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Jon & Vangelis The Friends Of Mr. Cairo album cover
3.40 | 150 ratings | 21 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I'll Find My Way Home (4:31) *
2. State of Independence (7:57)
3. Beside (4:12)
4. The Mayflower (6:39)
5. The Friends of Mr. Cairo (12:10)
6. Back to School (5:10)
7. Outside of This (Inside of That) (5:03)

* Absent on LP 1st edition

Total Time: 45:38

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Anderson / vocals, composer & lyrics
- Vangelis (Evangelos Papathanassiou) / composer, performer, arranger & producer

- David Coker / voice (1,6)
- Sally Grace / voice (1)
- Claire Hamill / backing vocals (2)
- Carol Kenyon / backing vocals (2,4)
- Dick Morrissey / flute (4), saxophone (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Alwyn Clayden with Rosemary Harrison (illustrations)

LP Polydor ‎- POLD 5039 (1981, UK) First edition lacks track #1 from the list posted

CD Polydor ‎- 800 021-2 (1983, Germany) New cover art
CD UMC ‎- 478 941-0 (2017, Europe) Remastered by Vangelis; New cover art

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy JON & VANGELIS The Friends Of Mr. Cairo Music

JON & VANGELIS The Friends Of Mr. Cairo ratings distribution

(150 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

JON & VANGELIS The Friends Of Mr. Cairo reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's good that this collaborative work between Jon Anderson and Vangelis is finally added in this site. This album was for me an "alternative" music as by the time it was released, punk and new waves swept the music industry away with bands like Ultra Vox, Orchestral Maneuvre In The Dark, Duran Duran, B 52s who were the icons of early eighties. When I heard "The Friends of Mr Cairo" . what a treat man! It sounded beautifully for my ears. The magic of this song relies on its continuous streams of music with many changes in style through smooth transition pieces. It has a tight composition with energetic style at first part followed with mellow one at the end, featuring only Jon's vocal and Vangelis synthesizer. "I'll Find My Way Home" is another track that has been my all-time favorite especially with its excellent lyrics and floating and spacey music. I always use this song to conclude workshops that I facilitate because the music and the lyrics are fit with the purpose. "State of Independence" is also another enjoyable track.

It's a very good album with unique vocal quality of Jon and multi layer keyboard / synthesizer work by Vangelis. I think the collaboration of these two talented musicians are - overall - better than their individual solo album. Keep on proggin'!

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars WOW! Vangelis cannot be more accessible and catchy than on this record! I find that this record has a perfect mix of New Age, accessible & sentimental music, and some lite progressive elements. This is the perfect example of an album that must be listened with your heart, not your mind, because everything here must be deeply felt, not analyzed! EMOTIONAL WOMEN, please, get this record ASAP!

The mix of Jon Anderson's lead vocals and Vangelis' floating keyboards are absolutely at their best here! Unfortunately, on my white color original LP, I do not have the very famous hit "I'll find my way home". The second part of "Friends of Mr. Cairo" is absolutely beautiful and poignant: Anderson's voice is OUTSTANDING, and it fits perfectly with the echoed, floating and slightly romantic ambience. "Back to school" is a catchy boogie song, having joyful saxes and Afro-American backing vocals. "Outside of this" has similitudes with the second part of "Friends of Mr. Cairo": Jon Anderson's vocals clearly shine in the foreground, and the mellow & ethereal keyboards, the flutes + the electrical sounding piano give an unforgettable & refined character to the song.

On the other side, "State of Independence" contains excellent digital rhythms & percussions, saxes; Jon Anderson's lead vocals are, again, OUTSTANDING! "Beside" has a rather symphonic & gradually increasing in intensity mood, and Anderson's vocals, following perfectly the melodies involved, reach a peak here! Impressive: this track is really refined, and it is among my favorite one: you will keep the melody inside your head for a long time! Finally, the best is yet to come: the last track, "Mayflower", corresponds to the perfect match of Anderson's echoed vocals and Vangelis' ethereal keyboards: the track starts slowly, and then, when Anderson stops singing, the keyboards begin to INTENSELY & majestically saturate all the available space! That's EXTREMELY poignant, especially if you listen it loud: the narration through this is absolutely appropriate, and it is also the case for the NASA-like voice at the end! The track ends beautifully, with a fading overall sound: this is what we call a professionally recorded track!


Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A great follow up to the epic Short Stories although I do feel it began to have a stigma attached to their sound as in the ' easy listening' category which worked against them somehow. The title track is 'art sound cinema' at it's best and is a twelve minute opus. There are some fine other songs though the best for me being the ' Mayflower' and ' Outside of This'. ' State Of Independence' got exstensive airplay unfortunately more for Donna Summer than Jon and Vangelis! It is still a great song though with excellent rythym. ' Back To School' was the only weakpoint on this album which is the reason it gets a four star.Jon Anderson was at an alltime low with this song..what was he thinking?
Review by Guillermo
4 stars This is another "romantic" album by Jon Anderson and Vangelis, also very "nostalgical" in the case of the title track, which has voices imitating those of old actors and actresses of the old Hollywood films of the 40s-50s.

There were two versions of this album in the L.P. format: one which didn`t include "I`ll Find My Way Home", which was released as a single, and another version (which I have) which includes this song. There also were two cover designs: the one showed in this website (which I have) and another version with a photo of Jon and Vangelis in a "golden coloured frame" (the cover of later L.P. pressings and also the cover on the C.D. version).Also, the first version of this album had the songs is another order: the L.P. had as Side One the songs which were destined to Side Two later ("The Friends of Mr. Cairo, "Back to School" and "Outside of This (Inside of That)".

"I`ll Find my Way Home" is maybe the best song in this album, with great synth atmospheres. "State of Independence" has an influence of "World Music" with synths sounding like steel drums from the Antilles islands. It also was recorded by Donna Summer in one of her albums in the early 80s. "Beside" is a very good love song, with some Classical Music arrangements. "Mayflower" also has great sound atmospheres, but the lyrics are a bit funny, suggesting a new Mayflower ship, but one which is really a spacecraft "taking the Pilgrims to a search for a new land"."Back to School" is really a Rock and Roll song played with keyboards with funny lyrics about a young man who wants to return to school after seeing that finding a job in the "adult world" is very hard. "Outside of This (Inside of That)" is another very good love song.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Who would of thought in retrospect that the crowning achievement of two differently prolific artists would lie in a brief collaborative effort emanating from a period where Vangelis was touted as a replacement for the moody Rick Wakeman, which fell through because the Greek wanted to remain in Greece. Food for thought what Relayer, Going for The One or Tormato would of sounded with a more sweeping electronic tinge to it ? Probably quite similar to this very original album with the added bonus of Squire's energetic trebly bass and White's steady beat.

So Jon Anderson and Vangelis entered the studio to put together a masterwork featuring the most cinematographic expression of the Silver Screen , the title epic "Friends of Mr Cairo" complete with snippets from Peter Lorre's nasal pleas, Jimmy Stewart's hip-hop offering the Moon to Mary ,flapping spools of film, "Bullets flying, taking toll" , all sliding on a bubbling bass-synth carpet , with occasional symphonic swoops and the best vocals ever (akin to Soon on Gates of Delerium). "Bogart, Fairbanks, Maureen O'Sullivan" indeed.... This song remains a gender bending classic in the same breath as the equally theatrical "Bohemian Rhapsody"and both will stand the test of time. "I'll Find My Way Home" is another mini-jewel where the dynamic prog duo simply shine on a simple yet very effective melody. "State of Independence" is another genre crossing composition that was one of disco's only few bright lights (Donna Summer) in the early 80's and then completely reworked by electronica project Moodswings by adding snippets of Martin Luther King's famous speach. This version remains the standard and rightly so. "Mayflower" is another atmospheric piece about adventure with infusion of NASA commentary .

This is not complex prog noodling, no zeuhl tendencies, no extended space rock jam, no technical workout video. Just a plain old great melodic album with inventive music played by great musicians.

