Jon Anderson -
In The City Of Angels

(CD 2011, 51:20 Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2246)

The tracks:
  1- Hold On To Love(4:46)
  2- If It Wasn't For Love(4:25)
  3- Sundancing (For The Hopi/Navajo Energy)(3:18)
  4- Is It Me(4:25)
  5- In A Lifetime(4:14)
  6- For You(2:51)
  7- New Civilization(4:31)
  8- It's On Fire(4:10)
  9- Betcha(4:00)
10- Top Of The World (The Glass Bead Game)(5:25)
11- Hurry Home (Song From The Pleiades)(4:58)
12- Hold On To Love (bonus, A-side of single)(3:57)

Jon Anderson Website        samples        Esoteric Recordings

After Jon Anderson left Yes in 1980, he started to work on a solo career that resulted in the release of several solo albums, guest performances and collaborations. He started recording with Vangelis and in the summer of 1980 Jon & Vangelis released their debut album Short Stories followed by Anderson's second solo album Song Of Seven in November. In 1981 he did a guest appearance on Rick Wakeman's concept album 1984, but also the second Jon & Vangelis-album The Friends Of Mr. Cairo appeared. Seemingly 1983 was a busy year for Mr. Anderson. He recorded his third solo album Animation, did a guest performance on Mike Oldfield's album Crises and he recorded Private Collection, the third album by the successful duo Jon & Vangelis. Moreover, he tried to form a trio with Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson, but that effort failed.

In 1985 Anderson wrote the song This Time It Was Really Right for the movie St. Elmo's Fire. He lent his voice on Silver Train and Christie for the soundtrack of Scream For Help. In 1985 he appeared with Tangerine Dream on the song Loved By The Sun recorded for the movie Legend directed by Ridley Scott. His fourth solo album Three Ships saw the light of day as well. In 1986 he sang on a track recorded for the film Biggles: Adventures in Time and in 1987 he did a guest appearance on Moonlight Desires from Gowan' s album Great Dirty World. In 1988 Anderson released In The City Of Angels, his fifth and most commercial album to date that got a re-release in 2011.

For this album he invited other songwriters rather than creating an album wholly of his own material. This resulted in the most straightforward commercial pop album of his oeuvre sounding closer to a Toto-album than to Anderson's earlier work. It's not that strange since Toto performed on several songs, especially on Top Of The World (The Glass Bead Game) written together with David Paich (keyboards, orchestration). Besides Paich, Steve Lukather (guitar), Steve Porcaro (keyboard programming), Jeff Porcaro (drums), and Joseph Williams (backing vocals) participated on this piece. But also on many other tracks the members of Toto are explicitly present. Bassist Mike Porcaro played some parts on If It Wasn't For Love and Is It Me. Together with David Paich Jon wrote For You, one of the better songs of the album. It's mainly performed on keyboards and featured some strong harp playing by Mr. Anderson. Jon reciprocated by performing on the Toto-album The Seventh One that was recorded about the same time as In The City Of Angels.

The songs Hold On To Love and In A Lifetime were co-written with Lamont Dozier, who made fame with Motown Records. A music video for Hold On To Love had been recorded and broadcasted on TV. On this video you could notice a cameo appearance of Yes-bassist Chris Squire, although he didn't play a note on the album. Rhett Lawrence is another important musician on the album. Besides playing some of the keyboards and doing some programming and arrangements he also wrote Is It Me and Betcha. It's rather strange, but some of the songs reminded me of the album Anderson recorded as ABWH with his band mates Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe in 1989. I noticed the same kind of Caribbean sound on their eponymous album on tracks as If It Wasn't For Love and Sundancing (For The Hopi / Navajo Energy). The last one even had a keyboard arrangement that later on was used for Fist Of Fire on the ABWH-album. The piece New Civilization is most related to the music Jon Anderson normally recorded.

In a way this album reminded me of the music Anderson wrote for Animation (1983). This album also contained some radio-friendly influences, but less than In The City Of Angels. This re-release only contains one bonus track, a single version of Hold On To Love which differs not that much from the album version. It's one minute shorter and therefore more suitable to broadcast on radio. However, neither the single nor the album was commercially successful. This happened with many progressive rock stars who tried to sell out, but didn't reach an audience for their music.

In The City Of Angels isn't a bad album at all. The music strongly tends towards the style of music you can hear on The Seventh One by Toto. However, the compositions are less strong than on the Toto-album. Moreover, Toto sounds as a musical collective and I missed that a lot on In The City Of Angels. It wouldn't be fair to compare the album to his other solo releases or with the albums Anderson recorded with Yes. The progressive rock elements are lacking since he wanted to do something different. Maybe this is a chance for some Yes-fans to buy this album. The booklet with all the lyrics, pictures, liner notes and song credits make it worth-while to buy a copy.

***- Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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