A series of essays wherein I explore the numerous musical identities of my favorite musician: from child prodigy to teen idol to guitar hero to singer/songwriter to award-winning in-demand film composer.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Media Watch: history at a glance

Uploaded last Friday, this video from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's official channel combines a number of archival sources as well as footage from the Induction Ceremony to provide a (brief) historical overview of the evolution of Yes.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

...when he's 64

Joining all family, friends and fellow fans in wishing the Maestro the happiest of birthdays today!  And I know we all wish for Trevor another year of good health and happiness and creativity in whatever way he chooses to express it.  We're all looking forward to whatever this year may bring for our favorite musician.

Here's to even more musical adventures and lots of fun...whaddya say, Trev - sound good to you?

(photo: Janice Michelle Konigsberg)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Spot the Poms, part three

Carrying on into 2018 with his musical mission of backing up the best, here we see Lee with Take That's Gary Barlow and musical director Mike Stevens at London's Battersea Evolution for the Swing Low Dinner charity event last night where Take That was the featured musical entertainment.
A post shared by Ash Clewes (@clewes93) on

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Secret Discography: totally sax-y

One of a series which examines Trevor’s musical career in South Africa.

With thanks to the YouTube channel afrosunny (which curates vintage recordings from Africa of various genres) for recently uploading this lost classic (in great quality)...

1976 was a busy year for Our Trev and The Bull and The Lion is one of various releases featuring Trevor, Ronnie and Neil serving as a backing band for jazz musicians on fusion-minded recordings.  Back in 2009 the African music blog ElectricJive published an entry on this album:
...and I thank the blog's creators for bringing it to my attention then, as it was my first experience hearing Trevor play true fusion from back in the day.

(ElectricJive is a wonderful source for learning more about South African music during the Apartheid era and I highly recommend checking out the blog if you're interested.)

Although the credits don't state it specifically, I believe Trevor is also playing all the keyboards on this album, which beautifully showcases the saxophone talents of Ratau Mike Makhalemele and Winston Mankunku Ngozi with production by Patric van Blerk.  The boys backed up Mike on his album of Beatles' covers entitled Mind Games, also recorded in 1976 - among other projects of the time, such as the funk-jazz ensemble You And Me which featured Mike with Trevor and Neil.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Media Watch: in (many) a word

The Rock Show program on UK-based station GTFM aired a three-hour documentary last week entitled The Story of Yes...In Times and Words which features a collection of interview segments and music covering the entire timeline of the band's history, with the YesWest portion making its' first appearance around the 1:44 mark.

The show is available for listening via this link:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Media Watch: todo bien

A very Happy New Year to everyone!  Here's to many good things coming up in 2018.

With massive thanks to Gaby (her tumblr blog is noted below) for sharing this piece of Yesstory, from the South American tour of 1985 - which as we know was both historically significant (playing to the largest crowd of their career at the Rock In Rio festival) and rather dangerous (being the first UK-affiliated band to play in Argentina after the Falklands War of 1982 meant that security was heightened and bomb threats caused three of the dates to be cancelled).  There is a mention of the associated drama from assistant tour manager Mickey Heyes on the back cover of the 9012Live: The Solos release.  This interview segment is hilariously adorable!
  A couple years back Argentinian DJ Guille Petruccelli posted a photo from that same day on his Twitter account and it's the undeniable magic of Trevor which can make this kind of shirt look fabulous.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Collector's Corner: State of the Merch 2017

My abiding gratitude and thanks to the following for their generosity and assistance with this entry: rePete, Cee, fiendish_thingy, Judy Davis, Annie Hambach, Kim McCall, and James Cushing.  And as always: caveat lector because op-ed and potentially controversial opinions.

As I noted in my State of the Tour entry, I did not attend an ARW concert this year, but thanks to the efforts of kind fellow fans I did obtain some merchandise, which I consider an important part of my fan experience.

Except...well, this year was rather a fail on the part of whomever makes the decisions for such things, in my estimation.

But for those of you who enjoyed the merchandise offerings (as well as whatever you might have received in the VIP package if you bought one), then I'm glad you were well-pleased.  But I am compelled to expound upon what I believe were some missteps on the part of the organization.

First, I wanted to note that there were different offerings throughout the year.  The merchandise available in the UK, for example, was the same as what was sold at the US shows the previous year.  But the merchandise in Japan was largely different, and there was new merchandise introduced during the Summer/Fall tour respective of the name change from ARW to Yes Featuring ARW.

But of course there was one notable exception...the tour book.  More about that later.
2017 (UK)

Design flaws
When we were first introduced to the overall design scheme of the ARW branding, I will admit that I was not overly excited by the graphics.  This is not a slight on Jay Nungesser, it's just that it didn't really speak to me as a band logo, and although he did explain to me the significance of the maze design it wasn't compelling to me as a concept.  That's on me and my aesthetic opinion, of course.

However, with the name change came the prominent use of the "new" Yes logo and again, I don't particularly care for it.  In fact, it makes the ARW logo look positively beautiful by comparison.  It's not a design which truly fits for a rock band, especially a legacy band who cannot use the logo most closely associated with their adopted identity.  Which then brings me to...

Shirt scandal
As we see from this photo (with thanks to Judy Davis) of the merchandise for the Summer/Fall tour, the shirt selection is a little on the slim pickings side when compared with the previous year.  Four shirts versus three shirts and a hoodie - but you might very well say, "It's the same number of garments, Humble Narrator!"  And that is certainly true but there's a distinct lack of variety on offer as regards the look of those garments.
2017 (North America)

And then there is the not-so-little matter of utilizing the classic Yes bubble logo on two of those shirts, which became limited edition strictly by way of legal sanction.  With thanks to good friend of the blog Cee, I was able to obtain one of them.  The hoodie is not too bad but those shirts are totally boring compared with the vibrancy of last year's shirts.  So what the hell happened there?!  Not to mention what truly seemed to me to be a flagrant disregard for intellectual property.  And frankly that's not a good look on anybody.

Programme?  What programme?!
As a young concert go-er, the one piece of merchandise I would purchase without fail was the tour book, and I have a collection of various programmes.  So when it was revealed that a tour book was being sold in the UK, my first response was disappointment that it had not been offered here, but it's clear to me now that they were waiting to make a tour book when they had live performance shots to include, as there are photographs from the Los Angeles show.  And thus I can say that I am actually in the tour book (along with many other happy fans) so I am very happy that I now have a copy of my very own.

You can't see me, but I'm in the photo on the left (up in the balcony).

However, when the Summer/Fall tour got underway, the initial reports that there were no tour books being sold admittedly made me a bit crazy.  Why?!  Did they sell out?  But even so, why didn't they print new ones for this tour?  I had an exchange with Jay Nungesser, who stated he wasn't sure why they weren't being sold, but when the tour made it to Canada (which was almost exactly a month after my exchange with Jay) the tour books now appeared in the merch booth.  It appears they first sold the remaining stock, as I have one with the original cover.

(photo: Judy Davis)

Weeks later, it appeared a different version was now for sale.  However, only the front cover was changed.
(with thanks to Annie and Kim for getting this photo to me)

The contents are exactly the same otherwise.  And it's pretty okay, really, although I find it somewhat disconcerting that Brian Lane was the mastermind behind it.  Don't believe me?  Why else would there be an entire page devoted to jokes about his notorious reputation for mis-management?  However, I did enjoy the center spread of photos featuring Our Guys with their better halves.  And it was also great to finally see Lou and Lee's shots from the photo session with Jon's daughter Deborah.

With thanks to the Yes Source blog, the tour book is available to peruse if so desired.

It does call to mind what occurred during the Talk tour - a tour book was created for the Japanese tour, but there was never one offered for the US.  I realize merchandising often reflects what the market desires, and that's one reason why there always seems to be better merch available in Japan, because the fans do buy it.  But tour books are popular in most regions, I would say, and I hope that this was a lesson to the organization in terms of being better-prepared as regards merchandising in the future.  Because doing a reprint of a tour book with about two weeks remaining in a tour is rather too little, too late.  Those programmes with the new cover should have been ready to be sold at the very first gig.   There is no convincing me otherwise, and I am someone who does have knowledge of how these things are accomplished.

Doo-dads (and the lack thereof)
As you can see from the photos I've included, there were a few other items on sale last year and they seemed in keeping with the demographic of attendees - hats and coffee mugs, as well as posters advertising the tour which one could purchase either autographed or not.  The posters were available this year as well, but the only other item which could be found was a refrigerator magnet.  And hey, I love fridge magnets.  But this one is particularly uninspired.

I call this 50 Shades of BORING.
(with thanks to fiendish_thingy)

Take our money, please! (or don't)
One other element I've made note of in fandom discussion is the lack of an online store for merchandise sales.  Fans are willing to spend money all the time if they love a band.  I would have been more than happy to buy merch in that manner this year but since it wasn't available I was very fortunate that fellow fans were kind enough to give me the hookup.  So Mr. Deal-A-Day and his cohorts are seriously dropping the ball by not making this available for fans.

It would seem to me as regards the merchandise that for some reason there was a distinct lack of readiness/coordination behind the scenes this year.  Last year the merchandise was on point, with a pulled-together unified presentation and decent variety.  This year?  It looks as though it was all done at the last minute and with an eye to larceny.  As a fan it truly pains me to have to state it, but it's not like the evidence isn't obvious, and there was somewhat of a fandom backlash regarding the use of the Dean logo on the t-shirts.

My one request for next year?  Guys, please, give us something worthwhile for the 50th Anniversary.  I know you can do better than this and I think we're worth it, don't you?