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Vangelis The City album cover
3.31 | 95 ratings | 10 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dawn (4:16)
2. Morning Papers (3:55)
3. Nerve Centre (5:30)
4. Side Streets (4:12)
5. Good to See You (6:51)
6. Twilight (4:57)
7. Red Lights (3:55)
8. Procession (9:33)

Total Time: 43:09

Line-up / Musicians

- Evangelos Papathanassiou / synthesizers and drum machines, arranger & producer

- Kathy Hill / voices (5)
- Mikamo Yuko / voices (6,7)
- Kimura Rieko / voices (6,7)
- Roman Polanski / footsteps and voices
- Emmanuelle Seigner / footsteps and voices

Releases information

Artwork: The Red Tiger!

LP EastWest ‎- WX398 (1990, Europe)

CD EastWest ‎- 9031-73026-2 (1990, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy VANGELIS The City Music

VANGELIS The City ratings distribution

(95 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

VANGELIS The City reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Matti
4 stars Vangelis is in urban feelings here. It's also conceptual in a way, "a day in the city" type of thing, beginning with dawn and ending with late night. A good finely produced album that definitely can be recommended, though not quite among my biggest favourites. Well, nearly enough.

'Dawn' is beautiful and atmospheric still-half-sleepy opener, reminiscent of some tracks in Blade Runner. 'Morning Papers' starts with footsteps, street sounds and director Roman Polanski (for whom Vangelis composed Bitter Moon soundtrack) asking for a morning paper at a kiosk. Still the intimate sensual feeling... which is then taken over with some more hectic city life in 'Nerve Centre' and 'Side Streets' (both least enjoyed by me). 'Good To See You' is another tasty one, it has a delicious lush beat and voice of a giggling girlfriend speaking to phone. 'Twilight' and its gloomy atmosphere sets in. I might prefer it without Japanese woman speaking - it sounds nice at first but when you don't understand a word... :( I don't recall 'Red Lights' well, probably didn't like it much. 'Procession' is a gorgeous closing track that slowly increases the tension. The City is very cinematic album without being a soundtrack - it is music for the mind's eye - and those who enjoy e.g. Blade Runner will most likely enjoy it. Never mind the boring cover art.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This has a great theme, how many artists say.." Right there is the canvass, now I am going to paint a picture of The City with my music.....". None probably! Therefore one has to give credit to the artist Vangelis in creating an extremely credible piece of work. The city pulse is there, exercise, driving, riding, sunsets, industrial sensuality ( OK I made that one up) but hopefully you get my drift. Musically and mood wise The City is dark, perculiar and plain lovely. Surreal at times yet always reaching out and touching the human basics within us all. An excellent work and one of his highlights of the 90's, not his best but very close.
Review by richardh
3 stars Bang in the middle mediocrity ,Vangelis can chuck this stuff out by the gallon load if it suits him.Clearly he was trying to make an 'accessible' album without dumbing down to much.What you get is quite colourfull and 'chirpy' music that lacks any real depth or flow to it.Exceptable and just about listenable but remarkably unremarkable by Vangelis standards.I think part of the problem is that the idea itself ''The City'' is unfocused and lazy.The music largely reflects that although Vangelis has a bit of fun here and there that makes it entertaining at least.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars "Life in the city, isn't pretty" (Tom Nicol c. 1978)

This 1990 release by Vangelis offers a thematic observation of a day in the life of an unnamed city (possibly Rome or Paris where the album was recorded). Perhaps not the most inspired concept ever suggested, we are rather predictably taken from "Dawn" through to "Twilight" and the "Red lights" of the night.

After the ambient introduction of "Dawn" some footsteps and a voice (Roman Polanski) seek the "Morning papers", but unfortunately they have yet to arrive. We are therefore treated to some further musak type sounds to soothe us as we await them. The rhythm of the city, represented by a ticking clock type sound, becomes progressively intrusive as we move towards "Nerve centre" where the mechanical sounds of the computer age are cold and emotionless.

"Side streets" examines a different aspect to the city, away from the commuter populated wealth centres, the jazz orientation of the piece, and what sounds like genuine violin, offering a vivid contrast through a glimpse of humanity.

A move to side two involves a lengthy break if you have the cassette version, the sides being some 5 minutes different in length. We are greeted there with "Good to see you", a relaxed piece of smooth jazz played out on a sax like synth. Kathy Hill adds some conversational voicing at various points, perhaps (despite the title) pointing towards one side of a telephone conversation rather than a face to face meeting.

Japanese voices are added to both "Twilight" and "Red lights", suggesting that the city in question could be Tokyo. The atmosphere of "Twilight" remains downbeat with little hint of a vibrant city, while "Red lights" takes us to the heart of the evening rush hour with what sounds like a TV theme.

At 9 minutes, the closing "Processions" is the longest track on the album. This piece appears to be at odds with the rest of the tracks which are clearly linked by the album's concept. Here we have what is effectively a stand alone track of credible but pretty standard Vangelis fare. "Processions" appears to feature unaccredited violin, the main theme building through synthesised voice and rhythmic percussion to provide a satisfactory end to the album.

