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CONSPIRACY

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Conspiracy biography
Yes bass pioneer Chris Squire has teamed up with the multi-talented Billy Sherwood to release their second album as Conspiracy, titled THE UNKNOWN.

Squire is well known as a member of Yes, having provided his signature bass playing and distinctive vocals to that band since its inception in 1968. He is the only member of that veteran group who has remained with them in their various line-ups, performing on their hits "Roundabout" and "Owner of a Lonely Heart".

In addition to being adept at both guitar and bass Sherwood is well known as a gifted producer and engineer. He has worked with a wide range of artists as diverse as Todd Rundgren and Motorhead, his experience spanning a broad array of projects that include various tribute albums as well as producing and performing with his band World Trade.

The two joined forces in 1989, and quickly formed what would become an enduring personal and musical friendship. What began as a solo project for Squire developed into a collaborative effort, and the two began composing together; one composition, "The More We Live (Let Go)", would appear on the Yes album UNION. Squire and Sherwood performed some of their compositions under the banner of the Chris Squire Experiment, joined by Yes drummer Alan White. Sherwood's synergy with the pair led to his involvement in other Yes projects.

Sherwood accompanied Yes on the TALK tour, filling out their sound on vocals and various instruments. His studio savvy led to his assisting in the production of the studio tracks on Yes' two KEYS TO ASCENSION collections, and eventually would become a full time band member. He participated on two Yes albums, OPEN YOUR EYES and THE LADDER, as well as numerous tours and a live video, before leaving the band in 2000.

Throughout this time Squire and Sherwood continued to compose and record their own material, resulting in the 2000 release titled CONSPIRACY.

This name became the handle for their partnership/concept. As Sherwood explained to Yes fanzine Notes From the Edge, "It was after OPEN YOUR EYES where we started talking about how we should really put this together as some sort of off-shoot band of Yes, if you will, like a spin-off and call it Conspiracy, since it's the two of us conspiring over all these years trying to get this music together. And in that way we could bring in other musicians that we liked and wanted to work with."

Even after having released that album the creative well rema...
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CONSPIRACY discography


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CONSPIRACY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.38 | 24 ratings
Conspiracy
2000
3.48 | 26 ratings
The Unknown
2003

CONSPIRACY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 4 ratings
Conspiracy Live
2007

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CONSPIRACY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Unknown by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.48 | 26 ratings

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The Unknown
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

3 stars Conspiracy is the project of Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood, with the addition of drummer Jay Schellen. Chris provides bass/vocals and Billy guitar/vocals, and somewhat not surprising the result is an album that sounds suspiciously like Yes in many places, although without so many keyboards. It is only on listening to this that it becomes clear as to just how important Chris's vocals are to Yes, as while the music is interesting melodic rock it is the vocals that really drive this album home. It is not possible to play this without comparing it to Eighties Yes, although the music itself is quite different, it is just that all of the time the sound seems quite familiar.

Is it an album that is worth purchasing on its' own merit? Having been a Yes fan for more years than I would really care to remember I would probably want to hear this album just to see what it was about, and I am not sure how I would approach this if I wasn't so interested in knowing what the offshoot sounded like. But, this is an album that does keep the listener involved throughout. It is a bit laid back in places although the result is an album that does sound more like a band than a project. Melodic rock with just a hint of progressive tendencies which never falls into the trap of typical AOR, it will probably appeal more still to fans of Yes than of the genre as a whole.

Originally appeared in Feedback #78, April 2004

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 Conspiracy by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.38 | 24 ratings

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Conspiracy
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Sherwood, Squire and White (et al)

For whatever reason, "Conspiracy" is one of the lesser known albums from the Yes family. The album was initially credited to Billy Sherwood and Chris Squire, the collective name "Conspiracy" only later being adopted by the pair from the album's title. Here they are joined by Alan White on a couple of tracks to form an ELP like Supergroup.

