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STEVE HOWE

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Steve Howe biography
Stephen James HOWE was born on April 8th, 1947 in Holloway, North London. During his childhood he was troubled by 'Fellini-like horror fantasies and nightmares' for some years. He only could get asleep when he listened to music (like "Teensville" from CHET ATKINS). So music became an essential safety valve, if not an obsession pretty early on. When he was 12 years old, Steve got an acoustic guitar from his parents. A few years later he bought his first electric guitar (a Japanese Guyatone) and started to copy solos from the Fifties and Sixties rock-scene note-by-note (from Les Paul, Frank Beecher, Scotty Moore, Link Wray and Chuck Berry to Wes Montgomery, Django Rheinhardt and Barney Kessel). He was also influenced by Jazz icon Miles Davis, the classical composers VIVALDI and STRAVINSKY, classical guitar player Julian Bream and organ player Jimmy Smith. Steve incorporated all these influences and developed his unique style. He soon turned from a 'bedroom-guitarist' into a semi-professional player and became a 'hot session-musician'. Steve joined his first band THE SYNDICATS ('63-'65), followed by THE IN CROWD ('66-'68) and received a "cult-hero-status' in TOMORROW (1968), a kind of psychedelic update from the previous THE IN CROWD. Steve even played one gig in THE NICE when he replaced David O'List and he also did auditions for JETHRO TULL and BLACK SABBATH. But this didn't work out for him and he joined BODAST ('68-'69).

In '71 he made his legendary move to YES after a phone call by Chris SQUIRE. Steve HOWE's solo career started in '75 with his first solo album entitled "Beginnings". He also collaborate on albums with an impressive list of known musicians like Lou REED, Rick WAKEMAN, FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, PROPAGANDA, Stanley CLARKE, QUEEN, FISH and even the BEE GEES! Between '81 and '95 Steve HOWE joined the commercially successful ASIA ('81-'83 and '91-'93) and GTR ('84-'87), he founded ABWH (YES minus Chris SQUIRE) and did a YES-reunion ('91-'92). Special projects/concerts: the album "Guitar Speak" from '88 (with Andy Powell, Randy California and Robbie Krieger), the Magna Carta YES tribute "Tales From Yesterday" (with Annie Haslam) and the Montreux Jazz Festival in '79. From '95 he's again a member of YES and recently did a world tour, more than 30 years after he joined this legendary 'symphonic rock dinosaur'!

His first solo album "Beginnings" from '75 is a fine effort, showing HOWE's varied style and his amazing collections of all kind of guitars (from Gibson and Fender electric to the banjo, Portuguese guitar and pedal steel guitar) but I don't like his vocals. In my opinion his second record entitled "The Steve Howe album" is his best effort but my favourite is the live-album "Not necessarily acoustic" (from '94). This one contains all his best material like the virtuosic "Meadow rag" and the fragile "Surface tension". It also features songs from YES like "Excerpts from Tales from topographic oceans", the Spanish climate from "Mood for a day", the exciting "Clap" and the 'stage favourite' "Roundabout". These compositions shows an amazing variety: Spanish, classical, rock, ragtime, romantic or jazz. If you listen to Steve HOWE, you listen to a guitar-hero who scouted all kind of musical borders to become one of the most influential and acclaimed progrock guitarists of all time.

: : : Erik Neuteboom, The NETHERLANDS : : :
Fan & official Prog Archives collaborator

Steve Howe official website

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Anthology (2CD)Anthology (2CD)
Rhino Records 2015
Audio CD$10.76
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Steve Howe AlbumSteve Howe Album
Import
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TimeTime
Warner Classics 2011
Audio CD$2.01
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Not Necessarily AcousticNot Necessarily Acoustic
Herald-Classic Rock 1994
Audio CD$74.04
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STEVE HOWE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STEVE HOWE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.63 | 109 ratings
Beginnings
1975
3.41 | 105 ratings
The Steve Howe Album
1979
1.76 | 22 ratings
Seraphim
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Guitar Player
1989
3.11 | 44 ratings
Turbulence
1991
2.96 | 34 ratings
The Grand Scheme Of Things
1993
2.26 | 18 ratings
Voyagers
1995
2.56 | 20 ratings
Homebrew
1996
2.73 | 27 ratings
Quantum Guitar
1998
3.30 | 28 ratings
Portraits of Bob Dylan
1999
3.33 | 18 ratings
Homebrew 2
2000
3.75 | 43 ratings
Natural Timbre
2001
3.31 | 24 ratings
Skyline
2002
2.76 | 36 ratings
Elements (Steve Howe's Remedy)
2003
4.75 | 4 ratings
Guitar World
2003
3.54 | 41 ratings
Spectrum
2005
3.29 | 19 ratings
Homebrew 3
2005
3.74 | 22 ratings
The Haunted Melody (Steve Howe Trio)
2008
3.22 | 9 ratings
Motif, Volume 1
2008
3.38 | 13 ratings
Homebrew 4
2009
3.26 | 28 ratings
Time
2011
3.44 | 9 ratings
Homebrew 5
2013

