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Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Nite Retro - Alan Parsons Project

Welcome to Friday Nite Retro!! Tonight we're featuring a popular British band from the late '70's through the '80's - The Alan Parsons Project. By the time that Alan Parsons met Eric Woolfson in the canteen of Abbey Road Studios back in the summer of 1974, Parsons had already acted as assistant engineer on The Beatles' Abbey Road and Let It Be, and had recently engineered Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album. Woolfson, a songwriter and composer, was working as a session pianist and had composed material for a concept album idea based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

Woolfson agreed to manage Parsons' career as a producer and engineer through a string of successes including artists such as Pilot, John Miles, Al Stewart, Ambrosia and The Hollies. Parsons voiced frustration over having to accommodate the views of some of the artists, which he felt interfered with his production. Woolfson came up with the idea of making an album based on developments in the film business, where directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick were the focal point of the film's promotion, rather than individual film stars. If the film business was becoming a director's medium, Woolfson felt the music business might well become a producer's medium. Using his "Poe" material and Parsons' skills, the Tales of Mystery and Imagination album was born. The first single was Raven:

Raven


The cover inlay of 1977's I Robot reads: "I ROBOT... THE STORY OF THE RISE OF THE MACHINE AND THE DECLINE OF MAN, WHICH PARADOXICALLY COINCIDED WITH HIS DISCOVERY OF THE WHEEL... AND A WARNING THAT HIS BRIEF DOMINANCE OF THIS PLANET WILL PROBABLY END, BECAUSE MAN TRIED TO CREATE ROBOT IN HIS OWN IMAGE."

I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You


1977's Eve was widely regarded as a mediocre album between 1977's I Robot and the Project's successes of the 1980's. Eve's focus is on a woman and her effect on men, and it is notable as the only Project album to feature female lead vocalists (Clare Torry and Lesley Duncan). Alan had worked with Clare on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. The opening instrumental "Lucifer" and the poppy "Damned If I Do" were both minor hits.

Damned if I Do


1980's The Turn of a Friendly Card focused on gambling, and loosely tells the tale of a middle-aged man who grows restless and takes a chance by going to a casino and betting all he has, only to lose it all. It's also notable for Eric Woolfson's first lead vocal appearance, on Time.

Games People Play


Time


1982's Eye in the Sky contained the Project's greatest hit, the title track, which had lead vocals by Eric Woolfson and hit #3 on the Billboard charts in the US and #6 in Canada. Says Parsons of the song, "...I hated the song when we first started recording it — I was quite ready to drop it altogether. Then we hit upon the hypnotic guitar chugs and it all came together."

Sirius + Eye in the Sky


Ammonia Avenue was the most commercially successful album for the band. The Phil Spector influenced million selling smash- "Don't Answer Me" is generally regarded as Ammonia Avenue's best song. The title of the album was inspired by Eric Woolfson's visit to Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in Billingham England, where the first thing he saw was a street with miles of pipes, no people, no trees and a sign that said 'Ammonia Avenue'. The album focused on the possible misunderstanding of industrial scientific developments from a public perspective and a lack of understanding of the public from a scientific perspective.

Don't Answer Me


Prime Time


Grand Funk Railroad paved the way for Jefferson airplane, which cleared the way for Jefferson starship. The stage was now set for the Alan Parsons project, which I believe was some sort of hovercraft. - Homer Simpson


Drop by the official website for The Alan Parsons Project!

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