Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Steve Howe

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Steve Howe Beginnings album cover
2.71 | 166 ratings | 27 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Doors of Sleep (4:08)
2. Australia (4:13)
3. The Nature of the Sea (3:57)
4. Lost Symphony (4:41)
5. Beginnings (7:31)
6. Will o' the Wisp (6:00)
7. Ram (1:53)
8. Pleasure Stole the Night (2:57)
9. Break Away from It All (4:19)

Total Time 39:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Howe / guitar, mandolin, steel guitar, dobro, banjo, harpsichord, organ, Moog, bass, washboard, vocals, co-producer

- Graeme Taylor / guitar (3)
- Patrick Moraz / piano (4-6), Moog & harpsichord (5), Mellotron (6)
- Bud Beadle / alto & baritone saxophones (4)
- Mick Eve / tenor saxophone (4)
- William Reid / violin (5)
- Patrick Halling / violin (5)
- John Meek / viola (5)
- Peter Halling / cello (5)
- Sidney Sutcliffe / oboe (5)
- James Gregory / piccolo flute (5)
- Gwyn Brooke / bassoon (5)
- Malcolm Bennett / bass (3), flute (8)
- Colin Gibson / bass (4)
- Chris Laurence / bass (5), double-string guitar (8)
- Alan White / drums (1,2,4-6)
- David Oberlé / drums (3)
- Bill Bruford / drums (8,9), percussion (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP Atlantic ‎- K50151 (1975, UK)

CD Atlantic ‎- AMCY-17 (1990, Japan)
CD Atlantic ‎- 80319-2 (1994, US) Remastered by Joe Gastwirt

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy STEVE HOWE Beginnings Music

STEVE HOWE Beginnings ratings distribution

(166 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (28%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

STEVE HOWE Beginnings reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Proghead
2 stars Well, the Roger Dean cover can't be beat and it rivals a lot of the covers he's done for YES, as far as I'm concerned. "Beginnings" was recorded during a period that all five members of YES (Alan White included) wanted to record albums, explaining the gap between "Relayer" and "Going for the One". But I have a really difficult time appreciating the album because Steve HOWE had the idea that he should sing on most of the songs. Unsurprisingly he gets some of his YES buddies to help on the album (even Bill Bruford, who was out of work by that time because KING CRIMSON broke up, although he hadn't been in YES since '72). One song also features members of the "Raindance"-era GRYPHON as well (mainly because GRYPHON had toured with YES).

But back on the subject of Steve HOWE's singing: he's not a very good singer. Flat and nasally is how to describe his singing. Someone should have told him to stick with guitar (actually apparently someone did, because he didn't sing on his following albums). Certainly I have a lot of prog rock albums with questionable vocals, but the music is so darn good I can block out the vocals. But the music here sounds like the bad vocals just makes it worse.

I know there are people out there who like this album better than me, I understand. But this could be a better album if it was instrumental, or at least get someone else to sing.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The guitarist of YES plays the keyboards and the guitars here. The album is progressive rock with an acoustic predominance. You can hear here all the talent of HOWE on guitars, mandolin and banjo. There is a good balance between acoustic and electric guitars. His electric guitar can be rythmic and more on the solos too. Alan White and Bill Bruford play the excellent drums. When it is more rock, the bass is there and it is never timid. Patrick Moraz completes Steve on the keyboards, which are more in the background, giving some room for the acoustic elements. There are many instruments on a few tracks: flute, piccolo, violin, oboe and bassoon. The presence of some guys from "Gryphon" on one track or two bring a certain style too. The songs are rather complex. There are some good vocals too. The song "Beginnings" is a very beautiful symphonic track.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Steve Howe is not a good lead vocalist, as a backing vocalist to YES he worked a treat, harmonising with Squire and Anderson. On Beginnings at times you can't help but chuckle at the audacity of putting his vocals onto press. Still it was the early 70's and the record companies at the time gave more license for artists to be creative than any other time in the history of music so what the heck. Reminds me a bit of Mike Rutherford leading the vocals on his solo ' Acting Very strange' Musically though Beginnings is a gem and that is where Steve Howe's true talent shines through.Songs like ' The nature of the Sea' , ' Beginnings' and ' Will o the wisp' are beautiful. A good album to have but don't expect much on the vocal front.
Review by Guillermo
3 stars As previous reviewers said, Steve Howe is not a good lead vocalist. This is the main problem of this album: his vocals. But in this album he recorded songs with several styles. In my opinion, the best of all songs is "Beginnings", a classical piece orchestrated by Patrick Moraz, who also plays a harpsichord in this song, while Howe plays his classical guitar. Other good songs are "Ram", "Pleasure Stole the Night" and " Break Away from It All ". There are some songs on which Howe plays guitars, bass, and keyboards, while the drums are played by Alan White or Bill Bruford. Howe also made promotional videos for some songs, like "Beginnings" and "Ram". The promotional video for "Ram" is funny. Excerpts of these two promotional videos were released in YES` "Yesyears" video.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I have to admit the virtuosity of Mr. Howe in playing his guitar with Yes. But I don't know why I never got "clicked" with his debut solo album even though I did upgrade my collection from cassette to CD. Still, it did not help. My only reason to upgrade was actually for completing my collection only because I loved his contribution with Yes. Released after Yes' "Relayer", no harm if I expected he would deliver something like "Sound Chaser" with his solo album. I could not find it here with this album. Even though this debut is not bad at all but there is something missing here and I don't know exactly what. It could be most of the songs are not melodic? (except some segments in "Australia"). Or the composition does not sound compelling? Or the production issue as the sonic quality is so dry - bass is very weak? Or Steve Howe's vocal does not seem to fit with the music? Or combination of those mentioned? Dunno really. For sure, something is missing .

