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Alan Parsons - The Very Best of Live CD (album) cover


Alan Parsons


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3.09 | 31 ratings

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3 stars The first time I saw this I thought it was a tribute album or something, like the one Andrew Powell did of Parsons tunes back in the eighties. But Alan Parsons himself plays on it, and these are mostly Alan Parsons Project songs, so I guess it’s official. The “live” part threw me as well since I’d never heard of a live Parsons album. But that’s accurate too – this is in fact a live album, except for the three bonus studio tracks included in the American version (which has a different and slightly more interesting cover as well). The tracks come from a 1994 concert in Germany, and feature former Manfred Mann’ Earth Band singer Chris Thompson, long-time Project guitarist Ian Bairnson and drummer Stuart Elliott. Additional vocalists include former Joan Armatrading bassist Jeremy Meek and some guy named Gary Howard.

The production quality is excellent, clearly recorded from the soundboard with crowd noises mixed in during what was probably extensive studio remixing. These types of live recordings are always much cleaner than stage recordings, but like many other similar live records, the vocals don’t sound quite as harmonized with the instrumentation as they would if you were listening from the audience. The only real complaint is with Gary Howard, whose theatrical background is evident in his overly-enunciated and slightly annoying lead vocals, especially on “Eye in the Sky”, “Time”, and “Prime Time”. Eric Woolfson would have been much better of course, but he was off pursuing his own theatrical career at the time, which is why this isn’t called an Alan Parsons Project album. In fact, the label simply says “Alan Parsons”, although apparently the group toured under the name “Alan Parsons Band”.

And this isn’t the “very best” of Alan Parsons’ music either, although it may in fact be his best live music. There are only two instrumentals (“Sirius” and “Lucifer”), neither of which is exactly the best of Parsons’ many instrumental works. I suppose Parsons felt the need to focus on songs with vocals for a live setting, but considering the great sound quality it would have been good to hear “Where’s the Walrus?”, “The Gold Bug”, “Mammagamma” or any of several other tracks such as the ones on his Instrumental Works album from a few years prior to this.

The rest of the tracks are all pretty good ones, but again there are some notable omissions: “Dr Tar and Professor Fether”, “Silence and I”, “Breakdown”, “I Robot”, “Turn of a Friendly Card” among others. The three new studio tracks sound very similar to the rather tepid stuff the Project put out on Vulture Culture and Stereotomy, decent but unspectacular.

This is a decent album simply because it is a rare glimpse of Alan Parsons music in a live setting, and is very well produced so the sound quality is high. But if you’re looking for a true collection of the best music the Project had to offer, the exhaustive ‘Works’ collection is much more comprehensive. By definition this should have a two star rating since it is probably only of interest to collectors, but considering the high quality of the recording and the fact that there aren’t any actual bad tracks, I think three stars is appropriate.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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