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What did they do next part 6a – Jon Anderson – 399

Jon Anderson Song of Seven
Song of Seven

Produced by Jeffrey Crecelius, Wayne Hall, Preston Frazier and Bill Govier

This week Mark and I discuss the next musician to leave the band, Jo Anderson and what he did next. In the first part of our feature, we talk a little about the reasons Jon left in 1980 and the first solo record he released after leaving, Song of Seven. We will return to a more in-depth look at the album itself in a couple of weeks’ time.

We are gearing up for next week’s 400th episode of the show which will feature a great interview with someone you’ll recognise as well as an epic competition to win lots of Yes and Yes related items. You’ll need to have your Yes thinking caps on to stand a chance of winning something. Lots more on that next week.

Listen and let us know what you think!

  • Were you expecting Jon’s second solo album to be Olias 2?
  • If so were you upset?
  • What’s this album like though?

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Show notes and links:


YMP Patrons:


  • Jeffrey Crecelius
  • Preston Frazier
  • Bill Govier and
  • Wayne Hall


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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from the following two creative commons sources: thanvannispen and

7 replies on “What did they do next part 6a – Jon Anderson – 399”

I think Song of Seven does not get enough credit. It is my second favorite Anderson solo album after Olias. I remember at the time being disappointed that it was not as amazing as Olias, but I enjoyed all of the songs and thought that if Jon could keep this level of songwriting quality in his solo work, I would look forward to more. Unfortunately, I purchased one post 7 solo album after another, to increasing disappointment. It was a good thing he was able to work his way back in to Cinema/Yes.

Not a fan of this album. Agree with Kevin that Change We Must is the peak of his achievements post Olias. Thus far at least.

Yes solo and side-project albums are inevitably such a mixed bag with so many members and 45 years of product to assess about but I think Steve’s have been the most consistent and least scatter-gun in terms of his musical development.

Speaking of which Steve’s new trio album ” New Frontier” is an absolute cracker with plenty in it for progressive music fans. Comes over on first few listens as maybe of a cross between Madeski Martin Wood and Greenslade . The early 70s UK-prog-meets-jazz-fusion approach abounds and there are three new Bruford tunes / co-writes to enjoy.

There are straight jazz tunes that scratch my Barney Kessel itch but also a lot arrangements with the kind of loose rock grooves overlaid with idiosyncratic jazz guitar that the like of Patto were so good at back then.

Some of it even sounds an awful lot like early Camel and even a smidgen of mid 70s fusion period Santana. None of it sounds like Asia.

So not for everyone perhaps but right up my street.

Another great show. Having known Jon since ’75, I can tell you Jon had no itching to leave the band after his solo debut at Montreux. The public version they agreed to say is Jon left due to musical differences, but the very little known fact is that Jon was axed by manager Brian Lane after a band meeting, because of financial issues- Jon had been taking more than his 1/5 from the band account-his wife was a shopaholic-and Steve demanded he return the extra money, which Jon refused. They all agreed to say that Jon left the band. Rick wasn’t interested in a Yes without Jon as the singer, so he left. This was told to me in confidence by Yes & Lane on the US Drama tour in fall ’80, and members during 80s tours. Lane finally publicly mentioned it in an article in Prog magazine in 2016 called The Managers That Built Prog. Jon Kirkman has also been told these events by Yes members.

When this came out I rushed to the shops and bought it. It was never going to top Olias and there had been a good gap in between them, I feel it’s not quite the same listening to it now as when it came out. It was exciting, new and different. Jon sang like a dream and it was, is a lovely record. What was marvellous though and I think maybe you should talk more on, was the live tour, the band and the set list he used and played.

The artwork was fitted for a Jon album and all the things going on in his head. Gosh who else has put out more material with such a diverse range, yes it’s hard to say eh.

“God, he wears a blue tee-shirt too” sings Jon in “Everybody Loves You” and this, for me sums up much of the material on this oft- dismissed album. Whether intentional or not, this line says to me “I might have written and sung all this complex and unfathomable stuff, but I’m also just an ordinary man”. Jon’s blue tee-shirt is his simple songs in straighforward language.

And some of it is really simplistic. Too twee for many, and I guess this is where much of the criticism comes from. “Everybody loves you, but I just love you a litttle bit more”? but one cannot doubt that Jon earnestly believes every word he sings. Mind you “Take Your Time” is a bit much even for me.

This is just a fantastic, feel-good album. If Yesmusic is full of positivity this is positivity of steroids.

Jon also uses the album to explore several different styles of music and songwriting. “Don’t forget (Nostalgia)” is clearly a tribute both musically and lyrically to 50s DooWop. “Heart of the Matter” could have come from a 60s Musical.

But he’s not only experimenting with older styles. The opener “For You, For Me” is a real corker with the pulsating bass and synth brass sounds that were very much in vogue at the time, yet Jon manages to adapt this to he own style. The rising pairs of fanfare chords with Jon’s earnest lyrics give the impression of an evangalist bursting with good news. It’s worth noting Jon here often has too many syllables to fit comfortably into each line and crams them in against the beat in much the same manner that rappers would adopt years later.

I can understand is many find the album sounds dated but i still find it fresh with the exception of the fretless bass which, whilst played excellently by John Giblin of Brand X (fellow member Morris Pert also appears on the album) puts the album firmly in the late 70s early 80s.

But then, as well as this eclectic selection of simple songs (for Jon) we have that marvellous progressive title track. Here’s we’re back into the realms of more esoteric lyrics and different musical themes. And this has several of the most beautiful themes Jon Anderson has ever written: The “string” theme intro, “Met me a stranger/Haven’t you imagination” two lovely melodies over the same 16 bar sequence, each time; then the “Is it this time of day/ Tomorrow (tomorrow)” sung in harmony and question/answer with his daughter. Too sickly? No for me – it brings tears to my eyes down my spine every time.

You can probably tell I rather like this album. I bought it within a year of its release. I’d gone through a two year period of graduating from heavy rock into prog and listened to very littly but Yes/ELP/Genesis/Floyd during that period. The album “Song of Seven” came as an unexpected and pleasant change and reminded me music doesn’t have to be complex to be good. Sometimes it’s just about emotion. And sometimes it’s OK just to be positive and happy.

Like Kevin often refers to some (lesser) Yes tracks as palette cleanser between epics, I think of this as a pallete cleanser between the epic one-man prog that is “Olias” and the studio production masterpiece that is “Animation”, although the title track deserves a place of it’s own among great prog tracks.

This is my 3rd favorite Jon solo album, after Olias and Animation. I played it quite a lot on my radio shows at the time, as I did with all Yes solo albums in the 70s & 80s. Beautiful melodies, nothing too progressive or crazy but it has a nice place in my musical heart. And the tour concerts, and the band, was fabulous.

I love Song of Seven. Like others here I rushed out to buy it on the day of its release. While it doesn’t quite reach the ecstasy of Olias, is has such a feel good factor which makes one want to listen to it again straight away. I went to see Jon and his band play it live a few days after the murder of John Lennon. I was sitting only a few rows back so approached the stage and handed to Jon my rather cheesy black arm band on which I’d printed with tip-ex RIP John Lennon. Jon was really gracious and made reference to it. What a great person he is.
His link with Vangelis goes back to the album Heaven and Hell with a piece to die for “So long ago and so clear” I’m pretty sure that was 1975. At the time the music press was tipping Vangelis as the next keyboard player for Yes.
After that Short Stories and The Friends of Mr Cairo are of the most magical albums ever. I am in the zone when I listen to them. I’d go so far as to say that if anyone says otherwise, they are obviously not on Jon’s wavelength

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