This album was made involving many talented musicians like Patrick Moraz, Alan White, Bill Bruford from Howe's Yes-mates. He also brought chamber string orchestra The Philomusica performing fully classical outfit "Beginnings". Looking at the music, I enjoy most of acoustic guitar work. A good example is "Australia" where Howe gives his talented guitar playing which produces amazing acoustic guitar sounds. The other track that come into my attention is "The Nature of The Sea" where Howe blends acoustic and electric guitar into a good music. Patrick Moraz contributes his piano section in "Lost Symphony" - a song with (I think) loose composition.

Overall, this is not a bad album at all and it's worth only for fans / collectors. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by erik neuteboom
2 stars This album was released in a time that I was very heavy into Yes and I was very curious to the flood of solo albums from all the Yes members. Steve Howe is one of my guitar heroes so this solo effort should appeal to me. After a first listening session I had very mixed feelings. No problems with the virtuosic guitar work featuring an array at the size of a museum (from the warm sound of the classical guitar to the distinctive sound of the steel- guitar) and I started to dream away with the beautiful cover art and all those guitars. The promotional video indeed was funny showing more and more Steve Howe pictures (with Roger Dean art) so in the end there is a whole orchestra of Steve Howe's playing all those different instruments! But I was not very happy with the (let's say it very nive) mediocre vocals and the poor compositions (too fragmentic), his second solo album is much better and more elaborated.
Review by chessman
2 stars I well remember my seventeeth birthday, the following year, '76. I asked my sister for two albums, and chose this one, and Steve Hackett's 'Voyage Of The Acolyte'. These were my two favourite guitarists at the time, and I was really looking forward to listening to two first class albums. When she gave them to me, I perused the covers for ages, thinking both of them were top class. Then, on a whim, I chose Mr Hackett's album to play first. I was stunned how good it was, and enjoyed every minute of it. Then I played 'Beginnings'. Oh dear! What a disappointment. Obviously, his ability wasn't, and isn't, in question. But the songs lacked coherence and melody, and, as everyone knows, the man just cannot sing. I was so frustrated, but I realised then that he was at his best when a member of a band, and not so effective when allowed out alone. I cannot honestly say one track stood out for me. And yes, I played the record quite a few times over the following weeks, just in case it was me not getting something. No use. I have never desired to own a solo album by Mr Howe since. However, someone gave me a taped copy of 'Turbulence', a few years ago. This was a big improvement. But still fell short of what I expect from him. Maybe I just expect too much. Sorry this is so negative but I just can't find anything particularly good to say about this album. His playing is exemplary though, pity his songwriting isn't up to the same standard. His songs just don't stand out enough for me.
Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars Steve Howe's atrocious vocals on this album are well-documented, so we won't belabor that point. Even without the nasally singing though, this is not as great an album as it probably should have been. All the trappings are here, from the Roger Dean cover; to numerous appearances from then-current as well as former members of Yes and Gryphon; to a smorgasbord of guitars/mandolins/harpsichords that Howe plays pretty much equally well. But the overall impression one if left with is somewhat underwhelming.

"Doors of Sleep" is a sort of love song, or maybe a tribute to a woman, most likely Howe's wife, whose photo is featured inside the cover fold of the album. This is a pretty sparse tune, with Alan White filling in on drums and Howe providing guitars and bass, as well as vocals. The lyrics are centered on an obscure 19th century poem by the British suffragette Alice Meynell. It is a rather tepid tune, and an odd choice to launch his first solo effort.

