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The Alan Parsons Project

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The Alan Parsons Project Tales of Mystery and Imagination album cover
4.08 | 791 ratings | 78 reviews | 41% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Dream Within a Dream (4:14)
2. The Raven (3:58)
3. The Tell-Tale Heart (4:39)
4. The Cask of Amontillado (4:33)
5. (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether (4:21)
- The Fall of the House of Usher:
6. I - Prelude (7:03)
7. II - Arrival (2:40)
8. III - Intermezzo (1:00)
9. IV - Pavane (4:36)
10. V - Fall (0:51)
11. To One in Paradise (4:47)

Total Time 42:42

Bonus tracks on 1987 remaster CD 1 :
12. The Raven (original demo) (3:26)
13. Edgar (demo of an unreleased track) (3:03)
14. Orson Welles Radio Spot (1:01)
15. Interview with Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson (1976) (8:33)

CD 2 from 1987 remaster :
1. 11. Remixed album, partially re-recorded

Bonus tracks on 1987 remaster CD 2 :
12. Eric's Guide Vocal Medley (9:23)
13. Orson Welles Dialogue (3:05)
14. Sea Lions in the Departure Lounge - Sound Effects and Experiments (2:38)
15. GBH Mix - Unreleased Experiments (5:22)

Line-up / Musicians

- Alan Parsons / EMI vocoder (2), Projectron sampler (3,7,10), synths (2.3,4,7,10), recorders (5), cathedral organ (2.5), producer
- Eric Woolfson / keyboards (1-3,5), backing vocals (2,4,11), harpsichord (4), keyboard loop & organ (7), synth (2.9)

- Leonard Whiting / lead vocals (2), narration (11)
- Arthur Brown / lead vocals (3)
- Jack Harris / vocals (3,5)
- John Miles / lead vocals (4,5), guitar (5)
- Terry Sylvester / vocals (4,11)
- Smokey Parsons / vocals (?)
- Ian Bairnson / electric & acoustic (1,11) guitars
- David Pack / guitar (2)
- Laurence Juber / acoustic guitar (9)
- Kevin Peek / acoustic guitar (9)
- Hugo D'Alton / mandolin (9)
- Billy Lyall / keyboards (1,3), recorders (1), piano (4,5), Fender Rhodes & glockenspiel (11)
- Christopher North / keyboards (2)
- David Snell / harp (9)
- Francis Monkman / organ (7), harpsichord (9)
- Andrew Powell / choir & orchestra arranger & conductor (2-4,6,8,10), keyboard loop (7), organ (9)
- Joe Puerta / bass (1,2)
- David Paton / bass (3-5,7,11), acoustic guitar (1,11), backing vocals (1)
- Les Hurdle / bass (6)
- Darryl Runswick / string bass (9)
- Stuart Tosh / drums (1,2,4,5,7,9,11), percussion (7), timpani & backwards cymbals (3), vocals
- Burleigh Drummond / drums (2)
- John Leach / cimbalom & kantele (9)
- Orson Welles / narration (2.1,2.6) - recorded in 1976 but not included at the time
- Westminster City School Boys Choir / choir (11)
- The English Chorale / chorus vocals (2-4)
- Bob Howes / chorus master
- Jane Powell / backing vocals (11)

Note: Some instrumentation, the synths as well as O. W. narration, was included on the 1987 remix

Releases information

Based on stories written by Edgar Allan Poe

Artwork: Hipgnosis

LP Charisma - CDS 4003 (1976, UK)
LP 20th Century Records - T-539 (1976, US) Different cover art

CD Mercury Records - 832 820-2 (1987, Europe) Remixed & remastered by Alan Parsons
2CD Mercury Records - Mercury - 984 854 5 (2007, Europe) SE with the 2 album versions (1976 & 1987 remix) newly remastered by Alan Parsons & Dave Donnelly, plus a total of 8 bonus tracks including demos, interview and curios, all unreleased before

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT Tales of Mystery and Imagination ratings distribution

(791 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT Tales of Mystery and Imagination reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!!

This UFO appeared early in my record-buying carreer and it still remains a soft spot in my ears, although I find APP a bit out of the scope of the ProgArchives . A concept album does not make for a prog record (although there are solid prog overtones and it is a very symphonis affair) because then The Who and Pretty Things should then be included. Tales is the only APP album that approaches prog in the strict sense of the term.

However, the music is really endearing and Raven is my fave on here and Doctor Tarr not lagging far behind. The lenghty suite on side 2 The Fall of The House of Usher is another highlight , although I find this a little too easy for my complicated tastes. Apart from being an outstanding record producer , Alan Parsons had some real taste for symphonic music (as he showed us on the Ambrosia debut) and there are lenghty passages where he must've had a ball. So do most listeners.

Would this not be a prog site , this album would easily have gotten a fourth star.

Review by loserboy
5 stars This recording would rank as one of my all time favorite progressive rock recordings. PARSONS takes this recording one step beyond all of his other recordings. Unfortunately the original feeling has been slightly altered by the overdubs added on the re-mastering to CD. If you can get the original I would strongly suggest it, but the new version captures the essense of the recording. The strength of this recording is clearly rooted in what PARSONS does with the themes and moods throughout. Sound effects are added which greatly enhance the impact on the listener. This album is centered around the writing of Edgar Allan Poe and each song successfully creates the dark world which Poe's prose details. Orchestra is filtered throughout, but never detracts from the raw progressive nature of the recording. Eric Woolfson get his moment to shine in the sun and delivers some of the most beautiful vocals ever recorded.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The Eric Woolfson Project

The album which set the Alan Parsons Project on their way, and gave them instant success. In a recent interview (in Classic Rock magazine), Eric Wolfson explained that Parsons name was chosen for the band because of his "fame" as the top engineer at Abbey Road. He further alludes to the fact that Parsons was very much a figurehead, and that in fact Wolfson was the real driving force.

"Tales.." is something of a one off, and is not really representative of the bulk of the output from APP. Side two of the album is dominated by "The fall of the house of usher", a largely orchestral piece complete with chilling sound effects, which while enjoyable, is a bit overlong. Also unlike most other APP albums, the majority of the other tracks are very strong, with the many guest vocalists (including John Miles in great form) putting in first class performances. Others may disagree, but for me "Dr Tarr & Prof. Feather" is the only sub-standard piece.

An excellent collection of music, and probably the best from the APP. The remastered CD includes additional instrumentation and narration. Watch out also for a recently released "follow up" by Wolfson, revisiting the works of Poe.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Alan Poe" was not the first Alan Parsons Project album I had the chance to listen but surely the one that gave me more gratification. For many years I owned Pyramid, which with the pass of time was finding more simple and less progressive, also listened another ones like the weak "Eye in the Sky" or "EVE" so my interest in the band was decreasing at exponential degree.

In 1991 I had to make a visit to United States and bought this CD only because there was a special sale, if you bought "Tubular Bells" for $9.99 for an extra cent they gave "Tales of Mystery and Imagination".

From the first listen I found this release was something different to what I ever heard, a very dark and mysterious album with excellent 100% progressive tracks. Something much more serious than anything Alan Parsons Project did later.

Alan Parsons is a capable engineer great musician and a talented composer but would be unfair to forget that Andrew Powell an incredible conducer is responsible for the perfect orchestral arrangements that play such an important part in almost every APP album.

The first track "A Dream Within a Dream" starts with a narration by Orson Welles of an Edgar Allan Poe passage that sets the mood not only for this song but also for all the album, as always his perfect English and educated voice gives extra credibility to whatever he reads. The song, as the track says is oneiric, beginning with a synthetizer solo that goes in crescendo until drums and bass join it in an explosion of power that again starts to fade in order to end the song, a beautiful and haunting opening.

"The Raven" is enhanced by the orchestra and the English Chorale brilliantly conducted by Andrew Powel, the vocals are soft and almost hidden behind the instruments and choir. This track has the particularity that Alan Parsons sings some sections using an EMI vocoder, with the company of the correct Leonard Whiting.

Without loosing the dark atmosphere, "The Tell-Tale Heart" starts faster than all the previous, the breathtaking vocals by the legendary Arthur Brown create the perfect sense of guilt and anguish for the story of a man who is tormented by his obsession with the beat of the heart from a person he killed, correctly complemented by the instruments and music, it's a perfect song for a perfect story.

The next track is "The Cask of Amontillado" gives us an example of the style Alan Parsons Project developed with the pass of the years, soft vocals by John Miles and Terry Sylvester followed by impressive orchestral sections full of brass instruments and professional choirs, sadly in later albums he mixed this apotheosis with weaker and pop oriented tunes.

"The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" is a very strange song, starts dark and obscure and gets confusing as the minutes pass because they mix to many different chords and tunes creating some kind of pleasant chaos. Excellent track that mixes different styles and sounds in a very inventive way, and that's what progressive rock means, challenge the listener even when it's confusing.

"La piece de resistance" is "The Fall of the House of the Usher" a 20 minutes instrumental epic divided in five parts:

I.- "Prelude" : Seven minutes introduction for orchestra and bass that situates the listener in the middle of the scene, the darkness and mystery create an atmosphere of suspense perfect for the doomed house.

II.- "Arrival": A haunting track that starts with a frightening baroque organ, immediately followed by a fast keyboard and band, the set is ready for a Christopher Lee or Boris Karloff movie, simply spectacular.

III.- "Intermezzo": A collection of more haunting sounds which take the suspense to its higher point.

IV.- "Pavane" is a softer tune mainly played with harp, works as a relief for the supposedly strong ending of the epic.

V.- "Fall": The orchestra creates a musical cacophony that resemblances the fall of an old house, not a strong end as anybody should expect for an excellent epic, technically is very accurate but musically could have been developed much more.

The album is closed with "To One for the Paradise" sung by Terry Sylvester, Erick Woolfson and Alan Parsons who create complex vocal sections with the background by The Westminster City School Boys Choir and Jane Powell, mostly for guitars, is a semi acoustic song that softens the dark atmosphere of the whole album, extremely beautiful.

It's important to mention Erick Woolfson, assistant producer and impeccable keyboardist, often known as Alan Parsons right hand, without him the album wouldn't have been the same.

Absolutely essential release, if you got this one and none other by Alan Parsons Project, don't worry, it's by far the best and more imaginative, but if you can get I Robot and Pyramid, go for them, also very good albums.

Without hesitation I will rate it with 5 stars, doesn't deserve any less.

