Howe's Remedy, Steve - Elements

Year of Release: 2003
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 141/SPV 085-60442
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:59:00

Elements is made of many elements, and that is probably why it's called Elements - elements of jazz, rock, blues, and country can all be found here. Each piece gives us a different look into the mind and heart of guitarist Steve Howe and he mixes up such that you're on your toes - following a subtle and stately piece with a slice of fiery rock. While things don't get off to a raring start with "Across The Cobblestone," the proggiest piece, Howe and company reel you in with the strutting, yet playful rock of "Bee Sting," the second track in. This is followed by the cool jazz of "Westwinds," and a few tracks later "The Chariot Of Gold." "Westwinds" recalls 40s big band jazz, while "Chariot" is more guitar oriented jazz. In both cases, we get some wonderfully warm horns from Gilad Atzmon. These are two of my favourite tracks on the album - which is full of some wonderful moments. Joining Howe are his two sons, Virgil (keys and harmony vocals) and Dylan (drums). Derrick Taylor plays bass.

It is on the instrumental tracks that Steve Howe's Remedy concoct their most potent elixirs, as Howe is not as strong a vocalist as he is a guitarist, though he aquits himself quite well. On the twangy country inflected "Where I Belong" Howe sounds at first a bit like Peter Gabriel, mainly in his soft and understated way of singing (but just a bit in the tone, too). But for the most part I thought of Eric Clapton "Whiskey Hill" stomping, blues rock that makes this quintet sound like a bar-band - an excellent bar band. Howe as ZZ Top? That's what comes to mind the fiery blues of "Load Off My Mind," with big dollop of Hendrix thrown in. It's throaty and funky, hot as the Texas sun in the height of summer and just as sweaty. And whoo-boy, the boys get to really rockin' the house down with "Rising Sun" - if one needed to invent the term "barnstormer," this song'd be the one to do it. Perfect song for cruising down the highway whether on your Harley or in your classic convertible of choice.

In between the jazz and rock are these sonicscapes, beginning with "Tremolando," which is full of tremolo (naturally) giving this piece a very shimmery-water feel, almost (and maybe beyond) the point where you think perhaps there's some warpage of your CD. Nice arrangement, but it's a little too much tremolo for me. Along the same lines we get "Sand Devil" which scales back on the tremolo a bit, using the effect with a little more restraint, painting a psychedelic picture not unlike a (and the) cover painted by Roger Dean.

"Pacific Haze" is fragile, gentle and stately acoustic and electric jazz piece. Hints of brass make comment during Howe's guitar soliloquy, while Taylor's bass mutters underneath, Dylan's drums snickering right along. It's a contented piece performed by folks that seem to be in a good mood. "Hecla Lava" is another shimmery piece, Howe's doubled and echoey guitar lines creating undulating sheets of sound, bubbling up and flowing just like the lava in the title.

"Inside Out Muse" is a noodlely, reflective, bluesy guitar jazz piece, with a hint of Latin in its phrasing. Atzmon plays a sweet solo here on alto sax. You can feel the ache in each note Howe plays here, it's all out on his sleeve. The album ends with another reflective piece, "A Drop In The Ocean," where we hear (or I hear) both acoustic and electric guitars played in layers - just Howe dueting with Howe.

"The Longing" is the odd one out here, as the use of synths including synth guitar and electronic drums create a chillier feel from the rest of the album. A few phrases right at the beginning made me think of the Alan Parson's Project's "Games People Play" piece. It's funny, but all I could think of while listening is of nylon and spandex... it's a song that fits tight like a glove, yet does stretch when it needs to. Though I'll admit I've never warn spandex, so I could be wrong about the fabric... I ain't wrong about the music.

Aside from "Cobblestone" and "Tremolando," this release is absolutely stunning from start to finish. Terrific performances all around and the interplay is just fantastic. A five-star release for sure. See, there they are below.

Across The Cobblestone (4:16) / Bee Strings (3:21) / Westwinds (4:29) / Where I Belong (4:15) / Whiskey Hill (2:00) / The Chariot Of Gold (3:23) / Tremolando (2:09) / Pacific Haze (7:21) / Load Of My Mind (3:29) / Hecla Lava (3:06) / Smoke Silver (3:10) / Inside Out Muse (6:53) / Rising Sun (3:04) / Sand Devil (4:34) / The Longing (2:24) / A Drop In The Ocean (3:05)

Steve Howe - electric, acoustic, virtual synth suitars, dobro, steel guitars, mandolin, dulcimer and vocals
Virgil Howe - keyboards & harmony vocals
Gilad Atzmon - alto, tenor & baritone sax, dlarinet & flute
Derrick Taylor - bass guitars
Dylan Howe ? drums

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Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: December 1st 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 699
Language: english


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