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Jon Anderson In the City of Angels album cover
2.70 | 124 ratings | 13 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hold On to Love (4:46)
2. If It Wasn't for Love (Oneness Family) (4:26)
3. Sundancing (For the Hopi/Navajo Energy) (3:16)
4. Is It Me (4:22)
5. In a Lifetime (4:13)
6. For You (2:51)
7. New Civilization (4:31)
8. It's on Fire (4:11)
9. Betcha (4:01)
10. Top of the World (The Glass Bead Games) (5:26)
11. Hurry Home (Song from the Pleiades) (4:59)

Total Time 47:02

Bonus track on 2011 reissue:
12. Hold On to Love (1988 single version) (3:58)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / vocals, drums & percussion (3), horn arrangements (4,7,9), harp (6)

- Paul Jackson Jr. / guitar (1,5)
- Michael Landau / guitar (2,4,7-9,11)
- Dann Huff / guitar (2,4,8)
- Steve Lukather / guitar (10)
- Larry Williams / keyboards (1,3,5,9), programming (9)
- David Paich / keyboards (2,4,6,10), orchestration (6)
- Don Freeman / keyboards (7,8)
- Rhett Lawrence / keyboards & programming (9,11)
- Steve Porcaro / keyboard programming (10)
- Marc Russo / saxophone (4)
- Bill Reichenbach / saxophone (7), trombone (9)
- Kim Hutchcroft / saxophone (7)
- Jerry Hey / trumpet (7), horn arrangements (4,7,9)
- Gary Grant / trumpet (7)
- Jimmy Haslip / bass (1,5,7,8)
- Mike Porcaro / bass (2,4)
- John Robinson / drums (1,3,5,7-9)
- Jeff Porcaro / drums (2,4,10), percussion (10)
- Lenny Castro / percussion (1,3,5,7)
- Paulinho da Costa / percussion (4,8)
- Gordon Peeke / drum programming (7)
- The Cathedral Choir / chorus vocals (11)

Releases information

Artwork: Jerry McDonald

LP CBS ‎- CBS 460693 1 (1988, Europe)
LP Yellow Label ‎- SPV 265021 LP (2013, Germany)

CD CBS ‎- 460693 2 (1988, Europe)
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2246 (2011, UK) Remastered with a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy JON ANDERSON In the City of Angels Music

JON ANDERSON In the City of Angels ratings distribution

(124 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)

JON ANDERSON In the City of Angels reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by daveconn
3 stars Jon ANDERSON recorded this album in Los Angeles and Hollywood, thus the title and the presence of familiar L.A. session musicians. Much of the material is cowritten with others (Don Freeman, David Paich), including two tracks cowritten with Motown legend Lamont Dozier. The music, which matches immaculate production and trite arrangements with Jon's spiritual sensibilities, feels like a lost Disney soundtrack much of the time. There are a few likeable tracks on here, such as the charming "If It Wasn't for Love" and the energetic "New Civilization", but for every step forward the album takes a step back. A couple of these songs did get better treatment on the orchestral Change We Must, notably "Hurry Home (Song from the Pleiades)" and "It's on Fire". The better moments are those that sound most like Jon, whether the wordy but intelligent "Sundancing (for the Hopi/Navajo Energy)" or the simple "For You." The problem with "In the City of Angels" is the perceived portability of Jon ANDERSON's voice; he's more than a vocalist in search of a setting. It's true that he catered to a more commercial audience on Big Generator, and tracks like "Top of the World (The Glass Bead Game)" are in line with that album's offerings, but there's a world of difference between what you'll tolerate from Alan White versus a Jeff Porcaro. Jon rises above his surroundings half of the time, but "In the City of Angels" still raises the question of what he was doing there in the first place.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Anything Phil Collins can do.

A very commercially orientated, and largely disappointing album by the Yes man. Released in 1988 (between "Big Generator" and "Union" in Yes terms) the album features many of the now dated electronic sounds of the period.