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An incredible musical tribute to Edgar Poe 's tales of terror. Fantastic mindblowing music with anguished, introspective instrumental pieces ("A Dream within a Dream"...), an hilarous and powerful song about madness ("The Tell Tale Heart") sung by Arthur Brown who cries like one possessed, sad melancolic pop ballads ("The Cask of Amontillado"...) and a sumptuous classical arrengement for orchestra ("The fall of the house of Usher"). The best work recorded by the Alan Parson's project thanks to the participation of prestigious artists and musicians as Andrew Powel, Arthur Brown and many others. The kind of album that changes your life forever.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is an excellent record from Alan PARSON. Symphonic, progressive, the songs are varied, and there are many people involved in the making of this chef d'oeuvre. The presence of orchestration (string & horn arrangements) give some grandeur to this album. The mix of classical arrangements, modern keyboards, choir and catchy pop rock bits is interesting. I like the numerous excellent & sweet backing vocals. On side 2, there is a catchy, beautiful & delicate mandolin bit, followed by a FLOYD-esque ("Us and Them") mellow pattern full of excellent vocals.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Yes , join the band of merry critics and reviewers giving this album a solid 5 points. Take it as a given this is an essential addition to any progressive rock archive or collection. There is not a weak moment on the album. Side 2 for me though with ' The fall of the house of usher' showing what a genius Alan Parsons was as that time and on a few of his important other albums that followed.
Review by penguindf12
4 stars I was introduced to this by my Dad and an old cassette of it he had. Then I bought the CD, because I liked it quite a bit. The opening "A Dream within a Dream" is amazing, and the thudding bass on "the Raven" is even more amazing. Then "the tell-tale heart" comes in with a lilting hard rock guitar sound and insane feel, also excellent. "The Cask of Amontillado" is also great, so is the "Docor Tarr.." one (my favorite on the album, actually, is this song) and then the so-called "masterpiece" "Fall of the House of Usher."

This song is good, but not excellent. Just because a song is long doesn't make it good. However, it is fairly good and exceptional at points. "Prelude" reminds me of an old Warner Bros cartoon in a haunted house. "Arrival" is my favorite part of the entire piece, and "intermezzo" is just a pointless interlude. "Pavane" is great as well, but "the Fall" is a bit anticlimactic. A disappointing close which actually is the main reason this album is not five stars. Then "To one in Paradise" closes the album on an upper note, and there you have it. An excellent album suggested to newcomers and veterans alike.

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars This is in any word a pasterpiece of progressive rock! A more mystic and atmospheric music was never discovered before it's release and must been heard by any prog fan out there! Some people say this is the best album ever made, now I know why. My father had the original lp from 1976 and as I heard it the first time, I was absolutely surprised! This record is state of art and brings the perfect atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe's horror-storys to place. It would would too long to talk about any single song, you can write whole books about all that tracks, so I just say: If you have the chance: BUY!!!
Review by Proghead
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.

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

Review by Matti
5 stars One of the best debut albums ever! Sad how Project went down later on, into crappy pop (wannabe) hits. If only they had continued in this style, inspired by classic literature, then they sure would be among my dearest bands. And what would be a better source of inspiration than horror stories and poems of E. A. Poe? Parsons and Woolfson (and Powell in his orchestral opus 'Fall of the House of Usher') succeeded perfectly to catch the spirit without turning into cliches. The lyrics also are thoroughly thought, independent SONG lyrics, not just rearranging Poe's own vocabulary or trying to retell the stories too literally.

Original LP didn't have Orson Welles narrating ('A Dream Within a Dream' and Usher's prologue) but he surely adds a delicious ingredient. 'The Raven' is famous for the use of vocoder and is extremely powerful and atmospheric prog song. 'The Tell-tale Heart' features Arthur Brown, exactly the right singer to deliver the paranoid madness of the story. My favourite is 'Cask of Amontillado' - calm but very full of horror atmosphere about being locked in a catacomb. Fantastic arrangement again, as in the whole album. And the beautiful and peaceful 'To One in Paradise' balances the album nicely, leaving the lines of Poe's poem linger in mind.

This album is a fantastic classic (with great artwork too) which you'll love especially if you ever have enjoyed Poe yourself. It has none of the dullness of later A P Project and the choice of singers is perfect here.

Review by Menswear
4 stars My first attempt to drawing closer to the Alan Parsons Project...and probably my last.

I believe that this album is enough to give me an idea of what the mid 70's nerds referred to technical prodigy. At that time, this album surely seemed like a revelation, the top of the hill in terms of sound quality, the apogee of Dolby technology...unfortunetly, this is also the kind of album that do not age well, where the style, the approach of the concept album is less attractive compared to Dark Side of the Moon or the Wall. The type of melodies have that 'classic rock' feeling, the type you hear on a boring car ride on a sunday afternoon. To youngsters, it takes more attention not to laugh, to yawn or to maun at the price you paid for it.

Why am I stating Pink FLoyd? The most obvious influence is of course the great Floyd himself, and the Beatles for the rest. Many times we hear waves of Dark Side or singing type a la The Wall. Not a bad thing at all. This album provides lots of trippy moments, especially the suite called the Fall of the House of Usher, where the exquisite narration of Orson Welles interacts with orchestration worthy of the old Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi movies. Once again, youngsters will bore out very quickly, and those without imagination could regret the purchase...I almost did!

This album is definitely a grower, a cd to pop in often to finally being able to grab the feeling of the oh so groovy 70's.

Classic for rainy days or candle light evenings.

Review by Philrod
4 stars Musically speaking, this a true gem to cherish. This is a well built album, filled with excellent songs from start to finish. A conceptual album around the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Parson did a great job aof including the symphonic elements to his mostly poppish songs. This is the only "problem" here. This is not progressive. Not at all. Art Rock as it is called, but really this is mostly pop from the 70s. An absolute album, but progressively talking, not the strongest. Still, a good 4 stars.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I knew Allan Parsons for the first time was due to his involvement in the making of Pink Floyd's seminal album that changed the music industry in 1973. That wonderful album would not sound they we hear right now without the minds and the skills of Mr Parsons, I admit. Even, my CD of Dark Side of The Moon is the original version, no remastering, but I still consider that the sound produced by this record was awesome. With that experience, I expected that this first album of Allan Parsons Project would sound the same or at least close to Dark Side album. It does not seem so even though I purchased the digitally remixed version. This album sounds a bit dry because it has less bass sounds. But it does not mean that this is not a good production. It is.

As the album name implies this is a concept album about a writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849) whom at end of his life, exactly on October 3, 1849, in mysterious circumstances he is discovered unconscious and is taken to hospital and he dies four days later. The album kicks off with a narration by Orson Welles that remarks the first track "A Dream within a Dream" (4:13) with some orchestration. The music enters with bass lines and drum work in repetitive notes followed with nice keyboard work and guitar. The music moves in crescendo with drum sound and it slowly fades out maintaining only the bass guitar to keep the beat. "The Raven" (3:57) enters beautifully with EMI vocoder voice line combined with orchestra and real Parsons' voice. It's a good track combining clean vocal, stunning guitar solo and orchestra.

"The Tell-tale Heart" (4:38) is a rockier track performed in an operatic singing style accompanied with a melodic arrangements of guitar, keyboard, bass guitar and drumming. At the background, the orchestra enriches the music textures especially during quiet passages. "The Cask of Amontillado" (4:33) is a song-oriented music with powerful melody that is really tasty to most ears, performed with excellent vocal and orchestration. This is my favorite APP track because I love the melody very much. The orchestration part is really good and I urge you to play it outloud with your stereo set. "(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" (4:20) brings the music into uplifting emotion with a combination of electric guitar solo, soaring keyboard sound and voice line.

The album features an instrumental epic "The Fall of the House of Usher" that comprises five parts: Prelude (7:02), Arrival (2:39) , Intermezzo (1:00), Pavane (4:36), and Fall (0:51). The epic is exploratory in nature and it contains excellent orchestration work. It finally concludes with a ballad "To One in Paradise" (4:46) using acoustic guitar and backing vocals as main rhythm section.

Overall, it's a very good album that delivers relatively light progressive music and it may favor most of music buffs, be it prog lovers or not, because is pretty accessible. Some people call it as ear-candy prog. The CD package has an excellent sleeve with liner notes by Allan Parsons, chronology of Mr Edgar Allan Poe, musicians CV and lyrics. It's an excellent package. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Impia torturorum longas hic turba furores / sanguinis innocui, non satiata, aluit.

A great concept about one of the greatest writer in all the history of the western society. I've always loved his tales, his imagination, his great literature's knowledge, even his humour! I remember me going to library or buying his Tales, reading those terrifying pages 'til the late hours. Poe's characters, few exceptions apart, are always examples of a banished humanity: they are perverse (The Imp of the Perverse), insane (Roderick Usher), spectral (Silence), angel-like creatures (Ligeia, Morella, Berenice). All masques for musical dramas, all nightmares for evenings without moon. Love, amusement, fear, terror, imagination, anguish.THIS IS MUSIC ITSELF!

Alan Parsons had really a good idea.did he reach the goal to disclose Poe's music?

Surely he did it in the instrumental The Fall Of The House Of Usher, 16 minutes of pure trembling feelings, spectral movements and dark structures. What about the sung tracks? The Cask of Amontillado and (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Leather are excellent (expecially the first one with those powerful orchestral parts!) and deserve a high rating. I cannot say the same for The Tell-tale Heart and The Raven which seem to me somehow more superficial and banal (not bad though).

P.S. narration on the opener track A Dream Within A Dream was provided by Orson Welles. He never met Alan Parsons. Only sent the recorded tape.

Review by Tony Fisher
4 stars This was the most successful of the APP albums and does credit to the work of a great writer. I must admit, when I first bought it, I did not expect much, since the band seemed to consist largely of members of Scottish band Pilot, who were commercial and not apparently very talented, but they do a fine job (and have since developed into very capable musicians). Two future members of Sky also contribute as well as a variety of guests and session players. Several vocalists are used including John Miles and Arthur Brown. My original vinyl copy has no narration, which I suspect is a good thing.

The first side consists of 5 short tracks, each based on a Poe short story. Highlights are The Raven and The Cask of Amontillado, where the sense of menace is conveyed in the music, but all the tracks on the first side are well worth a listen. The third track ( The Tell-tale Heart ) was sung by Arthur Brown (of Crazy World fame) and the vocals on this track stand out.

The second side is the magnum opus, complete with thunder and some fine orchestral arrangements, well integrated with the rock musicians. Pavane is particularly exquisite. The whole thing sounds like the soundtrack to a high quality horror movie. It ends with the gentle To One in Paradise.

