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ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe biography
ABWH was born in 1989 when Jon Anderson envisioned working again with his former YES bandmates, ouside the confines of the Trevor Rabin/Chris Squire-led "90125" lineup. He began collaborating with Steve Howe, with whom most of the classic YES material, including "Close to the Edge" had been written, and soon they enlisted old mates Rick WAKEMAN & Bill BRUFORD into the fold. Pointedly refusing to take any group name other than "YES", they decided their own quite famous surnames would do just fine. With the contribution of Tony Levin on bass (at BRUFORD's suggestion), the band was in place & ready to reclaim the YES legacy in all but name.

The album "Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe" was released in 1989 to enthusiastic responses from prog fans. Gone were the radio- friendly, "Big Generator"-type, tracks; this was a full-blown return to the soaring YES epics of old; with the very first lines of the album boldly stating Jon's intent to once again set his music free from the enslaving corporate bonds which had held it for so long.

"Begone you ever-piercing power-play machine; killing all musical solidarity..."

The album was the most solid piece of work to come out of the YES camp in years. It sold well, and a very successful tour followed, with the band playing to sell-out crowds & ressurecting some old favorites that had not been performed in many a moon. The future seemed bright for ABWH, whereas YES seemed to be in a kind of limbo... Alas, when there is money to be made, solidarity cannot last for long. While working on the followup to their debut album, Anderson contacted Rabin for help in adding some writing to the album. Rabin & Anderson began a dialogue with the record company that led to the idea of combining the two warring YES factions; thereby giving rise to the grand debacle that was to become "Union", and signaling the end of ABWH. BRUFORD once commented that 'ABWH could have been a very interesting band... if theyd've spent more than five seconds on it'...
- D. Michael D'anna II

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe official website

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ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE discography


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

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

3.20 | 274 ratings
Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe
1989

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

3.42 | 80 ratings
Evening of Yes Music Plus
1993
4.07 | 13 ratings
Live At The NEC
2010

ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.90 | 12 ratings
In the Big Dream
1989
3.43 | 31 ratings
An Evening Of Yes Music Plus (DVD)
1994

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

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

2.54 | 7 ratings
Quartet (I'm Alive)
1989
4.00 | 2 ratings
I'm Alive
1989
4.43 | 7 ratings
Brother Of Mine
1989
3.16 | 11 ratings
Brother of Mine (2)
1989
4.60 | 5 ratings
Order of the Universe
1989

ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In the Big Dream by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover DVD/Video, 1989
2.90 | 12 ratings

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In the Big Dream
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Four musical brothers

In The Big Dream is a collection of music videos to songs taken from the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album interspersed with studio footage and interviews from the recording sessions of that album. The four guys seem to have great fun in the studio and around and it is interesting to see how the music is coming together.

The music videos are to Brother Of Mine, Order Of The Universe, and Quartet (I'm Alive). The videos are of course dated as they come out of the 80's, but I find them nonetheless very charming, especially Brother Of Mine with the "noble savages".

The original VHS version of this apparently also contained a live recording of Heart Of The Sunrise. My version of In The Big Dream is a bonus feature on the limited edition double DVD set of An Evening Of Yes Music Plus which is highly recommended.

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 Brother of Mine (2) by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
3.16 | 11 ratings

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Brother of Mine (2)
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Themes

This single by Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe released in 1989 is interesting for Yes fans primarily because of the non- album b-side (or c-side actually) Vultures In The City. This song is in a similar style to the ones that ended up on the album and it would not have been out of place on that album. Personally, I wouldn't have minded this song instead of Teakbois, the least good song on that lone Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album.

There are two other tracks here. The a-side is an edited version of Brother Of Mine which is cut down to six and a half minuted from the original ten and a half minutes. It is a beautiful song and even though I prefer the uncut album version, it works also in this shorter version. Themes is however left untouched and is thus the same as on the album.

Overall, we get here some 18 minutes of very good music, one song of which is not available elsewhere (though it has since been made available on a bonus disc with recent re-releases of the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album).

