If you are a Yes fan and never did read this article before, then you are in for a treat. A really great one done by Mr. Telford, where Mr. Howe speaks about influences, opening a guitar shop and a whole lot of other interesting subjects.
Have a nice read, and by the way, thank you to everyone that comment, share and “like” the articles. Much appreciated and a bit of inspiration for me to go on with this project. I salute you all!
Yes: so far so good
By Ray Telford
So far so good for Yes.
It`s a little over three years now since the second Yes album “Time And A Word” took off to great heights and consequently endowed the group with a healthy amount of self respect which they`ve never lost.
Every album since has been looked on by Yes devotees as a significant landmark in music. Their following now probably represents something like the fan worship that would`ve been King Crimson`s had they carried on making albums as spectacular as “In The Court Of The Crimson King”. But, as Steve Howe points out, it hasn`t been plain sailing all the way.
Steve took over guitar in the band after the wiry Pete Banks split not long after the first album had been completed. The next exit came from keyboard player Tony Banks who was replaced by Rick Wakeman then a year ago perhaps the biggest surprise of all hit the fans – Alan White, fresh from the trials of being with Joe Cocker`s big band, took over drums from Bill Bruford.
The musical changes that have taken place within the overall Yes complex have always seemed to happen naturally something which the albums prove on their own. There are no really dramatic departures in style and presentation from one album to the next. The process, however, as Steve points out, can take time: “Of course it`s taken someone like Alan a bit of time to work himself fully into the band and that to me is something which really shows through on the new album. He`s changed the group exactly the way we hoped he would. That`s what I mean by saying that every important move that has to be made is thought about very carefully.
“We feel `Tales From Topographic Oceans` has no panic points in the same way as `Close To The Edge` had. It`s a lot less intense and it`s the only Yes album I can play at home without having to drop everything to concentrate on the music. I`m talking to you now but if `Close To The Edge` was playing I`d have to stop and listen. I couldn`t relax doing anything else.”
The material trappings of being a successful rock and roll musician are not readily apparent within the walls of the Howe family`s Hampstead home. These the cautious Mr. Howe has avoided assiduously. He says people are beginning to see through the myths that surround popular musicians: “They`re beginning to see that there just isn`t THAT amount of money involved in it all. Sure, a band like Yes who are very popular in America as well as this country must make a bit of money but there are so many other things that have to be paid from what you earn. Yes are rich enough in music and that`s the way everyone wants it to stay. I wouldn`t go out and fight for money but I would for music.”
As an instrumentalist Howe is one of the most precise and exacting guitarists to have emerged the past couple of years. His style draws from an impressive number of influences and everything he does is tempered to perfection or very close to it.
“Originally I never used to listen to any other rock guitarists – the only people I heard were jazz players like Tal Farlow and, of course, Django and classical people like Julian Bream. These are the musicians I find myself always going back to because what I find most exciting about them is that they`re all virtuosos and someone like Bream is really playing music for now the way nobody else is. In 20 years time his music will be looked on as an interpretation of the times in which it was recorded. It`s also the difference between commercialism and playing to create something which is what I`m trying to do.”
Steve`s love of guitars is probably best measured by the fact that he has a collection of thirty which he values at around £8,000 (The same as around £90,000 in 2018). His American trips of course helped him boost the collection considerably to the tune of gathering stray rare Gibsons for an incredibly low amount of money.
“What I`m just about ready to do,” announced Steve, “is to open a guitar shop in Hampstead. Eventually I`ll want to sell a few of my guitars anyway so that`s a good way to go about it. I`d like to try and make as good a shop as possible for guitarists who want a really personal guitar because every guitarist knows exactly which is the one for him. For Hendrix it was a Stratocaster, Steve Cropper`s Telecaster and where would Clapton have been if it hadn`t been for that amazing three pick-up Les Paul?”
On the subject of rock guitarists Steve admits there are few who he has liked straight off but then again so very few of them can be classed as virtuosos.
“I loved some of the stuff Hendrix did, I`m talking about Hendrix because he`s the guy that springs to everybody`s mind when the subject of popular guitarists crops up, but I was cutting myself off from most of his things. To my ear he never seemed to treat a song as a song because there were too many distractions going on around the lyrics. I think I`d have liked him better if he`d been more selective about what he played.
“I don`t like to hear a guitarist who pushed all the time. They should be able to drop back as a fill out instrument as well as jumping out front. Most of the groups I was in before Yes were guitar based trios which was fun for a while but it was really limiting when you wanted to come up with something special. The interchange between guitar and organ in Yes is perfect for me.”
As with his choice of guitars Steve is just as exacting about his studio and stage amps. He invariably records through a battery of Fender amps and on live gigs uses a Fender Showman.
Since joining Yes Steve admits he has had to re-think and modify a lot of his early attitudes to guitar playing. The scope offered him within the group initially he says seemed immense but he was also made aware that what he chose to play had to fit and complement the overall texture of the band.
“It`s a process of constantly examining from a distance exactly what you`re doing and where you`re going. Luckily, I think Yes have succeeded in that respect more than most bands. We tend to think of the future more than anybody.”
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Free, Elliot Mazer, Kevin Coyne, Gentle Giant, Grand Funk, Judy Collins, Dr. John, Stackridge, Eumir Deodato, Camel, Jerry Lawson and Jimmy Hayes.
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