Jon Anderson ‘Olias of Sunhillow’


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Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#230 in the series) is Jon Anderson, Olias of Sunhillow.

Olias of Sunhillow is my favorite of all of the solo albums by Jon Anderson, lead singer of the progressive rock group Yes (although he’s not singing with them right now, but let’s not get into that). Released in June of 1976, this was Jon’s first solo album. It’s also the most successful of all of the solo efforts by members of ‘Yes’. It reached #8 on the UK charts and made it into the top 50 in the States.

This is an epic story album and I’ve always been amazed that it’s just two sides of a vinyl. When ever I listen to it I am whisked away into another world and time seems to slow to a more comfortable pace. All of the songs are woven together to tell the story of the people of Sunhillow escaping a dying planet in search of a new one. Their entire world revolves around music and in fact, music is the basis for their ability to travel thru space.

Jon wrote and performed all of the music. So, when you listen, I am sure that you will be amazed at the unique style of the instruments and the multi part harmonies that Jon sings with himself. It’s been suggested that Vangelis played on the album, but, both he and Jon have denied it. I see no reason to doubt them. However, I can hear the influence of Vangelis on Jon’s music. The two would have quite the successful collaboration a decade later and their joint albums sound nothing like “Olias of Sunhillow”!

The inspiration for the story and album art initially came from the cover art for the Yes album Fragile by Roger Dean. Roger Dean did the art for most of Yes’ album covers. Ironically the cover of Olias of Sunhillow was created by Dave Roe, who is best known for the cover art of Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog. It’s a masterpiece of fantasy rock album art. The gatefold cover and sheets tipped in side fully illustrate the printed story written by Jon Anderson. I’ve spent hours looking at this art marveling at the detail and how well the style fits the music.

I recently reconnected with a friend from art school on facebook and one of the first comments she made to me was how much she loves this album. She thanked me for turning her on to it all those years ago.


Side A

1. Ocean Song
2. Meeting (Garden of Geda)
3. Sound Out the Galleon
4. Dance of Ranyart
5. Olias (To Build the Moorglade)
6. Qoquaq Ën Transic
7. Naon
8. Transic Tö
9. Flight of the Moorglade

Side B

1. Solid Space
2. Moon Ra
3. Chords
4. Song of Search
5. To the Runner

Olias of Sunhillow

Released: 24 July 1976
Recorded: 1976
Genre: Progressive rock, New Age music
Length: 44:10
Label: Atlantic
Producer: Jon Anderson


Jon Anderson: Lead & Backing Vocals, Guitars, Harp, Synthesizer, Percussion
Brian “It’s Going Now” Gaylor – Electronics, Synthesisers
Strings by Ken Freeman


Engineered by Mike Dunne
John Martin – Co-ordination, equipment, goodies
Mastered at RCA by Brian East
Recorded at Seer Green
Illustrated & Designed by Dave Roe
Art direction by Hipgnosis
Portrait – Jeff Cummings
Portrait colouring – Richard Manning]

Check this out! I found the whole album on a YouTube playlist. All of these videos appear in the same order as the tracks on the album. The video artist (vzqk50) did a great job of mixing live images with the album art to create the world of Sunhillow.

Olias of Sunhillow peaked at #47 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts.

Posted by e3

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