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Steve Howe

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Steve Howe The Grand Scheme of Things album cover
2.85 | 53 ratings | 6 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Grand Scheme of Things (5:11)
2. Desire Comes First (3:38)
3. Blinded by Science (3:29)
4. Beautiful Ideas (4:01)
5. The Valley of Rocks (3:08)
6. At the Gates of the New World (3:58)
7. Wayward Course (4:15)
8. Reaching the Point (3:52)
9. Common Ground (2:17)
10. Luck of the Draw (1:42)
11. The Fall of Civilization (4:07)
12. Passing Phase (3:28)
13. Georgia's Theme (2:44)
14. Too Much Is Taken and Not Enough Given (5:35)
15. Maiden Voyage (4:24)
16. Road to One's Self (2:40)

Total Time 58:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Howe / acoustic, steel & electric guitars, mandolin, dobro, fretted (1,2,11,15) & fretless (10) basses, Taurus bass pedals (15), organ (12), keyboards, flute & koto (16), washboard (12), vocals, arranger & producer

- Virgil Howe / keyboards (7,14), piano (9)
- Anna Palm / violin (2,11), vocals (11)
- Nick Beggs / Chapman Stick (1,4,7), bass (3,6,14)
- Keith West / bass (8), harmonica (10), harmony vocals
- Dylan Howe / drums, percussion (7)
- Mike Jeffries / cabasa (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Roger & Martyn Dean

CD Relativity ‎- 88561-1163-2 (1993, US)
CD Acadia ‎- ACA 8027 (2002, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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STEVE HOWE The Grand Scheme of Things ratings distribution

(53 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(21%)
Good, but non-essential (45%)
Collectors/fans only (26%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STEVE HOWE The Grand Scheme of Things reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Zitro
3 stars 2 2/3 stars

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

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

My Grade : C-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars One thing I'll say about Steve Howe, his voice has gotten better since his first solo album, or at least he's learned how to record his voice. He still doesn't have a great lead vocal sound (say what you want about Jon Anderson's sound, but he always puts everything he has into each song), but at least he's listenable.

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

Review by Gerinski
2 stars We all know that when Steve Howe starts to lead-sing it starts raining, and this album is no exception even if he sings a bit better than in Beginnings. I might say that his singing ruins the music but in this case there's not much to ruin anyway, the material being rather weak.

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

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

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

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

Review by patrickq
2 stars The Grand Scheme of Things is Howe's fourth solo album, coming just two years after his third. His prior two albums (Turbulence (1991) and The Steve Howe Album (1979)) had contained a total of two vocal songs, only one of which Howe sung by himself - - and then for less than one minute. This, of course, followed pretty universal criticism of his singing on his solo debut Beginnings (1975). My own main criticism of Beginnings was what I saw as Howe's lack of preparation, or maybe confidence. By 1993, that was no longer an issue, and the vocals are back. (Howe sings on seven of the sixteen songs on The Grand Scheme of Things.)

The album opens with two unmistakably Hovian* tracks: the vocal title song and "Desire Comes First," an instrumental. Although some of the remaining songs stray a bit from Howe's past work, The Grand Scheme of Things hangs together as a cohesive package, including "The Valley of Rocks," his solo-acoustic offering this time around. As we've come to expect from Howe, there are also more than a few minutes of nice guitar playing with relatively unobtrusive accompaniment (mainly keyboards and violin).

The confidence which allows Howe to sing as much as he wants on The Grand Scheme of Things extends to the lyrics. As the album title might suggest, there are more clichés here than you can shake a stick at: the couplet "the die is cast; I know the score" is representative. But the clichés aren't limited to trite turns of phrase; unfortunately, many of the ideas seem to be stock, anti-modernist "common sense." There's even a song called "The Fall of Civilization." On "Blinded By Science," Howe sings, "once the food was pure to eat ... side effects now interfere ... in the fridge and microwave / frozen food in cellophane / from caffeine to poisonous colors." I'm as suspicious of Corporate Big Ag as the next guy, but several of the tracks sound more like screeds than songs. Oddly, among Howe's most significant musical heroes is the master of the protest song, Bob Dylan. In fact, Dylan Howe is the drummer on The Grand Scheme of Things, playing on eleven tracks.

Also joining Howe here is his Tomorrow bandmate Keith West, who's credited harmony vocals on six of the seven vocal tracks (I'm pretty sure he's on the seventh as well). Violinist Anna Palm also provides backing vocals on one song. This results in much better multipart vocals than on prior Howe albums, although most of the vocals are Howe singing alone.

Compared to Howe's other albums to this point, The Grand Scheme of Things is most like Beginnings. Whereas Turbulence and The Steve Howe Album were niche recordings, intended for fans of guitar-based music, Beginnings seemed aimed at the mainstream, or at least the part of the mainstream occupied by Yes in the mid-1970s. Unfortunately, this approach doesn't suit Howe's strengths; I get the feeling that detrimental compromises were made to effect a more commercial product.

So The Grand Scheme of Things pales in comparison to the all-instrumental, mostly electric Turbulence, but not only due to its scattered focus; Turbulence's compositions were also superior, and Turbulence is the place to start for Howe's 1990s output. I'd recommend The Grand Scheme of Things only to Howe fans and Yes collectors.

*this eponymous adjective was coined, I believe, by Henry Potts.

Latest members reviews

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

Report this review (#30683) | Posted by | Saturday, March 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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