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View Poll Results: So, how good is this album?
Horrible 0 0%
Bad 1 14.29%
Mediocre 2 28.57%
Good 1 14.29%
Brilliant 3 42.86%
Voters: 7. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-21-2010, 03:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
Juicious Maximus III
 
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Default Jon Anderson - Olias of Sunhillow (1976)

Jon Anderson - Olias of Sunhillow (1976)


  1. Ocean Song
  2. Meeting (Garden of Geda)
  3. Sound Out the Galleon
  4. Dance of Ranyart
  5. Olias (To Build the Moorglade)
  6. QoQuaq Ën Transic
  7. Naon
  8. Transic Tö
  9. Flight of the Moorglade

This thread is for discussing Jon Anderson's solo album from 1976. It was the PFAC homework assignment for week 24, but of course anyone can join in on the discussion!

As Boo posted :

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Originally Posted by boo boo View Post
Olias of Sunhillow by Jon Anderson.

This album is very strange indeed. Jon plays almost all of the instruments here (guitar, harp, percussion, synthesizers, bass) and all the backing vocals. No he is not a virtuoso like his bandmates, though I'm surprised by his harp playing chops, shame he never got to use them in Yes (except Wonderous Stories if I recall).

The emphasis here is Jon's vocal harmonies, the layering of instruments and the ambient and ethereal atmosphere throughout.

This is a hard album to describe, some have called it proto new age music, I dunno about that, but there is no "rock" in here whatsoever, the emphasis is on repetition and atmosphere rather than complex rock suites and musicianship, and it sometimes has an oriental vibe to it. The lyrics are a change of pace for Jon. There's actually a story and coherent narrative here, which is inspired by the art for Fragile, about an an alien civilization who make a trip to a new world.

And that's pretty much the best possible metaphor I can make for the music itself. Certainly not for all tastes. But I really love it.

I think people forget that Jon really is a great songwriter and his contributions to Yes are really underestimated.
So, what do you guys think?
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Old 06-21-2010, 03:50 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I've given this 4 spins or so now which is enough, I think, to get an impression. There are some good songs here, Sound out the Galleon is nice. Dance of the Ranyart and Flight of the Moorglade were both enjoyable. I have to admit though, for me, the best parts are the most structured parts which are not so new agey. A lot of the time on this record is, like Boo wrote, more about repetitions and atmospheres than rock songs. I have to admit I like Yes' earlier albums with rock songs like Yours is no Disgrace and Siberian Khatru and for me, Olias of Sunhillow pales in comparison.

I'm not sure it's a fair comparison. I'm pretty sure I'm outside the target group for this album. I like Jon Anderson, but mainly as the singer in the rock band Yes. One thing I like about this album is that I feel as if I understand more what Anderson brings or brought to Yes. I'm sure he had a lot to do with many of those beautiful and harmonious moments on Close to the Edge. Nothing comes close for me on this one though, so it's a mediocre for me. To me, that means there are good moments and bad and so I probably won't spend time with the stuff I didn't like in the future. Rather, I'll listen to the songs I like now and then and forget the rest.

I think this album will have a lot more appeal to someone who has more intimate knowledge of later Yes as well as Jon's stuff with Vangelis and perhaps other solo records.
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Man nobody ever gets involved with these.

Olias of Sunhillow is an enjoyable record from beginning to end and it really is in a world of it's own. Jon has some good stuff with Vangelis but it doesn't compare to this IMO. I can't think of any Yes album to compare it to, but it does recall some of the weirder moments off of Tales.

I voted good, but I would have voted for great if it was an option, I wouldn't call it brilliant because that's a word I reserve for very few albums. It's certainly an acquired taste and even being a Yes fan won't guarantee that you'll like it because it's a really out there record. It's hard to recommend an album like this because I can't think of anything to compare it to, you'll just have to check it out for yourself.

Last edited by boo boo; 06-23-2010 at 04:18 AM.
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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One thing I didn't mention but which is worth mentioning (might at least generate discussion) is that the cheese factor is relatively high here for a 70s album Jon really wants to convey the story of these peoples from his imagination and unlike other groups like f.ex Magma, he does it without sillyness or whimsicality. For me, I feel like the seriousness of the project is what gives it the relatively cheesy feel.

Cheesy isn't necessarily a bad thing of course. Just make sure the neighbours are gone before you blast it out your speakers if it really bothers you and of course, it's not half as cheesy as, say, Kamelot or Mighty Rhapsody, but it flavours the album nonetheless (imo).
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Old 07-02-2010, 12:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm not so sure you can qualify any of what you hear on Olias as cheesy: a lot of sci-fi themed stuff, particularly the harder stuff, is quite serious in literary presentation, so its not so surprising that Anderson does the same here in a more musical format.

Really, it all comes down to whether or not you can empathize with Jon's sensibilities as a songwriter or not: if you were born after the 70's, then even your average proghead would have trouble managing that feat.
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Old 10-20-2019, 09:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Jon Anderson at the peak of his muse. LOVE this album. Same with Squire's Fish out of Water.
Howe's Beginnings? Sucks.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Chula Vista View Post
Squire's Fish out of Water.
Checked this out today - thanks to you

This is really Yes quality music. He’s a great singer. The orchestration is great. Unassailable record.
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Checked this out today - thanks to you
Hearing that really shows how much of the classic Yes sound was Squire. He must have grown up surrounded by chamber music because he really knew how to orchestrate a small number of instruments. His vocal harmonies are as good as anything Paul and John ever came up with.

Glad you dug it. It's actually going to get better with more listens!
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Hearing that really shows how much of the classic Yes sound was Squire.
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I really love OoS, my favorite of the 1976 Yes solo albums, just barely over Fish Out of Water.
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