Review – ASIA – The Official Live Bootlegs – Volume 1 – by John Wenlock-Smith

Asia are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of their debut album next year, can you believe it has been 40 years since ‘Heat of the Moment’ first graced our airwaves! That album, of course, was a spectacular success and gave a new lease of life to a disgruntled Steve Howe who had been left in the cold by Yes as they had regrouped around Trever Rabin and Chris Squire. Steve was invited to join John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes in his then latest venture that brought the worlds of progressive music and AOR together in spectacular musical and financial success.

This set consists of five double CD’s featuring hitherto unreleased recordings of Asia in 1982, 1983, 2007, 2008 and, finally, 2010, recorded in the USA, Brazil, Japan and London. These sets are quite different in that the sound is always good and most noticeable is the bass of John Wetton, being often prominent and the band are playing very tightly and obviously enjoying themselves Naturally, many of the tracks are repeated over the five shows, although Carl Palmer’s drum solo moves from track to track as these albums progress.

The first set was recorded on Asia’s first US tour and, obviously, their debut album is prominently featured, although a new track that would appear on ‘Alpha’ was unveiled, albeit in a quite different version to the one that ended up on the album, as this features all four members playing keyboards to a drum machine backing before morphing into a full band performance where Steve Howe gets to wail and Carl Palmer hits things loudly. A lively rendition of Only Time Will Tell stands out with Geoff’s keyboard being prominent and John in fined voice indeed. In fact, Asia have seldom sounded rawer than this and everyone sounds in good form, this performance is particularly feisty and energetic. The rest of this set is fuelled by the balance of songs from their debut, Carl Palmer’s Drum solo and the double whammy of Sole Survivor and Heat of The Moment.

The second set is from August 1983 in Worcester, Massachusetts and this is a mixture of the debut and ‘Alpha’ albums along with Steve Howe’s solo segment of Beginnings/Valley of Rocks/Clap and Carl Palmer’s drum solo in Here Comes the Feeling, culminating in Sole Survivor and Heat of the Moment again.

The third set  was recorded in Brazil shortly after the band reformed in 2007 and this set features tracks from their recently released album ‘Phoenix’, which stand up well to their earlier classics. Also Roundabout gets a dusting off here with John Wetton taking on the Jon Anderson parts. Well, he even gets a Chris Squire type sound and tone and his bass drives the song along nicely. It is great to hear these musicians really stretching themselves, though the sound is a bit crackly on this number, for some reason, but it doesn’t detract from what is an excellent version of a great song.

There is a version of Fanfare for the Common Man from Carl’s old band, ELP, and, again, we are in for a real treat here with Geoff Downes’ keyboards sounding not unlike a certain Mr. Emerson, and Steve’s guitar interjects and adds little flourishes throughout before he lets fly with a brief solo. It’s all highly effective stuff, as is the short bass solo from John Wetton. This set also includes a King Crimson track, In the Court of the Crimson King, and The Buggles’ song Video Killed the Radio Star.

Set four is from Tokyo in 2008, just before ‘Omega’ was released. The ‘Phoenix’ album is featured with An Extraordinary Life standing out. Again, solo tracks from each member are included and this is also the longest of these sets at nearly 2 hours in length. The sound is uniformly good throughout and it is great to hear .

The last set in this collection comes from London in 2010 and is a great return to form for the band. Featuring, as it does, lesser played tracks like Finger on The Trigger and Through My Veins from the ‘Omega’ album, along with a Steve Howe solo and the usual Carl Palmer drum solo during The Heat Goes On. The set concludes with Sole Survivor, Go (from ‘Astra’) and Heat of The Moment.

The collection features new art from Roger Dean and a brief, but informative, booklet detailing each of the shows, just a shame that John Wetton is no longer with  us to celebrate this significant anniversary. This box set is a wonderful way in which to both remember, and celebrate, a rather rawer and more ferocious Asia than their albums showed. It is a great collection, pricey but worthwhile as Christmas is soon with us!

Released 26th November, 2021.

Order the box set here:

Asia – The Official Live Bootlegs, Volume One – Horizons Music

YES launch video for ‘Future Memories’; ‘The Quest’ hits charts worldwide

YES, who are Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood, recently released their new studio album The Quest on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music The album was produced by Steve Howe. “Much of the music was written in late 2019 with the rest in 2020. We commissioned several orchestrations to augment and enhance the overall sound of these fresh new recordings, hoping that our emphasis on melody, coupled with some expansive instrumental solo breaks, keeps up the momentum for our listeners,” said Steve.

Today the band are please to reveal a video for the track ‘Future Memories’, watch it now here: 

‘The Quest’ also sees its physical release in North America, as of today.

