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Steve Howe - Not Necessarily Acoustic CD (album) cover


Steve Howe


Crossover Prog

3.76 | 34 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Did Steve Howe never embark on a solo tour until 1993? Apparently so. Not Necessarily Acoustic was recorded on tour to promote Howe's fourth album, The Grand Scheme of Things. All twenty-two pieces are performed by Howe alone, mostly on acoustic guitar.

The song selection is very good; in addition to including Howe's three best solo pieces ("Clap," "Ram," and "Masquerade"), Not Necessarily Acoustic has a cross-section of songs from Howe's career to that point. Interestingly, three of Howe's solo albums - - Grand Scheme (1993), Turbulence (1991), and Beginnings (1975) - - are represented here by just one song each. Four songs from The Steve Howe Album (1979) are also included.

The remaining fifteen songs fall into a variety of categories. Five are from Yes albums - - his solo turns "Clap," "Mood for a Day," and "Masquerade," plus "Roundabout" and "Excerpts from Tales from Topographic Oceans," - - and one, "Sketches in the Sun," is from GTR. Four others are, as far as I know, previously-unreleased Howe compositions ("Second Initial," "Heritage," "Bareback," and "Dorothy"). Finally, five tracks represent a total of nine songs from the 1920s through the 1950s: "Whispering," a pop hit from 1920 revitalized in the early 1960s; "Swedish Rhapsody," a Hugo Alfvén piece which had been arranged by Chet Atkins in the 1950s; "The Glory of Love," a #1 pop hit for Benny Goodman in 1936 and a #1 R&B hit for the Five Keys in 1951; "Arada," one of Federico Moreno Torrobaand's earliest (1926) solo-guitar compositions; and the five-song medley "Country Mix."

Howe's guitar performances are superb, as is to be expected. Nonetheless, the adage about most live albums is true here: the studio versions (at least of the 13 tracks of which Howe had created studio versions) are better. That's even true of the solo acoustic pieces like "Mood for a Day" and "Masquerade;" these seem rushed to me. Meanwhile, the previously unreleased songs don't add much to the proceedings; a palpable sameness begins to creep in before the half-way mark. Since Howe's vocals are always an item of discussion, I'll add that he sings on just three songs (unless I'm forgetting one) and that the vocals aren't great, but neither do they detract from the album as a whole.

The sound is very good, but a minor annoyance (to me, anyway) on Not Necessarily Acoustic is the crowd-noise editing. In several places the audience claps before the listener realizes the song is over. I realize that a performer's silent cues can indicate when a song is over, and I've only been to one Howe solo concert, but the crowd responses seem too perfect, which, at least for me, is a distraction.

Anyway, Not Necessarily Acoustic is a good, enjoyable album, but nothing more. I'd recommend it to Howe fans or to fans of serious, though not classical, solo acoustic guitar.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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