STEVE HOWE – Spectrum


Release Date: June 28, 2005

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Steve Howe has been fretting around for more than 35 years, and driven by a strong focus on love, natural healing, and spiritual well-being, he seems as vital now as ever. Spectrum is his 14th solo album since his 1975 Beginnings solo debut.

The Music

Spectrum offers 15 fairly short instrumental pieces, clocking in at just about 60 minutes in total. It’s one hour of quite uplifting material, and it’s far from Progressive Rock or Metal of any kind. There are features of a diverse range of styles, but in the end, it’s most of all Steve Howe.

Although picking from probably a 40-odd years collection of guitars and equal experience, he seems to favor a few particular instruments, sounds, and styles. A few apparent picks are the slide guitar, the Classical inspired acoustic guitar, and the (electric?) sitar, in addition to the rather typical Steve Howe electric guitar sound. At times, it sounds a bit like Chet Atkins going Ethnic, a comparison made only with the best intentions.

It’s hard to describe each song since they all (as well as the album in general) have roots in so many cultural and geographical origins. Needless to say, selecting favorites is a challenge. Still, songs like “Labyrinth,” “Raga Of Our Time,” and “Hour Of Need” are songs that not only sit from the very first spin, but keep growing each time around. On the downside, songs like “Ebb And Flow” and “Highly Strung” may not have as much to offer (especially in originality) as their “bigger brothers,” but why bother when it’s all done with such passion?

The Band

Steve Howe solo is more than just one man. With him are the legendary Tony Levin on bass, and Dylan Howe (yes, Steve’s son) on drums. Joining in are also Oliver Wakeman (son of Rick Wakeman) and Virgil Howe (another son of Steve!), both on rather subtle keyboards. They all contribute to the light, summerly feeling this album presents, but the guitar is always in focus … or rather, the guitars are always in focus!

As mentioned, each song is carefully painted in detail with a variety of sounds and moods from Steve Howe’s hands, leaving you with an impression that this is so much more than a guitar album. The title reflects an ambition to present music from a wide range of impressions and influences, and it’s only fair to say he has succeeded.

The Verdict

Approaching 60 years of age, Steve Howe sounds as vital as ever, and Spectrum simply reeks of positivism and love. He is perhaps not as fast as he used to be (he stumbles through some of the faster phrases), but he is loaded with such sincerity … one is bound to bow in respect. For some, this album may sound superficial and less interesting. For those who bother to open up, it’s a rewarding experience. Well done, Steve Howe!


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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