The other day, I read a good rock n’ roll story on Wikipedia that I’d never heard before. It’s not new to circulation, but I’ve read a fair amount of pop music lore, and I can’t remember hearing it before.
It seems implausible, plus it’s on Wiki, so I don’t totally believe it. But I’m going to repeat it anyway. 😉
(One of the quoted sources is a band member’s autobiography, for what that’s worth.)
# # #
Yes’s third album, The Yes Album, was the band’s commercial breakthrough. It was a worthy one, too: For the first time, The Yes Album presented a distinctive creative style for the band.
But the record’s success was due to more than just its musical contents, according to bassist Chris Squire.
The album’s release in early 1971 came during an extended national postal strike in the U.K.
Because of the strike, the British music papers couldn’t get sales information from around the country on a timely basis. So, they temporarily shifted to using sales charts based on London-area stores, since they were based in London and had ready access to that info.
Yes were Londoners, and had built up a solid following in the area, so The Yes Album placed more highly on the charts there than it would have on a national chart.
By the time the postal service workers came back to work, people from other parts of the country were buying The Yes Album because they’d seen it in the (London-only) charts and figured it must be an up-and-comer. The record had gained momentum, and the rest is history.
So, if not for the intractability of British postal carriers, Jon Anderson might be a farmer today.
(Actually, he might be a farmer today for all I know, as he got cashiered from Yes a couple of years ago.)
This story doesn’t explain how all those record buyers in Manchester or Liverpool or Edinburgh got their music publications during this period, since Her Majesty’s posties weren’t delivering them. I can only assume that quantities were still being shipped to shops, or distributed via some other method that didn’t require the post office.
No matter. Cool story, bro.