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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Howe

Not Necessarily Acoustic

Review by G. W. Hill

This album was recorded on Howe`s first solo tour, and is, not necessarily acoustic, but strictly acoustic, nonetheless. The performances show the many sides of this Yes guitarist, and just how much variety can be found in acoustic guitar music when it comes from the right source.

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
The Valley of Rocks
Starting in a fairly hard rocking mode, after a short time the piece takes on more classical and folkish tones. Showing both of these characteristics at the same time, the cut feels a bit like a cross between Mood For A Day and Clap, the dominance alternating between the two styles.
Heritage
This is a delicate acoustic piece.
Arada
Arada is a pretty and very brief composition.
Country Mix
This medley, aptly titled, combines one part bluegrass, one part Clap and one part Arlo Guthrie. The pieces that are included in the performance are White Silver Sands; Green Bay Polka; Steel Guitar Rag; Darling, Je Vous Aime Beacoup and Blue Steel Blues.
Excerpts From Tales From Topographic Oceans
An intriguing acoustic arrangement, these excerpts encompass segments from throughout the entire length of the Topographic Oceans album. Rather a stripped down performance, taking away much of the layering of the original seems to heighten the emotional impact of this material. The vocals present on this cut, and several other songs on this album, point out that, although Howe is arguably the greatest living guitarist, his vocal forays should probably be confined to backing capacity. Still, this is a wonderful piece.
Bareback
Bareback is a bouncy and fun little piece.
Sketches in the Sun
This is an intricate and powerful acoustic guitar solo.
Cactus Boogie
Another cut with the emphasis on fun, this one is also bouncy.
Second Initial
Second Initial is an intricate, fairly fast paced guitar solo.
The Glory of Love
Another track with vocals, this one is sort of an acoustic blues track. It is quite brief.
Dorothy
This is another intricate and very pretty cut.
Meadow Rag
Somewhat in a rockabilly mode, Meadow Rag is a fast paced and fun cut.
Concerto In D 2nd Movement-Vivaldi
This is a solid classical adaptation.
Surface Tension
Surface Tension is a classically influenced guitar solo.
Masquerade
Originally released on Yes` Union album, this cut earned a Grammy nomination. It is a beautiful acoustic guitar performance, and is certainly worthy of the honor bestowed upon it and the maestro.
Mood For A Day
Classic and classically influenced, this has always been a favorite among Yes fans.
Swedish Rhapsody
A bit bouncy and quite fun, this playful piece segues directly into Whispering.
Whispering
Whispering is a fun, fast paced number.
Roundabout
This is an extremely abbreviated (just over 2 minutes) acoustic guitar and vocal rendition of the Yes classic performed by Mr. Howe.
RAM
This fun guitar solo mixes folk, rockabilly and classical styles.
Clap
A bouncy, grin-inducing folk oriented guitar solo, this is another perennial Howe favorite.
 
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