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Jon Anderson - Change We Must CD (album) cover

CHANGE WE MUST

Jon Anderson

 

Prog Related

4.08 | 67 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Released in 1994, this wonderful solo release by the voice of Yes presaged the orchestral release Magnification by his band some eight years later. Anderson decided to make a purely symphonic work (in the truest sense of the word) with The London Chamber Orchestra, combining new compositions with a mixture of Jon & Vangelis and Yes classics, all of which were completely reworked.

The result is one of Anderson's finest works in an illustrious career, and one which I, for one, really wish had been taken out on the road and also developed far more in subsequent releases.

The recognisable "hits" are State Of Independence, Hearts, Candle Song, and the title track. Three of these were, of course, written and recorded with Vangelis, and, in addition, Anderson also includes a previously unreleased collaboration, The Kiss. All of which might lead some people to think that the remainder were somehow substandard. Well, not a bit of it.

Shaker Loops, written by John Adams, is a rip roaring symphonic track, with exceptional percussion. Alive & Well, written with David Tolley (a key collaborator on this album) features the very talented Gwendolyn Mok on classical piano, and is a lovely piece, showing to the fore just what a fine symphonic composer Anderson really is, and demonstrating that symphonic music does not always have to be accompanied by a wall of sound in order to be effective and enjoyable (at this stage, fans of death metal and extreme prog metal might realise that this album probably is not one for them!).

Chagell Duet is about the most perfect musical accompaniment to a lazy, sleepy evening, and features at its core a lovely vocal performance (in French) by Sandrine Piau. That Anderson is capable of matching this operatic wonder in spades is testament to his own skills as a vocalist. A lovely track, this is a true highlight of the album, and one to play to your loved one over and again.

Run On, Jon features Mok again on piano accompanied by the orchestra, and is a nice track, although having the feel of filler written all over it, which is a shame, because a longer track on this theme would have been far preferable. View From The Coppice is of a similar vein, with the same participants, and at this stage, you know that an entire symphony or opera written by Anderson with these players would be a sheer wonder. These pieces of music are especially recommended for readers who appreciate very good classical music, and, of course, its essential link with symphonic rock.

Hurry Home is the longest track on the album, clocking in at just short of seven minutes long. It is more of a "traditional" Anderson song, stripped down to bare essentials, and is a love song encompassing his new wife Jane and the planet as a whole (never accuse Anderson of not being wide-ranging in his scope!). The orchestra sound wonderful backing a soaring voice, and you do recognise in the beautiful oboe some of the themes he would develop further in Toltec.

Under The Sun is quite similar in this theme, the fusion of new age musically and lyrically that abound in Anderson's solo career. It is pleasant, but doesn't hold together as well as much of the rest of the album. It is almost as if he is trying to pack in a little bit too much in the time available. Having said that, his voice is wonderful when set against the orchestra at full cry.

So, to those "hits". I hope that I have described this album as being far more than the sum of these. Having said that, these tracks are a joy.

State of Independence is, if anything, far better than the original track from Friends of Mr Cairo, the orchestra giving it a far more bold and expansive feel. Anderson sings quite marvellously.

Hearts is, perhaps, the biggest surprise. This track was a clear highlight of 90125, the first Yes album made with Trevor Rabin and the returning Tony Kaye. The original was considered as the most "proggy" on that fine album, but, if anything, this version brings it out even better. Smooth where the original could be slightly shrill, everything about it has been taken down a notch or two in its arrangement and performance, and doesn't suffer in the slightest - in fact, the chorus where The "Opio Singers" (Opio being the Foundation formed by Anderson) join him enhances and progresses the original. It is the most vocal of the tracks on the album, and the orchestra are deliberately understated. The track, therefore, becomes what Anderson possibly originally wanted - a vehicle for vocal harmony with subtle backing.

Candle Song is more like the original Jon & Vangelis composition. Quite lovely without being essential, it simply replaces Vangelis' keys with orchestra. Anderson, though, rarely has sounded better.

The best, though, is absolutely saved for last. Change We Must appeared on a reissued version of Page Of Life in the USA some three years after this album. Vangelis was not, it is rumoured, best happy. This, therefore, is the first studio version of this track, and I regard it as being classic, essential Anderson.

He has been accused many times, with good reason as well, of smothering his "hippy" world view in impenetrable lyrics, incomprehensible to all barring his immediate family and those on chemical assistance. Here, though, all is clear. His love of life, the planet, and a massively optimistic world view that we are capable of changing for the better is brought to life clearly and sharply. It is all, by the way, based upon the writings of Nana Veary, the "Devine Mother" you will have seen Anderson dedicate himself to on many latter Yes albums.

The lyrics, vocals, orchestration are simply incredible. Anderson takes himself to a plane that most vocalists simply dream of, another dimension. The listener is simply swept away by the beauty of it all. This, to me, is, alongside the wondrous Turn Of The Century, the greatest track that Anderson has been responsible for, it is that good, and I will never tire of listening to it.

This is not a masterpiece, although, in its own little way, it comes very close to it. What it is is the sound of a vocalist, songwriter, producer, and arranger at the very top of his game. If you own no other Anderson solo record, then I would recommend this one, and I include the masterpiece Olias amongst this.

Four stars. A pleasure from start to finish, and one that is highly recommended to all who can see and hear beyond a mere wall of noise in their music.

lazland | 4/5 |

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