A new solo album by founder and leading light of the band Yes is always a welcome event. Its especially rewarding when the album is not only really good but clearly a labor of love which the artist has been toiling away on for many years. 1000 Hands has apparently been in the works for upwards of 10 years and Jon finally found the time to finish the project, employing a cast of perhaps not thousands but upwards of one hundred musicians from around the globe.
Notable performers on this record include jazz greats like Chick Corea, Billy Cobham and Jean Luc Ponty. Happily, Anderson's Yes bandmates also are featured on the album including the late great bassist Chris Squire (RIP), drummer Alan White and even his estranged friend, guitarist Steve Howe. This list of musicians is impressive so you should click here to see some of the names who contribute to it.
Revolving around a theme called "Now," the song appears thoughout the album in several different arrangements. At the beginning we hear a stripped down version and the middle "Now Variations" presents the piece backed by a string quartet. The album wraps up with the full bloom of "Now And Again." This is one of those songs that you could easily imagine on a new Yes album. It sits sweetly alongside the strongest melodies that Jon has proven so adept at creating, including classics like "Soon" and "Time and a Word." "Now" is that strong.
Somehow Jon Anderson rides that pencil-thin songwriting line, avoiding the crossover into the saccharine side of pop, keeping everything genuine and heartfelt. So even the trendy pop Ukulele signature sound employed on the track "Makes Me Happy" works buoyantly, morphing effortlessly from an infectious happy ditty into a joyous Latin tinged booty shaker.
The sonics on 1000 Hands are really quite good as modern CDs go. It works -- not surprisingly -- especially well in the car which is where I've been listening to it a lot. The CD holds up on my home stereo for the most part, albeit sounding a little bit on the bright side (but that is almost to be expected).
There is a vinyl version of the album available -- probably sold at the concerts but also via regular mail - - however it is quite pricey (and since I do not have that in my budget at present, I'll have to wait a bit on that one).
Curiously 1000 Hands is not yet on Tidal but I suspect it will be so keep an eye out for it. Heck, the album isn't even being sold on Amazon so if you want it you will need to get it at a Jon Anderson 1000 Hands concert (they are touring) or order it from his website.
1000 Hands is a fine recording that fits in well amidst 21st-century progressive pop recordings. 1000 Hands gets my heartfelt applause.