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Steve Howe - Beginnings CD (album) cover

BEGINNINGS

Steve Howe

 

Crossover Prog

2.61 | 96 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Really hit and miss.

If you were expecting another Fish Out Of Water with the first solo release of the other Yes-ax-man then you'd be sorrowfully let down by this album. Steve Howe's Beginnings is an album full of ideas, but not all of them are top notch. It would seem that at this point in his career Howe would still need collaborators (such as those in Yes) to streamline his ideas, and while this album does have some excellent high points, there are also some points which just make you want to reach for the skip button.

Let's get it out of the way right off the bat that Howe is not a very good lead singer. His backup vocals in Yes are good for texture, but as proven by this release, they fall flat when put out front. His vocals are still good in limited quantities, but they don't have the amount of range needed to stay interesting for the whole album. Still, there are a couple of very good tunes that have Howe standing behind the mic - the first is actually the album's opening track, which sets up the entire thing very nicely. Doors Of Sleep opens the album whimsically and has some very pleasant melodies that drift along to some well placed riffs. Lost Symphony ends side one with another excellent composition, this one rivaling some of the best moments from Squire's only solo venture. It's likely the album's standout, Howe voices for a bit before letting the climactic instrumentals take hold to bring the first side to an end. Unfortunately what lies in the middle is somewhat forgotten, and Australia makes too much use of Howe's weak voice to really be able to appreciate the instrumental sections present in the song.

The second side is even more uneven. Things get off to a start with the promisingly lengthy instrumental, Beginnings, that actually turns out to be the weakest song on the album. It's 7-minutes of orchestral rambling, which honestly sounds like it could be the soundtrack to Bambi. There's a certain degree of whimsy present (that which Howe is at his best with on this album), but the light hearted rompage is just so mundane that it turns into a 7-minute chore to listen to. Luckily there are two songs that save this side from complete destruction, Will O Wisp and Break Away From It All, but even these are not memorable enough to really make an impact by this point.

Overall, Howe's solo debut is not for everyone. Fans of Yes would be best to consider this a collector's item and fans of Howe should probably do the same. Still, this group of people will still find a lot to like about it, although everyone else - who are likely looking for some more complex, heavy hitting, well voiced progressive rock, would do best to look elsewhere. Good for a couple of listens, but then it'll probably hit the shelf for good. 2.5 stars, a weak effort with some shining moments.

Queen By-Tor | 2/5 |

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