For music fans everywhere, a new album by legendary YES singer Jon Anderson is cause for celebration. But Anderson's grand and glorious new solo album, "1000 Hands", is quite unlike any other record — it's an event, one which the singer's loyal legion of fans across the globe have been wildly anticipating for three decades.
"1000 Hands" will be Anderson's first release via his new partnership with Blue Élan Records. The album will be available digitally as well as on CD and a deluxe 180-gram double vinyl package on July 31.
"I've spent long periods of time making some records, but I've never taken a journey quite like this one," says the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee. "To say that '1000 Hands' has been a long time in coming would be quite an understatement, but I'm thrilled that it's finally a reality and that my fans will now be able to hear it. And I think they'll be delighted to hear music that's timeless. It's one of the best things I've ever done."
Of the label's new signing, Blue Élan president Connor Pasich commented: "To have an artist of Jon Anderson's caliber as part of our label family is exciting for all of us and to be able to be part of his musical legacy is priceless."
Anderson began the album (originally called "Uzlot" — "it means a lot of us") nearly 30 years ago, working with a group of musicians that included YES drummer Alan White and bassist Chris Squire. However, due to his heavy touring commitments with YES, Anderson had to put the record on the back burner. "Before you knew it, I started getting involved in other projects and tours, and years went by," he explains. "I would listen to the tapes from time to time and think, ‘This could have been a great album! One day I'll finish it.'"
Grammy-nominated producer Michael T. Franklin (Bruce Hornsby, Brian Wilson, Roger McGuinn) had at one point begun working on orchestrations for the album, but once again Anderson's jammed schedule required the project to be put on hold. Finally, a year and a half ago, Anderson and Franklin got the album back on track and were determined to see it through. "Our ideas still matched," Anderson says. "Michael knew everything I wanted to do and how I wanted the music to sound, so we agreed to go for it."
Setting up shop in Franklin's Solar Studios in Orlando, Florida, Anderson laid down backing vocals to his original lead tracks, and Franklin called in an astonishing array of rock and jazz luminaries to fill out the songs: fellow YES alum Steve Howe, Ian Anderson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea, Steve Morse, Rick Derringer, Jonathan Cain, and the TOWER OF POWER HORNS are just a few of the guests on 1000 Hands.
"That's where the title '1000 Hands' comes from, all of the brilliant musicians who played a part in making the record," Anderson says. "Michael acted like something of a casting director, bringing so many great players. It was really exciting to hear the record open up and become what I had always envisioned."
The sessions turned out so well, in fact, that Anderson decided to include four new songs on the album, with brand-new lead vocals.
"Jon is such a remarkable writer and singer," raves Franklin. "His newer songs were fabulous, and they fit seamlessly with the rest of the album. Everything came together beautifully."
Anderson's celestial voice — one of the most recognizable sounds in rock — is in stunning form throughout "1000 Hands", an album that features some of his most breathtaking compositions. Bookended by the starkly beautiful acoustic ballads "Now" and "Now and Again", the record features electrifying new prog masterpieces ("Activate", "Come Up"), glorious poly-rhythmic wonders ("WDMCF") and delightful reggae pop ("First Born Leaders"). Listeners will be mesmerized by the cavalcade of sumptuous vocal harmonies on the frisky "Ramalama", and they'll be singing along merrily to the horn-driven funk of the aptly named "Makes Me Happy".