The mid 1970's was a musical era awash in the ashes of the late 60's
and early 70's progressive rock movement. The New Wave from the
American coasts and England had yet to appear and the new
generation of mainstream artists were still in their infancy, if
together at all. The musical euphoria and innovation which was so
prevalent just a few years earlier had gotten a bit stagnant... but
there were exceptions. A handful of new as well as
veteran artists managed to forge ahead with continuing high standards
of musicianship and expression. Clearly, among those exceptions was
the Alan Parsons Project with wide screen, cinematic music that would
"float like a butterfly and sting like a bee".
However, unlike many artists who attempt cinematic music, the Alan Parsons
Project was able to combine rich orchestral textures with a sense of
economy. The key has always been in the Project's ability to deliver
a sense of balance. Complex arrangements were fitted to accessible
melodies... Their musicianship has the highest standards, yet the
frequently boring indulgences common to progressive artists were absent
from the Project's music, and the overall feel of the songs was
conducive to headphone listening as well as background listening.
Perhaps the greatest example of balance is in the founding members
was so blown away by hearing the Beatles'
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album in 1967 that he applied
for and successfully landed a job at the famous Abbey Road Studios in
worked with the Beatles on the "Abbey Road" album
and continued his relationship with Paul McCartney, recording "Wild
Life" and "Red Rose Speedway". He was also nominated for a Grammy
for recording Pink Floyd's classic "Dark Side of the Moon".
Alan Parsons met
who was soon to function as
Alan Parsons' manager and
shortly thereafter as his musical partner.
Thus, the Project was born.
Woolfson has a lower profile than
Parsons, his contributions
as a song writer and conceptual collaborator have been critical to
the Project's success through the years.
aren't busy dreaming up ideas for their
next release, or actually developing a piece,
Woolfson might be
found discussing world politics at his favourite English
is coming to terms with some new piece of
technology. It's the balance of personalities, as well as the
balance of musical elements, as with so many great artists, that
make it happen.
The Project has always been committed to its own musical concepts
rather than trend and what may be fashionable at the time. At
times their music has flown in the face of the mainstream and through
it all, album after album, they have managed to please their fans,
regardless of hit singles or marketing gimmicks. Since the Project
has never toured, it seems refreshing to hear music that is
based purely on sound and song rather than an image or an obsession
with the latests novelty. They have managed to power themselves through
the lat 70's stadium rock era, the early 80's Disco sound, and the
present Euro-synthesiser/drum machine overkill.
Much of their magic has to be credited to their ability to be flexible
musically without sacrificing their inherent sound. They have been
funky on tracks like
"Wouldn't Want To Be Like You",
straight ahead on
"Games People Play",
and dreamy in an almost Technicolor way with
Again, the balance of
pop sensibility with
trend setting production allows their music to
stretch out, use unusual instrumentation and maintain accessibility.
Using regular musicians, yet not having the restrictions
of certain people locked in certain functions, the Alan Parsons Project
was among the pioneers of the concept of interchangeable band
members, as previously found only in solo or orchestral situations.
The Project's first album was
"Tales of Mystery and Imagination"
recorded over a two year period. It met with good, though not overwhelming,
public response. In 1977 the Project switched labels and began
a new phase with a series of concept albums. The
"I Robot" album
was a view of tomorrow through the eyes of today. Both ethereal and
was a huge success.
In June 1978 a look at yesterday through the eyes of today was evident
By this point the Project had established a
firm base of fans in North America, continental Europe and Australia.
album followed in August of 1979, on the subject of women.
Their success continued with the release of
"Turn Of A Friendly Card"
in October 1980, an album about the subconscious versus the power of
choice. As obscure as the theme may seem on the surface, the album
stayed high on the charts for over a year and yielded two hit
"Games People Play".
After a brief "rest", the Project resumed with
"Eye in the Sky", a
1984-ish look at the future. The title track
"Eye In The Sky"
continued their string of widely played singles, although their
intent was essentially to continue their conceptual approach rather
than compromise for the sole benefit of commercial single success.
Some artists with new and innovative ideas run out of creative
fuel after a time, but the Project has continued to evolve and to
take their own music higher and further. While this compilation
clearly documents the evolution of the Alan Parsons Project, there are
already rumours emanating from their "home" studio at Abbey Road of
another adventurous Project album, possibly with video connections,
a medium in which Parsons and Woolfson have great interest.
But whatever the results, we're guaranteed another state of the
art experience that will keep the spirit of progressive music alive.
Lee Abrams, September 21 1983
A limited circulation of an in-depth book of The Alan Parsons Project
is in preparation and will be published in 1984. If you wish to
receive advance information, please send your name and address to
The Alan Parsons Project, c/o PO Box 738, New York, N.Y. 10101