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The Alan Parsons Project - Vulture Culture CD (album) cover

VULTURE CULTURE

The Alan Parsons Project

 

Crossover Prog

2.33 | 213 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars The songs on this album were supposed to be the second half of a two-disc release along with Ammonia Avenue in 1984, but these ended up being recorded nearly a year later. As it turns out, this was the weaker of the two albums, and even further along the path toward pure pop candy (assuming it was possible to be even more commercial after the group’s previous two glossy albums).

The cast of characters here is largely the same as on the last five or six releases, but the compositions are less interesting, much more synthesized, and hopelessly overproduced by Parsons. Overall this has to be considered their weakest progressive album, although many Leisure-Suit Larry types who grew up in the eighties probably consider this one of the classier discs in their collections today. Well, no accounting for taste.

“Let’s Talk About Me” has the obligatory catchy guitar riff and hip-shaking rhythm, and the lyrics about vacuous vanity and shallowness set the tone for both the rest of the album, as well as for the decade in which it was released. This was one of two singles (the other being the slightly better “Days Are Numbers (the Traveller)”), but neither made much impression. A decent enough tune, but not even remotely progressive. David Paton sings on the opener though, so a point for that – he has a great mood voice.

“Separate Lives” has a passably interesting rhythm, but here again the message is shallow and boring, much like the times in which it was written. I know Parsons was actually trying to concoct a satirical and sarcastic picture of the eighties decade, but he unfortunately succeeded so well that this album is forever tied to that era, and so of necessity is disposable.

The mellow, undulating keyboard riff and Chris Rainbow’s vocals on “Days Are Numbers (the Traveller)” actually make this sound much more like a late seventies number. This is probably the best track on the album, with a sort of laid-back Beach Boys-meet-the- Raspberries kind of thing going on. I’ve always thought Rainbow sounded a bit like Peter Cetera too, and even if you hate pop music out of principle, it’s kind of hard to dislike that voice. A decent enough tune, but pop once again.

“Sooner or Later” has pretty much the exact same guitar progression and beat as “Eye in the Sky” from the album of the same name, and “Prime Time” from Ammonia Avenue. Both of those were modest hits and clearly Parsons thought he had stumbled upon a successful formula, but this one flopped. Too bad to, because Eric Woolfson sings on this one, and he’s another Project vocalist that is seriously underappreciated.

The title track is just trite as far as I’m concerned. This has the kind of theatrical Hollyweird feel to it that a lot of Michael Jackson’s stuff did around the same time. I suspect this one was intended to be accompanied by a thematic MTV video, and maybe it was, but I don’t remember it so it must not have made much of an impression.

“Hawkeye” is the obligatory Parsons instrumental, with the predictable lack of substance and all-too-quick end. Too bad as this, like most of Parsons’ instrumentals, would have made for some pretty good music if it were developed through a few progressions instead of coming off like some sort of sampler.

Colin Blunstone appears on “Somebody Out There”, but unfortunately this is much less impressive than “Old and Wise” from Eye in the Sky, which I believe was his previous contribution to the project. This sounds more like an early Saga tune than it does a Project song. Some fairly decent guitar work barely saves this one.

Woolfson closes the album with “The Same Old Sun”, a quiet Christopher Cross kind of thing that has a nice melodic feel to it, and some nice vocal accompaniment. On any other Project album this might have been a stronger track, but after listening to the rest of this thing, I’m usually a bit bored and just want this to get over.

This isn’t much of an album really, even when considered simply for its commercial value. As a progressive work it doesn’t even register on the radar. I am a huge fan of Parsons, Paton, and Woolfson, but this one is for collectors and guys who wear white leisure suits only. Two stars.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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