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Steve Howe

The Steve Howe Album

Review by Gary Hill

This was Steve Howe’s second solo album. Like its predecessor, the music here runs a nice cross section of musical styles. Most of this is instrumental, but there are a couple songs with vocals. I won’t say that every song blows me away, but nothing is what I would consider bad and there’s plenty of strong material here.

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
Pennants
A cool instrumental, this rocks out pretty well. It starts off in a serious hard rock motif and builds on the themes and Howe finds plenty of opportunities to solo while still letting the music breathe.
Cactus Boogie
While at its heart this is a fast paced bluegrass/country instrumental there are some bits of jazz here and there and Steve Howe purely shreds.
All's a Chord
This is the most dynamic piece of music to this point. It’s also got the most Yes-like music. It starts quite sedate, but moves through a series of changes and alterations in a fairly rapid-fire sequence. This might well be my favorite cut here. When it moves out later to the vocal segment, though, I’m not overly crazy about the vocals.
Diary of a Man Who Vanished
There’s a bit of a television show soundtrack to this instrumental. There’s also some great guitar work. It’s a bit understated and a little bit country, but also quite cool.
Look Over Your Shoulder
Perhaps this is the most Yes-like piece on the set. It’s definitely another of my votes for possibly being the best cut here. The vocals on this one are female. The musical changes are brisk and strong. This covers a lot of musical territory and it wouldn’t be a huge stretch of the imagination to think of this piece being performed by Yes. I especially like the instrumental segment mid-song.
Meadow Rag
This acoustic guitar solo is a bouncy and fun little number. I like the bended notes and also the percussion via banging on guitar body parts a lot.
Continental
Another instrumental this is rather countrified in a way, but also has a lot to do with classical music and jazz. It’s a fun number that works through several themes and variants. I would consider it to be in the upper half of the album, but not a real standout.
Surface Tension
Here we get another acoustic guitar solo. This one is more classically oriented and quite intricate and involved. It’s also quite pretty.
Double Rondo
Although there is a lot of progressive rock in this instrumental journey, it’s overall very classical in nature. This is quite involved and powerful and at over eight minutes in length, it’s the longest track on show here. There are some sections that remind me quite a bit of Yes. This is another of the standouts on the set. It is very symphonic at times – complete with classical instrumentation.
Concerto in D, 2nd Movement
This is, as the title would suggest, very classical in nature and performance. It’s also very pretty, but also quite sedate.
 
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