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Steve Howe - Pulling Strings CD (album) cover


Steve Howe

Crossover Prog

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1 stars Damn. When I find here an album that has no reviews and that I have listened to, it's always some poor album, but I feel a duty - which I try not to continue after this!______ Imagine Steve Howe performing live both Yes and his solo material without other musicians. Emphasis on the last words. Considering that he just can't sing. And that his solo material is very uneven, whether it's sung or instrumental. Steve HACKETT is able to serve a superb one-man performance even without Genesis tunes, but Steve Howe - no matter how skillful guitarist he is - is simply not in that league. I borrowed this (dating 1999) from a library mostly for a curiosity to hear versions of 'Turn of The Century' or 'Soon', (and why not also to check out more of his solo material, which I've never been keen of and didn't expect much this time either). Good grief. One must be a real Howe fan to forgive his flat and unsteady singing. If there had been much more pickings (and without the voice, please) from the Yes catalogue, it would have been more interesting at least. Then again, why listen to ripped-down versions of good music that you can listen to as originals? I'm not saying he shouldn't give solo-solo concerts (but he should be rich enough to hire other musicians too), the simple fact is that some concerts just don't make decent records. Howe sad.
Report this review (#30689)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars No doubt this is not the best Steve Howe. It is true that Steve Howe is very poorn singer and it would be far better if he would just play, not sing. Never the less this is not so poor album as you might think.

This record has some amazing songs, such as "Diary of Man Who Vanished" and "Classical Gas". Steve's guitar playing is extremely enjoyable. Steve Howe plays also few Yes songs, which are not good but neither bad. If you want to hear different kind of versions of Yes songs then you might enjoy this. In some songs Steve Howe's infamous singin is fair, even enjoyable but in most of the songs it can even be scary!

If you are a fan of Steve Howe and you would like to hear him live then I would advice to buy this. But remeber 3/5 stars is not perfect so don't expect same from this record.

Report this review (#42809)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Wot did you say? Steve can't sing? I'll agree he sounds shaky and is certainly no match for Jon Anderson, but all things considered there are many rockers who do worse. Could you imagine Mr Howe turning up in your local bar, playing a few pieces from his solo albums, and a few highlights from the Yes catalogue - just him and his guitars? What kind of night would it be?

A surprisingly intimate occasion, actually, judging from this recording. Maybe you need to be a true fan before you can appreciate it all, but if Steve's solos on RELAYER and TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS have moved you to the core of your soul (as they have me), and if you think Steve's first solo album, BEGINNINGS, is (on the whole) an enjoyable experience, then chances are you'll also appreciate PULLING STRINGS.

I'll admit BEGINNINGS contains some real duds (e.g. "Doors of Sleep" and "Australia"), but I've always thought the album allowed you to peer straight into Howe's soul (oh no, enough, I won't use that word again) - especially its final two songs, which had Bill Bruford on drums. One of those BEGINNINGS tunes, "Pleasure stole the night", also appears on PULLING STRINGS, unplugged (like most of the material here), and even though its lyrics still don't make sense, it sounds heart-warming and really makes you feel you just got to know Steve a little better.

Same with the Yes tunes. Once again, you'll have to forgive Steve his limitations, but even so, I feel he makes a decent job of "Soon", "Turn of the Century" and the slow bit from "Close to the Edge". It certainly casts a totally new light on those pieces when you hear them performed by someone who was intimately involved in their conception. If Steve played the same way in MY local bar, I'd weep - and not even with frustration!

Steve's instrumental bits, I trust, won't cause anyone any problems; they are fun as usual. And then, at the end of the programme, Steve suddenly grabs an electric guitar and lets rip with "My white bicycle", a Tomorrow classic I'd never even heard before. Judging from its performance here, people, it's a TREMENDOUS tune!

Report this review (#125740)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars This is not one of those ultimate statements of a life long career; this is not one of those live albums that include the definitive versions of the songs performed, and neither is it intended to be. But it is most definitely not poor or lacklustre by any means. Indeed, this is a very good, fun and thoroughly enjoying live album by one of the giants in Prog, documenting what appears to have been an incredible night for the people who were there and for Steve himself too. The audience reaction between the songs is surprisingly strong and positive, and you can really tell that Steve too is enjoying himself on stage.

The excerpts from Yes' Close To The Edge, Turn Of The Century and Gates Of Delirium/Soon are interesting and very different from their original versions. These are not meant as improvements on these masterpiece songs, and they should not be judged as such. Steve is well aware that he cannot better them, and that is also not what he is trying to do here. He is merely putting them into a new light and having some fun with them. And I think he is very successful at this. And the audience seems to agree. He is even trying to be funny when he claims to have forgotten which song off Going For The One he should play, and he starts playing the beginning of every song off Going For The One, stopping with no, not that one, until he gets to Turn Of The Century.

No one, including Steve himself, thinks that he is a great vocalist. But you don't necessarily have to be in order to make good music, as long as you have good material. And Steve Howe has a lot to pick from, and he doesn't pick his greatest hits either (no Roundabout, I've Seen All Good People, Heat Of The Moment or When The Heart Rules The Mind). Besides, even if he does sing several songs, the focus here is, obviously, on the guitars. Only on track one are there drums and bass, for the rest Steve is all alone on stage.

This might not be the best starting point if you want to discover Steve's solo career. But I think it is preferable to many of his studio albums. Interesting and fun for Yes fans, judging it for what it is.

Report this review (#197663)
Posted Wednesday, January 7, 2009 | Review Permalink

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