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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

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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)

3.18 | 259 ratings
Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe
1989

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

3.40 | 73 ratings
Evening of Yes Music Plus
1993
4.05 | 9 ratings
Live At The NEC
2010

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

2.92 | 12 ratings
In the Big Dream
1989
3.24 | 24 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)

2.38 | 5 ratings
Quartet (I'm Alive)
1989
3.80 | 5 ratings
Brother Of Mine
1989
3.14 | 9 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
 Quartet (I'm Alive) by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
2.38 | 5 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
3.14 | 9 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
3.18 | 259 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
4.05 | 9 ratings

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Live At The NEC
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

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
4.05 | 9 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
3.18 | 259 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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 Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.18 | 259 ratings

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

Review by mohaveman

3 stars I consider this a Yes album. ALthough it certainly does not rank up there with FRAGILE, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, or even DRAMA, it is at least a big cut above the syrup of 90120 or TALK. The biggest weakness on here to me is "Teakbois" which I find just plain annoying and "Lets Pretend" which could have been pulled directly from a Jon Anderson solo album. This is not close to a perfect album, but I would say 2/3 of it is really good or colse to great. I don't listen to this as much as my Yes albums, though. I have a hard time making it all the way through. However, you have to give credit to themusical chops of all four members working here.

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 Evening of Yes Music Plus by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 1993
3.40 | 73 ratings

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Evening of Yes Music Plus
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by ibnacio

4 stars "In dubio pro reo". In the doubt, for the accused.

The fact that there is not a bass player, that Bill Bruford's electronic drumming set sounds more than sometimes metallic, squeaking and out of time... gets the most of the time excellent music down to inferior levels it deserves. Anyway, there are, more than often, moments when you forget all this and the beauty imposes itself above all these irritating flaws. "Peccata minuta" (today it's Latin jargon day), you think to yourself and value the faultless rendition of Yes classics Roundabout, And You And I, Close to the Edge, Heart of the Sunrise and get ammazed but those new standards that are a totally new discovery for you: Birthright, Themes, Brother of Mine and Order of the Universe.

The three solo -so to say- meddleys by Jon Anderson, Steve Howe (both with Yes material) and Rick Wakeman (with own material from Henry VIII's Wives or Merlin albums) add to the interest of this double Cd.

Three stars because of the sound but, in the doubt... four stars for the music.

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 Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.18 | 259 ratings

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

Review by Richens

4 stars I acquired this album when it first came out in 1989. I loved it then as I love it now. I still play it now and again as well. The production is very eighties in style, but I do not find this a bad thing. The song-writing is sublime. I keep this in my Yes collection and I do consider it a Yes album albeit not by name. I was actually disappointed when the follow-up didn't appear, although songs that had been planned for the second ABWH album did appear on the Union album along with Rabin's and Squire's fare. This is a well-crafted melodic album. I personally love it. Four stars without hesitation.

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 Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.18 | 259 ratings

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

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It should have been a foolproof plan. Put back together the Fragile/Close to the Edge era lineup of Yes minus Chris Squire, get back to the group's prog roots, and put out an album for the joy and appreciation of prog audiences disaffected with the Big Generator's output. And it has to be said that ABWH make a good show of it for their debut album. The inclusion of Tony Levin in the lineup on bass is an inspired choice - his bass style will never be mistaken for Chris Squires, but this helps distinguish the band's sound from classic Yes and takes it into slightly different territory, and I'm sure the band all realised the potential advantages of having a rhythm section who (through their work on three King Crimson albums) were already used to working with each other. And some of the songwriting is pretty good - Brother of Mine has some pretty good passages.

However, there's an issue: the production values are so 80s they hurt, and not in a good way. From Rick's occasionally Casio-sounding keys to Bill's artificial-sounding drums to the cheesy clapping during Brother of Mine, the sound of the album is horribly dated - and probably sounded dated back in 1989, considering that the production values here would be more suited to an early Asia album. On top of that, the mix is really shoddy - the drums are too loud, Steve Howe's guitar playing is too quiet, and Tony Levin's bass performances are often buried entirely. One for the committed Yes fan only.

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