Steve Howe – Homebrew 5 (2013)

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Steve Howe has probably never got the credit he deserved for his role in fashioning the legends of both Yes and Asia. The Homebrew series, whether intended or not, has done much to underscore his privotal role in the creative process of both.

Up to the fifth edition now, the series is now exploring demos and early takes on songs that, after some collaborative work with other bandmates, emerged on Yes’ Fly From Here and Keys to Ascension albums, Asia’s XXX and Omega projects, and his own 2005 solo effort Spectrum. What you hear is just how critical Howe’s contributions so often were. These early versions illustrate the way he created the structure from which everything else is built for many of these albums’ more memorable moments.

Homebrew 5 opens with “Bumpy Ride,” the gnarled riff that later showed up as Part 4 of the title track suite from Yes’ Fly From Here. “Yang” bookended the full-length version of “Hour of Need,” from the same 2011 album. “Solitaire,” in this far more baroque iteration, is filled out with a dueting keyboard element — whereas it was originally presented as a solo piece on Fly From Here. The basic groove of “Into the Storm,” one of the more modern pieces from the album, can be found here with “Hairpin Bend,” as well.

Going further back, “Addicted to You” initially arrived as part of the 1996 Yes album Keys to Ascension. Fans of early Yes are directed to “Seven on Seven,” which evolved into the all-but-unknown 2010 import extra from Asia called “Drop a Stone.”

Speaking of Asia, we get a peek into the creative process on “No Religion,” a track that was ultimately further developed by John Wetton and Geoff Downes on last year’s anniversary album, XXX. “The Other Sphere” morphed into “Judas,” with additional contributions from Wetton and Downes. Then there’s “Silver,” which arrived into the form of “Reno (Silver and Gold),” but only on the deluxe edition of XXX. Similarly, this set’s “Hiding from the Sun” became the Asia track “Through My Veins” on 2006’s Omega, after an assist from Wetton. “Light the Way” grew out of “Every Boundary,” and Howe’s contribution is once again writ large.

Homebrew 5 is rounded out by nine raw and lively early takes on songs that later appeared as part of Spectrum, the best of which is appropriately named “Labrynth.”

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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