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The Alan Parsons Project

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The Alan Parsons Project The Turn of a Friendly Card album cover
3.59 | 505 ratings | 47 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. May Be a Price to Pay (4:52)
2. Games People Play (4:17)
3. Time (5:05)
4. I Don't Wanna Go Home (4:54)
5. The Gold Bug (4:28)
- The Turn of a Friendly Card (16:09) :
6. I - The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part 1) (2:39)
7. II - Snake Eyes (3:17)
8. III - The Ace of Swords (2:58)
9. IV - Nothing Left to Lose (4:03)
10. V - The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part 2) (3:12)

Total Time 39:45

Bonus tracks on 2008 remaster:
11. Maybe a Price to Pay (intro - demo) (1:32)
12. Nothing Left to Lose (basic backing track) (4:35)
13. Nothing Left to Lose (Chris Rainbow vocal overdub compilation) (2:02)
14. Nothing Left to Lose (early studio version with Eric's guide vocal) (3:11)
15. Time (early studio attempt) (4:42)
16. Games People Play (rough mix) (4:32)
17. The Gold Bug (demo) (2:49)

Line-up / Musicians

- Alan Parsons / Projectron (2), autoharp (5), clavinet (5,8), whistling & finger snaps (5), harpsichord (8), backing vocals (3), producer
- Eric Woolfson / organ (1), keyboards (2), piano (1,3,4,6-8,10), harpsichord (6,10), lead vocals (9)

- Ian Bairnson / acoustic (3,5,9) & electric guitars
- David Paton / bass, acoustic guitar (3,5)
- Stuart Elliott / drums & percussion
- Elmer Gantry / lead vocals (1)
- Lenny Zakatek / lead (2,4) & backing vocals, vocal Fx (2)
- Chris Rainbow / lead (6,7,10) & backing vocals
- Andrew Powell / orchestral arranger & conductor (1,3,6,8,10)
- Eberhard Schoener / orchestration
- The Orchestra Of The Munich Chamber Opera
- Sandor Farcas / orchestra leader
- Mel Collins ? / saxophone (5) - not confirmed
- Unknown Artist / accordion (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Godley & Creme

LP Arista ‎- AL 9518 (1980, US)

CD Arista ‎- 610 144-222 (1984, Germany)
CD Arista ‎- 82876815262 (2008, Europe) Remaster by Alan Parsons & Dave Donnelly w/ 7 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT The Turn of a Friendly Card ratings distribution

(505 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT The Turn of a Friendly Card reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars See my reviews on Poe , Robot and Pyramids and you will see why the formula works so well that I started disliking that from the 4th album on. As this fifth album is still selling even stronger than its previous ones , this also influenced me in disliking it also.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is not his best one, but many songs are really good. Not very progressive, the songs are simple but rather accessible. There are some orchestral arrangements. The lead vocals are very good, as always. Time is a very good sentimental slow with orchestral arrangements in the background. The gold bug is another very good sentimental track where floating saxophone is mixed with floating keyboards, through a catchy little beat: rather refined. "Games People Play" is a very catchy, rythmic and addictive pop song. "I don't wanna go home" and "may be a price to pay" are more ordinary, although the are not bad: they are just less catchy despite their pop style. The eponymous track is an epic song, not really more progressive, because it is divided into independent tracks. From this long track, "Snake Eyes" is the best part: it sounds like excellent Mannheim Steamroller: a mix of discrete keyboards and orchestral arrangements: impressive. There are acoustic and electric guitars parts.
Review by Proghead
4 stars Well, I really can't see how this album became The ALAN PARSONS PROJECT's best seller at that point. It pretty much brings you no real surprises. The synthesizers seem more absent than anything done since "Tales of Mystery and Imagination", perhaps the reason for that was Duncan MacKay left in order to join CAMEL (who was in the process of recording Nude around the same times as "The Turn of a Friendly Card"). I also missed the cimbalom and kantele John Leach was using, as those two instruments aren't used here (maybe a little on the instrumental "The Gold Bug"). The album starts off with "Maybe a Price to Pay", definately one of the better songs on this album. It's the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT at their better moments. "Games People Play" received tons of radio airplay, with Lenny Zakatek handling the vocals.

Another one of the high points, and the most synthesizer-dominated piece. Then there's Eric Woolfson's ballad "Time". Previously he only sung the occasional backup on "Pyramid" and "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" (he always handles keyboards), but this is the first song he sings lead. "Time" also received lots of radio airplay, but it sounds a bit too much like easy listening to me. There's also a suite, which is the title track. It's basically a collection of separate songs disguised as a 15 minute or so suite., as no one in 1980 would dare release an album with a 15 minute song on it. So you get stuff like the title track and "Snake Eyes", an Eric Woolson ballad, and so on.

To me, I thought this album was a bit hyped. It's good, but if you hear an album like "I Robot", it just doesn't compare.

Review by daveconn
4 stars This concept album about gambling is worth taking a chance on. Of the handful of APP albums I own, I return to Turn most often. The attraction goes beyond the obvious appeal of songs like "Time" and "Games People Play," which are two of THE PROJECT's most enduring hits. For me, it's the presence of arrangements that prog fans could sink their eye teeth into: "The Gold Bug" and "The Turn of a Friendly Card" (Part One)" stand out at the moment. True, the album still has one foot firmly planted in disco/pop, suggesting a hybrid of 10cc and PINK FLOYD (in fact, Godley & Creme are credited with "sleeve concept" on this one), but its languid and dreamy sound pushes it closer to the prog camp. ERIC WOOLFSON's vocals in particular make an impression with a mix of masking and philosophical sleepiness on "Time" and "Nothing Left To Lose" that remains oddly compelling. LENNY ZAKATEK takes the lead on funkier cuts like "I Don't Wanna Go Home" and "Games People Play," Elmer Gantry on the opening "May Be A Price To Pay," and CHRIS RAINBOW shines on the madrigal-themed "The Turn of a Friendly Card" (Part One)" and "Snake Eyes" (these two achieving some small success as singles). The concept seems to swing in and out of focus; I'm not sure what "Time" has to do with gambling, and "The Gold Bug" would seem to be an extension of their Poe-tic debut, but the record's thoughtful and calculated arrangements tie things together. Though it tends to get lumped together with most of their albums from this period, "Turn of a Friendly Card" may be the best mix of instrumental mind candy and memorable pop songs in the PARSONS canon.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With this amazing concept album 'The Turn of a Friendly Card', The Alan Parsons Project achieved the most accomplished expression of their own signature prog sound. While recapitulating what they had done in their four previous albums, this is Woolfson's and Parsons' finest hour as writers, arrangers, and producers; a special mention should go to Ian bairnson, whose guitar skills really shine brightly here, assuming a real starring role in order to enhance the passion of many emotional moments, or the drive of some rockier ones. The namesake suite that closes down the album is the perfect APP work: from the moving and increasingly majestic melancholy of section i and v to the classical exquisiteness of section iii, from the bitter sweet introspectiveness of section iv to the pop rock folly ambience of section ii, which is reprised in a more metallic manner in the coda of iv. But even if this is the definitive gem of the album (and IMHO, of APP's whole career), the preceeding repertoire is nothing to be dismissed. 'May Be a Price to Pay' introduces the notion of playing as an exercise in trangression with an air of symphonic solemnity in the opening bars, leading us to a lighter, somewhat poppier further development, always keeping a symphonic twist. The same notion is carried on in 'Games People Play' (one of APP's most popular singles), with an air of complicity and celebration, well portrayed in a pop-funky context. The overwhelming beauty of 'Time' (another very popular tune, perhaps their most celebrated ballad) brings a reflection upon the passing of time and the seal of fate, just before 'I Don't Wanna Go Home' presents us the notion of loss as the ludopath's unavoidable punishment. The appealing instrumental 'The Gold Bug' reprises the opening motif of 'May Be a Price to Pay' before it turns into a mixture of techno-pop and jazzy funk: this is a momentary return to the Project's early E. A. Poe days, but now this specific tale is brought to the fore in the context of the obsession for material riches. The namesake suite helps the album to state an overall fatalistic idea (not unlike 'Pyramid'): even though the pleasure of momentary gain is widely overcome by the pains of loss and bankruptcy, ludopaths who are incurably hungry for the thrill of the game do and will always return to the path of gambling and making bids. This album makes a beautiful statement about this kind of self-destructive circle, so I label it as an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars OK, slightly better than Eve but still nothing like the first three albums. It manages to maintain a conceptual feel about it which is nice. Side 2 is definitely the better half with ' The gold bug' and the longish title track. APP were still producing some decent stuff but the accent was more on mediocrity than rather any standout release.
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Turn Of A Friendly Card is the fifth Alan Parsons Project studio album, and the second to draw its inspiration from the work of the brilliant 19th century Amercian writer Edgar Allan Poe. While the 5 part title track and the opening fanfare might lead you to believe that this is a prog-rock record, all such thoughts will disappear the moment the Foreigner/Survivor style main rhythm of May Be A Price To Pay kicks in.

