Reviews & Spotlights

Trevor Rabin: Rio

YES!!! It has taken over 30 years but we finally have a new vocal-led solo album from the immensely gifted man with the golden touch - Mr. Trevor Rabin. The talented South African singer, songwriter and guitarist shot into the collective consciousness of music fans around the world when he stepped into YES in the early 80's to help return them to the top of the charts. Then, he stayed on to orchestrate a series of records that would serve to make an impression and firmly mark his place in that legendary band. In the midst of that success he released Can't Look Away in 1989 and now comes Rio - its amazing follow-up that now has fans wondering "where have you been" and "when can we expect more from you".

The answer to the first question is that Rabin never left the music scene he just directed his energy and creative output into a vast catalog of soundtrack work that kept the roof over his head over the years without burdening him with all the headaches that came from not being Steve Howe in the band YES. A re-introduction to prog fans occurred when ARW formed in 2016 with fellow YES alumni Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. Bold commentary followed that promised new music from this YES-styled offshoot but that work never materialized. Instead, Trevor took his road hone chops to his own studio to create and complete his own songs that were in various stages of formation over the years.

The result is the beautiful and bountiful Rio that through 10 diverse and declarative tracks makes a monstrous musical statement that is hard to turn away from. In fact, many fans point to the dismal recent output of his former band and wonder where they would be had his creative input been brought back into their fold.

Rio paints a prog and pop-licious picture that points in the direction of what could have been. On the other hand, the album that finds Trevor playing the majority of the instruments on the record - minus the drums - with some additional backup singers proves that he probably never really needed them in the first place.

Opening with the joyous and jolting "Big Mistakes" that mixes Tom Petty's "Jammin' Me" with Big Generator stylings and a strong guitar based coda was a smart decision. Next up, "Push" provides a sonically pleasing perspective on the most distasteful of subjects - that of political corruption. In interviews Rabin admits to feeling pushed too far so he turned to song to call them out. Timely, especially if some good can come out of it. Not likely though.

Trevor's three decade history of film scoring shows through most on the expansive and evocative "Oklahoma" that reminisces about that terribly tragic day when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed on April 19, 1995. Yes, there are some pretty heavy subjects being tackled on throughout Rio but it never gets preachy and with his world-class musicianship at the forefront it's more like a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down.

There are a few numbers that pay homage to his South African homeland - "Thandi" and "Egoli". Rabin revives the Beach Boys era harmonies on "Tumbleweed" and he also channels some Steve Howesque country picking along the way.

But, it's the tracks that revisit his YES years that to these ears are the absolutely most interesting ones on the record. "Paradise" is near heaven with some "Leave It" style voicings and a lead vocal that sounds as if it was hand-crafted for the dictates of singer Jon Anderson. Since he's nowhere to be found here, Rabin stands in ready made for the role just as he did way back the first time in 1983. Later in the track it also sounds like the ghost of Chris Squire joins the chorus.

On Rio - Trevor goes a long way and covers a lot of ground musically to reveal that he is very much alive and well in this modern era. We just hope there's more to come soon - most of us who jumped onboard the Rabin bandwagon back in the day don't have another 30 years to spare!

Related Links: For more information on THIS REVIEW please visit the following links - Review by Rockin' Rich Lynch | Trevor Rabin


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