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 An Evening Of Yes Music Plus (DVD) by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover DVD/Video, 1994
3.43 | 31 ratings

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An Evening Of Yes Music Plus (DVD)
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This concert video was recorded in 9-September-1989 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. This concert was also released in audio in the CD format first in 1993 in Europe (without "Ive Seen All Good `People", "The Meeting", and "Starship Trooper") and later in 1994 in the U.S. (still without "Ive Seen All Good `People" and "The Meeting", but with "Starship Trooper" as a bonus track).

Bassist Jeff Berlin replaced Tony Levin (who became sick with hepatitis) for the last seven dates of the first leg of their tour in 1989 in North America. He had to learn all the songs in a very few days and with a very few rehearsals with the band, and he appears in this video doing a very good job. He did not play the stick bass like Levin but he made sound his bass guitar like a stick bass in some songs thanks to the use of some pedal sound effects.

The video starts with Jon Anderson walking to the stage from the back of the seats of the Amphitheatre, shaking hands with some members of the audience and walking to the stage and singing at the same time for his solo medley (accompanied from the stage by Milton McDonald on acoustic guitar and Julian Colbeck on keyboards). It was unusual to start a concert in this way with three solo sections by Anderson, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman, respectively. Maybe it was not a very good idea, in my opinion (it`s a bit boring for my taste), but they did it anyway. Anderson`s solo medley consisted of "Time and a Word", "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and "Teakbois". This medley sounds good, and after this, Steve Howe appears on stage to play two solo acoustic guitar pieces, "Clap" and "Mood for a Day", with an unidentified instrumental piece between both. After this, Rick Wakeman appears on stage to play a solo keyboards medley of "Gone but Not Forgotten", "Madrigal", "Catherine Parr" and "Merlin the Magician". A very good solo section by Wakeman, it is my favourite from all the solo medleys played by ABWH. Very well played.

After this, all the other musicians appear on stage to play "Long Distance Runaround", followed by a good drums solo played by Bill Bruford. This is followed by "Birthright", which has Howe playing acoustic and electric guitars and a mandolin, Bruford playing very good drums and percussion, Wakeman playing a very good keyboards solo, and Anderson playing a bit of percussion instruments. The next song is "And You and I", played very well, and I consider this version as the best live version that I have listened to from this song. The next song, "Ive Seen All Good `People", is also played very well, and it also has an extended final section on which McDonald, Colbeck, Howe and Wakeman share solos. "Close to the Edge" is also very well played. "Themes" has Wakeman playing good solos too, and "Brother of Mine" is one of my favourite songs from the ABWH studio album, played with a lot of energy with good solos by Howe and Wakeman. For "The Meeting" only Anderson, Wakeman and Colbeck appear on stage, with Wakeman playing the piano and Colbeck the backing keyboards. "Heart of the Sunrise" is well played too, but in this song the electronic drums don`t sound very well for my taste in some parts. "Order of the Universe" is very well played, and it is mostly a rock song with some influences from the 80s Rock Pop music. "Roundabout" is very well played, very similar to the studio version. The concert is finished with a good version of "Starship Trooper", which also has an additional keyboards introduction and also a keyboards section before "Wurm" on which Anderson sings a bit from "Nous Sommes Du Soleil " (from "Ritual") and also gives final thanks to the audience. The final part of "Wurm" has good solos by Wakeman and Howe.

Bruford used mainly an electronic drum kit with also an acoustic snare drum, metal cymbals, two gongs, and a triangle. I am not a fan of the electronic drum kit, but the songs from the ABWH required a lot of changes in the sounds of the drum pads. I thought that Bruford programmed some parts, but no. It seems that he played everything live. Used in this way, the electronic drums sounded very well and offered more choices to Bruford to play interesting percussion sounds in this drum kit.

Anderson sang very well, and like the other members of the band he looks like he was enjoying playing the concert.

