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Jon & Vangelis - The Friends of Mr. Cairo CD (album) cover

THE FRIENDS OF MR. CAIRO

Jon & Vangelis

 

Prog Related

3.27 | 81 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars This film is a talkie, that's for sure

Whenever I come across this album, my immediate recollection is of feeling diddled. I bought the album very soon after it was released, only to find that within months it had been re-released with the superb single "I'll find my way home" added to the track list. The song did not appear on initial pressings of the album, the sleeve also being changed for the re-release. Needless to say, no offer was made to replace the copies purchased by the faithful, with LPs containing the single. While I shall of course not let that disappointment affect my judgement, this review is based on the original release without that single.

"The friends of Mr Cairo" is noticeably more coherent than the duo's first album together. This is due in part to Vangelis taking a more supportive role and largely suppressing his soloing. The opening title track for example runs to some 12 minutes, but is dominated by Anderson's extended lyricism. The song paints a picture of gangsters and other shenanigans using quotes and references from the golden age of the cinema. Whether it justifies its inordinate length is doubtful, but it does have a much more accomplished feel than the majority of songs on the first album.

"Back to school boogie" takes a sudden left turn into straightforward pop rock boogie. The female backing vocals of Clair Hammill and Carol Kenyon plus the ever present sax of Dick Morrisey set the song apart from anything else Jon and Vangelis have recorded together. Personally, I love the song, but prog it most certainly ain't!

"Outside and inside" has more in common with the songs on "Short stories", and indeed with Anderson's solo albums, being a softer ballad based song. It still features additional flute though once again played by Morrisey. For those who are unaware, "State of independence" is indeed the song which Donna Summer took into the singles chart. Perhaps surprisingly, it was written by Jon and Vangelis, originally appearing on this album. The song suits Summer well, being a piece of soft soul with ethnic overtones. The original here is an accomplished rendition featuring further sax, but credit must be given to Summer's largely faithful, but for me superior, interpretation. The song is one of just three on the second side of the album, the shortest being the following "Beside". Here we have another of Anderson's rather wordy epistles the song lacking any real direction. We close with the tale of "The Mayflower", the ship which took the pilgrims west to America, which the song then parallels with a similar search for a new planet in the future.

In all, a highly enjoyable outing by the odd couple (to continue the film association). There is a chemistry to this album which was almost completely lacking on their first outing together which, while not exactly advancing the cause of prog, this does make for a much more satisfactory result.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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