The jazzy piano runs aside, May Be A Price To Pay really is as prog as Paul McCartney & The Wings' Band On The Run, but I happen to really like it. The AOR feel continues through Games People Play (which again is an excellent pop/rock song), although the truly beautiful Pink Floyd-influenced Time (yes, I know it's got that title, but it's closer in style to Us And Them) makes for an abrupt change of pace. Despite an interesting intro and some jazzy inflections, I Don't Want To Go Home is another middle of the road rocker. The sax- driven instrumental The Gold Bug is pretty ordinary, despite its somewhat spacey, dreamy rhythm and vocal backing.

The highlight of this album however has to be the 5 part title track which is not really a prog work per se but a few shorter songs strung together. Part (ii) Snake Eyes is yet another (excellent) rock stomper and part (iii) The Ace Of Swords is great orchestral prog, albeit with disco-ish backing! However parts (i) The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part One), (iv) Nothing Left To Lose and (v) The Turn Of A Friendly Card (Part Two) are some of my favourite melodies all of time. By any band! I really, really love these parts, with glorious lyrics and tunes that speak directly to my soul.

There is a usual gamut of guest vocalists like Elmer Gantry, Lenny Zakatek and Chris Rainbow, although Parsons' musical partner Eric Woolfson delivers two of the most moving leads in Time and Nothing Left To Lose. As usual the session musicians are super-tight and don't play with much individuality, leaving me somewhat conflicted when I assess this album. It's my favourite APP album and I rate it among my top couple of hundred albums ever. I love it a lot, and I feel that everyone ought to hear it, but I must warn you that I do question its prog credentials. ... 69% on the MPV scale

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I remember a very negative review of this album in the local rock magazine upon its release when it was labelled the worst AOR by the studio wizard Parsons. I was told that allegedly "Pyramid" (these were the only two available APP albums in exYugo stores at the time) was much better. So after listening to this I went for "Pyramid" and was dissapointed. IMO "TTOAFC" is not much worse album, it is rather more frankly AOR- oriented without any hints of being "progressive". And it is good in that. And I like a lot "Gold Bug", a sax driven instrumental. "Time " may sound like a sugar pop-ballad and it surely is, but in this context it fits better than "Eagle" or "Shadow" fit into imagined "Pyramid" concept. This is a decent pop or if you like "soft art rock", which you can listen to over and over, but which contains none of adventurous prog moments. Overall in the same league as "Pyramid".
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album reminds me back to The Alan Parsons Project's debut album "Tales Of Mystery and Imagination" where the two masterminds of the project Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson managed to reassemble the soul of its debut and after loose album (composition-wise) "Eve". Parsons went back to guitar and keyboard rather than overusing the influence of synthesizers and computers. He returns to the "concept" album approach like he did with "Tales". The focus is now on "games" in the broad term and almost all tracks are talking about this except one track "Gold Bug" which represents a narration of Edgar Allan Poe. It might be a reminder to the listeners that The Project had ever been very successful with its debut on Edgar Allan Poe thing through "Tales" album. It sounds inconsistent with the main tagline of "games" but it could be a marketing gimmick. Who says marketing is only the domain of Philip Kotler or Al Ries and Jack Trout? Musicians can do good marketing job as well, folks! , the thread of the "Tales" album and thereby a nice little reminder of his successful debut.

The Project, like its successful debut, concludes the album with a "supposed-to-be" monumental epic which consumes 15 minutes and a bunch of orchestra but it functions as rhythm section rather than main role. Unfortunately, this epic of five parts sound like disjointed music as there are no smooth transitions from one to another.

It's a good album but it's not an essential one. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Deal me in!

It is good to see the APP moving beyond their normal boundaries, by including an almost side long suite on this album. Not since their excellent first album had they ventured beyond fairly basic song structures and melodies. "The turn of a friendly card" suite is however as bit of a cop out, since in reality it is three separate tracks on a related theme, book-ended by a fourth piece.

The first side of the album consists of four mainstream pop related songs. "May be a price to pay" is sung by the intriguingly named Elmer Gantry, presumably not the Burt Lancaster version though! "Games people play", with lead vocals by Lenny Zakatek has a slightly adventurous instrumental middle section, but apart from that it is pure toe tapping pop rock. Zakatek returns a short while later on the similar "I don't want to go home".

The best track on the album is "Time" (no relation to the Pink Floyd track, but a close relation of "Us and them" from the same album), a lovely plodding ballad, with excellent vocals by the woefully under credited Eric Woolfson.

Side two opens with what effectively serves as a prelude to the title suite. "The gold bug" is a typical Parsons instrumental featuring some fine but uncredited sax, and melodic vocalisation.

The minute "The turn of friendly card" starts, it is clear that the quality control has suddenly been turned up significantly. This is due in no small part to the distinctive vocals of Chris Rainbow (one time of Camel, but also a notable solo artist). Rainbow sings on all but one of the sections, "Nothing left to lose" which sees Eric Woolfson make his second vocal contribution to the album. The theme of the piece looks at the futility of gambling, although it has to be said that any examination of this heavy topic here is very superficial.

The orchestration which features throughout the suite comes to the fore on "The ace of swords", an effective instrumental passage. The following "Nothing left to lose" has some of the strongest melodies on the album. Eric Woolfson offers a wonderful vocal performance to complement the reflective lyrics. The track develops through a brief reprise of the "Snake eyes" theme into one Ian Bairnson's most aggressive guitar solos and a reprise of the title song to close the album. The final instrumental passage provides a wonderful coda to this superb piece.

In all, certainly not an album without blemishes, but one of the APP's strongest and most resilient offerings. The title suite is essential listening for all those who have found something to enjoy in the collective's other albums. Recommended.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Turn of a Friendly Card was somewhat of a surprise hit album for the Project in 1980, mostly because they were coming off two pretty weak albums, and the majority of the seventies icons were fast becoming quite unpopular in the face of new wave and MTV. The inspiration for the album has been credited to Phil Dick’s weird sci-fi novel “The Game- Players of Titan” and obviously is centered around the theme of gambling. Eric Woolfson has said in later interviews that the songs were generally just about some issues he was going through in his personal life and are mostly about gambling in life terms and not necessarily about craps or blackjacks per se. Whatever.

