Most of you will recognize the name Jan Schelhaas because you bought one of the Camel (“I can't see your house from here”, “Nude”) or Caravan records (“Blind Dog at St. Dunstans”, “Better by Far”, “The Unauthorized Breakfast Item”) on which he is one of the keyboard players. For myself I remember those wonderful Camel gigs with the Jan Schelhaas / Kit Watkins and Jan Schelhaas / David Sinclair tandems on keyboards. When Peter Bardens left the band Camel, the “Breathless” tour was done with the Jan Schelhaas / David Sinclair tandem. But the guy has played with a lot of other great musicians and bands (Gary Moore, Thin Lizzy). In the year 2008 Jan Schelhaas made his first solo album entitled “Dark Ships”. The successor “Living on a Little Blue Dot” was inspired by Carl Sagan's “Pale Blue Dot: A vision of the Human Future in Space”. On February 14 1990, at the request of astronomer Carl Sagan, the Voyager 1 space probe was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around to take one last photograph of Earth before leaving the solar system. On the resulting image our planet appeared as a single pixel, a pale Blue Dot. The funds necessary for recording this album came from a PledgeMusic campaign.
Doug Boyle - Lead guitar on 2,3,4,5,6,7,,8 and acoustic guitar on 6; Neil Ford - slide guitar on 6; Jimmy Hastings - alto sax on 1, soprano sax on 2, clarinet on 5, flute on 2,3; Pye Hastings - power chords on 1, rhythm guitar on 8, backing vocals on 3; Andy Latimer - lead guitar solo on 8; Geoffrey Richardson - string quartet on 5; Jan Schelhaas - all keys, vocals, bass & drum programming, keyboard guitar solo's on 1,7; Mark Walker - percussion on 2,4
You can find the following nine tracks on this album; “Stars On Fire”, “Living on a Little Blue ”, “In her Mind”, “When the Sun Comes In”, “Makin' Babies”, “Someone”, “The Last Time”, “The Gypsy's Comin' Home” and “If Not”.
The album opens with the track “Stars On Fire” and this song sets the atmosphere of this consistent album. Spacious keyboard parts and vocal melodies are attractively supported by the instrumental input of the many guests. The seven minutes long title track“ Living on a Little Blue Dot” is one of the highlights of this album. You can find some catchy vocal melodies on this track and I am impressed by the beautiful sung vocals. There is also a very nice drum part in this song. Jan Schelhaas himself was responsible for the vocals and the drum programming on this album. This is a beautiful song that sometimes reminds me of the atmosphere that you can find on the solo albums of the late Peter Bardens. But I think that this counts for the whole album.
Jimmy Hastings is playing a beautiful flute part in the the following track “In Her Mind”. The vocal melodies are very nice. “When The Sun Comes” has a beautiful classical intro. And in “Someone” the guitar of Doug Boyle and the piano of Jan Schelhaas are giving this piece some blues accents. In the piece “The Last Time” the keyboards have a kind of hornlike sound. All the time that must have been put in the drum programming and the programming of the keyboard sounds are paying off. Another highlight is the wonderful piece “The Gypsy's Comin' Home”. The lead guitar solo in this song is played by Jan's old Camel mate Andy Latimer. The album closes with the short song “If Not”. The keyboard orchestrations are very beautiful. It is a worthy ending of a good album.
“Living on a Little Blue Dot” is a lovely album with wonderful melodies and very nice vocal parts. The album has a consistent quality and the music is in balance. Don't expect freaky synth solo's or progressive bombast. Because of the Cavavan connection of some of the guest there is maybe a slight Canterbury flavor to some of the songs. But personally I had think more of the solo work of the late Pete Bardens. And then I am talking about the atmosphere of the music and especially the vocal harmonies. It is a lovely album to listen to after a hectic working day. Your reviewer enjoyed listening to this album very much.