STEVE HOWE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.87 | 28 ratings
Not Necessarily Acoustic
1994
2.18 | 11 ratings
Pulling Strings
1999
3.83 | 6 ratings
Travelling (Steve Howe Trio)
2010

STEVE HOWE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
2001
3.30 | 8 ratings
Remedy Live
2005

STEVE HOWE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 5 ratings
Steve Howe: The Early Years with Bodast
1990
4.67 | 3 ratings
Homebrew 1 & 2
2002
3.90 | 11 ratings
Light Walls
2003
3.86 | 7 ratings
Anthology
2015

STEVE HOWE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Lily's In The Field (with Annie Haslam)
1995

STEVE HOWE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Voyagers by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.26 | 18 ratings

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Voyagers
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'Voyagers' - Steve Howe & Paul Sutin (43/100)

The members of Yes aren't particularly known for much post-peak success in their own careers, whether together or apart. No decade was so bad for them as the 90s, and no member's solo career was perhaps as inconsistent as Steve Howe's, whose guitar work is often surprisingly underwhelming outside the context of the band. The album Voyagers came out in the middle of Steve Howe's weakest decade, although to call it a Howe record might be misleading. This instrumental new age album was largely penned by Swiss composer Paul Sutin, who was supposedly inspired by dolphins while writing it, or something. As collaborations go, this one feels imbalanced to the point of being a cash-in. Howe's guitar lazily meanders atop Sutin's gentle electronica, and the music urges the listener to relax, almost to the point of putting said listener on edge. Voyagers makes a novel departure from any Yes- redolent expectation one may have had approaching something from Howe's back catalogue, but it would be a hard sell to recommend this album as more than spacey wallpaper. This is what Ozric Tentacles might sound like after checking into the retirement home.

I generally find New Age skirts a fine line between sounding legitimately relaxing, and pushing that relaxation to the point where it sounds irritating, like elevator music, or the godawful diabetic noise they blare through the phone when you're on hold with customer service. While fellow Yes-man Jon Anderson found a great New Age collaboration with the almighty Vangelis, Howe's work with Paul Sutin is decidedly less impressive, and all the less 'relaxing' for it. Although there's precious little to keep a listener intrigued for long, Sutin lays a steady foundation with flutes and basic soft/space electronica. The beats are soft and floaty, and sometimes, they actually work. "Ocean Light" and "Sonar Call" aptly convey the desired aquatic atmosphere, and some other moments on the album successfully managed to lull me into an Atlantean bubble of relaxation.

No doubt most people who've listened to Voyagers were keeping their ears out for Howe's contributions, but his guitarwork is an accoutrement at best. Paul Sutin would write what are essentially backing tracks for Howe, and Howe would play over them in parts. That playing sounds like a pretty blatant cash-in. While there's not much space to excel past a few 'soulful' Gilmourisms in such a mellowed out context, I do feel like Steve Howe should have taken greater care to let his playing come to life. While his performance is vaguely similar to his style with Yes, the solos sometimes sound like they were written with the most basic taste in mind. Then again, I don't know how much of this may be attributed to a lack of passion so much as the album's aim and intent. One of the rare exceptions to the rule on Voyagers is the more upbeat "Sanctuary"; here, both Howe and Sutin excel at their respective crafts, with Howe taking a jazzier mode to his playing, and Sutin injecting his electronic form with a much-welcome urgency. Yes, an album of stuff like "Sanctuary" would be worth hearing by much more than merely diehard Yes fans, and it might even be enough to save this album from the dump heap. But generally speaking, I can't fathom returning to a Howe/Sutin collaboration when the sleepiness dares to outweigh the interest.

