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Howe White Squire - The More Drama Tour Limited Edition CD

Review by Gary Hill

This is a compilation album that was made to promote the Yes related More Drama Tour that wound up not happening. While it's not available for sale, any time you purchase a CD from Syn's official site, they include this puppy for free - now that makes it a great value. All the tracks here have been released (or in the case of the White tracks) soon will be. There are two each by Syn (with Chris Squire), White (as in Alan White) and Steve Howe (one coming from the Steve Howe's Remedy CD). Where I have already reviewed the track in another review, the track by track one here is taken from that article for the sake of consistency. All of these are good songs, and represent a nice cross section of sounds. This cool little disc would certainly be a great addition to any Yes fan's collection and is a nice intro to those looking to hear one or more of these performers. For free, how can you argue?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Syn - Cathedral of Love
Pretty acoustic tones with keyboard textures overtop open this. It eventually grows into a fairly slow moving, but very lush arrangement. It drops to a stripped down ballad mode to continue, then gradually grows up from there. Squire works some cool bass lines in the background of this understated arrangement. Eventually a staccato, symphonic sounding segment comes in for a short time, then a series of minor twists move this one out into a more potent take on the verse section. They crank this out later to a hard-edged, slightly psychedelic jam that really rocks. This then resolves out into something more melodic and soaring with a killer expressive guitar sol. Then they move this out to the next vocal segment, which includes awesome multilayers of sounds. Then this works its way into the next movement - a new section that feels a lot like Yes. As this crescendos Squire's bass moves it into the next portion, a segment that feels like something from his Fish Out of Water album. It drops back eventually to a very stripped down progression, then comes back up into '60's rock pop styling until the chorus brings in more killer vocal harmonies. The outro here feels a lot like Close To The Edge era Yes.


White - Beyond The Sea of Lies
Coming in tentatively, this one begins very gradually taking on its textures. The first vocals come in over top of a fairly balladic like structure. They begin moving it up from there in a fashion that seems like an energetic, slightly punky fast paced prog based pop rock styling. This moves through some interesting changes and some Yesish segments emerge. The keyboard solo here is quite cool. There is a jam later in the track where very Howe like guitar jamming comes over the top and the Yes elements are firmly entrenched here. This segment takes the track to a short, sedate outro.

Steve Howe - Highly Strung
A fairly quick paced harder edged jam starts this. It drops to a mellower mode to carry on and feels a bit like a cross between Hawkwind and Yes at times. As it carries forward, this one even turns a little surf music like at times. This is quite a strong one and a piece that keeps reinventing itself. Howe's guitar almost seems to talk at times on this.

The Syn - Grounded
An original period Syn song, this track has a pretty strong psychedelic rock texture. It also feels a bit like punk rock, mainly because this type of song had a pretty heavy influence on that musical style. It's a little bit of The Animals, too.

Steve Howe - The Chariot of Gold
From the album Howe recorded with his group Steve Howe's Elements, this track this one is a cool jazzy groove complete with horns for good effect. Howe's guitar work overtop is very trademark. This one gets quite dramatic at points.

White - New Day
Coming in with a hard-edged groove, this drops to something that reminds me a bit of Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower." They move it through a series of intriguing changes creating new musical textures along the way. This one feels a lot less like Yes than the other track on show here. It's quite a solid piece of music, seeming both accessible and still very creative. The vocal arrangement and buildup around it mid-song is quite cool and powerful. The whole song is bumped up from that point forward rocking out very strongly and making for a great conclusion to this sampler.

 
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