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Steve Howe - The Steve Howe Album CD (album) cover

THE STEVE HOWE ALBUM

Steve Howe

 

Crossover Prog

3.45 | 146 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 226

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

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

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

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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