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The Alan Parsons Project - Tales Of Mystery And Imagination CD (album) cover


The Alan Parsons Project


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 665 ratings

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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.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 5/5 |


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