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The Alan Parsons Project - Tales Of Mystery And Imagination CD (album) cover


The Alan Parsons Project


Crossover Prog

4.03 | 619 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is the debut from the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT. Alan PARSONS himself wasn't thinking that this studio outfit was to last more than ten years and give just as many albums (and continuing on in the 1990s as just Alan PARSONS without the Project, since Eric Woolfson went his separate way).

What I'm reviewing is the original pressing (20th Century Records here in America, and Charisma Records, same label as GENESIS, in the UK). In 1987, when Mercury Records reissued this (both vinyl and CD), it was given some Orson Welles narrations (which obviously had to been recorded before 1985, since '85 was the year Welles died), with '80s digital add-ons (especially those big '80s "gated" drums - think like what ZZ Top did to their early albums around the same time when they reissued those albums, same digital treatments). If you heard the 1987 remixed version first, you'll be put in a shock not hearing the narration or those '80s drums.

Already you can hear the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT sound already established, although one big surprise: lack of synthesizers! Duncan MacKay (who would play on their next three albums, then joined CAMEL for a short time, that's why he left by 1980) wasn't on this album. But there is still that '70s hi-tech feel, and they did use a vocodor (custom made by EMI) and a Projectron (a custom made analog sampler), so the album wasn't completely absent of electronics.

There are some interesting people involved in this album. Members of the Los Angeles band AMBROSIA are here. They even have Francis Monkman (ex-CURVED AIR) here. Plus there's Terry Sylvester (who replaced Graham Nash in The HOLLIES in 1969), and a totally unlikely figure, but totally appropriate for the concept here: Arthur BROWN (as in the CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN and the 1968 hit "Fire" and his much lesser-known prog band KINGDOM COME).

This album is based on a bunch of short stories and poems from Edgar Allen Poe, so no suprise that the song titles should be named after them.

"A Dream Within a Dream" is an instrumental, and already demonstrates that classic instrumental ALAN PARSONS PROJECT sound. "The Raven" is a wonderful piece with vocoder, and orchestrations. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is the piece that Arthur BROWN sings on, giving his wild persona to PARSONS brand of orchestrated rock. "The Cask of Amontillado" is a soft-rock ballad, while "(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" is a more rocking number that actually became a hit (but to be honest, I never heard this song played on the radio). Then you have the Andrew Powell orchestrated suite "The Fall of the House of Usher", which, as you guess, is largely orchestrated, except for "Pavane" which centers around John Leach's cimbalom (Hungarian dulcimer) and kantele (Finnish zither) that obviously sounds like a precursor to the title track of "I Robot". "To One in Paradise" is a nice, closing ballad. While (if I'm not mistakened) Terry Sylvester is doing vocal duties, the backing vocals are by Eric Woolfson, so it's not "Time" that you first hear his vocals, it's this song (as well as the backing vocals on "What Goes Up..." on "Pyramid"). Of course it was on "The Turn of a Friendly Card" (which features "Time") that Woolfson does lead for the first time.

It's a nice album, but I felt "I Robot" was better.

Proghead | 4/5 |


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