Steve Howe – Elements


Some would say progressive rock, art rock, whatever you want to call it, has always seemed a little too pompous for it’s own good. Despite that, I’ve always loved Yes, and a good part of the reason is the guitar playing of Steve Howe. He’s obviously got the chops, and his influences always sneak in; country, jazz, R&B. Those influences have always given Yes an element other prog rockers lacked.

Here, we have a solo Steve album, and he’s helped by family members Dylan on drums and Virgil on Keyboards. There’s a lot of good music, and, as you’d expect from Howe, it reflects an eclectic blend of styles. “Westwinds” is a choral jazz piece. It swings, even with a solo that doesn’t sound spontaneous, but worked out in advance. There’s the country-based “Where I Belong,” with some nice finger-picking rhythm a la Chet or Merle. It also contains fine dobro playing by Steve, and to top it off, chickin’-pickin’ solos and fills. The instrumental “The Chariot of Gold” is a horn-driven rocker with spacey, layered guitar. “Inside Out Muse” is bluesy, with nice rhythm guitars and a very clever, slightly chorused solo. And if that’s not enough, Gilad Atzom adds a clarinet solo!

Vocally, things are adequate, but certainly not special. That’s not a problem, since most of the songs are instrumentals. The real draw is Howe’s guitar playing, which is interesting on all 16 cuts. Yes fans will also like the cover art by Roger Dean, designer of Yes album covers for many years. Fans will love this.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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