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Alan Parsons - The Very Best of Live CD (album) cover


Alan Parsons


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3.09 | 31 ratings

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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Alan Parsons plays Alan Parsons Project

Given that the Alan Parson's Project was very much a studio project, it was somewhat surprising then they took to the road to perform live. With the diversity of performers, not only between one album and another but within their albums, inevitably the line up here is considerably pared back, consisting of Parsons on keyboards and occasional rhythm guitar with long(est) time APP contributor Ian Bairnson, vocalists Gary Howard, and Chris Thompson plus a conventional band set up.

The important thing to note here is the absence of Eric Woolfson. Since he did not participate in the 1994 European Tour from which these recordings are taken, this is not the Alan Parsons Project but simply Alan Parsons. Confusingly however, all the live tracks are taken from APP albums!

The subtitle of the album is "The very best of live", and there is certainly no doubt that the tracks selected here are among the most popular and accessible recorded by APP. From the opening "Sirius/Eye in the sky", we are presented with a succession of familiar numbers mixing up-tempo pop favourites ("Psychobable", "Don't answer me") with emotive ballads ("Limelight", "Old and wise", "Time"). The song selection covers a wide range of APP albums, starting with "The raven" from their debut "Tales of mystery and imagination" with "Eye in the sky" being particularly favoured. Albums such as "I robot" and "Pyramid" are however overlooked completely.

The reduction in lead vocalists to two actually leads to a more cohesive feel, although I do have to admit that my admiration for the talents of Chris Thompson leaving me wishing he had sung every track. His performance on "Limelight" is nothing short of sensational. That said, Gary Howard's rendition of "Time" would be hard for anyone to match, let alone exceed. Other highlights include a wonderful sax solo by Richard Cottle on "Old and wise".

The US version, which came out some years after the UK release, has three additional studio tracks which have not previously featured on AP/APP albums. The upbeat "When" written by Ian Bairnson, features Chris Thomson on vocals, resulting in something which sounds rather like a Manfred Mann's Earth Band outtake. Drummer Stuart Elliott provides a rare lead vocal for "Take the money and run", a song he co-wrote with keyboard player Andrew Powell. This sounds much more like an AP/APP song, with familiar keyboard motifs supporting a strong melody and relaxed beat.

The final track is a cover of "You're the voice", a song which provided a huge hit single for John Farnham. It is a touch ironic to describe this as a cover, as it was actually co-written for Farnham by Chris Thompson, who provides the lead vocal here. This rendition brings out the full anthemic quality of the song.

In all, not really an album for the inquisitive, there are plenty of compilations of studio tracks which give a decent overview of the Alan Parsons Project. Fans though will be impressed with the quality of these live versions, and pleased to get hold of three additional studio tracks.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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