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Thread: Steve Howe: solo artist

  1. #1

    Steve Howe: solo artist

    Ok, so lately, I've found myself going through and listening to some of the Steve Howe albums I have. Yeah, we all know he doesn't have the best voice for lead vocals, so let's not get sidetracked with the "he can't sing" meme.

    So lately I've listened to:

    The Steve Howe Album: much better than I remembered it being. This one only has two vocal tracks, and Steve only sings one of them. Otherwise it's a mostly instrumental affair, and as far as I'm concerned, is largely what I want from a Steve Howe solo album, i.e. that focuses on his guitar work. Also, being the guitar geek that I am, the chart explaining which instruments were used on which tracks (a recurring motif with many of his subsequent releases) is very nice.

    Turbulence: Actually, this one I haven't listened to recently, as it was already on the computer, but it's probably the Howe solo album I've listened to the most. This is exactly what I want from a Steve Howe solo album, i.e. an entire record of guitar based instrumentals, no damn vocals. I remember someone saying it was like the Howe version of one of those shred-errific metal guitar records that were popular at the time, like the ones that were put out by Shrapnel.

    Quantum Guitar: another all instrumental album, from the late 90's. This seemed like a followup to Turbulence, as it's again all instrumental (after the more vocal oriented The Grand Scheme Of Things, which I've been kinda putting off listening to). Good versions of Walk Don't Run and Sleepwalk on this one.

    Skyline: this is one is sort of a somewhat new-agey sounding instrumental disc, a sort of a duo album with a keyboardist named Paul Sutin. I kinda liked this, but I have to spend more time with it.

    Homebrew 2: I have the first three Homebrew albums (Wiki says there's been six so far). I've got the 2nd one playing right now. There's some good stuff on this and the first one, as they're all demos of various things, many of which ended up on various records in other forms. One thing that's kinda neat is hearing some of the raw musical ideas that he brought to, let's say a Yes record, before they got fashioned into the more complete form that we've heard them in previously. Volume two here has a bunch of things that ended up on Keys To Ascension, I think there's a couple things related to GTR here, etc. Oh, and there's the demo to what we now know as To Be Over.


    I'm kinda dreading listening to The Grand Scheme Of Things, and when I find it, Beginnings, as I don't have fond memories of listening to those in the past. Oh well, we'll see what happens when I finally put them on.

    I am looking forward to listening to his all acoustic album, Natural Timbre because, well, once again, it's all instrumental, and again, it's basically want to hear from someone like Steve Howe.

  2. #2
    I'm with you on The Steve Howe Album and Turbulence, Turbulence probably being my favorite. I think he really hit a nice spot with that one and I wished he continued in that vein for another record or two, but it wasn't to be. I bought Grand Scheme when it came out and ditched it soon thereafter; and I don't remember that one fondly at all.

    Beginnings is a bit wonky. I guess I've become inured to the vocals, but I even think the mix on this album is kind of strange. But I guess I must have some nostalgia for it because I can listen to it and enjoy it, quirks and all. I owned Natural timbre and it bored me nearly to death, ditched it. Never bothered with anything else, though reading your description of Quantum Guitar has me mildly curious. I can't imagine I haven't sampled this one at some point, but maybe I'll try again.

    Overall, I'd say Howe's eclecticism makes his solo stuff a bit of a crap shoot. His albums rarely hang together as a whole to me, even TSHA which I like is more like a "collection" than an "album," if that makes any sense. Turbulence has a certain unity to it that I like and wish he was able to capture more in his solo work. But he is what he is, so you get what you get.

    Bill

  3. #3
    I have and like the Steve Howe Album and Turbulence. Saw him once or twice doing his solo show around the time of Grand Scheme. Yeah, not the best singer, but the shows were good and displayed a lot of variety. I don't own Quantum Guitar, but have heard it. Fans of the albums mentioned so far would probably dig it.

  4. #4
    Member bill g's Avatar
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    Don't miss 'Spectrum', which is more like Turbulence and Quantum Guitar, all guitar based instrumentals. Has some great stuff on it like 'Band of Light'. A few of the instrumentals on 'Grand Scheme...' are great I think, 'Maiden Voyage' is awesome.

  5. #5
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    I have most of his solo albums, my faves being The Steve Howe Album and Turbulence. I really like In The Grand Scheme of Things too. I remember being disappointed by Beginnings because of his singing

    Seen him live solo quite a few times too which was always hugely enjoyable.

  6. #6
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Steve Howe's Remedy Elements, which he recorded with his sons, was a horrible album. Nothing but a bunch of improvisations over blues progressions.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

  7. #7
    The only ones I've owned are two live solo performances CDs and they are pretty much all the solo Steve Howe I need. The TFTO medley is awesome.
    "Moustache stays right where it's at" - Clutch

  8. #8
    The Steve Howe Album recently shuffled up when I was in album shuffle mode on Ye Olde iPod Classic. It was a great listen and still carries the weight better than anything else in his canon, and I've got nearly every release.
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  9. #9
    I must admit incredible fondness for Lost Symphony. Beginnings is still a fun album to these ears!
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by bill g View Post
    Don't miss 'Spectrum', which is more like Turbulence and Quantum Guitar, all guitar based instrumentals.
    Noted, thanks!

  11. #11
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    I've never been over-enthused by his solo stuff, a bit 'muso' for me. I like the odd track such as 'Pennants'.

  12. #12
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    The Steve Howe Album
    Bought the LP 40 years ago. All's A Chord is a really nice muti-tracked guitar composition. And I like the classical guitar piece, Surface Tension.

    The only other album I have is Not Necessarily Acoustic, which I haven't listened to for many years.

    I attended one solo performance in 2006. He played Surface Tension, but a cell phone rang loudly during the performance and ruined it. Ugh!

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    Steve has so many influences and he seems to try to through them all in a blender to do a solo album. I love his guitar work, think he can come up with some catchy wonderful tunes, vocals I canít stand and find his albums to be uneven. I often though that he could do a great solo acoustic album but maybe 40 minutes would be a stretch to listen to if Steve only on acoustic guitar.


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  14. #14
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Compared to the gems in Steve Hackett's catalog, Steve Howes solo music is just O.K. I have 5 or 6 of Howe's releases. I saw him solo about 10 years ago and he was excellent, except for the truly dreadful singing.

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    Member bill g's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilcox660 View Post
    I must admit incredible fondness for Lost Symphony. Beginnings is still a fun album to these ears!
    I really like Beginnings to in spite of the vocals. Some great guitar passages in 'Australia', and I love 'The Nature of the Sea', and 'Pleasure Stole The Night' I've always found moving.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower View Post
    I attended one solo performance in 2006. He played Surface Tension, but a cell phone rang loudly during the performance and ruined it. Ugh!
    You remind of the show i saw, around that same time, where some guy kept yelling for him to "play some Yes" (after he'd already done half a set or more of Yes material) and "turn it up!" and so on. Steve finally said, "Is it just me or am I having trouble from this area over here" and he gestured toward where the guy was sitting.

    Overall, I'd say Howe's eclecticism makes his solo stuff a bit of a crap shoot. His albums rarely hang together as a whole to me, even TSHA which I like is more like a "collection" than an "album," if that makes any sense.
    I sort of see your point. It feels more like a compilation of different things, than the sort of cohesive "statement" that "albums" are theoretically supposed to be.
    Don't miss 'Spectrum', which is more like Turbulence and Quantum Guitar, all guitar based instrumentals
    I was a little astouned to find out how manys olo records he's done in the last 15 or so years. Somehow I lost track after the Elements record (which I have, but I don't think I ever actually listened to), so I haven't heard much about anythign he's done during that time period.

  17. #17
    I think Time is an often overlooked release.. Funny seeing this thread.. I listened to Beginnings come home last night from the Yes show I attended.. as much as I enjoyed it in high school when it was first released on closer listening last night I'd say Beginnings is all over the map vs. The Steve Howe album which for me is a high water mark.. I have several of the Homebrew series and enjoy most of what he offered up on those releases..

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post

    I sort of see your point. It feels more like a compilation of different things, than the sort of cohesive "statement" that "albums" are theoretically supposed to be.
    They are?

  19. #19
    Member SunshipVoyager1976's Avatar
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    Don't fear Grand Scheme of Things too much because as I recall the harmony vocals of Keith West (who was lead singer in the band Tomorrow w/ Steve pre-Yes) add to the vocal mix significantly, sweetening the sound considerably. In addition, some of the songs are fantastic and Dylan Howe and Nick Beggs make a great rhythm section to boot. Motif (acoustic solo instrumental album) and Time (the instrumental album from 2011) are both superb IMHO.

  20. #20
    Member SunshipVoyager1976's Avatar
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    Oh! And if you like jazz, particularly organ/guitar/drum trios from the 1950's and 1960's (think Wes Montgomery), the SH Trio albums are very fun...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    Compared to the gems in Steve Hackett's catalog, Steve Howes solo music is just O.K. I have 5 or 6 of Howe's releases. I saw him solo about 10 years ago and he was excellent, except for the truly dreadful singing.
    Holy crap! He sings on his solo shows?


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  22. #22
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fracktured View Post
    Holy crap! He sings on his solo shows?


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    i

    If you call it that.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by yamishogun View Post
    They are?
    To me, yeah. The best albums have a kind of internal consistency and present a cohesive statement of the band or artist at a particular moment. I don't think there's necessarily a "should" behind that equation, but to me the end results largely speak for themselves. To me, at least.

    Bill

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    ^Look at Yes themselves, an 'album band' if ever there was one, in terms of using the album to create a consistent mood with ebb-and-flow. And I agree RE; Howe.

    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    Compared to the gems in Steve Hackett's catalog, Steve Howes solo music is just O.K.
    Same here. I sort of feel Howe's solo work has put the emphasis more upon showcases of instrumental prowess (a crowded field), whereas Hackett's approach to his solo career has been more experimental and expansive. You don't really need to be that into guitar technique to like Hackett's solo work. I can't help but feel that is why Hackett's solo albums have connected with a wider audience.

    When there's something a bit more melodically/compositionally interesting there, I respond, such as 'Pennants' and the aforementioned 'Lost Symphony'.
    Last edited by JJ88; 1 Week Ago at 04:55 AM.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Fracktured View Post
    Holy crap! He sings on his solo shows?


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    Only solo show I saw with Steve there were no vocals.. he had "backing tracks" playing and obviously there were lots of stories between each song.. A very enjoyable evening.

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