Billy Sherwood: Citizen

Ambitious concept album from the Yes man.

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Citizen is notable on several fronts. It features the last burst of freewheeling bass creativity from late Yes legend Chris Squire on the opening The Citizen, it includes a veritable who’s who of prog guests (Rick Wakeman, Steve Hackett, Alan Parsons, Patrick Moraz, XTC’s Colin Moulding), and it marks a foray into full-scale conceptualising from the sometime Yes multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer-engineer.

The concept posits Sherwood as a sort of musical Zelig, who appears at various points throughout history: as a legionnaire in the Roman army at the end of the Empire; a soldier in the trenches in WW1; a friend to Galileo as he discovers the Earth isn’t flat; an astronaut during the Cold War space race; and so on.

And it does go on, in a good way: fans of slow-moving, synth-phonic pomp-rock in the mould of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis (his voice is very Gabriel), Marillion, the Alan Parsons Project and Sherwood’s alma mater Yes will be in their element with Citizen.

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.