Sherwood's contribution to the Yes legacy is of course somewhat controversial, with many fans feeling he pulled the band away from their prog roots into inappropriately commercial territories. Others will argue that he was a major factor in the band's survival, guiding them towards a viable path musically and financially. Here, the sound is understandably closer to that of albums such as "Open your eyes" and "Big generator" than "Close to the edge", but the presence of Squire on bass and lead vocals means that there is still a strong Yes flavour to the album.

The songs here were gathered together over an extended period, some originating in Squire's 1992 venture "The Chris Squire Experiment". That band was due to release an album called "Chemistry", but when two tracks were used on "Open your eyes", the project was put on a back burner. Some of the other songs here made the transition to become full Yes songs, while those which were used in one form or another on "Open your eyes" are added to the end of this album as hidden additions.

Squire and Sherwood share vocal and songwriting duties fairly evenly on the album, although it is Squire's distinctive tones which tend to characterise the songs. Pretty much all of the tracks have the sound of potential singles in an "Owner of a lonely heart" sort of way, although none did find success in that field.

One track, "Violet Purple Rose" was taken from a separate session when Chris Squire was joined by Steve Stevens and Michael Bland. Billy Sherwood later overdubbed his contribution to this track. This particular song is probably the most progressive on the album, while still retaining the strong melodic base which is a feature of every track here. "Lonesome trail" is another strong track with prog credentials. The song, which will be familiar to those who have investigated the "Yes friends and family" compilations, has one of the strongest hooks on the album.

Overall, a highly enjoyable album which will please those who approve of the Sherwood era Yes albums. The album will undoubtedly be castigated by some for its ease of access, but you'll get no complaints from me.

On my version, the bonus tracks are grouped together as a 15 minute medley entitled "The big peace". There is also a fine version of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably numb", presumably taken from the Pink Floyd tribute album Re-Building The Wall - A Tribute To Pink Floyd".

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 Conspiracy by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.38 | 24 ratings

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Conspiracy
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It was quite surprising that an album by Chris Squire had only 2 reviews in PA 10 years after its release, so here comes one more.

As for the rating, we are faced with the problem of having to rate in a prog site an album which is not meant to be a prog album. Judged as prog this would hardly deserve 1 or 2 stars, but it would be unfair to give it a rating suggesting that it is crap, because it is not. It is simply not meant to be a prog album, it is a crossover pop album and as that it's a pretty decent one. Squire himself made it clear that people should not take this album as a follower to "Fish Out of Water". I find it justified to give a low rating to albums such as Yes "Open Your Eyes" because after all Yes is supposed to be a prog band, but released as a side project and free from the Yes name things can take on a different perspective. At least this is quality pop-rock which does not insult the intelligence of the listener, and in the 21st century this is already quite something. So I prefer to give the necessary warning in the review and give it at least a dignifying 3 stars.

This is a collection of songs which Squire and Sherwood wrote together between '89 and '96. According to Squire the share of contribution by each was around a fair 50/50. Some are songs they played during a '92 tour as The Chris Squire Experiment. We have also the original versions of "The More We Live" and "Love Conquers All" which would appear in Yes "Union" and "YesYears" respectively after getting some overdubs by Anderson, Rabin, Howe and White. We also get a song ("Violet Purple Rose", one of the best) which Squire developed during some sessions with guitarist Steve Stevens (from Billy Idol and also the excellent trio project Bozzio Levin Stevens) and Prince drummer Michael Bland.

Alan White plays the drums in 2 tracks "Lonesome Trail" and "Love Conquers All", while other drums were played by World Trade (Sherwood's other band) drummers, by Sherwood himself and some are just drum machines. There is also a small guitar contribution by Jimmy Haun, the guy who was requested by Arista to replace significant part of Howe's original playing in "Union", for the rest Sherwood plays nearly all the keyboards and guitars, and Squire thinks that even some of the bass was actually recorded by Sherwood (in return he plays some acoustic guitar). Given the disparity of times and musicians involved in the recording of the tracks, the whole thing sounds quite consistent.

Around '96 enough material was ready to be released with the album title Chemistry, but then Sherwood was called into Yes and the project was put on hold and 2 of its songs were reworked for the Yes "Open Your Eyes" album (curiously enough, the worst 2: "Wish I Knew" which would become "Open Your Eyes" and the even more disposable "Man in the Moon"). Finally the Squire/Sherwood album came out in 2000 renamed as Conspiracy, name which eventually they would retain as band name. The 2 tracks which had been used for "Open Your Eyes" (in their original versions) plus another one "Say Goodbye" which Sherwood had used for the World Trade '95 album "Euphoria" were also included but as "hidden tracks" at the end, meaning that they are not mentioned in the tracklist on the sleeve. Which is alright because they are the worst 3 tracks in the album anyway.

The style is basically the same as the pop side of Yes we find in albums like "Open Your Eyes" or "The Ladder", quality pop-rock with a few slight influences from prog (for what matters, quite similar to the style of Trevor Rabin songs or Robert Berry's).

Squire is not blessed with a great voice as lead singer but he more than compensates by his notorious gift for building great vocal harmonies. And Sherwood's voice is not very distinctive but it matches very well with Squire's and at times it's not too different from a mix of Anderson and Rabin, so as a result the multi-layered vocals provide an unmistakable Yes feel and they are one of the strongest points in the album. Squire does not give us a master class in bass playing technique here but his distinctive fat and powerful bass sound is still present throughout. Sherwood's performance is as we know him, not outstanding in anything but good enough at everything.

As long as you can take your proghead hat off before listening, this is a fine album.

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 Conspiracy Live by CONSPIRACY album cover Live, 2007
3.00 | 4 ratings

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Conspiracy Live
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Fish out of water

This "live" album features Chris Squire's and Billy Sherwood's Conspiracy project and tracks from both of the Conspiracy albums are played together with a couple of songs from Squire's debut solo (and to date only) album Fish Out Of Water as well as a couple of Yes songs. While Conspiracy never actually toured (as far as I know) this is one of those "live in the studio"-things. There is thus no genuine live feel here and no audience noise. There is apparently also a DVD version of this "performance".

Days Of Wonder and Red Light Ahead are taken from the first Conspiracy album, while Conspiracy, New World and Confess are taken from their second effort, The Unknown. The More We Live is a Yes song written by Billy Sherwood and that originally appeared on the Union album (an underrated album if you ask me). Towards the end of the "show" we are treated to the two first tracks of Squire's Fish Out Of Water album; Hold Out Your Hand and You By My Side. This was a nice surprise. The album is closed by another Yes song - Universal Garden, taken from Open You Eyes (another slightly underrated Yes album).

This live-in-the-studio-album is a nice addition to any collection that already holds the studio albums from which these songs are taken, but you are generally better off with the original albums. Had this been a genuine live performance in front of an audience, there would probably be another atmosphere all together.

Good, but hardly essential

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 The Unknown by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.48 | 26 ratings

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The Unknown
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Billy Sherwood was never an essential member of Yes. But I still cannot help but to feel a bit sorry for poor Billy. All the Yes albums he contributed to (with the possible exception of The Ladder) are among the most maligned ones; Union, Talk, Open Your Eyes and The Ladder. Personally, I like all these albums and there are more than a few similarities between these albums and the two Conspiracy albums. Open Your Eyes is probably the most similar one to The Unknown, and if you like that one you should not miss out on this one.

The Unknown basically continues were the first Conspiracy album left off. But The Unknown has much more modern sound and production, indeed this sound is often too modern for my taste. But the bass guitar and voice of the amazing Chris Squire are unmistakeable (or maybe not because him and Billy have very similar voices, that blend perfectly), as are the song writing talents of the two of them.

This music is very melodic and very catchy, often just too catchy for my taste. But also progressive - Crossover Prog is a very good description of this music. All the instruments are very well played and the guitar sound sometimes imitates Steve Howe's style.

