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Album Review : STEVE HOWE – Homebrew 7

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Review by Dave Gilbert for MPM

For those of you unaware who Steve Howe is, he is the guitar, tech wizard of 70’s prog legends YES. He also formed 80’s supergroup ASIA, along with John Wetton, Geoff Downes and Carl Palmer, ABWH (Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe) and GTR, with Steve Hackett.

Known for his inventive, technical and melodic work, Howe, along with Robert Fripp, are known by many prog fans as the Kings, the guitar wizards of progressive music.

So, what actually is “Homebrew 7” you may ask.
“Homebrew 7” is the seventh edition of Howe’s Homebrew series.
This one marks the 25th anniversary of the first edition (“Homebrew”).
These “Homebrew” albums are just that. Works recorded by Howe, at home.

Typically recordings and tracks, originally recorded for one of those projects mentioned above. However, “Homebrew 7” differs slightly, as none of the tracks have previously been released in any form and there are no plans for any to be re-recorded in the future.

Howe says, “Many are things I’ve enjoyed saving until the right moment, and the Homebrew series allows this. Some tracks have matured with my nurturing, but others have been recently rediscovered”.

Here we have a collection of tracks from 1978 through to 2016. Tracks not heavily layered with multi tracks, just ideas, simply fashioned into short pieces.

One track “Half Way” was notably written in stages (1997, 2009 and 2015), and is one of four tracks with Howe’s own vocals. The others being “Outstanding Deal”, “Devon Girl” and “From Another Day”.

Most of the twenty one tracks (yes, twenty one) are short ideas which have been tailored into mini tracks.
There is some really diverse stuff here, but because the tracks are mostly short ones, everything becomes an easy listen. You don’t feel fatigued by the intricate stuff.

The whole album, although such a different mix of sounds, from different eras, works and flows really well. It just sounds right, well put together. Not just a group of bits and bobs, but a well planned, flowing album.

For fans of YES, ASIA and Howe’s other projects, this album is another insight into the way Howe thinks and writes a composition.

The melody here is always key. The technical element to his music is always natural, but never forced.

There’s no doubt that Howe’s music is very unique. A talent that is next to none. A genius.

I would say this music is definitely something that will appeal more to fans of Howe’s previous works. But this is what this album is all about. A self indulgent work, made up of pieces of music that Howe has lovingly crafted and saved up for the right moment. That in itself, is a marvel.

To know that he is still hungry to explore music and come up with so many ideas in his later years, is wonderful to know and hear.

Another great album that his fans will grow to adore.

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