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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Anderson Ponty Band

Better Late than Never

Review by Gary Hill

Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty have talked about doing a project together for a long time. This live album (with DVD) is such a project. It really is well worth the wait. The marriage of the two sounds is both surprising and captivating. This is definitely one that will make my best of 2015 list. It’s one of the best progressive rock releases of the year. The set runs between reworked Yes songs, Ponty solo pieces with Anderson’s lyrics and voice added and some Jon Anderson solo music reworked. With some interview stuff, the DVD is a class act. The production values are great with just the perfect balance between visual effects and live footage.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Intro

This starts off rather neo-classical in tone. It works forward into some killer progressive rock from there. This is such a powerful piece of music. It’s dynamic, creative and just great. It is just an instrumental introduction, though, and as such is rather short.

One in the Rhythms of Hope
Coming out of the previous tune, this feels so much like something Yes would have done in the early 2000s. There are hints of reggae, and obviously Ponty’s violin brings some different flavors. There are some great shifts and changes here.
A For Aria
A mellower cut, this is more like a prog ballad. I love how the instruments solo while Anderson sings. I have always really enjoyed music where the soloing wasn’t set into little compartments separated from the vocal parts. This does feel a lot like something Anderson would do in his solo repertoire.
Owner of a Lonely Heart
This Yes cover both retains a lot of the original and evolves it in some new directions. I love how the violin adds to the sound.
Listening with Me
More of a Jean-Luc Ponty type song, this really has a great vibe to it. Anderson’s vocals add a lot. The whole thing feels more like fusion, but it also has things that link it to Anderson’s solo works.
Time and a Word
Yes purists might hate this. I love it. They bring some reggae into the mix on this thing. Yet, Ponty and company also lend some jazz. It’s recognizable, but essentially deconstructed and rebuilt on a completely different frame. They even add some Beatles into the mix lyrically.
Infinite Mirage
Here they turn their attention to a song from Ponty’s repertoire. It’s reworked with Anderson’s vocals. I’ve always loved the original version of this song. This take on it is even stronger, though. It’s such a great prog groove. It flows extremely well.
Soul Eternal
This seems to stretch out from the other piece. It’s almost more rocking in some ways than the piece that preceded it l love the way the vocals flow in faster lines. There is really a driving energy to this. It’s another great fusing of Anderson with the kind of music Ponty has always done.
Wonderous Stories
Another song that gets deconstructed and rebuilt, the change isn’t as drastic as it was on “Time and a Word.” The result is quite captivating, really. It’s part Ponty fusion and part Yes magic.
And You and I
The original of this song is one of my four or five favorite Yes songs. They do a nice balance here between faithful rendition and reconstruction. I really think the way it grooves and glides does justice to the piece. I find it to be a very natural transition from the original to this way of doing the song. This song is only on the CD, not the DVD.
Renaissance of the Sun
Here’s another reworking of a Ponty song. I’ve always loved the original of this one, too. The instrumental sections on this are more extensive than some of the other tracks. Anderson’s voice brings real beauty and magic when it does appear, though. This is one of the highlights of the set.
Roundabout
As a long time Yes fan, I’ve heard this song so many times. You figure they play it at every concert, and I’ve seen them many, many times and own all the live albums. So, this piece gets a little tired to me. This version does a great job of bringing a new fire and vitality to it. It makes the song fun again. It’s a fairly faithful rendition, but a bit different flavor. Of course, Ponty’s violin brings something new for sure.
I See You Messenger
This is an energized cut that flows well. It is another solid merging of Yes/Anderson type sounds with Ponty music. It’s not my favorite piece here, but everything is so strong, anyway. The violin soloing is really powerful. This is another that didn’t get included on the DVD.
New New World
The final track, this is another CD only piece. It’s a version of one of the songs from Anderson’s recent studio album. 
 
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