Steve Howe joined Yes in 1970, just in time to reinvent progressive rock on the band’s third LP, The Yes Album. Ever since, his guitar work—a blend of Wes Montgomery jazz finesse, Chet Atkins country pickin’, and supercharged psychedelia—has been the band’s defining instrumental element. And if Steve Howe is Yes, then here’s technically a long-lost Yes album: his 1969 recordings with short-lived, ill-fated act Bodast.
The quartet—also featuring drummer Bobby Clarke, bassist Dave Curtis and frontman Clive Skinner—remain one of rock’s true tragedies, disintegrating shortly after their sessions with producer Keith West. Towards Utopia, Esoteric’s remastered compilation, showcases a band at the crux of the fading psych movement and the burgeoning prog-rock scene, with Howe’s instrumental heroics edging the songs toward the latter camp.
The plainest proof is “Nether Street,” a guitar workout that later formed the foundation of “Würm,” the final section of the Yes epic “Starship Trooper.” (For Yes fans, it’s a trip hearing “Nether Street” open with that triumphantly strummed acoustic guitar climax—it’s like watching a sex scene played in reverse.) There are other glimpses of what Bodast could’ve become: “Mr. Jones” sounds like a lost mid-period Beatles tune with a virtuoso guitarist on deck; “Do You Remember” is a disorienting hybrid of proto-prog, proto-punk and country-rock.
There’s a fascinating friction between Skinner’s pop-molded voice and Howe’s violent guitar eruptions, and it’s a shame that Bodast didn’t survive long enough to refine that formula. But in retrospect, we can appreciate the band on their own merits—as a pivotal launching pad for one of prog’s signature talents.
by Ryan Reed, January 30, 2018
1. Nether Street (Clive Skinner, Dave Curtis, Steve Howe) - 3:00
2. Tired Towers (Clive Skinner, Dave Curtis, Steve Howe) - 3:10
3. Mr. Jones (Dave Curtis) - 3:01
4. Do You Remember (Dave Curtis) - 3:33
5. Beyond Winter (Clive Skinner, Steve Howe) - 2:45
6. Once In A Lifetime (Clive Skinner) - 3:28
7. Black Leather Gloves (Clive Skinner) - 3:25
8. I Want You (Dave Curtis) - 3:20
9. 1000 Years (Clive Skinner) - 2:40
10.Nothing To Cry For (Steve Howe) - 4:00
11.The Spanish Song (Dave Curtis, Steve Howe, Bobbie Woodman) - 2:19
12.Power Of Music (Dave Curtis, Steve Howe, Bobbie Woodman) - 4:31
13.Come Over Stranger (Clive Skinner) - 2:50
Bonus tracks 11-13 as Canto
*Steve Howe - Guitar
*Bobby Clarke - Drums
*Clive Skinner - Vocals, Guitar
*Dave Curtis - Vocals, Bass