Pick up your copy here: https://yes-band.lnk.to/TheQuest
The album has also been hitting charts worldwide, find a selection of them below:
#7 German Album Charts

#20 UK Album Charts

#1 UK Rock Album Charts

#5 Swiss Album Charts

#8 Japanese International Weekly Charts

#23 French Physical Album Charts

#37 Belgian National Album Charts

#54 Dutch Album Charts

#60 Italian Album Charts

The Quest was recorded across the globe, The sessions took place in the UK with Steve Howe, Geoff Downes & Jon Davison, while Alan White & Billy Sherwood got together in the studio in the US. “Billy Sherwood and myself did all the rhythm sections, bass and drum, in America,” says Alan White, “down in Los Angeles at Uncle Studios, where he works a lot. It helps when you’ve got a good place to work,” Alan laughs, “and Billy’s really good on the recording desk, so we got things down relatively quickly. I spent quite a while studying the music before I went down to LA so I was prepared.”
The Quest is also now available for pre-order on various formats, including a Limited Deluxe Box-Set that features a Gatefold 180g 2LP on exclusive coloured vinyl, 2CD+Blu-ray Digipak (featuring 5.1 mix & backing tracks), 36-page perfect bound booklet, enamel pin badge, 60x90cm poster, slipmat & hand-numbered certificate of authenticity, all housed in a rigid lift-off box.

Containing 11 songs, 8 on the main CD with 3 extra tracks on a bonus CD, The Quest will also be available as Limited 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook, 2CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP+2CD & as Digital Album. Order now here: https://yes-band.lnk.to/TheQuest

The Quest – 2CD Digipak tracklisting:
CD1: 01. The Ice Bridge 7.01 02. Dare To Know 6.00 03. Minus The Man 5.35 04. Leave Well Alone 8.06 05. The Western Edge 4.26 06. Future Memories 5.08 07. Music To My Ears 4.41 08. A Living Island 6.52

CD2: 01. Sister Sleeping Soul 4.51 02. Mystery Tour 3.33 03. Damaged World 5.20

Formats are:Limited Edition Deluxe 2LP & 2CD plus Blu-ray Box-setLimited Edition 2CD & Blu-ray ArtbookGatefold 2LP & 2CD plus LP-booklet2CD DigipakDigital Album
Cover artwork designed and created by the band’s long term collaborator Roger Dean.

YES Story
For half a century YES have been the definitive band of the progressive music genre, the band by which all others are judged. Their ground-breaking albums of the 70s set the standard for the genre and influenced countless others who followed in their wake.

The current line-up of YES was completed in 2015 when Billy Sherwood replaced founder member Chris Squire, at Squire’s insistence, as he bravely fought a losing battle with leukaemia. Since then, YES have concentrated on touring with their Album Series tours, each featuring a classic YES album in its entirety. During this period YES have released three live albums Topographic Drama – Live Across America (2017), Yes Live 50 (2019) and The Royal Affair Tour: Live in Las Vegas (2020).

The music of YES has endured over the years and has been handed down through generations of music lovers.

Review – Yes – The Quest – by John Wenlock-Smith

‘The Quest’ is the first new Yes music in seven years. During that time much has happened with the death of founder member and bassist extraordinaire Chris Squire. Chris wanted the band to continue without him and had readied a replacement in Billy Sherwood. Sherwood was already known to Yes fans as he had been involved with the ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Live at the House of Blues’ albums from the early 2000’s.

After the somewhat disappointing ‘Heaven and Earth’ album from 2014, this album needed to be a significant improvement over that somewhat lacking release and I can say that, whilst it may not be the absolute triumph that was needed, it is at least a far better and more convincing album all round. When you consider that the album was created across various continents and times, all whilst in the midst of the Covid pandemic, I think you will agree that this is a very worthy effort by the band to move onwards once again.

The release comprises of the main album and a second disc with 3 bonus tracks, although with the main CD running at 47 minutes, quite why they needed a second disc is a bit of a mystery as the 3 bonus track could have all fit on the main disc, quite odd really.  Another big difference here is that Steve Howe has produced the whole album. I have to say that he has done a good job too, giving plenty of space for each instrument and the vocals to be clearly separated and heard, giving a good clear sound throughout.

The album opens with a very strong start in The Ice Bridge, which bears a passing resemblance to Fanfare For The Common Man, especially in the keyboards of Geoff Downes. Yet, even so, this is a good strong opening track that sets out the stall for what is to follow. The song has a definite Yes groove to it, offering a first glimpse of Billy’s take on Chris Squires‘ legendary bass playing and he gets it bang to rights. Jon Davison is on top form, still sounding like Anderson-lite but adding his own touch in the vocals. The song also has a great ascending riff from Steve Howe that really works well, adding much pace and drive to proceedings. This song also allows for some good interaction between Steve’s guitar and the Geoff’s keyboards, all very ably backed by the rhythm section of Billy Sherwood and Alan White, it’s all very fine indeed but, can it continue? is the question here.  

Dare to Know follows and opens with a sprightly guitar line from Steve Howe and some good bass that underpins the music most satisfyingly. The song is quite mellow and laid back really but, even so, still manages to impress and, once again, Jon Davison’s voice sounds fabulous and really suits the sound, which is very full and impressive. 

I will say that I think this album is a grower and familiarity will reveal its treasures as you listen to it, so be prepared to invest some time with it to really get the most out of it. It’s not a bona fide classic but it certainly has enough moments of brilliance to make it worthy of hearing. Yes have been around for fifty two years now, so they have little to prove these days and really we should just be glad that they still are around and still making music in the twilight of their years. 

