The record was the first album by VANGELIS to be released by RCA Records in 1975 and was also the first album to be recorded at his personal studio in London, Nemo. This epic work in two parts featured the English Chamber Choir (conducted by Guy Protheroe) and VANGELIS’ first collaboration with JON ANDERSON, “So Long Ago, So Clear”.
This Esoteric Recordings release (undertaken with the full approval and supervision of VANGELIS himself) is taken from a new remaster undertaken by Vangelis and the artwork is a facsimile of the original 1975 LP packaging.
Vinyl LP £19.49 ECLECLP2421
Ltd remastered LP on Esoteric Recordings.
- Shipping cost: £3.35 ?
The photos inside on the gatefold for Vangelis' 'Heaven and Hell' depict him moving around a circle of keyboards, waving his hands excitedly as he chooses which one his hands should be landing on at this given moment. In fact, there's a lot of hand action in the art for 'Heaven and Hell', including a pair with wings attached to them, suggesting Vangelis as some sort of God who turns any musical experiment he touches to gold. Despite his ocean of keyboards, this bearded cape-wearer doesn't quite look as cool as Herbie Hancock does with all his equipment on the back of 'Sunlight'. Still, the picture gives you a good idea of the kind of music 'Heaven and Hell' has to offer: ecstatic, celestial sounds are to come from these electronics; they're supposed to sound as eternal and majestic as the most famous operas, with Vangelis wandering around conducting, composing and generally being the virtuosic mastermind the universe has long been calling out for. Or something.
That's pretty on point, in terms of the sound: 'Heaven and Hell' is a symphonic, quasi-religious affair with piano concertos, complex keyboard solos, and the huge, bombastic vocals of the English Chamber Choir, who flit in and out of the record to personify Vangelis' vision of heaven and hell. In defence of their rather ridiculous and dramatic presence on the record, it would feel like an empty keyboard wasteland without them: Vangelis needs them to fill the space between this motif and the next one, getting his roster of vocalists to huff and puff and occasionally intone with a deep, brooding tenor. While 'Heaven and Hell' can feel deceptively epic and listenable if you're willing to engage with its peaking arrangements, it also feels of another, more ridiculous time. It's hard to tell if Vangelis' rather significant symphonic experiments have dated or if this spry, blindingly bright sound was intentional, but 'Heaven and Hell' is like if James Last went full-on classical. That, and parts of this record just really make me want to listen to Yes' "Starship Trooper". Which is never a good thing.
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