Overall, an album well worth owning.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars “Tales…” was an impressive debut for the Alan Parsons Project in 1976. Parsons’ motivation for creating a performing group were quite straightforward at the time – he wanted to make some money. Despite his legendary work for the likes of Pink Floyd, Ambrosia, Pilot, and the Hollies, Parsons has claimed that his compensation for producing hits for these and many other performers was paltry. While he didn’t exactly get rich off this album either, the Project was certainly well-rewarded for the flurry of pop hits they churned out in the years following its release.

In the seventies Alan Parsons was certainly a person who was keenly aware of popular sensibilities and what kinds of music would go over with the listening public. Indeed, his career as a producer largely depended on this, and he was savvy enough to be one of the first rock music producers to employ his own business agent to help maximize on his rare talent. In the mid-70s there were a fair number of artists that attempted to merge literary works with music to varying degrees of success (Triumvirat’s “Spartacus”, Jeff Wayne’s “War of the Worlds”, Jack Lancaster & Robin Lumley’s “Peter and the Wolf”, and Rush’s “2112”, just to name a few). Parsons perhaps believed that a similar concept would also bring him commercial success. That combined with his supremely competent skill at arranging and producing highly accessible and technical excellent music led to this very accessible and impressive debut.

This album takes the literary theme to another level though. Parsons and creative partner Eric Woolfson selected a number of short stories and poems from the late Edgar Allen Poe and merged them together into what is a little bit literary soundtrack, and a little bit concept album. The meticulous attention to detail and impeccable choices in the supporting cast resulted in a time-tested classic.

The original album did not include Orson Wells’ tasteful narration, but pretty much any version of the album you might run across today is based on the later reissue that did include these passages. Wells adds some pomp and texture with his short readings scattered throughout, including leading into the opening track.

The album opens with “A Dream Within a Dream” which is loosely based on one of Poe’s early poems by the same name. That poem has roughly the same theme as Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” only in Poe’s case he is lamenting the hopelessness of nature, change, and loss, all while standing on a beach watching sand slip through his fingers. So I guess that makes “Sand in the Water” a suitable subtitle (chuckle). Parsons employs a number of musicians throughout the album, and many of them play keyed instruments of one sort or another, including synthesizers, piano, organ, harpsichord, cimbalom, and kantele. The opening instrumental employs a number of these and while it is difficult-to-impossible to separate each one, the result is a quite ambient and beautiful beginning to the album. The Project would use the same leading-instrumental pattern on several of their subsequent albums, most notably with the self-titled I Robot opener and “Sirius” on Eye in the Sky.

“The Raven” is pretty much standard reading for any grammar school literature course, and Parsons captures the mood of this morbid tale wonderfully with the haunting backing choral, strident organ chords, and the plaintive cry of “Nevermore” spaced throughout. The guitar work here is especially tight and well-done, offered by David Paton (Pilot, Camel) and David Pack (Ambrosia). Parsons sings lead here for one of the rare times in the Project’s history. This was a minor hit single in the United States and one of the stronger tracks on the album.

Crazy Arthur Brown establishes the perfect mood with his lead vocals for “The Tell-tale Heart”, a Poe short-story about a man who is driven to murder while caring for an elderly relative, only to slide into madness and confess in the end. Kind of an abbreviated equivalent to Crime and Punishment, I suppose. The pulsating keyboards and intense rhythm provide a great interpretation of the mood Poe probably intended for this tale.

Long-time Parsons collaborator John Miles provides theatrical and brooding vocals on “The Cask of Amontillado” which is also based on a short story, this one of a man who is insulted by an acquaintance and exacts revenge by bricking the man up in a lair and leaving him to die there. The stark organ here helps to create a musical scene of dank castles with mildewed moats and torch-lit corridors, while the backing vocals at the close could easily have been lifted from a church funeral requiem. The soundscape here fits the storyline perfectly.

Miles and Brown combine to set the vocal mood for “Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether”, again based on a Poe short story. In this one a young man is invited for dinner at a mental institution under the premise that he is there to observe a new method for subjugating insane patients that has been developed by the sanatorium’s physicians. As he eats the visitor is struck by the seemingly odd behavior of the staff, only to find in the end that the patients have tarred, feathered, and locked up the physicians and are masquerading as the staff themselves. So here quite literally – the lunatics are running the asylum. This was a modestly popular single in the States in the mid-70s although many reviewers (including Rolling Stone magazine) complained that the instruments and tempo are haphazard and make little sense. If I’m not mistaken, that was exactly the point.

The sixteen minute epic instrumental “The Fall of the House of Usher” is based on what is probably Poe’s most well-known work, the thoroughly macabre and disturbing story of the twin brother and sister who inhabit the grisly House of Usher. I’ve read the fear of being buried alive was a major concern in Poe’s time, so the premise that the brother does so to his sister only to have her return and exact revenge was probably akin on the believability scale to the glut of psycho-slasher movies that were released in the seventies and eighties at a time when serial killers seemed to be almost a fad in the Americas. This is easily Parsons’ most ambitious musical work ever, and benefits greatly from the expansive and elaborated orchestral arrangements of Andrew Powell. Parsons and Woolfson also add authentic rain and lightning sounds taken from outside the studio to enhance the dreary mood they are attempting to portray. The long and mournful guitar sustains here reminds me very much of some of those on Dark Side of the Moon, and even some Moody Blues works from the same period.

The album ends with “To One in Paradise”, another work based on a Poe poem. Here Hollies guitarist Terry Sylvester adds some vocals and the mood is more sanguine than anywhere else on the album, and even mildly nostalgic. This composition reminds me very much of Klaatu circa “Sir Army Suit” or “Magdalena”. A nice closer, but a bit out of character with the rest of the album.

Some hardcore progressive fans dismiss this as a simplistic piece of music, perhaps progressively inclined but not deep or complex enough to merit serious consideration. I disagree. Alan Parson and Eric Woolfson produced an impeccably-engineered piece of art here, with logical and believable references to some of the finer works of a legendary author. The fact they possessed the skill to do so while managing to make it highly accessible and even inspiring to listen to only makes this more worthwhile for collectors of the genre. I would stop just short of saying it is essential however, but four stars out of five is certainly warranted, so that’s what I’ll give it.


Review by Prognut
4 stars APP was one of my favorites Bands during the 80', when I did not have any knowledge of what had happened with the progressive movement! and you were started to be bombarded by the commercial cliché of pop music.

I discover their first album sidetracking from Robot, and even I am a complete sell out fan to APP, for many reasons, I would not give any of the albums 5 stars because they are not 100% prog; to me this is not mature enough, and even though fans look at this as one of the best releases, I have to disagree. They are imposing their sound, and much better things will come; in spite of this is a incredible strong debut, for a "prog related band".... concept album, with heavy prog overtones. Highly recommended, but not the place to start!

Review by Tom Ozric
3 stars Alan Parsons Project are generally a union of session players recording a concept work, devised by Alan and friend Eric Woolfson and inspired by famous writers - from the many Project albums I've heard, they hardly qualify for being 'Prog Rock' - more like bombastic pop music. This, the first release by APP, is the only release which comes close. Since my interest in this 'band' has waned over the years, my assessment may not necessarily be 'correct' as such, but rather a current opinion. I enjoy most of the instrumentals, and the production is quite 'large' sounding and clear, as you would expect from Parsons. My gripe with the entire affair is the vocal arrangements - mostly cheezy pop-star wannabees, of only which Arthur Brown stands out. 'The Fall of the House of Usher' is an absolutely superb, symphonic offering here, as is the beautiful opening instrumental 'A Dream Within a Dream'. Overall, some good music, but heads way too much into commercial sounding territory.
Review by Chicapah
4 stars In early 1976 I was working at a record superstore and I have to tell you that the marketing and in-house advertising for this album was so extravagant and over the top that there was no way in Hades it could live up to its "next big thing" hype. We're talking stuff like freestanding, life-sized cardboard cutouts of mummies placed in the aisles and plastic ravens hanging from the rafters. The local reps gave every employee a complimentary LP, tee shirt and button in an attempt to create word-of-mouth promotion, as well. Inside the fancy album cover was a full chronology of Edgar Allan Poe's life, extensive credits and a 12"x12" eight-page booklet containing lyrics, photographs and illustrations nestled between two leafs of onion-skin paper. In other words, 20th Century Records sank the entire pension fund into this thing. However, I found that the music on the vinyl didn't meet my needs at the time (I was heavily into the harder sounds of Yes, King Crimson, Return to Forever, etc.) so, after a few cursory listens, I filed it in one of my crammed orange crates and forgot about it. Thirty years later I discovered that it's highly regarded by many prog rock lovers and decided to blow off the dust and give it a spin. I was surprised at how much I liked it.

I gather that Orson Welles recited narration that was added to the newer version released in the eighties but my original LP doesn't have it so the opening tune, "A Dream Within A Dream," is an instrumental. And a fine one, at that. It has a dreamy, mysterious beginning and a very Pink Floydian build up that's very effective as it leads right into "The Raven." Alan Parsons was ahead of his time and didn't hesitate to utilize new innovations so the Harmony Vocoder was introduced here. Very cool effect. It's not a particularly remarkable song in and of itself but the pristine orchestral score in the middle section is outstanding. Throughout the album the solo, harmony and chorale work is top notch and each featured vocalist is suitably cast for the tune they sing. A case in point is "The Tell-Tale Heart," a song about unbearable guilt that drives the protagonist stark raving mad, performed eloquently by Mr. Manic himself, the "fiery" Arthur Brown. Once again the soaring symphonic passage halfway through elevates it above the ordinary. As the studio engineer who worked under Sir George Martin on "Abbey Road" Parsons learned from the best and "The Cask of Amontillado" has a definite Beatles aura about it and there's not a thing wrong with that. The strings are crisp and clear as well as the intricate vocalizations, making this one of the highlights of the album. "(The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" is very pop and debuts the distinct aural characteristics that would indelibly brand future "Project" hit songs and endeavors. It's an okay tune but a little too contrived and formulaic to me. In my book it's the awesome "The Fall of the House of Usher" that garners the MVP trophy. While Parsons and Eric Woolfson are the principal architects, it is Andrew Powell who is the creative force behind this epic five-part collaboration. "Prelude," as a symphonic composition, compares favorably with the works of modernists such as Gustav Mahler and Claude Debussy in its structure and tone. Yes, it's that good. "Arrival" starts with a thunderclap and rain before an organ and some programmed synthesizers start a slow build that is reminiscent of parts of "The Dark Side of the Moon." After a brief return visit from the orchestra for "Intermezzo" the piece transitions to a more contemporary style for "Pavane" with guitars, keyboards and some delicate upright bass. The use of classic stringed instruments like the Cimbalom and the Kantele (played flawlessly by John Leach) creates a unique, beautiful atmosphere. There's a dynamic, slow rising tide of sound leading up to "Fall," a fitting, noisy affair to end the opus. For Parsons and Co. to include something so unorthodox was admirably gutsy and bold. Therefore it endures as a model of what progressive music is. The closer, "To One in Paradise," is a pretty ballad with deep, flanged guitars and a chord progression that brings to mind Pink Floyd once more.

