were within reach of the Grail of rock and roll stardom many times
in their long career. Unfortunately for the group, the ultimate
prize always seemed to elude them in the end due to a series of
mistakes and sheer bad luck. A legendary live band, the group
never managed to translate their electric on-stage intensity into
the studio, and despite their 20 years of service, they have now
become little more than a blot on the American hard rock canvas.
Taking their name from a Beatles album, Yesterday and Today formed
in San Francisco around 1973 with Dave Meniketti on vocals and
lead guitar, Phil Kennemore on bass and Leonard Haze on drums.
After stealing rhythm guitarist Joey Alves from a rival band,
the foursome began to gig constantly around the Bay Area, opening
for such heavyweights as Journey and the Doobie Brothers. They
were eventually picked up by London Records, which released their
eponymous debut in 1976 and followed it with Struck Down two years
later. Neither album ended up being successful though, and after
being dropped from the label, the band spent another two years
struggling to stay alive.
Their perseverance finally paid off in early 1981, when they inked
a long-term deal with A&M Records and shortened their name to
Y&T in the process. Earthshaker, their first album for the label
came out later that year and was a resounding success, earning
the band a number of high-profile opening slots with AC/DC and
Kiss. The group's newfound success culminated in a performance
at the prestigious Monsters of Rock festival in Donington, England.
An optimistic Y&T returned to England the following year to begin
work on Earthshaker’s follow-up, Black Tiger. But despite its
strong material, the record was let down by an uncharacteristically
lifeless production job from veteran Chris Tzangarides and failed
to meet the lofty expectations of both media and their label.
Inexplicably, the group re-united with Tsangarides for 1983’s
Meanstreak, obtaining equally disappointing results despite scoring
a decent international hit with “Midnight in Tokyo.” Subsequent
releases such as In Rock We Trust (1984) and Down for the Count
(1985) fared no better, and by the time they found redemption
with the blistering power of their first live set, Open Fire,
the band had been forgotten and surpassed by an entire generation
of younger bands. The band's association with A&M finally came
to an end later that year and was effectively buried with the
obligatory greatest hits set, Best of '81-'85.
Y&T wasn’t ready to give up yet, though. Signed to Geffen by A&R
guru David Kalodner — best known for resurrecting the career of
Aerosmith — the group decided to re-vamp their image in order
to fit into the late '80s hair band scene. Sadly, this image overhaul
included the premature ejection of Haze in favor of the infinitely
cuter yet equally competent Jimmy DeGrasso prior to 1987's Contagious.
The album bombed, and a disgusted Alves would soon follow Haze
into retirement, only to be replaced by a Stef Burns for 1998's
equally disastrous Ten. Thankfully, Meniketti and Kennemore also
decided to call it quits soon after, and Yesterday and Today Live,
taken from the band's farewell gig, provided the appropriate send
off. And while the final line-up would re-convene for 1995's Musically
Incorrect and 1997's Endangered Species, continued indifference
from consumers would make it a short-lived reunion. After the
break-up, drummer DeGrasso went on to an extended journeyman career
with the likes of Suicidal Tendencies, Megadeth while Meniketti
issued his first solo album, On the Blues Side, in 1999. — Ed
All Music Guide