Steve Howe

By Demasi, Vincent | Guitar Player, August 2006 | Go to article overview

Steve Howe


Demasi, Vincent, Guitar Player


You have to give Steve Howe credit. While most of his guitar-toting English brethren spent the '60s fishing the Mississippi Delta, the North London native cast his nets globally, drawing in a wealth of influences such as Western swing, hard-bop jazz, classical, and surf rock. Despite occasionally being branded a prog-rock dinosaur, Howe has showed remarkable endurance, joining progressive-rock icon Yes in 1970, scoring MTV hits in the '80s with Asia and GTR, forging a distinctive solo career through the '90s, and, currently, taking a reunited Yes into its 38th year.

INSPIRED

The Yes Album, 1971

Save Van Halen I and Are You Experienced?, this may be the boldest debut record ever by a rock guitarist. Howe's revved-up country/jazz fusion sends "Yours is No Disgrace" and "I've Seen All Good People" into the stratosphere, and the thumb-thumpin' steel-string solo "Clap" is a showstopper.

Fragile, 1972

Most aspiring guitarists learned to play the harmonics-based intro to "Roundabout" at some point in their lives. But a serious "Howe-to" primer requires immersion in the searing modal solo to "South Side of The Sky" and the nylon-string Bach-knockoff "Mood for a Day." CO reissue bonus alert: Howe's protracted break on the non-album track "America" serves up some of the hottest country licks east of James Burton.

Yessongs, 1973

Because Howe's sound fits so perfectly into Yes' grand schematics, it might require viewing this live DVD of logic-defying fretboard runs and effortless switching between Gibson ES-175, vachalia, Coral Sitar, and delay-drenched pedal-steel to fully appreciate his creative genius.

Going For The One, 1977

Where else can you hear greasy slide licks (the title track), gothic classical guitar ["Turn of the Century"), and fusion-fed electric 12-string ("Awaken") on the same record? Prog rock heaven!

REQUIRED

Close To The Edge, 1972

As co-writer of the 19-minute title track, Howe meets the challenge of long-form rock music by grouping smaller pop-song structures within a macro AABA configuration. …

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