5 cinema reels

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars This film is a talkie, that's for sure

Whenever I come across this album, my immediate recollection is of feeling diddled. I bought the album very soon after it was released, only to find that within months it had been re-released with the superb single "I'll find my way home" added to the track list. The song did not appear on initial pressings of the album, the sleeve also being changed for the re-release. Needless to say, no offer was made to replace the copies purchased by the faithful, with LPs containing the single. While I shall of course not let that disappointment affect my judgement, this review is based on the original release without that single.

"The friends of Mr Cairo" is noticeably more coherent than the duo's first album together. This is due in part to Vangelis taking a more supportive role and largely suppressing his soloing. The opening title track for example runs to some 12 minutes, but is dominated by Anderson's extended lyricism. The song paints a picture of gangsters and other shenanigans using quotes and references from the golden age of the cinema. Whether it justifies its inordinate length is doubtful, but it does have a much more accomplished feel than the majority of songs on the first album.

"Back to school boogie" takes a sudden left turn into straightforward pop rock boogie. The female backing vocals of Clair Hammill and Carol Kenyon plus the ever present sax of Dick Morrisey set the song apart from anything else Jon and Vangelis have recorded together. Personally, I love the song, but prog it most certainly ain't!

"Outside and inside" has more in common with the songs on "Short stories", and indeed with Anderson's solo albums, being a softer ballad based song. It still features additional flute though once again played by Morrisey. For those who are unaware, "State of independence" is indeed the song which Donna Summer took into the singles chart. Perhaps surprisingly, it was written by Jon and Vangelis, originally appearing on this album. The song suits Summer well, being a piece of soft soul with ethnic overtones. The original here is an accomplished rendition featuring further sax, but credit must be given to Summer's largely faithful, but for me superior, interpretation. The song is one of just three on the second side of the album, the shortest being the following "Beside". Here we have another of Anderson's rather wordy epistles the song lacking any real direction. We close with the tale of "The Mayflower", the ship which took the pilgrims west to America, which the song then parallels with a similar search for a new planet in the future.

In all, a highly enjoyable outing by the odd couple (to continue the film association). There is a chemistry to this album which was almost completely lacking on their first outing together which, while not exactly advancing the cause of prog, this does make for a much more satisfactory result.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Welcome to

This is a very good example of the kind of music I don't like! The drum machines, the programmed keyboard patterns, the cheesy synth-pop sounds, the cheesy movie samples. Not my cup of tea!

The songs Beside, Mayflower and Outside Of This are not horrible, however. But two or three listenable songs cannot save this album from the abyss of utter mediocrity.

This is easily the worst Yes related album I have ever heard (and I have heard most of them). Even Yes' 90125, Jon Anderson's Song Of Seven and Rick Wakeman's 80's albums are great compared to this. And Asia's early albums are masterpieces compared to this!

Fans of progressive rock, stay away from this one on pain of death!

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Don't think this album is prog-rock. I just think this album is good example of really good music. The best name will be "art-pop" I think, but who cares about the name.

I like some earlier works of Vangelis, later he became too official, too new age, too ... boring. Anderson was perfect voice in many Yes albums, his solo works are not so interesting. May be just debut album is acceptable, all others are just boring new age.

But in this rare combination of Anderson and Vangelis, we have absolutely unique music: each of members gave his best in it.

I believe, that some listeners will say that music is too pop-oriented there ( or not enough progresive). I agree with it looking from formal point of view. But in real world we have hundreds of "ideologically " pure proggers, which are just regular clones of second level sympho - boring - imitators, so I always prefer that kind of art-pop ( ok, let use this name).

If you like really beatiful music, I believe you will like this album.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars After listening "Heaven & Hell" by VANGELIS back in the early 80's , I was so impressed hat asked my parents (who went to USA on those days), to bring me all the collection of the Greek musician. After a couple of weeks I received several albums and except "Albedo 0.31", I was unimpressed by each and every one, specially by the ones released in cooperation with Jon Anderson, the music tendencies of Jon mixed with Vangelis early New Age leanings sounded pretty cheesy to me, and to be honest, things haven't changed with the pass of years.

My edition stars with "I'll Find my Way Home", in my opinion one of the most boring songs ever released, a catchy, extra sweet romantic track with little interest except a few Vangelis solos, that sound more atmospheric and spacey, almost like music from "Blade Runner", sadly with Jon Anderson adding nothing to the work. This track wasn't in the original vinyl, I believe it should had stayed like this, because it adds nothing to the album except filling 4:31 minutes of blank space.