Minus the Man has a certain something to it, especially in the chorus and the lovely and eloquent guitar line that weaves its way through the song so gracefully. The track is very pleasing and sets you up well for the epic Leave Well Alone that follows. This one has touches of Asia and also has some delicate acoustic and steel guitars from Steve Howe. The song is in three parts which all work well together and, as the longest track on the album, it really does impress. As it gives room for some stretching out, I imagine this would be a good live track for the band when they tour next year.

The Western Edge is the next track and this has a broad sound palette to it with more of Howe’s guitar lines adding great sound touches to proceedings. The pace of is brisk and rather urgent in places and it benefits from that energy, as well as the synths from Geoff that are littered throughout this song. It is the shortest on the main album and it does not overstay its welcome at all. Future Memories is a gentler song driven by Steve’s acoustic guitar and interlaced with his electric guitar lines as well. It is also graced by a very fine vocal from Jon, who I have to say really sings well on this album, he has grown into his role in the band and, whilst he is clearly influenced by Jon Anderson, his own unique voice has emerged, as is clearly shown on Music to My Ears, the penultimate track on the main album.

The final main album track is the Caribbean inspired A Living Island, inspired by Jon enduring lockdown in Barbados for five months, yes, some folks suffer for their art don’t they ? The song is graceful and moves from a Caribbean lilt to a more conventional ecological tour de force again, there are lots of Steve Howe’s delicate mandolin and guitar on this track.

This track closes the main album but I’ll do a short summary of disc two with the three extra songs. Sister Sleeping Soul is another Howe driven track with gentle guitar tones and a good vocal from Jon. Mystery Tour is a tribute, musically and vocally, to the Beatles and gives the chance to cram as many Beatle references into one song as they can, it’s still an interesting song though and has some merit to it i feel. It is also good to hear Steve playing such fluid guitar lines and tones and has a lovely guitar break from Steve along with great dynamics. This shorter track is very worthy of hearing as it has much happening throughout. Damaged World is another good track again with an environmental bent to the lyrics but the groove is strong and, musically, it is a good song. It is not as good or strong as the songs on the main album but, even so, it is always good to have Yes music in whatever form it may come.

This album set has caused lots of different views and opinions amongst fans both old and new but, in conclusion, I would say that, as an album, this is fine if you place it in its context and bear in mind how it was compiled. On that basis it is a worthy addition to the Yes canon and should be judged as such. There is much to enjoy here if you open your ears to this particular version of the band.

Released 1st October, 2021.

Order from the link here:

The Quest (lnk.to)

ASIA – The Official Live Bootlegs – Volume 1 – Out 26th November

Multi-platinum selling English supergroup ASIA are to release a 10CD boxset The Official Live Bootlegs Volume 1 through BMG Records on 26th November 2021. There will also be a digital album featuring a selection of 24 tracks taken from the full boxset, out on the same day.

Pre-order it here:-https://asiaband.lnk.to/OLB1PR

ASIA: Geoff Downes (The Buggles, YES, keyboards), Steve Howe (YES, guitars), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, drums) and John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, bass/vocals), took the world by storm with their eponymous debut album, globally the biggest-selling album of 1982, and the single Heat Of The Moment.

The Official Live Bootlegs Volume 1 celebrates the huge appeal of the concert tours that followed ASIA’s first two albums in 1982 and 1983. The success continued following ASIA’s 25th anniversary reunion in 2006 and three more highly acclaimed albums. The slipcase boxset features 5 x 2CD concerts from 1982 (Buffalo, NY, USA), 1983 (Worcester, MA, USA), 2007 (São Paulo, Brazil), 2008 (Tokyo, Japan) and 2010 (London, UK).

“This historical collection represents some of our finest and most defining live moments,” says Geoff Downes, “from the very first ASIA tour in 1982 and the Alpha tour the following year through three of our many ‘Reunion’ shows. It was such a privilege to take ASIA’s music to these different continents and feel the warmth and support from fans all over the world. We hope this brings back great memories and inspires others to appreciate the music of ASIA”. 

The sets for ASIA’s original 1980s tours featured only the band’s new music. For the ‘Reunion’ years tours, ASIA included heritage tracks from each of the band member’s pre-ASIA groups. The 2007 and 2008 concerts also feature the Wetton/Howe composition Ride Easy, a song omitted from the debut album that was issued as the B-side of Heat Of The Moment, and included in their later live repertoire as a thank you to their fans for their support over a quarter of a century.

This the first time these recordings have been made officially available by ASIA and they are presented together in a superb collector’s edition boxset with original artwork by Roger Dean, who created all of ASIA’s album artwork. 

ASIA, The Official Live Bootlegs, Volume 1 is available as a 10CD boxset and a Digital Album on 26th November 2021 through BMG Records.

About ASIA

ASIA was a true ‘supergroup’ pooling the talents of Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton, who had already amassed tens of millions of record sales with their collective bands of the 70s.

Leaving behind their progressive roots, ASIA embraced the commercial FM rock sound that dominated US airwaves and took that, and the new MTV video channel, by storm. The single Heat Of The Moment was a world-wide monster smash and their eponymous 1982 debut album spent an incredible 9 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart as ASIA became the biggest selling album of the year and world tour dates sold out.

A second album, Alpha, was released in 1983. The four original members reconvened in 2006 for a world tour, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that incredible success, and the album Phoenix followed.

While the members were still heavily involved in other projects they came together again to record Omega in 2010 and XXX in 2012, both albums were acclaimed by their faithful fans and supported by more world tours.

Steve Howe stepped back from ASIA to concentrate on his work with YES and was absent for 2014’s Gravitas. Following this tour came the news of John Wetton’s treatment for cancer, a fight he sadly lost in 2017.

ASIA THE OFFICIAL LIVE BOOTLEGS – VOLUME 1 PRE-ORDER HERE: https://asiaband.lnk.to/OLB1PR

Interview With Geoff Downes by John Wenlock-Smith

The release of the first new material from Yes since ‘Heaven and Earth’ has been a long time in coming. During that time there have been many changes to the world of Yes, most notably the sad death of Chris Squire in 2016. There has also been the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc with most people’s plans, a situation that Yes have also been affected by. Here’s what Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes had to say about this period.

John Wenlock-Smith (JWS): Good day Geoff, thanks fore making time to talk with me, how have you been keeping during this time?

Geoff Downes (GD): I’ve not been too bad, I’ve managed to keep myself active. We recorded this new album remotely with Alan (White) and Billy (Sherwood) in the US, Jon (Davidson) in the Caribbean and Steve (Howe) and myself here in the UK, it’s a nice way of working I find.

JWS: Results Seem to be positive, you seem to bring out the best in each other somehow?

GD: Yes, I think it does, it also gives you the chance to sit back and look at it all. We’ve had to do that with this Yes album and I think that we’ve learnt quite a lot by doing it that way. It’s a different approach but, at the same time, it can be creative as well.

JWS: It getting interesting reviews (the album), isn’t it?

GD: Yes, obviously the days of the band being in the studio for months locked away doesn’t really exist these days, as they did in the ’70’s. It’s been difficult with having the rhythm section in California, they were sending us files to review on a regular basis. But, of course, we’re not alone in that we were all locked down for months on end and we’ve had to adapt and respond to that as best as we could. Without the benefit of being able to play any live shows it has put people on a different route forward. It meant taking a more flexible approach to things really.

JWS: I spoke to Steve Hackett recently and he was saying a similar thing, he has had to adjust to a new approach to his music, but at least he is able to go out on tour again now.

GD: Yes, I had an email from Steve asking if I wanted to see him in Cardiff tThe nearest place to where I am in Chepstow) but he was saying I can’t see you though, we do the show and move the whole bubble onwards. So I didn’t get to see him this time, but I’ve seen his show many times at various stages. He always puts on a great show. He really puts a lot into his shows, not just him and his band but in the staging and the lighting and the whole experience and performance really. I’m looking forward to catching up with him again when he comes back round.

JWS: Touring will be happening for Yes again soon though?

GD: Well, yes, we’ve got a tour booked for next May and June in the UK and Europe.

JWS: This is the ‘Relayer’ Tour?

GD: Yes, it’s been postponed twice so we’re hoping it’s third time lucky for it to go ahead.

JWS: Well, the album is very interesting, I’ve heard it all, and the bonus tracks, one of which is obviously a tribute to the Beatles. But the whole album is interesting lyrically, you’re not afraid to tackle some important and controversial issues like ecology and conservation?

GD: I’m not involved with the lyrics per se, Jon was stuck in Barbados for 5 months and I think that’s reflected in his lyrics, global warming, obviously, and I think The Ice Bridge reflects those concerns. There’s nothing worse than musicians standing on a soapbox telling people what they should be doing but, by the same token, it’s true that the band are all getting older which brings its own challenges.

JWS: So what’s happening with the Downes Braides Association? I loved the ‘Halcyon Hymns’ album and wrote a glowing review of it, I thought it was excellent!

GD: Well, Chris has moved back here now from LA and I’m hopeful that we can get together and work on the next one more directly, as opposed to being two oceans apart. So we will have to see how that comes about in due course.

JWS: You also had the Asia albums re-released recently (‘The Reunion Albums 2007 to 2012’) on BMG.

GD: The 40th anniversary of the ‘Asia’ album is in 2022, so those albums are being re-promoted again to mark that event. Those first three albums were very significant and its important to mark those events again fully.

I’ve still got unworked material from a session I had with John (Wetton) before he sadly died so there is potential there to craft something new. I feel that Asia has not run its course and that there is still some life left in the band. Again, we’ll have to see what emerges from those sessions.

JWS: What about a new solo album for you? Surely you must be due for another one soon?

GD: Yes, I have been thinking about doing something, although quite what that will be is very open. I think I’d like to do something in a similar vein to ‘The Light Program’ from 1987, a sort of ‘stream of consciousness’ album of its time but worth revisiting again I think.

JWS: I also read recently that you wanted the keyboards on this new album, ‘The Quest’ to be more analogue than digital, more like earlier Yes albums?

GD: When I was growing up, I was hugely influenced by the keyboard sounds that Tony Kaye used on those early Yes albums. He was a monster on the growling Hammond and when we did the ‘Yes 50’ tour, Tony was a guest on some dates. He still commands the Hammond organ and we became good friends, so that was a big factor for me. Plus, I think the music Steve was making on the guitar leant itself to that classic type of sound, so that’s what I did, and I think it worked okay.