Another important aspect of this album is the fact that it was one of the first to acknowledge the huge revolution going on in home stereo systems during the mid- seventies. There was a growing demand for LPs that were immaculately engineered, produced and mastered so pricey state-of-the-art amps and speakers could deliver their high-fidelity promises to the consumer. There's no question that this sounds like a million bucks but when you use two hundred musicians to record an album there is an inherent lack of "soul" in the finished product and that's the case here. I truly understand the attraction but I can't tag it as a masterpiece. I rank it somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars, with the stately "Usher" suite serving as the essential prog moment to cherish.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars This album is as enigmatic as its subject matter, as some days I can get into it, and other days this seems just another overblown and cheesy concept album that probably shouldn't have been made. I suppose that I'm glad to have it, but I rarely find the motivation to listen to it all the way through. The music is decent, and of course there are plenty of sound effects and lead-ins, as well as the now recognizeable plodding Parson's rhythm, but most of the time Tales of Mystery and Imagination is fairly boring.

Side 1. The opener, A Dream Within a Dream, sets a nice atmosphere, with some engaging narration followed by a dreamy crescendo. Then things become a bit cheesy, whether it's the computerized vocals on the Raven the rediculously throaty wails of The Tell-Tale Heart. There are also many high points, as most of the songs feature climactic endings--espcially The Cask of Amontillado and Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether. And of course there are the Project trademarks that we've come to expect: lush synth arrangements (and variety), a few nice guitar licks, and huge choirs.

The Fall of the House of Usher. The centerpiece of the album, at nearly 15 minutes, is unfortunately uninspiring and strangely not cohesive. The first and longest section features brooding and relatively boring orchestral noodlings until finally builiding nicely into Arrival, which is the highlight of the piece, capped by the intense knocking bit. Then things take a turn for the worst the rest of the way, with two sections of cheesy haunted house effects and a generic instrumental. Definitely creative, but not especially memorable musically. The album ends with the dreamy, yet simplistic To One in Paradise.

All in all, you have to at least respect the Project for trying. My personal opinion is that so many people were involved, and these songs have been so tightly produced, that any of the raw emotion from Poe's work has been slowly but surely drained from the album. The result is solid music that is mostly entertaining but really fails to engage on more than a superficial level. Also, the vocals aren't bad, but they really don't fit my expectations for Poe. Too bad we couldn't have someone like Jim Morrison's interpretation--I think a powerful, bassy voice might have given these songs the punch that's lacking. That and maybe at least some up-tempo tunes.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
3 stars The Alan Parsons Project's debut album was a musical tribute to Edgar Allan Poe and although there are times when the music is fitting for Poe's horror tales, at other times it seems to miss the mark. This album would have been much better if it had a more "macabre" feel to it. Anyhow, for the most part, it is an enjoyable listen and showcases the engineering genius of Alan Parsons' sound, a formula he would use over and over in what would seem like a never-ending series of Project albums.

APP would also make it a regular habit of incorporating new musical technology into each of its albums, most notably the vocoder on this album. Parsons also incorporated a group of guest vocalists and often hired session musicians for his various projects. Examples on this album include John Miles, Francis Monkman (of Curved Air), the amazing Arthur Brown, and Terry Sylvester (Hollies), among others. This album also features choirs and an orchestra. Everything you could ever want for a concept album, right?

Unfortunately, Tales of Mystery and Imagination lacks one major ingredient and that's a good dose of progressive rock. I'll be the first to admit that it has a sort of "progressiveness" to it, but when you listen more closely, it only shows itself in a few spots here and there. This is basically an artsy-style of plain old rock and I can see why it has been placed in the "prog-related" category. Maybe pop-prog would be a more appropriate label as many of these songs could have easily been released as singles (Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether and The Raven both were).

I'm not doubting that this is a great work, it is. It's just it would get a better rating on a "Rock Archives" site then here. For me, it deserves three stars, good but not essential to the prog rock genre. Think about it. Is it in the same league as Close to the Edge, Wish You Were Here, or Selling England by the Pound? Not even close.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars While not being really a band with permanent members, the Alan Parsons Project had very good musical ideas, mostly created by Eric Woolfson, and recorded, mixed and produced by Alan Parsons, one of the best studio engineers from England. Alan Parsons knows it well, that most of his contributions for their albums were more done in the creative process during the recording, mixing and general production of the sound of their albums. He also recognized it in one interview which I read in one magazine in the mid nineties: he was asked why the Alan Parsons Project`s name wasn`t used anymore for his new albums. He said that most of the songs were composed by Eric Woolfson, so he thought that it wasn`t fair to use the name for his new albums, so he released them under his own name.

I think that this is their most Progressive Rock album. But there are still some things which were very characteristic in the sound of this band, even some Pop Rock influences in the final song of the album called "To One In Paradise", which could have been a hit single. Was it relased as a single? Other very characteristic things also appear in this album: the very British dramatic vocals by the hired lead singers , the very characteristic use of the synthesizers, the very good backing vocals, and very good orchestral arrangements. The orchestra mostly appears in the longest piece of music in this album called "The Fall of the House of Usher", which is mostly instrumental, with some mysterious musical atmospheres. The song To One In Paradise is really like a light song to finish the album after the mysterious musical atmospheres of "The Fall of the House of Usher". The spoken vocals also add mystery to the album`s sound. The song called "The Raven" is also very good, and it is also one of the Pop Rock influenced songs of the album. But as a whole the album is very good and the much closer to Prog Rock that this band recorded.

I read some of Edgar Allan Poe`s works so I`m a bit familiarized with the themes of the stories. But it was a very long time ago that I read them (in Prep School, I think, it was 26-27 years ago!). Anyway, this album is very good to listen to from start to finish to let your imagination flow.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars I've never really considered myself an APP fan; this is the first of their albums my ears came across, and I consider this one to be the best.

I never familiarised myself too much with this group. I always found most of the music to be underwhelmingly unsatisfying in some way, shape or form. Here, they try to earn art kudos with the classical sounding epic of ''The Fall of the House of Usher''. In my mind, this doesn't work because the ''Prelude'' is waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too long for me, and it reminds me of the most boring of classical music. This is a shame since the ''Pavane'' and ''Arrival'' sections aren't too bad.

The poppier songs have some sophistication too them, but there really isn't a special song here. There are some interesting grooves underlying ''The Tell-Tale Heart'' and ''Dr. Tarr...'', and the former is bolstered by Arthur Brown's voice. Overall, the album fails to please me, but it gets three stars under the knowledge now that future APP poppy songs will be less sophisticated, more mainstream and more uninteresting.

Review by The Whistler
3 stars (Fall of the House of 3.5)

So basically, if you're going to create a "project;" no, not a band, but a "project," you better sure as [&*!#] have something pretty damn impossible to achieve set up for your first album. And, hey, Alan Parsons does JUST that!

Because, in layman's terms, Alan Parsons' Tales of Mystery and Imagination is hardly the sprawling epic of Gothic horror that the mummy on the cover wants you to think. This ISN'T Powerslave. It's an art pop gem, for the first half. For the second half, it's some kind of dull ass art pop...thingy. It also has very little to do with Poe by the second side. But, hey, what about that first side, huh?

MY version opens with "A Dream Within a Dream," which is some pleasant narration by Orson Welles, followed by some pleasant, layered synth riffage (I say "MY version" all pretentious like because some folks don't have this narration. So there). This spills quite nicely into "The Raven," which follows with the same droning synths, bass and drums, but adds...Alan himself on vocorder! There's also a pretty good guitar solo afterwards. Toss in some cool changes in the riffage, and some over-the-top vocals, and you get an instant highlight.

But it's not "The Raven" that claims top song on this album: no, that falls squarely on the humble shoulders of "The Tell-Tale Heart."First off, it's sung by one of the few men in rock actually qualified to portray one of Poe's doomed protagonists, crazy Arthur Brown. Secondly, the tune is both catchy as hell, and manages to take as many twists and turns as Brown's delivery, moving from a stomping, almost funky rocker, to sweeping orchestral dips and twists and back.

Not quite as pleasing is "The Cask of Amontillado," which tries to mix some almost Beach Boy type vocals with calm, then swooping, orchestral movements. All in all there's nothing wrong with it, but it ends up sounding like an imitation of a Peter Gabriel mini-opera. Nothing wrong with that, but I'd rather hear Pete's version somehow. No real complaints with "Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" though; it's loads of fun, another funky art popper packed with vocal hooks (and I dig the reference to "The Raven" riff).

The BIG letdown comes on the second side, which is mostly devoted to this "Fall of the House of Usher" thing, which is essentially one long symphonic piece split amongst several tracks of varying size. "Prelude" is the longest, and also the least interesting. Admittedly, it does start with some more classy Welles narration, but beyond that it sounds just like a film score for an old Roger Corman American International Poe movie! And I have no problem with those long as they're accompanied by images of Vincent Price raiding the Arkham cemetery for bodies. "Prelude" can't do that...without the aid of illegal substances of course...

It actually picks up a little with "Arrival," in which some rain sound effects and cheesey organ actually enhance the horror mood. Toss in some door knocking sound effects that turn into percussion, and hey, I'm sold! "Intermezzo" is basically a minute long orchestra sting, but "Pavane" is an actual SONG! You know, with, like, a melody. Okay, so it's actually a harpsichord riff, but whatever. It's nice enough, and I can actually tap my foot to it and everything.

Unfortunately, "Fall" is a fairly unimaginative conclusion to the whole affair. Fifty seconds of orchestral crescendo? That's not that scary. Doesn't sound so much like the "Fall of the House of Usher" as it does "A Wall That Fell Down in the House of Usher," or maybe, "Someone's Been Throwing Rocks at the House of Usher's Windows Again" or something. And finally, "To One in Paradise" is a pretty poor place to end the album; a lackluster pop ballad that has nothing that I can tell to do with Edgar Allen Poe.

So what's wrong with our album Alan? Well, it doesn't really work as a dank, despairing, endlessly depressing look into the lives of various Poe characters. At least, it doesn't in a certain way; when it tries to be all artsy and expressive, it fails miserably. Writing epic orchestral suites is definitely NOT Alan Parsons' cup of tea. And, honestly, I know that "Fall" is a classic Poe story, but the suite doesn't have a lot to do with the story it seems. I TOLD you Dark Side of the Moon was overrated...