Wakeman used eight keyboards which also had a lot of pedals. The new technologies from the eighties really helped him to sound better. He used some Korg, Ensoniq and Roland keyboards, and it also was on stage an old analog Mini- Moog synthesiser which I never saw him play in this concert.

Howe also used a lot of electric and acoustic guitars (Fenders, Gibsons, and maybe others), a pedal steel guitar, plus a mandolin and a vachalia.

The backing vocals were sung by Howe, McDonald and Colbeck. I don`t know if Berlin sang backing vocals too. Of all the members of the band he is the only one from which there are fewer close-ups and he remains "in the dark" for most of the time. It seems that he was playing a five string bass guitar, but I am not really sure about this. He really did a very good job replacing Tony Levin at a very short notice.

Colbeck and McDonald played and sang very well, and gave some freedom to Wakeman and Howe to play in a more relaxed way, particularly in the songs from the ABWH studio album which really required their presence in this tour.

In conclusion, this is a very good video from a very good concert which was played with a lot of enthusiasm and energy from all the musicians. I enjoyed very much to watch to it.

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 Live At The NEC by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 2010
4.07 | 13 ratings

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Live At The NEC
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Another live album from ABWH, but this time with Tony Levin on bass guitar and stick. Their previous official live album, titled "An Evening of Yes Music Plus" (which also was released on video formats in 1993) was recorded in Mountain View, California, in 9-September-1989, with Jeff Berlin on bass guitar, with him abruptly (but very well) replacing Tony Levin for the last seven dates of the first leg of their tour (in North America) because Levin became ill with hepatitis. Berlin in fact had a very short time to learn the songs and to rehearse them with the band. But for the next leg of their tour (in Europe) Levin returned to the band, and this album has one of that concerts, recorded in Birmingham, England, in 24-October-1989.

This Birmingham concert recording and performance unfortunately is not better than the Mountain View concert recording and performance. They sound a bit tired, and the quality of the recording is not very good. Maybe the bass guitar and the stick sound better recorded in this album in comparison to Berlin`s bass guitar in the previous live album, but I think that they played better in the Mountain View concert. Both bassists (Levin and Berlin) are very good musicians, but they played the songs differently (with Levin playing the stick in some songs and with Berlin not playing the stick but making his bass guitar sound almost like a stick, maybe using some electronic pedal sound effects). I remember watching to some videos in youtube with Levin playing in concert with ABWH and I saw that he also used a keyboard to play the bass tones in some parts of some songs. Anyway, both live albums are good, with two very good bassists playing the songs differently but very well. But the Mountain View concert was played better, with more energy and enthusiasm

Other interesting things in this live album recorded in Birmingham are the inclusion of all the songs the band played at that concert. The CD version of the Mountain View concert lacked two songs ("I`ve Seen All Good People" and "The Meeting", with both being included in the video versions of that concert). But again...the Mountain View concert versions of both songs are better than the live versions from this Birmingham concert, in my opinion. This Birmingham live album also includes the Bruford-Levin drums and bass duet, which obviously was not played in the Mountain View concert due to the absence of Levin.

This Birmingham concert album is, until now, the only officially released live album from the band which has Tony Levin in the line-up. This also makes it interesting, with him playing in some songs the stick, doing a very good job in this instrument, making the then new songs from ABWH sounding a bit influenced by World Music and New Age music.

But as a whole, the production of the Mountain View concert album was done with more care. Anyway, this live album recorded in Birmingham is also good.

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 Quartet (I'm Alive) by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
2.54 | 7 ratings

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Quartet (I'm Alive)
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This single has a different version of the last part ("I`m Alive") of the "Quartet" song from ABWH`s abum, maybe done for radio playing. I never listened to this single version being played in radio stations in my city. But the differences are: some electronic drums playing by Bill Bruford; an extended instrumental section with some solos by Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe; a different ending with an added fade out; some mixing differences in comparison to the original version; some added extra backing vocals at the end of the song.