The album spawned a couple of hit singles, and was the first Parsons would not lead off with a spacey instrumental. Instead he launches the record with “May Be a Price to Pay”, a brooding chant about sorcerers and sinister doings and such. Kind of an interesting tune, but the lyrics really don’t make much sense. Elmer Gantry (aka Dave Terry of the 60s psychedelic novelty group Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera) is credited on lead vocals.

“Games People Play” was one of the Project’s biggest hit singles, and aside from some mildly interesting keyboard work and decent guitars, is basically a very 80s-sounding MTV pop song. The rhythm is quite catchy and ex-Gonzales singer Lenny Zakatek lends some serviceable vocals, but here again the lyrics don’t make much sense and are probably intentionally ambiguous.

The ballad-like “Time” is a typical Parsons mellow mood piece, and also marks the first time Eric Woolfson was given the microphone for the lead vocals. Woolfson often recorded vocals in the studio during early recording sessions, but was usually replaced with a featured singer in the final cuts. This album was recorded in France and Parsons didn’t have anyone else available at the time, so Woolfson was allowed to lay down the final cut. The result was another hit single and quite a beautiful song, although it bears some suspicious resemblances to the song of the same name that Parsons produced on Dark Side of the Moon, with its slow, meandering guitars and moody vocals, as well as pseudo-meaningful sound effects and disembodied backing vocals.

“I Don't Wanna’ Go Home” is another Zakatek song, this one a surprisingly bitter and crass indictment of a poor sod who has bet and lost all he has, and now is just another pitiful slob outside a casino who can’t even buy attention. A bit of a departure for the normally rather demure Parsons.

Now granted – this isn’t really a progressive album of any sort whatsoever, but the keyboards and guitar on “The Gold Bug” are actually pretty decent, as are the horn accompaniment and ambient backing choral. This actually gets my vote as the second best track on the album.

The orchestral accompaniment on the “Turn of a Friendly Card” suite (if you can call it a suite) is well-done and sets a believable mood for this tale of raw-luck gamblers. On the original album this was a side-long work, but for some reason it got busted up into five segments on the CD release. Chris Rainbow (aka Chris Harley with an apparent urge to find a cooler stage name) sings lead on all but (anti-)climactic “Nothing Left to Lose”, for which Woolfson makes another appearance.

This also isn’t really much of a progressive work, but at least it serves to make this album an improvement over the uninspired Eve and the bland Pyramid. Just enough so to merit three stars, and some decent memories from my youth.


Review by Chicapah
2 stars There are two big reasons that this "group" is listed on this site. The first is the enduring, impressive strength of their eye- opening debut LP in 1976 and the second is the fact that they were the first exposure for many young proggers to the genre and, therefore, carry a lot of nostalgic weight even though they became less and less progressive as the years went by. Here's the good news about "The Turn of a Friendly Card." It's a better record than the dismal, dull "Eve" album that preceded it. The bad news is that there's still nothing to get too excited about.

"May be a Price to Pay" has a promising intro with its bright, synthesized horn section but the song itself doesn't live up to its billing and turns into a rather pedestrian tune that doesn't merit much attention. The boring instrumental section sounds like something from the Montovani strings. If there's a saving grace to the project, however, it's the next track. "Games People Play" with its inimitable programmed synths at the beginning is just a great song despite its dated disco rhythm. The spacey, floating section in the middle followed by Ian Bairnson's excellent guitar solo (love that unadulterated strat tone!) made this cut one to turn up every time it came on the radio.

"Time" comes right on its heels and it's the runner-up for best tune on the album. I consider this one to be Pink Floyd lite and that's not a cheap poke. Both the subtle vocal from Eric Woolfson and the orchestral arrangement by Andrew Powell are superb. Lyrically this is a perfect song for a high school prom with its sad "farewell" subject matter. "I Don't Wanna Go Home" is an okay but ultimately unremarkable tune with a nice guitar lead from Ian and a somewhat mysterious ending. "The Gold Bug" is the odd duck here with its spaghetti western atmosphere complete with a whistler that evolves into a syrupy contemporary MOR instrumental.

"The Turn of a Friendly Card" is a suite of songs and ideas strung together with gambling as its focus. "Part One" starts by introducing the central melody backed by harpsichord and symphony, then transitions into the funky pop of "Snake Eyes." The orchestra reappears for "The Ace of Swords," a rock instrumental that at least offers some interesting changes along the way. "Nothing Left to Lose" is a decent tune but the lyrics just consist of one cliché after another and perhaps that was their intent. There's a brief dip into a reggae feel, then it becomes another rock instrumental where Bairnson's guitar work entertains once again. "Part Two" is nothing more than a revisit to the main theme and then offers yet another overly slick orchestral rendition of that melody to the end. Very corny.

For whatever reason the Alan Parsons Project is considered prog-related and, as such, their catalogue of work deserves to be fairly reviewed by unbiased music consumers like myself. With few exceptions there is very little imagination at work here. My honest assessment is that this album isn't an embarrassment but it will really only appeal to the APP diehard fan. Spend your money accordingly. 2 stars.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There's a virtue in Alan Parsons Project, doesn't matter that after his first three records never released another one in the same level, but Alan, Eric and Andrew Powell manage to make almost anything sound excellent.

The Turn of the Friendly Card" is one of this cases, the music is far from the level of "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" and maybe even a bit bellow "Pyramids", the sound is very mainstream oriented, but the production is so impeccable that it's always a pleasure to listen it, unless you have no tolerance for Pop music, because this is what the album is, just pop with an outstanding sound and a couple proggy moments.

The album starts with the pompous introduction of "May Be a Price to Pay" that reminds me of many Cecil B DeMills movies, but the effect is short, soon the band turns towards more easy music, still you can find some echoes of the past and a couple of interesting changes but the vocals by Elmer Gantry (A living legend from Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera) sound too poppy for my taste.

Andrew Powell does a great job with the violins but this is one of the cases in which I find the arrangements a bit weaker than usual. Good track but far from the best they can offer.

"Games People Play" is a good song that I could never fully like, I don't know if it's the horrendous drumming or the Disco atmosphere but simply I can't get it no matter how much I try.

Does it smells to Pink Floyd cloning or it's my idea?.No, I am right, it's "Time" a very good track that I enjoy a lot, but with a clear Pink Floyd smell, well, Alan worked with them so it's normal to have some influence. Usually I don't like ballads but in his case I always keep the interest.

"I Don't Wanna Go Home" starts surprising, almost as if it was another band, but again the band returns to their usual sound, simpler than usual and too radio friendly, I just press the skip button.

Now, "The Gold Bug" is an outstanding track, much better when listened in it's natural context as an interlude before the Epic that gives the name to the album and not in an instrumental compilation like the one I reviewed a few hours ago.

"The Turn of the Friendly Card" is la piece de resistance" a 16:22 minutes epic divided in 5 parts.

"The Turn of the Friendly Card Part One" starts with a catchy chorus, very melancholic and well elaborate, ideal for Chris rainbow's voice, but the soft orchestration by Andrew Powell is the one that deserves more attention, nice, well done but soft enough not to mess with the main melody.

"Snake Eyes" is a song that starts very rhythmic with well marked tempo and good vocal work. The song seems to be very repetitive and a fact it is, but the band keeps adding new instruments to the main chorus making it change and avoiding boredom, not the best part of the epic, but good enough.

