After Easton, PA, native Greg Howe established himself as a promising new guitar virtuoso in the hard rock underground with his instrumental, self-titled debut in 1988, he immediately returned in 1989 with a band effort called Howe 2. Collecting the local talents of brother Al Howe (lead vocals), Vern Parsons (bass), and Joe Nevolo (drums), Greg put together a sort of high-tech Van Halen and released the inspired, super-charged High Gear. Much as many other guitar hero-types of the late '80s were redirecting their talents toward a more commercially minded band sound (like Paul Gilbert's Mr. Big), Greg's Howe 2 project was aiming for a more mainstream market. And, truth be told, Howe 2 outgunned many of their contemporaries. The songs on High Gear are good, the riffs are killer, and the execution is flawless. Reigned in by more conventional song structures and being limited to short solo sections, Greg Howe's playing is more effective than ever; focused like a laser, his brilliant solos drive home the point of the songs rather than being the point of the songs. Al's vocals recall classic David Lee Roth. The entire band plays with an articulate, inspired precision and energy that is truly awesome. With better promotion, "Thinking of You" could have been a huge hit in 1989. Far more deserving of commercial success than the watered-down and severely less-talented MTV hair metal bands that ruled the airwaves at the time, Howe 2 unfortunately never got past the indie market and the occasional spin on Headbanger's Ball. But this album remains a high watermark in the genre.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Hinds