Our friend D Michael Thorn, long time Yes fan and fellow bassist, has got in touch sharing his memories of Turn of the Century being played live in 1977 :
” (…) Chris tuned his bass CADG. I saw them here Oct 8, 1977 on the GftO tour. I was in front of Chris at the stage barricade, so I was less than 3 meters from his pedals and mic stand. I remember watching him play this song where he would play the harmonic at the 12th fret of the E string, but it sounded a C. Also, noticed that he uses lots of upstrokes while playing this song, as opposed to the usual downstrokes. As for the pedals, I’m not sure if he recorded those or not, but live he would often use them and his effects in places that weren’t on the recordings.”
This is indeed great information. Not only Chris did use the Triumph bass to reach the high F sharp on the 23rd fret, as he also played the bass tuned in a low C, using the 12th fret harmonic to play the C I am playing on the 8th fret. I must say I did think about this possibility after watching the recent shows where Chris did use a low C on his Tobias extended range, but then I “decided” that it was something he came up with in the last 2 decades. With this information from D Michael Thorn, we find Chris using a low C back in 1977, which is only as adventurous as he’s always been… I have no idea how many bass players had made this kind of tuning back then!
So, my version, stays as “friendly” for standard tuning, but I will try to re-listen again the whole song to listen to that open low C. Of course the other passage which would suffer some changes are the octave leaps in E, in which now I would have to use the 4th fret of the E string, rather than the open string.
Thank you very much, Michael, for your insight on Chris’ playing!
Turn Of The Century – Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Yessongs of all, and again, with one of the most fascinating basslines by Chris Squire. Many peculiarities about it as well. Chris played a Gibson Triumph bass, which is a short scale bass. The tone is quite different from the usual, more discrete and less aggressive. However, it allowed Chris to play the higher registers a lot, due to the large number of frets, going to a high F sharp. I asked my good friend Américo Silva at Music Light for one of his basses which had that range and I chose his beautiful blue Alembic Essence. The tone of the bass is wonderful and I really couldn’t seem to achieve the same “middy” timbre of the Triumph bass. Doing a lot of EQ would rather spoil the Alembic’s tone, so I opted to let the bass speak by itself. The bassline is, again, exquisite – not a single note is played with less care than the other, and often seems to leave the main chord tones, to derive as a counter melody, sometimes beautifully dissonant. In addition, the bass pedals work bring even more drama – as Chris plays also some very bold passages with scales provoking chord inversions, suspensions and yet more dissonance. I listened to several bootlegs and footage of the 1976 sessions to try to compute how the bass pedal line could be played, as the album version is almost criminally undermixed on the pedals (as it happened on some other Yes albums such as Tormato). In fact, I believe that there are more bass pedal passages on the song but the ones I played were the ones I thought had the best chance to be right. Let’s hope that more new formats of mixes will come out, as it seems to be a trend nowadays, and they this part of Chris Squire’s work will come to the surface so we finally get to hear more of his treasures!
Montreux’s Theme is one of the most graceful bass lines written and performed by Chris Squire, with such a great interplay along with Alan White and Steve Howe. Do you know which bass did Chris play? Would you like to have a guess? Please take a listen to the sample more below and take your vote. Thank you very much!