In the same year as Jon Anderson released his 1000 Hands album (our review here), he goes back to almost the start of his solo catalogue with a reissue of Song Of Seven.
Release date: 27th November 2020
Label: Esoteric Recordings
“I look back at Song Of Seven now and I feel so blessed,” says Jon Anderson about his second solo album although his first as an ex-member of Yes. I know how he feels.
For me there’s a personal connection and affinity with Song Of Seven. It’s easy to say with hindsight, but somehow I sort of knew that Anderson would be back with Yes. For me and many others he was/still is the heart and soul of Yes. I recall saying the same to my girlfriend of the time and now wife of many years as I took her to her first-ever gig which was Jon with the New Life Band at Manchester Apollo on Tuesday 16th December 1980. A gig that also showcased a staggering Yes medley, that show and the Song Of Seven album hold a special place.
Picking up the threads with the New Life Band that included Morris Pert, John Giblin, Mel Collins, Clem Clempson and Johnny Dankworth amongst others, the might of For You, For Me that was the album and show opener has the lyrics burned on my brain. A vocally challenging, triumphant and pacey opening number, in much the same way Olympia opens the follow-up Animation album. The verses literally pour out of the man.
Down through the age of time
The moment is not and never shall be time
We each revolve around the magnitude
Of time and motion
There’s a genuine delight in being able to remember all the words that come fast and furious in the title track’s middle section – the folky guitar bit where you’re just a little bit desperate for some Wakeman subtlety rather than the (I’m doing a disservice here) clunky piano chords. The sweeping orchestral opening that below the surface echoes Olias, the folky waltz “met me a stranger” That part from 3:50 to 5:30 must rank as one of his most transcendental pieces of music. Having not listened to the album for many years, I sang along perfectly with the words, it must be that engrained in my musical memory.
That very title track that features so many Anderson-isms – his daughter on backing vocals, the structure of the track – noy quite in the league of Awaken – but certainly a template that was followed for the title track of the Animation album.
Yes, they’re the big moments, accompanied by polished performances of the leftovers of Days and Some Are Born from Yes sessions (or ‘Yessessions’). Hear It is reminiscent of the short song passages such as We Have Heaven and parts of Olias and there are a couple of curveballs tossed with songs he would definitely have never shoehorned into Yessongs in Heart Of The Matter and Don’t Forget (Nostalgia).
Back in 1978, the NME were a little unkind with the ‘paddling in the fountains of the universe’ Yes/Anderson feature and you can understand when he fans the flames with some belting lines like the earnest declaration “no other life form asks why!” (For You For Me) and “for just one second share with me the feelings of the universe” (Hear It). But then again, it’s why we all love Jon Anderson – someone “saving the planet while living on another one” as his mate Rick used to say.
The remaster adds a few subtle differences – a few instruments you may not have heard before or vocals that have a greater presence. A couple of add on promo/edited tracks offer the essential ‘extra’ parts but not essentials – it would have been a scoop to get the rights to officially release the oft bootlegged Royal Albert Hall gig from the tour, but then most of us fans will have a copy stashed in our archives.
Hard to believe that forty years have passed but Jon Anderson, as ever, brings a passion, a joy and an uplifting spiritual presence.
Listen to Song Of Seven here: