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Alan Parsons Band - The Secret CD (album) cover

THE SECRET

Alan Parsons Band

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admireArt
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars It will be pointless to measure or rate both, the Alan Parsons Project or Band, according to the ever existing closeness his albums and artistic goals have with mainstream Pop music and the real distance with Prog music.

In fact he only has some Progressive Electronic songs (which this release has none) or symphonic oriented arrangements buried under tons of Pop / mild-Rock albums. Of course some of his his cover artworks were all Prog but that is another matter.

He, a master of repeating the same formulas and coming up with new disguises, releases under his Bandīs discography (or under these archives listings), The Secret (2019).

An 11 track album with a wholesome list of vocalists & collaborators to add some punch to his ever recurring musical ideas (cheesy ones included).

Music composition wise it is an unsurprising mixture between his style, The Beatlesī & Peter Gabrielīs Pop side, some semi classical symphonic arrangements here and there and a cover of "The Sorcererīs Apprentice" (composed by Paul Dukas) which together conform the overall mood of this work.

Now as for rating Pop/mild Rock albums in a Progressive Music site is quiet funny to say the least, but Pop or not I wouldnīt hold on to this one but I can bet his fans will be delighted...

2.5 PA stars.

Report this review (#2202951)
Posted Thursday, May 16, 2019 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
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.

Report this review (#2204345)
Posted Monday, May 20, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Alan Parsons pulls a Pink Floyd and releases an album well after there was any real prospect of a new studio recording. Whereas Floyd went 22 years, Parsons went 15 between releases. Both groups looked to the past for the inspiration. PF dug up tapes from the aborted ambient album and leftover material from the Division Bell as its base, Parsons latest label (Frontier Records) asked him to go back to the sounds of the Alan Parsons Project. Not all the way back to Tales and I Robot, but Eye in the Sky , Turn of a Friendly Card and Vulture Culture. Also, there is no trace of the techno that AP infused into his last studio album, A Valid Path.

To clear the air quickly, there is only a hint or two of prog on this album. I know this is a prog site but but you have to rate this a a pop / soft rock album, that also has a bit of Broadway and other favors thrown in, otherwise the rating would be N/A.

There are plenty of guests as usual on his disks and they do not disappoint. Steve Hackett adds guitar to beef up the AP take on The Sorcerers Appentice, a track mostly associated the Disney's Fantasia. Sadly, it's the only instrumental on the album. There are tracks were you will be able to spot the reference of a hit gone by , but they are different enough to keep it interesting.

There is the theme of magic throughout many of the tracks and several also relate to the passage of time. But Alan Parsons calling card has always been the immaculate sound and that is where The Secret really shines. The orchestra has returned and while it is not called on for any intricate pieces outside of The Sorcerers Apprentice, the sound is gorgeous and the swells are welcome return. The lead vocalist all fit their tracks and even Alan himself takes the lead on As Light Falls. Lou Gramm does an excellent job on the power ballad Sometimes. The backing vocalists on this album are also stunning. Alan Parsons may be 70, but he hasn't lost his ear.

After A Valid Path sank like a rock even though there were some really good cuts on that album including, Return to Tunguska which featured some excellent guitar work from David Gilmour, looking back is the only way forward for a man his age. Youngsters today, like every generation, want their own musical heroes and are not going to gravitate in large numbers to a man whose heyday was 40 years ago. On The Secret, Parsons returns to the the people who listened to him in his heyday. I find this album captivating and it's been a month and I keep returning to it.

A very strong 4 stars as long as you know going in that this is not a prog album.

Report this review (#2235822)
Posted Saturday, July 6, 2019 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
3 stars This is the first album from Mr. Parsons in some fifteen years, and far longer in my mind since Project was indispensable. Most lovers of good solid music will have at least one of his first four albums in their collection, while many of us have all (can it really be forty years since 'Eve'?), but over the years he has moved continents, experimented with different musical style including electronic, but in many ways this is a look back to the soft rock prog style he enamoured us with all those years ago. I really wish he hadn't started with the instrumental "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", as although it is a fine rendition and Steve Hackett (who is highlighted as guest guitarist for the album but in fact only plays on this) is obviously enjoying himself, but for me this will always be Mickey Mouse and mops carrying buckets. Parsons is using his orchestral arrangement skills here, and it is pleasant but not earth shattering and quite at odds with the rest of the album.

Guitarist Ian Bairnson (who played on all the APP albums) is back working with Alan again, who also brought in the normal revolving door of guests including singers Jason Mraz and Lou Gramm. It would have been interesting to hear Parsons attempt more of his vocals, as the soft rocker "As Lights Fall" on which he features is one of the highlights in a Camel-esque manner. But, the vast majority of the album is middle of the road and pleasant while never being earth- shattering. It is a very long time since I first heard "(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether", and I still much prefer that over anything here, but it is a solid release and fans will be pleased he has again released something in a similar vein to the old days.

Report this review (#2246732)
Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 | Review Permalink

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