Understandably, Steve Howe is appreciated for his pioneering work with Yes and Asia, but sometimes it’s at the expense of his solo career.
During the 70s, when the popularity of Yes peaked, solo albums from the band’s core members were all well received, and in Howe’s case, both 1975’s Beginnings and The Steve Howe Album, released four years later, were musically similar to the likes of Fragile. Yet Howe’s influences and ability has always extended further than those albums would indicate and this carefully compiled double disc set redresses the balance. As if proving the point, the opener So Bad is brimful with Chuck Berry/ Chet Atkins style guitar licks and dates from Howe’s stint in the pre-Yes band The Syndicats. The inclusion of the mesmerising Lost Symphony and Pleasure Stole The Night from his solo debut may be predictable, but the bright remastering provides an unexpected liveliness and vigour missing from the original recordings.
Howe’s guitar style is unquestionably one of the world’s most distinctive and remains unique even when applied to the raft of genres that he’s investigated over the years. Desire Comes First and Luck Of The Draw are alluring amalgams of prog and John Barry style, Western film scores, and the tracks lifted from 2002’s Skyline are a mellow foray into a more classical genre. Perhaps most surprising to those unfamiliar with his solo works, his love for Dylan often surfaces, and tracks from his Portrait Of Bob Dylan LP plainly show that appreciation. His re-working of Just Like A Woman is especially delightful, with his skill of adding his own idiosyncrasies on to such an iconic song being particularly prominent. Yes fans also won’t be disappointed given the inclusion of an orchestrally backed rendition of Mood For A Day. Ultimately, these are recordings of such stature that they deserve to be held in much the same esteem as his work with Yes.