It's interesting that the album bears more than passing similarities to the solo work of Phil Collins, including some funky rhythms and brass backing. While Collins made the mistake of imposing those influences on Genesis, Anderson retained his credibility by hiding such sounds away on his relatively unsuccessful solo works.

There really is little to recommend this album. The songs are basic, and unimaginative. They are dominated by Anderson's vocals to the extent that any instrumental sections are brief and lifeless. "Betcha" is a good example of all that is wrong. It's an upbeat pop number, with inane lyrics. Anderson is a fine vocalist in the Yes environment, but his vocals sound completely out of place on this sort of track.

There are some pleasant, softer tracks, such "Hurry home", although even these sound a bit cheesy.

No prog here, and a million miles from the far more worthy early solo works of Anderson. Even the sleeve is tacky.

Review by Guillermo
3 stars I have a tour book from YES` "Union" tour. In the "History of YES" notes, the writer of these notes wrote that Anderson "recorded three albums in L.A., but he was tired of that scene, and he went to Greece to work with Vangelis and then he returned to England to form ABWH". This "In the City of Angels" album was released in May 1988, after the YES`"Big Generator" tour was finished. It seems that Anderson left YES then, but I was surprised that Anderson released then this Pop Rock album, because it seems that he left YES because he wasn`t happy with the musical direction (Rock Pop) that YES`albums with Trevor Rabin had. So, I can`t understand why he singed then with a more commercial record label and he recorded this commercial album with them.

Anyway, this album is well produced and recorded with fine musicians like the musicians from the band Toto and other very good session musicians. The sound and style of the album is mostly very '80s, with keyboard sounds which I previously heard in albums by bands like STYX and particularly in some hits by STYX former lead singer / keyboard player Dennis DeYoung (particularly in a song called "This is the Time"). The song "Hold On to Love" is very good, in Rock Pop terms, with very good arrangements and playing. This song in particular was composed with Lamont Dozier, who with the Holland brothers previously composed songs for Motown artists like The Supremes in the Sixties. It is curious that Dozier was also working in 1988 with Phil Collins, co-writting songs for Collins`album sountrack for the film "Buster", on which Collins had the main character of the film. Anderson also made a promotional videoclip for "Hold On to Love" on which Chris Squire appears playing the contrabass in a video with an image design with the musicians and backing female singers dressed in the 1930-1940`s fashion, with Anderson dancing and singing with a hat like in the musical "A Chorus Line" and also playing a vibraphone! The rest of the songs are a mix of Pop Rock songs with some "New Age" music influences.

In conclusion, a very well produced Pop Rock album which was a bit in contradiction with Anderson`s reasons to leave YES in 1988 because he was tired of the Pop Rock musical direction of the band which was mostly influenced then by Trevor Rabin.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One thing for sure, regardless music quality, the sonic quality of this CD is definitely "superb"! I salute the producer (Stewart Levine) who has made this recording is a pleasant thing to enjoy in terms of high fidelity. I got the mixing is totally perfect: well balanced bass, transparent treble and not too sharp and clear mid-range. Oh hopefully all prog music are recorded with this level of sonic quality. It's so perfect!

As I said before, the solo albums of Jon Anderson (except the debut "Olias of Sunhillow") are basically pop outfits - so as the case with this "In The City of Angels". But, I do not mind playing this album repetitively because whenever I play this CD with decent home stereo, the sounds produced are superb! Everything is so clear. In fact right from the start of opening track "Hold On To Love" which reminds me to Yes' "Hold On" is recorded with crystal clear sound. The second track "If It Wasn't For Love" continues with another great sonic quality - and the music itself is not bad at all. From this track I can sense the style of ABWH music. The third track "Sundancing" reminds me to ABWH's "Teakbois" - well at list the keyboard work is very similar. With "New Civilization" Jon wants to explore his musical boundary through the use of percussion like in Latin music. Again the voice of Jon makes the song quite interesting in melody as well as textures. His vocal layers are quite unique and have enriched the song.