"State of Independence" is not better than the previous, the good jazzy intro is soon ruined by some sort of Calypso music with programmed drums, simply horrendous and repetitive to the extreme, and of course the pseudo scatting done by Jon Anderson doesn't help too much.

"Beside" starts with a beautiful piano, proving that Vangelis is a very skilled musician, but as soon as Jon enters to the equation, the level goes down, again totally boring and predictable song, not even the spacey synths can save it.

"Mayflower" has an advantage over the previous tracks, at least Vangelis tries to be innovative and allows himself to some excesses in the keyboards, the sound effects and the voices add some interest to the track.

Hey, where is Detective Hercules Poirot? The title track sounds as a soundtrack for a "B" class detective movie, you have the bullets, the car crashes, the voice of a Bogart impersonator, so only the Orient Express train is missing.

But lets say something positive............It's not boring, cheesy yes but boring no way, and Jon Anderson sounds better than usual. The synthesised bass "a la" Peter Gunn is very catchy, but the gangster voices are simply pure Camembert.

"Back to School" is pure 80's Synthpop, not that this is bad per se, but the song is nothing special, I believe it's a waste of the Jon Anderson and Vangelis talent, some early Rock & Roll chords and children chorus.............Well again not boring as most of the album.

The album ends as boring as it started with Outside of This (Inside of That), they should had ended with "Back to School", at least some of us wouldn't be falling asleep at this point. Well, it's obvious I'm not a fan of Jon Anderson, but I like most of his works with YES, at least until "Relayer", and it's also truth that I have a huge respect for Vangelis, but JON &VANGELIS together are an invitation for a nap.

If it wasn't for "Mayflower" and "Back to School", I would only had only waked to rate it with one star, but I will go with two stars, because of the tracks mentioned in the previous paragraph, that reach an average level.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars It's 1980 and Jon Anderson from a fumbling YES joins up with VANGELIS who was both benefactor and beneficiary of the soundtrack era. The strategy worked brilliantly for one album, that incorporated modern (at the time) electronica and pop into a progressive concept. "Friends of Mr Cairo" was not a huge American hit but sparked pockets of J&V mania including Ottawa where I spent college years. The title cut was ubiquitous for quite some time, and it is testament to the quality of this sprawling ode to classic Hollywood that one could always find something new to enjoy each time it was aired.

Of course, now the artificiality of the settings makes the album sound more dated than many of its contemporaries, and the harder rock of "Back to School" will never be mistaken for any of the true classics along scholastic themes, while "Mayflower" and, to a lesser extent, "Outside and Inside", float in that pre-Enya sort of way. But "State and Independence" and "Beside" remain exemplary in their expressions of either side of the Jon and Vangelis ledger - faux rhythmic biting commentary and melodic and angelic odes - both of which they tackle better than most.

Dated constructions and instrumentation notwithstanding, and allowing for the excesses of the era, "Friends of Mr Cairo" clears a path for quality music during the dimmest part of a dark era, using the timeless standbys of quality songwriting and arranging that worked in the previous decade.

Review by TheGazzardian
1 stars There's nothing really interesting here. In fact, I find myself hitting the skip button while listening to this album - something I almost never do! It starts off pretty representatively with "I'll Find My Way Home", which has a mildly catchy chorus if little else. State of Independence is roughly the same in quality, but long. Beside always makes me fall asleep. Mayflower can, too, especially the quiet parts.

The Friends of Mr. Cairo is the best track of this album. It has enough of a story going on to make it interesting, although 12 minutes is a bit too long again. And if it were on a good album, it probably wouldn't be considered a highlight.

Back To School is a simple song, again with a catchy chorus and not much else. And finally, the album ends with Outside of This (Inside of That), which is pretty forgettable.

Final point? Nothing really memorable or amazing is happening here. We have a few moments of interest but over 40 minutes of music.

If this album has one redeeming feature, it is that I bought this album and listened to it the first time on a summer road trip. Listening to it for this review is the first time that I've done so since that road trip, so the music takes me back to the bright, warm days of summer and freedom. But there is a reason that I haven't listened to this since then.

