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Jon And Vangelis - 1981 The Friends of Mr Cairo

ARTIST: Jon And Vangelis
ALBUM: The Friends of Mr Cairo
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: 2302 127
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1991, Polydor, 800 021-2


LINEUP: Jon Anderson - vocals * Vangelis - keyboards

Additional Musicians: Dick Morrisey - sax, flute * Claire Hamill, Carol Kenyon - backing vocals * David Coker, Sally Grace - voices

TRACK LISTING: 01 I'll Find My Way Home * 02 State Of Independence * 03 Beside * 04 The Mayflower * 05 The Friends Of Mr. Cairo * 06 Back To School * 07 Outside Of This (Inside Of That)

In 1974 Vangelis was considered to replace a disgruntled Rick Wakeman in Yes although the Greek keyboard maestro deep sixed the invitation due to his dislike of touring. That didn't stop an ongoing partnership with Jon Anderson beginning with Vangelis' classic 1975 album 'Heaven And Hell' which featured the Yes vocalist on the angelic track 'So Long Ago, So Clear'. Anderson would appear on two further Vangelis albums and leaving Yes in 1980 opened the door to collaboration as a twosome. Their first album 'Short Stories' was a murky affair and really didn't do much for me but their sophomore release 'The Friends of Mr. Cairo' was another matter.

The Songs
Strangely, this album was released twice in the same year and weeks apart no less. The first featured a stylish white and black sleeve and a different track listing while the second included an extra track with the art work shown above and it's this version that's the better of the two. While 'Short Stories' production was muted and dim, this album sounds much brighter, happier even and 'I'll Find My Way Home' is a beautiful start with predictably dazzling ivory work from Vangelis and a wondrous chorus. The swaying calypso-ish 'State of Independence' was covered by Donna Summer and became a hit for her in the UK and while 'The Mayflower' is a little cheesy with its spoken word bits, it works much better on the title track. Featuring snippets from classic films of the 1930's and 40's and voiceovers from the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Stewart as well as gunfire and crashing cars, it was a novelty at the time but holds up pretty well against the over usage of sampling in today's DJ/Hip Hop world.

In Summary
'Private Collection' followed in 1983 and is widely considered the best from this talented alliance and I'm inclined to agree but 'The Friends of Mr. Cairo' will always hold a special place for this reviewer. Recorded in 1986 but unreleased until 1991, 'Page Of Life' was reworked by Anderson and released in the US in 1998. This created a rift between the duo that sadly has yet to be resolved.

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#1 | Nick C on April 21 2015 05:50:31
Pity they fell out and don't work together any more as all of their albums are pretty cool. Jon Anderson re-released a re-jigged version of their final album Page of Life on Omtown records with a couple of tracks missing/added/extended and a new track order....which caused the fall out I believe. The Omtown version for me is the best but Esoteric have since released PoL with the B side Sing With Your Eyes, which is a top I had to have both haha!
#2 | gdazegod on April 21 2015 10:02:53
I do like Vangelis' solo works. He's a very accomplished synthesist.. very lush recordings.
#3 | swazi on May 05 2015 13:44:45
A blast from the past. Great album!

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