I’m not sure this is a crap album. I’m not sure it ever was. But I do know it was a guilty pleasure of sorts. And I do know a lot of people thought Yanni was crap. Probably without ever listening to him. And this was him at his peak – also he was in the middle of his relationship with Linda Evans, back when terrestrial TV was the only kind so she was still a mega-star even though she wasn’t up to much; she symbolised a lot. And that was probably reason enough to not like Yanni. Plus he looked a bit like a guy you might cast as the villain in a soft-porn parody version of a Bond film. (Yes, yes, Bond films basically are there own soft-porn parodies…or nearly).
Anyway, I loved the Yanni album Live at the Acropolis. It was the only one I was interested in. And the only one I owned. And when I got rid of it – an easy enough choice to make, it had its time – I never really thought much of it.
Then recently I started listening to it again.
It’s pretty fucking great.
I mean – sure – there’s no subtlety. It’s a lot. A lot of players. A lot happening. And there are people that do it better – but he was one of the names. One of the people doing that thing – a mix of new age and neo-classical or something. And to my young ears it was incredible.
Also – I got to Yanni in that roundabout way of reading an interview with the drummer.
Charlie Adams was tour-de-force good! But the only way you got to hear him was with Yanni.
So that’s what I did.
I was a devotee of Modern Drummer magazine and when Adams started talking up his love of Buddy Rich and many other great things to do with drums and drumming I think I was sold before I ever heard him.
Then I saw Yanni Live At The Acropolis. Before I ever heard it. And part of the spectacle of it all was Adams’ drum solo. And this was back when a drum solo was always part of the spectacle of any live music for me.
So, if you ever wondered what the all-time geekiest present an 18 year old could ask for it’s Yanni Live At The Acropolis. On CD. That actually happened. That was my request. And my parents got it. They probably tucked a little aside each week since it was an import to our little town and fetched about Forty Fucking Dollars or some shit. Happy Birthday. Lol.
Anyway, the crushing disappointment was that the CD didn’t have the drum solo on it. The CD was a single disc and wasn’t as ‘big’ as the show.
No matter. I listened to it anyway. And I played it over and again through my final year of school and my first years of university. As my CD collection grew Yanni was pushed further back – though only because I stored them alphabetically. But it was handy. Often people would find it and hold it up. “Why do you have this fag’s music” some rugby head that had never heard anything other than AC/DC and Metallica might ask. “What is this shit?” another Men at Work fan might add.
I was stoic.
I’d sometimes lead with the line about loving the drummer’s work most and buying the album because of that. And I sometimes even believed myself.
But this was part of the gateway to me getting into classical music and film scores and basically any instrumental music that wasn’t jazz.
So for that I mark it up. I love it. Yanni. And Enigma. Big items in my collection back in 1994/1995. But I was never embarrassed about Enigma. It wasn’t always the case with Yanni.
Listening to the album again – which I’ve done a few times in recent weeks – it’s got some great playing on it. It has some cringe moments too. And when Yanni does strip back and go for a lilting piano melody, all the instruments and orchestrations falling away, that’s actually the cringe-moment for me. I like it when it’s busy. It works. It’s what this music is meant to be. There was no subtly in 1994. There didn’t need to be. The world was pulsing. Clinton’s dream. The NBA stars had been allowed into the Olympics and had destroyed all competition of course. And I was playing my drums in bands. Writing my poems. And listening to Yanni. As well as Prince and Santana and Buddy Rich and The Police and The Rolling Stones and a great many other things. Some really great. Some not so much. But Yanni’s music made as much sense as it ever could in 1994.
That said, I have no shame now in listening to this album again. I just know it as Guilty Pleasure music because it cowered down the end of the rack in my CD collection until I liberated it to the second-hand store. Probably as part of a hundred or more discs. And so I could pay the power bill. You know, to have music on. To listen to Enya or Enigma or whatever else…
Yanni’s moustache and hair never meant anything to me. And that was the problem with this album and the records he made in his golden era. You had to be on board with the image I think. Or at least that’s what people lining up to mock you figured. You had to be on board with the cod-philosophy in the banter. You wanted to stroke that hair.
Nah. Not the case for me.
Yanni’s moustache and hair never meant anything to me. But I was surprised as anyone reading might be to know that his music still means something. A little going a long way no doubt.
Shit That’s Good! Crap Albums I Love is an occasional series here at Off The Tracks