Back in the ’70s the members of prog-rock giants Yes thought it wouldbe a good idea if they all made solo albums � yes, even the drummer. Well itwas the ’70s, and even if the resulting albums were mostly prettyawful, the devoted fans still bought them.
Which is perhaps why Steve Howe, the band’s on and off guitarist for thelast 30 years, has been putting out warehouse-loads of solo albums over thepast decade. To be honest, this isn’t any better or worse than the rest ofthem, the only difference being that he’s enlisted his sons, Dylan andVirgil, to join him in a band called Remedy. To all intents and purposes,however, this is just another Steve Howe album.
There’s no doubting that Howe is an accomplished guitarist, and on thisalbum he turns his hand to folk, classical, jazz and blues stylings withequal dexterity. Pacific Haze and Westwinds are pleasing jazz work-outs,with echoes of the early Yes albums, and the folky strains of A Drop In TheOcean makes for a suitably elegiac finale.
Considerably less convincing are the tracks where the band stumbles, and I use the word advisedly, into heavy rock territory. Rising Sun chugs along at a fair lick, propelled byace saxman Gilad Atzmon’s florid flourishes, but Load Off My Mind is justplain horrible, and someone really ought to take Steve to one side and tellhim to lay off the vocals.
Perhaps they should also point out that the template for this, and in factall Howe’s multitudinous solo albums should be The Steve Howe Album, theguitarist’s second, and most convincing, lone effort, which was whollyinstrumental and opted for real, organic instruments and string sectionsrather than the heavily synthesised backings that adorn, and mostly ruin,this album.
Yes fans will no doubt add this to their collection, especially as it�sgraced by a suitably ethereal Roger Dean cover, but it’s hard to imagineanyone else taking the plunge. Don’t give up the day job Steve.