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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 Videos (YouTube and more)

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Natural TimbreNatural Timbre
Spitfire 2001
$11.98 (used)
Anthology (2CD)Anthology (2CD)
Rhino Records 2015
$10.82 (used)
Inside Out U.S. 2004
$7.74 (used)
Grand Scheme of ThingsGrand Scheme of Things
Relativity 1993
$2.46 (used)
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STEVE HOWE discography

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

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

2.65 | 139 ratings
3.47 | 138 ratings
The Steve Howe Album
1.81 | 28 ratings
Paul Sutin & Steve Howe: Seraphim
3.30 | 65 ratings
2.99 | 46 ratings
The Grand Scheme Of Things
2.30 | 23 ratings
Paul Sutin & Steve Howe: Voyagers
2.59 | 25 ratings
Homebrew (1)
2.76 | 35 ratings
Quantum Guitar
3.19 | 34 ratings
Portraits Of Bob Dylan
3.26 | 22 ratings
Homebrew 2
3.75 | 49 ratings
Natural Timbre
3.31 | 31 ratings
2.77 | 41 ratings
Steve Howe's Remedy: Elements
3.56 | 50 ratings
3.19 | 22 ratings
Homebrew 3
3.83 | 30 ratings
Steve Howe Trio: The Haunted Melody
3.08 | 12 ratings
Motif, Volume 1
3.38 | 16 ratings
Homebrew 4
3.26 | 32 ratings
3.31 | 13 ratings
Homebrew 5
2.91 | 11 ratings
Homebrew 6
2.39 | 9 ratings
Nexus : Virgil & Steve Howe

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

3.91 | 32 ratings
Not Necessarily Acoustic
2.20 | 13 ratings
Pulling Strings
4.00 | 7 ratings
Steve Howe Trio: Travelling

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

2.00 | 2 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
3.33 | 11 ratings
Remedy Live

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

3.50 | 2 ratings
Guitar Player
3.00 | 5 ratings
Steve Howe: The Early Years with Bodast
4.75 | 4 ratings
Homebrew 1 & 2
3.91 | 13 ratings
Light Walls
4.80 | 5 ratings
Guitar World
4.25 | 12 ratings

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

3.50 | 2 ratings
Lily's In The Field (with Annie Haslam)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Steve Howe Album by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.47 | 138 ratings

The Steve Howe Album
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by 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*)

 Nexus : Virgil & Steve Howe by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2017
2.39 | 9 ratings

Nexus : Virgil & Steve Howe
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by WFV

2 stars Not a bad record, really tame instrumentals. Some what clever arrangements, Steve says Virgil would send tidbits of songs he'd been working on and he would add guitar where needed. It was supposed to be a new beginning, a familial partnership spreading its wings........unfortunately Virgil was found dead an hour after the record label OK'd the final pressing. I mean, it is impossible now to separate that story with the music. The optimist in me says man what a blow, but at least the record was completed and there's a living legacy father and son created together that will live on forever.
 Beginnings by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.65 | 139 ratings

Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nš 225

"Beginnings" is the debut solo studio album of the Yes' guitarist, Steve Howe, and was released in 1975. It was one of the five solo efforts released in the same period of time by all the five Yes' members, during a hiatus of time by the band, after the release of their seventh studio album "Relayer", in 1974, along with Jon Anderson's "Olias Of Sunhillow", Chris Squire's "Fish Out Of Water", Patrick Moraz's "Story Of I" and Alan White's "Ramshackled".

The album also features some Yes' members, Alan White and Patrick Moraz, and the ex-Yes' member Bill Bruford, besides a large number of guest musicians invited by Steve Howe.

