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JON ANDERSON Survival And Other Stories Gonzo (2011)

Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson in his later career has shifted from a brief reunion with 'classic' Yes to collaborations with Rick Wakeman together with his solo material.

His religious leanings aside, I am impressed with the quantity of his output. The question is whether Jon Anderson is churning them out or reaching a creative peak. The last album, 'Learning Tree' with Rick Wakeman was seen by many as rather predictable in parts.

But Jon's voice is so distinctive that I doubt that a death growl approach is unlikely to transcend suddenly from those falsetto pipes any time soon.

Normally I am not a great fan of solo albums in which an artist's philosophies are pushed down my throat but then again what else would we expect from a collection of self penned songs?

So I confess to skipping to 'Big Buddha Song' with an abject 'oh please no.' And I was pleasantly surprised by the delivery but not so much the lyrical content which reminded me too much of walking down Bold Street being asked to buy a book. Nothing against the Buddhist religion though (see below) I had better add swiftly! I am more concerned with....

'The balance of the earth is in the sand
The balance of the earth is in your hand.'

Anyhow back to Track One and 'New New World' with its rather captivating violin arpeggio and high brow production. Apart from the presumable chant which is unintelligible from us non followers. I was surprised by the apparent naivity of the chorus, 'This is a New World.'

From this inauspicious start I ventured into 'Understanding Truth' with its pleasant acoustic simplicity when I became warmed by Jon' s sincerity.

The theme continues with 'Unbroken Spirit' with its 'unprog' arrangement. Verse chorus-verse chorus. It's the type of song you could busk on the aforementioned Bold Street.

Broadly the album doesn't detract from this laid back pace and generally I did enjoy that aspect of the work. It's often more difficult to write an uplifting piece than a sad one.

So I am judging it on that basis rather than any preconceptions of Yesteryear. What I find is remarkably balanced and assertive approach to the subject matter, but in the compositions I am not seeing any great progression from the days of Vangelis. Donovan also sprung to mind at times I am afraid.

The Buddhist community should relate to it more than those, like me, who are ignorant of the messages that this way of life portrays. There is a lot we can learn about peace, love and understanding for sure.

Musically though, it's a tasty cake but there's too much icing for my liking. I added a star for honesty.


Review by Keith Thompson

Keith Thompson presents Rockwaves on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 21:00 GMT+1

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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