Howe, Steve - Homebrew 1 & 2

Year of Release: 2002
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 103
Format: CD
Total Time: 123:02:00

Look at the impressive list of bands Steve Howe has been involved in and you understand that his skills and person have been an important catalyst in whatever band he's been with. Whether it's The Syndicats, In Crowd, Tomorrow, Keith West, Bodast, Yes, Asia, GTR or Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe, good old Steve delivers his own trademark to such an extent that it immediately marks the music as being "his"! As a good friend of Trevor Horn, Steve can also be heard on numerous recordings by artists as diverse as Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Propaganda, but also on Billy Currie (Ultravox), Lou Reed, Queen (he plays on "Innuendo" explosive version), Gordon Giltrap, Annie Haslam and his recent collaboration with Oliver Wakeman to name just a few. This to illustrate that there's only one thing of major importance in the life of Steve Howe: playing the guitar!

Neatly packed in a slipcase together with a detailed booklet with extensive liner notes, this two disc package sports no fewer than 38 tracks, a collection of home demos and alternate takes of classic Howe tunes, written and composed throughout his amazing career. Especially the information as written down by Howe himself offers a clear insight into the recording techniques and the way in which simple "sketches" can often be the main theme for an inspiring group effort. Talking of "sketches," what better "sketch" to open than the song "Sketches From Spain," which by now we all know from the GTR album. Especially guitarists and musical technicians will be thrilled by the informative text they can find in the booklet, so I won't go into any detail of the likes of "the short scale Daneletro guitar was tuned to an open F here instead of an open E on the GTR album!" Chinese for me anyway! Apart from the bands we all associate Steve with, we can also find some bits and pieces here that for the average collector are not that well known. Take "Sharp On Attack," which was written for the Guitar Speaks, a compilation which sees Steve shine next to eleven other guitarists. Also worth noting is the fact that Steve is foremost a guitarist, hence the fact that the drum parts you'll hear on this album come courtesy of a drum machine.

Being a guitar lunatic, Steve tackles all kinds of styles which he neatly illustrates here. "Valley Of Rock" is a nice example of bluegrass that gets close to the feel of "The Clap" and what better way to perform this than on his Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins signature guitar. There's even a slight Hawaiian feel to it! Talking of Hawaii, just listen to the final section of "Georgia's Theme" and think of the classic tune "Mr. Sandman." Enough said! Also check out "Meadow Rag" for more "Clap"-like melodies. A set of home demos like this one often is interesting when you can put a demo next to the song that eventually made it onto an album. In that respect "At The Full Moon" and "Never Stop Learning" are interesting because not only are they Steve Howe compositions, but he also sings the lines which later on would be tackled by Jon Anderson in what we all know as "Brother Of Mine" on the A, B, W & H album. Starting out as "Big Enough," then re-worked to be "Red And White" as can be heard here, Jon Anderson re-wrote the song to finally become "Birthright." Musical recycling anyone? In fact, a lot of the ideas that follow have one way or another made it onto the Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe debut album.

One of the highlights for Yes-fans will probably be "For This Moment," which became part of "The Revealing Science Of God." An amazing feature is the fact that one part was used for Yes whilst a second part would be tackled by John Wetton when he wrote "Without You" for Asia ten years later. Hearing Howe sing part of Tales From Topographic Oceans it illustrates once again what a wonderful coincidence it is that Yes has so many talented musicians in other fields of music which together form the unique combination Yes really is. I mean without the angelic voice of Jon Anderson this song would only be interesting for the guitar chords!

The second disc in this package takes us to a later period of Yes, with albums such as Union, Keys To Ascension of which you'll find no fewer than seven tracks here, and Open Your Eyes. A great acoustic piece certainly has to be "Together," which was later to be found in "That, That Is." It is pure Howe all over the place, delivering a crystal clear guitar sound I would personally associate with the Going For The One album and a track like "Awaken." In "Rhythm Of The Road" one can hear that the use of drum machines has evolved over the years because compared to the earlier demos the sound of the drums gets much closer to the original feel. Another interesting one for Yes aficionados has to be "The Serpentine," which later on became "To Be Over" on the band's Relayer album. Interesting to hear the sitar Steve initially introduced in this piece go on to be used in the final version as well. Although Steve is good friends with Rick Wakeman he also has a lot of respect for Patrick Moraz. The song "Beginnings," which can be found on Steve's very first solo album, has been freed from its orchestral arrangement here and is performed together with some nice harpsichord touches from Patrick Moraz in order to create a more intimate feel. "Outlawed" holds a ragtime feel whilst it also introduces studio techniques such as playing the tape backwards. The second disc and indeed this entire package closes with a song Steve wrote in 1975 when his son Virgil was born. "Mule's Head Stomp" was originally titled "Second Initial" on the Not Necessarily Acoustic album but due to copyright reasons various tracks have been retitled as is this one.