Between Howe and Sutin, I actually find myself more impressed by the work of the latter. Whereas Sutin sounds like he's composing with tenderness, Howe generally sounds like he played his parts with eyes open halfway. Voyagers generally sounds like a lazy album, and not in the way the artists intended.

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 Quantum Guitar by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1998
2.73 | 27 ratings

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Quantum Guitar
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

2 stars As a lifelong songwriter myself, I've always sought out different methods for coming up with tunes and melodies. When I first started out as a teen in the 60s I'd fiddle around with my hard body Silvertone 6-string and tinny Kent amp until an idea sprouted and then I'd turn on my trusty Radio Shack mono tape recorder so I wouldn't lose it. In the 70s I advanced to using a JVC sound-on- sound two track device and later to a TEAC 4-channel tape machine that would allow me to more efficiently construct a crude facsimile of a complete composition. The point I'm trying to make is that none of what I ended up with was fit to play for anyone except my bandmates who would savvy that I was merely trying to present them with potential material to possibly work on and develop. It was not for public consumption. In many cases only a tiny segment of one of my creations would be something worth trying to build on. That's why I'm rather shocked that the multi- talented Steve Howe would want to share his unrefined home demos with the world as he did on 1998's 'Quantum Guitar.' There's no questioning his exceptional skills on a wide variety of stringed instruments and his work with Yes in particular has often bordered on incredible so it's not like he's some wannabe running through a series of scales to show off here. But this is far from being the kind of stuff that any respectable progger would be drawn to. Frankly, I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Enlisting only the help of his son Dylan on drums, this is truly a Steve Howe do-it-yourselfer from top to bottom and therein lies its true weakness. Only a handful of artists can achieve greatness without collaborating with other musicians who'll give constructive criticism and guidance and Steve ain't one of them. He opens with a modern rendering of the Ventures' classic instrumental 'Walk Don't Run' and he wisely resists wandering too far from the original arrangement. In all fairness Howe adds some excitement where needed. 'The Collector' is a light ditty that relies heavily on his steel guitar acumen, 'Light Walls' is a bit more aggressive in nature yet quite poppy while 'Mosaic' is a short piece containing recognizable Yes-like overtones. The longest cut on the album is 'Suddenly' and, due to its length, I hoped it would be wildly proggy but it turns out to be pretty much of a contemporary guitar extravaganza that never generates any momentum. Although I don't cotton to C&W fare I've always been an admirer of decent pickin' and Steve displays that he has the chops for it on 'Country Viper' yet he discreetly doesn't overdo it, keeping this snippet at well under the two minute mark. On 'Mainland' I gotta hand it to Howe for designing an adventurous chord progression and for employing a myriad of guitar sounds but all in all it's way too tame to hold my interest. 'Knights of Carmelite' is a highlight. Its madrigal feel is refreshing at this juncture and the compositional structure is superb.

'Paradox' is next and I'm not sure what Steve was shooting for with the limiting marching beat that sets the tone but by now the tunes are starting to sound alike. 'Momenta' is an unimaginative variation on one of the oldest and most overused rock & roll patterns in history and I grew weary of it within seconds because he does so very little with it. Howe delivers another round of nostalgia with the old chestnut 'Sleep Walk' and he treats it with honorable respect sitting at his pedal steel guitar but he also avoids taking any chances. 'Sovereigns' is excellent. Its classical air is augmented by innumerable guitar overdubs that weave a nice tapestry. It's an engaging detour from the norm. 'Totality' sports an up-tempo rock beat that picks up the pace but it's no more than average filler. 'Solid Ground' is but another dose of the same directionless meandering that fails to take the listener anywhere special or memorable. He lays down a host of Spanish guitarisms for 'The Great Siege' and they're borderline thrilling but the instrumental comes off more as a dexterity exercise than an attempt on his part to mount the prog heights. 'Cacti Garden' is another undistinguished conglomerate of musical notions but the closer, 'Southern Accent,' turns out to be one of the more cohesive songs on the disc. However, it's a case of too little too late. It wasn't enough to curb my unstoppable yawning spree.

