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Steve Howe - Beginnings CD (album) cover

BEGINNINGS

Steve Howe

 

Crossover Prog

2.69 | 151 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
2 stars All things considered, Beginningsis a fair effort from Yes guitarist Steve Howe. Created in parallel with the debut solo albums of each of the other members of the band, Beginnings suffers from the absence of his usual co-musicians Jon Anderson and Chris Squire. But whereas Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow (1976) and Squire's Fish Out of Water (1975) are internally consistent, self-produced works, Howe's lack of experience in overseeing the creation of an album is clear on Beginnings. For decades, the knock on this record has been the quality of Howe's vocals, and while this is an entirely fair criticism, I'll bet it'd be repeated less often if Beginnings's compositions were stronger.

Side One is relatively short (16 minutes), but relatively strong. It's comprised of "Doors of Sleep," the album-opener and most Yes-like tune here, and three rock tracks, "Australia," "The Nature of the Sea," and "The Lost Symphony." On each of these last three, Howe moves from one style to another, with mixed results. The 22-minute second side is even weaker. "Will o' the Wisp" and "Pleasure Stole the Night" are in the same vein as the Side One songs, but much less interesting, and "Beginnings" fits the core prog-rock stereotype: unnecessarily long (7:31) and unreasonably pompous (featuring a Patrick Moraz-arranged string and woods ensemble). The closing track, "Break Away From It All," is a return to the mixed-bag quality of, say, The Nature of the Sea" and "The Lost Symphony." I think I hear some echoes of George Harrison here - - not so much in the guitar soloing, but in the composition itself. The only gem on side two is "Ram." Although it's played here with (I think) two guitars, a mandolin, and a washboard, its basis is one of Howe's best solo acoustic-guitar pieces. It's true that "Ram" begins with an interpolation of "Clap" (from The Yes Album), but I disagree that it's not a distinct composition.

Beginnings might have been a good EP. Perhaps, with the collaboration of Anderson or Squire, this LP could have been the groundwork of a very good Eddie Offord-produced Yes spinoff album. It seems that, unlike Anderson, Squire, and Moraz, Howe wasn't yet ready to realize his solo-album ambitions. It's not a poor album, nor unlistenable, but it's really for Steve Howe or Yes fans. For those who don't fit that description, but are interested in Howe's work, I'd suggest starting with The Steve Howe Album or Turbulence.

P.S. Is it just me, or is "Australia" a prototypical Asia song? I'm not saying it sounds anything like Asia, but the stacked, rhythmic vocals and certain instrumental sections seem to represent the building blocks of the Asia sound.

patrickq | 2/5 |

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