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The Alan Parsons Project - The Best of Alan Parsons Project CD (album) cover


The Alan Parsons Project


Crossover Prog

2.56 | 46 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Considering that this studio group did their "best" progressive work on their first project and then proceeded bit by bit and song by song to slip farther into the mainstream as a literal hit machine then this, indeed, can be considered their best stuff (I reckon). Following their promising, prog-laden debut, most of their subsequent albums would have a featured tune earmarked for radio and the rest of the material would consist of tracks that more or less imitated whatever trend was "happening" when they recorded the LP and the bulk of those cuts would be quite lame. What I'm saying is if you want prog then procure a copy of "Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe," but if you want a compilation of the greatest hits from the catalogue of compositions that followed then here ya go!

While "I Wouldn't Want to be Like You" isn't a horrible song in theory, it is pure disco from beginning to end and that inane, monotonous beat brings back too many awful memories of that excruciating era for me to handle. "Eye in the Sky" has a pleasant aura about it but it also tends to put me to sleep from lack of excitement in any way, shape or form. The most interesting tune on this whole thing is the energetic "Games People Play" with its sequenced synthesizer, spacey middle section and the exquisite Stratocaster guitar tone and performance on the lead break. A very good song but, unfortunately, it's the exception rather than the rule. "Time" is an example of their tendency to come off as Pink Floyd Lite in that the number has certain elements of that great band's sound but none of the adventurous spirit or depth of character. It should be played at every high school senior prom for its sappy, bittersweet "farewell" theme.

"Pyromania" is one of those baffling "greatest hits" inclusions because I've never heard the tune before in my life. It garnered absolutely no airplay in my region of the planet and, with its ridiculous "new wave" atmosphere, it's no wonder. It's putrid. "You Don't Believe" is another cut that's new to my ears but it's not as bad and at least sports some decent keyboards. It still falls short of being memorable. The poppy, upbeat instrumental "Lucifer" still mystifies me because it's anything but menacing. I keep trying to imagine the Prince of Darkness doing his best John Travolta moves on a multi-colored dance floor. "Psychobabble" has all the markings of being heavily influenced by the MTV virus of the 80s that reduced most pop music to its lowest common denominator. Yark.

"Damned if I Do" has the trademark Project sound but that wasn't necessarily a good thing by the time this song came out. The string arrangement is straight out of disco land and is as far from prog as you can get. Let's just say that Donna Summer could have covered this one. A cathedral organ opens the first verse of "Don't Let it Show" and that's refreshing for a while but then the drums come rumbling in and the tune becomes a mushy Barry Manilow mimic. Ugh. "Can't Take it With You" has a disco-ish spaghetti western intro complete with faux whistle and continues their habit of writing an entire song around a catchphrase. That's not how classics are born. "Old and Wise" is an okay track but it's too little too late and I'm pretty sure I'll always give up on this CD long before I get to this song.

I would give this the dreaded lone star but it does have a few redeeming qualities that lift it ever so gently out of the cellar. First of all, it sounds good (as you would expect from such a gifted engineer). Secondly, the guitar work is admirable and saves many of these tunes from slow, certain death. Thirdly, I love this cover! Take it from me, though, there's hardly a trace of progressive rock to be found here so don't buy this unless you're planning a disco dance party but don't want to debase yourself by playing KC & the Sunshine Band records. Get down. Get funky. 1.6 stars.

Chicapah | 2/5 |


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