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Steve Howe - Beginnings CD (album) cover

BEGINNINGS

Steve Howe

 

Crossover Prog

2.61 | 96 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
2 stars When this album first appeared, I really wondered what was going on. Steve Howe seemed to have found himself a toadstool in Fairyland!

Dutch natives will know what I'm talking about, since the landscape depicted on Roger Dean's album cover looks like a faithful reproduction of the 'houses of the dwarfs' in well-known Dutch theme park 'De Efteling'.

Oh well, at least such a cover suggested that there was some kind of continuity with Yes music. It helped me try to like BEGINNINGS.

But let us face it: three of (relatively) conventional songs on this album ('Doors of Sleep', 'Australia' and 'Will o' the Wisp') are no more than an awful, tuneless sludge, and they're not helped in any way by Steve's shaky vocals and dreadful lyrics. As a Yes fan, I used to try and find redeeming features (on 'Will o' the wisp' there's one charming moment where Steve plays mellotron-accompanied guitar!) but it simply wouldn't work. What's weak, remained weak.

The album's title track is a pointless and totally unconvincing attempt to prove that Steve could play along with a bunch of classical musicians. Similar experiments on Steve's second solo album would prove more fruitful.

'Ram' is a throwaway acoustic ditty, not too different from 'Clap'.

All the tracks I haven't yet mentioned are fairly good, and even (in just one or two cases) great. Let's look at them in ascending order of importance.

'Lost Symphony' is a catchy, brass-driven pop song, with interesting solos by the Master. 'Pleasure Stole the Night' is a moving prayer which sounds as if you're getting to know Steve intimately - even though it's unclear what he's praying for. ("Epochs past, lives were spent, / until a new band came" - he wasn't dreaming of Asia, was he?) 'Break away from it all' is a forceful rocker, propelled by Bill Bruford's inimitable drums; what a shame it ends on a rather decrepit guitar solo. All three of these tunes have more-than-acceptable vocals. But the album's real highlight has to be 'The Nature of the Sea': a superb four-minute instrumental, on which Steve is accompanied by three members of Gryphon (who had supported Yes on their 1975 tour). If only the entire album had been as joyful and inspired as this.

Fuxi's verdict: Yes fans will enjoy some of this - but only if they can get it at a bargain price.

fuxi | 2/5 |

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