One star.

Review by ProgressiveAttic
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars We all know who Jon Anderson is (one of the geniuses behind Yes)... I am a big Yes fan and also enjoyed his work on Olias... and Vangelis is very famous too as one of the main electronic composers + I liked his work with Aphrodite's Child.... So I had big expectations about this album....

This record is really nice but don't keep your expectations really high, if you are looking for a good album (after buying all Yes and Olias...) for some Jon Anderson appreciation this is the right one. Now track by track:

I'll Find My Way is a good opener and one of the vocal highlights of the album (I told you not to have high expectations)... 3/5

State of Independence is a boring 7 minute song with a nice crazy jazzy intro....but that's about it.... really repetitive...... 2/5 (and I am being kind)

Beside is better than the previous track with a nice piano performance (one of Vangelis' highlights) and Jon's voice is great as always but by the middle of the song (although it is only 4 minutes long) it gets a bit boring and repetitive... 2.5/5

The Mayflower is a very mellow and nice song. The vocals get more interesting while the keyboards are less repetitive than before... 3/5

The Friends of Mr. Cairo is a fun piece of music and a highlight of the album (besides the cheesy sound effects ala detective movie) 3/5

Back To School is another fun, but rather forgettable, song. This time in a 80's synth pop style... 2.5

Outside of This closes the album with some more nice Vocals but boring music... 2

Total: 2.57...It is right in the edge between 2 and 3 stars. Sort of a good album but it should interest more to Anderson and Vangelis fans than to general prog fans...

2 stars for a nice but forgettable album... recommended for Vangelis fans (if they have most of his other albums) and Anderson fans (again if they already bought all of Yes and most of Jon's solo albums).

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars I'm a bit surprised to see that this album is more rated than Short Stories. This is more poppy and has some weak moments in the title track, but first of all let me say that on the CD version the A nd B sides seem to have been swapped. I'm absolutely sure that on the vinyl the A side is the one with the title track.

The order used to listen to an album can influence the judgement. Surely "I'll find My Way" is a better song than "The Friend Of Mr Cairo".

On my review I want to stick on the vinyl order.

"The Friend Of Mr Cairo" is a sort of tribute to gangster's movies of the 40's. A lot of gimmicks in the background, like neither Roger Waters is used to, are behind a "B-movie" bass riff. Jon has an effect on the voice, I think a harmonizer. Not really bad. One can listen to it without getting bored, but it's surely not a masterpiece. When after 5 minutes it slows down it's more in line with what one can expect from this duo, but all the "fun" coming from the first part is gone. In brief, the two halfs of the song are not functional one to the other.

An electronic boogie picks up us in the 40's and puts us in the 50's. "Back to School" seems to be here just for fun. In this sense 5 minutes are too much. A song like this shouldn't last longer than 2 and half minutes. The short sax solo of Dick Morrisey is remarkable.

With "Outside of This" the album starts to be a Jon and Vangelis album. Let's forget the first two tracks. This is one of the mellow songs of wich there will be plenty on Private Collection. A relaxing moment to remember who we are listening to. The lyrics seem to be the usual Jon's appreciation for universal love or something like this, but I usually don't put a lot of attention on Jon's lyrics.

"I'll Find My Way" is a melodic song with a good performance of Jon (overdubbed). Nothing special. Just nice easy listening as in the light moments of Aphrodite's Child with Demis. Jon uses the harmonizer (or similar) again. It's also possible that what I think is an effect is only due to the overdubbing.

"State Of Independence" is started by a very short jazzy sax intro but turns immediately into electronic. It's the kind of song that can be found on many Jon's solo albums, since Olias To Song Of Seven. Good stuff.

"Beside" is another melodic interlude. Piano and voice, mainly. Easy pop.

The real highlight of the album, spacey, evocative is the closer: "Mayflower" is for me the only valid reason to buy this album. While all the rest is just 80s electronic without pretending to be anything special, even if the parallel between the travel of the pilgrims in 17th century and the exploration of space can appear trivial, this song evocates space helped by the astronauts voices in the end. Only, Vangelis used them already on Albedo 0.39 so it's not much original.