Overall, I think this is a good album by Jon Anderson especially if you see it NOT from progressive rock perspectives. Keep on proggin'!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
2 stars In the City of Angels is one of countless Jon Anderson solo albums dating back to 1976's Olias of Sunhillow. I know full well that I should have started with his debut album, but alas I saw In the City of Angels in a bargain bin and apparently shifted my brain into neutral (i.e., it was running, but going no where). I have regretted it to this day.

What we have here is basically a collection of pop songs. Nice pop songs, immaculately produced and well written, but pop songs nonetheless. The other thing to note is the cheery vibe throughout the album, like endless episodes of Sesame Street. It's almost sickening. I don't necessarily have a problem with cheeriness, but sometimes you can go too far, sometimes uncomfortably too far.

Anderson does give a great performance, his voice as beautiful as ever. His band of session musicians are all great performers. I really can't find any faults in the performance. What bothers me is that it isn't prog rock and that it isn't even in the same league as Yes' Big Generator or 90125 albums (similar 1980s pop rock with prog tendencies). And thus, it gets only a very, very rare spin in my CD player nowadays.

Two stars. For collectors and fans only. Admittedly, pop rock fans that like music from this era may really enjoy this.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars If you are not a prog purist, this album isn't bad. Very competent musicianship, provided by american studio musicians ( or better let name them by their real name - Toto band). In fact all album is fresh and attractive pop-rock with brass, funk and some synth included. But differently from many other pop-musicians of that period, Anderson music isn't simplistic, primitive or too soapy. It's tasteful professional music, and combination of Anderson vocal abilities and american pop musical culture gave us product of high quality.

Another thing - this album is far from prog, at least in it's traditional sense. Could be recommended for quality intelligent pop-rock lovers.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore (we are in L.A.)

Around the time of Big Generator, Jon Anderson recorded this solo album in Los Angeles, the city of angels. Not too surprisingly it has an American sound to it that reminds of bands like Journey and Toto. Some people from the latter band even play on the album. It also sounds very much like a Barclay James Harvest album from the 80's. The music is very slow in tempo, it is slick and it is hardly progressive in any way whatsoever. Needless to say this has absolutely nothing to do with Jon's day job in Yes. Not even with Big Generator or 90125 as those albums are indeed very progressive compared to the present one. There is nothing here that I would consider really poor, it is clearly a very professional recording and Jon actually sounds quite inspired! But one major problem is that all the songs sound quite similar and listening to the whole thing quickly becomes rather dull.

The better songs come at the end and particularly Top Of The World (The Glass Bead Game) is a decent song. The closer Hurry Home (Song For Pleiades) has some tasteful Bagpipes. The rest of the songs are quite ordinary 80's Pop Rock with very slight World influences. If Jon is your favourite singer of all time and you don't mind some slick 80's Pop Rock, then this is for you! Personally, I find it just about listenable and rather boring. This is not my cup of tea at all, and I am quite certain that I speak for most Prog fans.

As I said, this is not a poor product but it is really only for hard core Jon Anderson followers. Sorry Jon, but I cannot bring my self to give this a higher rating than the single star.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars How bad the 80s have been! After Big Generator Jon Anderson makes himself guilty of an album of this kind...commercial pop with disco/funky parts and almost nothing progressive...wait, is it totally so?

Let's go track by track: the opener "Hold On To Love" absolutely yes. In the sense that's just a pop song with disco rhythm and electronic easy jazz parts like some of the glamour bands of that time. Things like "Matt Bianco" or "Wang Chung"....only Jon's voice can partially save it. You may decide to listen to it until the end without skipping to the following one.

The Calypso songs are part of Jon's solo albums since many years. "If It wasn't For Love" is one of them. In the chorus there are clues of Jon Anderson, the rest is Harry Belafonte a couple of octaves higher than usual. Not a bad song, but this is not what one searches for in a Jon Anderson's album...until this one....

