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Jon Anderson - 1000 Hands - Chapter One CD (album) cover

1000 HANDS - CHAPTER ONE

Jon Anderson

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admireArt
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I encountered Yes with Close to the Edge (1972), from there I went backwards in their discography and then became a close follower until Tormato (1978) which marked for me their downfall and in between I acquired Jon Andersonīs first solo release Olias of Sunhillow (1976) which is still my favorite Anderson solo project , but not over his Yes masterpieces.

Jon Anderson always presented me with a controversial issue: great composer & good lyricist but a hard to love, at least for me, vocal register and sadly, more than once, I actually think it twice to listen to him or Yes for the same reason.

This collection of songs which is going to be an ongoing one as far as I understand named 1000 Hands- Chapter One (2019), really fits the collectible tag and in some way that is what it aims for. An eleven track album displaying an All Stars guest list playing alongside Mr. Andersonīs musical ideas and vocals.

Music composition wise his well known late solo musical language prevails and some minor brushes with his past one , no big surprises from there, but the merge of different rhythms and styles on a single album and of course the before mentioned collaboratorīs performances.

Some very good moments (track 4 -Activate & track 11- Now and Again), good acoustic arrangements all over but some other moments are not so enticing or memorable.

3 PA īs stars.

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Posted Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Finally, after 9 years, Jon Anderson, the vocalist for Yes (at least most of the time) released his 16th full length solo studio album "1000 Hands ? Chapter One" in March of 2019. Jon has also invited over 50 musicians to help him out with this one so that he can concentrate on his vocals and composition. Among these musicians are several past fellow Yes members Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Allan White and Trevor Rabin. Other musicians include Chick Corea, Steve Morse, Pat Travers, Ian Anderson, Edgar Winter, Jean Luc Ponty, the Orlando Symphony Orchestra and so many others. The album consists of 11 tracks with a total run time of over 50 minutes, and according to the title, I would imagine there will be more chapters to this project.

Anyone that feared that Jon's voice would not be able to carry a new album needs not worry as his voice is as strong as ever. So are his compositional skills. As I expected, most of the tracks on this album depend on world music influences, but in amazing ways, and the songs on this album will lift you up out of any bad mood because of their positive and spiritual feel. Using tribal rhythms and traditional world sounds, this album will elevate you. On "First Born Leaders", Jon utilizes the choral group "Voices of Lindahl" to back him up effectives on the choruses. "Ramalama" uses an infectious groove and rhythms that will make you want to get up and dance. He becomes his own background singer on this track utilizing voice loops quite effectively to enhance the rhythms even more. The 8+ minute "Activate" moves to an acoustic sound with guitar and flute interspersed with natural sounds. As the track continues, additions of violin and shimmering keyboards continue as layers of music continue with very little percussion. Later, Jon increases the tempo smoothly in his singing and the instruments follow along until a regular beat is reached and more percussion is added. Everything reaches a huge climax and then ends on a soft and glowing feeling.

While it's true that the track "Makes Me Happy" is a bit corny, it still makes you happy. I suppose that he can be allowed one cringe-worthy song but who else but Jon Anderson can make you feel embarrassed for him and happy at the same time. Thank goodness that track is short and that he moves away from cragginess to a more lush and lovesly "I Found Myself" where he shares vocals and uses vocal effects along with the lead instrument being a violin. "Twice in a Lifetime" keeps things simple with violin and accordion giving the track a European/Romanian sound. This turns orchestral during the instrumental break. "WDMCF" uses vocal layering to create some nice harmonics and adds some programmed beats and orchestral instrumentation, adding organic percussion later. Another track exceeding 8 minutes follows in "1,000 Hands (Come Up)". As the previous track flows into it with a lovely piano interlude. This piano turns jazzy after a quick drum passage. A moderate drum pattern is established and the piano and other traditional percussion like steel drums add into this lyric heavy first section. The tropical jazz sound continues through an instrumental break that features a violin solo. The choral group featured previously joins in again later.

Jon's solo albums are usually far from the progressiveness of "Yes", and many times tend to fall far from the mark of true excellence that this album achieves. While it is true that this album is not really progressive (it is Prog-related after all), it is still quite an amazing album and is proof that Jon still has a great voice and is also an amazing composer. There are a few minor weaknesses, but it is infectious and beautiful, and it has a lot of positive energy, which is something we are used to as far as Jon Anderson is concerned. When he is free to express himself the way he wants to in his solo music, the spirituality and postiveness shine through even more. Sometimes, that works to his detriment in his solo albums, making them sound cheesy, but that is not the case with this album. This is the Jon Anderson album I have been waiting for, but since it lacks in progressive traits, for the purpose of this site it gets 4 stars, but personally for my own purposes, I would give it 5. Excellent album.

