Exposé Online banner

Jon Anderson — 1000 Hands, Chapter One
(Blue Élan BER1266, 2020, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-09-03

1000 Hands, Chapter One Cover art

Certainly the music of Yes is an important element of my teenage years and a foundation of my understanding of what music is (or can be). But I’m not an uncritical listener, and there’s a lot of music from the collective family of the band and its various members in different combinations that I’m less than enthusiastic about. Jon Anderson’s work, to my thinking, has varied from pretty solid to nearly unlistenable, so the arrival of a new release under his name carries no presuppositions as to whether I’m going to like it. In some ways, that increases my happiness that I can say 1000 Hands - Chapter One is quite a fine album. Anderson hits the right balance between catchy tunes and musical inventiveness, and his tendency towards spiritual themes doesn’t sink into sappy clichés on these eleven tunes. You won’t find any epics along the lines of “Awaken” or “Close to the Edge,” but you probably knew not to expect that. What you will get is bouncy rhythms informed by a wide range of styles, including reggae, highlife, Celtic folk, and even hip-hop, massed choruses of Anderson’s overdubbed voices, and superbly played backing parts. Anderson has tapped a whole host of players to help out: Carmine Appice, Alan White, Robby Steinhardt, Pat Travers, Steve Morse, Ian Anderson, Rick Derringer, Jerry Goodman, Chick Corea, Stuart Hamm, Billy Cobham, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Steve Howe all appear here and there, and (as a testament to how long some of this music has been in the works) there are also contributions from Larry Coryell and Chris Squire. Anderson’s voice is in fine form, and he wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks. His collaborators on the writing are Brian Chatton (Anderson’s bandmate in The Warriors back in the 60s) and producer Michael Franklin, though the spirit of the writing is clearly derived from the man whose name is on the cover. In a world that often seems dominated by darkness and despair, hopeful sounds like those on 1000 Hands - Chapter One run the risk of sounding out of touch with reality (as I’ve found some of Jon Anderson’s past work), but in some inexplicable way, it just works. I don’t know whether it’s an antidote to the daily news, but it does bring me an interlude of energetic peace while it plays.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Ian Anderson, Jon Anderson, Larry Coryell, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, Billy Cobham, Jerry Goodman, Chick Corea, Jean-Luc Ponty, Steve Morse, Pat Travers

More info

Latest news

25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more

Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Matter - Matter – If you like quirky psychedelic guitar-rock drenched with Mellotron, read on... Matter is pretty much the two man project of Joe Albarran (Chapman Stick, bass, Mellotron and guitar) and Mike Madden...  (1994) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues