BMG 1991 / Esoteric 2013
Final chapter of a beautiful friendship sees the paradigm shift too close to the edge.
When Jon Anderson sang “So Long Ago, So Clear” on Vangelis’ "Heaven And Hell", their first collaboration, the warbler might have as well looked forward to the hat-trick of albums the duo scored in the early ’80s. But it all went sour in 1986, once the keyboard wizard started to dismiss his “pop” career, so what could have been the pair’s fourth LP had been shelved. Those demos emerged in various places, including ABWH’s sole studio album, and only the piano-led “Sing With Your Eyes” taking Rogers and Hammerstein into the present was dusted off for a B-side, a bonus here, of a single which accompanied this record, laid down five years later and sounding somehow disconnected. Perhaps, that was the reason for Anderson to redress a couple of tracks for "Change We Must" and compile a different version of “Page Of Life” for a 1998 release, not approved by Vangelis who now remastered the original tapes.
The folk-rooted title ballad is a glorious anthem with a mandolinesque undercurrent bearing Vangelis’ trademark sensuality, while “Garden Of Senses” hangs in the rarefied oriental air, yet the funky “Money” jars – and not because its still-actual sociopolitical agenda and blunt riffs but due to the shallow arrangement. These come quite dated despite the orchestral passages of “Genevieve” or opener “Wisdom Chain” that flutter on the wings of vocal harmonies, although the latter’s faux-fusion solo fails to catch the skin, which can’t be said of “Jazzy Box” unfolding in the instrumental space between the ragtime and abstract improv as crystal keys ring over the lightest of percussion until in turns to thunder. Unlike its predecessors, this album features a full band behind the duo, quite tight in “Be A Good Friend Of Mine” with its rock grit, although it’s in the simplest of drifts such as in “Is It Love” – where Jon’s voice is layered over the sparse beat, electric guitar, scintillating synthesizer and itself – the celestial “Shine For Me” and in the strings-laden “Anyone Can Light A Candle” that it breathes with joie de vivre.
“Journey To Ixtlan” hints at some other wonders yet it turns out to be a brass-washed valedictory, not a travelogue. After that, Jon and Vangelis moved on separately, and this page was turned for both masters.