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Alan Parsons Band - The Secret CD (album) cover


Alan Parsons Band


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3.05 | 54 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Fifteen years on from the last Alan Parsons studio release, 2004's electronica-influenced `A Valid Path', the man and his revolving door line-up of musical collaborators return with `The Secret', a themed album based around the art of magic, a long-time fascination for the artist. Although hardly some full-blown prog-rock concept piece, what we have here is an impeccably produced and absolutely reliable selection of soft rock/pop tunes and elegant ballads with tasteful vocals, soothing harmonies and grand orchestration, all in the classic Alan Parsons Project tradition.

Parsons and his assembled musical cohorts play their prog card right from the start; Hoping to make you instantly forget of Mickey Mouse and Disney's `Fantasia', former Genesis guitarist playfully rips through an adaption of `The Sorcerer's Apprentice' with plenty of pomp and spectacle, almost sounding as if it's wandered off one of Clive Nolan's theatrical projects! Pop singer Jason Mraz sings `Miracle', a harmless tune that sets much of the standard formula here, sounding like plenty of Alan Parsons Project tracks and albums past, being a mid-tempo pop-rocker with chiming electric guitars, melodic soloing, a memorable chorus and contemplative lyrical themes.

Alan himself takes the lead vocal on `As Lights Fall', a pleasant soft-rocker that reminds of plenty of Steve Hackett solo discs and could have easily fit onto the early Eighties Camel albums. Based around the moon landing, spoken word samples and dramatic orchestration ripples through the more epic `One Note Symphony', helping make it one of the `proggier' spots of the disc. `Sometimes' is one of those big and swooning emotional ballads that were always a Project trademark, with Foreigner's Lou Gramm's dignified voice filling the role that Project mainstay, the late Eric Woolfson, would have delivered years back.

Exquisitely sun-kissed, multi-part harmonies throughout its chorus makes `Soiree Fantastique' one of the absolute standout tracks of the set, and the nasally snarl to guest singer Mark Mikel's voice on the dreamy `Fly to Me' will make many listeners instantly think of the Beatles (lovely shimmering guitar solo on this one too). The rollicking `Requiem' is peppered with sax and horn blasts, `Years of Glory' is another sighing ballad, and `The Limelight Fades Away' is a simple rocker enlivened by a catchy chorus. Closer `I Can't Get There from Here' is a rousing piano and orchestration-lifted ballad to send every listener away in a great mood.

The album could easily have done with a couple of longer vocal-free sections or even another purely instrumental piece, but if you've always dug the Project and now Alan Parsons `solo' discs, `The Secret' fits in nicely alongside many of the LP's in their back-catalogue, essentially picking up right where 1984's `Vulture Culture' left off. So while the prog-rock touches are minimal, you get a collection of classy tunes with confident vocals that make for an undemanding and pleasing background listen, all wrapped in the studio polish expected of Mr Parsons.

Three stars, but Parsons/Project fans should absolutely adore it and can add a whole other star.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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