JWS: Tony Has a new solo album out, ‘End of Innocence’, have you heard it yet?

GD: No, but I want to hear it, it’s all about the World Trade Centre and 9/11 isn’t it?

JWS: Yes, it’s a good album.

GD: Does he play lots of Hammond on it?

JWS: Yes, throughout.

GD: I’ll have to ask management to get me a copy then.

JWS: You won’t regret it Geoff, it’s a fine piece of work, very worthwhile. Anyway, my time has gone, I’m afraid, thanks for talking to me.

GD: No problem John, thanks for interesting questions and for knowing your stuff, I’ve enjoyed talking to you, thank you!

‘The Quest’ by Yes is released on 1st October, 2021 and you can order a copy here:

The Quest (lnk.to)

Review – Steve Howe – Homebrew 7 – by John Wenlock-Smith

Steve Howe is certainly prolific, in the last few years he has released records with his sons Virgil and Dylan and released a new solo album, all along with a live Yes album, ‘The Royal Affair’, and also has a new Yes studio album due for release in October (marking the band’s first new material since the death of Chris Squire).

This new release by Steve of his solo recordings or sketches, ‘Homebrew 7’, is a most welcome set. What is different to his previous ‘Homebrew’ releases is that, this time, all of these pieces have not been written for any of his other projects, like Asia or Yes. The album is a mix of styles and sounds, taking several directions, along with several vocal tracks. Now, while Steve doesn’t claim to be a singer, he is more than okay on these tracks and his guitar skills continue to shine. It is good to hear that Steve continues to create new music regularly and that he is not content to retire or withdraw from musical life or activity just yet. This music shows that he still has a fire and a passion for his creativity to continue unabated for a while yet at least, in an era of ageing rock stars this is a joy to see and hear.

The highlights of this album are many and varied, most of the tracks are really musical sketches or frameworks, ready for further input or completion, let’s have a quick trawl and see what lurks within these pieces…

The album begins with a short piece called The Glider which offers a chance for Steve to show his proficiency on steel guitar, armed with a GS10 processing effect unit to give his guitar a soaring tone to it, all very simple but all very effective and pleasant. Like much of this album, these pieces do not overstay their welcome at all. Steve is from the ‘less is more’ school of guitarists and he does not overplay or over complicate matters at all. In an age where many guitarists are shredders, this makes a welcome and refreshing change.Steve could probably do all that and more but, here, his wisdom and restraint pay real dividends.

October follows and sounds like something from the George Winston/Windham Hill album which is no bad thing at all. This is a briefly orchestrated piece and sublime sounding it is too. Next up is the first Vocal Track Half Way, with Phil Spalding on bass. This is quite a surging rock song with a chugging riff and chiming guitar line in amongst everything that is going on. With nice brief solos accompanying the vocals, it’s a great little number that is really fiery and the end is sudden and final. This in itself is brave in not having any long run out or fade and is highly effective. The Only One is next and offers a bluesy swing, again, another highly effective interlude. Sadly this piece is way to short, it would have been good to hear Steve wail over this track a lot more. In One Life follows and this piece dates back to 1982 and is a simple piece in a similar vein to Muskrat.

Outstanding Deal is the second vocal track. I feel that Steve’s voice may not be really suited to this song but, even so, he gets away with it because the music is brilliant, with a great sounding steel guitar part that elevates the piece and gives it a sense of atmospherics that carry it well. Be Natural is different in that it features Steve’s guitar being powered through a Leslie Speaker which gives a very unique sound, all very clipped and slightly overdriven. This is a neat but effective trick and it sounds great. It’s a short piece but highly effective and interesting. Cold Winds is another older piece from 1983 with some great double tracked guitar lines and includes drums from a 14 year old Dylan Howe. Deanscape is a piece Roger Dean has used on his website for a while. Dating from 1982, much of what was used has been forgotten over the years but, again, this is an atmospheric piece.

Tender Hooks is up next and is an acoustically driven piece with steel guitar lines soaring over the top, it is another fairly simple piece but one that is full of melody and charms. Another vocal song, A Lady She Is, follows and this is a quiet tranquil piece with electric mandolin in a duet with Steve’s Gibson ES175D. This is simply a beautiful piece of music and again highlights Steve’s talents and skill superbly. Two Sided offers Steve chance to play over a choral backing and add his unique steel guitar sounds to a brief piece of music. This is followed by Strange Wayfarer, a jolly little jaunt that has comedic leanings written all over it. It has a simple rhythm and sounds suitable for Children’s TV series played on a Synth effect guitar. It is certainly different and yet somehow still interesting. Devon Girl is another short vocal track. An older track from 1983, it is still a good little number one that could work as a worked piece at some future stage perhaps. Safe Haven features an ascending guitar line with multiple guitars answering each other most effectively. The excellent crunchy guitar line added to proceedings makes this another effective number.

