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THE STEVE HOWE ALBUM

Steve Howe

Crossover Prog


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Steve Howe The Steve Howe Album album cover
3.46 | 140 ratings | 21 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Pennants (4:30)
2. Cactus Boogie (2:02)
3. All's a Chord (4:56)
4. Diary of a Man Who Vanished (2:34)
5. Look over Your Shoulder (5:02)
6. Meadow Rag (2:41)
7. The Continental (2:51)
8. Surface Tension (3:29)
9. Double Rondo (8:12)
10. Concerto in D, 2nd Movement (4:51)

Total Time: 41:08

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Howe / electric, steel & acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjo, Moog, bass, vocals, producer

With:
- Claire Hamill / vocals (5)
- Patrick Moraz / piano (3)
- Ronnie Leahy / Korg & ARP synths (1), Hammond (5)
- Graham Preskett / violin (7)
- Alan White / drums (1,5)
- Clive Bunker / percussion (2)
- Bill Bruford / drums (3)
- Andrew Jackman / conductor & orchestration (9)

Note - Guitars used: Kohno Spanish Guitar, Martin 0018, Gibson EB6 Bass, Gibson The Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Florentine Electric Mandolin, Martin Mandolin, Danelectro Coral Sitar Guitar, Bacon & Day Banjo Guitar, Gibson Les Paul Recording, Gibson ES 175D, Fender Telecaster, Sho Bud Pedal Steel, Fender Twin Neck Steel.

Releases information

Artwork: Roger Dean

LP Atlantic ‎- K50621 (1979, UK)

CD Atlantic ‎- AMCY-21 (1990, Japan)
CD Atlantic ‎- 81559-2 (1994, US) Remastered by Joe Gastwirt

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy STEVE HOWE The Steve Howe Album Music


Steve Howe AlbumSteve Howe Album
Atlantic 1994
$299.99
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STEVE HOWE The Steve Howe Album ratings distribution


3.46
(140 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
15%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
41%
Good, but non-essential (30%)
30%
Collectors/fans only (14%)
14%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

STEVE HOWE The Steve Howe Album reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars I would like to disgree with Brian , my trusted fellow reviewer, as the stuff that Howe released on the Yes albums: Clap & Mood are somewhat different as he did care not to introduce weird sounding chords in those numbers, but in this album there are tons of dissonant notes (none offencing, though - this is not RIO) that can put off your average listener. Of all the Yes members solo albums , Howe made the most challenging ones and the furthest removed from Yes. This is valid for the first three albums as I don't know the rest. For fans only
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This was a slight step up from Beginnings and has some excellent pieces. SH plays an array of different guitars showing what a cunning versatile guitarist he is. Let's face it he must be one of the top ten guitarists of all time? Nice debate that would be. The album opens with ' Pennants' a great song to kick start the album with. It builds up nicely and has a good rock feel to it.Next up is the catchy ' Cactus Boogie' ' All's a chord' the next songs is exquisite and for once he masters his voice very emotionally with lyrics like..' Don't bring yourself down here, my constitution will just disappear, you fill the atmosphere....' ' Look over your shoulder' is also a great song with Clair Hamill picking up the microphone.The second side is more of a jumbled affair with more of the same along the lines of ' Cactus Boogie' But the two end songs have some excellent orchestration showing Howe's affinity to classical music with ' Double Rondo' and ' Concertoe in D'.
Review by NetsNJFan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Steve Howe's essential solo work, and my favorite solo work from any member of Yes, minus the works of the talented Mr. Wakeman. This is a great album which shows both Howe's technical and compositional skill in various genres; Pennants (complex prog-rocker instrumental), Surface Tension (classical guitar), Concerto in D (vivaldiesque classical music with orchestra) and country (cactus boogie). In addition, while Steve is a weak vocalist, his vocals on All's a Chord are wonderful, in an awkward way. Clair Hammil guests on vocals beautifully on Look over Your Shoulder. Overall, a beautifull and diverse album from the guitar master of all prog, Steve Howe, and is pleasant, melodic and enjoyable throughout. 4 STARS
Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 3 2/3 Stars

This is the essential Steve Howe Album in my opinion. It has a similar style to Wakeman's "Rhapsodies" in which the album has many styles/genres of music, but this one is more interesting, and strong all the way. This is an accessible album in which you will like from the first listen and so on.

