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Steve Howe - Beginnings CD (album) cover

BEGINNINGS

Steve Howe

 

Crossover Prog

2.61 | 94 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Oof, this is really not a good album. The single biggest mistake of the album was for Steve to handle the vocal duties himself; I mean, it's possible for a technically weak singer to find ways to make his vocals interesting, but Steve's sung parts are so dull here that he's in a dead heat with Gordon Haskell on Lizard for the worst lead vocals performance I've ever heard on a prog album. I like when he layers his vocals in parts of "Lost Symphony," but that's a strong exception.

Even without the vocals, though, this is mostly a 3rd-rate 70's prog album (that it's sung by a 4th- rate vocalist only amplifies the problem). I'd say there are two tracks that are clearly a cut above average: "The Nature of the Sea," a nice instrumental (with a good amount of variety in Howe's guitar approaches) that alternately conveys peaceful aspects of the sea and more "energetic" aspects of it, and the title track, which may be a little overlong but has some nice Howe acoustic parts amidst Moraz's orchestrations for winds and strings. It's as prissy as anything, but it has some nice atmosphere, and I don't mind listening to it.

The rest of the album, whether instrumental or with vocals, is really not good. The opening "Doors of Sleep" shows some promise in the opening parts, but Howe's singing is just soooo bad, and the song never really establishes a coherent direction. "Australia" has even less direction and even worse singing, and "Lost Symphony" largely wastes a pretty introduction by going into a brassy shuffle with Howe's bad vocals dominating things way more than they should. On side two, other than "Beginnings," the only other track that I notice for good reasons is "Ram," yet another in Howe's enjoyable finger-picking acoustic jaunts, yet this is definitely nowhere near the level of "Clap." "Will o' the Wisp" is six minutes of boredom, and not even Bill Bruford's drumming contributions on the last two tracks can save them, even if they have some pleasant aspects.

The thing is, I can hear plenty of ideas on here that could have worked to make really good music, but only if they'd been bounced off other people and grafted into other people's snippets of good ideas (I have the same complaint about Jon's solo album during this period too, mind you). As is, most of these ideas have no chance to grow into something great, especially when the singing is such a catastrophe. Only a handful of tracks keep this from being a disaster, and I must strongly recommend for Yes fans to stay away from this.

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |

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