[Review] Jon Anderson – 1000 Hands

Jon Anderson is undoubtedly one of the main figures of modern music, his unique style of singing has characterized the music of YES and has been a source of inspiration for numerous Prog singers and beyond. In addition, the English artist plays various instruments, writes lyrics, is a composer and arranger, as well as having collaborated with numerous international artists in various musical genres. Despite numerous commitments with the group and collaborations, he found the time to also lead a solo career that saw him release 15 albums from 1976 to today, the latest of which “1000 Hands” released on March 31, 2019 and reissued on Blue Elan Records during the summer of 2020. Containing 11 medium-long duration tracks that vary between different styles and musical genres, showcasing the different influences and facets of Anderson’s sound, with the presence of many international artists as guests . The album opens with the introductory “Now“, a short track with soft melodies and Jon’s sweet voice that connects to the next “Ramalama.” A vocal sampling in full Anderson style and the track comes to life, with a modern and exotic rhythm, with positive and cheerful melodies played by a large number of instruments. An engaging, pleasant and flowing piece, which despite being easy to listen to is full of ideas, elaborate and sophisticated with refined sounds. “First Born Leaders” features two YES members: Chris Squire and Alan White, but the track has a different structure from the Prog songs we are used to. It presents again cheerful and positive melodies and rhythmics, this time with Reggae veins, with a solid rhythmic session and wind interventions to enhance the sound. Anderson’s voice is sublime as always, which in a song like this positively involves you, encouraging you to dance. “Activate” is the longest track on the album, a basically acoustic track that sees the participation of Ian Anderson on the flute, Robbie Steinhardt‘s violin and some bass lines by Chris Squire. An elaborate piece, with deep bearing double bass lines and a more intricate structure than the previous ones, where the vocal offers a very high level performance. Full of tempo changes with the intensity that increases with the passage of the song, developing the theme with class and a unique style, for one of the best songs on the album. “Makes Me Happy” is characterized by the sound of the ukulele and the horn section and a structure that mixes modern sounds with other more ethnic ones. A very rhythmic and engaging song, here too the desire to dance increases with listening, where the voice does the rest, aided by the winds and the rhythm of the drum. “Now Variation” is a short passage of just over a minute that takes up the initial theme, a pleasant break between one song and another. “I Found Myself” begins with a pleasant violin and acoustic guitar to which the other instruments are gradually inserted. The vocals are soft and expressive and sees Jon duet with Janee on elaborate bass lines and layers of keyboard and violin that bring the sound to a high level. A beautiful song with sweet notes and sweet lyrics, apt and touching. A violin intro characterizes the first part of “Twice in a Lifetime,” where we also find guitar and accordion, and another amazing and very well interpreted vocal rehearsal. Also excellent are Michael Franklin‘s keyboard inserts, which duet at their best with the violin first and the winds are added at the end, closing the piece with an almost orchestral power. “WDMCF” is characterized by an atmospheric intro with vocal samples in the background on which the vocals are inserted. Very electronic and close to club music, with its own rhythms of that genre, in the second part it changes radically becoming more elaborate. The rhythmic session almost disappears, turning into a song where the keyboards, the piano above all, take the stage and become more experimental. “Come Up” is a long and amazing song in which high-sounding names of world music such as Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Larry Coryell, Chris Squire and Jean Luc-Ponty participate as guests. Here, too, Anderson‘s voice reaches very high levels, but the whole piece, both in terms of structure and development and execution, is to be considered a masterpiece, where all the artists involved create something unique. The violin creates very valuable inserts, as well as the supporting bass lines, even the keyboards are excellent as well as the rhythms in continuous evolution to the drum, even here we are at a high musical and expressive level, another of the best tracks on the disc . This beautiful work ends with “Now And Again” which takes up for the last time the initial theme both in the melodies and in the vocals, to which some of the musicians involved in the previous tracks of the album are added. This beautiful work closes “Now And Again” which takes up for the last time the initial theme both in the melodies and in the vocals, to which some of the musicians involved in the previous tracks of the album are added. Sweet atmospheres full of pathos pleasantly end this album, giving the impression of being a goodbye. Another splendid chapter in the vast discography of the English artist who never ceases to amaze and record musical pearls. More catchy songs alternate with others more committed and elaborate, giving life to a flowing album, full of ideas, composed and performed to perfection. All the guests bring benefits to the sound and enhance it, Jon was masterful in the composition and execution of the vocal. An album recommended to all lovers of good music, regardless of which genre they prefer, here we are in the Olympus of music and this album is a real gem.

Tracklist

1. Now (1:13) 
2. Ramalama (3:49) 
3. First Born Leaders (5:22) 
4. Activate (8:51) 
5. Make Me Happy (3:50) 
6. Now Variations (1:02) 
7. I Found Myself (5:05) 
8. Twice In A Lifetime (5:06) 
9. WDMCF (4:11) 
10. 1,000 Hands (Come Up) (8:24) 
11. Now And Again (3:39) 

Lineup

Jon Anderson / vocals, composer & co-arranger

With:
Steve Howe / guitar
Larry Coryell / guitar
Tommy Calton / guitar
Steve Morse / guitar
Rick Derringer / guitar
Pat Travers / guitar
Bobby Koelble / guitar
Christie Lenee / guitar
Trevor Rabin / guitar
Russel Chalk / ukulele
Don Oriolo / ukulele
Mitch Corbin / banjo
Chick Corea / keyboards
Jonathan Cain / keyboards
Keith Heffner / keyboards
Rick Wakeman / keyboards
Michael Franklin / keyboards, ukulele, co-arranger, producer
Jeff Abbott / keyboards
Brian Chatton / keyboards
Antonio Esposito / keyboards
Dariusz Grabowski / accordion
Brian Snapp / flute, sax
Charlie DeChant / flute, sax
Ian Anderson / flute
Edgar Winter / sax
Steve Walters / trumpet
Billy Boyd / trumpet
Brian Scanlon / trumpet
Pat Gulotta / trombone
Tower of Power / horns
Jean Luc Ponty / violin
Robby Steinhardt / violin
Jerry Goodman / violin
Charlie Bisharat / violin
Olga Kopakova / violin
Jason Thomas / violin
Paul Fluery / cello
Krissi Franzen / cello
Chris Squire / bass
Tim Franklin / bass, ukulele
Stuart Hamm / bass
Allan White / drums
Billy Cobham / drums
Matt Brown / drums
Carmine Appice / drums
Pat Frost / steel drums, trombone
Steady Joseph / percussion
Eddie Metz jr. / percussion
Nana Academy Youth Choir
Zap Mama / backing vocals
Bobby Kimball / backing vocals
Orlando Symphony Orchestra
Michael Winslow / Fx
Voices of Lindahl
Violectric (Michelle Jones, Brandy Moulden, Krissi Franzen, Kaitlin Higby, Paul Fleruy, T Franklin, Jennie Landau)

Jon Anderson |Official Website|Facebook Page|Twitter|YouTube Channel|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

Leave a Reply