Jon Anderson – 1000 Hands: Album Review

Jon Anderson is another of the Yes alumni to release a solo album in this Summer of 2020. It’s an album that’s travelled many roads and indeed , as the title suggests, had many contributors.

Release Date: 14th August 2020

Label: Blue Elan Records

Format: CD / DL

Aside from his involvement with Yes that spanned five decades, Jon has always had an active solo career and collaborated widely with musicians of note such as Vangelis and Rick Wakeman.

Olias Of Sunhillow back in 1976 was his first solo outing and perhaps remains his greatest achievement although having initially parted from Yes in 1979/80, his first two post-Yes records, Song Of Seven and Animation, were both fabulous albums. His Nineties work headed more in a spiritual and eclectic direction and although he’s been relatively quiet of late, the new millennium has seen the Anderson/Stolt collaboration and his reunion with Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin reworking the Yes catalogue.

1000 Hands is one of the many projects he’s had on the back burner, bubbling away for several decades. It truly is a huge creation that includes a Solar choir, a Superstars choir, a youth choir and the Voices of Undahl, the Tower Of Power horn section, brass, strings and four different ukelele players. On guitar, we get Steve Howe, Pat Travers, Steve Morse; Chris Squire is one of the bass players and the drummers include Carmen Appice, Alan White and Billy Cobham. Oh, Ian Anderson plays some flute too. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Conducting it all is Jon, who for a guy in his seventies, sounds amazing. Check out his performance of Awaken from 2013 with the Todmobile choir and orchestra. Yes, it’s seven years ago but it’s transcendental. Even in 2020, there’s little sign of the spirit and the flesh being anything less than in[pired and willing bar the expected wear and tear.

Meanwhile, and despite the cast of many, 1000 Hands kicks off in simple fashion with Now. A guitar-based song that typifies his spiritual philosophy; standard Anderson – sun, sky, light and love – “time is of now, not the past or future to come, to live to be.”

The overdubbed blending of voices in Ramalama echoes We Have Heaven, Olias and Leave It, giving a sense that this record is a joyful celebration. Not for the first time on 1000 Hands, the calypso of First Born Leaders is one of may stylistic adventures. Uplifting and with subtle use of one of the choirs, it has that easy feel that came with Don’t Forget from Song Of Seven.

We’re never far from outpourings of love, most unashamedly on I Found Myself (“I found myself when I found you”) yet there’s more than enough ambition in the songwriting. Twice in A Lifetime contains some flowing gypsy violin and orchestral sway and Where Does Music Come From switches through passages of tribal chants, dancing vocal lines, bubbling and vibrant percussion and sub classical piano and segues into 1000 Hand (Come Up) via some rubbery fretless bass. Very cool and very jazzy.

As we come full circle with a reprise of Now And Again, it provides a reminder (“never forget, never forget that we are friends“) of the gift of music and companionship as well with what might appear a touching parting gift to his fellow musical travellers. “Here I am singing as you play.”

He may be assisted by the thousand hands, but Jon Anderson, the master of images, light, soul and time, continues to craft and create his wonderous stories.

Listen to Makes Me Happy here:

Jon Anderson: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube

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