"Australia" sounds a bit like a dated nationalistic jingo for that island nation, but since to my knowledge neither Howe nor White has a strong connection to Australia, the significance is lost on me. "Australia" kind of flows into the instrumental "The Nature of the Sea", which is a decent enough wandering tune, but again adds little direction to the album. White is replaced by Gryphon band-mates drummer David Oberle and guitarist Graeme Taylor, but without the liner notes this isn't really a noticeable change.

Howe kicks up the tempo a bit on "Lost Symphony", and expands the sound of the album for the first time. Bassist Colin Gibson (who at the time was in Snafu), and Patrick Moraz on piano join White and Howe, along with some several saxophones played by Bud Beadle and Mick Eve, for an upbeat little number that is has some nice variety with Howe's mandolin and organ work, and the saxophones give the music a bit of a richer texture than the rest of the album up to that point. The lyrics border on just dull though: "Leaves enjoy their autumn. Do you like the fall? Suppose yourself above it all, in our self-made worlds". Right - pass the pipe Steve.

"Beginnings" is a rich work with an accompanying section referred to as "the Philharmonia", which consists of a couple of violins, viola, cello, string bass, flute, piccolo, oboe, and bassoon. Moraz continues on piano, though more subdued here, and adds a few short passages on harpsichord and moog. White's drums are nearly absent. This reminds me a bit of mood music for an old Merry Melodies cartoon. The musicianship is done well enough, but I fail to see the point of including this in the debut album of a guy who is about to be named the best guitarist in the business for the next five years.

"Will O' the Wisp" is a return to the Howe-White sparse duo, with a bit of piano sprinkled in from Moraz. Moraz is also credited with playing a mellotron on this song, but the sound doesn't stand out at all. Howe's guitar work is most distinctive here as anywhere else on the album, but again it fails to really grab the listener's attention for more than a few moments. There are two voices here at times, so either Howe overdubbed himself, or Moraz is doing some singing.

"Ram" is a very short interlude solo by Howe where he pretty much just shows that he can play a variety of instruments, including a dobra, banjo, and a washboard. This demonstration seems to be the only point of the two minutes this song lasts, and it sounds a bit like both a Spanish guitar tune, and a 30's urban movie soundtrack.

"Pleasure Stole the Night" has several singers on it, although again only Howe is credited for vocals. Perhaps the others begged off blame. Someone named Malcolm Bennett is credited with a flute on this one, and Bill Bruford makes a bit of a surprising appearance to close out the album on drums. Another forgettable song and Howe doesn't even stand out on guitar on this one.

The album ends with "Break Away From it All", where Howe kicks out a bit on both electric and steel guitar. Here again are the un-credited backing vocals. I guess this is a song about the metamorphosis that occurs as a boy becomes a man, in terms of exercising his individuality and finding a course in life. Sort of deep, but probably too deep for someone like Howe to pull off.

So in summary, the significance of this album is that it is the first solo Steve Howe released, done while he was still in his twenties and enjoying a lucrative career as a member of Yes. It's also (thankfully) the last one in which he performs all his own vocals. Other than that, there's little on this album to distinguish it or make it a desirable addition to anyone's record pile, except to complete a Howe or Yes collection. So, two stars is the right mark for Beginnings.


Review by fuxi
2 stars When this album first appeared, I really wondered what was going on. Steve Howe seemed to have found himself a toadstool in Fairyland!

Dutch natives will know what I'm talking about, since the landscape depicted on Roger Dean's album cover looks like a faithful reproduction of the 'houses of the dwarfs' in well-known Dutch theme park 'De Efteling'.

Oh well, at least such a cover suggested that there was some kind of continuity with Yes music. It helped me try to like BEGINNINGS.

But let us face it: three of (relatively) conventional songs on this album ('Doors of Sleep', 'Australia' and 'Will o' the Wisp') are no more than an awful, tuneless sludge, and they're not helped in any way by Steve's shaky vocals and dreadful lyrics. As a Yes fan, I used to try and find redeeming features (on 'Will o' the wisp' there's one charming moment where Steve plays mellotron-accompanied guitar!) but it simply wouldn't work. What's weak, remained weak.

The album's title track is a pointless and totally unconvincing attempt to prove that Steve could play along with a bunch of classical musicians. Similar experiments on Steve's second solo album would prove more fruitful.

'Ram' is a throwaway acoustic ditty, not too different from 'Clap'.

All the tracks I haven't yet mentioned are fairly good, and even (in just one or two cases) great. Let's look at them in ascending order of importance.