This version does not sound bad...but I prefer the full lenght version from the album with all the other sections of "Quartet" intact and with all the original arrangements. So...this single is maybe mainly interesting for the most die-hard fans and collectors of ABHW`s recordings who want to have in their collections all the music which was officially released from this band.

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 Brother of Mine (2) by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
3.16 | 11 ratings

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Brother of Mine (2)
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Maybe the main problem for artists like ABWH in the late eighties was that the music business of the record labels then was more focused in having Hit Singles in the Radio and also videos to be played by MTV, and they demanded from artists commercial music done in the fads that then were created and promoted by these very commercially oriented people. As Bill Bruford said in interviews done in the early nineties, it seems that the music business then was led "more by accountants than by people who really loved music" (more or less as I rmember now). So...with this in mind, many Prog Rock bands from the sixties and seventies had to please these people to have recording contracts with them.

Even with all this, ABWH, being a project which was led mainly by Jon Anderson, being very good musicians, still could not deliver to the record label the "very commercial music" that they wanted. So, even if "Brother of Mine" is a very good Prog Rock song, and even with the edits done to it to make it a single to be played in the Radio and with a video to be played on MTV, as the record label wanted, it still sounds and looks very "artistic". The arrangements and playing in this song are very good to be edited out for a single release, which it does not sound bad...but I still prefer the original version of ten minutes in lenght. Anderson was tired of some of the YES`s music of the eighties which was very much dictated by outside forces (a record label, again), so he left YES in 1988 to make music which he liked more. So, he formed ABWH and they recorded a very good album. Unfortunately, the "market forces" also demanded from them "money making music", so in the end they had to reunite with YES to make the "Union" album for the same record label they signed as ABWH. YES`s "Union" album, in comparison to ABHW`s album, was almost a disaster, a marketing trick which did not satisfy several of the eight members of the band. Anyway, the "Union" tour was better than the "Union" album. I think, like Bruford said in another interview, that if ABWH could have been left free to record the style of music that they wanted to do without the usual pressures from major record companies they could have lasted as a band for more years and making very good music. Unfortunately they also had some problems between them as members of the band. The eighties musical fads and marketing plans were not good enviroments for a band with very good musicians like them.

Anderson still reflects some of his lack of satisfaction with the demands of record labels in the eighties in the lyrics of "Themes", the album version of this song which also was released in this single. A song which also was not commercially oriented, with some New Age music arrangements.

But the main reason to review this single is the addition of a non-album track titled "Vultures in the City". It is also a good song which maybe was not very similar to the other songs which were included in the ABWH album, so this maybe was the main reason to be left out of that album. It is also not very commercially oriented song with very good arrangements. Maybe it also worked as a "marketing hook" for fans to buy this single as this song was not released in their album.

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 Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.20 | 274 ratings

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Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If there's a more dysfunctional progressive rock band in the world than Yes I have yet to run across them. This group takes the grand prize and the blue ribbon. The fact that the various members are extremely talented has never been in question but we proggers can't help but wonder what musical heights they might've reached had even one of their lineups been able to remain intact for longer than three or four years in a row. Yet if wishes were nickels I'd be independently wealthy so there's no use in contemplating what could've been. They are what they are and they did what they did so be it. I'll spare you the sordid details of their entire career and just recap the years leading up to this fine album by Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. After Yes figuratively took a dump on their fans in '78 with the rotten "Tormato" Jon and Rick took a hike. Chris, Alan and Steve snatched up two of the dudes from The Buggles and put out the half decent "Drama" LP in '80 before folding up the tent. The Yes legacy lay dormant for a while until Chris patched it back together with alums Alan, Jon and Tony along with newbie Trevor to assemble the slick but definitely above average "90125" record in '83 that put them back on the music industry's map. The disappointing follow up in '87 was the weak "Big Generator," after which Jon left and the esteemed ensemble went AWOL again. The MTV-ruled eighties decade wasn't exactly conducive to prog so the band's struggle to survive in that woebegone era is understandable. However, when four of the members responsible for creating the greatest symphonic progressive rock album in history (the still-astonishing "Close to the Edge") decided to co-create once more they were barred from using the hallowed Yes moniker by Chris (the only member to appear on every "official" Yes disc) who held the patent and wasn't in the mood to share. Rather than stooping to sarcastically naming the group "The Affirmative," (something they actually considered briefly) Jon, Bill, Rick and Steve hired respected bassist Tony Levin to fill the bottom frequencies and went into the studio using their well-known surnames as their calling card. This one and only album was the result.

