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Jon And Vangelis

Private Collection

Review by Gary Hill

Looking back at these Jon and Vangelis albums is an interesting experience. I’ve always enjoyed the music but have to admit to not having dug the discs out in quite some time. This disc is sort of a mixed bag. On the one hand there are a couple incredible pieces of music here (the epic “Horizons” being the most notable). The real complaint on this disc is that the tone is a lot mellower than the other albums by this duo. When you consider that their catalog isn’t exactly what you would call “rocking” that means that this album is very sedate. It’s also pretty and a great listening experience.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Italian Song
Pretty and gentle, this is a delicate piece of music. Anderson’s vocals are ethereal and the keys (while airy) manage to hold it down.
And When the Night Comes
Still gentle, this has more substance than the previous number. The energy level is higher, too. The first chorus (yes, there essentially two) is quite catchy and ties into the movie “Casablanca.” We get some tasty saxophone work on this piece.

Deborah
In many ways this song doesn’t vary greatly from the one that preceded it. The thing is, Anderson’s vocal line seems more insistent and emotional here. The lush instrumental section that serves as the extended outro is also extremely powerful (even if understated) and one of my favorite musical passages of the whole disc.
Polonaise
Again they start things off in gentle ways. This song grows a lot more than the rest, though. Anderson sings of spiritual matters in a gradually growing manner and the music begins to rock out as they make their way forward. In some ways I don’t like this one as much as the other material here, yet Anderson’s vocals really make it work.
He Is Sailing
This track had a greater degree of success than much of the rest of this disc. There’s a reason for that. It’s one of the highlights of the album. It’s got a more rocking nature to it, but doesn’t sacrifice the beauty and magic to achieve it. The vocal hook is one of the most effective here, too. This is just a great tune and still holds up quite well. They work through a number of changes, and it’s a track that shows plenty of elements of the creative efforts of both participants.
Horizon
They close the disc with a masterpiece – a nearly twenty three minute epic. Without question this is one of the finest tracks this duo ever produced. It starts in an electronic fashion that’s pretty and moving. It’s nearly two minutes in before Anderson’s voice joins. It brings with it a drama and new energy. This has a feel to it a bit like something from his Animation CD. At times Vangelis brings some jazz to the table here and there and this track is gradually built up. Anderson turns it slower and more gentle for the “peace will come” chorus.  The resolution to this section really reminds me a lot of something from Anderson’s Olias of Sunhillow album. After this works out we move into an instrumental section. This expands on the musical themes and turns the track even more dramatic. A reprise of the chorus comes in after that segment. The ride continues and at times this becomes more symphonic, but the whole way through it is running through a gradual intensification. At around the nine and a half minute mark it seems like it’s about to end. Indeed the song climaxes there and then drops away in a false ending. Atmospheric elements remain, though and begin to build things back up in a textural way. At around the eleven minute mark even those fade away and it seems like it might be over. Instead, though, a new (and quite pretty) melody rises ever so slowly upward in gentle ways. Vangelis introduces a new melodic theme and continues bringing thing slowly further to the fore. He works through a number of variations as this gets more intricate and powerful. At around the fourteen minute mark Anderson’s vocals return, painting gentle sweeps with the brush of his vocal chords. This works through and peaks after a couple minutes. Then we get more musical explorations from Vangelis. As he works this out into more melodic territory it takes on symphonic territory. It also reminds me at times of cinematic music we might have heard in old movies. There are a number of changes on the themes here and there. It gets mellow and then rises up to louder territory. After it drops back down again Anderson eventually rejoins in one of the most poignant movements of the disc. It’s gentle and evocative.  They move it through several alterations and variations and then resolve into a section that reminds me a lot of Anderson’s Song of Seven disc.

 
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