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Jon & Vangelis - Short Stories CD (album) cover


Jon & Vangelis


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3.14 | 105 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars `Short Stories' is the 1980 debut album that resulted from a collaboration between avant- garde keyboard player Vangelis and the lead singer of symphonic prog legends Yes, Jon Anderson. Although not even remotely as daring as the Seventies work of the Greek composer, nor as exciting as the classic Yes output from that same era, this first work still holds some moments of worthwhile music, with the two artists frequently blending together and complimenting each-other in interesting ways. On this album, the pair occasionally succeed in grafting Anderson's quasi cosmic/hippie enlightened words and Vangelis' spontaneous keyboard flair to mostly strong melodic compositions without truly aiming as low as obnoxious and vapid popular chart/top 40 music. Some moments get a bit drippy here and there (with Anderson involved, that's probably not all that surprising!), but there's a constant airy variety on display, and both the artists bring enough inspiration.

A lengthy and dramatic instrumental build from Vangelis offering reverberating fan-like beats and energetic Hammond runs brings just a touch of unease and mystery throughout opener `Curious Electric'. Jon Anderson soon pops up to offer some matter of fact stream- of-consciousness musings over jagged discordant slicings, and I'm sure ever so briefly his melody drifts to the opening of Yes' `The Revealing Science of God'? `Each and Every Day' begins as a dreamy spacey drift of synths around a protective vocal from Jon that soon grows in power. `Bird Song' is a twinkling synth rumination with a grand chorus. The romantic `I Hear You Now' was a deserved hit single on it's release in the UK, and it's all pretty synths, a lovely melody and a sprightly Anderson vocal with swirling deep-space effects. `The Road' is an acoustic gospel piece with an unsurprisingly reflective lyric punctuated with big churning synth stabs.

`Far Away in Baagad' could be a distant relative to Anderson's `Olias of Sunhillow', droning chanting harmonies and frantic vocals weaving around building synth fanfares. Sadly, from here on the second side of the album takes a sharp dip in quality. `Love Is' has a swooning overwhelming loved-up vocal from Jon over New-Age ethereal synth washes, sweet but get's a little overwrought and definitely overstays it's welcome. `One More Time' is even more sickly-sweet, a late-night jazzy electric piano ballad with a syrupy vocal. A playful, almost theatrical vocal from Jon is seriously grating throughout the quirky `Thunder' too. Thankfully the closing track `A Play Within A Play' is much more interesting, with longer instrumental shimmering synth passages around a soothing vocal, before breaking into an up-tempo synth freak-out in the middle! If only more of the second side had been this inventive and promising!

One thing instantly noticeable is how confident and freed Jon Anderson's vocals are throughout `Short Stories'. Compare his performance on this album to his by-the-numbers going through the motions on the 1978 Yes album `Tormato'. Likewise, Vangelis seems up to the challenge of reigning in his more self -indulgent tendencies, and it's nice to hear him focused and a little more subdued after his schizophrenic mid to late 70's solo works! Although hardly a progressive blowout, and despite some of the later stretches getting a little too cute, `Short Stories is still an intelligent and often tasteful adult pop release. It's gentle, but there's still moments of artistic inventiveness and quirky flourishes to keep things interesting.

Three stars.

(Special thanks to Sam (Archives member Meltdowner) for mentioning this one to me, glad I gave it a chance!

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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