This section deals with Vangelis' music, as performed and/or recorded by other artists.
There are many different reasons for a musician to play and release the works of another musician (covering). It can be a tribute, plain theft to cash in on his success while not paying for the recording rights, or an attempt to enhance the music or to provide a different view on it.
The fact is shops in many countries are flooded with CDs and other media containing music by Vangelis that is not performed by him but by other artists. In other words, these CDs do not contain the original recordings as created by Vangelis.
Often in music - and especially in the case of Vangelis - the performance is an integral part of the piece of music. When someone buys a CD and plays it back home and it appears to be the intended music (or close to it) but not the intended performance, one can be very disappointed or even totally uninterested.
There can however be good things about making a cover. When done in another context such as pop, a song can become a worldwide hit (Donna Summer's State Of Independence) or it can provide a fresh view on a famous composition with pleasing effect (e.g. Vassilis Saleas' celebrated adaptation).
What follows here is a brief overview of some of the more famous (or infamous) covers of Vangelis available.
The most recommended album of cover music is no doubt "Orama" from Greece's clarinet virtuoso Vassilis Saleas. He released, under the guidance of Vangelis himself a complete album with famous pieces composed by Vangelis, played on a clarinet. The arrangements are new, professional and fresh, while the clarinet performance is undoubtedly virtuoso. Released in 1996, initially only available in Greece but later distributed worldwide. This album has quickly become rather popular amongst the fans.
In 2001 Vassilis Saleas released another album of cover music called "Fasma". Most of the music comes from different composers but it included two pieces by Vangelis not featured on "Orama".
There is also a double CD release in 2001 of Vassilis performing a live concert at Constantinople in Turkey. It featured four pieces from Vangelis.
Very short after the Jon and Vangelis album "The Friends Of Mr Cairo" was released, Donna Summer recorded a cover version of its track "State of Independence", scoring a big hit with it. It was produced by Quincy Jones featuring an all star choir including Kenny Loggins, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.
It was remixed and released again in 1996, having some success in the Dance charts.
Nobody released as many cover versions albums as Dutch synthesizer player Ed Starink. Starink was educated as classical concert pianist but also played bass and guitar earlier in his career. Eventually he ended up re recording many different synthesizer tracks by artists like Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and Jan Hammer, but also pop songs from bands like OMD, Kraftwerk or movie scores by composers like John Williams, John Barry and Ennio Morricone.
Starink has also composed his own music but the albums that came out were never as commercially successful as his cover albums. His compositions are rather experimental and often not as accessible as the music he recreated. He released albums called "Cristallin", "Moods - Synthesizer seasons", "The Synthfony album" and more.
Starink's studio was without a doubt one of the most impressive synthesizer studios in the Benelux, ranging from the earliest to the latest technology in synthesizers, but somewhere in the nineties he moved the south of France where he lives and records his music now. He has vowed not to re record any more popular synthesizer hits and works on the release of his next solo album.
His cover versions albums were published under numerous names. Most successfully as "Synthesizer Greatest" (Volumes 1 to 6, plus a part 7 in Spain), "Synthétiseur - Les Plus Grands Thèmes" (French versions of Greatest, part 1 to 12), "Synthesizer Spectacular" or the artist specific albums like "Twilight, the Magic of Vangelis" and "1492 Conquest of Paradise - Music of Vangelis" by "Space 2000", better known as "Conquest of Paradise 2000". The quite misleadingly marketed "Space 2000" album probably caused more misunderstandings about the origin of its recordings than any other cover album did before.
Starink's cover versions are admired by some, but avoided or even detested by others. The more offensive aspect of some of his releases is the total lack of indication that the albums were played by an artist other than Vangelis. Those albums are sold to look like regular compilation albums, and thus can provide the unsuspecting customer with a rather false start into the "genre".
Starink has however gained some respect with the group of people who admire his clever use of equipment and fancy production techniques, as well as his polished way of reworking the old classics. Most Vangelis fans are disappointed however by the (apparent) lack of human expression in the performance and a cold approach of the material.