After Yes toured 'Relayer' in the mid-70s all of the group's members took time off to make a solo LP. Two of them, Jon Anderson and Chris Squire, delivered exemplary progressive specimens but Steve's was a disappointment. Evidently that didn't stop him from trying, though, because he's put a bunch of records out there ever since. I won't be acquiring any more of his albums because 'Quantum Guitar' is like watching somebody else's home movies. I'm sure he had a fun time and all but I don't really want to sit through his exploits. My thinking is that this is how Howe writes his material and I understand that hit and miss process completely. I just don't want to hear the ragged demos that resulted. Since he's a revered guitar wizard who's given me hours of ecstatic joy taking in his contributions to most of Yes' greatest albums I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and give this CD a 1.5 star rating. But just this once.

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 Natural Timbre by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.75 | 43 ratings

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Natural Timbre
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars For the love of YES ...

Well, I have to be honest that the chief reason to have this album for me personally was the facts that there were three Yes tracks included here in this Steve Howe record. I just wanted to have another style of those three tracks played buy Steve Howe himself. My reaction was mixed as I was not quite impressed with Your Move as it has made the music not that proggy compared to the original studio version and live version with Yes ...and of course this version is no vocal. But I like To Be Over as I do with the original version.

Natural Timbre captures varied musical styles: straight pop, classical music, country, blues...,which all of them lumped together sounds like a music at the lounge a five star hotel; nothing is quite complex right her ....everything goes smoothly. Of course each track has special meaning for Mr Howe, depicting the memory of his journey of guitar playing. For example on Distant Seas had something to do with his memory when he was in Japan in 1973 when he bought a handmade classical guitar by Kohno and later in London, he bought a Koto (a long, curved, Japanese instrument with strings stretched across) and began recording it with groups and solo work. But he also, like in Winter, playing an arrangement of the 2nd movement from Winter, part of Vivaldi´s Four Seasons which originally from violin.

Overall, it's a good record and you should not expect something prog as you find in any album of Yes. It's a simple and straight forward music that any music lovers might enjoy it. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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 Elements (Steve Howe's Remedy) by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2003
2.76 | 36 ratings

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Elements (Steve Howe's Remedy)
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Steve Howe needs no introduction at all, and his new band Remedy includes his songs Dylan (drums) and Virgil (keys) plus Gilad Atzmon (woodwind) and Derrick Taylor (bass). All of the tracks were written by Steve himself, so he has to shoulder the responsibility for this one. There are some good songs on here, no doubt of that at all, but there is a lot of inconsistency which makes the album very hard indeed to listen to. It shifts styles, and Steve himself says that it is "guitar based progressive rock containing influences from blues and jazz".

That the musicianship is top quality is never in doubt ? Steve has been one of the most important guitarists in the rock scene for over thirty years, but that doesn't mean that the music itself is of the same mark. This is not an album that many people will be approaching in its' own right; that many people will purchase it just because of the Yes connections is a shame. The fourth song is "The Clap (Where I Belong)", is Steve trying to say something? This is not the instrumental of a similar name a la Yes but instead has a much more laid back Wishbone Ash feel. Not an album that I will often be returning to.

Originally appeared in Feedback #78, April 2004

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 Natural Timbre by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.75 | 43 ratings

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Natural Timbre
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by sinslice

4 stars Acoustic guitar masterfully executed.

Needless to infer that Mr. Howe has a unique style, his name is indelibly stamped on the annals of progressive symphonic rock. The reality is that his solo work have received negative reviews generally. Most of them are uneven and mixed a lot of rhythms, sometimes not very suitable. Also, his voice and manner of singing is not his greatest asset. Still, his accomplishments of the 70 contain some classics, especially The Steve Howe Album. And more recent ones are not entirely mediocre as they have been described, especially instrumental sections are optimal.

Here his acoustic guitar in the lead. The songwriting is right, better than in other productions. Besides the covers: The Little Galliard, Winter and the last three are of Yes, with an excellent performance of To Be Over. It is entirely instrumental, with several tracks performed by Howe solo, or with violin support. In other sounds like a full band, as in Distant Seas, Family Tree, Golden Years and To Be Over,...