However, dressing up pop songs in one way or another, there, THAT'S Parsons' specialty. When he sticks with the art pop route, it usually works. And, if it's dark you want, there IS a sort of darkness to this album...a kind of proto- Cure darkness sort of, found at its best in things like the manic "Tell-Tale Heart," or the pretty "Cask of Amontillado," or even the weird "Raven." In fact, "Raven" is pretty cool, showing that Parsons can be spooky, catchy and experimental all in one, and in such a way as to not bite off more than he can chew. Tales is not a bad album; it just had the mistake of having a very dull second side.

It also isn't very epic or heartfelt or contains any soul shattering solos, but hey, what do you want? It's got Orson Welles! True enough, Jeff Wayne got Richard Burton...who actually acted and everything...but Welles is Welles, and I think that's enough.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I have always thought critics - and many of my firends - were too harsh on The Alan Parsons Project. And the only of his works that received some praising was his first, Tales Of Mystery And Imagination. Looking back now I can see that this is maybe his most progressive overall, maybe because of the long symphonic piece The Fall Of House of Usher, which occupies much of the second side of the original LP. but still I don´t think this first work was not too far removed from those remaning albums by the Project.

Ok, their 80´s output tended too much to pop, but from the very start the music here is quite melodic and accessible. The lyrics are very interesting and they were one fot APP´s strongest points, along with the tasteful arrangements, the fine choice of singers and the great melodies. And this first release was no exception. It has some more orchestration and weird sounds here and there for some effect, but the music overall did not differs much from what they did next (they were bashed by critics from the second LP on).

All those polemics aside, I was pleased when I heard this album again after many years. It was a bold nove for such an unknown act: Parsons could be famous inside the music business for his brilliancy on the production and engineering board, but most music fans never heard about him. the LP was not a great seller but it does have a strong personality and showed the world the potential of such bold (some say pretentious) attempt to do some musical work on America´s great poet Edgar Alan Poe. The result was great and I still think it is one of APP´s best. All songs are good, but the instrumental The Fall.. is certainly the highlight of the album with its hauting atmosphere and its stunning ending piece.

A very fine start for a much underrated essemble of fine artists. Four stars.

Review by CCVP
5 stars Do you believe in love at first sight? (or should it be love at the first listen?)

Alan Parsons Project was, alongside with Pink Floyd, one of the firsts progressive rock bands i ever knew and one of the firsts progressive bands i ever listened. However, my father only had the Alan Parsons Project vinyls so, as i grew up, i slowly lost touch with this great band, until i bought a CD with the 1987 remix and could relive the pleasure of listening this album once again, but with digital quality this time, what makes Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe much more enjoyable because it has a lot of piano and pianissimo parts that were outshone by the vinyl residual noise.

By the way, i said love at first sight because i have forgotten almost completely how good this album was because i didn't listened it since i were a child, so when i listened it again it was almost like i were listening it for the first time.

Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe could be easily considered a concept album because it was made around a theme and the whole album follows that theme, the theme being make music inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe poetry and to use those very poems as the lyrics to the music they inspired.

Though Poe's poetry isn't exactly upbeat, not every song of the album is introspective, minimalistic or has a sad mood. Actually, there are songs that are pretty festive and songs that don't relate much to the album in a way or another, like the song The Tell-tale Heart, for example, that has vocals from its beginning that are completely of the wall (in a bad way) or the song (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, which have a bit too much of a dancing beat for its own good. Another issue is that some songs seem to be a bit shorter than they should be, like the opening track A Dream Within a Dream. Those potential problems, however, are easily erased or forgotten by the overall quality of the songs themselves and the overall quality of the album.

The highlights are: A Dream Within a Dream, The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher and To One in Paradise.

Grade and Final Thoughts

After being the sound engineer for Pink Floyd in their acclaimed album Dark Side of the Moon, Allan Parsons decided to make a project so he could make music and get more cash than he did as a sound engineer. Clearly inspired by Pink Floyd, more specifically by the PF album Dark side if the Moon, and Moody Blues, this album sits somewhere between Dark Side and days of Future Past and, like both albums, i think Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe is a terrific album. Due to that, it deserves an equally good grade, so it is 5 stars for the Allan Parsons Project debut album.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars (The system of) Doctor Parsons and Professor Woolfson

This was the first album by The Alan Parsons Project and like all the albums they did later this one too is based around a theme or concept. The concept here rather obviously revolves around the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. While the core of The Alan Parsons Project is Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, like on all their subsequent albums, they invite a cast of other musicians and vocalists to contribute. One notable celebrity here is Arthur Brown who sings lead vocals on The Tell Tale Heart, the rockiest song on the album. The song fits Brown very well. Orson Wells provided some narration, but I have now learned that this was only for the 1987 remix of the album and Wells did not feature on the original 1976 release.

One problem that I often have with Alan Parsons albums is just that they always rely on too many outside people, particularly vocalists. I feel that having different vocalists on different tracks makes the albums sound like compilations of independent songs and not as unified albums. The fact that the songs are tied together by a common theme does not remedy the incoherence created by having several vocalists. All of the songs on the first half of the album are good Pop/Rock songs, but not much Prog is in sight. The second side is dominated by a long orchestral piece that I also wouldn't call Prog at all.

Many hold the present album as the Project's best, but I don't think it is. Good, but certainly not essential!

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars By 1976 progressive rock was already becoming tired and long in the tooth. The heavyweights - PINK FLOYD, JETHRO TULL, GENESIS, YES, ELP - were still around, but few new acts could challenge their dominance, and it was becoming increasingly apparent that prog as a whole was not a particularly successful commercial art form. The emergence of the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT provided a much needed short term boost to prog, even if 80% of Parsons' credibility was a result of his involvement with FLOYD, and he would ultimately take the project into the mainstream. But for the debut, we are dealing with a suitably ambitious adaptation of the works of the master of macabre himself, with a cast of dozens, a formula later adopted by a plethora of explorers like JEFF WAYNE, INTERGALACTIC TOURING BAND, MANDALABAND, and even some of MIKE OLDFIELD's 1980s output.

Consistency amid daunting variety are among the qualities that make "Tales" such a winner and so sweet sounding decades later. Firstly, the repeating melodic theme first introduced in "A Dream within a Dream" and coaxed into orgasmic waves on "The Fall of the House of Usher" became a blueprint for countless symphonic, electronic, and neo progressive artists for years to come, among them ELOY, CLEPSYDRA and even BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST. The choral accompaniments do not hold back at all, and are all the more endearing on tracks like the schizophrenically brilliant "Cask of Amontillado". While "Dr Tarr and Professor Fether" provide the blueprint for more oozing commercial material that would eventually follow, it was a breath of fresh air at the time. Both "The Raven" and "Tell Tale Heart" capture the foreboding and torment of Edgar Allan Poe's protagonists such that even their repetitive nature seems justified. Even "To One in Paradise" distinguishes itself by its poetic understatement. This is an immaculately constructed work that still revels in a certain raw charm.

Ultimately, PARSONS should not be flawed for his part in the birth of arena rock which may have done more to stifle prog than punk ever could, because "Tales" provides enough cues for a more artistically rewarding direction that few, even APP itself, ultimately followed. 4.5 stars, flip a coin, tales wins.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars I am not a fan reader (except of some French classic writers) so I know nothing of E.A. Poe. But this should not be a problem while listening to this type of music.

The music, the arrangements, the fine flow is speaking for itself. This is an fine concept album of which there are still some mistakes to be recalled like the heavy and little appealing ''Tell-Tale Heart''.

I first listened to this album at a friend's place back then (salut Patrick); but I had already read some rave reviews about this release. To be honest, when I first discovered it, I couldn't really match the comments with the music. And it is the feeling that I will translate into words in this review.

To me, it sounds more as a musical (''The Cask of Amontillado''). It is of course all well crafted and produced (Alan was the engineer behind DSOTM) but I can't be as laudatory as most of the reviewers in terms of brilliance of this album.

To be more honest, in those days I had no clue that Alan had anything to do with the superb DSOTM. And this wasn't my concern at all. I was just heading for great music. Period. And I am closer to Tom Ozric's views than of lots of other reviewers about this work.

The long prelude of the epic is too much orchestra-oriented IMO. And I have never liked this. Neither in '76 nor in '09, so?Of course the Floydian ''Arrival'' is one of the highlight (but it lasts less than three minutes).

Some Oldfield feel can be interpreted during the beautiful ''Pavane''. These are magical moments but too scarce overall.

There is a whole lack of humanity in this work. It was attempted to be too perfect . IMO it hasn't passed well the proof of time. Three stars.

Review by The Crow
4 stars Excellent debut of this important "project" from the 70's!

The two main minds behind this band were the producer and engineer Alan Parsons himself, and the talented musician and composer Eric Woolfson... Together, they tried to recreate the dark world of the great american writer Edgar Allan Poe in a short but very intense album, with some fails, but with a lot of virtues too.

The main of the problem this album has, is that the Poe spirit was not really represented through the album... Maybe the songs are too soft, and too luminous sometimes to make a good approaching to the genious's dark imaginary. This happens with more intensity in the singed tracks, while The Fall of the House Usher suite, with its cinematographic and symphonic feeling, catches this dark sentiment with more intensity.

Nevertheless, the quality of the music is undeniable... Alan Parsons kwew how to produce and mix an album (he was the main enginer of albums like "Abbey Road" and "The Dark Side of the Moon") and gave a cristal clear sound to the songs. The 80's remix, with the brilliant addition of two Orson Welles monologues and a new drums tracks, made the album's sound even better. It still sounds fresh today!

This first Alan Parsons Project's album, is also their most symphonic and darker... The Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" influence is here, and also the symphonic experiments of bands like the early Deep Purple and The Moody Blues, but with a more cohesionated mix between rock and classical elements, with a coherent dramatic orientation wich helps to introduce the listener (although not completely...) in the Edgar Allan Poe's world. This good ideas, together with the contribution of later classic studio members like the great Ian Bairnson on guitars and John Patton on bass, make "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" a worthy album.

Best tracks: every song of the albums has its interest... But I specially like The Raven, The Tale-Tell Heart, and the intense rock track (The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Pfofessor Fether. The symphonic suite The Fall of House Usher also deserves a special mention.

Conclusion: maybe Alan Parsons Project did not the best prog or symphonic rock in the years they were active... But they released some worthy albums, being "Tales of Mystery and Imaginations" one of their finest, if not the best. Maybe Parsons and Woolfson failed in capturing the dark essences of the bizarre and necromatical stories and poems of Allan Poe, but they achieved to make a very worthy contribution to the 70's symphonic rock, wich had also its influence in movements like the later Neo-Prog. Strongly recommended, and maybe the best place to start if you are a newcomer to Alan Parsons Project!

