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ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Anderson Bruford Wakeman  Howe picture
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe biography
Active between 1988 and 1990

ABWH was born 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)

3.21 | 329 ratings
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
1989

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

3.39 | 98 ratings
Evening of Yes Music Plus
1993
3.91 | 25 ratings
Live At The NEC
2010

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

2.89 | 17 ratings
In the Big Dream
1989
3.42 | 37 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)

2.48 | 13 ratings
Quartet (I'm Alive)
1989
3.50 | 4 ratings
I'm Alive
1989
3.80 | 10 ratings
Brother Of Mine
1989
3.02 | 15 ratings
Brother of Mine (2)
1989
2.37 | 10 ratings
Order of the Universe
1989

ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN HOWE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.21 | 329 ratings

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Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by patrickq

2 stars The first four songs on Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe are very good, so I'm sure I was ecstatic that day back in 1989 when I first got this CD and I'd just finished the first 25 minutes. The fifth track, "The Meeting," is not very good, but that's OK, right? Even all those years ago, I couldn't have been naive enough to think this album wouldn't have a song like this: sappy, simple schlock.

But sadly, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe is mostly downhill from there.

The album opens with the semi-prog of "Themes," a medley of three, well, themes, including "Second Attention," in which lead singer (and ABWH mastermind) Jon Anderson declared his independence from Yes, of which ABWH is an acknowledged spin-off (their 1993 live album, released after the band was folded back into Yes, was called An Evening of Yes Music Plus). Anderson's claim that Yes had become too commercial for him has always struck me as dubious - - but I digress.

The concise, minor-key rocker "Fist of Fire" follows, and then it's the lead single, "Brother of Mine." When I first heard "Brother of Mine" on the radio, I tuned into the third and final part and wasn't sure if I was hearing Asia - - it turns out that this originally a tune written by former Asia guitarist Steve Howe (the H of ABWH) with his pal, Asia cofounder Geoff Downes. And then we have "Birthright," the Howe-Anderson song about the impact of nuclear testing on indigenous peoples of Australia. So far, so good: the first four songs on Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe are a good balance of pop and rock, soft and hard, keyboard-based and guitar-centric.

The late 1980s and early 1990s was a particularly fruitful time for Howe as a songwriter (for example, check out his album Turbulence), so it's too bad that more of his material wasn't included on Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. Instead, the remainder of the album is largely written by Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, two fine, upstanding men who often bring out the worst in each other when they co-write music. Examples here include "The Meeting" and "Quartet" (though "I'm Alive," the single extracted from "Quartet" and revised and extended, is very good).

And it gets worse - - much worse. After those two songs, which combine for fifteen minutes without Howe or drummer Bill Bruford, is "Teakbois," a song so ill-advised that it needs its own paragraph.

First of all, the word teakbois appears to be something entirely made up by Anderson. The song would be bad enough without the ridiculous Caribbean arrangement and the diction with which Anderson apparently tries to mimic tropical speech. I guess the times were different, or maybe Anderson is just so spacey that no one can be too offended by what, in the hands of anyone else, would be seen as cultural appropriation.

Howe returns as a songwriter (at least apparently - - all of the songs are credited to Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, and Bruford, plus additional writers as appropriate) for at least part of "Order of the Universe," the eighth of the album's nine songs. There's nothing wrong with the tune, which to me sounds just as "commercial" as the music Yes was producing heretofore.

Finally, the album closes with "Let's Pretend." Other than some very uninvasive keyboards, way back in the mix, "Let's Pretend" is performed by Anderson and Howe, but is a song Anderson wrote with his off-and-on collaborator Vangelis; if Wakeman had accompanied Anderson, "Let's Pretend" would be tough to distinguish from "The Meeting." That's not good.

