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Vangelis - The City CD (album) cover




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3.31 | 87 ratings

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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars "Life in the city, isn't pretty" (Tom Nicol c. 1978)

This 1990 release by Vangelis offers a thematic observation of a day in the life of an unnamed city (possibly Rome or Paris where the album was recorded). Perhaps not the most inspired concept ever suggested, we are rather predictably taken from "Dawn" through to "Twilight" and the "Red lights" of the night.

After the ambient introduction of "Dawn" some footsteps and a voice (Roman Polanski) seek the "Morning papers", but unfortunately they have yet to arrive. We are therefore treated to some further musak type sounds to soothe us as we await them. The rhythm of the city, represented by a ticking clock type sound, becomes progressively intrusive as we move towards "Nerve centre" where the mechanical sounds of the computer age are cold and emotionless.

"Side streets" examines a different aspect to the city, away from the commuter populated wealth centres, the jazz orientation of the piece, and what sounds like genuine violin, offering a vivid contrast through a glimpse of humanity.

A move to side two involves a lengthy break if you have the cassette version, the sides being some 5 minutes different in length. We are greeted there with "Good to see you", a relaxed piece of smooth jazz played out on a sax like synth. Kathy Hill adds some conversational voicing at various points, perhaps (despite the title) pointing towards one side of a telephone conversation rather than a face to face meeting.

Japanese voices are added to both "Twilight" and "Red lights", suggesting that the city in question could be Tokyo. The atmosphere of "Twilight" remains downbeat with little hint of a vibrant city, while "Red lights" takes us to the heart of the evening rush hour with what sounds like a TV theme.

At 9 minutes, the closing "Processions" is the longest track on the album. This piece appears to be at odds with the rest of the tracks which are clearly linked by the album's concept. Here we have what is effectively a stand alone track of credible but pretty standard Vangelis fare. "Processions" appears to feature unaccredited violin, the main theme building through synthesised voice and rhythmic percussion to provide a satisfactory end to the album.

In all, not one of Vangelis best album by any means, the accent being a little too much towards the ambient and new age. An enjoyable listen nonetheless.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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