Pennants (6/10) Starts the album with a decent rocker instrumental piece with electric guitars, and a great keyboard solo. Cactus Boogie (6.5/10) is a nice, virtuosic southern sounding track. All's a Chord (9/10) is an amazing piece in which Steve Howe shows many uses of his guitars and is the most progressive in the album. Look Over Your Shoulder (7/10) is a very nice guitar song with female vocals. Diary of a Man (7.5/10) is a great classical piece. Meadow Rag (4.5/10) is the weakest piece, with disappointing guitar licks from Howe. The Continential (7.5/10) is a fun track with violins and catchy guitar playing that can stay in your head. Surface Tension (7.5/10) is another classical elegant acoustic piece. And the Last two songs are classical. Double Rondo (8/10) is a symphonic piece that sounds like Mozart with an electric guitar leading the song, and Concerto in D (8.5/10) is an excellent simple song with a highly melodic guitar lead.

You will not found too much vituosity in this album, you get variety, and makes you realize that Steve Howe is a 'Complete' musician.

My Grade : B-

Review by kunangkunangku
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I've been listening to several of the latest Steve Howe's albums, including his 1999 cover of Bob Dylan's songs ("Portraits of Bob Dylan"), but nothing has as strong appeal as this one. With this, Howe, who started his solo projects in 1975 with "Beginnings", put many original and unique compositions no one will be able to associate them with his group Yes.

Few would doubt Howe's virtuosity. But as if it wasn't enough, in this second solo effort Howe bravely displays himself also as an adventurer, cruising into relatively new territory -- at least compare to what he has been doing with Yes -- and exposing his mastery of crafting beautiful arrangements in which he incorporates varied guitars and their characters and sounds. Country and classical music are his choice of settings where he puts himself in.

Howe brilliantly opens this album with "Pennants", which serves perfectly as a tone setter; it helps any doubtful listener to happily enter the gate Howe already opened. The intro starts with a rocking Fender Telecaster, before Howe adds another stringed instruments such as mandolin and steel guitar. Yes-mate drummer Alan White, who participates in this album along with Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz, contributes a tight playing.

My favorite cuts including "All's a Chord", a huge showcase of Howe's proficient in playing eight different instruments (this could have been much better if Howe had not sing); "Look Over Your Shoulder", a song featuring beautiful vocals of Claire Hamill; "Surface Tension", a solo Spanish guitar; and, of course, the final two tracks, "Concerto in D, Second Movement" and "Double Rondo", in which Howe is accompanied by a string ensemble.

This deserves to be a classic. Or, at least, it is among those albums that are always getting better with each listening.

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars When all the members of Yes released solo- albums in 1975-76, Steve Howe came up with BEGINNINGS. The album reviewed here, THE STEVE HOWE album, was his second solo L.P. Comparing both albums is a useful exercise. On THE STEVE HOWE ALBUM, Steve sings very little, and this turns out to be a wise decision. There's no trace of vocal tracks which make the listener squirm with embarrasment, such as "Australia" and "Will o' the Wisp" on BEGINNINGS. (Hm. As a Belgian, from the city of Genk, I guess I should feel grateful for Steve's bizarre reference to my home country on "Will o' the Wisp"???) You could say that, overall, THE STEVE HOWE ALBUM is a more polished listening experience than its predecessor. On the other hand, the STEVE HOWE ALBUM lacks songs that are as catchy (or as moving) as "Pleasure Stole the Night" and "Break Away From it All", both of which were graced by Bill Bruford's incomparable drumming. Also, I must admit that my favourite track on BOTH of these early albums is "The Nature of the Sea" (once again on BEGINNINGS), perhaps the most inspired instrumental Steve ever recorded (with a little help from members of GRYPHON).

In spite of all these comparisons, I've got to admit that THE STEVE HOWE ALBUM is the only one of these two early albums without a dud! "Cactus Boogie" is great fun; "Double Rondo" is a far more satisfying attempt to play with a full orchestra than the boring title track of BEGINNINGS ("Double Rondo" also contains echoes of Steve's most melancholic moments on sides 1 and 2 of TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS), and "Concerto in D" is the slow movement from a Vivaldi concerto, played with impeccable taste on electric guitar - later to be revived in an even better acoustic version on the YES SYMPHONIC LIVE DVD.