"Beginnings" has nine tracks and all songs were written by Howe except the first track "Doors Of Sleep", which was written by Howe with lyrics by Alice Meynell. The first track "Doors Of Sleep" is a kind of a love song, probably a tribute to Howe's wife. It's a song where Howe sings and plays guitars and bass and where we have the participation of White on drums. This is a pretty song with some very pleasant melodies that drift along the song. The second track "Australia" is another song where Howe sings and plays guitars and bass and White plays drums. This is another pretty song with good melody and musically has some good and interesting guitar work. But the main problem with this track is the excessive use of the weak voice of Howe during the song which makes it at times unpleasant. The third track "The Nature Of The Sea" is the first instrumental song of the album, and that is a good thing because we haven't to hear the voice of Howe. It's an interesting musical piece with good guitar passages and it's very interesting to listen to. This song is, in my humble opinion, well constructed and represents, I think, one of the best musical moments on the album. The fourth track "Lost Symphony" is a good composition dominated by the influence of jazz with the appearance of diverse saxophone works and where the presence of the Howe's voice appear only for a bit. It represents one of the best progressive moments on the album and consequently a must for any progressive rock fan. The fifth track is the title track "Beginnings". This is another instrumental song. It's the lengthiest song on the album and is a classical piece of music, with an accompanying section of several classical musical instruments, including a harpsichord played by Moraz. It's also, in my humble opinion, a very well orchestrated piece by Moraz. This song represents Howe's love for the classical music and represents, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful moment on the album too. The sixth track "Will O'The Wisp" is another song sung by Howe but at times we can hear two voices, and I really think that is Moraz doing a backing vocal work. This is a song where Howe plays guitars, bass and moog, White plays drums and Moraz plays piano and mellotron. The song sounds nicely with a very distinctive guitar work, but overall, the song doesn't attract much attention and I also think this is one of the weakest songs on the album. The seventh track "Ram" is the smallest of all tracks on the album and is an instrumental acoustic song in the same vein of "Clap" of "The Yes Album" or "Mood For A Day" of "Fragile". Despite it isn't as good as those two songs are, here Howe, is showing that he can play a great variety of acoustic guitar instruments. The eighth track "Pleasure Stole The Night" is another short song in the style of a ballad. Despite this is a calm and pleasant song, with several singers which are fortunately better, than we have Howe singing on solo. However, it hasn't really great interesting musical moments, and this is the main reason why it becomes the second weakest moment on the album with "Will O'The Wisp". The ninth and last track "Break Away From It All" represents a good way to close this album. Here, we have once more good guitar moments and un-crediting backing vocals. Here, we have more pleasant vocals too. This is the only track that features Bruford on drums.

Conclusion: Of the five solo albums of Yes' members, all released between 1975 and 1976, the only one I haven't yet listened to is White's "Ramshackled". I rated Anderson's "Olias Of Sunhillow" and Moraz's "Story Of I" with 5 stars and Squire's "Fish Out Of Water" with 4 stars. "Beginnings" is, without any doubt, the weakest of the all four. I know all these four albums since they were released and I must confess that I always was very disappointed with "Beginnings". It isn't as good as it should be. Definitely, it lacks to it some cohesion, passion and flame, and its music isn't even very well elaborated. It's true that it has some good musical moments and technically the performance of Howe is great and absolutely perfect and irreproachable as ever. However, this is very few and it isn't at the same level that a musician like Howe should be. Anyway, I think the main problem with this album is the vocals. Howe has a very weak voice to sing as his experience on vocals are only when he works as a backing vocalist on Yes. Unfortunately, he hasn't a voice as good as the voice of his colleague of Yes, Squire. I think he has the same problem of Tony Banks of Genesis but Howe's voice is, in my humble opinion, even worse. Without this problem I'm convinced that it would have been a better album. Definitely, this wasn't a great beginning for one of the finest and greatest guitarists of the progressive rock world.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Steve Howe Trio: The Haunted Melody by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.83 | 30 ratings

Steve Howe Trio: The Haunted Melody
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars Steve Howe is one of my guitar heroes, since I watched the Yessongs movie in 1976 and witnessed the Going For The One tour in 1977 (with his 'guitar museum' on stage). It is such a virtuosic but also versatile guitarist: he easily switches from jazzy scale acrobatics on his many Gibsons electric guitars to tender runs on the classical Spanish - and acoustic Portuguese 12-string guitar or exciting work on the Fender twin steel guitar, awesome!

One of the many side projects from Steve Howe is this trio, founded in 2007. Then The Steve Howe Trio went on tour in order to promote their album The Haunted Melody (released in 2008). The trio features his son Dylan on drums, and the outstanding Hammond organ player Ross Stanley: he started to play piano when he was four and as a teenager he was awarded an organ scholarschip, later he turned into a Hammond specialist and played with Deodato, Trevor Horn and Simply Red.

On this CD the Hammond organ is omnipresent, I am blown away by Ross his work on this distinctive and powerful keyboard. The interplay with Howe is awesome, backed by Dylan his dynamic drumming.