Whilst Steve is one of the first Yes members to loudly say he really loves the "loooooooong" tracks, what he delivers here are short themes, themes which often make up the nucleus of a new composition, an integral part of a specific arrangement which later on is worked out in a much more elaborate way in order to finally result in the kind of song we all know and love so well. It's a good thing this is a special price double album because apart from the Steve Howe and Yes diehards no one would probably want to fork out large chunks of money for this album. It is something you will probably only play once in a while because, to be honest, all of the bands Howe is mainly known for have very lush arrangements, none of which you can find here. On top of that, Howe is a guitarist and NOT a singer so every song he "sings" here is a real pain, especially when you know how the finished product sounds. I had hoped that someone like Steve Howe would keep this material private instead of releasing it like this, looking like he's in need of some money very urgently. Imagine if Paul McCartney starts sifting through his tape collection! The fans won't have any money left to buy the "normal" releases. With all respect, Steve, but the fans might better add a little money and invest in the YES Symphonic DVD. Now that's what I call value for money!

Disc One: Sketches In The Sun (3:08) / Sharp On Attack (3:55) / The Valley Of Rock (2:37) / Georgia's Theme (3:33) / Dorothy (4:31) / Meadow Rag (1:26) / At The Full Moon (4:06 / Never Stop Learning (2:49) / Red And White (3:33) / More About You (2:50) / Rare Birds (3:07) / Big Love (4:43) / Running In The Human Race (3:53) / Barren Land (2:34) / Against The Tide (2:58) / Breakaway From It All (4:28) / For This Moment (5:21)

Disc Two: Masquerade (2:08) / Success Story (1:24) / Together (4:37) / Rhythm Of The Road (2:11) / Separate Ways (2:36) / Sun Carnival (2:24) / Riviera (3:56) / Sleepless In The City (1:03) / The Spiral (3:10) / The Serpentine (4:07) / The Go Between (3:17) / Follow Your Heart (3:43) / Beginnings (5:34) / Surface Tension (2:59) / Every Time You Look Over Your Shoulder (3:55) / Cactus Boogie (2:33) / Resistance Day (2:06) / Wayward Course (2:33) / Spanish Heritage (2:16) / Outlawed (2:19) / Mules' Head Stomp (3:18)

Steve Howe ? all guitars, bass, mandolin, steel and pedal steel guitar, synth guitar, keyboards, drum programming, vocals

Yes - The Yes Album (1971)
Yes - Fragile (1972)
Yes - Close To The Edge (1972)
Yes - Yessongs (1973)
Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans (1974)
Yes - Relayer (1975)
Beginnings (1975)
Yes - Going For The One (1977)
Yes - Tormato (1978)
The Steve Howe Album (1979)
Yes - Yesshows (1980)
Yes - Drama (1980)
Yes - Classic Yes (1982)
Asia - Asia (1982)
Asia - Alpha (1983)
GTR - GTR (1986)
Yes - Union (1989)
Asia - Then And Now (1990)
Yes - Yesyears (1991)
Yes - Yesstory (1991)
Turbulence (1991)
Asia - Aqua (1992)
The Grand Scheme Of Things (1993)
Yes - Highlights: The Very Best Of Yes (1993)
Yes -Talk (1994)
Not Necessarily Acoustic (1994)
Mothballs (1995)
Homebrew (1996)
Yes - Keys To Ascension I (1996)
Yes - Keys To Ascension II (1997)
Yes - Open Your Eyes (1997)
Yes - Yes, Friends And Relatives (1998)
Quantum Guitar (1998)
Pulling Strings (1999)
Portraits Of Bob Dylan (1999)
Yes - The Ladder (1999)
Homebrew 2
Yes - House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (2000)
Yes - House Of Yes: Live From The House Of Blues (video) (2000)
Yes - Yes, Friends and Relatives - Volume Two (2001)
Yes - YesSymphonic (ep) (2001)
Natural Timbre (2001)
Yes - Magnification (2001)
Homebrew 1 & 2 (2002)
Masterpiece Guitars (w/Martin Taylor) (2002)
Skyline (2002)
Steve Howe's Remedy - Elements (2003)
GTR - King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents GTR
Spectrum (2005)
Homebrew 3 (2005)
Steve Howe Trio - The Haunted Melody (2008)
Motif (2008)
Steve Howe Trio - Travelling (2010)
Homebrew 4 (2010)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: July 30th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 592
Language: english


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