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The Alan Parsons Project - The Turn Of A Friendly Card CD (album) cover

THE TURN OF A FRIENDLY CARD

The Alan Parsons Project

 

Crossover Prog

3.50 | 401 ratings

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Mr. Gone
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 three, The Turn of a Friendly Card is likely their best work. And I would actually largely agree with all these assessments. Certainly, of all the material they've put out since those "big three", this is the one I've gone back to the most.

What does a huge amount of this for me is the album's opening track, "May Be a Price to Pay". This is the first Project album not to open with an instrumental; however, the extended intro in this song might be interpreted as something of a nod to that idea. And it's quite cool. A bit disco-y in spots with its synth strings and funky bassline, but I like it. Add in Elmer Gantry's "angry Gary Brooker" vocals and a rather savage recurring arpeggio, and it's a very powerful, singable track. True prog? Not really. But just proggy enough.

The next two songs are the album's biggest hits. "Games People Play" is a fairly decent track sung by Lenny Zakatek, but I've heard it a bit much and it's not memorable enough to hold up. "Time" is Eric Woolfson's first foray into lead vocals. I've seen others here compare it to Pink Floyd's "Us and Them", and I would agree. It's a very pretty track, and on that basis remains enjoyable if a bit slight.

"I Don't Wanna Go Home" - meh, not all that memorable. Not terrible, but not something I consider essential.

Side two opens with "The Gold Bug", one of those bubbly instrumentals the band seems to have at least one of on most albums. Enjoyable and a nice lead-in to the epic title track.

"The Turn of a Friendly Card" is broken into five parts. The opening "Part 1" is a fairly orchestral number sung by Chris Rainbow. It's quite lovely and sets a good tone. "Snake Eyes" is a somewhat funky bit also sung by Rainbow. It harkens back a bit in sound to "I Don't Wanna Go Home", but it's better-written and executed. "The Ace of Swords" is an orchestral instrumental which starts off with a medieval feels but segues into something with almost a rock opera feel. It's quite catchy and enjoyable. "Nothing Left to Lose" is another Woolfson vocal (Rainbow in the background). Mostly slow and gentle but almost Beach Boys-ish in a way. Nice but not essential. Then - "Part 2", which returns to the theme of "Part 1" while embellishing it nicely, particularly in the stunning outro.

Is this a perfect album? Far from it. It's not even particularly progressive. It's more pop with orchestral overtones. But it's enjoyable, often catchy and holds your attention. And in my mind it is their best material beyond the "big three". Four stars.

Mr. Gone | 4/5 |

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