My rating: ****

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe" is the debut full-length studio album by UK semi-progressive rock project act Alan Parsons Project. The album was released through 20th Century Fox Records in the US in May 1976 and through Charisma in the UK in June 1976.

Alan Parsons Project has always evolved around the nucleous of songwriter Eric Woolfson and keyboard player Alan Parsons. The latter is known for being engineer on "Abbey Road (1969)" by The Beatles and "Dark Side of the Moon (1973)" by Pink Floyd. While Alan Parsons is the most prolific person in the project Eric Woolfson has an equal part in the project.

The music on the album is progressive rock of the symphonic variation altough for the most part on the light pop side of the genre (hence the semi mention in the beginning of the review). Side 1 are seperate tracks while most of side 2 is an instrumental suite which features orchestration. There are many different guest musicians on the album and I can mention among others Francis Monkman (Curved Air) and Arthur Brown who delivers one of his fierce Tom Jones like vocal performances on the song "The Tell-Tale Heart". The lyrical themes all come from Edgar Allan Poe stories. Influences from such acts as Pink Floyd and The Beatles are audible throughout. For an example take a listen to the closing track on side 2 titled "To One in Paradise" for evidence of those influences. The instrumental suite which takes up most of side 2 titled "The fall of the House of Usher" features some interesting sections but doesn´t really blow me away like I had hoped for. I feel the tracks on Side 1 are generally both stronger and more memorable.

The musicianship is impeccable and the sound production professional and well sounding. Add to that professional songwriting and you have a quality product. Personally I´ve always felt that "Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe" lacks a bit of soul and bite. Maybe a "band" feeling or something like that, but still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Now that I've covered some of the least impressive collaboration acts in the history of rock, let's talk about one which is probably considered to be one of the household names in the popular music history. After all they were mentioned in an Austin Powers movie!

This first Alan Parsons Project record is the only one that will be remembered as a truly thematic piece of work. Many of the following albums would try to replicate the ideas of this first venture but always end up short in one way or another. This by no means implies that Tales Of Mystery And Imagination is a perfect album. In fact it didn't impress me as much as their sophomore release I Robot but that's because that particular album put the song writing before its concept.

Parsons and Woolfson definitely dived head first into prog-territory when working on the The Fall Of The House Of Usher-suite. Although the composition might not seem all that original by 1976 standards the passion and dedication really shows in the each of the individual pieces. At the same time it actually shows my main concern with this album. There just aren't any real stand-out moments here, on contrary the record has an even flow that non of its successors could achieve. This is what makes it a bit boring by my standards.

Sometimes the most progressive piece of work isn't necessarily a highlight even for prog-fans, but I would definitely recommend to hear this album just for its novelty factor.

**** star songs: A Dream Within A Dream (4:13) The Raven (3:57) The Cask Of Amontillado (4:33) Prelude (7:02) Arrival (2:39) Intermezzo (1:00) Pavane (4:36) Fall (0:51) To One In Paradise (4:46)

*** star songs: The Tell-Tale Heart (4:38) (The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether (4:20)

Review by stefro
4 stars A former engineer who worked on, amongst others, Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and The Beatles 'Abbey Road', Alan Parsons was a top-notch studio operator who, in tandem with musician-and-lyricist Eric Woolfson, created the ever-shifting Alan Parsons Project, a collective of two, augmented by a cast of talented session musicians. The basic idea was a series of concept albums based on lofty, literal themes and brought to life by top-quality musicianship. Indeed, 'Tales Of Mystery & Imagination' - which is based on the works of legendary US horror-author Edgar Allan Poe - features a wonderfully crisp production that combines the compositional beauty of prog with a catchy pop sensibility that marked the APP out from the crowd, and, surprisingly, came at a time when punk was starting to ravage the prog world. Not unlike the early musings of a certain Mr Oldfield, with sparkling keyboards andn ethereal synth-washes to the fore, 'Tales Of Mystery & Imagination' is an assured debut with a glossy production sheen - so much so that many first-time listeners accidently - and understandably - believe it to be a product of the mid-1980's! The album is often heralded for the 5-part epic 'The Fall Of The House Of Usher' which fills the entire second side of vinyl. A 20-minute long song-suite with heavy classical overtones, this lengthy piece eschews the rock-orientated style of side 1 in favour of full-blown ELP-style histrionics. However, for many, it's the shorter, more concise and rockier numbers that prove to be the most indelible. The opening bass-thuds of 'Dream Within A Dream' promise much and deliver a fantastic pop-rock odyssey, before leading into the fantastic vocoder-sung 'The Raven'(one of the only APP songs actually sung by Mr Parsons himself) which showcases the APP's perfect merging of musical ideas and technology. Side 1 finishes with another excellent rocker, the slightly jokey '(The System Of)Dr Tarr and Professor Fether', which features a chorus any top-notch pop act would be proud to call their own. Overall, it's a debut to remember, and one that proved hugely successful in both North America and Continental Europe. But NOT, for reasons unknown, in Parson's UK homeland. Fusing pop with a heavy slice of technical prog, 'Tales Of Mystery & Imagination' was a hugely-entertaining beginning for this slightly-unusual union of musicians and producers. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Alan Parsons needs no introduction; he's that technical studio wiz-kid with more references under his belt then any other producer in those days. His debut album sure served to deliver another proof of his technical skills as this album sounds years ahead of its time. He even succeed in integrating the rock instrumentation with a classical orchestra, something many have tried but few have succeeded in.

As to the quality of the songs, it's a mixed bag for me. On the bright side, the album shows a passionate and inspired band. The musicianship is functional and fitting, meant to serve the songs and not the musician's egos. There are a couple of great songs on the album, the opening duo of A Dream Within a Dream and Raven register as the best and also the most progressive to me. Their attention to sonic texture, the sophistication of the arrangement and the crescendo build-up towards the sweeping finale match up with the big symphonic tradition of years passed.

The melodies themselves are rather predictable though. APP never leaves the secure path of traditional harmonies and mainstream chord progressions. On The Cask of Amontillado they even sound 'regressive', as if rock music hadn't progressed an inch since the ballad pop of the Beatles. Also Dr.Tarr is a fairly standard rock track. Only the ambitious production make it sound prog on the outside, but it doesn't have a deeper layer underneath. Still, I quite like that one.

Side two of the original album is more ambitious, featuring a long classical suite taking lots of inspiration from late romanticists/early modernist composer like Wagner, Mahler and Prokofiev. I can't say I'm particularly thrilled by it. Both the classical parts and the atmospheric instrumental rock parts just don't speak to me. It ends with To One In Paradise, a bland pop sugar ballad that easily knocks off a star.

The second side makes the album difficult to rate. Much of it sounds so empty, as if all attention went into creating the sound instead of the music. As a result I can't rate this album above 3 stars, but I would still recommend it to everyone that doesn't mind the silky soft touch of pop music in his prog.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I knew of Alan Parsons back in the early eighties and perhaps before that. He's somewhat famous for being the engineer on both "Abbey Road" and "Dark Side Of The Moon" before this band came to be. I knew the song "Eye In The Sky" very well from the radio and my other Parsons memory would be when I drove from the College I was going to in Toronto back home with two friends in a drug fuelled adventure that would have made Cheech & Chong proud. One of the guys on this road trip had an ALAN PARSONS PROJECT cassette with him and we listened to it on the way up North. I couldn't begin to remember which album it was though.This particular album seems to be the favourite among Prog fans perhaps because it's a concept album and there's a fair amount of orchestration. Both of these features are negatives for me unfortunatley. Actually Andrew Powell who conducted and arranged the orchestral sections would go on to produce Kate Bush's first two studio albums. I have the remasterd version which is the one where Alan re-did the guitars, synths and drums. Plus he got Orsen Welles to open the album with that monologue.

"A Dream Within A Dream" has Orsen speaking before the music takes over and builds. It blends into "The Raven" where we get processed vocals joining the beat. Both get louder then it settles with vocals, the tempo will change often.The guitar leads after 2 1/2 minutes. "The Tell- Tale Heart" has a catchy beat with vocals from none other than Arthur Brown, and yes he does get theatrical. It turns spacey after 2 1/2 minutes then builds. "The Cask Of Amontillado" is melancholic with reserved vocals and orchestral strings. It turns BEATLES-like then the tempo picks up.Themes are repeated. "(The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether" opens with drums and guitar as the organ then vocals join in.

"The Fall Of The House Of Usher" is a five part suite. All of the tracks blend into each other. First up is "Prelude" with it's atmosphere and spoken words. Orchestral music before 1 1/2 minutes takes over. Not a fan of this. "Arrival" has thunder and rain before the music returns. "Intermezzo" is dark and orchestral. "Pavane" sounds really good with the synths and a beat. It's fuller as the drums come in after 3 minutes and it continues to build. "Fall" is a short less than one minute piece before the final track of the album "To One In Paradise" ends it.This is kind of dreamy with vocals.

A good album no doubt about it, but one that falls well short of 4 stars.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am very surprised that I haven't reviewed this album yet. It made quite an impact on my when it was released in the fall of 1976 as it married some amazing story-lines with classically orchestrated rock band fronted music in a way I had never before heard. Though all of the radio-friendly art rock songs of Side One are well done, well-conceived, and well performed, except for "A Dream Within a Dream" (3:40) (9/10) with its amazing Orson Wells poetry reading, I always felt that they were a bit "over the top"--over-dramatized. The jewel of the album, however, is the orchestrated interpretation of "The Fall of the House of Usher" (16:10) (10/10)--one of my most favorite stories of all-time is here matched stunningly well by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson's music. The finale, "To One in Paradise" (4:13) (8/10) is absolutely gorgeous, but almost too-syrupy pretty, if you know what I mean.

Excellent album that introduced the world to the genius team of Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson--as well as to a cast of "guest" artists that would grace APP albums for years to come.

Review by Warthur
4 stars I wouldn't say this album is a prog classic by any stretch of the imagination. The tone never really gets across the depressive and morbid nature of Poe's tales (though The Tell-Tale Heart featuring Arthur Brown and The Cask of Amontillado both come close), the epic Fall of the House of Usher uses flashy sound effects to mask shortcomings in the songwriting, and it's all rather cheesy. But at the same time, there's just something I find strangely comforting about this album. It's like the prog equivalent to a toasted cheese sandwich - there is nothing really fancy or gourmet about it, but when you're in the right mood there's nothing better.
Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Here lies an album musically depicting the works of American Romanticist Edgar Allan Poe. This album from The Alan Parsons Project is thoughtful and literary progressive pop. The darkness of the literature represented here is rarely magnified; indeed, the tones of the age render Poe's work somewhat cheaply or queerly. That said, it is an enjoyable and occasionally disconcerting musical experience in its own right.

