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Olias...The club has spoken. Yay or Nay?

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    Olias...The club has spoken. Yay or Nay?

    I hate the artwork for Olias on a cellular level. I lie in bed at night grindin' my teeth about how bad it is. Havin' said that I love the songs. Daft as a box of frogs.
    It got worse after that doofus from Sea of Tranquility included the ugly cover in a Roger Dean video. Beyond stupid. But that's just me.
    What do the dudes at Classic Rock Magazine Album of the Week think?

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____

    Jon Anderson: Olias Of Sunhillow - Album Of The Week Club review

    Jon Anderson's Olias Of Sunhillow is the tale of an alien race that’s forced to flee to a new world in the wake of a volcanic catastrophe

    By Classic Rock Magazine
    ( Classic Rock )

    Ocean Song
    Meeting (Garden of Geda)/Sound Out the Galleon
    Dance of Ranyart/Olias (To Build the Moorglade)
    Qoquaq Ën Transic/Naon/Transic Tö
    Flight of the Moorglade
    Solid Space
    Moon Ra/Chords/Song of Search
    To the Runner

    A single-disc, eight-song tale of an alien race that’s forced to flee to a new world in the wake of a volcanic catastrophe, Olias Of Sunhillow might sound utterly preposterous on paper though it’s widely viewed as Jon Anderson’s defining release away from the Yes mothership.

    Only Accrington’s most famous cosmic pixie could get away with a song (Moon Ra) that uses of the lines: ‘Worlds that lie between/Are simply seconds of words we do not mean/Cast a pastel sky/Or simply wonder until the day you die’, but be prepared to leave such qualms at the door because Olias Of Sunhillow is beautiful, uplifting, intoxicating and wholly irresistible.
    Conceived just after the sessions for Yes’s Relayer and released in mid-1976 with Anderson handling all of the instrumentation as well as slipping into a variety of vocal characters, it’s a surprisingly low-key but rewarding piece of work that gently warms the cockles of the coldest and most cynical heart. Besides the so-called traditional range of rock staples, he uses harp, sitar, flutes, mandolin and koto to stitch together an exotic-sounding tapestry of sounds.

    Solid Space begins with a fruity keyboard line that Anderson uses as a jumping-off point for some of the most wonderfully versatile vocals that you might ever hear. And at almost 13 minutes long, Moon Ra, Chords and Song Of Search are an interlinked trilogy that stands as the album’s piece de resistance. Occasionally keyboard-dense and other times in the new age vein, the effect is never less than hypnotic.

    What they said...

    "Olias of Sunhillow is faithful to the spirit of Yes, though decidedly more airy than that band's visceral style -- its closest comparison would be Fragile's We Have Heaven or Going for the One's Wonderous Stories (which was clearly influenced by this record) on the vocal tracks, and Greek progressive electronic composer (and future Anderson collaborator) Vangelis on the instrumental tracks. (AllMusic(opens in new tab))

    "The new age/tribal meets with a kitchen sink being thrown in in the Qoquac En Transic/Naon/Transic To part, something that would surface in the shamanic Awaken epic that would grace Going For the One when Yes went into the studio again. Such may have been the influence of Olias and the growing confidence Anderson had (not that ‘the hippy with the iron fist’ ever lack conviction, drive and purpose) in his visions.

    "There’s a dangerous swerve towards the New Age in Anderson’s first solo album, both in the optimistic whimsy of its fantasy world, and the musical palette of soft, sparkling synths and World instruments. Thankfully, it easily escapes that particular doldrum of musical Hell through sheer energy (on the musical front) and sheer weirdness (on the fantasy front). This isn’t music to attune your chakras to, it’s adventurous, full of drama, uplifting melodies, evocative soundscapes, and a fresh unearthliness that makes it the only fantasy album I can think of which genuinely sounds like it could have come from another world."

    What you said...

    Mike Bruce: Yes, yes, yes we all know that this album can easily decried for it's sixth form science fiction storyline and it's use of a made up language for some of its lyrics.

    The music may not be to the taste of all either, to say the least!

    It's an album then, that's an easy target for for people to to throw their critical stones at, living proof that it's easier to knock something down than to build something up and boy, was something built here.

    Drawing inspiration from a number of cultures, the music is at times dense and rhythmic at others languid and fragile. It's a lush, verdant musical landscape that rewards repeated exploration.

    For all it can be viewed as a touch twee, the story is ultimately hopeful and uplifting. For me it was a vaccination against much of the bleak nihilism and empty hedonism that followed rather than a reason it had to happen.

