Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

November 5, 2011

Peter Banks ~ Self-Contained

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: instrumental, experimental, British
Label: One Way Records
Year: 1995
Home: England (deceased)

Members: Peter Banks ~ guitars
Gerald Goff ~ keyboards

One may not recognize the name of British guitarist PB, but to go back in time ... he started his career in the Syn alongside bassist Chris Squire. The two would move on to Mabel Greer's Toy Shop. PB would leave and return to a rebooted line-up now including singer Jon Anderson, drummer Bill Bruford & keyboardist Tony Kaye. They'd rechristen themselves Yes. PB was present on their under-rated first album plus some surviving video footage, would leave during the follow-up Time & A Word, & partially wiped from the record, to be replaced by classically-influenced guitar wizard Steve Howe on Yes's legacy making third release The Yes Album. The rest is history ... at least for Yes as PB would eventually fade away & retire completely from music to pursue a retail career before resurfacing with his guitar for a few solo albums in the 90's. Though, before vanishing he'd join the band Flash that would also eventually include Yes alum Tony Kaye & through association with Yes get a reputation boost. Before disbanding in 1973 Flash showed what Yes could have become with PB. Banks would release a solo album Two Sides Of Peter Banks which included Flash bandmates Ray Bennett & Mike Hough plus Jan Akkerman, John Wetton, & Phil Collins. PB would return with a new line-up of Flash under the name Empire until retiring in 1980. In 1993 he's return with the solo album Instinct with Self-Contained following. Though albums before & after might be more cohesive Self-Contained has often been called PB's most expressive & experimental album & showing off his guitar skills the best. For those wanting to know what Yes would have sounded like if PB had stayed on ... we'll never know outside of his forays with Flash as Self-Contained isn't going to help put together any pieces of history. PB in the 1960's was an under-playing who was never given any opportunity to really shine in the keyboard heavy Yes, particularly as the first Yes album is not just harder to come by but also a rarity amongst common fans, while Flash never has had long term international success outside of collectors. The PB of 1995 is a far different guitarist who likes his effects boxes & sound effects including vocal clips, has come under the influence of power metal light & undoubtedly claims peer Jeff Beck as an inspiration. As an all instrumental album the result is an album for guitar connisseurs rather than the casual listener as it feels more like a collection of studio noodling over a long period of time that PB polished into complete songs. One of the songs is entitled "More Foreplay" & it indeed sounds at times like a little guitar foreplay building up to something ... that never really climaxes ... but the foreplay is better than ... Actually, noodling is the wrong word. Yes, PB might be running scales over sound effects & drum beats but these are complete songs no doubt. There's nothing undeveloped about them. Think of You Had It Coming or Jeff by Jeff Beck for similiar albums, though Beck is far more experimental, flashier & faster but full of just as many unexpected turns. In terms of experimental a better comparison might be Les Paul over Jeff Beck. It's almost as if PB is trying to show us what we missed all these days & what his range is. Sometimes it works, but, as I wrote earlier, sometimes it's guitar players first & listeners second ... but this is a common complaint of guitar instrumental albums no whoever the guitarist. One fun vocal insert is a radio recording going "Some critics argue Yes's music is pretencious and empty" with Banks responding "Yes, that's valid, I would go along with that as well" followed by the slow "Lost Days" that's a laidback sitting on the porch type tune that's as unflashy and soothing as music gets. It's one of many in this vein & though they're a bit lengthy are the highlights of the album. The similiar "Away Days" sounds like an instrumental Jimmy Buffett while "Two-Rides" is a new aged-esque Leonard Cohen/David Gilmour mix with long languing notes that give way to distortion echoing in the background and birds in the background. Those who enjoying droning will take to the obviously spiritually titled "The Three Realms" while "Tell Me When" would be good soundtrack background music. The biggest problem with the album is it's length that make require a couple sittings to digest the whole thing. It's like reading through a Sears catalog in one sitting ... a bit exhaustive. One may want to ponder what Yes would have been like with PB, considering how different the band would become which each subsequent guitarist who were also prominent songwriters: Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin and Billy Sherwood. But, that's a useless game. Self-Contained is about enjoying a guitarist as he is now, not what he was or what he didn't do. Sadly, PB died in March 2013 so sadly no more music from him.

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