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Steve Howe - Anthology


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Many who would name Steve Howe as one of the top guitarists of all time likely would do so based mostly on his work with Yes. Howe too played in Asia, GTR and the abbreviated version of Yes known as Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe but he's also put out a slew of solo albums since 1975, and it is from this substantial body of work that the 33 selections found on this 2-CD compilation are taken from. The set starts with a cut called "So Bad," an organ-driven instrumental that sounds like something that would have soundtracked a film about swinging London in the '60s; the song (which is vintage circa 1967) is from an odds-and-sods pre-fame album appropriated titled Mothballs. Fans of Yes will hear familiar (guitar) sounds on the vocal cut "Lost Symphony" but with a pair of saxophones honking away the song definitely would not be confused for something the famed prog group would do. "Pennants," from 1979's The Steve Howe Album, is an extremely hooky instrumental where Howe plays guitar, bass, and a memorable steel guitar riff; from the same album come the Renaissance-like "Look Over Your Shoulder" with Claire Hamill on vocals and the delicate acoustic number "Surface Tension" where Howe plays a Kohno classical guitar. "Sensitive Chaos," with Bill Bruford on drums, is one of the most Yes-like songs here but "Luck of the Draw" has a blues bounce highlighted by harmonica riffs and Howe's dobro playing. Most of the compilation features songs that Howe wrote but there are a few covers including a take on the famed surf instrumental "Walk Don't Run" and a version of Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman." The gentle, jazzy side of Steve's music is also represented with songs like "Distant Seas" and "Meridian Strings;" those come early in the sequence of Disc 2, an all-instrumental set that also features the surprisingly heavy boogie of "Rising Sun" and the bucolic prog of "Ebb and Flow." Tacked on as a bonus track is the version of Yes's "Mood for a Day" that comes from the Symphonic Music of Yes album. Alan White, Patrick Moraz, Geoff Downes and second generation members of the Yes family Oliver Wakeman and Dylan Howe appear on various tracks. Anthology is an excellent primer for those unfamiliar with Howe's solo virtuosity and a well-chosen favorites package for those already in the know.

Steve Howe - Anthology
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