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Steve Howe

Beginnings

Review by Gary Hill

Steve Howe’s first solo release, this is a strong album that’s not perfect. For one thing the vocals often leave a lot to desire. In fact, I’d say that’s the only real flaw here. Otherwise the music presents a fairly diverse mix of tracks that do a good job of showing off the influences and talents of Steve Howe.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Doors of Sleep
This has a cool rock sound to it. It feels a lot like a cross between Yes and the kind of thing Howe did with Bodast to me. Still, it's different from both of those things. It has a nice balance between the more rocking and mellower bits. I'm not a big fan of Steve Howe's singing, but he's pretty strong on this cut. I still say that he is my favorite guitarist, though. So, you can imagine that this tune has some exceptional guitar work. There is definitely a psychedelic edge to this in a lot of ways.
Australia
There’s more of a symphonic nature to this and in many ways it sounds more like Yes than a lot of the other stuff here. Howe’s vocals are especially hard to take on this number, though. The instrumental break late in this track, though, is exceptional and makes it all worthwhile.
Nature of the Sea
This instrumental is one of the highlights of the set. It’s a great piece of music that covers a lot of dynamic territory and is very Yes-like in nature. Howe finds plenty of opportunities to soar – and yet the song is still king.
Lost Symphony
A bit different from the rest of the music here, parts of this do sound like Yes and yet there’s a horn section that brings a Beatles meets jazz kind of texture to the table. The vocals here are echoed and that adds a bit of something to them, making them the most effective ones on the set. This is a cool, if unusual number.
Beginnings
This has a considerably old school classical element to it. There are symphonic instruments all over this and it feels like it would be quite at home on a classical album. 
Will O' the Wisp
More pure prog, this one works through a number of changes and alterations. There are some definite Yes-like moments. The vocals on the track are not amongst the best of the set. There is a definite hippie sort of feeling to some of this. It’s a good number, but I wouldn’t consider it a highlight of the set.
Ram
With folk, classical and bluegrass merging together, this is an energized guitar solo. At times it reminds me quite a bit of Howe’s “Clap.”
Pleasure Stole the Night
This might be my favorite cut on the set. It’s dynamic and powerful and very purely progressive rock in nature. It does suffer a bit in the vocal department, yet the music is strong enough to overcome that deficiency. I like this a lot.
Break Away from It All
To me this seems like a nice merging of the psychedelic rock sounds of Howe’s early group Tomorrow with those of Yes. It’s another highlight of the set and the vocals here aren’t as much a distraction as they are in some points of the disc.
 
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