'Lost Symphony' is a catchy, brass-driven pop song, with interesting solos by the Master. 'Pleasure Stole the Night' is a moving prayer which sounds as if you're getting to know Steve intimately - even though it's unclear what he's praying for. ("Epochs past, lives were spent, / until a new band came" - he wasn't dreaming of Asia, was he?) 'Break away from it all' is a forceful rocker, propelled by Bill Bruford's inimitable drums; what a shame it ends on a rather decrepit guitar solo. All three of these tunes have more-than-acceptable vocals. But the album's real highlight has to be 'The Nature of the Sea': a superb four-minute instrumental, on which Steve is accompanied by three members of Gryphon (who had supported Yes on their 1975 tour). If only the entire album had been as joyful and inspired as this.

Fuxi's verdict: Yes fans will enjoy some of this - but only if they can get it at a bargain price.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars "I'm just mentally detached from the people around me" (Break away from it all)

Steve Howe's first solo album (ah, so that's why it's called "Beginnings"!) dates from 1975 between the Yes albums "Relayer" and "Going for the one". At the time, all the band members were indulging themselves in solo projects, so "Beginnings" faces comparison with albums such as Chris Squire's "Fish out of water", Patrick Moraz "Story of !" and Jon Anderson's "Olias of Sunhillow".

For me, Howe's first effort was something of a disappointment. While he calls in some heavyweight musicians including fellow Yes men Alan White, Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz, he decides against outsourcing the vocals. Howe's voice works well when it used as a harmony to Jon Anderson's lead, but it does not sit well at front and centre stage. Unfortunately, on this album Howe is quite vocal, with over 50% of the tracks requiring him to sing. Howe also composes all the material with the exception of an adopted poem within the first track. Songs such as "Australia" are adequate, but without the minds of Yes as a group to develop them, they have a tendency to sound like they remain in demo format.

Steve's guitar work is of course technically excellent, but for me it sounds dry and unexciting. To be fair, he does try to introduce some variety to the proceedings, with added brass on "Lost symphony" (which sounds anything but symphonic) and a small orchestra (whose parts were written by Patrick Moraz) on the instrumental title track. This pleasantly baroque piece is probably the highlight of the album. This and the following "Will o'' the whip" account for about a third of the album, the latter being a distinct improvement with an interestingly progressive structure. Moraz plays mellotron here, but it is a bit too far back in the mix, plus Howe is credited with Moog.

While "Beginnings" might be hailed as a decent first album by a talented newcomer to the music scene, we have to bear in mind that Steve had been around for a while by the time of this release. Ultimately its principal message is that he is at his best when he is a part of a great band.

Howe had the presence of mind to ask Roger Dean to design the cover, but even here the fine illustration is marred by a rather clinical photo of Steve and his guitars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Ooohhh... I love this album! I know that a lot of my prog friends are disappointed with it: I think they all expect long instrumental jams filled with virtuosity and Yes-like arrangements. Instead Steve Howe decided to record an album of shorter songs. And they are all very good! Ok, maybe three instrumentals are not enough, and two of them are quite short. Most Yes fans will rather play his second solo efford (another fine one, by the way, but different).

I still think this an excellent record, with great songs and astonishing musicanship of all involved, but specially Howe himself. He may not be the best of singers, but I like his vocal very much anyway. The guys has an interesting voice and does his parts with passion and conviction. Highlights are Pleasure Stole the Night, Doors Of Sleep and the beautiful classical arranged Beginnings. Production is only adequate, but works well. Maybe it was a bit rushed, but I can live with that.

All in all very fine solo efford. This could be the ultimate self indulgent guitar hero solo album (certainly Howe had credentials for such a thing). But he managed to do a pleasant CD with lots of technique, only with little showing off. The arrangements are subtle and bright. A much maligned album which should be heard with less prejudice. Not perfect, but a four star rating is fair.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars I have not yet heard Alan White's Ramshackled album, but of the ones that I have heard of those albums that were released by the members of Yes in 1975/76 - Jon Anderson's Olias Of Sunhillow, Chris Squire's Fish Out Of Water, Patrick Moraz' Story Of I and this one - Steve Howe's Beginnings is the least good one. It also falls extremely far behind the two Yes albums that surrounded it, Relayer and Going For The One. Indeed, this falls far behind any Yes album. But it is by no means awful.

Many complain about Howe's vocals, and while I agree that he is not a great singer, I don't think that the vocals is the main problem. If he had really good songs to sing, his limited vocal abilities would be forgiven very quickly. But the material on Beginnings is not very strong; it is certainly listenable, but not memorable. The progressiveness of the album is also rather limited; the songs are quite conventional in their structure.