To summarize: Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe opens with some very good music, but devolves less than halfway through. On the bright side, Bruford and bassist Tony Levin are stellar on this album - - in terms of drumming, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe is one of my favorite albums ever. But overall, this one is really just for Yes fans, or maybe fans of Jon Anderson or Bill Bruford. I'd direct casual Yes fans to ABWH's An Evening of Yes Music Plus, which has live versions of most of the good material on Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, or to the Yes box set In a Word, which includes the studio versions of "Brother of Mine" and "Fist of Fire," the latter in an alternate, and much-improved version.

 Evening of Yes Music Plus by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 1993
3.39 | 98 ratings

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Evening of Yes Music Plus
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by patrickq

3 stars The performance on this CD is, more or less, Yes with bassist Jeff Berlin replacing Chris Squire. Given that Squire has always been my favorite member of Yes, you might think I'd have a problem with that. As it turns out, though, Berlin does a fine job. (And it's my understanding that Squire was having health and addiction-related problems in the late 1980s - - so even if Squire was included in this project, Berlin may have been preferable anyway.)

Interestingly, Berlin is serving as a substitute on An Evening of Yes Music Plus, for Tony Levin, who had fallen ill during the tour. Levin would re-join for the next leg of the tour, which is documented on Live at the NEC, released in 2010.

The setlist of An Evening of Yes Music Plus is divergent, to say the least: after an opening medley, the rest of the show is made up of songs from two periods: 1971-1972 and 1989. The centerpiece is "Close to the Edge," which, prior to this tour, hadn't been performed by Yes in over a decade - - and which Bruford had never performed live. The rendition on An Evening of Yes Music Plus is different from live versions from the 1970s, but is nonetheless one of the highlights of the album. Other Yes songs that are done especially well are "Starship Trooper" and "Heart of the Sunrise." The ABWH original "Brother of Mine" also stands out.

I've mentioned Jeff Berlin's bass playing, but really, all of the performers are top-notch. In particular, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Bill Bruford are excellent, and between the two of them account for most of the liberties the band takes with the material on An Evening of Yes Music. Guitarist Steve Howe provides some blistering solos, particularly on "Starship Trooper." The vocals are also strong throughout.

Yet I can't consider An Evening of Yes Music Plus "essential" per the Prog Archives guidelines. As good as the performances are, there are better performances of each - - in fact, a majority of these songs are on the classic Yes live album Yessongs.

So, a good album, and one worth having; but hardly essential to a respectable progressive-rock collection.

 Live At The NEC by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 2010
3.91 | 25 ratings

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Live At The NEC
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by patrickq

3 stars One of two official live releases from the multi-leg 1989-1990 ABWH tour, Live at the NEC was recorded just a month and a half after the show that would be released as An Evening of Yes Music Plus. In fact, they only played four shows between the two dates memorialized on CD. Live at the NEC is largely superfluous but for a couple of details that have been widely discussed: it features bassist Tony Levin (Jeff Berlin had appeared on An Evening of Yes Music), and it contains two more songs.

In terms of the change in bassist, Levin is a bit more appreciated by Yes fans, but Berlin is just as good, and while each of these CDs is an engrossing listen, neither rivals the best Yes live albums, no neither gets many spins from me anymore.

An Evening of Yes Music is a better recording than Live at the NEC, so it makes sense that it was chosen for contemporary release. But complicating the question of which is better overall is the fact that Live at the NEC contains what is probably the best version of 'I've Seen All Good People,' the Chris Squire instrumental which is always (as far as I know) played as a medley with 'You're Move.' Keyboardist Rick Wakeman and guitarist Steve Howe are absolutely on fire. For whatever reason, this song isn't included on An Evening of Yes Music.

Without 'I've Seen All Good People,' Live at the NEC would be fall a bit short of a three-star rating, but with this great performance, a three-star rating is warranted.

 Order of the Universe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
2.37 | 10 ratings

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Order of the Universe
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by patrickq

2 stars There were a number of different versions of this maxi-single on CD (and possibly cassette, though I don't remember any), and as far as I know, each had two edited versions of "Order of the Universe:" a "short edit" and a "long edit." The third track was either the unedited album version of "Order" or the album track "Fist of Fire." (While an alternate mix of "Fist of Fire" exists, I'm pretty sure it wasn't released until years later.)