A Matter Of Fact is a fine bluesy number with a strong guitar line making it stand out significantly. Touchstone is a short but highly effective number with some great Telecaster guitar tones and lines in it too. Effective, brief and excellent. From Another Day dates from the ‘The Steve Howe Album’ sessions in 1979 and is the final vocal song. This is a brief song followed by Forgone Conclusion which is another piece with wailing steel guitar sounds. It’svery spacey sounding and a great little piece. Space Void is 70 seconds of synthesizer sounds and noise, like a lost Hawkwind track from 1972! The final track, From The Get-Go, is a song featuring Steve’s favourite Gibson ES175D as the star. With a lovely tone and delightful sound added to a shuffling beat, this closes the album in style.  

Well, there you have it. Twenty one straight forward pieces of artistry from a man whose guitar skills have graced many classic prog albums over the years. From ‘Close To The Edge’ to the forthcoming Yes album, ‘The Quest’, from Asia’s debut in 1982 to his own collection of solo and group albums, this man has done it all with style and here he shows the bare bones of his skills in a great set that is a worthy addition to his canon or works. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Steve Howe on guitar…

Released July 30th, 2021

Order the album from Cargo Records here:

Steve Howe ‘Homebrew 7’ (cargorecordsdirect.co.uk)

Yes Release New Studio Album – ‘The Quest’- on 1st October & Launch Video For ‘The Ice Bridge’, First Track taken From the Album

YES, who are Steve Howe, Alan White, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood, release their new studio album The Quest on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music on 1st October 2021“It is simply an honour for me to have the opportunity to bring together the band members in the development of a well-refined set of songs that capture the band’s true potential,” said Steve Howe, who produced the album. He added “Much of the music was written in late 2019 with the rest in 2020. We commissioned several orchestrations to augment and enhance the overall sound of these fresh new recordings, hoping that our emphasis on melody, coupled with some expansive instrumental solo breaks, keeps up the momentum for our listeners.” Additional percussion was provided by guest Jay Schellen who supplements YES’ live performances.

Label Manager Thomas Waber said “I am delighted to welcome YES to the label and am looking forward to seeing the reaction of the band’s fans to the new album. Being a long-time fan myself, I am really excited by the new material. Steve Howe managed to capture many of the important elements that we all love about YES!”

YES are pleased to reveal the first track to be taken from the album – The Ice Bridge – watch the video here:

Alan White comments: “I’m extremely proud to be a part of this music and believe the video graphics are outstanding. A collaboration of many talents coming together to produce ‘The Ice Bridge’. I hope our fans/audiences will appreciate the creativity put forward. I’m pleased to share it with the world and hope everyone will enjoy the ride.”

Steve Howe adds: “’The Ice Bridge’ opens the album in the dark and moody key of C minor, aided by the orchestra. The rolling bass part kicks things into gear as the vocals and guitars start a winding journey through the various structures till the breakdown happens, where ice breaking is heard.”

Jon Davison was working with Geoff Downes on The Ice Bridge (Davison/Downes), looking at the dangers of climate change. He explained how he sets about collaborating with his band mates.

“Usually what happens is each member is left to write their respective parts and put their stamp on things. Geoff sent me a selection of exciting and often gorgeous snippets he had created and made it clear that he wished I experiment freely and develop as needed. This in turn gave me the confidence to take on the vocal role – lyrics, vocal melody and harmony, how the vocals are presented and uniquely phrased – but all the while striving to stay faithful to Geoff’s initial ideas.”

“Jon’s vocals are fantastic,” adds Geoff Downes, “he’s really come into his own as a YES vocalist. This time he’s started to get the writing side together and working with the other musicians has been developmental for him. I think he’s hit a rich seam on this one.”

Containing 11 songs, 8 on the main CD with 3 extra tracks on a bonus CD, The Quest will be available on Vinyl and 5.1 Blu-ray and CD, all on the day of release.
The Quest – 2CD Digipak tracklisting:

CD1:01. The Ice Bridge 7.0102. Dare To Know 6.0003. Minus The Man 5.3504. Leave Well Alone 8.0605. The Western Edge 4.2606. Future Memories 5.0807. Music To My Ears 4.4108. A Living Island 6.52

CD2:01. Sister Sleeping Soul 4.5102. Mystery Tour 3.3303. Damaged World 5.20

The Quest is released on 1st October 2021. Formats are:Limited Edition Deluxe 2LP & 2CD plus Blu-ray Box-setLimited Edition 2CD & Blu-ray ArtbookGatefold 2LP & 2CD plus LP and booklet2CD DigipakDigital Album

Cover artwork designed and created by the band’s long term collaborator Roger Dean.

Pre-orders will start from 23rd July.

Asia: The Reunion Albums: 2007 – 2012 – Box Set Out Now!

ASIA, the multi-platinum selling English supergroup, formed in London in 1981, celebrate their 40th anniversary with a 5CD boxset The Reunion Albums: 2007 – 2012 through BMG.

Watch the unboxing here:

Buy it here: https://asiaband.lnk.to/reunionalbumsPR

This 5CD deluxe clamshell box set features the 2CD live recording Fantasia, Live In Tokyo together with the three reunion studio albums Phoenix, Omegaand XXX.

ASIA took the world by a storm with their eponymous debut album, globally the biggest-selling album of 1982. The single Heat Of The Moment, a huge soft-rock anthem, reached the top 40 in over a dozen markets, peaking in the U.S. at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

The four original members of ASIA – John Wetton (King Crimson, lead vocal/bass), Steve Howe (YES, guitars), Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, drums) and Geoff Downes (The Buggles, YES, keyboards), reunited to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2006 and 2007 with a world tour.

