This music is a bit of an acquired taste but it appealed to me when it was released at the height of the progressive music period. This CD was not as expensive as the LP I bought decades ago but it does sound dated and not as good as the vinyl disc (which I still have). I take the view that CDs need remastering and rebalancing when transferring to CD in the same way that when you add a subwoofer to a TV or cinema system there is a necessary rebalancing of the sound unless the there is to be a "bloating" of the upper bass region (CDs crop frequencies above 20khz and this adds a hard and closed sound)...
I believe that there is a remaster of the disc but for the money this CD cost there can be few complaints....
I was excited when I heard that this an other Vangelis RCA albums were being remastered, but I've found that the so called enhancements have ruined the quality and taken away some of the suttle effects of the albums.
In the case of Heaven and Hell, there is a ridiculous amout of reverb on most of the tracks which just seems to have been shoved on regardless of some of the more interesting uses of echo, especially in the first track of Part 1 on the CD. Also, in the Symphony to the Powers B section (found in Heaven and Hell Part 1), some music has been cut out. In the track known on the LP as 12 O'clock (Part of heaven and hel Part 2), a strange echo effect has been added which is at least rhythmic and in time with the music, but isn't in keeping with the original album. While these aspects are bad enough, the other major disappointment is that the CD still only has two long tracks for each side when it's quite clear there are meant to be 10 separate tracks.
While understanding that an artist has the right to review their work from time to time, it doesn't always follow that those who appreciate their work have to endorse their tinkerings. Might be of interest to collectors, but I would suggest that the 1989 RCA CD version is still the better version to get for now if you've never heard this before.
Vangelis is an artist unlike others. This album seems to bridge a gap between classical and modern. Heaven and Hell is a superb musical journey that will be quite unlike most things you've heard before, but you may well find yourself converted. It is left to the listener to decide which movements describe Heaven and which Hell. Listeners of a certain age will recognise the 3rd movement as the theme from Carl Sagan's Cosmos series of 20ish years ago. My only slight complaint is that on the vinyl version, the song (with Jon Anderson as vocalist) is placed in the middle of the main theme, but this is not enough to cause me to award any fewer that 5 stars.
Vangelis's 1975 release, `Heaven & Hell', was his first true breakthrough album. It was recorded whilst setting up his new studio in London, the musician and composer having recently moved there from Paris. It was the first time he was able to use synthesisers with full orchestral effect. The work is heavy on percussion too, as well as featuring contributions from the English Chamber Choir.
The CD splits the work into parts one and two, but actually the original album listed ten tracks. A loose critique would perhaps suggest that tracks one to four comprise `heaven', whilst tracks six to ten are darker in character, but this would be to ignore the vast subtleties present throughout the work as a whole. For instance, `Hell' includes the track '12 O'Clock', which presents a monkish chant that is subverted but later saved, and the final track `A Way' sees the music end in serene cosmic contemplation.
Tracks one to four comprise `Bacchanale' - a raucous celebration of life - and the three movements of Vangelis's `Symphony to the Powers B'. This symphony can also be looked on as a piano concerto with choir, and there are reminiscences (consciously or not) to Carl Orff's `Carmina Burana' as well. Tracks five to ten are a varied bunch, though all are high in the quality of their composition and production. `Intestinal Bat' demonstrates why Vangelis is a consummate composer of soundtracks.
I have made no mention of track five, `So Long Ago, So Clear'. This is somewhat separate from the rest of the album, being the first collaboration between Vangelis and Jon Anderson, the former having briefly guested with Anderson's group `Yes'. The collaboration between the singer and the instrumentalist was later to bare rich fruit in at least three superb albums under the name `Jon & Vangelis'.
I first encountered Heaven & Hell when viewing the TV Series Cosmos, written and presented by Dr Carl Sagan. The music haunted me for days until I discovered it had been written by Vangelis and was available as the album Heaven and Hell. The haunting electronic melody takes the listener on a journey through time and space with changes in tempo which constantly keep you wondering what is coming next but at the same time, guiding you along the path, building to a crescendo with fury similar to 'Mars in The PLanets Suite. I venture to compare it to use this comparison but purists may well disagree. An album for which to set-aside time and drift off onto a higher plain.
A hugely disappointing remaster. There is so much reverb added to the recording that the piano passages in particular sound as though they're coming from the depths of a basement - completely ruining the ambience. For some reason there is 22 seconds omitted from the 1st movement of 'Symphony to The Powers B'. At least Vangelis resisted the temptation of increasing the loudness which have blighted so many remasters of the last ten years or so ...
The first major solo album and a great epic championed to a rock audience by the greatly missed Alan "Fluff" Freeman. Good themes with lots of monk style cloister vocals, scary synth effects and three absolute highlights: the Jon Anderson sung "So long ago so clear" -one of the very best songs he has ever written (and I am counting all his Yes classics) and sung - beautifully. The other stand outs are a galloping synth theme which has a Ride of the Valkries type feel and the main theme itself. There is a great atmosphere throughout moving from themes of dread and joy echoing the work with his previous 60s group on the classic 666.
The only downside and the reason why I have not awarded five stars, is that there are only two track entry points on the CD, so the three tracks I have referred to above are not listed and can not be accessed separately. I am sure there were at least two-three track points on each side of the vinyl album, even if the tracks had no individual names. This CD urgently needs remastering, including new additional track entry points so that you can easily access favourite sections.