"The Ace of Swords" is simply delightful a great instrumental with Andrew Powell as the star with his radical and perfect arrangements, this is how an Alan Parsons Project album must sound, one of the highest points of the album.

"Nothing to Loose" is a beautiful ballad linked directly to the previous track, Eric Woolfson's voice is a plus, this guy is IMO the best vocalist of the many that Alan parsons has used, the chorus is simple but nice, don't expect moiré than a simple ballad, but with Alan parsons project, it's really worth to listen. At the end some radical changes, first tome sort of reggae and then harder than any previous song, really good material.

"The Turn of the Friendly Card Part Two" is even better than part One, it's true they return to the main chorus but it's more orchestral and with many changes that were not present in the first part. Also the fact that closes the album gives a melancholic atmosphere very pleasant, the coda by Powell and his Orchestra must be one of the best works the band has ever done, simply impressive.

The great question is how to rate it being fair and respecting the guidelines at the same time?

It's not Prog, so 4 stars should be out of the table, but the music is so good and the album so well done, that I will sacrifice guidelines for honesty, rating "The Turn of a Friendly Card" with less than 4 stars is a sacrilege against good music despite the genre.

A non Prog album that every Prog fan should own.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
3 stars The Turn of a Friendly Card was the Alan Parsons Project's fifth studio album and showed a remarkable improvement over the terrible Eve and mediocre Pyramid albums. This was definitely a return to the form of the APP on their first two albums. This time the concept was gambling and it was primarily inspired by Philip K. Dick's "The Game-Players of Titan." Again, it follows the successful formula APP has applied to every album they've made: a core group of session musicians with a host of guest vocalists. The production is up to the usual level and detail Parsons was widely known for.

Musically The Turn of a Friendly Card is chiefly a collection of pop rock songs showing some minor "progressive tendencies." The last five tracks are five parts to a title suite. This is similar to APP's The Fall of the House of Usher from their debut, except they aren't as closely integrated. The album featured three hit singles, Time, Games People Play, and Snake Eyes. Time did very well on the charts of the day and it catapulted Eric Woolfson into the limelight. As a result, he would sing more often on future APP songs, most of them receiving much airplay.

This album is about as good as I Robot, but not quite as good as APP's debut. A must-have for APP fans, but I would recommend others to start with their debut album before getting this. Remember, this is chiefly artsy pop-rock with only slight touches of prog rock. If that isn't your "cup of tea," it would be best to avoid. Three stars. Good, but not essential.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars They had nothing left to lose, but a lot to win

After the disastrous Eve album, Alan Parsons Project returned to form here with The Turn Of A Friendly Card. In my opinion, this is one of the project's best works. The title suite, Turning Of A Friendly Card, that fills up most of the second side of this album, is particularly effective and clearly the highlight of the album. This five-part suite is not only one of Alan Parsons Project's very best works, it is also probably their most Folk-influenced work. The inclusion of some flutes, harpsichord, accordion (or what sound like one) and mellow acoustic guitar. However, it should not be expected that this is a genuine Prog epic. It is really based on individual songs, thematically tied together to form a enjoyable whole.

The suite is book-ended by the two parts of Turning Of A Friendly Card itself. In between we get a good instrumental part called The Ace Of Swords. This is different (and better) compared to your usual Alan Parsons Project instrumental. Nothing Left To Lose is a folky, acoustic semi-ballad with some lovely vocal harmonies that changes about half way through and turns into a rocker with good, energetic, electric guitar work - quite impressive by Alan Parsons Project standards! The part named Snake Eyes is the least interesting one, and also the part most typical of the Project and also the most similar to the material of the first side of this album. Overall, this whole (well, almost) suite is quite nice, exploring some unusual (for The Project) musical places and keeping the listener interested through changes of tempo, mood and instrumental set up. Given the folky elements this should certainly appeal to fans of Prog Folk, but it is hardly Thick As A Brick!

The first side of the album is, as already indicated, less interesting and more typical of The Alan Parson's Project. Still, this is certainly better than most of the songs from Eve or Pyramid. I must say that this album holds together better than most of the Project's other albums. There are different vocalists on this album's tracks as on all other Alan Parsons albums. However, here it is not that obvious, because the vocalists used are not too different from each other (or at least not as distinctly different as, say, Arthur Brown and the other vocalists used on Tales Of Mystery And Imagination). In my view it almost never works to have different vocalists on different tracks on the same album, it usually gives the album a disjointed and incoherent feel. Not too damaging here though.

The worst song of the album is Games People Play. It has some of that horrible Disco-flavour that plagued some songs from earlier Alan Parsons Project albums. The song Time sounds very much like Pink Floyd, on the verge of being a rip-off of Us And Them from Dark Side Of The Moon.

Recommended. Possibly the best Alan Parsons Project album.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars With the turn Of A Friendly Card The Alan Parson Project reached its peak as a commercial band. It sold far more than its previous works followuing the success fo such hit singles Time and Games People Play. There were some subtle changes (as every APP album had): keyboards player Duncan Mckay left the band and the list of singers now was restricted to three: Chris Rainbow, Lenny Zatek and, for the first time, Eric Woolfson. There would be always a guest vocalist on each album, but from now on for just one track only. Also the group's intrumentals were reduced to a single track (I don't count Ace of Swords as a n independent song).

Having said that I should point out the fact that this album is very good too. There are still enough of Andrew Powell orchestrations, clever and varied arrangements and excellent musicanship to keep this project from being discarted as too pop. As one should expect the engineering and production are superb. The songwriting team of Woolfson and Parsons should also be mentioned for their versatility and knack for the great melodic tune. The basic band is as tight as ever (maybe even more so now). But the most interesting aspect of this LP was the fact that Woolfson was a very good singer and hasn't sang lead in any previous APP record (reasons unknown). He does a fine job and became one of the house' singers from then on.

This concept album about gambling has some fine moments, like the title track, the very interesting instrumental The gold Bug, the delicate, folkish Nothing Left To Lose (great harmony vocals on this one) and the strong opener May Be The Price To Pay. Ok, the first three APP albums are more progressive but the project was releasing very good, conceptual, prog influenced music steadily in the early 80's, something few 70's acts were daring to do at the time. The fact that their music still sounds fresh and exciting after all these years only enhance the feeling that this project was something more than most critics thought, then and now. Sophisticated melodic crossover prog with tasteful arrangements. 3,5 stars.

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars After "Eve", it made sense for APP to tackle a more universal enemy than femininity, and they chose gambling or, more generally game playing, and its ills, although the indictments are generally on the more lighthearted side. More importantly, this is more of a serious rock album than "Eve", even if the progressive quotient remains low.

The album opens with two strong numbers - "May be a Price to Pay" is fascinating lyrically, and possesses a rather deliberate sinister air that holds up well, contrasting perfectly with the more immediately catchy but still intriguing "Games People Play". This is the type of song in which APP excels - lavish and multi-layered, it is preferable to the rote somnolent balladry of "Time", which resurrects PINK FLOYD's worst traits, and extrapolates to the weak hit title cut on the subsequent release. These insipid songs are manufactured for ad infinitum radio airplay, because one barely notices them pass by, and any sort of active listening is quite impossible.