Review by Australian
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "The Steve Howe album" shows the roots of Steve Howe's legendary guitar work. This album explores blues, bluegrass as well as classic and rock/prog elements. When Steve Howe was young he had trouble sleeping due to bad nightmares, so to put himself to sleep he would listen to the radio from which he grew familiar with the artists from the 50's, particularly the more bluesy musicians. This period of his life greatly influenced his love for the guitar which he would used as a tool to sleep. The other later classical influences from 19 and 20th century composers like Stravinsky and Bartok are also explored in this solo album.The Steve Howe album is not too far from being progressive and basically the first half of the album is undoubtedly progressive. The later songs on the album are either solo guitar (and violin) or Steve Howe playing guitar against a backdrop of an orchestra. These songs take the label of Symphonic prog to the extreme.

Furthermore the album is almost entirely instrumental and just two tracks feature vocals," Look Over Your Shoulder "and "All's a Chord ." The highlights of the album are "Look Over Your Shoulder" which features guest vocalist Clair Hammil, "Diary of a Man Who Vanished" and "Pennants." All these songs have clearly defined guitar and good instrumentation by a large array of guest musicians. The CD booklet of "The Steve Howe Album" comes with a spreadsheet of all the axes and other fretted instruments Steve Howe plays on the album, as well as great cover art.

1. Pennants (4/5) 2. Cactus Boogie (3/5) 3. All's a Chord (3.5/5) 4. Diary of a Man Who Vanished (4.5) 5. Look over Your Shoulder (4/5) 6. Meadow Rag (3/5) 7. The Continental (3/5) 8. Surface Tension (3/5) 9. Double Rondo (3/5) 10. Concerto in D, 2nd Movement (3/5) Total = 33.5 divided by 10 (number of songs) = 3.35 = 3 stars Good, but non-essential

"The Steve Howe album" is a clear three stars from me, good for an occasional listen. I'd recommend this album to any fan of Yes in order to see where Steve Howe's influences originated from; in that respect this album is very good.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Steve's second solo album is a really nice record, presenting to the listener a palette of guitarist's styles in a honest and enjoyable way, focusing quite much to European classical music leanings. The music is mostly instrumental, which is a good thing as Steve is not as good in singing as he is with playing guitar. One tune "All's a Chord" give us an example of this, though the fragile song is not totally ruined by the honest vocal interpretations. There are also few quite jolly rags here, "Cactus Boogie" and "Meadow Rag" which are technically good of course, but perhaps too light-minded rants for my appreciation. Then the rest of the album is really great stuff; the opener "Pennants" is an interesting rock track with complex details, carrying forward the progressive legacy of Yes, which already had started the slow disintegration process concluding at the end of 1970's. "Look over Your Shoulder" is a calm piece for lady singer, and then the rest of songs are in constructed in European classic music style, ranging from solo guitar works to orchestrated pieces. I like classical music very much, so these songs pleased me certainly. The orchestrations are done in a very professional way, and the detailed arrangements are created as essential element of the composition, so these are not typical wallpaper fillers done with the strings. "Double Rondo" is the longest of these classical tunes, and it leads to an arrangement of Antonio Vivaldi's 2nd Movement of his Concerto for guitar and orchestra in D, melodically really beautiful number also used by Peter Sinfield on his "Song of The Seagoat". I would recommend this album of course for fans of Yes and the performer himself, but also anybody enjoying elegant and light classical music with art rock crossover blending. The gatefold vinyl covers with Roger Dean's design and photographs of Steve's guitar collection make this as a nice object for any vinyl collector too.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars An invitation to moonlight and romance (original lyrics from "The continental")

"The Steve Howe album" was actually Steve's second solo release, coming some four years after his "Beginnings" album. As 20% of Yes, Howe is unquestionably a legend; as a solo artist however, he is something of a trainspotting bore. A quick look at the inner sleeve of the LP reveals a wide array of guitars and related stringed instruments, together with a guide to which of them appears on which track.

Technically the album is excellent, Howe is a master of his craft. This however is the equivalent of the bit in a live concert where the rest of the band go for a comfort break, and half the audience go to the bar. The first four tracks here consist of Howe noodling on his guitars in various styles, making excellent but dull music. We have for example a "Cactus boogie" where the title is totally descriptive, and later a similarly onomatopoeic "Meadow rag".

Howe's Yes band-mates Alan White, Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz all make appearances as guests on certain tracks and Howe sings briefly on one track, "All's a chord". The wonderful voice of Clair Hamill features on "Look over your shoulder", a song which serves to demonstrate how Howe (red indians coming?) is at his best when he is collaborating and co-ordinating, not simply soloing. Ronnie Leahy adds some nice Hammond organ here too.