Both edits of "Order" are included as bonus tracks on recent reissues of the band's album Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, so this maxi-single, in whatever version, is redundant unless you're a serious collector.

Since the nine-minute album version of "Order of the Universe" seems to be at least twice as long as necessary, the notion of an edited version is certainly tantalizing. The six-minute "long edit" seamlessly removes a third of the bulk by trimming excess throughout. It's still a little repetitive, but nothing important is missing. At nearly five minutes, the shorter edit seems to be the same as the longer edit, except that it is, oddly enough, cut short partway through Bill Bruford's Simmons drum solo.

Insofar as the edited version (long or short - - take your pick) of "Order of the Universe" is an unqualified improvement over the original, this single deserves a good rating. On the other hand, the single itself doesn't add any musical value whatsoever to a collection which includes either of the recent (2010 and 2014) reissues of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. Three stars for the material, perhaps, but two for the item itself.

 Brother of Mine (2) by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
3.02 | 15 ratings

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

Review by patrickq

2 stars I bought this one back in 1989 or 1990 as a three-inch "import" CD for the non-album song "Vultures in the City." In addition to an edited version of "Brother of Mine," the album version of "Themes" is also included.

The music of the verses of "Vultures in the City" sound a bit like "Birthright," and I wonder whether Steve Howe was involved in writing those parts (there is a joint writing credit on all ABWH songs). But the remainder suffers from the malady which beset several other songs on Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe: a sentimentality in both melody and lyrics. It's better than some of the weakest material on the album, but its exclusion from the final running order is no tragedy.

And then there's the single's lead song, an edited version (elsewhere called the "long edit" of "Brother of Mine." The first two parts of the song, "In the Big Dream" and "Nothing Can Come Between Us" occupy the first 4:35 of this single version, compared to 6:37 on the album. There are edits throughout, but none are obvious. The final part of the song, "Long Lost Brother of Mine," is just under two minutes on the edited version, a reduction of nearly half. Some of the edits used to achieve the abridgment of this part are a bit less artful, but they're not really bad.

What I've always scratched my head over is why the last section of "Brother of Mine" wasn't featured more prominently on the single edit. The catchy vocal part where they sing "long lost brother..." comes just over five minutes into the edited version. While there is an art to editing songs for radio airplay, it doesn't really seem to have been practiced here. Instead, to achieve an edit of roughly two-thirds of the original length, about one-third of each part has been removed. It's true that the album version of "Brother of Mine" takes its time getting to the really good parts at the end, which includes not only the "long lost brother" chant, but also extended solos by Steve Howe on electric guitar and Rick Wakeman on piano. But the radio-friendly section is at the end. The drum fill indicating the beginning of "Long Lost Brother of Mine" starts at 6:37 on the album version, leaving around 3:43 left: not a bad duration for a single, I would think. (The "radio edit" of the song doesn't even include "Long Lost Brother of Mine," so what do I know?)

"Vultures in the City" and both the "long" and "radio" edits of "Brother of Mine" are included in the most recent reissues of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, the group's lone studio album, so this single is redundant for all but serious collectors. But even before these were available as CD bonus tracks, they weren't what I would consider essential. Two stars.

 Quartet (I'm Alive) by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
2.48 | 13 ratings

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

Review by patrickq

3 stars My version of this is (or was... I haven't seen it in years) a cassette single with two songs: "I'm Alive," the single edit of "Quartet," and "Let's Pretend," both taken from the self-titled album by Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. Let's pretend that "Let's Pretend" isn't even on this cassette; after all, it's a single, and to me, the b-side can only add value to the a-side (or vice versa).