    Punk "had to happen" because of what wasn't being given space to grow and prosper rather than what was. Just look around now. You could count till next Christmas and not catalogue all the genres and sub-genres that coexist quite happily, thank you very much.

    I'm actually quite fond of a bit of bleak nihilism and especially empty hedonism, just don't try to tell me it's better than this.

    There's room in the sky for the cloud and crow alike.

    Robert Dunn: I tried. Honestly, I really tried. I am not against concept albums as such, I loved SF Sorrow, but this just had too much twiddle going on for me. I don't mind gibberish lyrics either, but self-indulgence on this scale shouldn't really be encouraged.

    If we must do an album where the artist takes control, can't we do What's Going On instead? Maybe not classic rock, but I am not sure that this is either.

    Gary Claydon: If you're ever in any doubt as to why punk had to happen, just give Olias of Sunhillow a listen. Pretentious, self indulgent twaddle. I don't mind "mystic gibberish" one bit but this is just nonsense. I'll score it an extra mark for the fact that Anderson sung and played every note. I'm sure I've read several times - fairly recently as well - that he still intends to make a follow-up album using the same concept. God help us. 3/10

    Chris Elliott: Elevator music for a tofu factory. That's being kind. It has few redeeming features and after 50 years it really should be consigned to history. Yes were great - this has a pretty sleeve and it goes downhill from there.

    Alex Hayes: Oh my God, that was bloody hard work. I'm a long standing Yes fan, and proud of it, but that was almost torturous to sit through. For the life of me, I can't imagine how anyone could give this album a regular spin, and certainly not for pleasure.

    What's even worse, is that I really wanted to enjoy this. As I just mentioned, I've been a fan of the Yes mothership for many, many, years now, and was initially quite pleased to see Olias Of Sunhillow get nominated this week. I'd never actually heard the album before. 'Why is that the case, if you're such a Yes diehard?' would be a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

    The answer is that I've never seen the appeal of side projects in general. Not necessarily from members of Yes, but any established act really. They are never as satisfying to me as full-on band projects, as the chemistry that made those respective musicians famous as a musical unit in the first place is often missing. Most solo albums miss the mark for me, being little more than mildly interesting diversions at best.

    Am I interested in a solo album from, say, Steven Tyler? No, not really. I'd much prefer it if he would just stop arsing about, and get back in the studio with the other members of Aerosmith. Perhaps together they could cook up something special for that one last time. You never know.

    And, occasionally, projects like this end up being nothing less than full-blown, self indulgent follies, a term which sums up Olias Of Sunhillow pretty well I feel. This is Jon Anderson given free reign to indulge in his New Age fripperies 100%, without any unwelcome input from the likes of Steve Howe. The end result is a 43 minute concept piece, a sound collage almost, comprising electronica, world music, chanting, rudimentary instrumentation and (yep, I'm going there) mystic gibberish. The 12 and a half minutes that comprise Moon Ra, Chords and Song Of Search were particularly difficult to stomach. Moon Ra? Wasn't he a villain in those old Thundercats cartoons? Ho!

    As an album, it's a decent idea that's been taken way too far. I suddenly have a newfound appreciation for Sides 3 and 4 of Tales From Topographic Oceans. Compared to Olias Of Sunhillow, even Teakbois almost comes across as vintage Yes (I know, that song is technically ABWH, not Yes itself). Almost, but not quite. I need to listen to The Yes Album, Close To The Edge and Relayer. I need to get the balance back. I need equilibrium. I need to watch some Thundercats.

    Apologies to Jon Anderson, a performer that I usually hold in very high regard. I just couldn't get on board with this music at all. I can't bear the thought of giving this album a second full listen through, so I won't be doing. 3/10

    Final score: 5.68 (57 votes cast, total score 324)

    Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 12-20-2022, 12:57 PM.

    I love the album and I love the cover.


      Great album, probably the best of the solo albums, and art work good too.


        The tracks I like best are, not surprisingly, the ones most
        “song-y”. Like Sound Out The Galleon and Flight Of The Moorglade. That said, the entire opening three songs have a great flow to them. And Song Of Search is like the best song Vangelis never made! Then there are the endless canon-style chantings. (Squire did a bit of that too on FOOW; must have been something in the air…) These are the bad bits.
        There is only one way I’d ever want to listen to the entire thing again: and that would be a live version with orchestra and choir.
        The cover I like, the trick is to not think of Dean.


          Originally posted by RelayerI View Post
          I love the album and I love the cover.


            I'm not part of that club !


              love the album, love the cover. Its really the only JA album that i love all the way through.
              The Definitive YES Albums

              -The Yes Album-Fragile-Close to the Edge-Tales From Topographic Oceans-
              -Relayer-Going for the One-Drama-90125-Big Generator-Talk-
              -The Ladder-Magnification-Fly From Here-The Quest-Mirror to the Sky-


                I Like the album and artwork as well. It comes in at Forum for me as I think Animation is his best, most solid solo piece of work


                  The artwork itself is not my favorite of Yes-related albums, but it did not bother me - but I really enjoyed the cover for this record ,as it had that "book" built into the album cover. So it was great to play the record and read through the book pages and the artwork on each page. I was very happy and surprised that they re-issued the vinyl version, complete with the book, a few years ago. My original vinyl version was pretty worn and the cover faded.
                  Now if they would re-issue the vinyl of Yessongs, I can replace that very worn and faded copy in my library.

                  Now that I think of it, none of the Anderson solo records had covers which I loved. I'm glad that he mostly tried to do something that didn't look like a Yes album cover, but none of the covers really looked great to me. I thought the Anderson Stolt cover was very different and looked good, I guess.


                    Originally posted by Gilly Goodness View Post

                    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _____

                    Jon Anderson: Olias Of Sunhillow - Album Of The Week Club review

                    Jon Anderson's Olias Of Sunhillow is the tale of an alien race that’s forced to flee to a new world in the wake of a volcanic catastrophe

                    By Classic Rock Magazine
                    ( Classic Rock )

                    Only Accrington’s most famous cosmic pixie could get away with a song (Moon Ra) that uses of the lines: ‘Worlds that lie between/Are simply seconds of words we do not mean/Cast a pastel sky/Or simply wonder until the day you die’, but be prepared to leave such qualms at the door because Olias Of Sunhillow is beautiful, uplifting, intoxicating and wholly irresistible.

                    I don't know why it is that music critics, and I suppose journalists in general, feel the need to comment, and thereby pass some sort of judgment, on a person's physical appearance. At best, it's lazy journalism. At worst, it's, well, fill in the blank with the appropriate adjective.

                    Sure, Jon Anderson is short. And he has a high voice for a guy. And his sensibilities are not those of the typical person. Why does this have to continually get him referred to as a pixie, elfin, etc.? This seems to be a good example of what nowadays is referred to as a micro-aggression. It also seems like a subtle or not so subtle attempt to diminish the man's achievements, not to mention his "manliness," whatever that means, by marginalizing him as "other." What would be wrong with writing an article and simply referring to him as one of the most talented and unique singers in all of popular music? Or saying he's a talentless hack, if that's your opinion, LOL.


                      The cover is fine by me, though it wouldn't have suffered from a Roger Dean cover. That would have fit the music. But the album cover it has also fits the music - giving it a mystical, Dark Crystal-like image. The storybook-type visuals of the gatefold pages, very cool. Olias is spacey, sure, but also very mythical and ancient. Not music from another planet, but music from maybe another planet 18, 000 years ago.

                      Interesting that, of all the Yessolo albums of 1975/6, only Steve Howe's Beginnings has a Dean cover, and seems Howe to be the one guy championing Roger Deam covers the most. Sometimes you get the vibe that the other Yes members could take or leave having a Dean album cover. Anderson's could have had one, but the Dark Crystal cover works for me well enough. I also think that a Dean cover would have suited Song Of Seven if Anderson had wanted to make a statement like "I'm the real Yes, follow me!". A Dean cover would had more fans in tune with Jon as a solo artist after the split in 1980.

                      I didn't mind the cover to Animation, minimalistic computer images are ok by me for the most part.


                        I originally purchased Olias of Sunhillow from the cutout bin of a record store in Northgate Mall for $0.99 plus tax (and the cover wasn't even cutout). I totally enjoyed everything about it and still do. I love listening to it while flying with noise cancelling headphones. Great album...


                          I love listening to it while flying with noise cancelling headphones. Great album...[/QUOTE]

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                          K-shmitty on his way to see Betsy!!!


                            I love the album, too. I also like the cover. The music always lifts me (even further, if I am already at the top.) It's soft and embracing but, at the same time, insanely powerful. It underpins my floaty-feeling with pure horizontality and joy. (That looks ridiculous when I write it down, but inside my head it translates to an amazing experience.)


                              This album seems to me like it would have been 10 times better if Squire, Howe, and/or White had contributed. Unlike Fish Out of Water which sounds complete. Olias and some of Steve and Rick's solo albums showed me just how special it is when these guys got together and what happened musically. It's weird how natural and complete Yes music sounds, but when most the guys went solo, the music wasn't even close. Olias is close, but with the guys involved, it could have been so much better. A great example of an uninhibited/edited/produced Jon. His best solo work for sure.