Yes frontman Jon Anderson ended the Seventies in transition. After recording 1978’s Tormato, Anderson left the band. Not surprisingly, he soon received offers to launch him as a solo act. Song Of Seven—his second solo album and his first album as a solo act—appeared in 1980, a unique release rightly deserving recognition four decades on.
Going solo didn’t necessarily faze Anderson. He’d previously released a solo album, Olias of Sunhillow, while still a member of the band. Upon leaving the group, Virgin Records sensed potential and after some convincing, Anderson took their offer. Not that he was bereft of options; in 1979, he had teamed up with Greek keyboardist Vangelis to form Jon & Vangelis, and the duo had released their debut album in January 1980. When Anderson shared his demos, the label balked. Shortly thereafter the label scrapped the deal and Anderson returned their advance. Yet Anderson had warmed to the idea of a contemporary-minded solo album, and soon began recording Song Of Seven. Thus, Anderson booked time in a London studio and began work on his own.
Song Of Seven offers straightforward, standalone numbers not tied to an overarching concept. Four of the album’s nine songs Anderson had written for the most recent Yes album, Tormato. Of those, “Some Are Born” has been transformed into a sunny Celtic folk-rock number, while “Days” offers a gentle, reflective melody. Opening track “For You, For Me” offers the synth-driven progressive rock Yes was known for, but he quickly moves into more traditional-minded fare. “Heart Of The Matter” is a catchy pop-rock number; “Don’t Forget (Nostalgia)” has a pleasant, Fifties-era swing. The epic, eleven minute title track finds Anderson doing what he does best: taking the listener on a sonic journey, one that incorporates key changes, tempo changes, stylistic shifts, and lush production.
For Song Of Seven, Anderson displays his most distinctive talent: his voice. His countertenor–often mistaken for falsetto–flies impressively high. Such a style works well in a group like Yes, with epic tracks and multiple vocalists. In the context of Song Of Seven, listening in one go can be a bit taxing. But one should not be put off; given time, and multiple listens, Song Of Seven proves to be an album of quiet delight. For all its conventional sounds, Song Of Seven would not be Anderson’s attempt at a mainstream pop record. That would come in 1988, with the poorly received In The City Of Angels.
On release, Song Of Seven performed modestly, charting in the UK Top 40. Anderson would go on to have a very busy decade; more solo albums, more Jon & Vangelis releases, and a return to Yes. To this day, Anderson remains a busy man, releasing solo albums and touring. Song Of Seven marks the beginning of that period, and is a delightful little album from a truly talented artist.
Purchase Jon Anderson Song Of Seven: Esoteric Recordings