The first track has an annoying part that might be described as a light-rap section! This bit reminds me more than a bit of Swedish Euro Disco artist E-Type - and that is not a compliment! Also on the title track there is a short bit that sounds like moderns RnB!! But apart from that, there is nothing offensive on this album at all. It flows really well, and almost every song is better than the previous one, reaching a climax with the 10 minute plus title track.

Globally, I prefer the first Conspiracy album but hard core Yes fans and followers of Chris Squire should not miss out on The Unknown. And if you don't mind ultra modern production qualities and catchy melodies, this might be something for you even if you don't follow Yes.

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 The Unknown by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.48 | 26 ratings

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The Unknown
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Billy Sherwood and Chris Squire team up again to deliver something fresh and interesting. Admittedly, the music contained on this album is tame and at times pop-oriented, but the vocals are strong and the compositions tight. It's a great album with some exceptional musicianship on the part of the duo, and it remains almost consistent throughout.

"Conspiracy" The record does begin with one of the weaker tracks, however. It's full of energy and impressive vocal work, but it is a far cry from the rest of what's here. While not bad, it sounds too much like something off of Yes's Open Your Eyes. The "rapped" chorus gets old fast, and the guitar soloing is uninspired and unnecessarily long.

"Confess" Relying on acoustic guitar and rapid drumming, this song has a good melody and a strong chorus. Strangely enough, this song makes think of Collective Soul, as it's easy to imagine Ed Roland singing lead vocals.

"New World" Chris Squire delivers powerful bass work on this uplifting track. The vocal arrangements are likewise good, since the listener can hear both Squire and Sherwood individually even though they sing together. The chorus lingers a tad too long, but doesn't overstay its welcome. The final part of the song, which reminds me of "Leave It" from Yes's 90125, doesn't quite fit the rest of the song and should have been cut.

"1/2 A World Away" One of the few Squire sings lead vocals on, it ventures from lovely sentimentality to adventurous rock. Sherwood does an excellent job singing his part also, and the effects used on various parts of the refrain add more variety. The short guitar solo is a perfect fit, and moves back into the verse. This song actually has a special place in my mind since before we were married, my wife and I lived hundreds of miles away (even though the context of the song is likely much different given the bridge).

"There is No End" Kicking off with a funky, Country & Western-like guitar lick and some slide work, here we have a song that's all right. The lyrics aren't bad, but are a trifle campy.

"The Wheel" Decidedly the most solid song here, "The Wheel" is full of intriguing layers and musical textures. For once, the band is not playing as though they must get through the piece as soon as possible. The song has atmospheric keyboards and a warbling synthesizer in the introduction. The lyrics and vocal melody are excellent, and Squire does an outstanding job harmonizing. Furthermore, his bass really fills out the sound, making it thick and rich (instead of serving as more of a lead instrument). Sherwood's guitar work is prime stuff (with a striking tone), particularly that leading up to the end, which comes down to galactic sounds and some clean guitar.

"Premonitions" An above-average track, this one has a funky acoustic guitar riff and some springy clean electric guitar. The vocals throughout the verse are rich and lovely, but the chorus is what makes this song a bit cringe-inducing; quite frankly, it's goofy sounding, as is much of the instrumentation throughout.

"The Unknown" The longest track by far begins with strange vocal work and a little mandolin played over some guitar in the background. Initially, the singing is over acoustic guitar, drums, and various sounds. Joining the mandolin is a sitar, adding to the musical tapestry. Yes, the song is over eleven minutes long, but it's loaded with lyrics, lyrics about the September 11th, 2001 US terrorist attacks: "Towers of life and dreams brought down." The words undeniably show a strong feeling of vengeance, one perhaps even espousing the 2003 declaration of war in the Middle East ("Waking giant cannot be denied," "You can run away, but now we've got you dead in our sights," and "We're bringing our toys, coming over to play"). The song is also above-average, but does run on much longer than it should.

"I Could" This song is an edgier and altogether different version of "Finally" from Yes's The Ladder, which Sherwood and Squire both collaborated on. It starts off with a heavily distorted guitar, and like most of what came before, is played at an upbeat tempo. Sherwood uses another countrified guitar tone for his solos between verses. Not as good as or as colorful as "Finally," but not at all bad either.

