Take 5: Chris Squire

During his lifetime, bassist Chris Squire was arguably the backbone of progressive rock heroes Yes. A founding member of the group, Squire appeared on every Yes release until his death in 2015. Among the most highly regarded bass guitarists in progressive rock, Squire was also an excellent vocalist: his voice was a key part of the Yes sound, blending seamlessly into the mix behind lead singer Jon Anderson (and Trevor Horn, and later Benoît David and then Jon Davison).

Squire – who would have celebrated his 75th birthday on March 4 – has many credits beyond his work in Yes. That music is perhaps lesser-known but is well worth investigation. Here are five key non-Yes tracks that showcase the artistry of Chris Squire.

The Syn – “Created by Clive” (1967)
Before joining Mabel Greer’s Toyshop (eventually renamed as Yes) Chris Squire was a member of The Syn, a proto-progressive band that delivered a particularly whimsical and lightly psychedelic sound. The band never released an album during its original run (though it did when reuniting with Squire in the 21st century), but did release a pair of singles. “Created by Clive” is the best.

Eddie Harris – “Conversations of Everything and Nothing” (1974)
Jazz saxophonist Eddie Harris is celebrated for Swiss Movement, the live album he made with soul-jazz great Les McCann. But a lesser-known collaboration is his 1974 album E.H. in the U.K. For that record he was joined by some of England’s top musicians, including jazz keyboardist Zoot Money, guitarist Jeff Beck and others, including three musicians associated with Yes: drummer Alan White, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and bassist Chris Squire.

Chris Squire – “Lucky Seven” (1975)
As the mid 1970s rolled around, the members of Yes each took time off from the band to delve into solo projects. Squire’s Fish Out of Water may well be the best of the bunch, building upon the Yes aesthetic and expanding on it in interesting ways. The album also gave the vocal spotlight to Squire, an underrated singer in his own right. “Lucky Seven” is a standout track on a superb album.

The Prog Collective – “The Technical Divide” (2012)
In the 21st century, American multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood increasingly became part of the glue that held Yes together. When Squire became terminally ill, he insisted that Sherwood succeed him as the group’s bassist. Sherwood has a massive catalog of his own; one of his more intriguing efforts is The Prog Collective, a supergroup of top names from across the musical landscape, playing ambitious and demanding progressive rock. Squire helped his friend out on a track from the Collective’s self-titled debut release.

Steve Hackett – “Love Song to a Vampire” (2015)
One of Chris Squire’s last projects before his passing was lending his signature bass guitar playing to a track on Wolflight, another in a long and growing string of excellent albums from former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett.