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.
Featuring news/updates and commentary/analysis of Trevor's career and associated projects.
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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A new song! (part two)

Author's note: contains a bit of op-ed, so if that's not your thing then caveat lector.

This past Sunday, as many of you are likely aware, after nearly two weeks of speculation and discussion a recording of the debut of "Fragile" was released into fandom-wide circulation.  And it is being reported online as if it were an actual release, albeit an unofficial one (and to everyone who has cited where the song originally came from I say: You're welcome.).

Even now it's a bit difficult to imagine that two-and-a-half years later I'd finally get to fully discuss Trevor's new song "Fragile," albeit in a context I wasn't necessarily thinking would occur.  But thanks to fandom efforts (I'm not going to link the song but if you're in fandom you either have already heard it or you'll know where to find it.) we can experience and appreciate what seems to be a final version of the song, as a recording by ARW.  And we are privy to this thanks to Trevor allowing it to be played during the episode of Jonesy's Jukebox which he appeared on two weeks ago.

Which leads me to my first point: in the preceding years of this endeavor, both Rick and Trevor made note of their stance regarding performing new music while on tour: they didn't want to because it would end up on YouTube the next day and therefore they couldn't control either the quality or the presentation of it.  But it only took eleven days till "Fragile" was then disseminated worldwide - and as soon as it was known that the song had been aired, the demand for it to be shared from those who had not heard it was loud and clear.  And this is entirely normal within the contemporary fandom realms.  So the guys are getting the side-eye from me unless that was the idea all along: debut a new professionally-recorded and mixed song in what appears to be a special circumstance, but not an ephemeral one, knowing it will be shared but at least it will be reasonably good-quality.  Because record sales don't really matter these days for a legacy-based band.

To which I say: well okay then.  I'm not going to complain, necessarily; it's just another episode of cognitive dissonance.

As I reported on the blog two-and-a-half years ago, a portion of this song in its' original form appeared during the closing sequence and end credits of the finale of the television drama Agent X, which Trevor and Paul scored.  The showrunner tweeted at the time of its' broadcast that it was indeed a new song by Trevor, and this was amazing news even as brief as its' usage was.  When Trevor discussed the song on Jonesy's Jukebox he stated it had been composed for a film.  I honestly don't know if he misspoke or if indeed he did write it for a film and then, as it was unused, he gave it to William Blake Herron for use in Agent X.  The latter scenario doesn't sound logical to me, but ultimately I suppose it doesn't matter.  The thing to remember is that the song existed in a finished version before it was then re-purposed for ARW.  So I believe that it was augmented rather than completely re-recorded, although it appears to contain contributions from everyone.

But if you compare the two you can hear distinct similarities, which is why I believe it was augmented rather than completely re-recorded.  But I fully admit I may be wrong about that.

Fandom reaction to the song follows the usual spectrum of such things, from warm enthusiasm to mocking disdain.  Certainly everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I can understand why some are not satisfied: it isn't prog enough, it isn't upbeat enough, it isn't what people would expect from a band which has taken on the Yes moniker and all which that implies.  Although one could state the song has been "Yes-ified" the song is also Trevor's and it is clearly more illustrative of his compositional instincts and abilities.  If anything I'd say that this song is entirely the sort of thing I would expect from a project featuring Jon, Rick and Trevor - Yes or no Yes.

Personally, as I have been waiting two-and-a-half years to hear "Fragile" in its' entirety I am wholly behind it and satisfied with it, I think it's a lovely song and I appreciate its' layers and textures and the way in which they've all been incorporated into the recording.  And it is beyond wonderful to hear Trevor singing again.  So I am primarily speaking from a position of enthusiasm myself, as a fan of Trevor first and foremost.

Now I'm going to share my impressions on the song as we've all heard it.  I wouldn't necessarily count this as a formal review as we just don't know if this is an actual unofficially-official viral release or merely a fandom bone for us all to gnaw upon for a while.  However, there was a fandom comment in the last few days - and it may have been Henry Potts but I'm not certain - that "Fragile" would be a somewhat difficult song to recreate live due to the intricacy of its' production.  I agree with this; one might posit that in the upcoming American run of dates we will not hear any new music, but we have been given evidence of new music in a way which allows us to hear it as it was meant to be experienced and it wouldn't be the same experience in a live setting, nor one that Trevor (or ARW in total) would wish to be propagated.

One criticism which has been leveled that I can see from both sides is the matter of the drums, or lack thereof.  In its' original version, as a ballad, I think the drums were meant to be understated.  And even in its' augmentation as a group recording I feel that the drums wouldn't necessarily have a stronger presence, although I could argue for them needing to be re-recorded, but I could also understand why they wouldn't be.  And since we're in the rhythm section I'm also going to assert that is Lee on bass.  I am aware there are fans who do not agree with me, but some of the little runs you hear prior to and during the bridge/refrain section ("Touch...be the touch") sound, to me, like something Lee would play in a Yes-like idiom and also something that he could play, given my familiarity with other of his recorded work (Headspace and It Bites, for example).  It's true that it could be Trevor on bass and of course it was Trevor in its' original recording.  But as Trevor used Rick's pre-recorded stems for keyboard parts, then it stands to reason he would have done the same for Lee, who has his own home-based professional-quality studio; especially as Lee had commented in September 2017 that he was "due to play on it" referring to existing recordings.

I had originally posited that I believed it was Trevor on piano and Rick on keyboards but the more I listen to it then the more I'm inclined to believe that all the flourishes (I don't know the true technical term, sorry) on piano which we hear are definitely Rick.  I see it as a way to include textures which are recognizable as Rick's signature style without having to dismantle the song's inherent structure.

The section around the four-minute mark, this is what I first heard of the song itself previously and it is what leads to me to believe that this version is an augmentation rather than a complete re-recording or even re-imagining.  And the additions of Jon and Rick work really well, I think, as far as enhancing its' inherent melodic beauty.

As I previously noted the bridge/refrain - the vocal melody in this part I believe is Jon's contribution as it seems wholly indicative of his compositional style.

I believe the true strength of the track lies both in Trevor's melody - and the way it is expressed in the guitar and keyboard textures - and Trevor and Jon's vocals.  Their harmonies are wholly beautiful and their voices are strong and clear.  The layering of the backing vocalizations provides an ethereal effect and the stacked vocals Trevor likes to incorporate are nicely-done.  Trevor's register has changed but he can still reach the higher end of his natural tenor range when he needs to (and has also proven this with performances of "Changes" on the ARW tours).

An interesting consideration is that even with the re-imagining of this piece there is no instrumental break or solo in the middle eight, as it were.  The ending of the song features a ride-out of about a minute-and-a-half, more or less, and there are some nice flourishes from guitar, bass and piano with a background wash of vocalization.  I have found myself wondering if that is part of the issue some have with the song's style and execution - there are no obvious moments of musical bravura.

But it's a lovely song, truly.  And I thank Trevor for whatever reason led him to the decision to allow us to hear it.  Who knows what the future will hold for ARW or Trevor's solo career but this moment is one I've been waiting for a very long time and I still can't quite believe it was that simple - in a manner of speaking - to finally experience it.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

(a real) update from the Maestro

Trevor posted to Facebook last night regarding his work on the upcoming CD/DVD release as well as an injury which occurred before the run of shows in June.  It's great to read that he's recovered now!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Another interview coming up...?

Spotted on Instagram...
Of course, Trevor loves to meet dogs so that's nothing surprising but what is potentially interesting about this encounter is the posting - from the Instagram account of Joe Armstrong, the host of the Independent's Day podcast which (according to their website) brings you independent artists, producers and music industry visionaries with in-depth interviews, live performances and inside information - without hype and direct from the artists who practice their craft.

So I'll be keeping an eye out to see if my supposition is correct and hopefully on a future Wednesday we'll have another new interview to enjoy (not this coming Wednesday, though, I already checked).

Monday, July 16, 2018

Trevor on Jonesy's Jukebox

(Yes I'll have some content today after all!)
Sex Pistols' guitarist Steve Jones welcomed Trevor on his LA-based radio show today, and it seems he might have premiered his song "Fragile" (which readers will recall was originally used in the finale of Agent X); hopefully the podcast featuring the interview will be uploaded on the KLOS site either later today or tomorrow.

ETA: here is the link!

A post shared by $teve Jone$ (@jonesysjukebox) on

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Time-travel Tuesday: that one with the parrots

My thanks to Marcelo Henrique for uploading this clip from Yes' 1984 appearance on the German television show Bananas which was previously somewhat notorious in our fandom due to its' whimsical staging (the guys somehow find themselves in the middle of the desert with a flock of parrots, a traditional British red telephone box, and an exploding television) - and now here is the complete version of the video (in really great quality).  For several years all that's been available was about half of the segment.  Interspersed with their in-studio miming are scenes from the official promotional video for "Owner of a Lonely Heart."