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Posted Tuesday, May 7, 2019 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Jon Anderson will forever be associated with Yes, titans of the genre this site is dedicated to. His was the voice which first got me into serious progressive music all those years ago in the heady mid-70's.

He has also released a number of solo albums, and it is fair to say that most people reading this will state that nothing has come close to topping the first one, Olias of Sunhillow, although my personal favourite is Change We Must.

1000 Hands is a project gestating for something akin to 20 years. Only Gabriel seems more pedestrian in completing new work.

The album features a cast of thousands, but is notable for having former Yes cohorts Howe, Squire, Rabin, Wakeman, and White involved. For those eager to see any classic lineup reunited, it must be said that this is the closest Howe will get to Jon these days.

It is an eclectic mix of music, but what does really strike one is just how good that wonderful voice still sounds. Anderson plays about with his familiar interests, namely spirituality, Native American sounds, the cod reggae heard here on First Born Leaders and once presented to embarrassing effect on Teakbois from ABWH, choral and orchestral arrangements.

It is a tad too diverse in my opinion to succeed wholly, although there is much to enjoy. The "Now" suite of music is split into three parts, and might have worked better as a whole piece, because it evokes some lovely sounds and arrangements, with Anderson really sounding as good as he ever has done. The album closing sequence gives you goosebumps, with Howe shining on classical guitar. Oh, what might have been, eh?

Ramalama is a fun track, full of grooves. The choral arrangements backing Anderson on First Born Leaders at the denouement absolutely rescue a track which commences with aforementioned cod reggae.

The other famous Anderson, Ian of Tull fame, plays a lovely flute backing track on Activate, and this together with some lovely string and choral pieces bring what would have been a somewhat rambling piece of lyricism in the first part to life. The track is almost 9 minutes long, and the closing half is nothing but a joy, full of life, sound, and a vibrant celebration of music and life.

In varying forums and reviews, the greatest criticism has been reserved for Makes Me Happy, an extraordinarily weird piece of pop music dedicated, naturally, to Janeeeeeeeeeeeee. The video accompanying this really has to be seen to be believed to appreciate the extent of how years of imbibing smelly weed can turn the mind upside down. Joking aside, my view here is that the track does, actually, make me smile, and that isn't such a bad thing, is it?

In much the same vein, only Anderson could really pull off a track such as I Found Myself. It is another love song, and the words will be familiar to any long time fan. Think of If Only I Knew from The Ladder, and you will be very close, but this does feature some fine violin, pulsating bass lines and pretty choral effects.

Twice in a Lifetime is a curious track, at once baroque, then something akin to a sea shanty at times. The violin playing on this is deeply moving, and it is here that I believe Anderson could have been far more adventurous, certainly given the time it took to realise this work. For this song would have been quite gorgeous had it been performed with a full symphony orchestra, rather than the bits and pieces it has. As it is, it is pleasant, but not a great deal more than that.

The other single release from the album is WDMCF, an acronym for Where Does Music Come From? This is another sort of maddening track for me. There are some wonderful vocal arrangements, more orchestration, and it was born from his chanting of a morning (as you do. A cup of tea normally does me, but it takes all sorts), but, again, this could have been so much more. It directly segues into the title track, 100 Hands (Come Up), and this, again, cries out, as with the previous tracks, for a full symphonic arrangement and live performance. It is far too bitty, the jazzy piano and double bass solos especially simply sounding completely out of place. There is a personal bias here. I have always loathed trad jazz, especially its pretentious sound patterns dressed up as improvisation, and this track sails too close to that particular wind for my liking. However, when the violin, keys, oboe, brass, and voices soar towards the end, the result is stunning, and a very frustrating shout out for what could have been.

To summarise, an album which has taken so long to produce should not sound, as much of this does, rushed. There are some lovely highlights, but they are too few and far between. In fact, that could almost be a narrative on Jon's entire solo career, and proves to me that old adage that great bands are made of a collective of genius, working closely together for a common goal. Thus Yes. Far greater together than apart.

I can only award this 3 stars. Good, but utterly non-essential. A shame, really.

Report this review (#2444916)
Posted Saturday, September 5, 2020 | Review Permalink

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