Starink also worked as "A Close Call" together with Bert van Breda of BR Music. On the "The music of Vangelis O. Papathanassiou" album he used Demis Roussos' vocals to replace Jon Anderson on some of the famous Jon & Vangelis tracks. Starink also performed arranging duties and produced several of Roussos' later albums.
When Blade Runner was released in 1982, Vangelis suddenly decided his original score was not to be released. This "orchestra" re recorded it because the film company wanted to fill the obvious commercial gap that was created. The sound could far from match the eerie dark atmosphere Vangelis had created, but was all that was available until some original tracks were released on Themes (1989) and later a complete official album finally saw the light in 1994. The end titles were also released on 7" single.
The same "Orchestra" also recorded some tracks from the Bounty, which can be found on a film music compilation album.
Famous Hollywood film composer John Williams (Star Wars, Jaws, Schindler's List) composed the official theme for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA. This was released on the album "Summon the Heroes" (aka "the Sound of Glory") on which he conducts the Boston Pops Orchestra playing more "Olympic" music. Included are orchestral performances of "Chariots of Fire" and "Conquest Of Paradise".
"Conquest of Paradise" sounds rather silly, stripped from its original bombast and continuity, and burdened with some unnecessary changes to its melody. "Chariots of Fire" is altered more constructively, with trumpets opening with a fanfare version of the theme, then building into a sound closer to the original version. The melodies are played by wind instruments and strings. There's even a synth player credited for the trademark baseline.
Reasonably successful with their own music as "Nova" (Aurora) and "Peru" (Africa), these Dutch synthesists have also released albums with cover versions of synthesizer and film music, including by Vangelis. Their most recent cover-albums are called "Conquest of paradise" part one and two. Very deceptive as you can see. It is not very clear from the sleeve that these are not played by the original artists.
Released a cover version LP of Chariots of Fire in the UK. One side contained most tracks of Vangelis' album, the other side contained covers of other film music, played by this orchestra.
Also released a cover version LP of Chariots of Fire.
Awful synthesizer sounds playing cold and simplistic cover versions of synthesizer music including tracks by Vangelis, releasing it under various names.
This orchestra (synths only) covers many "romantic" and "electronic" artists, producing clumsy versions on cheap synths, simplified arrangements, totally cold and simplified performances, filled with mistakes.
On the CD "Moodfood by Moodswings" (1992) the Jon and Vangelis song "State of Independence" was sung by Chryssie Hynde of the Pretenders. The track is called "Spiritual High (State of Independence) Part II". Parts I and III have no Vangelis relation.
This female Finish singer recorded a version of Conquest of Paradise in Swedish, called "Till Dagens Ljus" (Untill dawn). It was released on her album "Bara Du Kommer", which was promoted using mainly this song. The lyrics where written by Per Lindberg.
German electronic music Klaus Schulze recorded a cover version of "Conquest of Paradise" shortly after the late success of Vangelis' single. The recording sounds a lot like Vangelis' original. There is no typical "Schulze" input. Word among Schulze fans is that he recorded it against his will after his record company made him financial offers that were hard to refuse. The single was released in Germany and didn't sell very well.
Performed a CD called "Genius, the music of Vangelis", one of the countless cover CDs. This one catches extra attention by the nice artwork that looks like a real Vangelis CD. Of course the real performers are not credited on the front. It even goes as far as including a real picture of the real Vangelis in its booklet. The music, as usual, is pointless: re recordings that try to imitate, but sound weaker and sometimes a bit wrong. The track list has a few titles wrong (a common phenomenon on these kind of CDs) including "The Will of the World" (Wind), "Circles" (Five...) and "To an Unknown Man". And the artwork contains semi quotes from the Rutger Hauer Speech from Blade Runner that Vangelis included on the soundtrack album. Anyway, a pointless album, with nice art designs and a genuine picture for the collection.
Italian soprano, based in Canada, made a complete album (and did live performances) of only Vangelis tracks. The CD called "Like a Dream" (2004) originally contained 13 tracks, but "Conquest of Paradise" and "Chariots of Fire" were removed from the album's later prints. The music is sort of ambient, with Giaria's high pitched singing. All tracks sound the same, and are all painfully restrained, avoiding any form of dynamics.
