Review Summary: This is a very beautiful and magical album that came just in the right time. It shows the musical world of both musicians almost in a perfect way.
Jon & Vangelis was a musical project formed by the lead singer of Yes Jon Anderson and the famous Greek electronic pioneer musician Vangelis, in the 80’s. This wasn’t the first time the two had worked together. The first meeting between them took place in London, in the 70’s. Vangelis was to be the natural replacement for Rick Wakeman on the keyboards, in Yes, when he left the band after the release of their sixth studio album “Tales From Topographic Oceans”. It would never happen especially due to personal reasons of Vangelis. Meanwhile, the role went to the second choice, the Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz. Still, Jon Anderson has participated already, in the role of vocalist, on albums of Vangelis like “Heaven And Hell”, “See You Latter”, and played harp on the album “Opera Sauvage”, too.
However, these pair of musicians worked together from 1979 to 1991, producing four original studio albums, “Short Stories” in 1980, “The Friends Of Mr. Cairo” in 1981, “Private Collection” in 1983 and “Page Of Life” in 1991.
So, “Short Stories” is the debut studio album of Jon Anderson and Vangelis Papathanassiou and was released in 1980. Jon Anderson was the author of the lyrics and performed all the vocals and the music was all composed by Vangelis Papathanassiou which also performed all the instruments, keyboards, synthesizers, piano and electronics. Beyond them, the album had also the participation of Raphael Preston on acoustic guitars, with some small contributions.
So, in 1979, Jon Anderson and Vangelis, once of Aphrodite’s Child with Demis Roussos and Loukas Sideras, but latterly a solo performer, finally consummated their years of friendship with a jointly credited album. With Aphrodite’s Child, Vangelis had released three studio albums, “End Of The World – Rain & Tears”, “It’s Five O’Clock” and especially “666”, their best release. Vangelis had already an extensive career, as a solo artist, and had enjoyed some significant success, as a solo artist, with albums like “L’ Apocalypse Des Animaux”, “Heaven And Hell”, “Albedo 0.39”, “Spiral” and “China”. However, his soundtrack for “Chariots Of Fire” wouldn’t surface for another year. Anderson had left Yes, as it turned out temporarily, the band recording their sole album without him “Drama”, for release in 1980. By the other hand, Anderson released two solo studio albums, “Olias Of Sunhillow” in 1976 and “Song Of Seven” in 1980, too.
“Short Stories” is a great collaboration between two of my very favourite musicians, a truly excellent and deep set of songs, one of the four nice albums fruit of the collaboration between these two great artists. After a rousing introduction, quite electric and spacey, during “Curious Electric”, “Each And Everyday” is a stately and welcome ballad. Jon’s lyrics are evocative of innocent, caring times, and are reflected beautifully in the lovely melodies of Vangelis. “Bird Song” is an innocent march, which builds in majesty and tempo. Jon harmonizes with himself to gorgeous effect, a song about the wonder of the first embrace. “There’s a road that takes me back”, begins the beautiful “I Hear You Now”: “In the midst of all creation, there’s a road for you and me”. “The Road” begins with a chant, and tympani and bells introduce a driving, indeed a manic piece. This fades into a lush, unabashedly romantic aria, for want of a better word, accompanied by shimmering atmospherics. “Far Away In Baagad” begins in a playful way, and seems truly possessed of a Middle East flavour. In “Love Is”, the depth of emotional expression reaches its deepest point on this record. The words are very moving indeed. A whimsical introduction on the highest notes of the keyboards, lead us into another deeply thoughtful and inspiring song, “One More Time”. The enjoyable “Thunder” is a short piece, soft-heavy-soft, that leads to a long final number. A reverberant introduction leads to a lovely ballad, followed by a short section with a rousing rock beat. Jon asks the musical question: “Are we everything, a play within a play"”. And this last great journey of the soul spins off into a reverberant melodic space and finishes this album with a golden key. “A Play Within A Play” is with “Curious Electric” and “Far Away In Baagad” the three highest moments on the album.
Conclusion: I know this album since it was released and I always loved it. Of the four albums of them, this is the best, the most progressive and the only one where the communion between the incredible voice of Anderson and the beautiful music of Vangelis is almost perfect. I’m one of those who think that the voice of Jon Anderson and the music of Vangelis make a perfect wedding. I don’t share the idea that Anderson doesn’t seem an integral part of the duo because on this album he only sings about the rules of Vangelis. I don’t care if the music was composed by Vangelis and Anderson only sings his lyrics. In my humble opinion, here we can clearly see the both worlds and the perfection between them. “Short Stories” is a very beautiful album, well balanced, uniform and very cohesive and is almost a perfect musical work. So, I’ve no doubt in saying that this is a great addition to any progressive musical collection.
Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)
Album Rating: 4.0
After my prog journey through the Yes albums in the 70's and of some solo albums of their members, of their past and today members, it's now time to continue this journey through many of the projects and bands participated by those musicians. And you'll see they are immense, really.
So, nothing better than begin with their frontman Jon Anderson. And nothing better than begin with one of the most known, original and interesting projects of all, the project with Vangelis.
Of the four albums of this project I chose "Short Stories" because it's the most original, the most prog, the most cohesive and I think the better for me, although many people prefer "The Friends Of Mr. Cairo". I always thought this is the album where the music of Vangelis and the voice of Anderson are more perfectly matched.
I really hope you can enjoy this music too.
Mornin' e, another nice review. I didn't realize Vangelis was in line to replaces Rick Wakeman in Yes. I love Vangelis, but I can't imagine Relayer with him on keyboards. That would have been interesting... this one sounds better to me now than it did then. I know I always say the same thing, but not having to stop and flip the album over in the middle really helps a mood piece like this for me.
Album Rating: 4.0
The same to you my friend. Like you, I can't imagine "Relayer" with him on keyboards too. But as you said, that would have been interesting, but certainly it would be a very different release. And I'm very glad that, perhaps, due to my review you can have, right now, somehow a different and better perspectve of the album. I know that, my friend. With the age, our rspectives of the world change a bit and tend to be more objective. At least, I think that.
Album Rating: 4.0
By the way, I only saw now that you're digging Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048. Great classic oeuvre, my friend. I personally love that classical piece. Besides, I'm a great fan of classical music, especially of the Baroque classical music. Like Steve Hackett, Steve Howe and many others prog artists, I'm a great fan of Bach. He is simply one of my favourit composers ever. I hope you can enjoy it, very much, as I do.
I love classical music, but I especially love Bach. My goal is to know all his works before I die. There are so many, so it is not a sure thing, but I keep working on it--slowly but surely!
Album Rating: 4.0
Nice Twig. As you said that will be a very huge task really, since Bach has a very extensive work, maybe too much extensive for only one single and ordinary life. Lol. Good luck my friend on that path.
i'm not a fan of Jon & Vangelis. Sure it's not bad and it's a good pair of musicians, but their music had never hooked me. I find it too much centered around new age music, and in my opinion, Vangelis is too much synth and electronic oriented . Song ''Friends of Mr Cairo'' is great and had lots of airplay during the 80s, and I used to have two compilations of Vangelis; Best of Vangelis and Portraits that actually impressed me. That one features couple of great songs with Jon.
Good job on the review, mate.
Need to check this project.
Bom trabalho, amigo.
Digging: Carl Stalling - The Carl Stalling Project
Album Rating: 4.0
I knew that already. I suspected that you would consider this album too much "new age" for your taste. Besides, I had already saw that you didn't have rated any of their albums, yet. Still, I think that you can't deny that there are some great beautiful moments all over the album.
About the 2 compilations mentioned by you, I've one of them, "The Best Of Jon & Vangelis", and I can agree with you. That compilation is really very good. About the other one I don't have listened it yet, but according with the tracks, it can't be bad, really. Besides, I've all their four studio albums in my collection.
But, since you're a great prog fan, and because I don't know really if you have listened it already, I advise you to check their 3rd album "Private Collection". That album isn't that great or even too much prog, but it has a composition, the last track "Horizon" with abour 23 minutes, truly prog, probably the best thing that the duo already have done. I think you can be surprised by it.
Thanks, my friend in prog, by your comment, really. That is even more relevant, for me, because I knew already that this album wasn't your favourite cup of tea, in terms of music. Again thanks for your support since the first minute. Keep on proggin'.
Album Rating: 4.0
Do that my friend and neighbour.
O mesmo para ti, amigo.
''Horizon'' is a good pick, thanks. Soothing, meditative, deep and colorful. i'll eventually visit their albums. The only one I've listened to in its entirety (long time ago) is Friends Of Mr Cairo. I didn't rate it because I need some more listens to be objective. My guess is the album is not consistently good otherwise you would have chosen that one to review.
Edit; I've just noticed I gave Friends of Mr Cairo a 3.5, so I suppose I gave it more than one listem ;)
i'll give Short Stories a chance. I've listened to it one time on youtube from a playlist that was not complete. i'll try to find the missing songs next time.
Album Rating: 4.0
Nice Jethro. As you can see by my rating I also like of "The Friends Of Mr. Cairo". So, I wouldn't have any kind of problem to review that album. Still, I continue thinking, against some other opinions, that "Short Stories" is beter, more prog, and above all, it's a beter testimony of the colaboration between both musicians. Anyway, it always was, for me, a much more homogeneous work than all the others of the duo.