They kick things off with the triple-tiered "Themes." The initial section, "Sound," begins with a delightful shower of cascading notes and then Bill's piercing drums blow the doors open to the funk/rock exposition that is "Second Attention." Within minutes they've established the infectious aura that only this unique cadre of prog legends can conjure up and I'm smiling. The third movement, "Soul Warrior," sports a marching cadence that encourages some peppy interplay to arise between Steve's guitar and Rick's synths. All in all it's six minutes of prog bliss. "Fist of Fire" follows. It's a compact, thud-heavy song dominated by Wakeman's keyboards and Jon's passionate but surprisingly aggressive vocals. It's not as cool as the previous cut but enjoyable. The 10+ minute, three-part "Brother of Mine" is next. "The Big Dream" starts it off with a cavernous soundscape that stretches into the ether behind Anderson's sweet-as-candy voice and Howe's beautiful guitar runs. Other than the memorable namesake chorus of "Nothing can come between us," the second segment is more of the same coloration. At this juncture I must comment that, as much as I admire Levin's craft, I do miss Squire's adventurous bass lines that always add an exciting unpredictability to the band's tracks but I guess with this group you can't have everything. The third section, "Long Lost Brother of Mine," pushes the tempo upwards and Bill gets to throw in some intriguing percussive syncopation to spice things up but it's Rick's stirring, grandiose finale that steals the show. "Birthright" is a highlight. Growling synths and acoustic guitar licks set the stage brilliantly for this dynamic tune but it's the transcendent middle segment that truly thrills and satisfies. It fires on all cylinders.

"The Meeting" possesses a lovely piano intro that's a heavenly display of how sensitive and stratospheric Wakeman's artistry can be at times. The song is a gorgeous example of exquisite arrangement and tasteful delivery. The four-division "Quartet" has lofty aspirations but it doesn't achieve all its goals. On "I Wanna Learn" Steve's delicate guitarisms back up Jon's folksy singing and harmonies suitably. Rick barges in with choppy piano chords to elevate the atmosphere for "She Gives Me Love" while the lyrics pay clever homage to classic Yes song titles. "Who Was the First" has a strong feel rolling underneath but Bruford is relegated to a supporting role to the piece's detriment. "I'm Alive" only confirms that this whole number is basically a Jon Anderson- inspired love fest. While I personally don't find his over-the-rainbow poetics overly wearisome I can sympathize with those who might. "Teakbois" is next and it's an eyebrow-raiser. Its viable Caribbean vibe is not something I ever expected from these guys but it does show they were willing to step out of their comfort zone to see what would develop. It's a fun detour that shines a light on the versatility of Bill and Rick in particular. I especially dig the abrupt changes in the groove they pull off without a hitch. If you're looking for an epic, "Order of the Universe" will do the trick. "Order Theme" is a grand-scale overture that's sure to please any fan of symphonic prog. "Rock Gives Courage" is a driving rocker wherein Jon succeeds in getting up in your face with curious lines like "You don't need anybody in this complicated life!" "It's So Hard to Grow" is a continuation of that forceful mien energized by the number's powerful chorus and strident incidentals. During "The Universe" Bruford stands out by combining acoustic and electronic drums to present an extraordinary, multi-rhythmic tsunami of sound. They close the album out quietly with "Let's Pretend," a short, innocent Anderson ditty augmented expertly by Wakeman's keyboards and Howe's inimitable guitar licks.

