower than middle-C. For comparison, a typical piano contains only about seven octaves. At a frequency over a million billion times deeper than the limits of human hearing, this is the deepest note ever detected from an object in the Universe.

"The Perseus sound waves are much more than just an interesting form of black hole acoustics. These sound waves may be the key in figuring out how galaxy clusters, the largest structures in the Universe, grow." says Steve Allen of the Institute of Astronomy.

For years astronomers have tried to understand why there is so much hot gas in galaxy clusters and so little cool gas. Hot gas glowing with X-rays ought to cool because X-rays carry away some of the gas' energy. Dense gas near the cluster's center where X-ray emission is brightest should cool the fastest. As the gas cools, say researchers, the pressure should drop, causing gas from further out to sink toward the center. Trillions of stars ought to be forming in these gaseous flows.

Yet scant evidence has been found for flows of cool gas or for star formation. This forced astronomers to invent several different ways to explain how gas contained in clusters remained hot. None of them were satisfactory. Black hole sound waves, however, might do the trick.

Previous Chandra observations of the Perseus cluster reveal two vast, bubble-shaped cavities extending away from the central black hole. These cavities have been formed by jets of material pushing back the cluster gas. The jets, which are a counter-intuitive side effect of the black hole gobbling matter in its vicinity, have long been suspected of heating the surrounding gas. But the exact mechanism was unknown. The sound waves, seen spreading out from the cavities in the recent Chandra observation, could provide this heating mechanism.

A tremendous amount of energy is needed to generate the cavities, as much as the combined energy from 100 million supernovas. Much of this energy is carried by the sound waves and should dissipate in the cluster gas, keeping the gas warm and possibly preventing a cooling flow. If so, the B-flat pitch of the sound wave, 57 octaves below middle-C, would have remained roughly constant for about 2.5 billion years.

Perseus is the brightest cluster of galaxies in X-rays, and therefore was a perfect Chandra target for finding sound waves rippling through the hot cluster gas. Other clusters show X-ray cavities and future Chandra observations may yet detect sound waves in those clusters, too.

Pantera Members Form Damageplan

Billboards Report

Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrell have formed Damageplan. The group's debut, "New Found Power," is due Feb. 10 via Elektra.

A spokesperson says Pantera has not broken up but is on hiatus; the new group will tour roughly around the time of the album's release.

Damageplan is rounded out by former Diesel Machine guitarist Patrick Lachman on vocals and bassist Bobzilla. "New Found Power" was produced by Dimebag and Paul along with frequent collaborator Sterling Winfield. Guests include Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde and Slipknot's Corey Taylor.

"The music was written from our heart and soul for ourselves but most of all for our fans who have been so loyal to us over the years," Paul says in a statement.

"Pantera was everything to us and we put everything we had into it 1000% but it is time for us to move on. We're proud to carry the torch and continue our a** kickin', hell raisin' tradition that you know and love... you will not be let down.”

Pantera has not released a studio album since 2000's "Reinventing the Steel," which debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 593,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Since then, frontman Phil Anselmo has released albums with the side projects Down and Superjoint Ritual.

Michael Schumacher

By Ziad Bin Hyder

Never a racer has created such an impact in the FIA Formula 1 Championships than Michael Schumacher. Born in Hurth-Hermühlheim in Germany on January 3, 1969, this racing prodigy is now heralded as the most successful driver in the history of Formula One. Michael Schumacher began his career with karting where he had much success: junior champion of Germany in 1984 and European champion in 1987. But, except karting, the motor race hardly interests him. It is told that at the time the names of Senna, Prost, Mansell or Piquet meant nothing to him.

He made his debut in the FIA Formula 1 Championships in 1991 racing for the Jordan-Ford/Benetton-Ford racing team and finished in 12th position. He won his first title in the 1994 FIA Formula 1 Championships with the Benetton-Ford racing team and again in 1995 with the Benetton-Renault racing team. The turning point of his career came in 1996 when he left the Benetton Racing Team and joined the Ferrari Racing Team. With the Ferrari Racing Team, he has won four consecutive titles from 2000 to 2003, giving him a total of six career titles. He has accumulated 1038 World Championship points and has the all time career win record with 70 victories, a winning percentage of 35.7 in 196 Formula One starts. The German broke his tie with Nigel Mansell at nine single season wins with eleven victories in the 17 rounds of the 2002 championship.

Ferrari F1 Racing Team

A lot of credit of Michael Schumacher's successes at the FIA Formula 1 Championships goes to the Ferrari F1 Racing Team. Ferrari needs no introduction, nor does the "Horse Rampant" insignia which their cars sport. The company started by Enzo Ferrari in 1948 and now based at Maranello, Italy makes the most sought after cars on the planet. Their road cars are all based on and backed by Formula 1 racing experience, making them unique. The racing team is known as "Scuderia Ferrari". The red colour associated with Ferrari cars is a throwback to the early parts of this century, it being assigned to Italian cars racing in Grand Prix by the International Automobile Federation. In 1981 the Formula 1 racing team moved to a dedicated plant next to the Fiorano test track, previously being based at the Maranello factory. Some racing car components are however still manufactured at Maranello. The Ferrari F1 racing team paired up Michael Schumacher with Eddie Irvine from 1996 1999, where the pair was only able to win one constructor's championship trophy for the team. But ever since Rubens Barrichello joined in place of Eddie Irvine in the year 2000, the Ferrari F1 Racing team has won four consecutive constructor championships.

The most successful of Formula 1 teams, the Ferrari F1 Racing team has won constructor championships 12 times and these were in 1961, 1964, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1982, 1983, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. They have won driver's championships with Alberto Ascari in 1952 & 1953, Juan Manuel Fangio in 1956, Mike Hawthorn in 1958, Phil Hill in 1961, John Surtees in 1964 and Niki Lauda in 1975 & 1977, Jody Scheckt in 1979 and Michael Schumacher in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Overall, the Ferrari F1 Racing Team has accumulated a total of 3083.5 constructor championship points and 167 wins.


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