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Thread: Steve Howe: How important was he to Yes?

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    Member StevegSr's Avatar
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    Steve Howe: How important was he to Yes?

    I'm not doubting Steve Howe's importance to Yes, only that he seems somewhat overshadowed by the late Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson in the early band incarnation. How important was Howe to Yes and what are your thoughts on his guitar playing?
    Last edited by StevegSr; 08-29-2016 at 06:20 AM.
    To be or not to be? That is the point. - Harry Nilsson.

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    ^ All of them were equally important.

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    He's hardly overshadowed. His arrival for "The Yes Album" resulted in the first real and positive change to the Yes sound. I recall from interviews from the early 90s that if that album was not successful, the record company was going to send them packing. So it's probably not a stretch to say he helped save the band and set them on the course to a proggier sound.

    He also put his stamp on TYA, Fragile, and CTTE with some memorable riffs and melodies on those albums (Yours is no Disgrace, Starship Trooper, Roundabout, South Side, Long Distance, HOTS, all of CTTE, plus Clap and Mood). The same goes for the rest of the 70s output, but those 3 "formative years" albums are the best example of what he brought to the table.

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    It was actually Ritchie Blackmore on those early Yes albums.

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    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    He changed YES's overall sound a lot with his quirky sound and technique. He was truly an innovative original, and thus (IMO etc.) the best guitarist they ever had.
    Cant recall any other guitarist that plays with classical guitar technique on a heavyly distorted electric hollowbody in a fusion tune ("Sound Chaser").

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    Member StevegSr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Watanabe View Post
    It was actually Ritchie Blackmore on those early Yes albums.
    Do not pass go. Go directly to the closed Blackmore thread.
    To be or not to be? That is the point. - Harry Nilsson.

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    Member StevegSr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Cant recall any other guitarist that plays with classical guitar technique on a heavyly distorted electric hollowbody in a fusion tune ("Sound Chaser").
    Yes, his lack of feedback is quite a feat on a hollowbody, distorted as it is.
    To be or not to be? That is the point. - Harry Nilsson.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Watanabe View Post
    It was actually Ritchie Blackmore on those early Yes albums.
    ITYM Vangelis.

    The clue is that Howe is credited with playing 'vachalia', an instrument that no-one else has ever heard of - VAchaLIa, VAngeLIs, get it?

    Also note the CHA in vachalia. Say no more.

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    His influence speaks for itself. Prior to The Yes Album, Yes was a pretty conventional pop band.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by StevegSr View Post
    I'm not doubting Steve Howe's importance to Yes, only that he seems somewhat overshadowed by the late Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson in the early band incarnation. How important was Howe to Yes and what are your thoughts on his guitar playing?
    I don't agree. Steve Howe was very important to Yes as both a guitarist and a songwriter (check the writing credits on the classic Yes album for proof). While Steve has given credit to his predecessor, Peter Banks, for shaping the guitar playing role in Yes, Howe clearly took things to the next level with his work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    He changed YES's overall sound a lot with his quirky sound and technique. He was truly an innovative original, and thus (IMO etc.) the best guitarist they ever had.
    Cant recall any other guitarist that plays with classical guitar technique on a heavyly distorted electric hollowbody in a fusion tune ("Sound Chaser").
    Can't argue with your estimate of his importance to Yes and certainly as the most-suited guitarist for them (I don't like words like "best" when we're talking about music).

    Can disagree with your comments about his technique. His left hand is very similar to a classical player, with the dropped wrist and thumb behind the neck - and he has the neck quite high compared to most rock players. His right hand is nothing like - he is uses a pick most of the time and plays "fingerstyle" pieces using a Merle Travis pick and two fingers technique. Also, I believe Sound Chaser was played on a solidbody Telecaster in the studio and certainly was when I saw them at QPR all those years ago.

    Like you said, his style was innovative within the context of rock music, although some old school jazz or country players would recognise a lot of the elements of his basic technique.

    One of my favourite players.

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    Member 2steves's Avatar
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    Once he joined Yes on the Yes Album---the group soared ----he was the most important part of Yes with JA in terms of songwriting. His guitar work is genius and legendary in prog---he can play anything and be totally original. And he and JA songs---with a few exceptions----are the great songs of Yes. BUT Yes is at it's best with 5 of the best musicians in the world ---The Fragile line up---the Tales line up---Relayer line up.

  13. #13
    It became Steve's band once he joined..

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    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    Not important, in fact irrelevant, on their first 2 albums.
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

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    No Steve, No Yes.
    Prog's Not Dead

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    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    No Steve, no Yes?

