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Anderson Bruford Wakeman  Howe - Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe CD (album) cover


Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe


Symphonic Prog

3.21 | 328 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars AWBH is FUN - as long as you're willing to pretend you don't understand English. Is that O.K. with you? And you like classic Yes? So you're not allergic to Jon Anderson's voice? Then let's go ahead.

To be honest, the opening tracks (as well as 'Birthright') still cause me some trouble, as they have Anderson shouting at the top of his range against a background of noisy electronic drums ("Themes") and blaring trumpet-like synths ("Fist") but by the third track ("Brother of Mine") everything finally feels O.K. Back in 1989, when this album was released, I thought: 'Yesss! They're back!' Catchy melodies and irresistible rhythm guitar (not played by Mr Howe, it seems...), Rick Wakeman expertly tickling the ivories, with Howe's lead guitar humming in the background - why, we hadn't had such fun since 1972. (I really like Rick's playing on "Brother": it sounds like an early nineteenth century fortepiano.)

After "Brother of Mine" the album takes a bit of a dive, though. "The Meeting" would have been an acceptable ballad, if it weren't for Wakeman's Richard Clayderman-style grand piano. (When will Wakeman learn to leave out those kitschy echo-effects?) But we're soon on the way up again. "Quartet", with its lovely acoustic opening, finally puts Steve in the spotlight. And catchy melodies are back again, most definitely . Within the scope of a single song we're treated to one memorable tune after another - sure beats TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS! Next, on "Teakbois", ABW&H let it all hang out. It seems that a couple of other reviewers thought this track a lapse of taste, but I find it tremendous fun. And then, finally, in "The Order of the Universe", we are given a gorgeously cinemascopic guitar-and-synths opening... until those vocals set in: "The Order of the Universe! The Order of the Universe!"

Sorry, I'm afraid we can neglect the problem of Jon Anderson's lyrics no longer. Let's stop pretending we don't really know the English language. Any thirty-five year old who writes things like: "So up this universal combination of the word I'll try so hard to fulfill my belief. Take me, I'm a love you" is a little daft, don't you think? Oh, I'll admit SOME of Jon's lines sound memorable... For example, I simply love the way he sings: 'We have walked the path of all the known religions'. And "Birthright" comes across as a worthy attempt to write a protest song. But generally speaking, this album's lyrics are irritating in the extreme.

And why does Steve Howe play so little lead guitar?

fuxi | 3/5 |


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