A live album from the tour Fantasia, Live In Tokyo was released in 2007 as they returned to the studio together for the first time in a quarter of a century. The reunion would yield three stunning albums Phoenix (2008), Omega (2010) together with XXX (2012) as they celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Of these later albums Carl Palmer said, “The chemistry and energy that comes out when the four of us are working together, is reflected in the new material.” For his part, John Wetton marvelled at how far the band had come. “Each one of us is comfortable as a human being, and the sound reflects the collective maturity of these four people who are not only eager to explore but also relaxed enough to luxuriate in the strength of the material.”

This boxset features the original ASIA line-up, reformed in 2006, and brings together, for the first time, all of ASIA’s essential music into one concise collection.

Fantasia, Live In Tokyo, the 2CD live show from their 2007 World Tour, features many of the tracks from their first two albums Asia (1982) and Alpha (1983) and includes Heat Of The Moment and Don’t Cry together with heritage tracks from each of the band member’s musical history. The band also performed live, for the first time, an acoustic version of Ride Easy, a B-side from the debut single Heat Of The Moment.

The boxset collection is completed by the three reunion studio albums Phoenix, Omega and XXX. These represent some of ASIA’s finest moments and allowed the band to explore fully their rock and progressive roots.
These albums are presented together in a superb collector’s edition boxset designed by Roger Dean, who produced all of the original albums’ artwork. The boxset cover image was previously unused and the Fantasia sleeve design has been updated by Roger. 

ASIA, The Reunion Albums: 2007 – 2012 5CD boxset is out now through BMG Records.

About ASIA
ASIA was a true ‘supergroup’ pooling the talents of John Wetton, Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes and Steve Howe and was the logical successor to their collective bands of the 70s.

Moving beyond their progressive roots, ASIA embraced the commercial FM rock sound that dominated US airwaves and took that, and the new MTV video channel, by storm. The single Heat Of The Moment was a world-wide monster smash and their eponymous 1982 debut album spent an incredible 9 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart as ASIA became the biggest selling album of the year and world tour dates sold out.

A second platinum selling album, Alpha, was released in 1983. The four original members reconvened in 2006 for a world tour, to celebrate the 25thanniversary of that incredible success, and the album Phoenix followed.

While the members were still heavily involved in other projects, they came together again to record Omega in 2010 and XXX in 2012. Both albums were acclaimed by their faithful fans and supported by more world tours.

Steve Howe stepped back from ASIA to concentrate on his work with YES and he was replaced by Sam Coulson for 2014’s Gravitas. Following this tour came the news of John Wetton’s treatment for cancer, a fight he sadly lost in 2017, just before Asia started an arena tour with JOURNEY, a tour which became a tribute to John’s life and legacy. John had requested that Billy Sherwood YES replace him on bass and vocals.

ASIA supported YES’s 2019 US Royal Affair Tour with Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Guns N’ Roses) on guitar and vocal duties. Steve Howe also returned as special guest.
In 2021 ASIA signed a deal with BMG to re-release their reunion albums Phoenix, Omega, Fantasia: Live In Tokyo and XXX, along with Gravitas (with Sam Coulson), to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary in 2022. They also plan to release a box-set ASIA In Asia, of the first simulcast from 1983, with Greg Lake temporarily replacing John Wetton.

Steve Howe Announces Release of Homebrew 7 on 30th July

YES guitarist Steve Howe has announced he is to release the seventh edition of his Homebrew album series on 30th July via HoweSound. Homebrew 7marks the 25th anniversary ofthe guitar legend’s first album in his Homebrew collection.  Pre-order the album here: https://cargorecordsdirect.co.uk/products/steve-howe-homebrew-7

The Homebrew series typically features recordings from Steve Howe’s home archive of demos and tracks, originally recorded for one of his many solo or group projects with YES, ASIA, ABWH or GTR. Homebrew 7 differs slightly as none of the tracks have previously been released in any form and there are no plans for any to be rerecorded in the future.

Many are things I’ve enjoyed saving until the right moment,” says Howe, “and the Homebrew series allows this. Some tracks have matured with my nurturing but others have been recently rediscovered.”

This collection includes tracks from the late seventies through to 2016 in Howe’s extensive range of playing styles. Each of the 21 tracks is dated and accompanied by Howe’s background notes and details on instrumentation. Most of the tracks are Howe’s solo recordings with occasional contributions from Dylan Howe and Virgil Howe on drums with Phil Spalding on bass guitar (Half Way). The booklet includes the lyrics for the four vocal tracks and is also illustrated by some of Howe’s delightfully atmospheric photography.

