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Jon & Vangelis - The Friends Of Mr. Cairo CD (album) cover


Jon & Vangelis


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3.40 | 151 ratings

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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.

TCat | 4/5 |


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