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Howe vs. Rabin – 274

Self Titled by Patrick Moraz
Self Titled by Patrick Moraz
Produced by Preston Frazier, David Gordon, Bill Govier, Wayne Hall and Michel Arsenault.

We look at the differences between Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin by listening to songs from Talk and Close to the Edge. Then we consider what it would be like if Anderson and Wakeman re-joined Yes in our two pence segment. Finally, Mark reviews Patrick Moraz’ Self Titled album. Another packed episode!

  • How do the two guitarist differ in approach?
  • Can Yes be Yes with Trevor Rabin?
  • How does Howe achieve his sound?

Listen to the episode then let us know what you think!

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

18 replies on “Howe vs. Rabin – 274”

Howe is an amazing musician but there’s never any chemistry between him and the keyboard player. His busy style and shrill tone grates on my ears. He was at his best on The Yes Album and Relayer.
Rabin is a great musician full stop. Far more sympathetic in my opinion than Howe. Less of a Yes type though. Not a progressive rocker. However his contribution saved Yes as a band though that was not always for the better after Talk.
For me Steve Hackett is better than both of them in this genre. There’s never been a better combo than him and Tony Banks. At times it was hard to pick out what was guitar and what was keys. Never a fight for the same space.

Jeremy, you got to a lot of my comments first! Although I have to say that the brilliant Genesis combo was a trio: Hackett, Rutherford and Banks, especially when all three were playing 12-string.

Also, Steve’s playing on “Drama” was brilliant (if I may borrow that word for a bit, Kevin!) – and quite an outlier from the rest of his Yes work. I suppose the quality and style of the compositions on that album made him decide it was a chance to go “full electric.” I can’t even think of a single phrase of acoustic guitar on that album.

I agree about Drama. For me it has a similar sound to that on The Yes Album. I think that the problem in between was that Steve and Rick couldn’t work together though it didn’t really show up until GFTTO which is a sonic disaster. Siberian Khatru was the only iffy sounding song before then.

Hello from Edmonton, Canada.

Jon Anderson is the only ORIGINAL and founding band member still alive. For many reasons, he doesn’t own the brand “YES” anymore, but he is the soul of that music, having written and conceived an enormous part of it. To me, the current YES has my respect and support but is not the YES that I fell in love with in 1971. I have been to 79 YES concerts over the last 40 + years and my first YES concert goes back to 1978. The only tour I have missed is Talk (oh the regrets)….

I am going to the RRHOF Induction in NYC and I am absolutely certain that this will be the very last time I will see the closest possible incarnation of the YES I love. The so-called “Union” line-up was probably the most logical solution for the RRHOF.

Chris is gone and Alan is not well. Jon has clearly stated that ARW adventure is a two or three year project/adventure.

From a business standpoint, I understand that Steve and Alan own the brand YES; not Jon and Rick. Jon and Rick are actual friends, beyond the business-side of things. Jon is an optimist and a positive person but I can’t see Jon and Rick re-joining YES in any way, as long as Steve will “own” the brand. I would love to be wrong.

The 2004 Classic line-up tour will have been the last hoorah for the true classic YES. And I’m ok with that.

Time passes, life happens. We are all getting older and it is just a great thing that we are still able to see YES music performed in various incarnations.

I wouldn’t be able to like The Rolling Stones as much without Mick Jagger. The same applies to YES.

I would have to state honestly that Steve is the essential guitarist of YES, with Trevor having notable, very important and in some cases equally legendary contributions among his more limited body of work he contributed. This is not an either/or, as we have been fortunate to be in this version of the Yes-Multiverse where we get to have both LPs from those 2 disparate eras. Plus ARW is alive and well! Steve has the advantage of having been in the earlier formative ear, played and co-compased the “essential YES” classics, and has a style that is more ‘quirky’, ‘warm’ and lyrical than Trevors. One thing for sure though, Trevor is wonderful, inventive, modern and can sing a Hell of a lot better! On with the chords…

To be honest there would be no Yes as we know it today had Steve never joined the band end of story. Steve is the true prog rock guitar player where he leaves space for keys to join in but does keep them separate with the exception of Relayer.
Trevor is and will always be a rock guitarist / producer that is not a bad thing in my book but to compare each other is to me like apples and oranges not even close. Yes would not have ever been Yes with out Steve Howe. Trevor Rabin brought Yes back into the lime light however did not restore the band to a prog greatness with the exception of Talk which I feel is Trevor’s best work as far as a Yes album. Steve may not be able to sing as good as Trevor that is obvious however Steve’s voice did bring a unique sound to Yes in all the albums he was involved in.
The saddest thing about this whole Yes / ARW thing is to me is the divide which has been formed in the past almost ten years and for a group that sings about love and life it sure is sad to me as a devoted Yes fan since 1970. I understand music is a business and I think that shows more to me than the old Yes but they are older now so time is running out for making money and who can blame them really? After almost 50 years in the music business it was going to happen at some point.

