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Steve Howe - Steve Howe's Remedy: Elements CD (album) cover


Steve Howe


Crossover Prog

2.77 | 37 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Steve Howe is far from the best guitarist I know, but he'll always have a place in my heart because of those very special things he did on THE YES ALBUM, YESSONGS, RELAYER and even TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS. In Yes's glory days he was untouchable, no-one came close, and I'll never understand why he has now spent more than three decades releasing one mediocre solo album after another. (THE STEVE HOWE ALBUM is just about the only one that doesn't annoy me, and even THAT isn't first-rate.)

How can it be explained that this superstar, who created unforgettable solos for 'Sound Chaser' and the 'Nous sommes du soleil' finale (solos which never fail to move me, no matter how often I hear them), has spent at least 33 years filling one album after another with TRIPE?

Just compare Howe's solo career with Steve Hackett's - the difference is immense. Hackett has released at least three studio albums which are cornerstones of prog in their own right; devoted fans will even tell you there are far more masterpieces than just three. But I seriously doubt whether Mr. Howe even HAS such fans. Hackett writes imaginative instrumentals, composes songs with lovely melodies and inspired harmonies, fills entire albums with cute (if somewhat insubstantial) suites for classical guitar and orchestra, while his electric guitar STILL takes you higher... But if you buy one of Howe's electric albums you know from the beginning that (a) it's gonna have a nondescript Roger Dean sleeve; (b) there's going to be at least fifteen different guitars on it, and (b) most of those guitars will produce the ugliest sounds you can imagine.

How on earth is this possible?

Can it be that Steve Howe just isn't 'hungry', while Steve Hackett (having left Genesis early) still feels the need to prove himself? With one Steve Howe album after another I have thought that everything you hear is no more than a hobby. Just the master pottering in his garden shed. Nothing essential, ever!

That certainly is the impression I get from ELEMENTS as well. Well, I must admit it includes a FEW solos which remind me of the old, inimitable Steve - most notably on the seven-minutes-plus 'Pacific Haze', where the lead guitar has a special lilt. But even 'Pacific Haze' could have been more exciting. It features a jaunty brass section which was recorded in a separate studio. Why did no-one have the idea of organising a sweaty, all-night blowing session for rock band and brass TOGETHER? As it stands, the music merely sounds manufactured. The same is true about 'Inside Out Muse', Steve's attempt to perform a slow blues: the master's duet with clarinettist Gilad Atzmon (one of the most exciting players on today's British jazz scene) falls flat, mainly because Atzmon isn't given enough space, and also because the music just doesn't have any force. A lot of responsibility for this, in my view, lies with drummer Dylan Howe, who throughout the album manages to sound like Alan White at his blandest. Apparently Dylan himself is making a name for himself in London jazz circles. Judging from his performances with Dad, I fail to see where his talent lies.

'To expand the possibilities', Steve writes, 'I have formed Remedy, a group that performs my music.' (As if we hadn't guessed!) 'Here thirteen instrumentals and three songs combine my influences old and new to explore how progressive rock developed its own personality'. What a shame Steve had to do all this through an un-progressive album, which is lacking in personality altogether.

fuxi | 2/5 |


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