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Artist: Steve Howe 
Label: Inside Out Records
Length: 15/60:41

Steve Howe's resume speaks for itself ­ longtime guitarist for prog supergroup Yes, member of GTR, and featured performer on the first two (and best) Asia albums. Spectrum is an instrumental record, yet has very little in common with his work with any of the aforementioned groups ­ it encompasses a much broader range than that.

A thirty-five year career in music allows one to bring in some talented guests. Yes alum Oliver Wakeman adds keyboard textures to several songs, and bass impresario Tony Levin is featured throughout. Having talented relatives doesn't hurt either. Virgil Howe plays Moog synthesizer, and Dylan Howe is the guest drummer.

"Tiger's Den" is a true '80's prog rock piece, reminiscent of Kansas or Howe's work with Yes. "Labyrinth" shows Howe's Spanish guitar talent. "Hour of Need' follows the same path, meandering from Spain to Italy and back again. "Free Rein" allows Wakeman to expand musically with the keyboard, while Howe himself takes a back seat on this song.

The song that best describes the title of the album is "Ragga of Our Times." It also happens to be the best track here, employing sitar and tabla. In four minutes the song includes Indian rhythms, ambient guitar, Americana, and Asian feel. "Ultra Definition" belies the lightness of this record, as opposed to Skyline or Elements, Howe's previous records. It is almost as if this is designed to be a summer album, ready to be played in the car with the windows down. Spectrum is as advertised, and Howe doesn't miss a beat.

Brian A. Smith
28 July 2005



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