The album is something of a game of two halves. On the first side, Howe uses no less than fourteen different stringed instruments, while on side two he restricts himself to just four for the entire side. This is due to the fact that apart from a couple of brief solo acoustic guitar pieces, side two is by far the more adventurous. There is a cover version ("The continental"), an orchestrated suite ("Double rondo"), and an interpretation of Vivaldi's "Concerto in D".

"The continental" in an instrumental working of a song dating from 1934, which first appeared in the film "The gay divorcee" staring Ginger Rodgers. Here, the rendition is enhanced by some jazzy violin played by Graham Presket. "Double rondo" finds Steve accompanied by a 59 piece orchestra playing one of his own compositions (although the orchestration was carried out by Andrew Jackman). The piece has distinct classical overtones, Howe's guitar work effectively being the lead instrument in a concerto.

The final track, Vivaldi's "Concerto in D" is very similar to Joel Schwarcz's interpretation on Continuum's excellent 1971 album "Autumn grass", although here Howe uses a string ensemble while Continuum used a mellotron. It is a lovely piece which ends the album on a high.

In all, while this is a technically brilliant album, it is a classic case of the performer doing what he wants to do, regardless of whether there is an audience for his efforts. The album has a number of highlights, but is also has a substantial amount of dull excellence.

Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I deeply admire Steve Howe's work in YES but I find this album (and what I've heard from his solo output in general) mostly an unnecessary showcase of various music styles to show Howe's early influences and playing skills. A couple of jolly rags, a slow movement of a VIVALDI concerto, an instrumental version of a 30's film tune, etc.

The guest players include YES-men Bruford, White and Moraz. Luckily Howe himself sings only briefly on one track, 'All's A Chord', but he could have employed more than one guest singer. Claire Hamill sings the only actual rock song 'Look Over Your Shoulder', which for me is easily the most exciting number here. 'Double Rondo' is an 8-minute original composition for a guitar and a symphony orchestra (Howe was not the orchestrator) followed by the peaceful baroque number to finish the album in a 'serious' way. Though I'm not fond of this kind of musical quilt, I round my 2½ -star rating upwards since all tracks by themselves are quite well produced, and I believe this to be from the better part of his discography. As an exhibit of his songwriting (or album-writing!) abilities this collection of tunes would give a notably lower mark.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars Steve Howe, while being one of my favorite guitarists, makes two things very clear with his second solo album- that he is a well-rounded guitarist, and that he is better off working within the context of a collaborative effort, like Yes. Most of the music here has a Country & Western flavor that sometimes makes me cringe, and I happen to like country and bluegrass. The orchestral stuff later in the album, on the other hand, is very pleasing.

"Pennants" Howe isn't very subtle about letting his listeners know he's a guitar player. Full of guitar, guitar, and more guitar, this is a happy piece, and a very uncomplicated one when one breaks it down.

"Cactus Boogie" This almost sounds like a parody of old country music, with its lap steel guitar and chicken picking, but it serves as a reminder of Howe's eclecticism as a guitarist.

"All's a Chord" This is a fair song on which Howe shows off his lack of ability as a singer. He plays the sitar, electric guitar, and steel guitar over some simple bass and drum work, which stands in contrast to the acoustic-based introduction. His electric guitar soloing in the middle is certainly spirited, reminiscent of that on "Close to the Edge." It gives way to a classical guitar and piano section, over which Howe sings. Hearing his voice out from behind the wall of Anderson and Squire is interesting, and it can amaze one to think that it is a key ingredient to the Yes vocal sound.

"Diary of a Man Who Vanished" This is another Western tune that has a well-repeated theme, full of whip lashes and out-on-the-prairie instrumentation.

"Look Over Your Shoulder" For once, Howe's guitars take a place in the background, and guest Clare Hamill does an absolutely lovely job singing this song. This is one of the best parts of the album, and it's really too bad that most of the other pieces don't stand up to it.

"Meadow Rag" In the vein of other solo acoustic pieces like "Clap" or "Mood for a Day," this one leans more toward the former, in keeping with the Country & Western feel that pervades much of this record. It's not nearly as strong as the above-mentioned pieces, as the bends that interrupt the flow are awkward and the rapid pull-offs sound haphazard.

"The Continental" This is yet another "Howdy-Doody" kind of track. This time, violin is present, and the whole thing sounds like something one would hear at a county fair.

