Anthology 2
(Rhino Records)


There’s so many incredible musical highlights on the 2017 Steve Howe release of Anthology 2: Groups & Collaborations that it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, just about every musician Steve Howe ever played with has got to be somewhere on this 52 track, three CD set. Liner notes by Steve are understated, yet meaningful. Early track, “On The Horizon” (a Leiber-Stoller cover) produced by Joe Meek and featuring Howe’s early band The Syndicats is brilliant, as are his fine recordings with lead singer Keith West and their band Tomorrow, as well as three rarities featuring the overlooked David Lawrence Atkins—the latter the phenomenal Curtiss / Maldoon singer (stage name Dave Curtiss) from Steve’s lesser explored bands Canto and Bodast. The brief instrumental by YES, “Montreux’s Theme” is noteworthy but represents a sound that was tragically under-explored in YES, while the full length Fragile version of “Roundabout”, the band’s breakthrough track, hardly needs any introduction. Other insertions of additional YES material is offset by tastes of 1980’s era Howe in both GTR and ASIA. Disc two starts off with a fantastic rock edit version of “Brother Of Mine” from Anderson Bruford Wakeman & Howe yet, slightly less-played YES tracks from Keys To Ascension and humble choices from The Ladder and Open Your Eyes are not the best representatives of that underrated, fleeting late 1990’s YES period. For long time Howe fans who have already tasted some of the above material, the best part of Anthology 2 is disc 3, which features rare rock tracks that Steve made with Billy Currie, singer Fish, Oliver Wakeman and Annie Haslam. Annie Haslam is latter featured on the hardly-ever-heard and overlooked track “Lily’s In The Field”, which is the studio version of what became the theme song from Steve and Annie’s fabled live concert event in New York, organized by Steve, Annie and 20th Century Guitar magazine, at Irving Plaza in the borough of Manhattan on the 21st of November 1995—just as YES were in the throes of their big mid decade comeback starting off the second half of the 1990’s. Despite the release of this ear-opening three CD set, 2017 was not a good year for Steve as his son Virgil Howe, brother to Dylan Howe, tragically died in September 2017. Virgil, at a very young age is featured drumming on some excellent songs here that Steve chronicles as being recorded in 1988. Those tracks, on disc three, featured Steve reunited with Tomorrow vocalist Keith West and a 13 year old Virgil on drums and man, that boy can play! Essential and ultra cool Howe rock instrumentals from ASIA (“Masquerade”) and Ray Fenwick & Steve Howe with Virgil (“Slim Pickings” from 2002) as well as another rare instrumental from 1988, called “Curved Ball”—featuring Steve, Keith and Virgil blasting forth—are alone worth the price of admission to Anthology 2.


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