EMI 1994 / Esoteric 2013
YES warbler realizes his arch dream and takes his hopes into the orch skies.
In recent years, Jon Anderson has been regularly playing with various orchestras, thus realizing his long-cherished desire to get wrapped in strings but break free of YES’ oft-derided grandiloquence, and this wing of the singer’s five-decade career starts here. Recorded around the “Talk” time, when the band became too heavy-handed, on “Change We Must” Jon takes the lightest of roads in the company of orchestra conducted by Nigel Warren-Green, yet what could have turned into a pure chamber experience panned out into magnificence thanks to the well-judged balance of Anderson’s angelic voice and instrumental arrangements. They complement each other, providing top-line tune and texture in turns on songs both new and old where the change is most obvious and sometimes so significant that a few pieces appear under different names.
It starts in a familiar fashion, though, “State Of Independence” being one of four Jon and Vangelis’ compositions on offer, but its violin-abetted rise only hints at the transcendence to follow, the title track – which, sans Hawaiian choir and Milton McDonald’s cosmic guitar, originally opened the American version of "Page Of Life" – takes Anderson’s message, rooted in Nana Veary’s book, beyond this world. Such a move results in an interesting environmental perspective wherein “Hearts” breaks out of the “90125” dryness to flutter in the air also electrified by a rock band, as does, in a folky manner, “Hurry Home” from "In The City Of Angels" whence “Under The Sun” comes. With another chant and Steve Pearce’s slapped bass, it burns briskly, albeit not as incendiary as it was under the “It’s On Fire” guise, and not in the delicately pulsing vein of “Candle Song” from the aforementioned platter with the “Chariots Of Fire” visionary.
Still, it’s in “Shaker Loops” that the full dynamic scope unfolds between the trembling bows and the thundercloud of reeds to dramatically drown the vocals giving John Adams’ piece a verbal, grounded expression, whereas in “Alive & Well” and “A View From The Coppice” Gwendolyn Mok’s piano leads the way in the absence of words. They flow in from “The Kiss” to “Chagall Duet” with Sandrine Piau’s clear soprano joining and countering Jon on the crystal splinter of an unreleased album he loves dearly, and this song’s emergence here makes “Change We Must” special, too. A milestone in a perpetual motion.