Yes Rule - Okay!
Melody Maker   September 28, 1974


Perhaps it's rather surprising in a year when the focus of interest in British music has shifted from albums to the top 20, to find that MM readers have retained their allegiance to music that is anything but singles-oriented.

Yes, for example, again dominate the poll, in that they're top band in both the British and International sections, while Chris Squire wins the award for best bassist, Rick Wakeman (only recently departed) keyboards, and the team of Jon Anderson and Steve Howe take the honours for top composers.

Even their producer, Eddie Offord, gets in on the set, turning up as the winner the producer section.

"Yes', hold on the awards is complemented to an extent by another of the "old guard" in ELP, who've won the Best International Live Act (and Carl Palmer was top drummer) it's relaxed only by Sparks and Company, both bands who have solidly emerged this year.

Sparks have a curious appeal, they have their staunch admirers amongst both the teenybop element and those who profess to see a keen intelligence at work in the shape of composer/keyboards man Ron Mael.

In a fierce run-in, therefore, between them and Cockney Rebel, whose rise has paralleled theirs, they've just inched ahead, although the Rebel pipped them by one position in the British Brightest Hope category.

However, of the triumvirate of award-winning new bands, it's Bad Company who've made the most selling impact.

In the British section they've emerged as the Brightest Hope, their single, "Can't Get Enough" has been voted the year's best, and lead vocalist Paul Rodgers has picked up the coveted Male Singer award.

Many will obviously see their success as a vindication of what might be described as "musicianly music" and certainly the reputation of the band, particularly Rodgers, amongst the musical fraternity is especially high.

Manager Peter Grant must fell pretty pleased, particularly as another of his artists, Maggie Bell, has carried off this year's British Female Singer award, just as she did last year. It may be true that there is a lack of competition in this area, but Miss Bell is clearly a vocalist of the tallest order inasmuch as she's second only to Joni Mitchell in the International Female Singer category, and this despite a comparative failure at the Chariton Festival earlier this year and the disappointment of her album,"Queen of the Night," not taking off in this country.

Grant's, other big act, Led Zeppelin, haven't won any wards this year, although Robert Plant was just behind David Bowie in the International Male Singer section which he took in 1973. Bowie's announcement of his retirement last summer doesn't appear to have hurt him at all, and he's won both this category and the section of International arranger, while he's just second to Rodger's in the British male vocalist poll.

This is quite an achievement since Bowie has not appeared in this country for more than a year now and no one has yet seen the act he's put together for his recent American tour, which critics liberally sprinkled with superlatives.

Nor are they likely to, as Bowie has announced he has returned to a more straightforward rock and roll presentation in the future. One draws the inference that the loyalty of the British fans to this artist runs deep, and that many of his votes were secured through his recent album, "Diamond Dogs."

Th latter, however, made only sixth position in the International Best Album section, and eighth in the British. Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" won both awards- unsurprising, perhaps, in light of its platinum status, though the album's success still seems to puzzle many critics, who have variously described it as "schlock" and FM mussak."

You, the readers, have had the last say, however, and Oldfield's popularity may be gauged by the fact that he's also picked up the award for Miscellaneous Instrument- a category that always seems to invite bizarre votes (Roy Wood, in second position, is credited with sax and bagpipes, and Peter Gabriel, in seventh, with flute and tambourine).

Oldfield take over from last year's winner, Ian Anderson-who still manages fourth position here, despite the lack of an album or tour for Tull in some 16 months (although they are shortly to hit the road again).

Speaking of Peter Gabriel, Genesis maintain their steady progress by winning this year the award for British Best Live Act, in which they were fourth in 1973, while they were only outvoted by ELP in the International section of this award.

They are a pretty good bet, even at this stage, to pick up next year's award for Best British Band. Like ELP and Yes, the consistency of their popularity is remarkable. Was there anything unexpected in Eric Clapton carrying off the guitar section? Not really since he was second even to Jan Akkerman in last year's poll, and he's only played once last year- at the somewhat historic Rainbow concert.

Clapton's re-emergence this year after three years spent in the rock and roll wilderness is one of the most heartening pieces of news we've had, and its been interesting to see just how he's come back in to the limelight- less, the virtuoso guitarist of old, more a musician anxious to integrate his playing with a band. We applaud his maturity.

In the remaining major section-that of International Female Singer- Joni Mitchell moves up from third to first, which is a piece of good judgment by our reckoning.

In her concerts this year at the New Victoria in London and the more recent one at Wembley, she established herself as among the greatest performers/songwriters since Dylan arrived in the early sixties; and in the opinion of many her latest album, "Court and Spark," is her finest yet. It's not the first time she's won this section- she did it in 1971- and undoubtedly it won't be the last. It could well be, however, that her major competition next year will come in the shape of our own Maggie Bell, or perhaps Olivia Newton-John.

Elsewhere, John Peel, almost inevitably, won the top Disc Jockey award and the old Grey Whistle Test the Top TV Show. Alan Freeman's Saturday Show topples Sounds of the 70's for Best Radio Show. So, that 's it for '74, a year in which all the glitter was still put in the shade by…. music.

What else.