In all, not one of Vangelis best album by any means, the accent being a little too much towards the ambient and new age. An enjoyable listen nonetheless.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Conceptual New-Age set in urban environment!

Here we have a nice little concept album from Vangelis. The "story" is just as simple and uncomplicated as the music, and can easily be told in a single sentence: it's about a day in the life of a city, staring by dawn and ending at twilight (and beginning again at the end). The city in question is probably not any specific city but any major city, past or present. This simple story - or better, "event" - is "told" entirely through the inclusion of a few spoken word passages on top of otherwise entirely instrumental music. While not at all comparable in style to his best and most progressive works from the mid 70's like Heaven & Hell, Albedo 0.39 and Spiral, the present album actually contains some of the best pieces of music that I've heard from post-Spiral Vangelis. I'm not a big fan of any era of Vangelis, or of his type of music in general, but to my surprise, I found that I actually quite enjoy some parts of this album!

Given what I have said above, it is not surprising that the album opens with a track called Dawn. It is very easy to picture a rising sun, slowly ascending over a sleeping metropolis while hearing this one. With Morning Papers, we enter the city streets and a man asks for the morning papers but it offered a sandwich instead as it is too early yet for the morning paper! The track could perhaps have been called "Breakfast"! At this point many citizens are probably still sleeping as we hear some soothing flutes over a clock-like beat. With Nerve Centre, the city finally awakens for real and this one is probably meant to depict the morning rush hour. This one is a much louder and rockier tune reminding of some stuff from Vangelis' previous album, Direct, with something sounding like an electric guitar carrying the main melody over an artificial beat. This is for me the climax of the whole album.

These first three tracks are really good, but after this point the album starts to drift off into New-Age land and I tend to lose sight of the concept. Still, we get a decent if nondescript tune in Side Streets with some pleasant, non-electronic instruments over a rather tedious beat. Good To See You is even more unexceptional and feels like mere transportation or filler, the beat is just dreadfully dull! Twilight is slightly better as it avoids any beat whatsoever and this one is pure relaxation. It reminds quite a lot of Vangelis' China album from the late 70's in that it has an Asian sound and feel to it, reinforced by spoken word samples of a woman speaking in some Asian language (Japanese?). Needless to say, this has absolutely nothing to do with Prog or any kind of Rock as it is pure New-Age at this point.

Red Lights once again relies on a tiresome beat, but slightly more interesting stuff are happening on top of it. Still, at this point (if not before!) you are wondering whether it is time to give up on The City. It does, however, get a little bit better again towards the end. The nearly ten minute closing track is a bit slow and uneventful in the beginning, but it builds towards a bombastic ending. At the very end the man from Morning Papers (played by Roman Polanski!) is once again asking for the morning papers, signalling that it has been 24 hours and a new day is about to begin (and judging from its worst tracks, it does indeed feel like a 24 hour-exercise to listen through this album in its entirety!).

With such a strong opening trio of tracks, The City could probably have been a much better album than it is had it only kept a bit closer to its supposed concept. Recommended to Vangelis fans.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I wasn't thrilled with the last few albums from Vangelis, but when I listened to the opening track, I thought that there was maybe a positive change in his production. "Dawn" is quite a wonderful and ambient track which fueled me a lot of energy while listening to it.

Unfortunately, this is the one and only tune of interest on this whole album. What is left is just a bunch of tedious tracks without great interest to say the least. I can't really depict any other song that could raise the quality of this album to a decent (or good) level.

There is absolutely no reason to write a track by track review here: each of the tracks are just below average and as such, I can only rate this work with two stars.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars The concept of this album is very "Terrestrial": a day in a city, starting from the dawn but the music is very spacey, as in some of Vangelis' first and most progressive albums. Many people speaks of "New Age", maybe because of the lack of rhythm and percussions in some parts of the album even though it's not surely the first time that Vangelis makes music like this, since his first works for Frederic Rossif.

"Dawn" is a typical Vangelis' instrumental, very chill-out with the melody carried on by a sound similar to that on "Blade Runner Blues". (well, the Blade Runner OST will be released later, but the movie gave Vangelis a big popularity since from the 80s). This track recreates effectively the athmosphere of a city dawn. This, and the following "Morning Paper" remind me of very clear sensations, like walking in an airport at the dawn after a trans- continental flight, a bit stoned by the jet-lag while the shops around are opening and the voices from the speakers are like a soft wake-up call. Listen to those two jazzy/chill-out tracks. This is what I call "evocative".

"Nerve Centre" is everything but newage: percussions and a (virtual) distorted guitar for a melody that seems taken from Heaven and Hell. I can imagine the distorted voice of Senmuth over this base even if Vangelis will never be so hard, effectively.

"Side Streets" is opened by a motor. Then a bass line quite similar to "Another brick in the wall" is the base for a cello and a flute (all virtual of course). I don't like the orchestral accents but the track is not bad.

