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The Alan Parsons Project

Crossover Prog

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Misguided

One of the features of Alan Parsons Project albums is that they usually contain one or two instrumental tracks. These make a welcome interval between the ballads and light pop rock vocal tracks. This albums extracts a number of those instrumental tracks, and places them one after the other on a single album.

The problem is, all this album serves to do is highlight how similar many of them are. Each when heard in isolation is pleasant if slightly bland at times. Taken out of context and presented in this way, the tracks become a bit tedious an in desperate need of variety.

Stick to the albums from whence these tracks came.

Report this review (#17711)
Posted Friday, August 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Easy to listen, refreshing music on one CD.

The Alan Parsons Project was famous for their outstanding instrunemtal works, many of which has been included here (my personal favourites, like Hawkeye and Genesis, Ch. 1 V. 32 among them). The musicianship of all these songs is quite remarkable and they are compiled in a very much adequate order, that makes the album listenable. Having the instrumental pieces on one CD is like discovering the music anew, gives you an impression that you have all the history of TAPP's music compiled into these 43 minutes, therefore this album is recomended to people wishing to acquaint themselves with the band.

One of the best compilations I have ever heard.

Report this review (#87665)
Posted Saturday, August 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars This album released in the late eighties after ‘Gaudi’ signaled to the few remaining Alan Parsons Project fans that the Project was over. Sure, ‘Freudiana’ was still to come, but really that’s not even a Project album, and Alan Parsons himself was barely involved in the final two albums from the band. More importantly, bands like Guns n’ Roses, INXS, Miami Sound Machine and UB40 were the new young turks of the airwaves, and an old-timer like Parsons was pretty much passť by then. This album and the ‘Greatest Hits I & II’ that was released about the same time both went straight to the cutout bins, and in fact my copy has the obligatory hole drilled in the upper corner like most of the other ones still in existence.

Many of these instrumentals were integral parts of the various albums they originated from, particularly “Where’s the Walrus?” which was one of the few bright spots on ‘Stereotomy’; the title track and “Genesis 1:32” from ‘I Robot’; and “Mammagamma” from ‘Eye in the Sky’. None of them sounds quite the same buried here among the other largely boilerplate instrumental tracks from Parsons’ other studio albums. “Where’s the Walrus?” especially suffers by being removed from its strategic placement just before “Light of the World” on its studio release. The others simply sound hollower than they did in their original context (or maybe just reveal themselves to be the weak tracks that they always were).

A few others just shouldn’t have been included because they were never that great to begin with, most notably “Paseo De Gracia” from ‘Gaudi’, and “Voyager” which was never meant to be anything but a transitional bridge and not really an independent work of its own.

The best and most distinct track besides the ‘I Robot’ ones is “The Gold Bug” from ‘Turn of a Friendly Card’, but even here if you understand the concept of that album then you are left with a sense of an incomplete thought hearing it here next to the completely unrelated “Urbania”.

I agree with others who have noted that “Lucifer” was an unforgivable omission, as was anything from ‘Tales…’. I suppose the rationale was that “Lucifer” may have still been drawing some minor radio play on FM, and ‘Tales…’ was surely still selling the occasional copy as Parsons’ most famous work, so the label probably felt there was no point in diluting the royalties pool by including them here.

This was a rather pitiful offering when it released, and it hasn’t aged well at all. If Parsons wanted to showcase his instrumental talents he would have been well advised to at least dress up the cover art, include some sort of comprehensive liner notes outlining the technical details of each track, or a synopsis of the Project’s history, or a bonus disc or Happy Meal toy or something. As it stands this collection is just a poor attempt to milk a few bucks out of sentimental twenty-somethings who were entering their permanent adulthood with discretionary income and a misguided sense of nostalgia. While its doubtful anyone is around today with those same feelings, I’ll caution you anyway to not bother with this one. Two stars and not recommended except for collectors and completionists.


Report this review (#117681)
Posted Sunday, April 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Instrumental Works obviously is a compilation of instrumental tracks made by The Alan Parsons Project between 1977 and 1987.