Where "Turn" falls down a bit more is in its instrumentals. "The Gold Bug" is good enough, but simply not in the same league as "Lucifer" or "I Robot", and, given the importance of such tracks to the progressive fan, it makes the album a bit harder to wholly recommend. However, the title suite is one of Parsons' best overall compositions, consisting of a lovely bracketing theme, a superb rocker, "Snake Eyes", an almost medieval instrumental "Ace of Swords", and a beautiful ballad "Nothing Left to Lose", which is closed by an epilogue of sorts that re-enacts some of the earlier themes. I have the LP version, and I find it hard to accept that the individual parts were separated out into separate tracks on the CD, so well do they flow together.

I am torn here. The album is certainly better than "Eve", which, apart from the subject matter, warranted 3.5 stars, so I'm going to say that "Turn of a Friendly Card" is like an 18 in Blackjack, very good but definitely beatable, although not by Mr Parsons henceforth.

Review by Isa
3 stars |C| Incredible orchestrations, dated pop, and everything in between.

At the moment I'm still a little unsure what I'll actually rate this album, be it a two, three, or four. I guess I'll write a more stream of consciousness review for this one, not something I'm too fond of doing, but when I'm as unsure about an album as this (and I've listened to it plenty of times already) that's all I think I can really write about and make a quality review, though it might end up a bit overblown and lengthy. I don't like doing individual track reviews either, for an album should be able to speak for itself as a whole piece of work, but one as inconsistent as this, the write-while-listening-track-by-track approach may be the best option. This will probably be a long review, so feel free to skip to the last paragraph, unless you like my writing style and have time to burn or something. So, here goes.

1. May Be A Price To Pay: I like the brass based intro, a great start for this album for certain. Cool keyboard effects follow this with nice soft piano in the background and good bass riff... leading to the acoustic guitar chords that back the vocals. Good vocalist, I like the distortion guitar being used for background atmosphere. Chorus repeats with horn parts that started the album, ooo, claves! I like this track a lot, always have. Bass part interlude with nice string parts, fun and interesting piano craziness in the background... I like this track overall, good progginess and orchestrations, as usual for APP's better work. Overall I reward a 6.5 out of 10, nothing spectacular per say, but a great solid track to start the album.

2. Games People Play: Poppish intro... overall more pop sounding than the previous, mainly from repetition and pop sounding vocals, though competent vocals with nice harmonies. Good riff though with the bass and piano parts. Very dated sounding song, even for APP, though as usual I like the keyboard parts. Ooo, I like how the track suddenly has an ambient nature, atmospheric keyboard effects, this alone may make the track worthwhile, cool sound effects too. Back to the main riff, awesome electric guitar work, still very dated sounding, somewhat overly eighties, though I still like it. Drumming pretty boring though. Not much to this track really other than the short ambient part. overall 5 out of 10, pretty mediocre, though a bit fun in a strictly catchy pop sense.

3. Time: Hey, a Pink Floyd rip-off! Ok, not really, but close. Nice piano intro , coming into vocal part. This track is very much like The Show Must Go On from I Robot, only less unique and magical. "Time keeps flowing like a river, to the sea..." pretty deep lyrics I guess, though a little cliche. Hey, the songs more about death, really! I like the strings, as usual, quite appropriately used. Nice song, ooo, nice verse, "gone forever!" Nice track, simple but effective, but I feel it lacks a lot of originality. Well put together though... hm... nice soft ending. I think this gets a 6 out of 10. Good, but just not original enough.

4. I Don't Wanna Go Home: Nice intro, piano with acoustic guitar... is that a tri-tone I hear? Cool.... Ok... ew, pop crap. I don't like this track much so far, other than the intro. The vocals are pretty obnoxious throughout the track. It's a bit like track two only a lot more disco sounding. Pretty catchy, but overly repetitive, very eighties sounding, even the guitar solo is kind of lame. Overall a pretty lame and disappointing song, especially since it has such a promising intro, and the outro is the same as the intro only with dissonant piano chords. Sorry, that just doesn't save this track. A measly 2.5 out of 10 for this one.

5. The Gold Bug: keyboard intro, with whistling, that's pretty cool, quite a unique way to start a song. A good bass riff coming in, keyboard stuff layered on, nice saxophone put on top. I like this track so far, though it's a bit repetitive for my taste. Yeah, I know, it's a cool bass riff, move onto something else already... there we go, ethereal keyboard work and "ah" vocals. This is quite pleasant, quite smooth. Kind of reminds me of a track off 90125, oh what was it... Leave it! Only not quite so dated sounding. Still the same bass riff... all well. Nice track, though a little dull. 5.5 out of 10.

Alright, to the epic we go, though I remember from listening to this album before that it was very fragmented sounding and not at all flowing and cohesive. So I guess that's how I'll review it. Part 1: Nice piano intro... ooo, flutes, me like! Oh wow, what a great vocal melody, almost folk sounding, this track just may bring this album to a three! Oh yes, I love this first part of the epic, probably some of the band's best work! Great vocals, orchestrations, acoustic guitar work, great everything! Yay an acoustic guitar solo, wonderful changes! I love this track, 8 out of 10. Part 2: Awe, that's too bad we're into that dated late seventies early eighties sound already. All well, it's alright really. Pretty good elecric guitar work, this track kind of reminds me of Steely Dan in a way, actually, other than the vocals. Not a terrible song, but too pop and dated for my taste, 4 out of 10. Part 3: Yay harpsichord intro, leading into orchestrations, with an oboe, even! Wow, the brass is back, I like this track a lot! Sort of classical-folky sounding once again. This may be the best work on the album, especially since it's instrumental. Yay, odd meter, 7/4! 'Bout time. A solid 8/10. Short track though... sadness. Part 4: Nice acoustic guitar, good vocal part, good lyrics, pretty emotional. Don't really like the more high-pitched vocals... oh, but then they change to the "ah" vocals again, very pleasant. Oh, what's that instrument... always reminds me of Paris... which I could remember, but I like it. Good track, pretty soft and pleasant. Ooo, proggy part in the middle... awe, but then the melodic theme of Part 2 is reintroduced on electric guitar. All well, it's pretty good sounding on guitar. I like the hard rock rhythm guitar with electric solo. This is getting pretty fun! Hard rock goodness and Part 4 closes with this. Great! 7 out of 10 for this. Part 5: What is apparently the theme of the epic that started in part 1 is played on strings and piano. Ah, I love this theme. I love this guy's voice, "no the game never ends when your whole world depends on the turn of a friendly card." What a great melody, and great chord changes. This melody is played on electric guitar, oh it fits so surprisingly well! Then with the brass... then the cellos, I think.... This track almost raises the album to a four. 8.5 out of 10! What a great way to close an album.

So, that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the album. Some incredible orchestrated prog moments, some quite terribly dated pop moments, and just about everything in between, but overall a worthwhile album. This album is almost worth buying just for the epic, even if it's a fragmented epic, it still is comprised of mostly great tracks, some of the group's best work even. Not as great as their first two albums, but probably their best since I, Robot. Recommended for Crossover pop-prog listeners (such as myself) and fans of Alan parsons Project.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars This "project" could hardly move me even with their debut when it was released a long time ago. No need to tell you how I felt about their previous "Eve" album. So, what do we get here? Well, nothing too fancy unfortunately.

Lots of orchestrations, disco sounds and alike. But I don't like these alikes. Being the opener "Maybe A Price To Pay" or these "Games People Play". Poor stuff indeed. Well produced (that's the minimum one can expect from these guys) but emotionless and boooooring. Unless you like the disco beats which is absolutely not my case. Add a funky feel to "Don't Wanna Go Home" to get the global picture. Press next IS the best option for sure.

Some romantic moments break the overall mood and are welcome ("Time"), but this is second-hand ELO from the eighties (at best). Which means?I guess you know.

The B-side was somewhat better (not difficult): a good instrumental à la "Money" from whom you know ("The Gold Bug") that features an excellent sax part (which is the best track by far as far as I'm concerned) and a sixteen minutes title track-suite which has its good (few) and below average (quite a bunch) moments.

At least some short prog moments can be experienced: crafted vocals (but those were never a problem), discreet orchestrations, theme changes of course (with some weak parts as the dreadful "Snake Eye"), some medieval sounds ("Ace Of Swords"), mellowish mood ("Nothing Left to Lose") and finally back to square one with the second part of the title track (which was also the best one).

Very little overall to bring any major enthusiasm from your devotee. I rate it with two stars, but I am not quite sure why.

Review by friso
3 stars Alan Parsons Project - The Turn of a Friendly Card (1980)

APP is a symphonic crossover group around composer and famous producer Alan parsons. The sound of the group after the third album became very polished and 'professional', and fans of the progressive genre started to dislike their output. In 1980 APP returned to their symphonic roots with 'The Turn of a Friendly Card', which is one of their best albums.

The sound of the band is still very polished and controlled, but the song-writing is very good on this album. The debut and I Robot were both good symphonic albums with some amazing songs, which made them attractive.

May be A Price to Pay is a very serious opener with a nice symphonic intro theme. The song has impact because of it's urgent atmosphere, it get's my attention. Games People Play is based on a sensitizers loop and has some catchy song aspects. Time is a very slow but beautiful ballad. Great production. I Don't Wanna Go Home is another poppy symphonic track.

On side two there are some changes. The Gold Bug is still a recognizable APP instrumental with steady rhythms and lots of melodic parts. The main attraction on this album is however 'The Turn of A Friendly Card'-suite. This epic track about the gamblin' man is one of the most melodic and inventive tracks APP ever played. There are lot's of nice piano-parts, catchy themes, some instrumental parts and a great comeback of the opening theme with an orchestra. The emotional development and the progress in the lyrics make this a very strong track.

Conclusion. A good album, but nothing too special here. The title-track is recommended and I would also like to point at Maybe A Price to Pay as one of APP's better songs. For fans of crossover-prog or easy-listen symphonic rock this might be a very good addition, whilst for others this might be a bit to polished and 'normal'. Three stars.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The Alan Parsons Project were undeniably a talented bunch, but the fact is that they settled into their formula really rather too comfortably by the time this one came out. The Turn of a Friendly Card is a prog-by-numbers concept album about gambling which includes the predictable epic multi-part track, the predictable gentle ballads and more dynamic, rockier pieces (which never rock particularly hard - very staid and restrained band, the Project) and the usual impeccable production from Parsons himself.

What it comes perilously close to lacking is a soul. Every note, every lyric, every instrument is present and presented the way it is in accordance with the Project's formula, and every song is the way it is because that's the way it is expected to be. If you don't like the Project's highly-polished approach, it will come off as a third-generation photocopy of I Robot or Tales of Mystery and Imagination, thrown together in a formulaic fashion.

For my part, I've warmed to it more recently; those Andrew Powell orchestral arrangements melded with tasteful synthesiser accompaniment are magnificently done, and recent reissues have really helped to showcase what an impeccably produced disc this is. It's still kind of a shame that there's nothing on here with the wild abandon of, say, The Tell-Tale Heart on Tales of Mystery and Imagination - you'd think an album about gambling and hard living could do with that - but what's here is very, very pretty. (Nothing Left To Lose, in particular, comes as close as the Project ever did to sounding like late-1970s Camel.)

Review by stefro
3 stars The fifth project album finds the core duo of producer Alan Parsons and writer/vocalist Eric Wolfson conjuring up yet another ambitious concept album, the glamorous nature of gambling and the highs and lows that accompany this most unpredictable of pursuits the subject matter this time round. Made in 1980, the formula that had worked so well on the likes of 'Tales Of Mystery & Imagination', 'I Robot' and 'Pyramid'(we'll just forget about 'Eve') is, for the most, employed again, though by now the cute pop edges that adorned the technically-proficient progressive rock of earlier efforts becomes the real meat making up the music, with more emphasis on catchy melodies, far less instrumental noodling, and much more reliance on the carefully-wrought ballads the group would eventually become famous for. That's not to say that 'Turn Of A Friendly Card' is a lesser album as result; far from it. Backed once again by most of the formerly produced-by-Parsons Scottish rock group Pilot, this is another helping of slickly- produced pop-prog complete with top-tapping rhythms and expert production values, the album sounding as good as anything conjured up by any of the era's big-budget big-beasts thanks to the collective craftsmanship brought to the table by Parsons, Wolfson and their cohort of bit- part players. Highlights include the wonderfully-timed electric boogie of the Wolfson-penned chart hit 'Games People Play', the jangly guitar pop nugget 'I Don't Wanna Go Home' and the atmospheric slow-burner 'The Gold Bug' - all tracks with a strong commercial flavour - though sadly the five-part title-track that closes the album never really catches fire, lacking the simple- but-effective join-the-dots pop-style that gives the rest of the album it's drive. Despite the outfits art-rock credentials, however, hardcore progressive rock fans may find it all a bit soft and simple, yet there is no denying the quality of the actual craftsmanship on show. Although not as immediate or consistent as the hugely-popular follow-up piece 'Eye In The Sky', 'Turn Of A Friendly Card' is a great example of the projects clever fusing of disparate musical elements within a broad and appealing commercial spectrum. Those with fairly undemanding ears or a penchant for the poppier side of things should feel right at home. Formulaic then, but fun all the same. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Turn of a Friendly Card is generally recognized by many as one of the strongest efforts in the Project's career and a return to the form after the "experimental" mediocrity of the previous album.

I agree that the melodies are stronger than those off Eve, with even straightforward pop tracks like "Games People Play", "Snake Eyes" and "I Don't Wanna Go Home" being catchy enough to persuade a prog fan such as myself. The light medieval feel in the second half of the record is particularly successful and the instrumental "The Ace of Swords" is its pinnacle (along with the two parts of the title track).

Having said that, I have to admit this work is not comparable to the wonderful "I Robot". There is no memorable number except for "The Gold Bug", whose groove and sax succeed to fully satisfy my ears.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "The Turn of a Friendly Card" is famous due to the massive single Games People Play, which is the first time I had even heard of the band. The video clip played often on rock music shows during the 80s and is memorable along with the tune itself. It has a killer hook and infectious chorus never forgotten over all these years by this reviewer. After the first two great opening tracks the album returns to the pop AOR sound with I Don't Wanna Go Home. The keyboard funk is similar to I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You and is almost a trademark sound from APP at this stage.

Next up on The Gold Bug we have a whistling intro and a finger snapper rhythm. The funk is evident with the fast keyboard work and it boasts a fine brass sax sound. Of particular interest to me are the instrumentals on APP albums that are usually a highlight for me over all the ballads and poppy catchy songs. The Gold Bug is yet another great instrumental, and has some vocal intonations but primarily is dominated by keys and guitars. A definitive highlight, this track is more like the type of sound I like from APP, that was absent on the disappointing "Eve".

The Turn of a Friendly Card Part One is familiar to me as I had heard it on "The Definitive Collection" and part 2 is in a similar vein. I like the full blown orchestral treatment especially in the final coda that fades out. The rest of side 2 blurs into the background and is really radio friendly beyond what my ears can stand. A shame really as the band are potentially innovative and the musicianship is always high quality. But this is really easy listening AOR music, with no threat of prog at all, and as a result quite forgettable and not something I would bother to return to, unlike the dynamic first 3 APP albums.