"A Dream within a Dream" The title of this piece is taken from a poem. After a spoken word section, a typical sounds from the Alan Parsons Project comes to the fore, semi-psychedelic and with a build of instruments and vocal harmonies, but never complex.

"The Raven" Leading in from the previous track, this piece features Poe's most famous poem adapted and run through a vocoder, boasting a strong rock chorus.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" Screeching vocals ruin this more traditional rocker; they are just too dramatic and ring hallow. The guitar solo almost makes up for it in the second bit.

"The Cask of Amontillado" Relating what is perhaps my favorite Poe story in Neo-Prog fashion, full of strings and overdramatic vocals, this piece leads into a beautiful counterpoint dialogue that is quite frightening given the context of the piece- well done. There is a heavier, synthetic brass-led interlude indicating the tension before the somber, and then peaceful, mood returns. This is an excellent composition from The Alan Parsons Project.

"(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" One of Poe's lesser known but more comedic works makes an appearance on this album. It is a more upbeat but still moderate rocker with fun vocals. The theme from "The Raven" makes a brief appearance here.

"The Fall of the House of Usher" What is considered a masterpiece of American Gothic literature is treated to a suite and given an initial spoken-word introduction. The prelude consists of an orchestral, and almost light-hearted piece that dips its toe in strangeness once in a while. A storm, appropriate enough, segues into the second, brief, organ-led segment. It admittedly becomes background noise until the bass, acoustic guitars, and synthesizers pick it up. It becomes an icy, melodic piece of music for a time. The twisted tones that overtake the suite are contextually disjointed- the author of the music should have found a way to make the fall flow.

"To One in Paradise" The final piece relates to one of Poe's poems. It is a peaceful and lovely piece that musically presents the poet's Romanticist but unquiet mind.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The debut of The Alan Parsons Project is one of the bravest, most adventurous debuts of any progressive act since King Crimson blazed a trail of innovation with their astonishing debut.

It is a retelling or reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's infamous Tales of Terror, a subject I have some fascination with. I was inexorably drawn to this album for this one reason. The album is rather odd in its construction, featuring a whole vinyl side of an overblown instrumental reworking of The Fall of the House of Usher.

It opens with a blaze of glory featuring the wonderful keyboard work of extraordinaire Eric Woolfson at his best. The monotone bass work is a trademark of many APP songs over the ensuing years and it works as a heartbeat to the music. Soon we are blessed by the brilliance of The Raven, perhaps one of the greatest APP songs, certainly the one that always seems to rear its head on APP compilations. The way the vocoder processed voice enters is always chilling creating an ethereal atmosphere. The lyrics are affectionately akin to Poe's masterpiece. It builds with Andrew Powell's stunning orchestration, a factor that will appear on almost every APP album hereafter. The actor Leonard Whiting is terrific on lead vocals, with Alan Parsons performing the vocals through an EMI vocoder. The album's liner notes state that it was the first rock song that used a digital vocoder, and of course many artists used the device over the years such as Peter Frampton, Camel, The Sweet and a plethora of others.

Arthur Brown of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown is magnificent on The Tell Tale Heart, as is Francis Monkman, from Curved Air, and founder of Sky. This is a rocking song with a strong melody as is most of the earlier APP songs, always catchy and memorable.

The Cask of Amontillado is excellent with vox by John Miles and a stirring orchestra of blaring horns and choral vocals augmenting the chilling soundscape. In some ways the music could be even more creepy as the tales were always bone chilling in themselves, but the music on this album is pleasant enough to digest on side one, although the lyrics are still chilling.

Following this mesmirising start to the album is the single (The System Of) Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether, and as a hit it went to #37 on the Pop Singles chart, not a bad effort for a debut band nobody had heard about. This song has the duel vocals of Jack Harris and John Miles, and opens with the deep gravelly mantra. It moves into a pop feel but nothing like how the band would evolve into during the awful mid 80s. this album is a totally different beast and actually brims over with invention and progressiveness. These traits would be shed in their 80s period unfortunately.

Side two of the vinyl is virtually a dynamic orchestra filled symphonic suite dedicated to the classic tale, The Fall of the House of Usher. This is difficult to digest at first but soon the brilliance of the musicianship somehow seeps into the system and it really is one of the most captivating suites I have heard. The band never did anything this daring again but it is so refreshing and makes this a cult album. It opens with Prelude, with creepy flute and haunting strings, like the soundtrack of a horror movie, albeit majestic and sweeping.

This is a very avant-garde approach and was inspired by the opera fragment "La chute de la maison Usher" by Claude Debussy from 1908 and 1917. It is akin to classical music or soundtrack music from a movie, but somehow it works as a surprise and a delight on this album.

After some awesome thunder and rain pouring down effects we segue into the next part, Arrival. Dracula organ plays and the scene is set for some Hammer Horror fun. The keyboards are incredible from Woolfson, building into a crescendo outbreak of an organic flowing ambience. The drums, bass and guitar are overlayed with strong cathedral organ; it is a fantastic soundscape.

Intermezzo and Pavane continue the sage with beautiful execution. I love the keyboard motif on Pavane giving it an agreeable Spanish-Latin texture. This is APP at their best, reminding me of In The Lap of the Gods from the yet to be released 'Pyramid'. The atmosphere is dense with imagery of darkened forests and that creepy old house that falls into the tarn after the appearance of the apparition. It segues nicely into the preternatural Fall.

This last part is the finale though it is less than a minute and could have been longer. It builds with crashing staccato keyboard stabs that chill the marrow of the bone as the house sinks into oblivion. It creeps me out everytime, sinister, dark and terrifying on every level, this is as dark as the band would get.

To One In Paradise closes the album with a more pleasant song, though it softens the blow for me, and I would rather it had ended with Fall. Not that this is a bad song, but it is out of place here. This song is very gentle and has lovely harmonies, ending things on a more positive note. It sounds a bit like a cross between The Beatles' Across the Universe and the cosmic scapes of Pink Floyd.

Overall, this is definitely one of the all time great debuts, absolutely essential listening and groundbreaking for prog. The 1987 remix version is also worth a listen as it features dialogue and added segments enhancing this original version. This was when APP were at their most innovative and they would continue to produce one excellent album after another for the next few years until it dissolved into standard AOR commercial pop in the 80s. This album is an astonishing achievement and must be listened to by every serious prog fan.

Review by admireArt
4 stars It of course, is not the first time someone sets his "project" on a known concept or character outside the strict musical environment. So this review will focus on the music rather than the concept; wich of course is embedded in the same. So music wise, this work is quiet daring.

For starters, it delivers for the first time Alan Parsons' already established high tech quality- engineering skills, into his own pen-written album. Very creative music compositions that move in very opposite grounds, melting these differences with ingenious studio-effects and arrangements. So everything flows naturally. Even if the ambitious goal is pretentious, the result is invinting.

And once you feel comfortable with this Rock/Pop/Prog language, the project detours into an amazing closedown, with a quiet more daring long-timed composition: "The Fall of the House of the Usher" a more "classical music/structure", leaded by the "Project's" accomplice: Erick Woolfson, which own work is closer to those aesthetics.

Add to that; good songs and arrangements. (APP´s later lyrics will never be this relevant, so, by adapting E.A. Poe's poems it turned out to be a relief for him and us. imo.) MUSIC-wise, this work is fun, well performed and exquisitely accomplished.

..Good things grow well with age. Even the songs that are now well known to be Alan Parson's commercial song writing style, still sound interesting in this specific project, as pieces of a "whole" and at that time this kind of APP's "Pop/Rock" language was still more prog-related and "fresh" ( less-corny) than his later works.

****4 "Great-listening experience in High-Tech Studio conditions" PA Stars!

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars For a band that would become famous for it's art pop style, Alan Parsons Project's debut album "Tales of Mystery and Imagination", inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, was a definite risky release, but it did bring a lot to the band, and started the project with a impressive debut. Of course, several fans knew that Alan Parson was responsible for some excellent production and engineering having had his hand on so many progressive albums like (of course) "Dark Side of the Moon", "Ambrosia"s debut album and his work with The Beatles. By now, most music lovers know this, but at the time, his name was not so well-known yet, though some knew to expect a production as huge as this album.

There have been so many opinions already made on this album, but most seem to rate it around 4 - 5 stars, which it definitely deserves. I remember falling in love with the music right away, at least the tracks on the first side, and then later developing a love for the orchestral masterpiece "The Fall of the House of Usher", which is based on a combination of classical composition, especially from the early 20th century style, and instrumental, rock styles and it was all merged together so beautifully and convincingly. The thing that so many listeners had problems with is the amount of dissonance in the orchestral sections of the track, but the style is authentic, following along the lines of orchestral works by composers such as Grofe (Grand Canyon Suite), Stravinsky (The Firebird) and Prokofiev (Romeo & Juliet, Peter and the Wolf). That might have been a little much for the rock audience, but progressive rock lovers should have been able to understand the influence. It took me some time to fully appreciate this track, but I now recognize it as an amazing achievement.

Of course, the other tracks here are quite memorable too, and the theme of the album does justice to it's inspirational material. My love for this album started with the single "The Raven" and the flip side of it "Dream Within a Dream". When I first heard it on the radio, I was hooked, and then when I played the flip side, it totally supported the fact that I had to buy this album. These songs are dreamy and wonderful with just that hint of darkness. Then of course there was the dramatic feel of "The Tell Tale Heart", the amazing "The Cask of Amontillado" and the heavy pop/rock song "(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether". There is also the lush beauty of "To One in Paradise" that is tucked away after the expansive and cinematic "....Usher".

Even now, after all these years, this album always amazes me. I find it just as strong as it was when it was new, timeless and exciting. Yes it leaned a bit towards the pop art style that they would finally completely embrace, but this album was done before they had been sold on that idea completely. Alan Parsons Project would never rise above the pinnacle of this album, though "I, Robot" came close, and other albums had hints of genius in them, they were overall too much immersed in the pop side of things, which is where they really got their notoriety. I have been familiar with the works of Poe for quite a while, even before the release of this album, I had read these stories, and always felt that the music does Poe's works justice. This is definitely a 5 star affair, and the strongest album APP would release.

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
4 stars APP (Alan Parsons Project) is quite the band that emerged late within the progressive rock scene. I believe they made quite a mark within the culture of prog rock as a whole, as they seemingly were the spark for the progressive sounds that bands would start to approach within the mid to late 70s through to the 80s. Whilst they would get their marks within the eye of the public's sky with I Robot, and later on Eye In The Sky, they would start this experiment with something a bit different than what they would later make within their workings as a band. I am talking about the Edgar Allan Poe tribute piece of Tales Of Mystery And Imagination, released in 1976.