Never like too much the poppy sound of most TAP albums. In fact, maybe just their four studio albums has some good sections that I can call prog. However, this compilation choose some great instrumental pieces from albums like Ammonia Avenue, I Robot, The Turn of The Friedly Card, Eye in the Sky and others.

I agree with previous posts which noted that there are some instrumentals far better than some of the tracks which appears in that album. On tehe other hand we have a compilation made by awsome instrumental songs like "Where's The Walrus?" (from Stereotomy, 1985), the beautiful and spacy "Voyager" (from Pyramid, 1978), the athmospheric "Genesis Ch.1 V.32" (from I Robot, 1977) or "I Robot" (from the same titled album, 1977) mixed with just regular instrumentals as the repetitive and bored "Pipeline" (from Ammonia Avenue, 1984), Paseo de Gracia (from one of the worst AP albums, Gaudi, 1987) and the insufferable "Mammagamma" (from Eye in the Sky, 1982).

At last, an unbalanceable album, with some good tracks and others which sound totally out of place. Defintevely, not the best way to introduce yourself into the Alan Parsons Project world.

Report this review (#143753)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars Any person who lived in a third world country in the early 90's before the Internet explosion will understand me, the CD's were hard to find, the galleries were full of cassettes, most of them from Boys bands who were at the peak of popularity, so when you visited a music store and found any Prog or Prog Related album, you didn't asked, you bought it before anybody else grabbed it.

This is how I bought "The Instrumental Works" by ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, saw it on a shelve of Disco Centro (a popular store that has closed) just asked for it, being that I had good memories of "Tales of Mystery and Imagination", "I Robot" and "Pyramids".

Not a bad album but on this days I would surely let it pass without even turning back to look at it, in first place it's a compilation, in other words an album released by the label to squeeze the pockets of the fans but normally including the most popular tracks instead of the best ones.

The album starts with "Pipeline", a track from "Ammonia Avenue" I never heard before but which has the evident signature of Alan Parsons and Andrew Powell, good Rock melodies over a semi orchestral arrangement, nice and pleasant, a good surprise, the sax sections are very solid and the Orchestra is perfect.

The second track is "Where's the Walrus" from "Stereotomy" and I wasn't sure if I was listening Alan Parsons or the closing credits of "Blade Runner" soundtrack by Vangelis, lacks of originality, nothing special, useful when you're in long car trips, in other words driving music, decent but not good enough to distract you from the highway.

"I Robot" is a classic that has been described many times in the original release page, so won't loose your and my time talking about it, just will say it's one of the highest points.

"Mammagamma" is a good song from the mediocre "Eye in the Sky" but not spectacular, again the signature of Parsons and Powell is evident, the production is impeccable as always, but too repetitive, and with an absolute lack of versatility, low point.

"Hawkeye" is some sort of Electrouic meets New Age in Dance rhythm, simply horrendous, except for the few jazzy sections. That are wasted in this aberration, for God's sake if I buy Prog album is not to find the repetition of a couple of chords as "Ad Nauseam", very poor.

"Voyager" is another high point from "Pyramids" that I already commented when talking about this good album, saves us from total boring after the tedious "Hawkeye", sadly it's only an introduction for a better song that is not included.

"Paseo de Gracia" is probably the best song from the less than average album "Gaudi", simply beautiful specially for the acoustic guitar passages, the blending of modernity with the extremely traditional Flamenco is extremely beautiful.

"Urbania" is just a waste of space, don't have the slightest idea why it was added.

"The Gold Bug" from the poppy "Turn of a Friendly Card" is a nice song that despite being played away from it's natural context sounds very well, pretty good moment.

"Genesis Ch.1 V.32" from "I Robot" closes the album perfectly, one solid and dramatic song that combines wonderful choirs, Synths, Rock and Electronica with perfect balance and strong dramatics, incredibly beautiful.

Rating this compilation is hard because it has a couple of problems_

1. Lumps, excellent. Good, average, mediocre and bad tracks all in one sack without any coherence, you can't jump from "I Robot" to "The Turn of a Friendly Card" without loosing coherence.

2. An instrumental track played by a non instrumental band has a purpose, to make the listener rest from the main sound, to change the atmosphere, but a complete instrumental album in the case of Alan Parsons is boring in many moments.