"Good To See You" has some noises from a city street. It's another chill-out track. It should be lunchtime or just after work. It's another relaxing track. The chill-out effect is provided of the regular tempo and the repetitive bass line. All the sounds are carefully chosen. The asian girl's voice above the music, regardless what she says, fits well into the track.

"Twilight" starts with winds and a voice speaking probably Japanese (I'm not sure). The music which follows is slow and the minor chords give it a sad flavour. It may represent tiredness after a working day, or a moment of rest when one has time to think more deeply.

"Red Lights" seems to be about night life. Women speaking over a rhythmic bass line. Orchestral accents and not a clear melody as in the previous tracks. I see a bit of funk here.

"Procession" is the longest track of the album (below 10 minutes). I don't know what's the meaning of this title. The music is slow and based on minor chords. The melody is played by the cello and has a folk (Greek) influence. Later the cello is replaced by a concertina but the music doesn't change. There's a crescendo. It's like this track has been added to the album without being part of the concept. It's a solid track on which the repetitions are varied by the crescendo like in Ravel's bolero. When the music ends a military drum is what remains until the end. The last minute is a coda of voices and noises. Bells, sirens, speakers, like in a movie soundtrack, then steps going away and the album is over.

It's the best Vangelis' album of the decade. The 80s were opened by the very poor "See You Later" that I consider his worst album ever. The 90s start with this excellent album that I rate with 4 stars.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Vangelis' 1990 album `The City' sees the electronic/avant-garde artist delivering a very focused, modern sounding, inspired and varied work. A concept album based around a day in the life of a city, beginning and ending with dawn through to dusk, it's full of sleek synths bringing a very city-urban, almost industrial flavoured instrumental sound, with little traces of late-night lonely jazz, plenty of ambient atmospheres and even some big symphonic bursts. There's plenty here that will appeal to fans of several of his other works, yet it also hints at some fresh and new directions the artist could have taken. Each album the Greek artist has delivered sounds completely different to the last, so this one is no exception!

Sedate and soothing opener `Dawn' is a lush and gentle new age/ambient synth drift, with just the very slightest hint of Rick's Wrights floating intro to Pink Floyd's `Shine On, You Crazy Diamond'. `Morning Papers' opens with panning footsteps, vocal snippets and clockwork chimes to set the scene before delicately melancholic soft jazzy pattering, electric piano tip-toes and synthesized flute weave an urban soundscape. By comparison, `Nerve Centre' will come as a shock! Clanging, metallic, industrial percussive programming loops twist around gutsy electric guitar grinding that sounds like it's stepped off one of those late 80's/early 90's Tangerine Dream albums, with dramatic staccato male and female synth choir punctuations in the second half. It's really quite a daring piece, with a cold, decadent sound and almost a heavy groove as well. A looped female cry, murmuring low-key bass with cello, saxophone and acoustic guitar - but all synthesised - move together throughout `Side Streets', but some big booming orchestral interjections are a little intrusive.

`Good To See You' is a slinking mid-tempo chill-out, and the mix of drowsy synth sax, clicking beats and placid comforting synths sound like something French band Air would deliver years later! Album standout `Twilight' could have easily appeared on his fragile little `Antarctica' soundtrack from back in 1983. A constant gentle synth breeze lightly bristles the background, and a careful pulse ebbs behind a sombre but pretty electric piano melody, one of those impossibly lovely themes you instantly associate with this artist. `Red Lights' is a fairly throwaway buoyant funky piece with AOR sax and lively chattering female voices that lets the album down a little. But the almost ten minute album closer `Procession' more than makes up for it. With plenty of build and tension carried by a Greek folk-influenced stirring synth cello theme, then later accordion, grandiose synth choirs and marching drumming grow in bombast into a massive fanfare in the climax.

Despite faltering slightly on that second last track, `The City' is mostly full of fresh influences and colourful arrangements, and there's actually a sense of fun to some of it as well! Listen to `The City' as one complete continuous piece for the best results, and although there's probably not a lot of actual depth to it, you'll still discover plenty of multi- layered and tasty instrumental concoctions. Vangelis has always been a multi-faceted, definitely unique and distinctive artist, doing whatever takes his fancy and presenting a bewildering range of styles and ideas. That just means a fascinating and unpredictable catalogue of work, and followers of his many musical personalities should find much to interest them here.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Vangelis stays with the electro-prog sound of Direct, but this one is more expansive, meaning that he includes lush atmospheric pieces like Dawn, soft pieces like Twilight, and the grand march which is Procession. In the interim, he paints a tone poem in several sections of the city. This is ... (read more)

Report this review (#294559) | Posted by Progosopher | Saturday, August 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've been a fan of Vangelis since I was a child, and this was one of the records I had yet to listen. After doing so, I have to admit that this is another proof of this composer's talent, and a really enjoyable set of relaxing and well performed songs This record might be considered as a 'co ... (read more)

Report this review (#58187) | Posted by shyman | Sunday, November 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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