I want to preface this review by stating I am looking at the 1987 remix, which I believe to be the definitive listening for this record.

For a debut album's worth, this certainly is one that feels the most peculiar within the APP discography. Many of APP's workings are based around literature, or concepts inspired by literature. This is no exception, and the inspiration goes to, well, Edgar Allan Poe, a writer that needs no introduction to those that have read at least a little bit. Each of the 7 tracks are based around one of his stories, as opposed to what their next album, I Robot, would do by having most (or the entire story) within the album. For this review I decided to go to my school's library and check out a collection of stories from Poe, and so far I have read pretty much every story that this album tells, except for The Cask Of Amontillado and To One In Paradise.

Musically speaking, this album is just excellent. The best thing I would say about this record is certainly Alan Parsons' production, though that could be said with everything he had a hand in. Despite this, the heights I would say are the more symphonic stylings that persist within this record. They would move away with this more symphonic prog outlook in future releases, only really bringing it back up with The Turn Of A Friendly Card (which funnily enough also has a song based around a Edgar Allan Poe work). I feel like if they would do these songs, without the symphonic dramatics, they would fall a bit flat, but they certainly allow the ideas of Edgar's work to shine by adding such dramas into the mix.

This record also includes some of my favorite APP tracks yet. Of course the big 15 minute epic of The Fall Of The House Of Usher is a favorite of mine, being this vibrant and haunting classical melody, as well as (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether being this groovy rock song that is both introspective in backing, but lively in front values. I would also point my attention to The Raven, which I think is just a superb song, combining funky pop sounds with magnificent prog to what I think is a very amazing and introspective jam. Certainly a highlight to what this album holds.

I believe there are no weak tracks, or at least no outright bad tracks. Perhaps maybe The Cask Of Amontillado and To One In Paradise, but even then they get quite the job done as very pretty tracks within the strong listing of songs here. Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson certainly know how to write some fantastic stuff.

However, what I do find weakening about this record is less of the music, and more of the general lyricism that is found here. I certainly do agree with Billy Altman of Rolling Stone magazine that this album does not quite capture the same darkness and gothic ideals that a lot of Poe's stories deliver, especially in lyrics. The only track to really come close is that of The Tell-Tale Heart, and even then that song is a bit too upbeat for a story about a guy killing an old man (though I guess if The Beatles made songs about murder with the same upbeat tunes then I guess APP should as well). Now, as of writing this, I think it'd be cool to hear some of these songs in a more gothic rock or dark cabaret sound. Imagine a cover of The Raven from a band like Cocteau Twins or The Cure, or a cover of The Tell- Tale Heart by someone like Will Wood. Honestly, I think that'd be pretty awesome.

Some of the lyrics feel out of place too, or even strangely obtuse to the source material. While I love Usher and Doctor Tarr, even I can admit they just feel odd in the songwriting. Doctor Tarr feels more like an ad for the services provided by Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, which I guess isn't too weird as in the original story the head of the Asylum, Monsieur Maillard, mentioned the revolutionary method of the two scientists, but merely only briefly which causes the unnamed narrator to try and find writings made by the two unknown scientists at the end, but even still lines like "You're in need of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" and "Just what you need to make you feel better" feels quite weird in context, even weirder than the stuff in the original story.

Usher is even weirder, having no lyrics, which to me seems like an odd choice. I guess the band wanted to create a track based around the vibes of the original story, but it kinda makes the epic feel out of place with the rest of the track listings, despite how great it is. I obviously do not hate these tracks, or think they are at all weak, but they certainly prove that for all their worth, I do not think Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson have what it takes to do something within the macabre.

This album is in an odd limbo in the APP discography. The sound of it is quite different from stuff like I Robot or Turn Of The Friendly Card, and it is a record that has an aura that feels out of tune with the works of Poe, but in tune within them as well oddly enough. But, no matter how you cut it, this certainly is not a bad album, far from it. Certainly not the best APP album, or the best record to come out of the 1976 prog mythos, but what you do get out of this is some great music, and a picture of the evolving progression that prog rock was taking at the time. It's mysterious, it's imaginative, and while it might not fully grasp the papers of Edgar Allan Poe's works, they certainly achieve something in spirit. I recommend this to those who enjoy a more pop prog sound, but also enjoy some symphonics as well. It is an album worth exploring if you might so desire.

Best tracks: The Raven, (The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, The Fall of the House of Usher

Weak tracks: The Cask of Amontillado, To One In Paradise

Latest members reviews

4 stars I don't remember the last time I listened to the album, but the magic is the same. The first album by Alan Parsons Project transports you to the literary world of Edgar Allan Poe, with varied and rich music. Starting with "A Dream Within A Dream" and "The Raven" Alan Parsons set his style for th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2962644) | Posted by progrockeveryday | Thursday, October 19, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #27: Tales of Mystery and Imagination The debut of "The Alan Parsons Project", my favourite band (for those who care to know), apart from being an excellent and glorious tribute to Edgar Allan Poe, a great and personally admired writer linked to tales of near-death, bereavement, and loss-r ... (read more)

Report this review (#2784876) | Posted by Saimon | Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars APP or the creation of a group that we hadn't thought of! 1. A Dream Within a Dream voice-over, flute, rising instruments, like a pre-tsunami wave; a gripping bass, a melody that flows suddenly, clear... like that of a torrent coming from the Alps; choirs 2. The Raven well you have it, the vocoder ... (read more)

Report this review (#2374573) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, April 26, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To be truthful, I've always viewed the APP as something like "prog lite" when compared to contemporaries like Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, etc., but this album is a bit of a gem in that it's mostly pop prog with a quasi concept. And who doesn't appreciate Mr. Poe, his spooky poems and the myriad of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2337733) | Posted by SteveG | Sunday, February 23, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For me, this is an album I have to be in the right mood to access properly. The overblown arrangements on some of the tracks can unnerve my senses and kill my mood. That said, in the right mood, this album can blow me away. I can see how this is the favorite of some and loathsome in the eye ... (read more)

Report this review (#1933072) | Posted by WFV | Tuesday, May 22, 2018 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The Alan Parsons Project is not a typical band per se, but more of an in-studio collaboration lead by music producer Alan Parsons, working with a huge array of different musicians as and when possible. It wasn't a touring outfit, and the style of music varies from song to song. While the "group" ... (read more)

Report this review (#1885796) | Posted by martindavey87 | Thursday, February 15, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" is the first studio album by Alan Parsons Project and it was released in 1976. It is an interesting record. Alan Parsons was a well known producer of music and the project was a cooperation with a lot of people amongst which the keyboardist Eric Woolfson is i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1155550) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, March 29, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Oddly enough, Alan Parsons was the first band that brought me into the prog world, so I have him and this album partly to thank. I always view this album as the Parson's version of Darkside of the Moon, as he had such an influence on that album it most definitely carried over here. While this album ... (read more)

Report this review (#779525) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 29, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Their first project is uncharactaristic to their later works in that it has more of a lively, organic feel, and even though there are many musicians involved, they sound more like a band here than they ever did. That being said, I don't consider it their best album, and I think they perfected ... (read more)

Report this review (#539636) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Saturday, October 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Alan Parsons Pro . . . gressive The theme of this album is represented, as the title suggests, by the works of the great American poet and writer Edgar Allan Poe. Naturally translate into music the masterworks of Poe is extremely difficult and pretentious, yet despite this we can say that Ala ... (read more)

Report this review (#434134) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Friday, April 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 1976 APP- Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Alan Poe (redo). 12/1""/10""""""The man that engineered not only the Beatles Abbey Road album but then to go onto Pink """Floyds Dark Side of the Moon, it is no wonder that Alan Parsons retained the same concept """of one song flo ... (read more)

Report this review (#353320) | Posted by Steven Brodziak | Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first, the best... Even through the subsequent wonderful works as I Robot and the successfully Eye in the Sky which, by the way, have defined the sound for Alan Parsons, is here, with "Tales..." when the ambition of a well orchestrated and elaborated record has come to be. Beyond the rema ... (read more)

Report this review (#300142) | Posted by AdaCalegorn | Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What happens when a songwriter and producer make music. They make something as amazing as this. This being a milsetone in prog rock, it really does live up to it's standars. Amazing experimental styles of songwrting (for band and orchestra), great vocalists, and amazing instrumentation work. ... (read more)

Report this review (#288531) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Monday, June 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's been awhile since I have really listened to this so I spun it again before this review. Leaving aside the "prog-or pop?" argument, I believe Alan Parsons nonetheless made some excellent music and was a top notch producer. Side one is my favorite on this release: " A Dream within a Dream", ... (read more)

Report this review (#278734) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Edgar Allen Poe is a figure that divides opinion, in spite of his influence many feel his neo-gothic poetry and prose is too ugly, too cold, too unpalatable. It is strange then, to find that Alan Parson's album inspired entirely by the works of the man, tries so hard to cover all bases. It would ... (read more)

Report this review (#226492) | Posted by Witch | Monday, July 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, this masterwork has been reviewed about a million times, so I won't go into any lengthy discussion. In fact, I will say though, that if you don't have this beautiful, powerful, progressive album, GO GET IT! This is true classical/prog rock at it's best. One of the few albums where there' ... (read more)

Report this review (#197555) | Posted by tmay102436 | Tuesday, January 6, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first album I heard from Alan Parsons Project and one of the first prog rock albums that I enjoyed. That was some years ago (not many, really. Probably, four of five years) and in that time I wasn't ready to listen to Larks' Tongues or The Wall. I was almost a child and I wouldn't understand ... (read more)

Report this review (#174401) | Posted by Blackdog | Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Absolutely essential! The day this was released I bought it and was pretty much disappointed. Friends told me to buy this, because so many well known artist appear. But unfortunately, after just buying albums like Relayer or Foxtrot this one came as a bit of let-down. So why is it essential. W ... (read more)

Report this review (#167211) | Posted by eduur | Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars From far, the best APP album - and their first one. Based only on Edgar Allan Poe stories (see the track titles, like The Cask Of Amontillado or The Raven), this is one of the most innovative and magnificent progressive albums. Favorite moments ? The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, and all of the Fa ... (read more)

Report this review (#164152) | Posted by Zardoz | Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After learning that Alan Parsons had engineered Dark Side of the Moon, I was curious to hear what his little "Project" sounded like. I must say that I was very impressed, even upon my first listen. This debut reminded me of some Pink Floyd's atmospheric sounds and effects (an obvious connection) b ... (read more)

Report this review (#129953) | Posted by ClassicRocker | Monday, July 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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