Thursday, 21 August 2014

"Olias Of Sunhillow" by JON ANDERSON (October 2011 Warner Brothers/Atlantic/Arcangelo JAPAN-ONLY SHM-CD Reissue in Mini LP Repro Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"…Set Sights To New Lands…"

Encouraged by the brilliance of "Relayer" in 1974 (with Patrick Moraz at the keyboards instead of Rick Wakeman) - like most YES fans at the time - I awaited the inevitable Solo albums in the mid Seventies with a sense of excitement. And while Squire and Howe had their moments of glory - most of us somehow knew that Jon Anderson's debut vinyl would be a Proggy Humdinger - and it is.

1. Ocean Song [Side 1]
2. Meeting/Sound Out The Galleon (Garden Of Geda)
3. Dance Of Ranyart/Olias (To Build The Moorglade)
4. Qoquaq En Transic/Naon/Transic To
5. Flight Of The Moorglade
6. Solid Space [Side 2]
7. Moon Ra/Chords/Song Of Search
8. To The Runner

Released in July 1976 on Atlantic K 50261 in the UK and Atlantic SD 18180 in the USA - "Olias Of Sunhillow" even charted at Number 8 in good old Blighty and has been a treasured work ever since.

Those who bought the original record will of course remember not just the fabulous dense music contained within - but the glory of the sleeve - a gatefold with an inner flap and inside that an equally elaborate inner sleeve that seemed to offer up more writing than a Tolkien book - and all of it done in glorious "Moorglade" artwork.

Its fate on 'CD' however has not been so idyllic. Saving us long-haired lotharios from the dreadfully dull German 1990's CD that's been afflicting our shores for years now - along comes the Japanese with no less than a full-on 5" Repro of the artwork and for the first time - a properly decent remaster.

Released 5 October 2011 in Japan-Only – "Olias Of Sunhillow" by JON ANDERSON (of Yes) on Warner Brothers/Atlantic/Arcangelo ARC-8061 (Barcode 4988044390614) is a SHM-CD (Super High Materials) in 5" Mini LP Repro Artwork and runs to 44:20 minutes. SHM-CD does not require a special CD player nor audiophile equipment to get the sonic results - it's just a better form of the CD format and brings out more nuances in the transfer (its slightly weightier than the standard CD). I've about 15 of these now and they're all universally brilliant - and in some cases (like here) - jaw-droppingly good.

This is a dense multi-layered recording and needed the deftest of remasters - and this SHM-CD gives you just that. Right from the opening synth fade in and vocal gymnastics of "Ocean Song" - it fills your room with sound. The huge drum section "Naon" in the centre of track 4 is also fabulous - rattling your speakers with all the multi-tracks they can handle. By the time you arrive at "Flight Of the Moorglade" (lyrics above) with its huge acoustic guitars and keyboard pings - you'll need a hanky to wipe away those Roger Dean tears.

The bad news is that it was deleted quickly and those punters that have copies can/are charging a hefty price tag for the privilege of owning one - so shop around.

"Cha! Cha!" Anderson chants as he finishes the wicked album closer "To The Runner". Couldn't agree more my Topographic son...

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