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


Anderson - Bruford - Wakeman - Howe


Symphonic Prog

3.19 | 414 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

2 stars Ever since Yes re-formed, Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire had been the driving creative forces behind it. Jon Anderson had been sidelined, and his influence was limited to his vocal performance and occasional lyrical contributions. In 1988, he left Yes to begin recording a solo project. He enlisted three other ex-members of Yes in this effort: Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, and Bill Bruford. Bruford's King Crimson bandmate Tony Levin was brought in to play bass for this project. This project was named after the four of them (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (ABWH)), and Yes sued to prevent ABWH from mentioning Yes in any promotional material.

ABWH's sole album, a self-titled effort, was released in 1989. It's obvious that Anderson et al hoped for this to be the spiritual successor of Yes's classic period. For the first time since 1980's Drama, Roger Dean artwork graced the album cover, and Arista Records made this album's catalog number 90126.

The music on ABWH is far, far more artistically ambitious than the Trevor Rabin-Yes material. At the same time, it was 1989, and the stretch of the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s was truly a dark time for progressive rock. The album starts off strong, except for Wakeman's fucking grating synth tones. The songs are engaging, dynamic, and a big improvement over Big Generator. But then the album hits its first hiccup with the 10-minute suite "Brother of Mine". It's fluffy and cheesy, sappy and saccharine. Howe's playing is so overwrought it's comical, and when the song tries to kick into higher gear, Wakeman's synth brass tones ruin it. The poppy, energetic section with handclaps gives some awful "Kumbaya" vibes.

"Birthright" could have been a good addition to a late-80s action movie soundtrack, with its slow build and John Carpenter-esque cavalcade of high-energy synths in the climax, but it's middling at best when taken in the context of its full six-minute runtime. "The Meeting" continues this trend of overlong songs, meandering for four aimless minutes of piano tinkling. And when the sappy acoustic intro of "Quartet" comes in, with Anderson's pop-ballad-style lyrics, it's tough to slog through this. For nine minutes, this song drifts in unimpressive, acoustic territory.

But with the opening of "Teakbois", you will pray to have that back. Did you want to hear shitty '80s Yes play calypso music? No, you didn't. You're a reasonable individual. No one should want this. It's awful. Please, make it stop.

After the longest seven-and-a-half minutes of your life, Steve Howe finally gets to play a guitar line that sounds like Steve Howe to open the penultimate track. Wakeman's synths continue to spray diarrhea over everything, and Anderson's attempt to do a more intense vocal style feels forced and unintentionally funny. Despite this, this is probably the strongest track on the album and a much-needed respite from the preceding bombardment of garbage.

Review originally posted here:

TheEliteExtremophile | 2/5 |


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