The album version of "Quartet" is a nine-and-a-half minute cautionary tale about what can happen if you leave Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman unsupervised for too long. It's an unnecessarily long medley of four generally upbeat but cloying songs that themselves are too long. Wakeman's compositional strong suit is in arrangement, interpretation, recapitulation, etc. - - not in pure composition. Anderson's is similar; he has an incredible knack for developing melodies to go along with preexisting compositions. Each has written very good songs on his own, but each is usually more effective in a collaborative setting. And historically, the Anderson-Wakeman writing team tends to amplify the worst aspects of both of its members: Anderson's earnest sentimentality and Wakeman's let's-toss-some-chords-together-so-I-can-solo-over-them philosophy.

And so it is with "Quartet." At 7:03, the third part of the medley, "Who Was the First," ends, and after about one second, "I'm Alive" begins. Anderson sings his usual lyrics over Wakeman's piano and faux strings, winds, and really faux brass. There's also a little bit of acoustic guitar in the background, presumably supplied by Milton McDonald, not Steve Howe. In fact, I doubt either Howe or drummer Bill Bruford got within a five-mile radius of the album version of "Quartet."

So anyway, I dutifully picked up the album's VHS companion, In the Big Dream, and I was shocked to hear the version of "I'm Alive" that accompanied the music video. Shocked at how good it was, and then shocked again that the band didn't use this version for the album.

It's almost a completely different version from the last 2:19 of "Quartet" on Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. The piano and fake brass synth are still here, and the first verse and chorus seem to be the same. But even during these early parts of the song, Wakeman's other parts are improved, and Steve Howe's electric guitar is playing along, though way in the back of the mix. The second verse is entirely different from the album version, and who appears but Bill Bruford, playing a basic kick-stick beat on his Simmons electronic drumkit. The beat kicks in a bit on the chorus, after which Howe is finally cranked up as he and Bruford crash Wakeman's twinkly-piano party to indicate that, at least for its last minute, this is going to be a Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe song. To be fair, Wakeman himself also joins the fun with a quick lead-synth part. The coda features a great choral part, completely unlike the album version, with backing vocals by Anderson and at least one other vocalist whom I don't recognize. Although the "I'm Alive" single rendition outlasts the album version by a minute, I would've welcomed even more of the music offered in the coda.

To be fair, even in this wildly improved version, "I'm Alive" is still an elfin little song that probably doesn't appeal to many fans of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, or of Yes (from which the members of ABWH were drawn). And also to be fair, I guess I need to recognize that when I criticize the composition of a piece, as I did that of "Quartet," I might really be talking about the arrangement. That is, the single version "I'm Alive" is still the same song, just presented differently.

The single is long out of print, and the single version of "I'm Alive" is now included on the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe CD. But I believe it rates three stars: a very nice piece of art rock.

 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.21 | 329 ratings

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Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Review Nš 161

Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe was a project of four ex-members of Yes, at time. They had played together in Yes in the early 70's and with the only exception of Jon Anderson, the only remaining member of the line up of that period of time, they hadn't been playing with Yes for many years. Although, conceived as to be a yes reunion, at that time, the rights of the name of the group was owned by Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Alan White, but as Chris Squire and Alan White were still continuing with Yes along with Trevor Rabin and Tony Kaye, due to legal rights, it wasn't possible to use the Yes' name by them. So, they decided only to adopt simply the names of the members of the band.

So, 'Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman And Howe' is the self-titled debut studio album of them and was released in 1989. It was also the only studio album released by them. Beyond Jon Anderson (lead vocals and backing vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Rick Wakeman (keyboards) and Steve Howe (guitar), and as they hadn't no bassist, they decided to recruit the bassist of King Crimson Tony Levin, to Bill Bruford's proposal, because he knew him very well when they were both members of King Crimson. About the cover for the album they decided to keep the tradition. The artwork for the album was also created by Roger Dean, as it was usual in the 70's, when he designed almost all the albums covers for Yes.

'Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman And Howe' has nine tracks. All songs were written by Anderson, Howe, Wakeman and Bruford, except 'Brother Of Mine' written by Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, Bruford and Geoffrey Downes, 'Brithright' written by Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, Bruford and Max Bacon, 'Rock Gives Courage' written by Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, Bruford and Rhett Lawrence and 'Let's Pretend' written by Anderson, Howe, Wakeman, Bruford and Vangelis. The first track 'Themes' is divided into three parts, 'Sound', 'Second Attention' and 'Soul Warrior'. It's an uplifting piece with some classic Howe fills and 80's sounding keyboard bits, but the main suprise or I must say rather a shock, is the electronic drum sound, especially the snare, that divided opinions then and to my mind now as well. Definitely, this isn't my favourite cup of tea in terms of prog. The second track 'First Of Fire' is a small track which brings the music into a floating beats with dazzling keyboard and powerful vocal work by Jon. The third track 'Brother Of Mine' is divided into three parts, 'The Big Dream', 'Nothing Can Come Between Us' and 'Long Lost Brother Of Mine'. This is the first lengthiest track on the album. Here, the original Milton McDonald's rhythm guitar is a great bed for Howe to twiddle over with a truly classic Yes' sound with Anderson and Wakeman back on his home territory. The fourth track 'Birthright' is a rare politically inspired song about nuclear testing in Australia. Here, everyone is enjoying themselves and even the electronic drum work, works relatively well. The fifth track 'The Meeting' is another nice track which features Rick's nice piano accompanying Jon's vocal in a mellow style. It isn't one of the most memorable things on the album but, it overall, comes out well. The sixth track 'Quartet' is divided into four parts, 'I Wanna Learn', 'She Gives Me Love', 'Who Was The First' and 'I'm Live'. This is the nearest we'll get to 'Fragile' probably because its name checks most its songs. Part two has the same piano led back bone as 'Long Distance Runaround' and the oboe sounding key lines are plain nicely. This is also a track where the bass line really could have been mixed higher. The seventh track 'Teakbois' is the most ridiculous and weakest track on the album. This is an uninspired song with some reggae influences with cheesy vocals and percussion. It should never have been a part of the album. The eighth track 'Order Of The Universe' is divided into four parts, 'Order Theme', 'Rock Gives Courage', 'It's So Hard To Grow' and 'The Universe'. It's perhaps the best track on the album. Now and finally, we are before a classic Yes' song. Every single member of the band is perfect. The vocal work is very solid and it leads to one of Jon's finest moments. 9:02 minutes of solid music. The ninth and last track 'Let's Pretend' is a nostalgic ballad very soft and acoustic. This is the best election for a closer and leaves the door open for a new Yes' adventure. This is a nice way to close the album.

Conclusion: With the reunion of four of the best prog musicians ever, it seems that all the conditions were joined to have a great album. Still, despite be a good album, it's far from be a great work and is a kind of a deception. From these musicians, that belong to the golden line up of Yes, only missing Chris Squire, we must expected much more. The tracks 'Themes', 'First Of Fire', 'Brother Of Mine', 'Birthright' and 'Order Of The Universe' are al great tracks and the best of the album. The tracks 'The Meeting', 'Quartet' and 'Let's Pretend' are nice and beautiful. But the track 'Teakbois' is outside of the context of the album. 'Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman And Howe' looks more like an album of Anderson & Friends than an album of Yes. It sounds like an Anderson's album with a touch of Bruford, when Wakeman's keyboards sounds different and Howe's presence is almost unnoticed and where, despite the quality of Levin, the absence of Squire is very noticeable too. Unfortunately, this album seems to me a real missed opportunity.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.21 | 329 ratings

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Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by Trollheart

4 stars Conceived as Jon Anderson's attempt to break out of the strictures he felt the recent Yes albums (90125, Big Generator) had placed on him, this was a project which involved former members of Yes coming together to record what was essentially a new Yes album done the "old Yes" way. You can tell by the names who were in the project - Rick Wakeman of course, legendary keysman on some of Yes's best albums, Steve Howe, who left to join Asia, and drumming icon Bill Bruford from King Crimson. Contractual and copyright problems prevented the new supergroup from using the name Yes, so after some brainstorming they decided the safest option was to just use their names. Makes for a long album title, but hey, like everyone else, we'll refer to them from now on as ABWH, okay?

