Olias of Sunhillow

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Olias of Sunhillow
Jon anderson olias of sunhillow album cover.jpg
Studio album by Jon Anderson
Released 24 July 1976[1]
Recorded 1976
Genre Progressive rock, symphonic rock, new-age, ambient
Length 44:10
Label Atlantic
Producer Jon Anderson
Jon Anderson chronology
Olias of Sunhillow
Song of Seven

Olias of Sunhillow is the debut studio album by English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jon Anderson, released in July 1976 on Atlantic Records.


Olias of Sunhillow is a progressive rock concept album which tells the story of an alien race and their journey to a new world (the story printed in the LP jacket calls it "the earth", lowercase 'e') due to a volcanic catastrophe. Olias, the title character, is the chosen architect of the glider Moorglade Mover, which will be used to fly his people to their new home. Ranyart is the navigator for the glider, and Qoquaq (pronounced 'ko-quake') is the leader who unites the four tribes of Sunhillow to partake in the exodus.

The album represented eight months of physical work, but it took two years from conception to release. Anderson used more than a hundred tracks in putting the album together, overdubbing strings, organ, harp and percussion.

Since Anderson produced Olias soon after Vangelis had auditioned to be a part of Yes, there has been widespread speculation that Vangelis contributed to the album.[citation needed] However, both Vangelis and Anderson have denied that they collaborated on the album.

Olias of Sunhillow is one of five solo albums released by members of Yes in 1975 and 1976, along with Chris Squire's Fish Out of Water, Steve Howe's Beginnings, Alan White's Ramshackled, and Patrick Moraz's Story of I. "Ocean Song", the opening track from Olias of Sunhillow, was performed by Yes during the band's 1976 tour.


Fragile by Yes

The album's concept was inspired by the cover art by Roger Dean for the 1971 Yes album Fragile, which depicts a tiny planet breaking apart and a glider escaping into space. Another link to Fragile lies in the fact that both albums have pieces (Fragile's "We Have Heaven") consisting of multiple vocal parts, with Anderson singing all of them. Anderson has stated that works by J.R.R. Tolkien and Vera Stanley Alder were also an influence, underlying the epic scope of the narrative compressed into the album.

The album sleeve features a series of artworks by the artist David Fairbrother Roe, RA (whose other work included graphics for the Isle of Wight Festival, NazarethHair of the Dog, and the Dragonflight novels of Anne McCaffrey).

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jon Anderson.


The album has been released several times, a recent US CD release was by Wounded Bird Records on 28 February 2006. Contrary to some earlier releases it presents all the artwork, but very small,. Some earlier cd-releases don't show all the original artwork and only part of the story, since they left out pages 3-6 of the original vinyl album. The Japanese pressing on MMG Inc/Atlantic AMCY-18 presents the complete artwork in a booklet, like the vinyl version with 8 pages (including frontcover and backcover).

The album was reissued again in January 2014 on SACD by Audio Fidelity.


Olias vinyl album sleeve and LP itself show track numbering.
  • Engineered by Mike Dunne
  • Brian "It's Going Now" Gaylor – electronics
  • 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
  • Jeff Cummings – portrait
  • Richard Manning - portrait colouring


Olias of Sunhillow is one of Anderson's most acclaimed solo works.[citation needed]

The album peaked at number 8 on the UK and number 47 in the United States.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[3]
Year Chart Position
1976 Billboard Pop Albums 47
1976 UK Albums Chart 8


In 2004, Jon Anderson called for collaborators to contact him via his website. He described a project that would be a "return to Olias".

In 2006, around the time Olias of Sunhillow was re-released, Anderson announced that he was making a sequel called The Songs of Zamran: Son of Olias.

In late 2008, he announced on his Myspace page that he was hoping to finish the sequel soon.

In a Rockline interview on 20 July 2011, Anderson was asked about the sequel. He said that he hoped to have the first bits of Zamran out in a year.

In late 2012, a web site was launched (www.sevendragons.org/zamran now closed) entitling it Zamran Experience, showing a short preview and describing it as "an interactive audio-visual album".

On 3 January 2013, Anderson confirmed still being working on his sequel to Olias of Sunhillow still entitled The Songs of Zamran: Son of Olias.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2008, the song "Flight of the Moorglade" was used in the Rob and Big season 3 episode "Mini-horse Rode Trip".


  1. ^ Joel Whitburn, Joel Whitburn's top pop albums, 1955–1992, Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, ISBN 0-7935-6677-0
  2. ^ Charles Snider, The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, pg. 232, Strawberry Bricks (2008), ISBN 0-615-17566-X
  3. ^ Connolly, Dave. Album review Olias of Sunhillow at AllMusic. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  4. ^ "Jon Anderson Still Working on Sequel to Olias of Sunhillow (by Sterling Whitaker)". ultimateclassicrock.com. 3 January 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 

External links[edit]