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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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3 stars The version I have (also the only one I have ever heard) is the "doctored" one that came out in 1987, when in the course of preparing the masters for transfer to then new CD format, Parsons took the opportunity of making some minor tweaks with the album. Apparently aside from the ominious narration by Orson Welles, which I feel lends some much needed context and atmosphere to the orchestral interludes, these included some synth additions and a couple of guitar solos. I must say that while I think this is quite a decent concept album (based on themes by the tragic writer Edgar Allan Poe), I do feel it to be somewhat over-rated. The albums kicks off with Welles talking us through A Dream Within A Dream and leading us to one of the album's peaks, The Raven. With futuristic vocals (using a vocoder) directing an atmospheric, melodic tune that switches from hard rocking to ethereal at the drop of a hat, this tune has one hell of a hook. The raucous vocal performance of Arthur Brown is the highlight of its Tell-Tale Heart, which is generally a straight ahead rocker. Then there's The Cask Of Amontillado, which has some great orchestral themes interacting with conventional rock backing, topped off by a nice vocal melody from John Miles and Terry Slyvester chiming in with Hollies style harmony vocals. I do feel that Dortoc Tarr and Professor Fether is quite a lightweight offering despite some Cathedral organ from Parsons and unfortunately the first half of the 16 minute, 5 part track The Fall Of The House Of Usher fails due to the stupendously boring 7 minute Prelude. Arrival with its beautiful rippling waves of music is great, Intermezzo is appropriately dark and mysterious, Pavane reminds me of some of Mike Oldfield's layered New Age-tinged compositions ... it has great instrumentation including harp, mandolin, harpsichord and two instruments I'd never heard of before (cimbalom and kantele) and the brief last segment Fall is downright grim and scary. So it's real pity that the first half of the tune is so dull.

The album closes with the dreamy To One In Paradise (a sort of cross between The Beatles' Across The Universe and yer average Pink Floyd stoner ballad) which emphasises the fact that while APP had some great instrumental themes and vocal melodies, there are hardly any progressive instrumental exchanges to speak of, which is surprising because aside from Parsons' main sidekicks of keyboardist Eric Woolfson (who co-writes the material with Parsons) and guitarist Ian Bairnson, the backing band included talented musicians from lesser-known bands like Curved Air, Ambrosia and Pilot.

This is one that I think most progressive fans will definitely appreciate, more for the atmosphere and tale-telling rather than any great musical exchanges. ... 64% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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