Album: Conspiracy
Artist: Squire/Sherwood
2000 Purple Pyramid [US] / Eagle Records [UK]
CD: CLP 0819-2 [US] / EAGCD126 [UK]

Band members:
Chris Squire: lead vocal (1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10), vocals (3, 6-8), bass (1-10), acoustic guitar (10)
Billy Sherwood: lead vocal (3, 6-8), vocals (1, 2, 4, 5, 9), guitars (1, 2, 4-10), keys (1-10), drums (4, 6, 10), percussion (1-10)

Additional musicians:
Jay Schellen: drums (1, 8, 9), tom toms (4)
Mark T. Williams: drums (2)
Steve Stevens: guitars (3)
Michael Bland: drums (3)
Alan White: drums (5, 7), keyboards (5)
Jimi Haun: guitar solo (7)

Produced by Billy Sherwood and Chris Squire
Recorded and mixed by Sherwood, except (6) by Tom Fletcher and Billy Sherwood
Recorded at The Office/ The Bunker/The Living Room
Mastered by Joe Gastwirt

Illustration and design by Chuck Wright
Cover design & photos by Michi Sherwood

1. Days of Wonder (4:59)
2. Light in My Life (4:01)
3. Violet Purple Rose (4:58)
4. No Rhyme (4:54)
5. Lonesome Trail (6:36)
6. The More We Live (4:46)
7. Love Conquers All (4:51)
8. You're the Reason (5:08)
9. Watching the World (5:20)
10. Red Light Ahead (6:46)
11. Wish I Knew (4:57)
12. Man on the Moon (3:32)
13. Say Goodbye (6:07)

All songs written by Sherwood/Squire except 3, by Sherwood/Squire/Stevens

Notes: (****) The first Conspiracy album represents work dating back to shortly after Squire and Sherwood started working together, in the period between Big Generator and Union. Sherwood describes the pair as just writing together without any firm ideas as to a home for the material, but Sherwood was also brought in as a lead vocalist for Yes and some of these songs were candidates for a failed YesWest project. The Union put paid to Sherwood's position in Yes, but versions of "The More We Live" and "Love Conquers All" were released on Union and YesYears respectively. A band based on Squire, Sherwood and White toured under the name the Chris Squire Experiment and played pieces including "Lonesome Trail" and "Days of Wonder", but no release followed. The years passed—work continued on and off on the material while Sherwood's relationship with Yes went through many phases—when finally, in the late '90s, a release under the Chris Squire Experiment name was imminent under the name Chemistry.

That release never came as some of the material was cannibalised for Yes's Open Your Eyes release (tracks 11—a version of "Open Your Eyes"—and 12). The use of two tracks from Chemistry stalled the project while Squire pondered what to do. Eventually, with a new name, came Conspiracy. A provisional track list for Chemistry included a mystery song entitled "You are the Light of My Life", but the rest, as far as we know, seems unchanged. Not wishing for the album to be seen as a re-release of existing material, the two Open Your Eyes tracks and a third familiar song ("Say Goodbye", released on the second World Trade album, Euphoria) were left on the album but as 'hidden' bonus tracks (although tracks 6 and 7 had also been released in different forms and yet were left in the main track list). No details are given in the liner notes about the bonus tracks, although presumably it is the same personnel involved.

The one exceptional piece is track 3. At some point in the '90s, Squire recorded some sessions with Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens (who has also collaborated with Tony Levin in Black Light Syndrome) and Prince drummer Michael Bland. Details of these sessions are sparse, but Sherwood took one piece, overdubbed his parts, and the result is "Violet Purple Rose".

Others on the album are familiar names. There's Alan White on drums, of course. Union guitarist and Lodgic member Jimmy Haun guests on guitar. Schellen and Williams have both drummed in World Trade. Tom Fletcher worked on the Keys to Ascension albums. Michi Sherwood is Billy's wife.

So, what is the music like? A huge shock if you are expecting a follow-up to Squire's previous solo album Fish Out of Water, but not if you had heard the Squire/Sherwood collaborations on Union, YesYears, Euphoria and Open Your Eyes. I prefer the versions of the two Open Your Eyes tracks here, but I would rather have Union's "The More We Live—Let Go". The Chris Squire Experiment live could be more extended, but it is hard to compare poor audio quality boots to studio productions. (HP, 8 Jul 03)

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