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THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS

Steve Howe

Crossover Prog


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jweissenburge
2 stars Good instrumentals, but Howe provides the vocals. And doesn't do a great job of it, IMO. His vocals on some of his later works are much better (_Portraits of Bob Dylan_, for example.) He sings on pretty much every other song, so if you can get past them, it isn't too bad. Get it cheap for the instrumentals.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#30683)
Posted Saturday, March 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 2 2/3 stars

An album in which almost half of the tracks are instrumental and the rest have vocals in them. This is relaxing music, and very easy to get into since it is not very complex nor challenging.

Instrumentally, this album shines, and Steve Howe plays really well on his guitar, with melody and perfection, yet no virtuosity. The two problems with this album are that the music is just good (but not great), and that the poor vocals (sorry Howe) get in the way of the music.

My Grade : C-

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#42354)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars As far as I'm concerned this is the most satisfying of all of Steve Howe's solo albums. While his first two solo albums had experimented with different guitar styles and his third album Turbulence had been entirely instrumental and more Jazz-Rock/Fusion oriented, this one is Steve's first (and only, at least until Elements was released in 2003) real rock album. And even if Steve plays most of the instruments himself, it does feel as if he had a real band behind him on the rockier tracks. And this is partly true with his two sons Dylan and Virgil on drums and keyboards respectively plus help from Nick Beggs on bass, Keith West on harmony vocals and harmonica as well as an Anna Palm on violin. The instruments played by Steve himself involve electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars, mandolin, koto, flute and keyboards.

The Grand Scheme Of Things is also more Yes-like in its sound than any other Steve Howe solo album. Indeed, this is one of the most Yes-like solo albums by any Yes member, rivalled only by Chris Squire's Fish Out Of Water. You can almost imagine that if Jon added some vocals, and Rick added some more keyboards, and Chris some bass guitar, this could have been a Yes album! Not one of the better Yes albums of course, but it wouldn't have been entirely out of place following Union (an album I like a lot, by the way). Maybe The Grand Scheme Of Things can be seen as a hint of what Yes might have sounded like in the early 90's if Steve had stayed with the group after Union. It would have been better than Talk for sure (not implying that Talk is bad).

The balance between vocal numbers and instrumental guitar pieces is optimal on The Grand Scheme Of Things, with about equal space given to each. Also the mix between slower and rockier material is very well balanced. This is however, hardly a hard rock album, like the GTR album for example. Rather it has the same feeling and sound as some of the mellower songs from 90's Yes albums (excluding Talk on which Steve didn't play).

One criticism of this album is that it takes too much advantage of the abilities of the CD format. With 16 tracks and a running time of almost an hour, it tends to drag a little bit in the middle. This is not because any of the tracks are bad, or boring. But the material could maybe have been edited down to 45 or 50 minutes, thereby making it a somewhat stronger set. There is really no need to mention specific tracks because there are no real standout tracks here, that are better than the rest. But there are no low points either. It is a very even and consistent album with the same sound and quality throughout.

Steve's vocals are much, much better here than they were on his early albums and he even came up with memorable and melodious songs for this album. The lyrics also reflect a more mature Steve Howe and there is certainly no sign of the type of light weight lyrical themes present on most Asia songs.

The guitar work is wonderful as always with Steve and he uses a variety of stringed instruments - including some unusual ones as well giving some tracks a somewhat "exotic" and relaxed feeling, without ever going into New Age territory (as he would do later on during his collaborations with Paul Sutin).

The Grand Scheme Of Things is a great place to start if you want to discover Steve Howe's solo career. Highly recommended for serious Yes fans. Even people (like myself) who were a bit disappointed with previous Steve Howe albums should give this one chance.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#178404)
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars One thing I'll say about Steve Howe, his voice has gotten better since his first solo album, or at least he's learned how to record his voice. He still doesn't have a great lead vocal sound (say what you want about Jon Anderson's sound, but he always puts everything he has into each song), but at least he's listenable.

This album, while not spectacular, features tasteful, light prog songs, much like most later years Yes. While nowhere near anything like the best Yes, this does provide a nice time, especially for the Yes fan. Howe's son Dylan plays the drums for him, and even though he's no Bruford, or even a White, he does a good job backing up dad.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#267107)
Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Gerinski
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars We all know that when Steve Howe starts to lead-sing it starts raining, and this album is no exception even if he sings a bit better than in Beginnings. I might say that his singing ruins the music but in this case there's not much to ruin anyway, the material being rather weak.

I like the previous Turbulence but here he does not quite hit the mark. It feels like a sort of family album for him, with both his sons Dylan and Virgil playing around.

16 songs so obviously most of them rather short, thankfully because this makes it more easy- going, and the music is very accessible, not complex, and may sound good, but it does not awake any enthusiasm.

Of course we are talking of Mr. Steve Howe so surely there is quality guitar playing and several of the instrumentals (about 50% of the album) are pretty decent, including the The Clap clone "A Valley of Rocks", but the songs with vocals are in general terribly weak and surely we can not say that this is a good album.

For fans and if you find it cheap it's ok for some of the instrumentals.

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Send comments to Gerinski (BETA) | Report this review (#349912)
Posted Saturday, December 11, 2010 | Review Permalink

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