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Progressive Rock - Released September 22, 2008 | Arista - Legacy

One of the most interesting aspects about the Alan Parsons Project is the band's ability to forge a main theme with each of its songs, while at the same time sounding extremely sharp and polished. Much of this formula is used in Ammonia Avenue, only this time the songs rise above Parsons' overall message due to the sheer beauty of the lyrics partnered with the luster of the instruments. The album touches upon how the lines of communication between people are diminishing, and how we as a society grow more spiritually isolated and antisocial. But aside from the philosophical concepts prevalent in the lyrics, it is the music on this album that comes to the forefront. The enchanting saxophone of Mel Collins on "Don't Answer Me" adds to its lonely atmosphere, while the briskness of Eric Woolfson's wording throughout "Prime Time" makes it one of the Project's best singles. On "You Don't Believe," the seriousness of the lyrics works well with the song's energetic pace. The subtlety of the ballad comes to life on the elegant "Since the Last Goodbye," which focuses on a failed attempt at a relationship. With Ammonia Avenue, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole product, which can't be said for all of the Alan Parsons Project's albums. Vocalists Eric Woolfson, Chris Rainbow, Lenny Zakatek, and Colin Blunstone equally shine, placing their talents above and beyond the album's main idea. ~ Mike DeGagne
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Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | Mercury

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Pop/Rock - Released February 1, 2013 | Sony Music Entertainment

Unlike most of the releases in the Original Album Classics series, this set, released in the U.K., skips around a bit within the artist's discography. This features the third, fourth, fifth, ninth, and tenth albums by the Alan Parsons Project: Pyramid (1978), Eve (1979), The Turn of a Friendly Card (1980), Stereotomy (1985), and Gaudi (1987). The discs are in individual jewel cases that are housed in a basic, unattractive cardboard sleeve. For those who have Parsons' biggest albums -- such as I Robot and Eye in the Sky -- this is an ideal way to snap up a significant portion of the catalog at the price of roughly two full-price albums. ~ Andy Kellman
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Progressive Rock - Released July 11, 2011 | Arista - Legacy

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Eve

Progressive Rock - Released September 22, 2008 | Arista - Legacy

For the most part, 1979's Eve is somewhat overlooked as being one of the Alan Parsons Project's finest work, when in fact it involves some of this group's most intricate songs. The album's concept deals with the female's overpowering effect on man. Each song touches on her ability to dissect the male ego, especially through sexual means, originating with Eve's tempting Adam in the beginning of time. Not only does this idea gain strength as the album progresses, but a musical battle of the sexes begins to arise through each song. The gorgeous "You Won't Be There" spotlights man's insecurity. Sung by Dave Townsend, its melodramatic feel sets a perfect tone. The classically enhanced "Winding Me Up" follows suit, based on a woman's ability to dominate her mate and opening up with sound of a wind-up doll being cranked. Other gems include the bitter but forceful "Damned If I Do" sung by Lenny Zakatek, and the dominating fury of "Lucifer," a powerful instrumental. Even the loutish "You Lie Down with Dogs" bears wit with its gender inclined mud-slinging. The female vocalists, Lesley Duncan and Clare Torry do a splendid job of representing the females point of view throughout the album. Not only does Eve solidify its main idea, but the songs are highly entertaining with catchy rhythms and intelligent lyrics. Musically, the tempo appealingly switches back and forth from slow to quick, as does the temperament of the album. Somehow, Eve is dismissed as one of this band's greatest efforts, when in fact it's one of their finest marriages of both concept and music. [The 2007 Sony BMG reissue included bonus tracks.] ~ Mike DeGagne
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Progressive Rock - Released April 14, 2008 | Arista - Legacy

Even with six different vocalists lending their talents to the album, Pyramid still remains an average bit of material from the Alan Parsons Project. Not only does the album's theme evolve around the mystique of the pyramid, but it also touches on man's fascination with superstition and its powers. The instrumental "Voyager" opens things up, and its provocative style sets the tone for the album's supernatural mood. The bright-sounding "What Goes Up" is one of the highlights here, as is "The Eagle Will Rise Again," sung by Colin Blunstone. The anxiety-ridden "Pyramania" enhances the album's concept the best, accompanied by some excitable keyboard playing and a friendly middle. The lesson-learning "Can't Take It with You" teaches that our souls are our most important asset, in typical Parsons-type charm. While not a stellar album, Pyramid completes the task of musically explaining its concept. Its short but slightly compelling nature grows after a few listens, but the album itself isn't a necessity. ~ Mike DeGagne
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Progressive Rock - Released March 5, 2007 | Arista - Legacy

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Pop/Rock - Released September 29, 2008 | Arista