I'm a fan of both and I'm happy to own it, but it's just a collector's item.

Review by lazland
3 stars This is the second full length collaboration on album between Anderson and Vangelis, the latter being the man the former still describes as his musical inspiration. When this was released, we still had Yes withdrawal symptoms, or rather we missed Anderson's incredible voice. The predecessor album featured one of my favourite tracks of all time, I Hear You Now, and I remember being eager for more of the same.

This being the 1980's, though, anyone expecting a re-run of Close To The Edge, or even the type of music Vangelis had produced with classics such as Heaven & Hell were to be rather disappointed. This is not in any shape or form symphonic prog. In fact, it is barely progressive at all. What it is, though, is a hugely enjoyable collection of well written pieces of music, featuring one of the most wonderful voices in rock together with a true virtuoso.

The album spawned two major hit singles, the first of which, I'll Find My Way Home, led to a rather embarrassing Top Of The Pops appearance by the duo hopelessly miming to the backing track. The second, State of Independence, is vintage Anderson exploring his unique world view and featuring the legendary Dick Morrissey on sax. Groovy and impossibly catchy, I would bet more than a few pounds that this great track introduced many a person to the wonders of Yes, having thought that they would like to explore this nice man's vocals a little bit further. It is also far better than the covers it produced, most notably by the Queen of disco, Donna Summer.

Elsewhere, the mood quietens down somewhat, and the album is driven by a collection of thoughtful, almost laid back, tracks. Beside is typical in this, with a nice vocal set against quiet piano and synths. The end vocal, though, is where Anderson excels, his voice soaring above the piece and thrilling us with that emotion he does so well.

The Mayflower is the biggest disappointment for me here. Although one could applaud the obvious experimentation Vangelis was trying to bring to the track, it meanders far too much, especially vocally, and ends up as a bit of a dirge really. It is a shame, because I think the duo were trying to recreate the theme and soul of Anderson's masterpiece, Olias Of Sunhillow. It just didn't quite get there.

The highlight of the album is the title track itself, and easily the closest they came to their mutual prog roots. It is, of course, a homage to the old style, black & white, Hollywood legends and films that Anderson adored, and the homage is lovingly rendered. Full of amusing and interesting film clips or copies, Vangelis also makes a far better fist of things as compared to the previous track, simply because it is tuneful and soulful. Then ,when he slows proceedings down in order to presage Anderson's wonderful and quite beautiful denouement, it is, in my opinion, his finest moment on record. A great track, and easily up there, as far as I am concerned, with Anderson's best moments in Yes. For a track in excess of twelve minutes long, it also received (and continues to this day) a fair bit of radio airplay.

Back To School is a bit of fun, and so simple that you really cannot believe that it was co- written by the man responsible for music like Heart of the Sunrise. As I say, fun, but really throwaway stuff.

The album closes with Outside of This (Inside of That), another gentle ballad, but one that will have fans, such as myself, of just sitting down and enjoying a gorgeous voice singing a love song very happy. Again, his voice soars magically in places, and Vangelis proves himself to be the perfect accompaniment.

This album could never be described as a masterpiece. As with the other albums the duo released, it could be hit and miss, which is a shame, because when they "hit", they were magical.

If you cannot stand commercially driven prog related music, then stay a mile away. If you think that Anderson can only be accompanied by complex music and complex musicians such as Howe, Squire, and the rest, then also stay away. If, however, you simply enjoy listening to a gorgeous voice in tandem with a real keyboard talent, and don't mind it fairly simple, then this is recommended.

Three stars for this. A very good album which I enjoy revisiting every now and again.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Both Jon Anderson and Vangelis have discographies (as solo artists) that are sort of hit or miss, some are really great while others are weak. But when they teamed up, they had, for me at least, some very memorable albums, some of my favorites from both artists (minus the Yes albums of course).

"The Friends of Mr. Cairo" is their 2nd collaboration, released 2 years after their first one, in 1981. I have to say that as far as both artist's solo albums, this one has aged quite well. Being as both artists at the time were trying to fit into the new decade at the time, they did so without selling out. In this album, we tend to move away a bit from the experimental feel of the first album "Short Stories" and they work on making this one a bit more accessible, yet they don't compromise in the quality of their output and ingenuity.

