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


Jon Anderson


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3.59 | 57 ratings

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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.

TCat | 4/5 |


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