In 1978 Jon Anderson, lead singer of the famous prog band Yes, joined forces with the Greek keyboard player and composer Vangelis Papathanasiou (ex-Aphrodite's Child). As Jon & Vangelis they recorded four successful albums. The seed of this cooperation was sown in 1974, when Vangelis was nominated to become the replacement for Rick Wakeman with Yes. However, Patrick Moraz from the Swiss band Refugee got the job, but the nomination led to a successful collaboration of Vangelis and Anderson, who already vocally contributed on the Vangelis albums Heaven And Hell (1975), See You Later (1980) and on harp on Opera Sauvage (1979).
When Anderson left Yes in 1980 the association with Vangelis was intensified. Between 1979 and 1991 the duo recorded four albums and got major hits like I Hear You Now, I'll Find My Way Home, The Friends Of Mr. Cairo and He's Sailing. Moreover, the popular disco singer Donna Summer († 2012) scored a major hit with State Of Independence, which can be found originally on the album The Friends Of Mr. Cairo (1981). Jon Anderson wrote all the lyrics, while Vangelis was responsible for the music. Their fourth and last album to date was Page Of Life (1991). In 2013 Esoteric Recordings released a remastered edition of this album featuring one bonus track.
Page Of Life was initially unavailable in the USA, but later on it was reissued with the bonus track Change We Must, although four other tracks were missing. Eventually Anderson set about the task to rework Page Of Life, which was released in 1998 in the USA but with only nine tracks. Vangelis didn't approve of this, and rumour has it that this was the reason why they eventually quit the collaboration. On the original version twelve tracks were compiled, while other songs from these recording sessions appeared on later albums like for instance Let's Pretend, the final song on Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe (1989, see review).
However, in 1986 the duo already made a few attempts to write a new album, but much of this work was never officially released under the name of Jon & Vangelis. They left out material recorded long before of which Sing With Your Eyes − the bonus track on this reissue − appeared in 1991 as the B-side of the CD single Wisdom Chain. So it was indeed rather strange that the album took so many years to complete. It seemed as if the two musicians took some initiatives, ideas and styles of their own individual preferences in order to cut it fine for one cohesive album. I think especially Vangelis might have lost interest after initial sessions, changing studios and record companies and having some session musicians for additional parts to perform. Furthermore Jon Anderson was in charge for the beautiful song Is It Love, a track that some critics called 'an un-credited track of ABWH.' So for all these reasons it took quite some time to get the album in the market.
The original album, however, is very interesting. You may call it an amazing showcase for Anderson's singing and for Vangelis's instrumentation. The lyrics could be described as clever social commentary. Half of the album contains music that sounds familiar compared to the previously released albums by Jon & Vangelis. They once again created a very spiritual and musical synergy, which combines elements of rock, classical music, symphonic rock, electronic music, new age and world music. However, the other half of Page Of Life contains influences of jazz and soul, styles you'll hardly hear on the previous albums.
Whether you like Page Of Life or not strongly depends on your personal musical taste, but in fact this applies to all music. When I compare this record to the three previous released albums of Jon & Vangelis, I think Page Of Life is the weakest one, though you can still hear the same sound on many tracks. For me it contained too much music that was written to chart a single. But others might judge it differently and regard it to be an album equally good as the other three. Again, it's all a matter of taste!
***- Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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