The Alan Parsons Project

What do vocalists Arthur Brown, Gary Brooker, Colin Blunstone, Alan Clarke and Steve Harley have in common? Answer: they have all done guest vocals for The Alan Parsons Project.

When The Project were making albums, you will not have heard them unless you had a cool friend or traveled abroad, because for some reason the band was totally ignored in the UK. Indeed, my first hearing of TAPP was in a small cafe in Minorca of all places. They played the entire Pyramid album and I went out and bought it (had to order it, actually)on my return. It's a complete, atmospheric album that has a theme (not a concept). It does however, take you on a sonic journey with a beginning, middle and end, and in my opinion is pretty darn flawless.

When you consider that Parsons worked as an engineer on The Beatles Abbey Road and Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon it is hardly surprising that the production values are very high.

Incidentally, one of Mrs Weasel's all-time favourite tracks is Don't Answer Me, (Ammonia Avenue) a brilliant re-creation of Spector's Wall of Sound, complete with castanets and echo chamber. (I added this as an afterthought to the post, but it is rather spiffing.)

The only criticism I have of their entire output is that there is some depth missing and it can be emotionally cold. There are no undiscovered layers there for the serious listener. The sound is eclectic, as evidenced by the lovingly re-created Spector sound on the above track. Elsewhere there are hints of ELO and Jean Michel Jarre.
The Alan Parsons Project is what it was intended to be: beautifully crafted contemporary music, played well, sung by some of the best in the business. I really do not understand why there has been a virtual ban on the band and their songs in the UK. If anybody has heard one on British radio I would be surprised to hear it. In the meantime, here is a track from their 1982 album Eye in the Sky entitled: Old and Wise, with vocals by Parsons stalwart, Colin Blunstone.

UPDATE: Since this post has become poplular, I shall make an effort to update it. I am in discussions with certain people to do an interview with one of the principals about the making of Pyramid and other albums. Watch this space.

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Richard said...

Thanks for posting this. I had never ever heard of these guys before. I can see the influences you mention, but for me it is more like Pink Floyd in their Atom Heart Mother era.

Nice stuff.

Spartan said...

Seem to remember Bob Harris on his R2 late Sat night show playing him but that was a long time ago now.

Recently, l simply wouldn't know as l am my own DJ of sorts now (make up my own playlists, not radio).

l find it hard to listen to all my music library as the damn thing keeps growing! :)

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Spartan, that is my problem too. We need to come up with a better way of organising our tunes! All I can do at the moment is let the hard drive decide what to play.