Despite the problems, I enjoy "The Instrumental Works" in long driving journeys, as I said before keeps me entertained but not so much that I forget that my main goal in that moment is avoiding accidents.

I would rate it with 2.5 stars because it's average, but I can't say it's only for collectors, it's a decent album released without criteria, but most of the songs are good enough, so I will go with 3 stars, "Good but not essential", with a warning, if you want to enjoy more the good tracks, buy the original studio releases.

Report this review (#152807)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars The Instrumental Works was another Alan Parsons Project compilation containing most of the instrumentals the band had created from their I Robot album through Gaudi. Parsons often used at least one, but sometimes two or three instrumentals on each of his albums, either as a break between songs, as introductory matter, or sometimes as singular works themselves (like I Robot for example). One thing that I find common amongst APP's instrumentals is that they are formulaic and often very mechanical sounding (as if a computer had composed them). Very many of them start off with a simple melody or rhythm and as the song progresses, layer upon layer of complementary components are added, usually reaching an almost wall-of-sound climax and eventually being faded out. This formula isn't always noticed when listening to their studio albums, but becomes more apparent after listening to this compilation.

Besides Parsons' composition style, this is for the most part a rather enjoyable listen. For me, it's primarily his impeccable producing and engineering abilities that really show on the instrumentals. The downsides I have with this release are missing tracks that should have been included. These include Lucifer (how did they miss this one?!?!) and at least two of the instrumental sections from The Fall of the House of Usher off their debut (was it because it wasn't released by Arista?).

Because of these missing tracks, I'm leaning my rating more towards two stars. Even so, if you are at the least bit curious of Parsons' producing abilities and don't want to listen to their mostly pop prog based songs, these pseudo-progressive instrumentals might just do the trick. Otherwise, I can only recommend to collectors. There wouldn't be any reason to purchase this if you have all their key studio albums.
Report this review (#155420)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars As the title suggests, this is a compilation album comprised of a selection of instrumentals from Alan Parsons Project albums. Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson were known for including a couple of instrumentals on every album, but grouping them together is a strange choice for a band better known for its pop rock ballads.

The compositions themselves generally are good, if a bit unexciting, and the production is of course flawless. It's a good easy listening album, but it's not very progressive, as the Project always had more of an art-pop rather than progressive inclination. As Ivan_Melgar_M mentions and the road on the album cover seems to unintentionally suggest, this is music more is suitable for driving rather than active listening.

The biggest issue is that the Alan Parsons Project recorded concept albums, where the track ordering was deliberate and the tracks sometimes segued into one another, so here the instrumentals tend to sound out of place when lumped together.

Nevertheless, it was my first introduction to the Alan Parson Project, bought cheap from a discount bin. The music was pleasant enough to interest me in the band, but this was rather due to its melodic qualities rather than its progressive ones (though the two need not be at odds with each other).

Paseo de Gracia is my favorite piece and it's probably the most progressive number here, with its ambient introduction, followed by an orchestral flamenco section, with an electric guitar solo on top. I also favor Pipeline and Mammagamma due to their hypnotic rhythms.

Report this review (#1472580)
Posted Sunday, October 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Good works

Although my feelings are always mixed concerning their poppy sung compositions, I really enjoy most ALAN PARSONS' PROJECT instrumentals. That's why I don't have many complaints about this disc. It compiles extracts from 1977 to 1987 albums, except "Eve", their least convincing effort of the 70's. No track from the debut opus indeed, but two instrumentals from "I Robot" and "Stereotomy".

A nice and playful collection... There is one noticeable missing piece though... why not the glorious "Lucifer" - or even the lesser-known upbeat space-disco "Hyper-Gamma-Spaces" from "Pyramid" - instead of the average dated "Hawkeye"? A tale of mystery...

Apart from this little mistake, "Instrumental Works" remains overall a pretty good compilation and a representative overview of APP's colorful tunes. And in case you don't know the band, I still advise you to give this record a listen, especially if you enjoy deliciously vintage electronic melodies...

Report this review (#1640350)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2016 | Review Permalink

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