Homebrew 7 Track Listing:

1. The Glider (2015) Time: 1.37

2. October (1998) 1.56

3. Half Way (1997, 2009 & 2015) 3.49

4. The Only One (2013) 1.26

5. In One Life (1982) 2.41

6. Outstanding Deal (1982) 3.21

7. Be Natural (2013) 1.47

8. Cold Winds (1983) 2.38

9. Deanscape (1982) 2.21

10. Tender Hooks (2015) 2.06

11. A Lady She Is (1982) 4.12

12. Two Sided (2013) 1.45

13. Strange Wayfarer (2016) 3.00

14. Devon Girl (1983) 2.42

15. Safe Haven (2015) 1.31

16. A Matter Of Fact 1986)

17. Touchstone (2015)1.58

18. From Another Day (1979) 1.47

19. Foregone Conclusion (2015) 1.58

20. Space Void (1978) 1.05

21. From The Get-Go (2015) 1.49

Total Running Time: 49.41

All titles written, arranged, engineered and produced by Steve Howe with additional drums by Dylan Howe and Virgil Howe.

HOMEBREW 7 Released on 30TH JULY

Pre-order Homebrew 7 here: https://cargorecordsdirect.co.uk/products/steve-howe-homebrew-7

Homebrew 7 by Steve Howe: Amazon.co.uk: Music

Review – Yes – The Royal Affair Live – by John Wenlock-Smith

I think most people will concede that 2020 has been a somewhat challenging year, especially with the world wide impact and devastation that Covid 19 has bought, along with the subsequent lockdowns that have been enforced on different countries, affecting both world trade and travelling in particular.

Musically, tours and shows have been cancelled or postponed; often indefinitely. However, this has allowed artists time to record new music, albeit socially distanced or even remotely.

Yes were to have been performing their latest run of complete albums featuring ‘Relayer’ but that has inevitably fallen by the wayside and been postponed till 2021. To whet the appetite, they have elected to release a new live album recorded at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, documenting last year’s Royal Affair Tour .

This is a single disc affair but with a new Roger Dean cover and an interesting set list including Yes’ own version of John Lennon’s Imagine (a song Alan White actually performed on prior to joining Yes), the track also includes John Lodge of The Moody Blues on guest vocals. The balance of the tracks are staples of the Yes canon, mainly focused on their prime years i.e. pre 1980’s, although time is made for a rare version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic America, which gets a decent dusting down here.

The album opens with No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed, which also includes the main theme from The Big Country (which is an interesting twist). It sounds very impressive and allows Steve Howe to vamp things up a little. The band sound on good form, relishing the experience and playing very competently indeed, in fact seldom have Yes sounded as on form as they do on this recording.

Geoff Downes’ keyboards continue the theme with lots of orchestrated sounds filling the sound scape out before Steve Howe delivers a fiery solo. But this album is more about ensemble playing than solo flights and those excesses are tightly reined in, this album is about Yes as a band it and plays to that strength very well.

Next track is the powerful Tempus Fugit from the ‘Drama’ album. Again, it is delivered with much bite and flair, Billy Sherwood’s bassline sounding especially muscular and fluid throughout, Steve is on on rampaging form too with strong drum support. This performance reveals just what a monstrous track Tempus Fugit really is and how its status has grown as the years have gone by, so much so that now it is an integral part of any Yes show and rightly so too. Next comes a familiar pedal steel lick that heralds Going For The One with Steve’s interjections taking this song soaring to the heights as it plays as another fabulous performance. Strangely the audience do seem a bit restrained here and they do not really roar like a great Yes crowd can, thank goodness that this performance was captured on tape and is now available for us non-Americans to enjoy at our leisure.

All Good People follows in this fine set of crowd pleasers and, again, Yes deliver an excellent version of this great tune. I know the band have become a bit polarising these days, with lots of detractors but, let’s be honest, this version carries the flame just as well as any others do and they seem to still be enjoying performing these pieces, so, on that basis, long may it continue! Any Yes is better than none at all in my view. Back to the track, which is a genuinely great performance and one that allows some delicate guitar lines from Steve to work in concert with some thunderous bass and powerful drums.

Siberian Khatru follows and represents another classy example of the current line up, still having the classic Yes sound The band give an excellent reading of it, with all its excellent parts sounding as strong and good as they ever were. We are then treated to a short version of Onward from ‘Tormato’, an album where Yes faltered and fell apart, however, this was one of its better songs.

The audience are then treated to the first real epic in the form of the rarely performed (these day at least) America, made famous by Simon and Garfunkel. I first heard this song on an Atlantic sampler LP, ‘The New Age Of Atlantic’, where it shone out as a remarkable reworking of a great tune and it still has the power to impact some 48 years after first being released. I have always liked this song and here Jon Davison brings this song to life wonderfully. It is a fabulous retelling of a great song, Jon’s voice is strong and warm and he brings new life to this version. Some great guitar work from Steve and fine contributions from all quarters make this a superior version of a great song.     

Imagine is a new version of the Lennon track performed by Yes with John Lodge on guest vocals. It is a more than adequate version but, really, adds nothing new to a well known and loved song. Then it is into the home stretch with Roundabout and Starship Trooper, both of which are well received. They are excellent versions, despite the fact that they had been covered many many times now. Then again, these are classic songs that everyone know and love and always want to hear played. It’s an excellent way to bring the show to a finish, everyone going home happy and the legend is preserved, credibility is maintained and Yes live to tour another day.

This album is a fine collection, nothing new or essential but certainly a fine and worthy memento of an interesting tour, all for less than the price of a T shirt! Highly recommended and certainly worth a listen in my view.     

Released 30th October 2020

Order the album here:

https://yesband.lnk.to/RoyalAffairPR