Other reviewers have focused on the people involved, so I will not get onto that. There is really no need to mention specific tracks either. Nothing here is poor, but there is also nothing that stands out as great. I will have to mention Ram, though, which is almost a carbon copy of Clap - not very imaginative at all.

The strangest thing about this album is that it is not at all a very good showcase for Howe's guitar prowess. His enormous talent and unique guitar sound is far better represented on the Yes albums of the 70's and on several later solo albums.

Recommended only for Steve Howe fans!

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Really hit and miss.

If you were expecting another Fish Out Of Water with the first solo release of the other Yes-ax-man then you'd be sorrowfully let down by this album. Steve Howe's Beginnings is an album full of ideas, but not all of them are top notch. It would seem that at this point in his career Howe would still need collaborators (such as those in Yes) to streamline his ideas, and while this album does have some excellent high points, there are also some points which just make you want to reach for the skip button.

Let's get it out of the way right off the bat that Howe is not a very good lead singer. His backup vocals in Yes are good for texture, but as proven by this release, they fall flat when put out front. His vocals are still good in limited quantities, but they don't have the amount of range needed to stay interesting for the whole album. Still, there are a couple of very good tunes that have Howe standing behind the mic - the first is actually the album's opening track, which sets up the entire thing very nicely. Doors Of Sleep opens the album whimsically and has some very pleasant melodies that drift along to some well placed riffs. Lost Symphony ends side one with another excellent composition, this one rivaling some of the best moments from Squire's only solo venture. It's likely the album's standout, Howe voices for a bit before letting the climactic instrumentals take hold to bring the first side to an end. Unfortunately what lies in the middle is somewhat forgotten, and Australia makes too much use of Howe's weak voice to really be able to appreciate the instrumental sections present in the song.

The second side is even more uneven. Things get off to a start with the promisingly lengthy instrumental, Beginnings, that actually turns out to be the weakest song on the album. It's 7-minutes of orchestral rambling, which honestly sounds like it could be the soundtrack to Bambi. There's a certain degree of whimsy present (that which Howe is at his best with on this album), but the light hearted rompage is just so mundane that it turns into a 7-minute chore to listen to. Luckily there are two songs that save this side from complete destruction, Will O Wisp and Break Away From It All, but even these are not memorable enough to really make an impact by this point.

Overall, Howe's solo debut is not for everyone. Fans of Yes would be best to consider this a collector's item and fans of Howe should probably do the same. Still, this group of people will still find a lot to like about it, although everyone else - who are likely looking for some more complex, heavy hitting, well voiced progressive rock, would do best to look elsewhere. Good for a couple of listens, but then it'll probably hit the shelf for good. 2.5 stars, a weak effort with some shining moments.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Steve Howe's first solo album, recorded when each member of Yes released a solo album, sound mostly like songs written with Yes in mind. I gives the listener a good idea of what aspects of Yes' music was driven by Howe. And the guitar playing throughout is spectacular, as it should be. But it leaves me with a few questions. First, what would the songs sound like with Yes-like keyboards (I know Patrick Moraz plays on three tracks, but he mostly lays back)? And how could the great producer Eddie Offord allow Howe to sing lead? His voice is thin and weak, especially on Australia and Will O' The Wisp. A few effects might have made it better, but still...

At least there are enough good songs (if you can ignore his voice) to make this worthwhile. The Nature Of The Sea and Pleasure Stole The Night, each featuring members of Gryphon are good, as is Break Away From It All with Bill Bruford. Ram sounds like The Clap with added banjo and slide guitar.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yes guitarist solo debut has its excellent side. I like symphonic instrumental "Beginnings" very much, with all these strings and light romantic atmosphere.

"Australia" sounds nice with very competent and tasty guitar work and slightly jazz-rock feeling , if you can stand Steve's voice, which is not bad, but not for everyone's taste. I like acoustic and multi layered album's sound. Production is good, you can hear all separate instrument's sounds. Alan White, Bill Bruford, Patrick Moraz between many other guests just do their best.

I like rich violin sound in some songs, nice drumming, excellent combination of electric and acoustic strings. Yes, not all songs are melodically bright, and Steve's vocals often doesn't sound as good addition to the music, but I like great musicianship of all team and nice total sound.

This album, even when far from perfect, has this forgotten now atmosphere of early prog albums, when you like just sound, each moment of music you hear, even if final product is not so excellent. Not bad album in all cases, could be a nice listening for early Yes works fans, and for all with nostalgia to progressive sound from the early 70-s.

Review by stefro
1 stars Yes at their peak produced some of Progressive Rock's finest moments, which makes the subsequent collection of solo albums from the group's various members all the more disappointing. No-one wants an artist to create a direct clone of his day job when branching out on his own, but this reviewer is also sure that fans of Yes don't want awkwardly-produced, prog-lite pop-rock as found on guitarist Steve Howe's desperately-disappointing solo debut 'Beginnings'. Howe was a key member of Yes during their early-to-mid-seventies heydey, and an extraordinarily gifted and versatile player. Many of Yes' most ardent fans place him as one of the group's key creative forces and his best work, which adorns classic albums scuh as 'Close To The Edge' and 'Relayer', has influenced hundreds of musicians over the years. However, despite his obvious ability, Howe's parallel solo career can be described as underwhelming at best. 'Beginnings', released in 1975, is, simply put, a desperately insipid slice of ersatz pop-rock that, style-and-quality-wise, is a million miles away from anything produced by Yes. In the context of Yes solo albums - a sub-genre not enlightened by great albums - Howe's effort is probably the worst of the lot. An awkward mixture of sounds and styles, sounding very much like a series of offcuts from the studio floor have been hurriedly stitched together, 'Beginnings' stinks of a musician getting it all his own way. Obviously, unlike in Yes, there is no-one to tell Howe what's great and what's not, and add to the fact that many of the songs are co-written by Howe's wife, you have a situation where a great musician is allowed to indulge himself without reproach. For those Yes aficianado's who have devoured everything by the group and are looking for more outside the classic studio albums, avoid 'Beginnings' like the plague. If a friend played you the album without telling you who it was by and then asked you to guess, the last person you would think of would be a member of Yes, especially Steve Howe. Start with bassist Chris Squire's excellent 'Fish Out Of Water' instead - an album which is very definitely the apex of the Yes-solo sub-genre - and then, if you're feeling really adventurous, you might want to try lead-singer Jon Anderson's light-as-feather debut 'Olias Of Sunhillow', but don't expect anything incredible. To paraphrase: Steve Howe may be an excellent guitarist and a vital member of Yes, but as a solo artist...well, let's just say he shouldn't give up the day job. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by tarkus1980
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
2 stars After setting the world on fire when he joined Yes in 1970, STEVE HOWE spent the first half of the 70s pumping out one progressive rock masterpiece after another while touring the world in support of the band's albums. By 1975, the members reached the point where they required a much needed break from one another so they took some time off to record solo albums. To appease their record company the compilation "Yesterdays" was released and then they all went off to do their own things. Meanwhile members like STEVE HOWE were conjuring up their own musical ideas and then he released his very first album which is appropriately titled BEGINNINGS. Unlike other Yes members like Chris Squire who would only release one solo album, HOWE would continue to release many new creations tucked between Yes albums.

While officially a solo album, BEGINNINGS contains a whole army of supporting musicians including contributions from other Yes members. Both Alan White and Bill Bruford offer drum contributions. Patrick Moraz helps out on Moogs, Mellotrons and general keys and then there are quite a few others who are on board contributing bass, flute, sax, violin, viola, cello, piccolo, oboe and bassoon thus offering an instrumental heavy feel for a mere solo album, but this is a solo album by one of the greatest prog bands in history, so this is something special, right?

Well, not really. This is one i've tried to like for quite some time and no matter how much i try to reconnect with BEGINNINGS i'm simply put off for one glaring reason: STEVE HOWE is an awful vocalist. With all the extra hands on board in the musical department, HOWE somehow felt it appropriate to handle all the vocals himself and if you haven't heard him sing before, let me just politely say that he is no Jon Anderson. In fact, he's embarrassingly awful! It is quite the fate of the gods that a man can be so brilliant on his respective instrument of choice but have absolutely zero talent in other musical arenas.

One of the reasons this one is so bad is simply because the music is so good. Where no vocals mar the performances such as on the stunning instrumentals "The Nature Of The Sea" or "Ram" it doesn't get any better with performances matching Howe's best of the best bringing "The Clap" to mind. The musicians work together in tandem to offer some serious prog workouts for the most part and all is fine until Mr HOWE opens up his big fat mouth and utters the vocal equivalent to fingernails running down a chalk board in the middle of a beautiful symphony. While the music itself is mostly quite divine, some tracks like "Lost Symphony" are a little too sleepy (and long) and qualify as pure classical music rather than rock but do display the ease that HOWE fluidly delivers with his brilliant classical guitar playing. When the album shines it shines bright. Unfortunately those moments are few and far between. This is one for only the most hardcore of fans but i keep it around for the two aforementioned instrumental tracks that continue to blow me away.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 225

"Beginnings" is the debut solo studio album of the Yes' guitarist, Steve Howe, and was released in 1975. It was one of the five solo efforts released in the same period of time by all the five Yes' members, during a hiatus of time by the band, after the release of their seventh studio album "Relayer", in 1974, along with Jon Anderson's "Olias Of Sunhillow", Chris Squire's "Fish Out Of Water", Patrick Moraz's "Story Of I" and Alan White's "Ramshackled".

