THE YES-MEN – The Yes-Men (Bang Records through Munster)
Anyone with a streak of defiance will advise: "Don't be a yes man". It's a meritorious ambition, to die on your feet rather than live on your knees - as long as you're given a choice. Fate doesn't always deal a nice hand. But enough of morbidity, for now. There is one choice that you CAN make, and it's to beg, borrow, steal or buy a copy of this album. It's a classic. No argument.
"The Yes-Men" is something of a epitath, since band-leader Sean Greenway is no longer with us. You can read about him here in this tribute from bandmate Matty Whittle. I never met Sean but we did correspond a bit, in the first instance when he expressed mock indignation about a critical comment that his distinctive voice took some getting used to. To these ears, he sounded like Roy Loney - and that's a wrap. Like most people, Sean had problems. He wrote, un-prompted, about one in particular that had dogged him for years, saying he thought he'd finally shaken it. Not long after, he succumbed. Fuck, this sounds trite, but of course it was a tragic waste - especially for the people most close to him. All I can offer is that it touched me too and I would have liked to have met face-to-face. He seemed a nice guy, disarmingly honest and, above all, amazingly passionate about his music.
So this posthumous collection of outtakes and experiments is on us, thanks to Sean's mate and fellow guitarist Stew Cunningham, who compiled the album from bits and pieces recorded from 1995-2000. It's an amazingly cohesive and strong record, maybe the best Australian album of the last few years.
Most of the songs are Greenway compositions, dwelling in that broad category of hi-energy guitar rock and roll. There's more than a whiff of Sonic's Rendezvous Band there, but that only tells part of the story. Have a listen and draw your own conclusions. I can't add much more than what's already been said on this page about the songs. "The Great Charade", which surfaced a few years back on a French single on Pitshark, is arguably the best track here. That's not to say that the rest aren't far behind.
My copy came on fat-as-fuck black vinyl (pictured), thanks to the intrepid team at Spanish label Bang Records, and in that format it comes with an extra track (a fiery "Anglo Girl Desire", recorded for the "Flattery" Birdman tributes). No need to say that the vinyl sounds magnificent. There's a CD issue on European imprint Butcher's Hook as well, for those turntable-challenged, which Headmiles is selling.
If you buy one Australian band's release this year, make it the Yes-Men. - The Barman
THE YES-MEN – The Yes-Men (Butcher's Hook/Cargo)
The Yes-Men held the greatest promise of any band in the last 10 years of Australian rock and roll. But their history was tragically interrupted in January 2001 by leader and founder Sean Greenway's death. It was mocking destiny. Shortly before, the band had begun to collect their first international appreciation thanks to an album, "Prosody" (on White Jazz Records), that showed their great skills in writing rough and soulful songs.
By way of the pen of Sean Greenway (God, Freeloaders) and the guitar of his partner-in-crime Stewart "Leadfinger" Cunningham (already a player with history under his belt after stints with Proton Energy Pills, Brother Brick, Asteroid B-612 and Challenger 7), they represented the best guarantee for a vibrating and powerful sound, influenced by Sonic' s Rendezvous Band and hi-energy rock' n' roll. They were also part of that incredible chain that has been Aussie underground rock during the last 30 years.
At the moment of Sean's passing, the Yes-Men had already prepared several tracks for a new LP, while others stayed recorded on private tapes. It took several years - thanks to the stubborness of "Leadfinger" - to compile and make them available on a record.
"The Yes-Men" is not only Stew’s homage to a musical friend but a labour of love for rock' n' roll. The same love that Greenway put in every of his songs and that today comes out from every single note of this CD.
There are11 unreleased songs, recorded by various line-ups between 1995 and 2000, but with a common denominator: a burning passion for rock'n'roll. Exactly what 90 percent of new bands lack today. This is the reason why "The Yes-Men" is a highly-recommended record. To find passionate and vibrant music like this, is rare. And it doesn't matter if the band does not exist anymore.
Try putting on the opener "Brimming", the guitar fury of "The Great Charade" and "Swept Back", the intense "366 Days" or the splendid "The Danger Has Begun", and you will find yourself wrapped in a rock 'n' roll vortex from which it is impossible to exit. The Yes-Men are not with us anymore, but their music still explodes today, like five years ago. Don't miss out on making this record yours for any reason. – Roberto Calabro
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