VANGELIS: Chariots of Fire (1981)
“This is a beautiful and a good album filled with stuff that gives chills and / or that makes our little sensitive strings to sigh”
1 Titles 3:33
2 Five Circles 5:20
3 Abraham's Theme 3:20
4 Eric's Theme 4:18
5 100 Metres 2:04
6 Jerusalem 2:47
7 Chariots of Fire 20:41
CD Polydor - 800 020-2
(CD 42:06) (V.F.)
(New Age, EM, Soundtrack)
What? I still haven't written anything about CHARIOTS OF FIRE? I didn't see the rush, nor the need. So much has been said and written on the subject. The diehards hate this album, finding it too simplistic. Too commercial I heard. However, they will like Antartica! I have always liked it, although it is not part of this list of albums that accompany me on my travels. And yet, every time I listen to it, like right now, I always wonder why. Because indeed, I find it very good. There is always a category of people who hate everything that is beautiful. That remains between them and then their mirror! It is in all honesty that I will tell you about this little masterpiece that has made me lift my arms' hairs quite often. I already knew Vangelis since my great friend and life brother Bernard introduced me to the values of the Greek musician with Heaven & Hells. And there, no question of making a comparison. There are not any! Heaven & Hells is an intense, complex, melodious and tortuous album. There are sweats of tears in this album. While CHARIOTS OF FIRE is very mellow, aside from the famous orchestral explosions in the long title-track and can inject doses of chills here and there. So, it was while learning to discover this legendary album that I heard this first major commercial success of the Greek musician.
First of all, how do we stay insensitive to Titles? To this keyboard note trapped by a conquering finger that sculpts a brief crescendo. This so luminous song of the synth and this delicate melody played on piano with tenderness and melancholy which freezes in our ears. A delight! And that's not the only melody tinged with rosewater in this album. The long title-track lays it every 5 minutes. There is also this Five Circles where the synth is literally suffering on a starry background. But those so supposedly critics tend to forget the orchestrations and all these elements masterfully sewn by the Greek musician where each sound weighs its word. And that lunar melody that is Abraham's Theme? It is true that it sounds like old Vangelis, period L'Apocalypse des Animaux ou La Fête Sauvage. It remains that it is very beautiful! The intensity behind Eric's Theme would dig the furrows for albums such as 1492, Conquest of Paradise or El Greco and even Alexander. With 100 Meters we enter the spheres of Vangelis' abstract music which is not really far from Invisible Connection here. The title melts into the pastoral hymn of Jerusalem and its Gregorian chants. In fact, this first side of CHARIOTS OF FIRE is a little chill-makers factory. We find there all the splendor of the Greek musician who at that time would compose brilliant soundtracks. This album offers music ready to listen without questioning. And quietly, the listener goes from an FM track, Titles, to an intense orchestral adventure with its pastoral choir. In my opinion, this is great Vangelis who brought many new followers into the realm of EM. There is no one who will make me say the opposite on this!
As I wrote above, the title piece offers intense moments in a more accessible philharmonic vision. The influences of these last albums, among others China, explode here. The piano is dominant and leaves aside the complexities of the synths that Vangelis liked to present in his previous albums. However, the backdrop features elements that we will hear in Blade Runner. So, Chariots of Fire, the title is a good composition more in the sweetness than the iconoclastic side of compositions of such a scale. I see no filling, not even in the finale where the Greek musician takes out his synths and electronic effects. Obviously, the title makes links and also collects all these little pleasures made up in the Side A of the album. It's no sin! These links are interesting and just present enough not to take up too much space.
So! Don't be intimidated by negative reviews regarding this album. CHARIOTS OF FIRE is a beautiful and a good album filled with stuff that gives chills and / or that makes our little sensitive strings sigh. Isn't the purpose of music?
Sylvain Lupari (January 13th, 2021) *****
Available everywhere and on Groove 😊