The album also features some Yes' members, Alan White and Patrick Moraz, and the ex-Yes' member Bill Bruford, besides a large number of guest musicians invited by Steve Howe.

"Beginnings" has nine tracks and all songs were written by Howe except the first track "Doors Of Sleep", which was written by Howe with lyrics by Alice Meynell. The first track "Doors Of Sleep" is a kind of a love song, probably a tribute to Howe's wife. It's a song where Howe sings and plays guitars and bass and where we have the participation of White on drums. This is a pretty song with some very pleasant melodies that drift along the song. The second track "Australia" is another song where Howe sings and plays guitars and bass and White plays drums. This is another pretty song with good melody and musically has some good and interesting guitar work. But the main problem with this track is the excessive use of the weak voice of Howe during the song which makes it at times unpleasant. The third track "The Nature Of The Sea" is the first instrumental song of the album, and that is a good thing because we haven't to hear the voice of Howe. It's an interesting musical piece with good guitar passages and it's very interesting to listen to. This song is, in my humble opinion, well constructed and represents, I think, one of the best musical moments on the album. The fourth track "Lost Symphony" is a good composition dominated by the influence of jazz with the appearance of diverse saxophone works and where the presence of the Howe's voice appear only for a bit. It represents one of the best progressive moments on the album and consequently a must for any progressive rock fan. The fifth track is the title track "Beginnings". This is another instrumental song. It's the lengthiest song on the album and is a classical piece of music, with an accompanying section of several classical musical instruments, including a harpsichord played by Moraz. It's also, in my humble opinion, a very well orchestrated piece by Moraz. This song represents Howe's love for the classical music and represents, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful moment on the album too. The sixth track "Will O'The Wisp" is another song sung by Howe but at times we can hear two voices, and I really think that is Moraz doing a backing vocal work. This is a song where Howe plays guitars, bass and moog, White plays drums and Moraz plays piano and mellotron. The song sounds nicely with a very distinctive guitar work, but overall, the song doesn't attract much attention and I also think this is one of the weakest songs on the album. The seventh track "Ram" is the smallest of all tracks on the album and is an instrumental acoustic song in the same vein of "Clap" of "The Yes Album" or "Mood For A Day" of "Fragile". Despite it isn't as good as those two songs are, here Howe, is showing that he can play a great variety of acoustic guitar instruments. The eighth track "Pleasure Stole The Night" is another short song in the style of a ballad. Despite this is a calm and pleasant song, with several singers which are fortunately better, than we have Howe singing on solo. However, it hasn't really great interesting musical moments, and this is the main reason why it becomes the second weakest moment on the album with "Will O'The Wisp". The ninth and last track "Break Away From It All" represents a good way to close this album. Here, we have once more good guitar moments and un-crediting backing vocals. Here, we have more pleasant vocals too. This is the only track that features Bruford on drums.

Conclusion: Of the five solo albums of Yes' members, all released between 1975 and 1976, the only one I haven't yet listened to is White's "Ramshackled". I rated Anderson's "Olias Of Sunhillow" and Moraz's "Story Of I" with 5 stars and Squire's "Fish Out Of Water" with 4 stars. "Beginnings" is, without any doubt, the weakest of the all four. I know all these four albums since they were released and I must confess that I always was very disappointed with "Beginnings". It isn't as good as it should be. Definitely, it lacks to it some cohesion, passion and flame, and its music isn't even very well elaborated. It's true that it has some good musical moments and technically the performance of Howe is great and absolutely perfect and irreproachable as ever. However, this is very few and it isn't at the same level that a musician like Howe should be. Anyway, I think the main problem with this album is the vocals. Howe has a very weak voice to sing as his experience on vocals are only when he works as a backing vocalist on Yes. Unfortunately, he hasn't a voice as good as the voice of his colleague of Yes, Squire. I think he has the same problem of Tony Banks of Genesis but Howe's voice is, in my humble opinion, even worse. Without this problem I'm convinced that it would have been a better album. Definitely, this wasn't a great beginning for one of the finest and greatest guitarists of the progressive rock world.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by patrickq
2 stars All things considered, Beginnings is a fair effort from Yes guitarist Steve Howe. Created in parallel with the debut solo albums of each of the other members of the band, Beginnings suffers from the absence of his usual co-musicians Jon Anderson and Chris Squire. But whereas Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow (1976) and Squire's Fish Out of Water (1975) are internally consistent, self-produced works, Howe's lack of experience in overseeing the creation of an album is clear on Beginnings. For decades, the knock on this record has been the quality of Howe's vocals, and while this is an entirely fair criticism, I'll bet it'd be repeated less often if Beginnings's compositions were stronger.