"Sundancing" is the first decent thing of the album. Not too far from "Short Stories" and precursor of ABWH. I personally don't like the electronic brass accents between one sentence and the other as it gives the song an unneeded south-American imprinting. You can expect to hear "Brother Of Mine" following the sudden end of this song.

"Is It Me"...In case it's a question I couldn't answer. I'm not totally sure that this melodic pop song comes from the author of Olias of Sunhillow. Again it's not a bad or a poor song, but things like this can be found in almost every pop-new-wave album of that period. Good vocal performance anyway. Jon's voice sounds very sweet, but the sax in the middle is between Sting and George Michael, just to give you an idea.

"In A Lifetime" starts with a guitar like Roxy Music's Avalon and the melody is of the kind that can be found on the A side of "Private Collection", until the forgettable chorus. So sweet that there's the risk of getting a diabetes.

"For You" gives the idea that he has finished the chords so he's using the same of "Is It Me". Well, it's just two minutes reminding to "Deborah" that's an equivalent song from Private Collection.

"New Civilization" makes a quite good use of the percussions. The things that in general I dislike more in Jon Anderson's albums on this one are the best, probably because are the only remainders of the "normal" Jon Anderson.

"It's On Fire" has at least a signature different from 4/4, but it's totally 80s. Another song that could come from any other pop band of the period. One of the kind: "not totally bad but with nothing appealing for a YES fan".

The lowest moment of the album. "Betcha". You betcha skip it!! Jon, you are not Michael Jackson and MJ fans would not likely buy you. I can't imagine what Weird Al Jankovic could have made of this song if he only knew it...

"Top Of The World" starts symphonic...a bit of YES, finally. It seems that Jon tries to be forgiven for the very bad song that preceeded this one. Well, even this song is not how it seems to promise initially, but it's a YES song of the 80s. Play it within 90125 (an album that I really like). One thing that I'd save from this album.

The last song "Hurry Home" appears like a sort of Christmas Carol forgotten when "3 Ships" was printed. Listen even to this if you survived until this point, but I think your ears have already suffered enough so I suggest putting on Close to the Edge, just to ease your pain.

It's a poor album, but there are at least a couple of songs that can be listened, and Jon's voice is still the same. If you are a fan you may enjoy it at least partially. If not give it up. 1.5 stars. I rate it with two because of "Top Of The World".

Latest members reviews

1 stars Usually I find some song or part of an album that I like. I try to be nice and fair to the artists but there is just nothing on this album here for me. It is all soft pop and it's not really that good. I kind of like "Sundancing" for it has a cool ethnic beat with Nintendo sounding synths com ... (read more)

Report this review (#129845) | Posted by White Shadow | Sunday, July 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars As an album, you've got to look at it in several different ways: As an album of 80's AOR - it's not bad As a Yes album - it's abysmal As a Jon Anderson solo album - it's above average! By this time, Jon was heavily into his New-Age-Sun-Worshipping phase and it tells on the music - "Sund ... (read more)

Report this review (#82092) | Posted by coldsun | Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars While I really love the "traditional" progrock (Pink Floyd, TD, Alan Parsons) I find this album by Anderson incredibly good. Songs are perfect, and I love his affirmation of life and love! His lyrics are quite lofty, but not empty, and his voice has the power to move my soul. Jon Anderson is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#26947) | Posted by | Thursday, April 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I bought this record because it had Jon Anderson's name on the album cover. And how suprising this cd was! Incredible 80's pop sounds, nice soft-rock/AOR - no sign of the pretendious complexibility and mindless light-speed shredding that YES had. Buy it! Now when those AOR-rednecks, wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#26945) | Posted by | Thursday, November 25, 2004 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This solo coming from our Yes- heroe Jon Anderson can hardly be called 'progressive' . Many tracks are sounding with an embarassing Police/Hall&oates/Phil Collins-like melodic structure. The arrangements are very weak all along the entire LP. Only the first song 'Hold on to love' is rathe ... (read more)

Report this review (#26944) | Posted by | Sunday, November 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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