Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe is the only studio album recorded by the English progressive rock band Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, released on 20 June 1989 on Arista Records.
The project began in 1988. At that time vocalist Jon Anderson had felt artistically constrained within Yes's current format, where the songwriting of Trevor Rabin had taken the band in a commercially very successful but musically and lyrically different direction. Anderson regrouped with Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford. Bruford, who had at various times been a member of King Crimson, recruited his Crimson band mate Tony Levin as their bassist. The group was unable to use the name Yes for legal reasons. However, the group did have Arista assign the catalog number of 90126 to the original releases of the CD and cassette. This was their subtle way of stamping this as the next Yes album after 90125 (1983).
Pre-production recording took place at La Frette Studios near Paris with Anderson putting down an outline of much of the album's songs with guitarist Milton McDonald. Anderson notably built on several demos provided by Howe, some of which Howe released on his solo album Homebrew (1996) and subsequent releases. Recording then relocated at AIR Studios on the island of Montserrat with Wakeman, Bruford and Levin. Howe recorded his guitar parts separately at SARM West Studios in London. Mixing took place at Bearsville Studios in Bearsville, New York.
The final section of "Brother of Mine" draws on an unrecorded Asia track "Long Lost Brother of Mine" written by Howe and Geoff Downes.
The song "Birthright" concerns the British nuclear tests at Maralinga and incorporates some material originally written by Howe and Max Bacon for their post-GTR band Nerotrend.
The song "Quartet" contains lyrical references to several classic Yes songs, such as "Long Distance Runaround", "Roundabout" and others.
"Let's Pretend" was originally composed by Anderson and Vangelis in 1986 for their Jon and Vangelis project and rearranged as a voice and guitar duet for Anderson and Howe.
Bruford stated that he had "absolutely nothing to do" with the songwriting on the album and that the credits were only meant to split the royalties four-ways. Howe's Homebrew series of solo albums demonstrate that most of the album was written by Anderson and Howe, with Wakeman contributing to "Fist of Fire" and "The Meeting".
The artwork for the album was created by artist Roger Dean, known for designing album covers for Yes in the 1970s. It features two paintings, the front titled "Blue Desert" and the back titled "Red Desert". Most releases of this album represent only a truncated version of "Blue Desert". There was, however, a special release with a gatefold cover, though "Blue Desert" was horizontally inverted in that version.
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe peaked at number 14 on the UK Album Chart and number 30 in the US. It went on to reach the top 30 in Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Norway, and Sweden. The album sold 750,000 copies. "Brother of Mine" released as an edited single and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Its music video was directed by Storm Thorgerson.
The album was re-released in a remastered limited edition by Gonzo Multimedia on 18 March 2011, with a bonus CD with extra tracks, including alternate edits and live versions of tracks on the main album, as well as "Vultures in the City" (originally titled "Vultures" and only previously available as the b-side to the "Brother of Mine" 7-inch vinyl single). This edition was initially only available only from Gonzo but can now be bought from other suppliers. In 2014 Esoteric Recordings reissued the album in time for its 25th anniversary.
All tracks written by Anderson, Howe, Wakeman and Bruford. Additional writing credits are shown below.
Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.