    In 1971, I was in a band that covered a song called Astral Traveller. I always thought that was a Yes song.

    Who was that by?
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

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    No Peter, No Yes?
    Prog's Not Dead

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thebigdipper View Post
    Can't argue with your estimate of his importance to Yes and certainly as the most-suited guitarist for them (I don't like words like "best" when we're talking about music).

    Can disagree with your comments about his technique. His left hand is very similar to a classical player, with the dropped wrist and thumb behind the neck - and he has the neck quite high compared to most rock players. His right hand is nothing like - he is uses a pick most of the time and plays "fingerstyle" pieces using a Merle Travis pick and two fingers technique. Also, I believe Sound Chaser was played on a solidbody Telecaster in the studio and certainly was when I saw them at QPR all those years ago.

    Like you said, his style was innovative within the context of rock music, although some old school jazz or country players would recognise a lot of the elements of his basic technique.

    One of my favourite players.

    THIS !!!!!.....

    PLUS:

    At the time (and quite frankly since) No other rock-band-based guitarist has embraced the "full spectrum" of GTRs/stringed instruments like Howe has: Hollow-body/solid body, 12 string, nylon string, steel string, pedal steel/lap steel, Coral sitar, mando, etc. with aplomb and originality, merging many diverse styles on-a-dime if need be into a truly unique "voice" that certainly went A LONG WAY in defining the "YES SOUND".

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    Studmuffin Scott Bails's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StevegSr View Post
    I'm not doubting Steve Howe's importance to Yes, only that he seems somewhat overshadowed by the late Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson in the early band incarnation.
    Seriously?
    Music isn't about chops, or even about talent - it's about sound and the way that sound communicates to people. Mike Keneally

  20. #20
    In the early days of Yes he was such a high energy player! He had been with a band called "Tomorrow", ?? and the impression my friends had revolved around the initial shock treatment he gave off with his diversity in playing acoustic instruments and the madness of energy he had on electric guitar. You see the film of Yesssongs....and he's a intense and relentless ball of energy. His head is bopping up and down and at the time it was shocking and difficult to believe that energy was coming from him. That's the impression he had on many proggers...in the audience.


    He had an influence of Jim Hall in his clean electric guitar style , particularly on "Yours Is No Disgrace". In that musicians social environment of the 70's Steve Howe basically lit a flippin' match under several American guitarists butts. Guitarists just out of universities and ready to travel were basically amazed by him, amazing guitarists who were self taught were amazed by him and it literally felt to many American musicians on the east coast of the U.S.....that he had just came out of nowhere. I remember the experience feeling rather extreme where many guitarists were trying to learn how to play like him and several guitarists were furthering their technique to do so by studying with guitar instructors of Jazz and Classical .


    Also his technique in playing "Ragtime" did not differ all that much from hearing Emerson play "Ragtime" and it was....if anything.....very intimidating to musicians at the time. He was a very aggressive player on Electric and Classical . Musicians I grew up with on the east coast acted as if they had never seen anything like it before or that he had simply appeared with this high energy source of playing that felt unknown to everyone. And that's what persuaded everyone to try and learn his approach to guitar diversity. Because of the fact that he was popular and appeared in Circus magazine or Hit Parader, it gave off the impression that there was no one else playing guitar like that.....however and obviously there were other diverse guitarists in Prog at the time but no one coming across with a high level of nervous energy like Steve Howe.


    And in many cases he was a finer player than most! But that relentless hyperactive substance of his was twice as inspiring than guitarists who played with diversity and stood still all night. He was very impressionable to the youth in the 70's. It was very profound and he just literally flipped musicians out! He was a monster player that bloomed when he joined Yes and basically guitarists realized after he hit the music scene that they had a lot of work to do in order to catch up with him or arrive even close to his level of playing and precisely what was required in many cases to accomplish that. He was responsible for changing the approach to the guitar as an instrument within the style of Progressive Rock.

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Bails View Post
    Seriously?
    Sensing a new thread theme?
    WANTED: Sig-worthy quote.

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    Studmuffin Scott Bails's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    Sensing a new thread theme?
    No doubt. Just what we need!
    Music isn't about chops, or even about talent - it's about sound and the way that sound communicates to people. Mike Keneally

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Watanabe View Post
    It was actually Ritchie Blackmore on those early Yes albums.
    Really? I thought it was Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan!

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Cant recall any other guitarist that plays with classical guitar technique on a heavyly distorted electric hollowbody in a fusion tune ("Sound Chaser").
    Neither did Howe. For one thing, he's playing a Telecaster on that track, and for a second thing, he's playing with a fairly clean tone on that track.

  25. #25
    very.

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