"Surface Tension" This is a lovely classical guitar piece that almost rivals "Mood for a Day."

"Double Rondo" Finally a proper break from the country-infused music, this is a piece that features Howe on electric guitar over an orchestra. His tone and swells are just like what he did in the instrumental section of the gorgeous "Turn of the Century." This piece makes me believe Howe could have been a successful classical composer, had his musical direction taken him there.

"Concerto in D, 2nd Movement" Antonio Vivaldi's work is given the Howe treatment, and the instrumentation is very similar to the previous track; if the hearer isn't paying attention, he will likely miss the transition from one piece to the next.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is one of the most cohesive of Steve Howe's solo album, and, as a Yes fan, one of the most pleasing.

As usual with a true Steve Howe solo endeavor, the works can be broken down into three types of songs (not necessarily always separate, but on this album they are): rock/prog rock, bluegrass, and classical. For the most part, except for Cactus Boogie (which is more of a bluegrassy song) the style are kept apart. Other than that song, the piece from Pennants through Look Over Your Shoulder all fall into the prog category. Any of them would sound nice on a Yes album, especially if they were enhanced by the rest of the band. And Howe's singing here is tolerable, nowhere near as thin sounding on his debut. And Look Over Your Shoulder benefits from the lead vocals of Clair Hammill.

The next two songs are servicable swing/bluegrass, another style Howe is known for. And the album finishes with three classical guitar pieces, the last being Vivaldi's Concerto in D, 2nd Movement, now a somewhat obvious choice, but well played.

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Whoa! This is a really good album! Honestly, I wasn't expecting a lot from this album, given that Steve's solo debut had been so unappealing and that Tormato, the last Yes album before this one, hadn't exactly captured Steve at a high point. This is better than Beginnings or Tormato by an incredible amount, though, and while it becomes clear as the album goes on that Steve Howe doesn't have quite the same potential as a solo artist as, say, Steve Hackett did, this album nonetheless shows that he was perfectly capable of making a good album on his own. Plus, I kinda admire the cajones required to draw parallels to one of Yes' best albums with the album title; this works every bit as well as a statement of purpose for Steve as The Yes Album did as a statement of purpose for his new band in 1971.

The biggest improvement for this album over the last one, without a question, is that Steve is almost silent as a singer, except for some understated, quiet vocals near the end of "All's a Chord," where they're almost an afterthought. In fact, the only other track with vocals is the side-one closer "Look Over Your Shoulder," where Steve employs the services of one Claire Hamill, who sounds so much here like Annie Haslam (of Renaissance fame) that I was convinced it was actually her the first few times I listened to this (until I looked it up and found out it wasn't). The track is a major highlight, by the way, with Claire giving a nice vocal part to an atmospheric rocker full of varied guitar work (the main theme of the album), pulsating bass (also done by Steve) and some powerful drumming from Alan White.

The rest of the album (all instrumental, except for the aforementioned snippet of Howe vocals) is all about showcasing all of the different guitar types and musical styles that struck Steve's fancy, and it's a major breath of fresh air after Tormato had him not sounding his very best (and after Beginnings tried so hard to be prog that it forgot to be good). My personal preference out of the lot is towards the opening "Pennants" (funny that I'd instinctually gravitate towards the tracks with White on drums even before I knew for sure it was him) which starts off on such a rocking note and with such a great guitar tone that I find myself utterly perplexed as to why he couldn't have had a sound like that on Tormato. The song's center is a rock one, held down by White's steady drumming and solid riffage, but it's a great showcase of ideas and themes for guitar and keys, and the variety of guitar sounds pulled out in this track is just fascinating. The variety peak, though, is definitely in the previously mentioned "All's a Chord" (with Moraz on keys and Bruford on drums) where Steve plays eight different kinds (!!) of guitar (to be fair, one is bass, but still) and creates something that works as much more than just a technique demonstration.