German pan pipe player Edward Simoni had a big hit with "Pan-Traume", a track on an album with the same title. Although it is completely credited as his own composition, it's easy to recognize the chorus as the distinct melody of Vangelis' famous "Hymne" from the 1978 Opera Sauvage album. As both Simoni and his manager deny that it is a Vangelis composition it would technically not be a cover version. But the word "plagiarism" is not too farfetched in a case like this, which makes that this piece belongs in this list.
Simoni also did a version of Conquest of Paradise, but it is a more literal translation and Vangelis was properly credited.
A happy exception to the rule that cover versions can't be interesting. Initially only available as a digital download, later released on CD in France (minus the vocal track "Come To Me") this album "Tribute To Vangelis" (2011) by Jon Anderson collaborator Christophe Lebled is a popular release among Vangelis fans. Christophe has managed to find new ways to explore 11 of Vangelis' best known tracks, and treats them with dignity, while creatively re-envisioning them. With its Warm instrumentation and lush soundscapes, these recordings are a very pleasant way to rediscover the melodies you already love. The only drawback might be the quantized style of performance, but this is well made up for with its impeccable production. This is worth your attention!
And much more, ......
For people to play Vangelis' music at home there is also were several releases of sheetmusic; the notes of Vangelis' music written in notes. And words, when applicable.
There were sheet music books for a selection of Ed Starink's successful "Synthesizer greatest" series of cover albums that included the music of To the Unknown Man and I'll Find my Way home, arranged for synthesizers, but quite simplified. Funny to note is that there also was also a "play along" release of Synthesizer Greatest, containing a number of the recordings of the series, but without the melody. The idea was to play along the melody yourself on your keyboard, from the accompanying sheet music
The Chariots of Fire score appeared in various sheet music books, but there also were also "official" sheetmusic releases, all arranged for piano: a simple notation of the theme (easy to play), a difficult version, and also a version of the long Chariots of Fire suite that is the B side of the LP or the last track on the CD. But it was incomplete, a big part of it was cut from the piece.
Interesting also is a string quartet arrangement for Hymne, the full score is for violin, 2nd violin, viola and cello.
Conquest of Paradise is featured as a full orchestral score in an American database, but it can only be requested for serious use by professional musicians.
The best item to get if you want to play Vangelis' music yourself is the official sheetmusic book called "Vangelis, the best of...". It contains piano arrangements of Alpha, Antarctica Echoes, Titles from Chariots of Fire, Closing Titles from the Bounty, Conquest of Paradise, Deliverance, Dervish D, Five Circles, Hymn, La Petite Fille de la Mer, l'Enfant, Main Theme from Missing, Memories of Green, Pulstar, So Long Ago So Clear, Theme From Antarctica and the Dragon. Released in 1998, and it's been spotted in shops in the USA, Italy, UK, Holland, etc.. Distributed by Carisch, ISBN 88-507-0034-2.
Another interesting phenomenon involves a number of films using cover versions of Vangelis' music for their score. "Nosferatu a Venice" is a famous example, featuring music from Mask throughout the production, but all of it re-recorded by another artist.
Several Bollywood productions from India also use selected melodies (or more) from Vangelis repertoire. There is, for instance a Hindi film called Koyla, in which large parts of the music are based on Vangelis' score for "1492, Conquest of Paradise". There are both pieces of the original recordings and re-recordings of it in the film. On the soundtrack album there are only re-recordings. Vangelis is not credited in this film. The credits for music go to Rajesh Roshan.
Another film using Vangelis' music is "Kaho na Pyar Hai", again composed by Rajesh Roshan, according to the credits. The film was released in January 2000 and features the Voices melody as a major recurring theme. There was also a song version with Hindi vocals called "Dil ne Dil ko pukara". A soundtrack album was released, but the Vangelis origin of the theme is nowhere credited on the album.
Conquest of Paradise again was also used on Indian film "Josh", composer Anu Malik quotes Vangelis' famous theme on the song "Hum to dil se Haare".