Short Stories (Jon and Vangelis album)

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Short Stories
Shortstoriesjonvangelis.jpg
Album cover
Studio album by Jon and Vangelis
Released January 1980
Recorded February 1979 (original sessions), September–October 1979 (post-production)
Studio Nemo Studios
(London, England)
Genre Electronic music
Length 53:12
Label Polydor
Producer Vangelis
Jon and Vangelis chronology
Short Stories (1980) The Friends of Mr Cairo
(1981)The Friends of Mr Cairo1981
Singles from Short Stories
  1. "I Hear You Now"
    Released: November 1979[1]
  2. "One More Time"
    Released: 1980[2]

Short Stories is the debut album by Jon and Vangelis, the collaborative effort between Jon Anderson of the prog rock band Yes and electronic music pioneer Vangelis. This was not the first time that the two had worked together: Vangelis had auditioned to be Rick Wakeman's replacement in Yes in 1974, but the role was given to Patrick Moraz. In 1975, Jon Anderson sang on "So Long Ago So Clear" from Heaven and Hell.

Background and composition[edit]

Putting overdubs aside, the cuts on Short Stories were all improvised one-take tape recordings tracked in 1979, with the album's working title Spont. [Spontaneous] Music based on this process.[3] Vangelis said that the album may have taken a total of only two and a half non-consecutive weeks to produce, and "just four days to start with."[3] Both Anderson and Vangelis wanted to work together just to have a fun time, the former explaining, "I won't say effortless, but the enjoyment of making music without prior conceptions, without deciding what it's going to be. Just do it."[3] Sounds writer John Gill, who interviewed the pair for an article regarding how Short Stories was made, said that the two apparently wanted to make an album that would be out of the styles they had commonly been labeled under by both the press and consumers with past releases.[3] Short Stories garners numerous elements of classical, pop, rock and folk.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 1.5/5 stars[5]
Smash Hits 3/10[6]

Despite its commercial performance, critical response to Short Stories, both upon release and in retrospect, has been mixed. A Smash Hits journalist put the blame entirely on Anderson for making the album "entirely unlistenable"; he jokingly described his lyrics as "the kind of "cosmic" drivel that gets hippies a bad name", and felt that the "tuneless" melodies were written by just coming up with notes and pitches at random.[6] In a retrospective review, AllMusic reviewer Dave Connolly called the record "underwhelming", saying that it had very few "nearly memorable moments"; he criticized it for being more focused on melody than making the arrangements less "amorphous" and "paper-thin", an issue also present on the last Yes album Anderson sang on before working on Short Stories, Tormato.[5]

Gary Graff, who wrote a mixed review for The Beaver County Times, mainly criticized Vangelis' musical work on the record, feeling it was much more of a Vangelis album than a collaborative LP between him and Anderson and would have been more commercially successful if only he was credited on it.[7] Although he called it one of Vangelis' better releases so far, he also named it Anderson's worst to date.[7] As for the latter's involvement, he praised his "strong" vocal performance, calling it far better than how he sang on Tormato, but opined he focused too much on word play that caused his lyrics to be too complex for average listeners.[7] The more-than-five-minute lengths of each song was also panned in Graff's review, writing that listeners could lose interest in a track after only three minutes.[7] He also wrote that it would garner fans of the works of bands such as Pink Floyd and King Crimson but backfire Anderson and Vangelis' plan of increasing attention from the Yes fan base.[7]

In more favorable reviews, The Sydney Morning Herald's Madeleine d'Haeye called Short Stories "an innovative, pleasing combination of two highly talent musicians exploring new horizons", highlighting Anderson's "beautiful clarity of tone" when singing high pitches and Vangelis "finely matched" accompaniments.[8] In 1982, R. S. Murthi reviewed the album for the New Straits Times as one of the "Aesthetes of electronics", spotlighting Anderson's "spirited energy" and Vangelis' skillful musical arrangements.[4]

Track listing[edit]

  • Music By Vangelis. Lyrics By Jon Anderson

Vinyl and Cassette[edit]

  1. "Curious Electric" 6:42
  2. "Each and Everyday" 3:43
  3. "Bird Song" 1:26
  4. "I Hear You Now" 5:13
  5. "The Road" 4:31
  6. "Far Away in Baagad" 2:18
  7. "Love Is" 5:46
  8. "One More Time" 6:18
  9. "Thunder" 2:14
  10. "A Play Within a Play" 7:00

CD[edit]

The CD insert lists ten tracks as per the vinyl / cassette release, but the CD is actually divided into eight tracks as follows.

  1. "Curious Electric" 6:42
  2. "Each and Everyday / Bird Song" 5:08
  3. "I Hear You Now" 5:13
  4. "The Road" 4:31
  5. "Far Away in Baagad / Love Is" 8:04
  6. "One More Time" 6:18
  7. "Thunder" 2:14
  8. "A Play Within a Play" 7:00

Personnel[edit]

  • Jon Anderson: All Vocals
  • Vangelis: Keyboards, Synthesizers, Piano, Electronics
  • Raphael Preston: Acoustic Guitars

Charts[edit]

Weekly[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
position
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[9] 18
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[10] 1
French Albums (IFOP)[11] 13
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[12] 30
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[13] 31
US Billboard 200 125
UK Albums (OCC) 4

Year-end[edit]

Chart (1980) Position
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[14] 40

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[15] Gold 100,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone

Production[edit]

  • Produced By Vangelis
  • Engineer: Raphael Preston
  • Mastering: Hitoshi Takiguchi

References[edit]

  1. ^ J.T. Griffin, Mark (2013). Vangelis: The Unknown Man. Lulu. 
  2. ^ One More Time (Single), Jon & Vangelis, Polydor Records, 1980, PD 2130 
  3. ^ a b c d Gill, John (16 February 1980). "The Starsky and Hutch of technoflash". Sounds. Spotlight Publications. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Murthi, R. S. (25 June 1982). "Aesthetes of electronics". New Straits Times. Media Prima. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Connolly, Dave (2011). "Short Stories - Jon & Vangelis | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (February 7–20): 31. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Graff, Gary (9 July 1980). "No! Anderson's split from Yes fizzles". The Beaver County Times. Calkins Media. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  8. ^ d'Haeye, Madeleine (15 June 1980). "2 explorers in harmony". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  9. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Jon And Vangelis – Short Stories" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Jon And Vangelis – Short Stories" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Tous les Albums de l'Artiste choisi" (in French). infodisc.fr.  In the box under Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste & Appuyez sur OK :, select JON & VANGELIS . Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Jon And Vangelis – Short Stories". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1980" (in Dutch). Dutch Charts Portal. Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 April 2016
  15. ^ "British album certifications – Jon & Vangelis – Short Stories". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Short Stories in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search