Side One is relatively short (16½ minutes), but relatively strong. It's comprised of "Doors of Sleep," the album-opener and most Yes-like tune here, and three rock tracks, "Australia," "The Nature of the Sea," and "The Lost Symphony." On each of these last three, Howe moves from one style to another, with mixed results. The 22½-minute second side is even weaker. "Will o' the Wisp" and "Pleasure Stole the Night" are in the same vein as the Side One songs, but much less interesting, and "Beginnings" fits the core prog-rock stereotype: unnecessarily long (7:31) and unreasonably pompous (featuring a Patrick Moraz-arranged string and woods ensemble). The closing track, "Break Away From It All," is a return to the mixed-bag quality of, say, The Nature of the Sea" and "The Lost Symphony." I think I hear some echoes of George Harrison here - - not so much in the guitar soloing, but in the composition itself. The only gem on side two is "Ram." Although it's played here with (I think) two guitars, a mandolin, and a washboard, its basis is one of Howe's best solo acoustic-guitar pieces. It's true that "Ram" begins with an interpolation of "Clap" (from The Yes Album), but I disagree that it's not a distinct composition.

Beginnings might have been a good EP. Perhaps, with the collaboration of Anderson or Squire, this LP could have been the groundwork of a very good Eddie Offord-produced Yes spinoff album. It seems that, unlike Anderson, Squire, and Moraz, Howe wasn't yet ready to realize his solo-album ambitions. It's not a poor album, nor unlistenable, but it's really for Steve Howe or Yes fans. For those who don't fit that description, but are interested in Howe's work, I'd suggest starting with The Steve Howe Album or Turbulence.

P.S. Is it just me, or is "Australia" a prototypical Asia song? I'm not saying it sounds anything like Asia, but the stacked, rhythmic vocals and certain instrumental sections seem to represent the building blocks of the Asia sound.

Latest members reviews

4 stars One of the five solo albums from Yes members released at that time and I rank it among the best ones, along with Squire's "Fish out of water" and Anderson's "Olias". Howe did a great job here. He is (kinda) showing off but not in a dry manner some guitarists tend to do. He put his skills in service ... (read more)

Report this review (#2494017) | Posted by Artik | Friday, January 15, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Guitar legend STEVE HOWE (born 1947) is best-known as a long-standing member of the Prog-Rock supergroups YES and ASIA. He began his illustrious career in the 1960's with the Psychedelic Rock bands Bodast, Tomorrow and the Syndicats before joining YES in 1970 for their third studio outing "The Y ... (read more)

Report this review (#2304569) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Sunday, January 5, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars STEVE HOWE's "Beginnings" is an album with one discrepancy between instrumental and vocals parts. The instrumental arrangements( happily the main attractive ) are wonderful showing of a virtuous musician ( certainly between the greatest guitar and similar chord instruments player ) with a "st ... (read more)

Report this review (#1609964) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, September 11, 2016 | Review Permanlink

2 stars About this album it has been stated many times before that Steve Howe is not a quality singer. He's better than me, but that's not saying much. With help from Yes-mates and others, he has created a good skill level of musicians, but the material just doesn't seem inspiring enough to give these ... (read more)

Report this review (#275871) | Posted by mohaveman | Thursday, April 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a great album not just to complete one's collection, but to be one of the best prog albums. Yeah, the vocals are not that great, but what about some others " singers " like Ian Anderson, and that guy from Grobschnitt (dont remember the name)? Here you can find the contributions of Ho ... (read more)

Report this review (#108475) | Posted by Sunhillow_ | Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Steve Howe is as we all know a talented musician. He is a master at the Classical guitar and great on a rock level. Unfortunatley, this album is quite lackluster. FIrst of all. The recording is terrible. I am talking about the sound quality. Given the fact that this great musician was with Y ... (read more)

Report this review (#59613) | Posted by | Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars steve isn't a good vocalist alone...his voice is flat, but lemme tell ya what, his creativity for writing is superb!!!! i love this album...with "nature of the sea" getting the highest mark. the whole album is very nice however, and i would recommend this for anyone that likes yes music, or st ... (read more)

Report this review (#30672) | Posted by | Friday, January 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of STEVE HOWE "Beginnings"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.