The album, for the most part, is more of a homage to old classic cinema, especially evident in the title track, where snippets from films are edited into the music, and done so with class. Vangelis and Anderson both incorporate snippets of themes from a few of the classics along the way, yet they do it without making it feel like they are stealing from the soundtracks while they incorporate the music so that it flows well together. This track, which surpasses 12 minutes, never gets old or stale and, in fact, seems to be divided into two (or maybe more) sections. The talents of both artists really fit together quite well, better, in fact, than their 3rd collaboration "Private Collection". This also helps to elevate this track, and the entire album for that matter. The 2nd track "Back to School" ends up being a little corny and just a bit too happy, but the beat is nice and might even make you tap your foot, just a little bit. But "Outside of This (Inside of That)" comes off a bit more naturally to the pair making up for that somewhat childish track.

The 2nd side of the original version of the album starts with "State of Independence", which was later covered by Donna Summers and, a decade later, a band called "Moodswings" with Chrissie Hynde on vocals, which is where I first became familiar with it. I was a big fan of that version, and when I finally heard this earlier version, I was impressed that the song was written by Vangelis and Anderson. It's a beautiful song and both versions are quite acceptable, yet quite different from each other in their own ways with only the melody being the constant between the two. "Beside" is a shorter track, one that really doesn't stand out much for me. The final track is more cinematic and progressive sounding with complex melodies and lyrics from Anderson and with Vangelis' cinematic flair, both of which work very well together and close the album quite impressively.

Overall, this is a very good album. It's biggest fallback is that it isn't necessarily the most progressive work of either artist, but it is, in my opinion, one that I would still place among my progressive albums. I have always loved the sounds of Vangelis and own almost all of his albums. The same can be said of Yes and Jon Anderson, but many of Anderson and Vangelis' solo albums can be pretty bad, while others are stellar. I place this one in with the best of both artist's works. I can easily give it 4 stars, and about half of the album could be considered progressive, but mostly in a lighter sense of the style. It's definitely not deserving of 3 stars, so I don't feel bad rating at 4, even with the cringe- worthy "Back to School". It is the best of their collaborations.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The Friends of Mr Cairo is a much more accessible album than Jon & Vangelis' first album "Short Stories". I like this work very much. By this, the second album of thiers, there are fewer dreamlike quailities and more simple and evocative structures. Some may find the electronic arrangements da ... (read more)

Report this review (#884031) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Saturday, December 29, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was without a doubt one of my favorite albums of 1981. I was already a huge fan of Yes and enjoyed a lot of Jon Anderson's solo music such as OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW, but did not care much for the electronic sounds of Vangelis. This album, however, skillfully merged the two artists into a great reco ... (read more)

Report this review (#749387) | Posted by mohaveman | Saturday, May 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's not my favourite J & V album (Short Stories is better) but it has some great tracks on it. There is definitely a more pronounced eighties influence on this album but the production of the music is just great. It starts off with 'I'll find my way home' which offers a nice initial hook into ... (read more)

Report this review (#532060) | Posted by Richens | Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars On the heels of Chariots of Fire, Vangelis releases his most popular collaboration with Jon Anderson. Not that it is their best, however. I think its popularity partially rests on the time of its release, and part rests on the fact that this is the most pop-oriented of their four albums. Th ... (read more)

Report this review (#295512) | Posted by Progosopher | Friday, August 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is one MELLOW album, with the exception of 'Back to School', which I ususally skip. Jon Anderson has a voice like no one else, and I've never heard him sing so many songs with such beautiful melodies as on this album. There is some great saxophone and the synthesiser music on 'Beside' is sac ... (read more)

Report this review (#52221) | Posted by | Tuesday, October 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a perfect album showing what two great musicians can do (almost) all by themselves. Firstly, minus Back to School, the whole music was arranged, performed and composed by Vangelis and all vocals (minus ambience voice) and lyrics by Anderson. Did they achieve anything? Yes, a masterpiece ... (read more)

Report this review (#50835) | Posted by Sharier | Sunday, October 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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