The rest of the album is a little background music-y, but I quite like it. The first half (all of the tracks so far mentioned are in the first half) is rounded out by "Cactus Boogie," a fun mix of banjo, Les Paul and pedal steel, and "Diary of a Man Who Vanished" is either really upbeat for a slightly sad number or really mournful for a cheerful number, but a winner either way. In the second half, I find my attention drifting some, but taken track by track, things here are fine. I would say that, if there's a clear mistake, it was in putting the 8-minute "Double Rondo," a decent mix of guitar meanderings with a string arrangement right before the closing cover of the 2nd movement of Vivaldi's "Concerto in D," only because the Vivaldi piece is soooo much better than what comes before it. Of the remaining three tracks, "Meadow Rag" is a fun bit of acoustic rag (I wouldn't want to hear a whole album of this kind of music necessarily, but having one an album is fine by me), "The Continental" is kinda jazzy and bluesgrassy (I guess), and "Surface Tension" is a good bit of acoustic Spanish guitar. Again, not essential listening, but all very nice.

Look, this may not quite be a great album, but it's definitely a very good album, and it's easily in the upper tier of Yes solo albums. Heck, I like it more than Fish Out of Water, and I'm pretty sure that puts me in a minority among fans who care about both. Anybody who's a fan of Steve as a guitarist (and really, why else would people be a fan of him?) should seek this out at some point.

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Celebrated Yes guitarist Steve Howe's self-titled album is well respected and a genuinely enjoyable, representative, and easy-going snapshot of Howe's guitar style. It doesn't soar to epic heights as one might expect if coming only from Howe's Yes output - that grandeur seems reserved for when Howe benefits from the majesty of the whole band - instead, The Steve Howe album offers mostly bite-sized moments of instrumental work that feels very warm, humble, and almost folksy.

Howe gives us, more or less, four kinds of songs: feel-good pastiches of Western Americana, filled with slide guitar and bouncing rhythms; complex acoustic jams like we've heard on his famous "The Clap"; genuine songs, in the sense that they have a conventional verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure... granted, his guitar sounds do most of the singing (except in "Look Over Your Shoulder," a song which is better than anything from the last Yes album of this era, Tormato); and finally, symphonic compositions that are lush and pleasant, but somewhat bland because his guitar drifts into the background.

That's a lot of variety, and a lot to enjoy. Some will be disappointed by the lack of "wow" moments in this album, but in the context of the time of its release (the end of Yes, pre-Asia), Howe was likely feeling the need to break away from the prog-rock epics and focus on the playful guitar creativity he couldn't always fit into Yes records. A fun, enjoyable, if overall light-weight release that will definitely please fans of Howe.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: NA - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by VianaProghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Review Nş 226

'The Steve Howe Album' is the second solo studio album of Steve Howe, and was released in 1979. As happened with 'Beginnings', Howe invited Yes' members Alan White and Patrick Moraz and the ex-Yes' member Bill Bruford to participate on the album. Beyond them, he also invited the Jethro Tull's drummer Clive Bunker, the female singer Claire Hamill, the keyboardist Ronnie Leahy, the violinist Graham Preskett, an orchestra and a string ensemble.

'The Steve Howe Album' has ten tracks and all songs were written by Steve Howe except 'The Continental' written by Conrad and Magidson and 'Concerto In D (Second Movement)' which was written by the classical composer Antonio Vivaldi. The first track 'Pennants' is a very good song to open the album. It's a simple and melodic song full of electric guitar sound in a rock style with a very alive rhythm, what makes us feel that this is, musically, a different work from his first solo album 'Beginnings'. This is a great and very pleasant instrumental track. The second track 'Cactus Boogie' is the smallest song on the album. It's a very simple, catchy and nice song with a southern boogie sound, as it name implies, and it sounds like old country music. It has nothing special and is probably the weakest song on the album. The third track 'All's A Chord' is a good song very emotional and with a very beautiful guitar work. It's the only song on the album sung by Howe and surprisingly his voice isn't unpleasant and even is emotional and nice too. I think this is because his voice can't be used in a high tone and only should be used as harmony singing. The fourth track 'Diary Of A Man Who Vanished' is another short instrumental nice song and once more in a country style. Despite be very pleasant to hear and featuring nice riffs, I think it's, with 'Cactus Boogie', the second weak point on the album. The fifth track 'Look Over Your Shoulder' is a great and beautiful song composed in a classical style. This is the second track on the album with vocals, but this time we can hear the wonderful and beautiful female voice of the great singer Clair Hamill. This song has also a very good orchestration job. This is, in my humble opinion, the first great moment on the album and one of the best parts on it. Here, we can have Howe at his best. The sixth track 'Meadow Rag' is another short song but this time this is totally an acoustic song. It's a classic acoustic piece of music in the same vein of 'Clap' of 'The Yes Album', 'Mood For A Day' of 'Fragile' or 'Ram' of 'Beginnings'. With this song, Howe demonstrates once more his great virtuosity with acoustic guitars. The seventh track 'The Continental' is another song on the album with 'Cactus Boogie' and 'Diary Of A Man Who Vanished' in a country style. This time, we are in presence of a version of an original song dated from 1934 that appeared in the movie 'The Gay Divorcee'. Howe's version is more in the jazz style and has the presence of Presket on violin. This is also a nice track, but sincerely this is, for me, the third and last weaker song on the album. I really don't like country music. The eighth track 'Surface Tension' is another great acoustic classic guitar piece composed by Howe. It's another song in the vein of 'Clap', 'Mood For A Day', 'Ram' or 'Meadow Rag'. However this is, in my humble opinion, a much better song than 'Meadow Rag' is and represents also with 'Look Over Your Shoulder', the second highest moment on the album. This is, for my taste, one of the most elegant, beautiful and lovely classical guitar pieces of music composed by Howe. The ninth track 'Double Rondo' is a classical piece of music composed by him for an electric guitar accompanied by an entire classical orchestra composed by 59 members and conducted by Andrew Jackman. This is really an incredible and great piece of music that takes the concept of symphonic rock to the extreme. With this piece of music, Howe proves that he could have been a successful classical composer. This is, for me, the third great moment on the album. The tenth and last track 'Concerto In D (Second Movement)' is Howe's interpretation of the classical oeuvre of Antonio Vivaldi, the famous Italian composer of the Baroque period. It's a fantastic and lovely musical version of one of the most beautiful compositions ever made, which ends the album in a very high level. It represents the fourth great musical moment on the album and where Howe pays tribute to one of the best composers of all time, one of his favourites and one of my favourites too.