Interesting are the renditions of the three Yes compositions. First Mood For A Day, hardly recognizable with the strong jazzy overtones, but it sounds very tasteful. Then Siberian Khatru, also drenched into a jazz sound and featuring a compelling Hammond solo and a strongly build up guitar solo. And finally a very abridged version of the epic Close To The Edge (around 5 minutes), Ross and Howe deliver great work.

Other strong moments on this album.

The titletrack : wonderful and fragile bluesy play by Howe and a swirling Hammond solo.

Kenny's Sound : a dynamic hommage to Kenny Burrell.

Blue Bash : a splendid tribute to the legendary Hammond player Jimmy Smith, with awesome work on the Hammond and guitar.

And the acoustic, pretty playful Laughing With Larry.

I am sure this first album by The Steve Howe Trio will please the Steve Howe guitar fans, but also the Hammond aficionados, impressive! And if you want more, in 2010 The Steve Howe Trio released the live CD entitled Travelling.

 Turbulence by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.30 | 65 ratings

Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Turbulence' was released in 1991, and features Steve playing not only everything with strings, but also some keyboards and anything else he feels benefits the overall sound. His core band is based around Bill Bruford and Billy Currie (ex-Ultravox), although Nigel Glockner provides drums on three songs and Andrew Lucas organ on one. This is an instrumental album, but one that feels far more a band effort as opposed to as solo, one that makes musical sense as it goes through the ten different songs, with a style that is instantly recognisable to anyone who has followed Steve's career. It is bright, it is exciting and invigorating with plenty of energy, and to my ears is the finest "solo" album of his career to date.

Definietly one for all Yes fans

 The Steve Howe Album by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.47 | 138 ratings

The Steve Howe Album
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by maryes

5 stars In my last review ((#1609964) | Posted Sunday, September 11, 2016 ) , I said in others words which the great problem whit Howe's first solo album "Beginnings" be in the vocals parts... In "The Steve Howe Album" this problem almost disappear, because in this one Howe's vocals don't last more than 1 minute ! "The Steve Howe Album" is easily the better of Howe's discography and in my humble opinion ( I'm an amateur guitar player ) a masterpiece !!!! The track 1 "Pennants" ( starts with Howe's Fender Telecaster ( a customized model ) making a very brief introduction and immediately a pedal steel guitar arise and leads the main theme until the solo by initial telecaster a fantastic song with Alan White drums. Other moments when Howe played with a band as in track 3 "All's a chord" with a guitar miscellany ( steel acoustic, classical, pedal steel, sitar guitar, 6 strings banjo, mandolin and their favorite Gibson 175) and Patrick Moraz in acoustic piano and Bill Bruford on drums ( someone wants more ? ) and in track 5 " Look over Your Shoulder" with a bucolic introduction with Claire Hamill female vocals ( a folk singer / songwriter ) where I must detach the hammond - organ played by Ronnie Leahy and White's drums . Track 6 "Meadow Rag" is a country song played exclusively in a Martin 0018 guitar in approximate style of "Clap" , track 8 " Surface Tension" is a classical guitar solo and the absolute detach is track 9 "Double Rondo" with orchestra (simply fantastic). The album don't brings none weak track , my rate is 5 stars !!!
 Beginnings by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.65 | 139 ratings

Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars STEVE HOWE's "Beginnings" is an album with one discrepancy between instrumental and vocals parts. The instrumental arrangements( happily the main attractive ) are wonderful showing of a virtuous musician ( certainly between the greatest guitar and similar chord instruments player ) with a "staff" accompany with other great musicians like Patrick Moraz, Bill Bruford, Alan white (YES, MOODY BLUES, KING CRIMSON), David Oberle, Graeme Taylor, Malcolm Bennett (GRYPHON) ... and some moments in counterpoint the "terrible" Howe's vocals.. The worst tracks are track 2 "Australia" and track 6 "Will O' the Wisp". However, the album shows great moments like track 3 "The Nature of the Sea " track 4 "Lost Symphony" ( with Steve's guitar lead the music while a brass section make the accompaniment), track 5 "Beginnings" ( a masterpiece duo with Steve's nylon guitar and Moraz's harpischord ) track 7 "Ram" ( a incredible "mosaic" with aosutic guitat, banjo, lap steel guitar and washboard ) and the last track "Break Away from It All " another mosaic of guitars like danelectro coral electric sitar-guitar , pedal steel guitar... and the most important ; at this time Howe's vocals don't "ruins" all ! In spite the above mentioned discrepancy I consider a very good work, My rate is 4 stars ( in fact my real note was 3,75 stars...)
 Beginnings by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.65 | 139 ratings

Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

2 stars After setting the world on fire when he joined Yes in 1970, STEVE HOWE spent the first half of the 70s pumping out one progressive rock masterpiece after another while touring the world in support of the band's albums. By 1975, the members reached the point where they required a much needed break from one another so they took some time off to record solo albums. To appease their record company the compilation "Yesterdays" was released and then they all went off to do their own things. Meanwhile members like STEVE HOWE were conjuring up their own musical ideas and then he released his very first album which is appropriately titled BEGINNINGS. Unlike other Yes members like Chris Squire who would only release one solo album, HOWE would continue to release many new creations tucked between Yes albums.

While officially a solo album, BEGINNINGS contains a whole army of supporting musicians including contributions from other Yes members. Both Alan White and Bill Bruford offer drum contributions. Patrick Moraz helps out on Moogs, Mellotrons and general keys and then there are quite a few others who are on board contributing bass, flute, sax, violin, viola, cello, piccolo, oboe and bassoon thus offering an instrumental heavy feel for a mere solo album, but this is a solo album by one of the greatest prog bands in history, so this is something special, right?

Well, not really. This is one i've tried to like for quite some time and no matter how much i try to reconnect with BEGINNINGS i'm simply put off for one glaring reason: STEVE HOWE is an awful vocalist. With all the extra hands on board in the musical department, HOWE somehow felt it appropriate to handle all the vocals himself and if you haven't heard him sing before, let me just politely say that he is no Jon Anderson. In fact, he's embarrassingly awful! It is quite the fate of the gods that a man can be so brilliant on his respective instrument of choice but have absolutely zero talent in other musical arenas.

One of the reasons this one is so bad is simply because the music is so good. Where no vocals mar the performances such as on the stunning instrumentals "The Nature Of The Sea" or "Ram" it doesn't get any better with performances matching Howe's best of the best bringing "The Clap" to mind. The musicians work together in tandem to offer some serious prog workouts for the most part and all is fine until Mr HOWE opens up his big fat mouth and utters the vocal equivalent to fingernails running down a chalk board in the middle of a beautiful symphony. While the music itself is mostly quite divine, some tracks like "Lost Symphony" are a little too sleepy (and long) and qualify as pure classical music rather than rock but do display the ease that HOWE fluidly delivers with his brilliant classical guitar playing. When the album shines it shines bright. Unfortunately those moments are few and far between. This is one for only the most hardcore of fans but i keep it around for the two aforementioned instrumental tracks that continue to blow me away.

 The Steve Howe Album by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.47 | 138 ratings

The Steve Howe Album
Steve Howe Crossover Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Celebrated Yes guitarist Steve Howe's self-titled album is well respected and a genuinely enjoyable, representative, and easy-going snapshot of Howe's guitar style. It doesn't soar to epic heights as one might expect if coming only from Howe's Yes output - that grandeur seems reserved for when Howe benefits from the majesty of the whole band - instead, The Steve Howe album offers mostly bite-sized moments of instrumental work that feels very warm, humble, and almost folksy.

Howe gives us, more or less, four kinds of songs: feel-good pastiches of Western Americana, filled with slide guitar and bouncing rhythms; complex acoustic jams like we've heard on his famous "The Clap"; genuine songs, in the sense that they have a conventional verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure... granted, his guitar sounds do most of the singing (except in "Look Over Your Shoulder," a song which is better than anything from the last Yes album of this era, Tormato); and finally, symphonic compositions that are lush and pleasant, but somewhat bland because his guitar drifts into the background.

That's a lot of variety, and a lot to enjoy. Some will be disappointed by the lack of "wow" moments in this album, but in the context of the time of its release (the end of Yes, pre-Asia), Howe was likely feeling the need to break away from the prog-rock epics and focus on the playful guitar creativity he couldn't always fit into Yes records. A fun, enjoyable, if overall light-weight release that will definitely please fans of Howe.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: NA - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Paul Sutin & Steve Howe: Voyagers by HOWE, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.30 | 23 ratings

Paul Sutin & Steve Howe: 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.

Thanks to TR for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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