I seem to recall I bought this album on the strength of the cover alone (though of course I knew the names of the performers, so knew what the music was likely to sound like) - who wouldn't, with that fantastic Roger Dean artwork, which certainly appealed to someone who was getting into the likes of Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo? I bought this on vinyl originally, and it was presented in a beautifully lavish gatefold sleeve. To be honest, I had never been a huge fan of Yes, but I had enjoyed the last two albums, and I liked Rick Wakeman's work. I was also familiar with Anderson's collaborations with another of my favourite artistes of the time, the singularly talented Vangelis. So it wasn't a difficult sell as far as I was concerned.

But the needle tells all (sigh! Ask your parents, willya? MAN I feel old!), so what sort of music have we here? There's a deceptively gentle opening, tinkling piano as Wakeman introduces the first piece of music, and you feel yourself settling back. BAD idea! Within a few moments Bruford's drums come crashing through, the pace jumps to about third or fourth gear, and the first song is well into its stride. The clear, piercing voice of Jon Anderson dispels any initial belief that this may have been an instrumental. As it goes, ABWH is broken into four multi-part compositions, with some self-contained complete tracks complementing these larger works, but all seems to feed into the one overall concept, and the album plays very much like one huge slice of music, almost an hour in length. The aforementioned piano intro is called "Sound", and forms the first of a triplet of songs that make up the first composition, called "Themes". As the drums kick in and the singing begins, we're into "Second attention", which goes on for about half the track. Really, it's a bit fatuous to call "Sound" a third of the track, as it's really nothing more than a piano intro, a few seconds long, not even a minute really, and the rest of "Themes" is divided between "Second attention" (the larger part) and "Soul warrior", which is totally instrumental, and runs for just over a minute and a half.

The next track is a self-contained one, just over three minutes long. "Fist of fire" is much slower, heavier and darker than the previous. There's a real sense of the ominous about this: stabbing keyboards, thumping drums and Anderson's urgent vocal carrying the track. "Through the darkest age/ We could surely fly/ Through the darkest age/ With the fist of fire." There are some great keyboard solos by the Wizard King here, good backing vocals too (multi- tracked?). This leads into the second multi-part composition, called "Brother of mine", on which Asia and ex-Yes keysman Geoff Downes lends a hand with the writing. The whole thing starts off with a gong sound and then a slow, soulful intro: "So, giving all the love you have/ Never be afraid/ To show your heart." It opens with "The big dream", a jaunty romp which takes us up to "Nothing can come between us", where the song speeds up a bit and the theme from "Brother of mine" is repeated, as happens throughout the multi-parters. Nice guitar work here, before things really take off for the final part, "Long lost brother of mine", which brings the piece full circle.

The way the parts of the multi-compositional pieces meld and flow together effortlessly makes it somewhat difficult to note where one part ends and another begins, and there's definitely no gaps as the parts slide from one to another like tributaries of a river coming together. It's not a criticism, nor is it a problem when listening to the album, as the music is so uniformly brilliant that you really cease to care what one section is called, and just really listen to it as one continuous piece of wonderful music, four legends at the very pinnacle of their game, consummate professionals working not to outdo each other, but to come together in such a way as to almost become one single entity, dedicated to producing the very best music they can.

After the multi-layered "Brother of mine" there's a single track, but no less brilliant in its way. "Birthright" has a dark, brooding tone, with a steady drumbeat, and seems to be about the American War of Independence: "This place ain't big enough/ For stars and stripes/ This place ain't big enough/ For red and white." About halfway through it morphs into something of an Irish jig, and gets a little faster as it approaches its conclusion. The song is really a vehicle for Steve Howe's guitar, and does he dazzle! It's followed by one of only two ballads on the album, the gently understated, almost hymnal "The meeting", where Anderson and Wakeman bring things down to a whisper with one of the nicest songs I've heard in a very long time. The gentle piano perfectly complements Jon Anderson's choir- boy voice, and yes, there is something spiritual about the song, even in the lyric: "Surely I could tell/ If you asked me, Lord/ To board the train/ My life, my love/ Would be the same." It closes the first side of the album in gentle triumph, almost a lullaby, fading slowly away but remaining in the ears long after the last chords have been played, and the last notes have receded into the night.