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 Conspiracy by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.38 | 24 ratings

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Conspiracy
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Why is this album basically unknown (not a pun on their other album called The Unknown)? Here we have three ex-Yes members doing great music and hardly anyone pays attention. You don't know what you are missing guys!

So, is this some lost Yes album? Yes and no. The unmistakeable vocals of Chris Squire that blends perfectly with those of Billy Sherwood are, together with Squire's bass guitar and drums by Alan White, the most Yes-like features. But the music itself is Yes inspired too. Indeed, you might compare this music to Yes' Open Your Eyes album (itself an underrated album).

The More We Live (Let Go) is a Yes song (and a great song!), written by Billy Sherwood for the Union album (yet another underrated album). Love Conquers All is also a Yes song, but one that was never on an album.

The songs are very melodious and strong, and the production values are very high. The bass guitar is great and Sherwood is a good guitarist. Personally, I prefer this album over The Unknown.

Conspiracy is a very good album, but essential only for Yes maniacs, I guess.

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 The Unknown by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.48 | 26 ratings

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The Unknown
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by kaethlea

4 stars I think that this is an excellent body of music. I would recommend it to anyone who prefers progressive rock to all of the dross that passes for music these days. I often listen to this in the car. The songs are well written, arranged and recorded. I agree with others who commended the efforts of the drummer. The only very slight complaint that I have is that I would have liked Squire's work to have been more prominently featured in the final mix. In Yes, Squire's work is prominently featured as it should be. On this cd Squire is somewhat more relegated to a background position like he was on Talk. Don't get me wrong, I love the Talk cd as well. As you can see, I am a drop-dead Yes fanatic. When I saw Yes last in Toronto they were signing autographs at a local record store and I asked Chris to sign a cd with "Half a World Away" (a great track from The Unknown) to which he replied in his north-London drawl, "That's a lot of words." He did sign it as requested. It was so great to see that the guys from Yes care so much about their fans that they would suffer through three hours of banal pleasantries just for us.

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 Conspiracy by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.38 | 24 ratings

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Conspiracy
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by turhaposti

4 stars This is happy pop music, not so progressive. Anyway I like to listen, cause there´s enough hook in every piece, enough complicated and defenitely not too boring songs. I´m Yes fan and I like to listen Chris´s singing very much. Also his vocal arrangements works always well. Billy Sherwood got also good taste about making music. Maybe this should be called popressive prog album. Only "You´re the reason" is little a bit too neutral song. All the other pieces are very good and got edge enough. 3,7/5 stars

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 The Unknown by CONSPIRACY album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.48 | 26 ratings

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The Unknown
Conspiracy Crossover Prog

Review by max.pasq

4 stars Over the last few years Chris Squire (Bass and Vocals), Billy Sherwood (Guitars, Keyboards and Vocals) and Jay Shellen (Drums and Percussion) have built up the 'Conspiracy Project' and, with the contribution of J.Haun, J.Berliant and M.Sherwood, in 2003, in the Californian Studios 'The Office', they have recorded the positive, valuable album 'The Unknown'. It is made up of nine tracks all characterized by originality, melodic freshness (in the parts sung by Squire and Sherwood) and by a strong, deep, dazzling backsound, utmost interesting, particular and unique, and very accurate arrangements, that show a remarkable technical-instrumental level, as well as an appreciable stylistic sensitivity, that stand out in the current - and not particularly exciting - 'progressive' panorama. In conclusion - luckily - the album 'The Unknown' has very little to do with the 'Conspiracy Project' previous one, with the same name 'Conspiracy', released in 2000. Moreover, 'The Unknown' includes two tracks that in my opinion are to be considered two authentic masterpieces: the first, 'New World' (7:22) (with Squire's exceptional, stunning bass performance) and the second, 'The Unknown' (11:21) that gives the name to the whole album, a work marked by a rich and complex structure and by an unexpected, startling development. An excellent addition to any progressive music collection: four stars.

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