Category Archives: gryphon

Steve Howe: Beginnings (1975)

Kronomyth 1.0: DWARVES OF SLEEP. It takes more than a great guitarist to make a great album, but a good album? Oh, Beginnings is that and a little more. As Howe was one of the principal architects of Yes, it’ll come as no surprise that the songs on Beginnings recall that band more than anything. In fact, Alan White, Bill Bruford and Patrick Moraz even lend a hand in the proceedings. The surprise is that Steve Howe sings. A lot. More than he should have, really. Suffice to say that his vocal range dwarfs in comparison to Jon Anderson, as the words “sleepy” and “bashful” come to mind in describing it. (It must be something about English prog guitarists, as Howe, Hackett, Hillage and Andy Latimer all sounded like they’d just quaffed half a bottle of Nyquil.) Despite some inspired passages, the songs on Beginnings suffer from the too-quick transition from one idea to another, which may be a carryover from the more-is-more aesthetic of Tales From Topographic Oceans. And so Beginnings is an album by a sleepy-voiced progressive rock guitarist that throws a lot of ideas at the wall hoping some will stick. A few do, none stickier than “Lost Symphony,” which might be the cutest Yes solo song this side of “Don’t Forget (Nostalgia).” Then there’s the pastoral classical piece (“Beginnings”) that reminds me of The Snow Goose, an instrumental featuring members of Gryphon (“The Nature of the Sea”) and a second dose of The Clap (“Ram”), all of it good and none of it featuring Steve Howe’s voice. Which isn’t to say that he’s an awful vocalist, but we Yes fans are a jaded lot after Jon Anderson, and Beginnings only offers the spacey lyrics without the celestial voice. If you enjoy music that works on a conceptual level, better to begin with Olias, Six Wives, Flash or Story of I. You’ll get around to Beginnings (and Fish Out of Water) eventually because of what they are: an alternate route through the land of legendary high adventure known as Yes.

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