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Anderson - Bruford - Wakeman - Howe - Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe CD (album) cover


Anderson - Bruford - Wakeman - Howe


Symphonic Prog

3.19 | 414 ratings

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Prog Zone
4 stars Review - #1 (Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe - Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe)

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe was a progressive rock band active from 1988 to 1990 that comprised of four past members of Yes, in addition to bassist Tony Levin. He truly does seem to play on everything! After the disappointing Big Generator album that got released by Yes a few years earlier, Jon Anderson decided to regroup with some of his fellow bandmates as he felt continually inhibited by the commercial and pop-oriented direction of Yes in the 1980s. The band only released one studio album, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, in June of 1989. With all these phenomenal musicians present, they were likely to reach greatness from the start. Jon Anderson had the largest contribution on the album with the songwriting in addition to supervising the album's mixing sessions at Bearsville Studios with mixing engineers Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero. Overall, I am actually very fond of this album; it has a certain warmth to it that isn't found all that much. In addition, I don't believe there are any duds here, all the tracks are exceptionally solid.

The first track on the album is Themes which is comprised of three sections titled Sound, Second Attention, and Soul Warrior. The track begins with cascading keyboards that eventually explode with the sound of Bill Bruford's electronic drums. These electronic drums appear to be a somewhat controversial subject when discussing this album. Some people believe their inclusion ruined the album and some don't mind. I am somewhat torn between these two stances. Their inclusion varies in effectiveness throughout the entire album, however, in the majority of tracks they are used tastefully. At points they are even used to improve the overall quality of a track. When concerning Themes, I believe they assist with the atmosphere the band was attempting to create. Therefore, I don't mind their inclusion all too much. This song is definitely progressive in my eyes, while containing a new age feel that is present through most of the album. The track is complex and has some great instrumental moments coming from the entire band. Fist of Fire is up next and actually seems to seamlessly transfer from the last song. What an interesting track, not to mention a darker ambiance found here that I didn't really expect. There are also some great keyboards here from Rick Wakeman that make me really miss when he wasn't in Yes. Overall, it's a solid track that has marvelous atmosphere throughout. Brother of Mine happens to be one of my favorite songs "Yes" would create in the 80s, if not my favorite. It contains three parts titled The Big Dream, Nothing Can Come Between Us, and Long Lost Brother of Mine. From Jon Anderson's majestic vocals to the terrific bass work from Tony Levin this track is basically perfect! However, all of the musicians are at their peak here. Not to mention, I sincerely enjoy the lyrics Jon Anderson choose to write for this song that carry a new age feel. There is also a terrific keyboard and guitar section at six and half minute mark that is definitely the most "prog" moment on the album. It is interspersed with the lyrics "long lost brother of mine" which draws on an unrecorded Asia track "Long Lost Brother of Mine" written by Steve Howe and Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes. It is coherent from start to finish containing a great flow throughout. It is an excellent track that changes melodies in a way that feels natural. A masterpiece that will surely grow on you if you give it a chance! The next track is Birthright which has some nice acoustic guitar work from Steve Howe in addition to having a grand atmosphere throughout supported by atmospheric keyboards. It is a solid track that I particularly enjoy. It contains some great instrumental sections and really builds up at the three and a half minute mark. The music here isn't as necessarily complex as some of the other tracks on the album, but is still a great track that truly lives up to the sentiment of it being grand. Furthermore, it contains some solid percussion from Bill Bruford throughout.

The next track, The Meeting, is a duet between Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. Both sound incredible here and unbelievably moving. I consider this to be one of the highlights on the album, holding sensitive yet powerful moments. Not necessarily progressive, but just a great track in general. Quartet is yet another multi-part suite encompassing four different sections titled I Wanna Learn, She Gives Me Love, Who Was the First, and I'm Alive. This is a softer song track which features even more wonderful acoustic guitar work from Steve Howe. Interestingly, Jon Anderson includes fragments of lyrics and names of Yes songs such as The Gates of Delirium and Awaken. A nice surprise for Yes fans when listening to this track. The melodies found here are lovely, however, my favorite would have to be I'm Alive which is extremely beautiful. Though, I do wish that this part featured a more cohesive transition. A great song that is soft yet powerful, fantastic! Teakbois seems to be criticized by most reviewers on this website but I personally don't mind it all that much. It is an interesting Latin influenced prog song that is in fact quite good, it just may not appeal to most Yes fans. Furthermore, there are numerous delightful melodies in addition to some great keyboard parts on the behalf of Rick Wakeman. Not nearly as bad as most make it out to be, if you want to hear plain awful just listen to Man in the Moon for reference. Order of the Universe is yet another piece of music containing multiple parts titled Order Theme (Victory Song), Rock Gives Courage, It's So Hard to Grow, and The Universe. This track is the most "rocking" found on this album and happens to be one of my favorites. The beginning Order Theme is absolutely incredible, I adore it! It includes a great keyboard melody from Rick Wakeman backed up with guitar and bass. Despite it going on for nearly three minutes, I wish it could have gone on for even longer. As the vocals come in, the track begins to feel a bit like one that would be found on the Union album, but better. Jon's vocals can even be heard to be almost yelling at points. It's a wonderful track that is extremely solid vocals which can in fact be said for the entire album. Lastly, we have the album closer of Let's Pretend which has an additional writing credit for Vangelis. It's a ballad that is a nice closer to this fantastic album. Furthermore, Steve Howe's guitar work is beautiful and extremely moving. It's nothing mind-blowing yet is seems to fit as a perfect closing piece on the album.

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe is a truly successful project that stands as a highlight within the bands discography. It is satisfying from start to finish with very few bumps in the way. They are able to combine quality musicianship and great songwriting during a time where pop was the craze. Highly recommended as an excellent addition to any prog rock collection! "So give it all the love you have, never be afraid to show your heart!"

Prog Zone | 4/5 |


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