Released on June 20, 1989, "ABWH" rose to #14 in the UK and #30 in the US, indicating that there were a multitude of folks in the world that had grown tired of cute videos and big hair rock outfits and longed for the glory days when they eagerly crammed into arenas to hear Yes wow their aural senses with their majestic and awesome compositions. Alas, this foursome only lasted a short time before some suit at Arista decided it'd be a stupendous idea to bring EVERYBODY back and put together the can't fail, ultimate Yes album, "Union." Some family get-togethers turn into fiascos and evidently this one was a doozy because it effectively ended the run of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. (One of these days I'll get around to listening to "Union" but my expectations are low, to say the least.) Nonetheless, ABWH is a darn good prog album, especially considering the sorry state 20th century music was in at the time they made it. Jon, Bill, Rick and Steve had the guts to swim against the inane commercial current and do what they did best to the appreciative applause of proggers worldwide. Their accomplishment has stood the test of time. 4.1 stars.

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 Live At The NEC by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 2010
4.07 | 13 ratings

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Live At The NEC
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Like many Yes fans, I wasn't too sure what was happening with the band with all of the line-up changes they went through. I was surprised at just how good 'Drama' was, but after that I felt that all of the rest of their releases either didn't sound like Yes to me, or were patchy (and to be honest, the next really good album after 'Drama' was 'Fly From Here'). So, when back in he late Eighties I heard that Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe were joining forces to record a new album I was incredibly excited, and I wasn't disappointed with the results. But, as well know by now, that project only lasted the one album and there have been few official live albums available by that line-up, but here we have a double CD of their performance at the NEC on 24th October, 1989. As well as the four they were of course joined by Tony Levin on bass/stick, with Julian Colbeck on additional keyboards and Milton McDonald on additional guitar.

Musically it is interesting to hear how the songs from the album fit in so easily with the Yes numbers, and it really does sound as if the classic Yes line-up has just expanded slightly and is well at home with all of the music and does everything justice. Bill was of course playing is electronic kit at the time, so it does sound a little different, but given his mastery and control it all makes semse.The booklet is a little strange in that while it talks about how the decision was made to get back together, it is almost as if it was written as a press release for the 'new' album, and that shows had yet to be performed. Given that this is a booklet for a live album that seems unusual to say the least, and there are no group shots of the band performing, which is what one might expect, instead of solo studio shots. It's great to have a Pete Frame family tree detailing where they came from, but fitting the Yes/ABWH story on one page of a CD booklet is not ideal ' I have 20/20 vision but there is no way of reading the detail comfortably.

But, that really is nit-picking, as this is all about the music, and that is just wonderful. The production is very clear indeed, and kudos to whoever was behind the controls, but yet again there is no information about who engineered, produced and mixed this. Simply put, if you are a Yes fan then this album shows what could have been, with songs such as 'And You And I' just superb. Sure, the lack of details is annoying, but for anyone interested at all in the music of Yes (and there can't be many progheads who aren't) then this is essential.

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 Live At The NEC by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 2010
4.07 | 13 ratings

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Live At The NEC
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by PaulH

4 stars Documents the real ABWH line-up playing live.

We all know the music of Yes and ABWH, so I won't review the music here.

The real compelling reason to pick this up is that it is the only official live release of the ABWH line-up with Tony Levin on bass. There are some bootleg releases with Levin, but this is the only officially released one, and I would argue it is the best quality recording with Levin out of all the bootlegs as well.

Levin had gotten ill prior to the Shoreline Amphitheater show that became An Evening of Yes Music Plus, so Jeff Berlin stepped in for the rest of the US leg of the tour. Levin rejoined for the UK leg that followed, and this show was captured as part of a radio broadcast at the NEC in Birmingham, England on October 24th, 1989.

It becomes pretty apparent that Levin owns the ABWH material. Berlin did an amazing job jumping in on short notice and learning all the songs in just days, but on An Evening... you can tell he is just playing the material. Levin is clearly a first-class member of this band, with much more interaction with the other musicians. Birthright and Order of the Universe are great, and Levin of course plays both bass and Stick where Berlin was bass only.

But beyond that, Levin shows us what an incredible talent he is by making the Yes material his own as well. I have to be careful I don't get lynched by the Yes faithful, but in my opinion the renditions here of Long Distance Runaround, Starship Trooper and Heart of the Sunrise rival any other live version. This performance of Close to the Edge takes my breath away. I'm not even going to get into any debate on Squire vs. Levin or whatever, but you really should pick this up just to have this performance in your library.

Where this release falls short is in the production, which seems pretty amateur for these folks, even considering it seems to have been more of an independent release. There are some nasty glitches in Jon Anderson's solo medley, but that's what it is so maybe there was no choice there. The track order on the second CD is just plain wrong - track 3 is really Anderson's banter between songs, tracks 3 & 4 are actually 4 & 5, and Order of the Universe is for some inexplicable reason stuck out of order as track 8 with a huge gap of silence when in reality it should have followed Heart of the Sunrise.

Some editing choices are really questionable. Close to the Edge sadly has the beginning and ending fades cut off a bit, which I'm sure was due to space restrictions, but they could have edited out some crowd between songs rather than doing that. This is such a definitive performance of this epic, that cutting it short like that kills that opening and closing drama. Seriously, if they would have given me the masters, I could have done a better production editing job using Soundforge on my laptop.

The other big problem is the amount of hiss in the recording. Maybe they felt they wanted to release it without altering the original recording, but a little noise reduction would have done wonders. Especially during The Meeting, where the hiss is so loud compared to the quiet keyboards and vocals that I find it painful. I was able to clean it up myself with some mild noise reduction in Soundforge, and restored some clipped peaks, so I just think they could have given it a little more care and produced a way better sounding release.

On the plus side, the 12 page booklet is pretty good, with background on ABWH and bios of all the performers, including Milton MacDonald and Julian Colbeck, both of whom played a larger role in the performance than a lot of folks realize. Fans won't learn a whole lot new in the booklet, but it's still fairly well done.

So, how to rate it? We know the material is great. Even if you aren't as fond of the late-80's stylings of ABWH (Bruford's electronic drums sound pretty dated nowadays), the Yes material here is among the best. As a document of what ABWH was like playing live with Tony Levin, this is a must have. But the production sucks.

I'm a huge Tony Levin fan, so for me this is an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection, and I have to rate it a 4. If you aren't as excited about having a document of Levin with ABWH, this is more good, but not essential, so a 3. If the sound quality really pisses you off, and you don't have the means to fix it up on your own, you might even consider it a 2.

Tough to rate -- I give it more of a 3.5 overall, but I'll round up to 4 for the Levin factor.

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 Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.20 | 274 ratings

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Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by wehpanzer

2 stars This is, and most definately is not, a Yes album. Obviously with Anderson, Brufurd, Wakeman and Howe around playing, writing, and singing, it sounds a lot like Yes since it's basically 80% of the classic lineup. But that missing 20% (Chris Squire) is HUGE. Don't take this as a swipe against Tony Levin, he's amazing on bass and stick, but the key, in my opinion, to the Yes sound is Squire. Not just his bass (absolutely unique and immedeiately identifiable) but his vocals make the Yes sound.

That said, much of this work sounds uninspired. Not bad, but not good either. Except for Long Lost Brother of Mine, which fits in nicely into the Yes pantheon of greatness, the rest of the album is...well, pedestrian. Some songs have high points, but it seems to me that they have a tendency to meander. Technically, this is well played, overproduced, and underwritten.

The worst thing about this album was the follow up --Union, where the Anderson, Brufurd, Wakeman and Howe team sounded absolutely insipid to the point that they overdubbed extra keyboards, guitar, vocals, etc., until all recognition of Yes-ness was lost.

Get Anderson, Brufurd, Wakeman and Howe to complete your collection, but don't get this if you are only mildly interested in Yes.

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