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Eric Woolfson - Poe - More Tales of Mystery and Imagination CD (album) cover


Eric Woolfson


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3.38 | 21 ratings

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Easy Livin
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3 stars When is a "follow up" not a follow up?

In Eric Woolfson's notes for this album, he lays claim to the idea of dedicating the first Alan Parsons Project album to the works of Edgar Allan Poe. He asserts that, at that time he already had ideas for a second album of Poe related themes, but a change of record labels meant that a different direction was taken. In 2003, he staged a concert dedicated to Poe in the Abbey Road studios, going on to record an album which he credited as being the "follow up" to APP's "Tales of mystery and imagination". The album contains about half of the songs from the stage show. Thus, while this album is credited to Eric Woolfson, a dominant sticker on the sleeve indicates that it is "From the creator and writer of The Alan Parsons Project".

The album starts off in good APP form, although it has to be said that this is not the APP of their first album, the original "Tales..", but of the later more pop based product. As such, overtly promoting it as some sort of follow up to that album can only lead to frustration and disappointment on the part of the unsuspecting. From the brief instrumental "Angel of the Odd", we quickly move into the typical Woolfson upbeat contribution to APP albums with "Wings of eagles". Skipping "Train to freedom" for a minute, "Somewhere in the audience" represents the strong ballad side fans of APP are so familiar with. So far, all is fairly predictable, almost prosaic.

We need though to return to "Train to freedom", as this is where things start to take a decidedly unexpected turn. This upbeat Negro spiritual is pure stage show. Any links with Poe are at best tenuous, the song being "inspired by the atmosphere of political campaigning which might have prevailed in a bar where Poe was found badly beaten and left for dead".

"The bells" and "The murders in the Rue Morgue" are also pure theatre, while "Goodbye to all that" is a highly effective chorale. Even here, we suddenly veer off into a hillbilly burst ("You're the one who'll marry a farmer's daughter"). It is not prog of course, or anything like it, but it is worthy of a spin.

There are other more traditional APP songs such as the three part "The pit and the pendulum", the soft "Tiny star", and the "Dream within a dream" reflections of "Immortal", complete with Orson Welles quotation.

Strangely, Woolfson takes a back seat when it comes to the vocals, thrusting stage show performer Steve Balsamo into the limelight. Balsamo is certainly an accomplished singer, but I can't help but feel that Woolfson could have carried off the vocals himself with equal aplomb.

There is enough here to recommend this collection to fans of the Alan Parsons Project. The stage show numbers may however come as something of a shock to the system, and will inevitably fail to appeal to those seeking more traditional fare from the unheralded mainstay of APP albums.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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