Amy Factions

The various factions on alt.music.yes can be bewildering to the newcomer. Here, I try to explain the history behind the various groupings - Troopers, Generators, Panthers, Yeswholes and all - and the various line up nicknames - YesWest, NewOldYes etc.

Yes themselves are to blame for all this. During the 'Union', they made reference to 'Trooper' and 'Generator' music to distinguish between the old (before Drama) and new (since 90125) material. The labels soon became common in fandom to distinguish between fans of the two periods in the band's history.

'Trooper', after the song "Starship Trooper" (on The Yes Album), loosely describes a fan of Yes prior to the hiatus at the start of the 80s. It typically refers to fans of Yes from The Yes Album to Tormato, when the band line up was centred around Anderson, Howe, Squire and (most of the time) Wakeman. (Ironically, it is Kaye, not Wakeman, who was on "Starship Trooper" and Kaye too on "Big Generator").

'Generator', after "Big Generator" (on Big Generator), are fans of YesWest and their albums: 90125, Big Generator, parts of Union and Talk. 'YesWest' is the term used to describe the line up of Rabin, Squire, White, Kaye and (sometimes) Anderson. The 'west' is in reference to the band being based in California, as compared to the '70s band having remained in the UK (more or less). YesWest are also referred to as RabinYes in reference to Rabin's prominent role; and Cinema(Yes) as the original teaming up of Rabin, Squire, White and Kaye was to be called Cinema.

Anderson left YesWest after Big Generator and formed Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe, for which the acronym ABWH is used. After legal battles with YesWest prevented their using the name Yes, the band and their album took the name ABWH. Similar acronyms are sometimes used to describe other line ups. For example, AWWHS would stand for Anderson, White, Wakeman, Howe and Squire. ABWH are occasionally referred to as YesEast in contrast to YesWest.

By extension from 'YesWest', I christened the short-lived line up before Union with Billy Sherwood and (sometimes) Bruce Gowdy joining Squire, White, Kaye and (sometimes) Rabin as YesTrade.

With Rabin and Kaye's departure after Talk and Howe and Wakeman's return, the line up from Tales from Topographic Oceans, Going for the One and Tormato of AWWHS returned, giving rise to the name NewOldYes.

In late 1994, the terms Trooper and Generator were in common usage on the newsgroup and many flame wars raged between the two sides. There was also a lot of vehemence directed against Drama, an album whose line up set it apart from the Trooper/Generator divide. As a particular fan of this album and fed up with the abuse against it, I mailed Anthony Lawless one day thanking him for a post defending the album and nominating him a Knight of the Order of Panther; 'Panther' after the Drama cover art. We should perhaps apologise, because this part of the FAQ is only needed because of what ensued. With a label of their own, fans of Drama, Panthers, rapidly became more visible. Further, the nature of Pantherism brought a fresh look to a.m.y. factionalisation. The Panthers have subsequently received supportive words from both Chris Squire and Geoff Downes.

Others soon joined the bandwagon. Relayer is also somewhat apart from the surrounding albums, partly through having Moraz instead of Wakeman. Its fans became (Sound) Chasers, after "Sound Chaser" on the album. Fans of the first two albums became (Astral) Travellers, after "Astral Traveller" (Time and a Word). A group even emerged called the Wembley Wurmers in support of one particular much-bootlegged, live performance from the Tormato tour at Wembley Arena (London), which included a stunning "Starship Trooper: Wurm".

Fans of Yes a whole, who rejected this compartmentalisation of tastes, became known a Yeswholes, a somewhat mischievous name invented by Steven Sullivan. By late 1995, with some disliking the name, merry celeste coined the alternative 'Universalist' (after "The Order of the Universe", ABWH). Other labels include the Empire of Energy, coined in mid-1996 to describe fans of Tormato, and the 'Awakened' for fans of Going for the One.

The Panthers sought to defend Drama's place in the Yes canon, but how far could praise for the Drama line up go? It was felt to be suicidal, for example, to argue that Horn's live vocals were superior to Anderson's. Thus was born the Panther Suicide Squad and a few other groups have their own extremists in other Suicide Squads. Thus, the Chaser suicide squad is known for seeking to reclaim an earlier version of "Awaken" with Moraz on it.

The heuristic soon spread beyond Yes and some King Crimson and ELP factions have similar labels. The only one which became popular was 'Cirkusmaster' for fans of King Crimson's Lizard (the name after "Cirkus" on the album). I mention them as some have incorrectly thought that they must be fans of Tormato (after "Circus of Heaven"). Other groups spring up as necessary (e.g. the Order of Officers and Gentlemen in defence of side 2 of ELP's Love Beach). Instead of flaming someone for attacking one of your favourites, you can just set up a new group!

All this strikes some as unnecessary, but any time on alt.music.yes makes it very apparent that Yes fans are highly heterogeneous - you're never going to eradicate these differences. And don't be scared by all these apparently fractious groups: plenty feel at home in more than one group and the silliness many perceive is preferable to ugly flame wars.

Henry Potts (Supreme Grand Commander for Life, Ordo Pantheris)

Last updated: 15 Feb 99

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