Side 2 kicks off with another multi-composition, under the banner heading of "Quartet". Featuring, yes you guessed it, four parts, it starts off with "I wanna learn", a boppy, joyful, almost childlike song about discovery and wonder, as Anderson cries "I wanna know more about life/ And things that can fly in between my mind/ I wanna change all that I dream about/ My waking and my so many lives."

It's relatively short, about two minutes, but then the whole track is just over nine, so with four sections about two per section is right. Second part is "She gives me love", keeping the happy theme going and essentially continuing on the same song. Anderson cheekily namechecks one of the old Yes songs as he sings "Through the gates of delirium so fast..." Apparently there are other examples of this throughout the album, though not being a 70s-era fan of Yes I couldn't point them out for you. "She gives me love" seamlessly becomes "Who was the first", which is almost exactly the same melody but with different lyrics, until the climax of the track is reached with "I'm alive", where the theme from "The Meeting" returns, to slow the track down and bring it to a gentle and very satisfying close.

"Teakbois", the next self-contained track, I could in all honesty have done without. It's totally anachronistic, basically the song of a band forming behind a really annoying Calypso beat. It has its moments, but if there's a bad track on the album (and there really isn't), then this is it. Unfortunately it also runs for over seven minutes, close to but not equalling the three multi-parters so far, which is a pity, as the space could have been used for a much more appropriate song. I think this was just basically a jam for the guys, a bit of fun. Not for me, though...

Luckily things are soon back on track for the final multi-composition, as "The order of the universe" takes the album towards its ending. Another nine-minute piece, it kicks off with a powerful dramatic instrumental which goes under the title of "Order theme", before the main part of the song, "Rock gives courage" blasts in, a real hard-rocker in the mould of (sorry guys, I know you don't want to relate to 90125 but...) "Owner of a lonely heart" or "Our song". Things speed up then for the third part, "It's so hard to grow", reintroducing the central theme: "You can't imagine it/ How hard it is to grow/ You can't imagine it/ Can you imagine/ The order of the universe?" The remaining part, called "The universe" is basically an instrumental ending to the song, a retracing of the introduction.

As side 1 ended with a lovely little ballad, so does side 2, and indeed the album, come to a relaxing close, particularly after the histrionics of "The order of the universe", with a beautiful little acoustic number, on the composition of which Anderson's old mate Vangelis lends a hand. It's VERY Jon Anderson: "Let us be together/ Let's pretend that we are free/ Let's all be where the angels find us/ We all have the key." There's minimal or no percussion in the song, and it's just Steve Howe and Jon Anderson finishing the album off in fine style. "Something that I feel/ To pour upon my soul/ Countenance of love/ For one and all". Amen, brother.

There never was another ABWH album. Two years later the two "sides" of Yes resolved their differences, and the result was Union, released under the Yes banner. Although some of its music is similar to ABWH, there are no multi- part pieces on it, and it's not a concept album, so although it is regarded in some circles as the 2nd ABWH album, to me it's a Yes album, pure and simple. An excellent one, it has to be said, but for all that, a Yes product and not a continuation of ABWH, although some songs on it were supposed to have found life on the projected follow up to ABWH. In this manner, I consider ABWH the album to be something of a rarity: unique in that it is at once an album by established members of a band, a new supergroup and a debut all in one, and is the only recorded example of this partnership (setting aside live recordings). For this reason alone it deserves to be listened to, and appreciated.

 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.21 | 329 ratings

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Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by aglasshouse

2 stars This place ain't big enough for stars and stripes.

