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Jon Anderson - Olias of Sunhillow CD (album) cover

OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW

Jon Anderson

 

Prog Related

3.94 | 271 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I really wasn't sure what to expect coming into this album. On the one hand, I was well familiar with the reputation of Jon's solo career as being New Age schlock, and the thought of ever willingly subjecting myself to one of these albums was not something I relished. On the other hand ... this was a Jon Anderson solo album made during Yes' reign of greatness, and it's well documented that Anderson brought the bulk of the ideas to the sessions that made the band's best albums. In the back of my mind, I couldn't shake the thought that maybe, just maybe, this might be something close to a great lost Yes album, and I had to give this a shot.

Well, as you can see, my gamble didn't really pay off. Anderson might have been the band's visionary, bringing in all sorts of goofy, interesting ideas that formed the basis for some of my favorite albums of all time, but he was still (by and large) a bit of a hack as a musician and composer. His ideas were good, but he needed the rest of Yes as much as they needed him, as they were the ones who cleaned up his ideas and made them something more than the ravings of a clever lunatic. On this album, the only person Anderson had to bounce ideas off of was himself, and while I can feel potential greatness in some of these tracks, none of them pull it off.

The best way I can think of to describe this album is as a cross between a 'cosmic' New Age album and Tormato, with just a smidge of prime Yes sprinkled here and there. Yup, a lot of the vocals on here sound just like "Madrigal" would a couple of years later, both in tone and in the rambling shove-too-many-words-into-each-line approach to the melodies. The sound is busy but never really engaging, with Jon layering keyboards, harps, acoustic guitars and whatever else struck his fancy onto melodies that almost never manage to capture my attention. He does manage to stumble into a pretty decent synth- driven chord sequence in "Solid Space," but even that song doesn't have much else to warrant praise. Other than that, except for the rambling vocals of "Sound Out the Galleon," I have trouble recalling even a single moment, good or bad, from this whole album.

I will grant that this album isn't terrible, as there are a number of places where I feel like the other Yesmen could have made something interesting out of what I'm hearing, and embryonic greatness isn't something to be totally dismissed. At the same time, listening to this is like eating half-baked bread; even if you can taste how good it might have been, it's hard to ignore the fact that you keep getting flour on your tongue. This is for hardcore completists only.

tarkus1980 | 2/5 |

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