Vulture Culture's theme is another in which the fallacy of humankind is front and center. This time Parsons' message concerns the fact that everyone lives in a parasitic society, where it's every man for himself. Those who can't fend for themselves simply won't survive in a world where the kindness of the human spirit is rapidly deteriorating. On this album, though, the songs are weaker and are less effective in bringing out the album's complex idea. As it does have its moments, Vulture Culture lacks in cohesiveness and strength both lyrically and, to a lesser extent, musically. "Let's Talk About Me" addresses the theme in its words, but the choppy rhythm takes away the attractiveness that could have been. The instrumental "Hawkeye" adds life and contrast to the album at just the right time. The most appealing song, "Days Are Numbers (The Traveller)" with vocalist Chris Rainbow at the helm, combines simplicity with a timeless chorus making for a truly beautiful ballad. Even though Parsons' theme is revealed, it's done so with less clarity and doesn't quite hit home. Without the usual balance of absorbing lyrics and well-maintained music, Vulture Culture remains one of this band's less prolific albums. ~ Mike DeGagne
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Rock - Released January 1, 1987 | Mercury

Tales of Mystery and Imagination is an extremely mesmerizing aural journey through some of Edgar Allan Poe's most renowned works. With the use of synthesizers, drums, guitar, and even a glockenspiel, Parsons' shivering effects make way for an eerie excursion into Poe's well-known classics. On the album's 1987 remix, the instrumental "Dream Within a Dream" has Orson Welles narrating in front of this wispy collaboration of guitars and keyboards (Welles also narrates "Fall of the House of Usher: Prelude"). The EMI vocoder is used throughout "The Raven" with the Westminster City School Boys Choir mixed in to add a distinct flair to its chamber-like sound. Parsons' expertise surrounds this album, from the slyness that prevails in "(The System Of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Feather" to the bodeful thumping of the drums that imitate a heartbeat on "The Tell-Tale Heart." "The Fall of the House of Usher" is a lengthy but dazzling array of musicianship that keeps the album's persona intact, while enabling the listener to submerge into its frightening atmosphere. With vocalists Terry Sylvester, John Miles, and Eric Woolfson stretched across each track, this variety of different singing styles adds color and design to the album's air. Without any underlying theme to be pondered upon, Alan Parsons instead paints a vivid picture of one of the most alluring literary figures in history by musically reciting his most famous works in expert fashion. ~ Mike DeGagne
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Pop/Rock - Released September 13, 2013 | Arista - Legacy

Alan Parsons delivered a detailed blueprint for his Project on their 1975 debut, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, but it was on its 1977 follow-up, I Robot, that the outfit reached its true potential. Borrowing not just its title but concept from Isaac Asimov's classic sci-fi Robot trilogy, this album explores many of the philosophies regarding artificial intelligence -- will it overtake man, what does it mean to be man, what responsibilities do mechanical beings have to their creators, and so on and so forth -- with enough knotty intelligence to make it a seminal text of late-'70s geeks, and while it is also true that appreciating I Robot does require a love of either sci-fi or art rock, it is also true that sci-fi art rock never came any better than this. Compare it to Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, released just a year after this and demonstrating some clear influence from Parsons: that flirts voraciously with camp, but this, for all of its pomp and circumstance, for all of its overblown arrangements, this is music that's played deadly serious. Even when the vocal choirs pile up at the end of "Breakdown" or when the Project delves into some tight, glossy white funk on "The Voice," complete with punctuations from robotic voices and whining slide guitars, there isn't much sense of fun, but there is a sense of mystery and a sense of drama that can be very absorbing if you're prepared to give yourself over to it. The most fascinating thing about the album is that the music is restless, shifting from mood to mood within the course of a song, but unlike some art pop there is attention paid to hooks -- most notably, of course, on the hit "I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You," a tense, paranoid neo-disco rocker that was the APP's breakthrough. It's also the closest thing to a concise pop song here -- other tunes have plenty of hooks, but they change their tempo and feel quickly, which is what makes this an art rock album instead of a pop album. And while that may not snare in listeners who love the hit (they should turn to Eye in the Sky instead, the Project's one true pop album), that sense of melody when married to the artistic restlessness and geeky sensibility makes for a unique, compelling album and the one record that truly captures mind and spirit of the Alan Parsons Project. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Progressive Rock - Released September 22, 2008 | Arista - Legacy