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 Spectrum by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.54 | 41 ratings

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Spectrum
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Steve Howe is without doubt one of the most influential and aclaimed guitarists of all times, his career covering almost 45 years and releasing many many albums. His solo career begin somewhere in mid '70s and since then he released more then 20 albums under his name. Spectrum from 2005 is one of the more recent works and is a fine album from first to last piece. With Tony Levin on bass, his sons Dylan Howe on drums and Virgil Howe on keyboards and Oliver Wakeman on keybords aswell as helping hands, he manage to create pleasent music and very enjoyble. I can say that this album offers simple/complex music, he covers a wide area of genres, from prog rock with similarities towards Yes, it was obvious, jazz fusion, eclectic moments, acustic parts all is done with good taste , smoothness and elegant passages. He is very versatile guitarist managing to create great moments here, and his toying with his instrument with an amazing ease. Forte pieces , the opening track Tigers Den, Realm thirteen and Highly Strung. All pieces are short, under 5 min, but the beauty of each one show how still great potential this guitarist has after so many years of making music. The overall atmosphere has a jazzy flawour but combined with aformentioned styles this album Spectrum is more then decent. So, a fine release from this master , desearve a solid 3 stars, maybe in places 3,5. Really good one.

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 Time by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.26 | 28 ratings

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Time
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Steve Howe's "Time" is an album I have been playing while surfing the net, writing or simply relaxing. It is that sort of album. The non abrasiveness of the music and the sheer beauty is exquisite. Howe is a master of the guitar and he really demonstrates an enormous amount of dexterity and this is the quieter side of the guitar genius. This is easy listening music to kick off the shoes, put the feet up and curl up into a warm book. Or this is romantic enough to put on during an evening dinner with some wine and caviar. If that is the sort of thing you are likely to do Howe has provided the perfect background music. I do not mean that either in a derogatory sense, as the music is lovely and played virtuoso, but this is definitely for me background music.

The point is nothing really stands out as a killer track rather it is just an album with terrific classical musicianship that blends well as a whole. It has a Cantata, a Concerto, and even the odd Aria with 'Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5'. There is the sound of a banjo on one track and mostly finger picking guitar sounding exactly like Howe's acoustic guitar solos in a Yes concert. The music is backed by symphonic keyboards but drums are absent, bass is absent and you will find zero distortion as far as the guitars. They are always crystal clean and pleasant. It is a nice album that my wife likes me playing but Yes were more inventive and daring than this and so was Howe who has mellowed in his old age with this effort.

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 Time by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.26 | 28 ratings

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Time
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Time' - Steve Howe (6/10)

Guitarist Steve Howe will always be best known for his monumental contribution to the band Yes, but that hasn't stopped him from continuing his music career into the solo artist realm. Now decades since the release of classics like 'Fragile' and 'Close To The Edge', Howe's music serves to entertain existing fans of his work, rather than create new ones. Nowadays, his music very much reflects his age; no longer are there the complex, bombastic observations he once did with Yes, but soft pieces that would likely best fit under the 'easy listening' category. All the same, Steve Howe's musical brilliance has never run out, and while 'Time' may not have the same longevity and depth of his life's greatest work, it is a perfect album to stay in and listen to throughout a cold winter's night.

At this point in his musical career, Steve Howe's work reminds me greatly of Jeff Beck. A recent album of Beck's, 'Emotion And Commotion', shares its musical formula with 'Time'. Fronted by Howe's immortal lead guitar work, he has brought on a string section to back him up, and the result is closer to contemporary classical music than anything rock-related. As song titles like 'Cantata No. 140' and 'Concerto Grosso In D Minor' are quick to suggest, Howe's main inspiration here is classical music, most specifically; the sort of classical music that might be put on to soundtrack a romantic candlelit dinner. The melodies are pleasantly predictable, and the lush string arrangements of Paul Joyce wash over the listener effortlessly. 'Time' is as beautiful an album as any, but for all of its pleasant bells and whistles, a listener looking for anything even remotely challenging or dynamic will come out empty handed. Steve Howe's guitar work is soulful and tasteful, but upon returned listens to the album, listeners will find that 'Time' offers little in the way of growth or lasting appreciation. Instead, it's an album that serves everything to its audience immediately, and doesn't forget to include a silver spoon and cutlery.

The music is beautiful and pleasant, but harmless. 'Time' really is an album that demands virtually nothing from its listener, but at this point in Steve Howe's career, that seems to be the most refreshing change of pace he could have taken.

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 The Steve Howe Album by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.41 | 105 ratings

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The Steve Howe Album
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

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.

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 Beginnings by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.63 | 109 ratings

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Beginnings
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer

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.

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Thanks to TR for the artist addition.

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