Conclusion: 'The Steve Howe Album' is considered, by many, the best Howe's solo studio album. Sincerely, I don't know if that is true because I only know 'Beginnings', 'The Steve Howe Album' and 'Natural Timbre'. The only thing I can say is that 'The Steve Howe Album' is much better than his debut 'Beginnings'. One of the most curious things about this album is its balance. This album is quite varied, and Howe shows himself as comfortable in many genres. It's also notable that over half the album is instrumental, and thankfully, Howe almost doesn't sings. It's also true that some of the songs sound a bit dated today and especially I dislike the songs with a country style. However, the album has some great musical moments too. With this album, Howe proved that he was able to make great music outside of Yes.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars The Steve Howe Album is much as advertised. Four of the songs feature only Howe (I'm counting "Cactus Boogie" here - - Clive Bunker is credited with percussion but it's hard to make out), and on three he's backed only by an orchestra, string section, or solo violin. But to me, the three best tra ... (read more)

Report this review (#2201380) | Posted by patrickq | Thursday, May 9, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In my last review ((#1609964) | Posted Sunday, September 11, 2016 ) , I said in others words which the great problem whit Howe's first solo album "Beginnings" be in the vocals parts... In "The Steve Howe Album" this problem almost disappear, because in this one Howe's vocals don't last more ... (read more)

Report this review (#1612413) | Posted by maryes | Sunday, September 18, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well, you if you expect 3,000,000 notes a second dont listen to this album. Steve Howe is not used to record his guitar lessons as Malmsteen and Satriani use to do, so you can expect a nice progressive rock recording, better than the first one. Less vocals and much more colour on tracks. Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#108477) | Posted by Sunhillow_ | Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In 1975 Yes decided to give the band time to make their own solo albums. Jon Anderson came up with Olias of Sunhillow, Chris Squire wrote Fish out of Water, Rick Wakeman wrote The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Steve Howe came up with the Steve Howe Alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#69004) | Posted by Thufir Hawat | Friday, February 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In my opinion, the best Steve Howe solo album so far (with Beginnings coming very close). Nowhere else will you find such variety of styles! Songwriting is also top class - this album has such compositions as Cactus Boogie, Diary of a Man Who Vanished, The Continental and Concerto in D, 2nd ... (read more)

Report this review (#36480) | Posted by Yurkspb2 | Tuesday, June 14, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Steve howe truly shines on this record. Like Bryan, I picked it up at a vintage store for like 5 bucks (Canadian!), being a hardcore Yes fan I thought I'd get it. Part of the thing that drew me to the album, aside from having much respect for the man, is that the inside fold photo is of ... (read more)

Report this review (#30677) | Posted by HaroldLand | Monday, January 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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