Title - 'Song Of Seven: Remastered & Expanded'
Artist - Jon Anderson
For those not in the know, Jon Anderson is an English-American singer and songwriter best known as the former lead singer of the progressive rock band Yes, which he formed in 1968 with bassist Chris Squire.
He was a member of the band across three tenures until 2008 along with also being a member of Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman.
Anderson is also noted for his solo career and collaborations with other artists, including Vangelis as Jon and Vangelis, Roine Stolt as Anderson/Stolt, and Jean-Luc Ponty as AndersonPonty Band. He has also appeared on albums by King Crimson, Tangerine Dream, Iron Butterfly, Battles and Mike Oldfield.
Anderson released his first solo album, Olias of Sunhillow, in 1976, while still a member of Yes, and subsequently released 13 more albums as a solo artist.
Anderson became an American citizen in 2009 and in 2017, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Yes.
Digitally remastered and now an expanded 2CD edition, Esoteric Recordings is proud to announce the release of a new re-mastered and expanded edition of the 1980 solo album by Jon Anderson, Song Of Seven.
The album was recorded during Jon’s first hiatus from YES, with whom he had become an internationally known vocalist and songwriter and followed on from his 1976 solo album, the aforementioned Olias Of Sunhillow.
Working with keyboard player Ronnie Leahy, Anderson created an optimistic album of varying influences and he gathered together a fine ensemble of musicians to assist him such as celebrated bass players Jack Bruce and John Giblin, guitarists Clem Clempson and Ian Bairnson, saxophonist Johnny Dankworth and percussionists Morris Pert and Simon Phillips.
Song Of Seven was a UK top forty hit upon its release by Atlantic Records in November 1980 and spawned a solo tour which established Jon Anderson as a regarded artist in his own right.
This Esoteric Recordings edition has been newly remastered from the original Atlantic Records master tapes and is expanded to include two rare US single edits previously unreleased on CD and restores the original album artwork in a digipak.
1. 'For You, For Me'
2. 'Some Are Born'
3. 'Don't Forget (Nostaligia)'
4. 'Heart Of The Matter'
5. 'Hear It'
6. 'Everybody Loves You'
7. 'Take Your Time'
9. 'Song Of Seven'
10.' Some Are Born' (US Single Promo Edited Version) [BONUS TRACK]
11. 'Heart Of The Matter' (Short Version) [BONUS TRACK]
This was Anderson's second solo album, a sort-of follow-up to the phenomenal Olias of Sunhillow, though considerably less experimental, and ultimately less satisfying, in my humble opinion.
Here we see foreshadows of the 1980s pop era, including Yes's own dramatic shift towards Top-40 radio friendliness, and Anderson's own descent into short, simple, semi-catchy, and ultimately forgettable musical morsels found on almost all of his later solo attempts.
That said, there's definitely some lucidity to be found in this album, especially from the off on the declamatory and joyful opener 'For You, For Me' and even on through to the mellow, hippy-ish 'Take Your Time,' though it seems draped by a thin veil that separates the music from its full potential.
Even the title track, the only Olias-like fantastical prog ballad, 'Song of Seven is, at just over 11 minutes, and which is much longer than the other songs on the album, suffers, for even the sweet spots are restrained into being by the buffer material.
Like, just when you think it's going to crescendo, it stumbles into a significantly less interesting coda.
We all know Anderson has always had a talent for extended compositions and, ok, sure, for the most part, this doesn't wholly disappoint on this track.
It builds from silence until the first chords begin to break over the sounds of children playing. I honestly still don't know what the song is about, but it's got a slightly melancholy feel to it along with a definitive message of hope abounding in there too.
Overall, though, this is a good album and, to my mind, is more successful in its attempt to fuse Jon's progressive roots with his later penchant for catchy pop than any of his later releases.
In fact, 'Don't Forget' (a distinctive throw-back to American pop/rock of the 50's) and 'Everybody Loves You' are quite good songs, despite their relative simplicity. The only song I'm not really fond of is 'Heart of the Matter,' which sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the curated tracks.
Summed up, there are fluff tracks on here, sure, but they remarkably become less so after a second and third spin, but as we progress further into the album, where the music broadens and deepens in complexity and themes.
Indeed, by the end, we've covered rock, R&B, ambient, Celtic, folk-rock, as well as simple pop, culminating in an orchestral suite along the lines of 'Awaken.'
Anyway, for fans of Jon Anderson, this is a must-have disc, as it's an important musical milestone in the singer's career that illustrates a shifting of style and priorities in song crafting that becomes dramatically more pronounced in the next decade or so after its release.
In truth, it's also a good enough album for people who aren't, as well, as it's generally unassuming and easily accessible on most tracks. However, for those still wondering, if you're expecting another Olias of Sunhillow, well, don't!
In closing, as I've played Devil's Advocate here, Jon Anderson just has one of those unique voices that when I heard it again now for this review I was instantly transformed into a teenager again.
His music is like a good meal, not like fast food. Indeed, like a good meal, you enjoy it, remember it and leave the table with a sense of having enjoyed something lasting and substantial.
This is how I remember Song Of Seven from back then and how it has all flown lovingly back to me now from this remastered expanded edition. It obviously isn't a perfect album, but is well worth a listen, and is, without a shadow of a doubt, as good today as 30 years ago; and twice as fulfilling than most all modern chart music!
The booklet also features a new essay with an exclusive interview with Jon Anderson.
Official CD Purchase Link