If you are familiar at all with the 1970s band Yes, you are most likely familiar with their longtime frontman Jon Anderson, whose exquisite alto-tenor voice and cosmic lyrics--and beautiful soul--has touched so many lives since Yes' debut back in the late 1960s.
Over the years, he's been in and out of the band. Most recently out permanently because of a near-fatal asthma attack. But he has recovered, and is back recording and singing, much to the great relief of his fans, including yours truly.
Now, if you're mostly familiar with Yes and not so much with Jon's solo/collaborative works outside of the band, and want to get to know the man, his music and even his life philosophies a good deal more intimately, then you're in for a treat!
Yes, this is chiefly a Vangelis work, but those who love Vangelis as well as Yes know that Vangelis was a candidate to replace Rick Wakeman on keyboards back in '74 after Rick left (citing those dreaded "musical differences"). Despite immigration issues, the synth genius rehearsed with Yes just long enough for him and Jon Anderson to become fast friends. Jon's subsequent appearance on Vangelis' "Heaven & Hell" album, writing and singing the lyrics for that oh-so-haunting "So Long Ago, So Clear" paved the way for future recordings from the duo, later billing themselves as 'Jon & Vangelis.'
"So Long Ago, So Clear" is SO beautiful and such a huge testament to Jon's bardic gift--in voice and lyrics--that if you do not own ANY other single non-Yes CD on which Jon appears, make sure you get this, or...
On "Portraits," which is a compilation album featuring some of the best of the best of Vangelis' works, more music from Jon and Vangelis' partnership appears, as well as the namesake song to the title of the album: "So Long Ago, So Clear" (from the above-mentioned "Heaven & Hell" album).
In 1976, a year after his duo-debut with Vangelis, Jon released his own debut solo work:
"Olias of Sunhillow"--and its famous "Moorglade" symbol--is now ubiquitously synonymous with both Jon Anderson and his fans alike, simply because it IS his debut solo effort, and because of the sheer magnitude of musical and fantastical genius this work represents. Not to mention it represents Jon's sheer passion and drive for his craft: this album--entirely Jon's own prose-ideas and the music to go with it--was made in nearly six months' time. As a musician who CRAVES that much alone time to rehearse and make music with very few interruptions, "Olias" is, by itself, a shining beacon to my own dreams...get this CD and let Jon's music fuel your own personal Moorglade! :D
Jon's solo/collaborative discography is large, but my allotted space for this guide is not, so I selected one of my deeply personal favorite albums to keep you going: "Change We Must." This is his first album that features an orchestra on all the tracks, featuring orchestral arrangements of older favorites: "State of Independence" (from Jon-n-Vangelis' "Friends of Mr. Cairo"), "Hurry Home (Song from the Pleiades)"--from his 1988 album "In the City of Angels" and of course, the title track, "Change We Must," which was originally an additional Jon-n-Vangelis track from the 1998 re-release of their "Page of Life" album. I have heard both versions of this song and they are both truly exquisite in philosophy, in musical/lyrical genius and in any other way one could describe!
There is much more music of Jon's to discover, of course, so I will post another guide pertaining to the music of this magical Wizard of a man!