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Steve Howe

Quantum Guitar

Review by G. W. Hill

Steve Howe`s solo albums seem to hold a wide variety of music within. Generally, one can find acoustic guitar solos, progressive rock compositions, country tinged songs and more. This album is true to that format. The more complex Yes music historically has been smaller pieces brought in by the individual members and assembled almost piece meal into complex song structures. Another interesting aspect of Howe albums is the opportunity to hear works that could easily have been such segments and get a glimpse at where the band could have gone.

Steve is accompanied on this album by his son Dylan Howe on drums. Don`t forget (when perusing the disc`s liner notes) to check out the list of guitars used on the album. For guitar heads, that is always a welcome portion of any Howe solo album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Walk Don't Run
Starting in and returning to an acoustic mode, this is a lively version of this Ventures classic surf song.
The Collector
 A rather twangy guitar pervades much of this piece, layering atop what (at times) is a bouncy rhythm guitar arrangement. In fact, although the lead work is a bit static, the rhythm structure is quite dynamic and adds much warmth and style to the piece. Really the lead guitar tends to just add a country air to the tune.
Light Walls
Light Walls takes on definite Yesish textures in the arrangement at points. This is definitely one track where it would be fun to see what Yes would do with the number. This composition is quite progish with standout lead guitar work and a very nice ending.
Mosaic
The early moments of this cut form an image in one`s mind of a small child playing. This is a very progressive and wonderful track in which the complexity and depth of the arrangement keep building. This is one of the strongest songs on this album.
Suddenly
Starting off as a pretty acoustic piece, the number continues in that vein for quite some time. Eventually, the arrangement kicks into overdrive with prog aspects showing up in multilayered arrangements. Another very strong piece, Suddenly shows much of Howe`s songwriting and arranging skills, along with his guitar wizardry.
Country Viper
Certainly living up to its name, this one is quick, bouncy and countrified.
Mainland
Mainland is a fairly run of the mill Howe number. That said, the piece does contain some considerably inspired and tasteful lead soloing.
Knights of Carmelite
Featuring a pretty and intricate intro, this song would have made a wonderful choice on which Mr. Howe and Annie Haslam could collaborate. This is a beautiful acoustic number.
Paradox
Based somewhat on a tango sort of texture, Paradox also features Spanish modes. One could certainly do a sombrero dance to much of this number. As the song progresses, both of those textures are still present, but based on a more solid rock format. Another strong composition, Paradox features a very nice solo.
Momenta
Yet another in a list of strong songs on the album, this one is somewhat reminiscent of Pinball Wizard. The number is acoustic oriented and portions feature soaring guitar solos.
Sleep Walk
This is a nice instrumental updating of this pretty tune.
Sovereigns
This is not particularly a standout track, but even a run of the mill Howe song is pretty darn good. This track, again, features moments of fretboard fireworks.
Totality
This one would have made a very nice Yes track, perhaps in the Drama era.
Solid Ground
A slower and more emotional cut, Solid Ground also would have done nicely at the hands of Yes. The song is mid-tempo, well-arranged and contains some intriguing changes.
The Great Siege
A layered classical guitar intro gives way to more rock oriented guitar and bass. This is yet another that could have shown up as a Yes segment.
Cacti Garden
An odd sounding processed guitar lends an intriguing texture to the intro. Beyond that aspect, although a competent tune, this one is not overly special.
Southern Accent
A straight ahead rocker, this cut is just a little reminiscent of Brother of Mine at times. Particularly towards the ends of the piece, it features some wonderful examples of Mr. Howe`s soloing talents.
 
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