Great show as always

Paul Tomei

UntilI heard it mentioned on this podcast I’d never been aware that there was such a thing as the Main Sequence of recordings. However I am not looking back at their work.

At the time there was no thinking of a series of albums. They were all so distinctive. Even now, there’s no real link. The only one I feel is that of the song Close to the Edge with TFTTO

If anything Trevor Rabin has had more to do with their success than any other band member. Were it not for 90125 they’d never have had their massive resurgence in the 80s and subsequent reformations with and without him. The band progressed but the music regressed.
Howe was progressive but not he’s fossilised.

I still learn from Steve Howe. Lately I have been trying to learn all the parts of Starship Trooper which has pushed me to learn hybrid picking. While he can play the quiet acoustic guitar parts, he can also let out some frenzied electric guitar such as Soundchaser. I was disappointed in his sound when I saw Yes a couple of years ago. He seems so obsessed with the clean tone. I prefer a little grit to the tone such as he had during the early days such as on Yessongs. But he is still among the greats of progressive rock guitar players along with Fripp and Hackett.
I can certainly enjoy some arena rock, shredding from time to time. And that is where Rabin excels. I can respect his creativity and the energy he brought to the Yes sound in the 90’s.

Regarding Anderson and Wakeman returning to Yes…I am OK with that. But I would prefer the current Yes lineup record a new epic album to place their own stamp on the Yes legacy.

I agree I believe Yes still has the power to create a masterpiece or classic Yes album given enough time now with Billy in the band it brings all sorts of exciting things to Yes!
I think this comparing who is better than who opens up a lot of thoughts and I thank Kevin and Mark for doing this. This proves to me just how great this podcast really is!

As far as comparing Rabin and Howe, I pretty much have to go with the rest of you/us: apples/oranges, tormato/tormahto, Canada/U.S. (please note I did not use the word “America”!)
This discussion seems to me to be a lot like trying to compare Bruford and White: same band, TOTALLY different style of playing. (Alan wins in my estimation.)

Both Howe and Rabin have done their part in contributing to the entirety of Yes music, and they’ve also graced us with their own interpretations of each other’s work, as well. I seem to remember some concert or video somewhere in which Steve introduced “Owner of a Lonely Heart” saying “I’ve actually come to quite like playing this song.” And Trevor obviously just enjoys playing live music, no matter who originated it. I always rather liked the (mostly small) tweaks to the arrangements of classic Yes songs (Good Lord, are they that old that we can refer to them as “classic”?) during the Rabin era, especially “Heart of the Sunrise.” And, of course, as several have noted already, Trevor rescued Yes from the Eighties by embracing the Eighties!

My pence: something that no one else seems to have considered – I’m fairly certain that if Jon Anderson were to “announce” (sometimes with Jon it’s more like “proclaim”) that he was rejoining Yes, Steve would shortly thereafter announce his retirement. Sad, but true, and unfortunate, when you consider how closely they worked together creating “Topographic Oceans” out of whole cloth. I’ve been in a band situation where there were a lot of interpersonal problems, and it’s never very pretty (no, not Fleetwood Mac, although I’m certainly old enough! 🙂 )

As far as Rick rejoining, I think that’s pretty much a non-starter (re-re-re-restarter?). Yes ‘like it is’ simply tours WAAAY too much for his liking, I think. I wonder how many nights during the current ARW blitz of Brittania did he just high-tail it for home after the show? I know, Kevin – England isn’t all THAT small, but still… helicopters.

…and the Album Review segment. Well, Mark: TOLD YA, didn’t I? 😉

Terrific show as always, Gents. The anticipation of my Friday podcast download makes the work week bearable!

…and, but, also – some other thoughts! Kevin – I also went back and played the Circa Yes Medley video (twice, so far, once on headphones and once “out loud”) and I think that Jimmy Haun is THE guy who can bridge the gap between Steve and Trevor… and Peter Banks, for that matter. Also, did you notice that he changes guitars at least twice during that video? He starts out with what seems to be a Fender Telecaster hollow-body – left handed, mind you! – and, next thing you know, he’s playing a Gibson Les Paul and then, suddenly, he’s got what looks like a Fender Stratocaster to finish all things Rabin-ish off. And if there’s anyone left out there who thinks that Billy Sherwood is nothing but an imposter, this video should change their minds. And Tony Kaye just simply SHREDS on keyboards!

Totally unrelated, but I just stumbled upon some sort of interview clip with Rick Wakeman that’s sheer joy. He tells a funny story about a disastrous show in Chicago in 1973 while giving a brief history of keyboards. If you haven’t already seen it, enjoy (if you have, enjoy it again!):

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