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HOMEBREW

Steve Howe

Crossover Prog


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Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This CD presents us 17 previously unreleased picks from Steve Howe's personal recording archives, covering dates from 1970's to 1990's. This makes the album quite unbalanced listening experience, but is probably an interesting album for serious fans of his work, which I possibly am not, though respecting his musical talent and adoring many recordings he has participated. My own impressions of the tracks left following marks to my notebook;

"Sketches in the Sun" is a delightful and mantra-like opener, having Yes sounding chorus. This was performed on stage with Asia, and later also recorded for a GTR studio album. "Sharp on Attack" from mid-1980's reveal its origins trough the electronic drum synth sounds, which I failed to enjoy. Melodies are interesting though, and the song resembles slightly "Machine Messiah" song from the "Drama" album of Yes, dying out sadly to a fade-out ending. "The Valley of Rock" is an American country tune, not very much pleasing my taste, though technically brilliant as excepted. The first part of "Georgia's Theme" has also some country-music qualities, but in my opinion with more tasteful manners, maybe resembling the musical idioms of Pat Metheny. Second theme is more ethereal solo guitar run, being very beautiful and emotional. This track was dedicated for the guitarist's first daughter. As the previous track was dedicated to a young relative, the following "Dorothy" is then written for the elder relatives of the player, being quite sweet easy listening pleasant jazz. "Meadow Rag" is a short classical guitar piece evoking moods from early 20th century, being a good performance and a demonstration of sense with musical styles.

Then "At the Full Moon" starts a batch of songs done during the time of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe recordings. The guitarist does also singing here, and he surely is not as good singer as he is a guitar player, but fitting still to this a decent song. "Never Stop Learning", a good advice, was recorded with Geoff Downes during the same times, and this is quite painful track to be listened due it's 80's AOR sounds. The song evolved as "Brother of Mine" song for the ABW&H album. "Red and White" continues the straits guided by the last few tracks, and at least here the overall quality of the release starts to suffer in my opinion very badly. "More About You" is a simple acoustic ballad, and reveals that Steve was much into this kind of simple folk stuff. A thing which I first was astonished after learning him through his complex guitar works from Yes, but revealing the larger capacities of human psyche than a young lad might first think to understand. "Rare Birds" returns back to the ABW&H era, being a peaceful ethereal tune, most pleasing one of these in my opinion. "Big Love" is another painful track with horrid singing from the maestro, and "Running in the Human Race" is a quite nasty rant from 80's. Terrible "Barren Land" is from Asia times, and whilst listening the following "Against the Tide" and "Break Away from It All" my mental state collapsed as I couldn't take it anymore. There was only one track left, which I though being interesting: "For This Moment" was recorded at 1972 and it came as a part of "The Tales from Topographic Ocean" album by Yes. Sadly it's interesting to be heard only once, as it sounded quite terrible, giving documentary values for the birth of the album which I personally consider really wonderful.

As this compilation emphasizes the 80's-90's era, this should be a pleasing record only if you are fond of this timeline in the guitarists work. The detailed information about the recordings are from the informative CD inlay card, and for those researching Steve's career, the product is a good source of information. I admit I sent my own copy back to the consuming loop by selling it away on the local flea market.

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Posted Sunday, April 03, 2005 | Review Permalink

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