I like Olias of Sunhillow
a lot. Jon writes much simpler songs in general, but has a great ear for melodies and putting together chord progressions that are deceptively simple, yet elegant.Fish Out Of Water
by Chris Squire is very good, probably my favorite "regular" Yes solo album, and regarded by many as a lost Yes album. It's quite prog, and even sounds a lot like Yes thanks to drums by Bill Bruford and keyboards by Patrick Moraz, and of course because Squire's voice is similar to Anderson's.
Then you have all the solo stuff by Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe.
Wakeman has an insane amount of solo material out there, most of which people have never heard of, and a lot of which Wakeman himself admits is pretty bad (and I agree). The Six Wives of Henry VIII
was the first and is still my fave, followed closely by Criminal Record
. Both of these are all instrumentals. If you don't mind your prog with extra cheese, Journey to the Center of the Earth
and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
are both quite good. There are extended instrumentals providing interpretation of the story, given in spoken word and singing, which isn't bad, but I end up wishing they'd just shut up so we can get to the next instrumental. Selections From Journey to the Center of the Earth
, which he actually recorded much later, solves that problem and just gives you the instrumentals, plus a couple of revised tracks from King Arthur
and Six Wives
to help fill out the run time.
Wakeman seems to have shot his load in the 70's, though. He's released literally dozens of albums since then (seriously
) and honestly, I don't know if even 5% of them are any good. I checked out a good ten or 12 of them, and ended up nuking most of them from my hard drive. The New Age stuff isn't bad (Aspirant Sunset, Aspirant Sunrise, Aspirant Sunshadows
) and I kept them. They have his knack for chords, but as with most New Age, it's meant for relaxing and/or background music. In the 70's, he was master of the piles of electronic keyboards, but on his later stuff, I prefer just him and acoustic piano.
Steve Howe also has a lot of solo albums. As with Wakeman, my favorites are the instrumentals, but in this case it's mostly because I really don't like Howe's voice. Natural Timbre
is probably my favorite because to me, solo Howe is best when it's just him and an acoustic guitar. His amazing electric solos with Yes seem to require a strong band (like Yes, obviously) for him to play against, and he never really manages to assemble a really strong band on his solo albums, so don't look for a whole album of technical fireworks, such as on a John Petrucci solo album. Steve's solo albums encompass a lot of different styles, and that includes "regular songs" with him singing. I haven't heard them all, but Beginnings
and The Steve Howe Album
, the first two, are both very good, the aforementioned Natural Timbre
, and I think it was either Skyline
that I checked out one time that was pretty good.
Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz have a couple of albums out together, which are very interesting to me because you don't often hear music performed by piano and drums as a duo. The first one was simply called Moraz-Bruford: Music for Piano and Drums
. Interesting but gets a bit repetitive after a while, as all of Moraz's solo stuff does for me. Their second album was pretty much the same, and I didn't keep it. I don't even remember its name.
Moraz is a brilliant, gifted keyboard player, but I find his solo albums rather dull. The Story of i
is his best-known one, and the compositions and arrangements are great, the keyboard sounds are awesome, and I still find myself admiring all that, but somehow not being impressed overall. Something just doesn't grab me. There doesn't seem to be any real inspiration or passion to it, just a bunch of clever stuff.