Review by lazland
3 stars The Turn of a Friendly Card, a loose sort of concept about gambling, was released in 1980, sold well in America, and just about dented the top 40 chart in the UK. It was the follow up to Eve, an album not, it is fair to say, universally critically appreciated.

This is, really, an album of two sides, one appreciably better than the other.

The first side is basically a collection of well crafted, well performed, and well sung pop rock songs, of which the easy highlight is Time, with lovely vocals by the wonderful Eric Woolfson, which bears a passing resemblance to Floyd instrumentally, although only passing. Of the remainder, veteran Lenny Zakatek sings on two pleasant enough tracks, one of which, Games People Play, was a hit single, whilst Dave Terry, formerly of Elmer Gantry and the subject of a minor legal scandal when trying to tour as a bootleg Fleetwood Mac, pops up on the pleasant opener May Be A Price To Pay. Basically, pleasant enough pop rock, without being remotely essential.

This changes somewhat with side two. Opener, The Gold Bug is a clever instrumental, with very nice jazzy sax supporting.

The main tour de force, however, is the title track, presented here as an epic track lasting over sixteen minutes, but is, in reality, five distinct pieces of music welded (lovingly) into a single opus. It works on every level. The third movement, The Ace of Swords, is a magnificent synth led instrumental that fairly races along, whilst avoiding the disco led beats of some of the first side work. The suite also greatly benefits from the services of the two finest APP vocalists, Woolfson on the achingly beautiful Nothing Left To Lose, and, for the remainder, the wonderful Chris Rainbow, whose voice I fell in love with when I first heard APP all those years ago. This suite has all that was great about this project; wonderfully lush orchestration, thoughtful and intelligent lyrics, sung with genuine passion and feeling, and some wonderful rock passages, perhaps best seen here with Ian Bairnson's passionate guitar burst at the close of the fourth movement. The real highlight, though, are those vocals. They are to die for.

This is a difficult album to rate. It was, by no means, the worst that APP released, but neither was it the finest. The first side was really only okay, fun to visit every couple of years, or so. Side two, though; that was something really rather special, so three stars for this, a very worthy addition to the canon, and worth exploring if you enjoy melodic prog from one of the finest exponents of such music.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars First, I have to say that in the late seventies (when I first listened to this band) I initially didn't like their music. But with the passing of time my views about their music changed. Maybe one of the things that I didn't like then was that this band didn't seem to me to be a 'real' band as it was really the project of two persons who (as I didn't know then) were not very known in the musical field. I was wrong. It was until I discovered Alan Parson's name as recording engineer in the credits of PINK FLOYD'S 'The Dark Side of the Moon' album from 1973 that I really knew then that he really was an important person in the music industry, with that album having a very good recording and mixing. Later, I also realized that he also has worked with a lot of very good musicians like THE BEATLES (in their 'Abbey Road' and 'Let It Be' albums), PAUL McCARTNEY, etc. Eric Woolfoson, the other main partner in this musical project, maybe was not very known in the music industry then, but he proved to be a very good musician and songwriter with THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT. The band's line-up was not very clear, apart from Parsons and Woolfson, but they had a very good team of musicians who very often appeared in their albums: Andrew Powell (orchestrations), Ian Bairnson (guitars), David Paton (bass and occasional lead singer), Stuart Elliott (drums and percussion), Chris Rainbow and Lenny Zakatek (lead vocals), etc. They also had some other guest lead singers and musicians in their albums. Maybe Eric Woolfson was the main composer of the songs (despite the joint credit 'Wollfson-Parsons' in the credits) and Parson's role was more of a producer and arranger, apart of playing some instruments in their albums. But the team worked very well until 1990, when they decided to split the band due to musical differences. Another main contributor was Andrew Powell with his orchestrations. Without him maybe this project could not have been as good as it was.

This album is another conceptual album from this band. This time the concept is about gambling and luck. Musically, the album is very Progressive, with some influences from Classical music, but this band also had some commercial music influences from Pop and Disco music (sounding a bit like ELO in some places, like in 'May Be a Price to Pay' and 'Games People Play'), some Funky music influences ('I Don't Wanna Go Home'). Maybe it was one of the things that some people like me didn't like from this band then. But this mixture of styles also made their music to be very accessible, and with the passing of time I finally realized that after all it was a good combination of musical styles. 'The Gold Bug' is an instrumental piece of music with maybe some New Age music influences and very good vocals from Chris Rainbow. 'Time' is a very good song, maybe my favorite from them, with very good orchestral arrangements and very good vocals arrangements, with Woolfson singing lead vocals, Parsons singing a bit of backing vocals, and with Rainbow singing backing vocals. The main musical piece in this album is the title track, which is divided in five parts. This is maybe the most Progressive part of this album, with the use of harpsichord and Classical music influenced orchestral arrangements.

'Time' and 'Games People Play' were played a lot in the radio in my country (and still are played in some oldies FM Radio stations in my city). 'Time' was the song that changed my views about this band, and I started to really like their music.

The recording and mixing of this album is very good. The overall sound in this and other of Parsons's production jobs is very clear. Of course, all the musicians are very good, and this album is very good. As a team, THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT was a very good band.

Review by patrickq
3 stars Alan Parsons Project albums are concept albums, although the concepts are always diffuse enough to accommodate hit singles. In this case, that's a good thing, since The Turn of a Friendly Card includes not only the catchy "Games People Play," but the all-time classic "Time."

The album's theme is explained on as follows: "Inspired by the theatricality of casino gambling as exemplified in Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. The concept of 'risk' at the gambling tables has obvious parallels to the risks we take in life." A substantial mental-gymnastics routine is required to fit the songs to each other; I wonder if anyone reading the song lyrics would guess the album theme.

But Alan Parsons Project albums are really more about the sound than the words or the concept, and this is the area in which The Turn of a Friendly Card excels. Parsons himself is perhaps the most celebrated audio engineer in rock history, untangling tape on on Abbey Road, producing The Year of the Cat, and, most famously, engineering the recording of The Dark Side of the Moon. As usual, on The Turn of a Friendly Card Parsons all but ensures a good-sounding album just by surrounding himself with talent and doing his thing behind the mixing board. The bonus is his collaboration with Eric Woolfson, who's responsible for half of the composition and production, as well as playing most of the keyboards. I'll also point out the great guitar work of Ian Bairnson, especially the fantastic guitar solo on "Games People Play."

I've always liked "The Ace of Swords," one the album's instrumental cuts. The opening harpsichord part gives the intro a Renaissance feel, which gives way to the TV-sports vibe of its the two main sections, the second of which (beginning at 1:30) employs a very stereotypical Alan-Parsons-Project sound. Andrew Powell's orchestral arrangements are impressive throughout, but especially in the final minute. The other instrumental, "the Gold Bug," isn't as invaluable as its name implies; it sounds like an outtake with the vocals removed. Nonetheless it was a chart hit in Austria and Germany, while "Ace of Swords" was released only as the b-side of "Games People Play."

"May Be a Price to Pay" is another sleeper, for some reason released as an a-side only in France (as a 3:25 edit), and as the b-side of "The Turn of a Friendly Card" in several countries. A quintessential APP tune, "May Be a Price to Pay" is the only song sung by Dave Terry (a/k/a "Elmer Gantry") - - maybe it wasn't released because of potential consumer confusion. As it is, the two hit singles (in the US and Canada) were already sung by two very different singers, and Terry's voice is unlike either Lenny Zakatek, who sings "Games People Play," or Woolfson, who sings "Time." A third single, "Snake Eyes" was a minor U.S. hit; Chris Rainbow's vocal style on this one is somewhat similar to Zakatek's, although given its bouncy piano undercarriage, it must've been mistaken more than once for a Supertramp song.