Yes was in a downward spiral in the late 80's- no-one can deny that. Drastic sound changes were starting to shake the band's ideals, and the lineup was practically broken compared to when the band started. Jon Anderson, Yes' proclaimed golden boy, was fed-up of the boundaries of pop-music presented by the eighties, and thrived to create some prog solo work reminiscent of the band's old days. However as these ideas began to take birth so did it's scope. Old Yes members eagerly started jumping on board, those being Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe, as well as King Crimson's Tony Levin. The new-old mostly Yes amalgamate renamed themselves cleverly to "Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe" and released their debut in 1989.

The structure of the songs on the album are what you'd consider to be progressive- multi-sectioned neo-classical rock epics that prog musicians are so fond of. Whilst these tended to be rather good in classic Yes days, they sort of fall short here. For the most part. Remember this was not two years after Yes' Big Generator, arguably their most pop-indulgent album to date, so there's still much of a trace left over. The most musically infuriating part of this era for me was doubtlessly the keyboards, where it was always a decision to either use these dinky electro-pop keyboards or over-the-top pseudo-epic synthesizers. Even the legendary Wakeman's keyboards sound horrendous here, except of course for the Genesis-like 'Birthright', which gives me the idea that I think Wakeman could take a lesson here or there how to do good pop keyboards from Tony Banks. Bill Bruford, outstanding on the skins, is reduced to using heavily programmed drums that sound nigh insincere. Levin is practically nonexistent for the majority of the album, but Howe and Anderson are the two that sort of remain consistent even if they are bleating out cheesy music. The band's cohesiveness is palpable but it doesn't have a trace of the overwhelming sophistication or supreme talent I know they've displayed. The styles bounce all over the place, from slightly subtle prog to annoying Latin-infused songs. 'Teakbois' is nothing short of an auditory insult, awfully reminiscent of Genesis' 'Illegal Alien' in 1983.

But I digress. Let's take a look at where the album shines. The aforementioned 'Birthright' is quite a creative piece and is rather rich lyrically. Has great and powerful drumming from Bruford to, for a moment abandoning the terrible robotic drums. Unfortunately the longer 9-10 minute epics can't really stay away from the 80's cheese pop style for very long, that is except for the extremely awesome 'Brother of Mine'. Other than that, the "bad" songs are pretty innocent. They aren't offensive for the most part and are I suppose enjoyable to an adjusted ear.

My rating would be higher if ABWH dropped some of the typical eighties pop style for the album they wanted to be containing less of. Like Anderson I yearned for something different from pop-rock Yes, but unfortunately ABWH just doesn't deliver that very well.

 Evening of Yes Music Plus by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Live, 1993
3.39 | 98 ratings

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Evening of Yes Music Plus
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars An evening of Yes music minus

This double CD album was originally released in 1993 and contained live recordings from the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe tour An Evening Of Yes Music Plus. While the show is absolutely excellent the album does not contain the complete show. Three songs were omitted from the album: I've Seen All Good People, The Meeting, and Starship Trooper. (Some versions of the album included Starship Trooper as a bonus track but not in the correct position in the set list!)

In 2006, Voiceprint released a DVD version holding the complete show. The latter is clearly the preferable version to buy as it gives you not only the full show, with all of the songs in the correct order, but also the visual experience of video. I am the proud owner of the special edition double DVD set - one of the finest pieces in my music collection - which also holds the music video collection In The Big Dream as a bonus feature. I have previously given the DVD video version a four star review but the CD version merits a lower rating.

Another point of reference is the recently released Live At The NEC, Oct 24th 1989, which features a different show from the same tour. This release also holds a complete show on two CDs. This proves that the full set does fit onto two CDs which begs the question why some songs were omitted from the An Evening Of Yes Music Plus CD album.

Having at least one live release from Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe in your collection is highly recommended but you get more value for money if you get the DVD version of An Evening Of Yes Music Plus. And if you still want more after that get the Live At The NEC double CD. If you have both of these you have everything you need and will not require the CD version of An Evening Of Yes Music Plus, good though it is.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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