Even though 1987's Gaudi was inspired by architect Antonio Gaudi, its songs seem to lack the assertiveness or the instrumental endowments that usually occur within the Alan Parsons Project's work. With a leaner, edgier sound that is best represented on "Standing on Higher Ground," the easiness and touch that should have enveloped this album is noticeably absent. While not a complete failure, the album does reveal some passion with the last track, "Paseo de Graciad," a finely orchestrated instrumental done exquisitely in full Parsons style. The usual lineup of Miles, Woolfson, Zakatek, and Rainbow share the singing duties, with Geoff Barradale taking over on "Standing on Higher Ground." The songs on the album have difficulty supporting any imagery or symbolism concerning the album's main character, which was done masterfully more than ten years earlier with Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a musical voyage through Edgar Allen Poe's work. Here, the songs stand up well individually, but Parsons is a conceptual virtuoso who usually ties together his main idea through the use of each separate song. Although Gaudi isn't without some minor merit, its lasting impression doesn't leave much regard for its central character. [The 2007 Sony BMG reissue included bonus tracks.] ~ Mike DeGagne
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Progressive Rock - Released March 23, 2004 | Arista - BMG Heritage

Released a few months after the mid-priced compilation Platinum & Gold Collection, Ultimate is a longer, more comprehensive overview than its predecessor, which doesn't necessarily mean that it's a better choice for the casual listener. Platinum & Gold Collection has a concentrated selection of radio hits from the Alan Parsons Project, featuring nearly all of their charting singles, including "You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned," a minor hit missing on Ultimate; for that reason, along with its cheaper list price, it remains a better choice for listeners who want the pop-oriented side of Parsons. Ultimate is for the fans who listened to the Project on album-oriented FM radio, yet never bought the full-length records. While all the big hits are here, the focus is more on the elaborate instrumentals and prog epics that made the group a staple of AOR in the late '70s and early '80s. There are some missing hits here -- not just the aforementioned "You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned" but also "Stereotomy," "Let's Talk About Me," and "Snake Eyes" -- but they're not particularly missed, since all the radio favorites are here, and it's a well-sequenced collection. Anybody looking for something more thorough than Platinum & Gold will be happy with this, but, as mentioned above, if hits are all you need, that cheaper collection will serve you just as well as this. Nevertheless, this is a good comp. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Progressive Rock - Released October 25, 2010 | Sony Music Entertainment

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Progressive Rock - Released November 10, 2008 | Arista - BMG Heritage

The Alan Parsons Project were a rarity -- a prog rock band that had genuine crossover pop hits, and sometimes even sounded better when distilled to singles. Part of the reason for that is that Parsons assembled his band after the heyday of prog rock; the Project released its first album in 1975, a few years after the wild, woolly peak of prog. Another part of the reason is that, as a studio craftsman, he favored lush, immaculate soundscapes that are very pleasing to the ear -- and when wedded to a good melody, made for excellent FM radio cuts and, eventually, soft rock crossovers. Nowhere is that argument proved better than 2003's Platinum & Gold Collection. There have been plenty of other Parsons collections of varying quality -- including the 1997 double-disc set The Definitive Collection for those who want a thorough overview -- but this does the best job of showcasing Parsons' pop personality by presenting the bigger pop hits ("I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You," "Games People Play," "Time," "Eye in the Sky," "Don't Answer Me") along with a few catchy album-oriented radio hits, such as the sleekly atmospheric "Sirius." A couple of key songs -- "I Robot," "Psychobabble" -- are absent, but they're not particularly missed, since this plays so very well as a polished pop album. Out of all the collections, it's the most listenable, and the only Alan Parsons Project album needed for those who appreciate the band for its crossover pop hits. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Progressive Rock - Released April 14, 2008 | Arista - Legacy

With two of the Alan Parsons Project's best songs, the lovely ballad "Time" and the wavy-sounding "Games People Play," The Turn of a Friendly Card remains one of this group's most enjoyable albums. Parsons' idea, the subject of the album's six tracks, centers around the age-old temptation of gambling and its stranglehold on the human psyche. On "Games People Play," vocalist Lenny Zakatek sounds compelling and focused, giving the song a seriousness that aids in realization of the album's concept. With "Time," it is Eric Woolfson who carries this luxurious-sounding ode to life's passing to a place above and beyond any of this band's other slower material. The breakdown of human willpower and our greedy tendencies are highlighted in the last track, entitled "The Turn of a Friendly Card," which is broken into five separate parts. "Snake Eyes," sung by Chris Rainbow, is the most compelling of the five pieces, and ties together the whole of the recording. As in every Parsons album, an instrumental is included, in this case an interesting number aptly titled "The Gold Bug." Like most of the band's instrumentals, its flow and rhythm simulate the overall tempo and concept of the album, acting as a welcome interlude. Although short, The Turn of a Friendly Card is to the point and doesn't let down when it comes to carrying out its idea. ~ Mike DeGagne