Musically, the album holds together well, with enough variation in mood, instrumentation, and tempo - - but not too much. The song which strays the most from the formula is "Time," but who could blame the group for including it on The Turn of a Friendly Card, even it was a bit of an outlier? In my book, "Time" is easily the best Alan Parsons Project song I've heard. Musically, it's quite complex, though it flows so smoothly that I didn't notice for years. And given how good Woolfson sounds singing it, it's a wonder that he hadn't been the lead singer of any song from any of the group's prior albums. Nor is it surprising that the three biggest Alan Parsons Project hits ("Time," "Eye in the Sky" (1982) and "Don't Answer Me" (1984)) were all sung by Woolfson.

Beyond the first three songs and "The Ace of Swords," The Turn of a Friendly Card is solid, though nothing terribly special. But it's a three-star album on the strength of Side One, especially "Time."


P.S. The 2008 Expanded Edition of The Turn of a Friendly Card has very good sound, and the bonus tracks are interesting, even if they don't add too much to the canonical album.

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4 stars Considering the more progressive beginnings of Alan Parsons, the eighties sound of this album does not detract from the fact that it is a jewel that is not very well known but quite accessible to any audience. The Turn of a Friendly Card, fifth album by The Alan Parsons Project, is a concept album a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2601210) | Posted by Maurus9 | Sunday, October 10, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "The turn of a friendly card" was a step forward after a misfit with "Eve". Not only is this one of the best APP albums but is belongs to the highlight of any art-pop music catalogue between 76-82. The tracks are well composed, structured and executed. The first poppy track "May be a price to pa ... (read more)

Report this review (#2119074) | Posted by sgtpepper | Thursday, January 17, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It seems that a fair number of folks here believe that APP's first three albums (Tales of Mystery and Imagination, I, Robot and Pyramid) are the band's best three, probably in declining order of quality. It would also seem that a fair number of people feel that of all material following those thr ... (read more)

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4 stars Alan Parsons Project impressed me with their first studio record "Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe" but then I haven't appreciated their later efforts as much until I now have listened through their fifth album "The Turn of A Friendly Card" some times. I was released 1980 and is ... (read more)

Report this review (#1279468) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Friday, September 19, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 3.5 STARS Good album from Alan Parsons. Here we have find several instrumental pieces, and a long suite, something that the band will not repeat in the future. The opening track is a good one, with a great intro, in the "old" Parsons format. Games people play is the most known number, and i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1081559) | Posted by genbanks | Monday, November 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The nearly three minutes of The Ace of Swords is pure magic. Symphony played with a delicacy unmatched. Trademark of Alan Parsons and company. The almost pop side of Games People Play or I Do not Wanna Go Home, among other sections, should not detract from the quality of this work. Everything ... (read more)

Report this review (#930117) | Posted by sinslice | Thursday, March 14, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars TTOFC is definitely the best, and also the last good album of APP for me. I'm a real lover of I Robot, Pyramid and Eve (Poe : not taht much) but The Turn... has some so incredible songs... There is no flaws in this record. The intro of "Maybe..." is just amazing, and the electronic phrase + viol ... (read more)

Report this review (#825014) | Posted by renaudbb | Thursday, September 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Along with Tales of Mystery and Imagination, The Turn of a Friendly Card stands as one of the Alan Parsons Project's most unique albums. For one, they eschewed the usually great but obligitory introductory instrumental in favor of an upbeat rock song in "May Be a Price to Pay" that introduces ... (read more)

Report this review (#547881) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Monday, October 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The game never ends when your whole life depends on the Turn of a friendly card... The Alan Parsons Project's logical continuation of I Robot (ignoring the solid but somewhat unimpressive Pyramid and Eve). The songs are catchy, and progressive. The suite at the end is most certainly a stand out ... (read more)

Report this review (#210841) | Posted by Alitare | Thursday, April 9, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I hardly give an album the score of 4 stars, but I think this is the album from APP that one should listen to first if they wanted to get to know the band. I myself was really surprised, having thought of checking this band out for a long time, this album is very good. It's a very melodic and beauti ... (read more)

Report this review (#176901) | Posted by Passionist | Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album seems excellent to me. Good, catchy and easy-listening songs, with a final long masterpiece. The production is perfect. I'd say that the album itself is perfect and give it five stars. But... I'm writing in progarchives. And I'm afraid that this album is not prog rock. It's too simple ... (read more)

Report this review (#174399) | Posted by Blackdog | Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Probably APP's second best work ever, with the incredible The Gold Bug, the very good songs Games People Play and Maybe A Price To Pay, and the long, very long, but beautiful The Turn Of A Friendly Card. At a time, when I was younger, I loved this abum at a point you can't imagine. Now, I contin ... (read more)

Report this review (#164155) | Posted by Zardoz | Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album fits in at number two for me in the Project's catalogue..... Which means I like it a lot.... The only song that I really don't like is 'Time' which is not really a bad song.....but it was overplayed on the radio and it moves really slowly. I very much enjoy the whole 16 minute epic ... (read more)

Report this review (#163937) | Posted by digdug | Friday, March 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars APP's fifth album has about the same amount of entertainment value for me as "I, Robot." Once again, this is a good, solid album: not mind-blowing nor poor in quality, ideas, or execution/presentation. Every track on here (save three) has the "pretty good" feel to it, and it's "Turn of a Friendly ... (read more)

Report this review (#130023) | Posted by ClassicRocker | Monday, July 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is where I see The Project falling off anything that should be considered prog. Tales was their deepest album but as time went on they evolved and became more and more radio friendly that would hit it's worst point at Stereotomy. This album still has good pieces if you are a fan of roc ... (read more)

Report this review (#126332) | Posted by mhzinski | Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I grew up with Alan Parson and still find the music fun to listen to. Turn of a friendly card is a nice album with songs that does not demand much of the listener. Personally I would not rank this as progressive. It's simply nicely executed rock-pop from the early 80's. I take it out perhaps 1 ... (read more)

Report this review (#89077) | Posted by GrimReaper | Wednesday, September 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a thoroughly enjoyable album. If you liked the Moody Blues 'Days of Future Passed', than you'll love the BIG orchestration in this one. There's not a dud track on the album. It's very commercial, a pop album (not progressive). Different to anything he did before or after, but for quality ... (read more)

Report this review (#53751) | Posted by | Saturday, October 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars If you listen the last track you cannot give less than 3 stars, divided in 5 or 6 parts, an excelent song with nice orchestra, snake eyes is pretty cool...First two songs of the record are good and pleasant songs, what i dont like in this album is the sticky ballad Time and the boring dated T ... (read more)

Report this review (#38517) | Posted by Rafael In Rio | Monday, July 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ok there's an 80's sound in the whole album that i hate. But the songs are great.Time is one of my favourite alan parsons songs.Games people play is an 80's hit. The turn of a friendly card is involving 4 different songs which are placed in the whole song in a very smart way.The result is a ve ... (read more)

Report this review (#5617) | Posted by | Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Little by little APP were losing the strenght of previous albums, but this release is something interesting and I recommend not to miss this album. Great performance, I really like every track of the album, though they were sounding more and more commercial. But we have excellent songs like Ga ... (read more)

Report this review (#5615) | Posted by Carlos | Saturday, September 4, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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